To toss or not to toss? Those books, literature, music, and trinkets from your spiritual abuse. I see this question frequently. What should I do with all the literature and reminders of the group I am leaving?
Some traditions will say to retire these items with respect and decorum, much like how a flag is to be retired. They would say the item should be burned or buried. But if you recognize the falsity of the place you have left, this will likely not be a concern for you. It can be empowering to do the opposite.
I got rid of all my religious items right away. Later I bought the literature again when I was doing research. It was healing to purge the reminders, but there are valid reasons to hang on to it. Each person should listen to their own intuition about what to do.
Some keep the literature because the group they belong to changes teachings constantly and is dishonest about what they previously taught. Keeping a hard copy can prove the changes, which is useful for activism. However, keeping the books serves as a trigger for most people reminding one of the trauma and spiritual abuse. My suggestion is to pack the items up and ask a friend to store them while you take time to heal. You can decide later what is right for you.
Keeping or tossing books, is a personal decision. You can postpone making it until you are sufficiently healed. If you need it for research or healing, you'll have it. If you need to get rid of it, you can sell it, or burn it, or create a life celebration ceremony out of destroying it. Invite people over to watch you reclaim your power. Some people save a symbolic piece or two. The main thing is, how do you feel having the items around? There is no right answer for every person. You get to decide.
One healing activity I did was take an old book from when I was a teen, and I re-read it but this time I argued with it from my new view; I wrote all over it: misogynistic, lies, isolating, scientifically wrong, manipulative, etc. It opened my eyes to the significant damage the book had caused me. I saw how it was propaganda and pure evil. It was healing for me to take on their "authority" and dismantle it.
You can also use old printed materials to do a healing art project, a collage or mixed media project. Use any topic: false hopes, lies, an ugly world view, etc. and create something meaningful to you from it. Creating art can take us where mere words fail.
If you are into making music it might be fun to dub some of the music into a new liberating song of your own creation. Some of the music I grew up with had a militaristic feel to it; this would juxtapose nicely with a song about what love truly means.
Creative acts can be used to take back your power. Breaking the rules, and using the “tools” of indoctrination in your own way, reclaims your power and takes back the emotional control. What you do with these reminders of spiritual abuse is yours to choose. Don't just let it stay on your book shelf causing you pain. Find a healing way to deal with the reminders.
"No one can tell you what to do with the books, music, and other reminders."
My blogs take on all topics related to recovery, including commentary on the intersection of spiritual abuse and current events.
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