Discovering Courage

I have always had a fascination toward ritual that is equaled by my aversion to it. As a young person the inspiring aspects of the ritual I took part in were often blotted out by the restriction I felt doing something someone else’s way, a way that had no meaning for me.

In my early 20’s that all changed. I had a deep need to let go of something and I knew that I needed a ritual to help me do that.

I created my own ritual my own way.

My first love and I lived for 7 months half way around the world from one another. We met when I was an exchange student in his home country of Australia. After my year abroad, I returned home and our only means of communication was letter writing. It was before the time of the Internet, and phone calls were prohibitively expensive.

We wrote letters everyday. I loved seeing his handwriting in my mailbox. Sending and receiving letters was our lifeline during those months apart.

When we were reunited, 7 months later, so too were our bundle of letters. We each kept them in a safe place.

We attended university together for 4 years and like so many young people, we eventually split up. When he moved back to Australia, I asked him to return the letters I’d sent to him if he ever he wanted to get rid of them. A number of months later they arrived in the mail.

I kept them in a lidded box tied with a ribbon. They fit perfectly together. Over the next few years, I carried them from apartment to apartment and they were one of the few things that I considered a necessity when I moved across the country.

I cherished those letters. Every once in awhile I would get them out to read them. I’d cry as I reminisced about our relationship. I was full of “what if’s” and “I wish that’s”.

Reading those letters always made me so sad.

Years later, with the help of a therapist, I realized I had created a story that had me believing that my first love was my one true love. And my story was keeping me from moving on to other meaningful relationships.

In my heart, I knew it was time to let go of our letters.

I created a simple ritual.

One weekend I had the house that I shared with others, all to myself. I turned out the lights and built a fire in the fireplace. I spent hours reading the letters and one by one I put them in the fire.

It took courage to follow through on my intention to let go. Tears streamed down my face. And yet as the letters burned, I trusted that the smoke would rise up and carry the meaning that they held, up and away from my heart.

That ritual shifted something inside me and I was able to hold my story in a more balanced light.

It took so much courage to let go of something that was holding me back. I always have the memory of that night with the fire to remind me of my courage.

Every several years, I still receive a letter from my first love. I enjoy seeing my old friend’s handwriting. But I thrive on sharing love fully with the one that I am with in the present.

Is there a story that you need to let go of? Creating and performing a ritual can lead you to a new, more life-affirming place.

I’d love to help you go there.

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  1. Deb
    Posted April 11, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    So beautiful, Jovanna. Thank you. I love you.

    • Jovanna
      Posted April 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Deb. My intention is always to share my experience in hopes that it inspires someone else to make a change. I love you too!

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