You don’t own me

29.2. 2020Ivana Běhounková740x

I did something HUGE today! At least for me, it was huge. And it was totally unplanned. Because originally, I wanted to stay in bed and read. But you know, the usual things happened, and I didn’t.

For a while, it looked like it was gonna be a normal Saturday. After lunch, I got into tidying a bit. Because a few days ago I read about decluttering some small space and that it should be in the bedroom.

Because your bedroom represents the very essence of you, and basically, it should be up-to-date and represent the current version of yourself or where you want to get. So I did just that.

And in the end… here it comes…

I threw away


And all loose papers that were in those notebooks. There were different types of journal entries from notes to poems to stories. There was also a very bad attempt at writing a movie script from the time I was 15 or so. There was also a grocery list that was at least 10 years old.

I’ve had the journals in a small wooden crate for years, and from time to time I went through them and read different bits. Sometimes I was reading it for hours, and it always gave me some sort of comfort even though a lot of what I wrote back then was quite dark. Because that’s what I do (or did?) I write when I don’t feel good.

I wanted to have a look inside that box last time when I was decluttering, but it was the last thing on the list that weekend, and I ran out of time. So today, I was going through a drawer in my nightstand, and there were 2 or 3 notebooks there. I leafed through them and realized I didn’t want them there anymore.

Well, I kept the most recent one, but I found out that the last time I wrote in it was in 2018! Not that I was the happiest since October 2018, but I guess I started to cope differently.

Anyway, I decided to put the others to the crate and as I got inside I started reading in the old journals, and to my surprise, I felt… well, I don’t know exactly what I felt. But it was not comfort. It took me a moment to realize it and then another to admit it.

It felt strange. These were my precious things. My thoughts were there. My pain and love were there. It kinda made me feel heavy, and I saw my old self from afar and felt sorry. Because there was also a lot of hope in those notebooks, and a lot of the things I hoped for didn’t end up the way I wished they would.

But I was not sorry for myself because of that. I think I was sorry for myself because I gave so much power to the things I wrote there, and I know I used to believe in all the things I used to think.

But I don’t anymore. I don’t even think that way. When I was touching the old paper trying to read my own handwriting, I realized I am not that person anymore.

And it was shocking. Because for so many years – the oldest papers were almost 30 years old – I was that same person. I mean, of course, I was not exactly the same as I was when I was 15, but the undercurrent was the same.

I was trying to live a life – my life – that would make me happy. Which I still do, but back then, I didn’t even know what it meant. And still, I was trying to do it on my own terms, but at the same time, I was trying not to be seen as too – I guess – different.

I was trying to live my life in a way that nobody would actually see me for who I was. Because I believed that there was something wrong with me for most of my life, and I was just trying to be normal and to fit in. But simultaneously, I was trying not to be normal and not to fit in.

I’ve known for some time that there is not and never has been anything wrong with me, but today I felt it at some deeper lever or something.

Anyway, it was quite uncomfortable to hold the notebooks, and reading them actually made me feel a little queasy, and until now my stomach feels kinda funny.

Because that was/is my personal history. And also, I always thought I was really good at writing, and secretly, I was hoping that after I die, my journals would be discovered, and all the world would be in awe at how brilliant I was.

I never doubted their value. But the value was only for me in that moment when I needed to let go of something that pained me or bothered me and the act of putting it on paper brought me relief (at least most of the time).

But I was carrying them with me nevertheless. I moved houses with the notebooks six times and I never even thought of leaving them behind.

It’s not that I don’t feel sympathy or love for my old self. I do. I just don’t need the words on paper anymore. They were there for me when I needed to address something I didn’t know how to deal with and express myself somehow.

I mean, I know some of the things I wrote were good. But I don’t want to be discovered after I die anymore. I’m not afraid to make it public anymore. And if what I write is any good, read it now. If it’s not, OK then, don’t read it. I’m fine with that.

So I took all the sheets of paper that I tore from the hardcovers or detached from the wire spirals and all the loose sheets of paper of different sizes and dumped them.

As I was doing it, I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it. I thought that at some point I would stop and decide to keep some. But I didn’t. None of them made me feel good, so they are all gone.

I mean – gone. They are in a paper bag in front of our front door. I still haven’t decided what to do with them. At first, I thought I would burn them to make it more dramatic. But then I remembered the shredder we have, but the more I think about it, I believe I will just dump them in the trash.

But you have to promise me you will not go and find where I live and go through my trash and dig them out. But actually, feel free to do it, because, in fact, I don’t care.

Those papers and those thoughtS… they are not me anymore. 

 They don’t own me. 

We are finally free from each other.

We are finally free from each other.

PS: My sister dumped the paper bag with my personal history without me noticing for several hours. It was at a point when I was thinking:

OK, next time I go out, I’m taking it with me, and I will toss it to the normal trash, not paper. Because in the normal trash it gets all wet, and dirty and in case somebody finds it (as everybody would be trying to do so), they can’t read it.

But then I noticed that the bag was gone. So I asked my sister if she took it and she said yes. And of course, she tossed it in the recycling trash can. And guess what happened.

Ivana Běhounková
Ivana je lektorka angličtiny, zakladatelka projektu English Stories, autorka desatera English Speaker's MANIFESTO, konverzačních kartiček Talk to me a online kurzu The Speaking Challenge.

Kromě angličtiny miluje příběhy, přírodu, hudbu a magické momenty obyčejných dní. A taky fakt, že je z ní opět naivní opitmistka, idealistka a snílek.

O tom jak se dostala k English Stories si můžete přečíst tady.