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Monday, January 28, 2013


Clementine, our dog, which has nothing to do with this post
I have kept a journal my whole life. Always. Should someone sneak a peek between the covers that record my life events (just writing that makes me feel very vulnerable), they might be surprised. I certainly have been, when I have looked back on what I have written over the years. It is my safe haven of thoughts, events, and a safety valve for anger, hurt and happiness (even happiness needs a safety valve, believe it or not). Oddly enough, it is where I am the most unconscious of myself. I don't write wondering what anyone thinks or if my words are hurtful or written poorly or spelled wrong.  It is freeing, and with all of the research: "journaling reduces stress", "journaling helps mental health", "journaling helps process events", "journaling heals" and a host of other reasons, it has been an exercise I have benefited from.

I love to read journals and other people's mail. When the Mitford sister's letters were published, I could hardly wait to read them, undaunted by the 830 pages, I finished them in record time. Pepy's Diary, unedited, please. Anyone's letters or diaries printed and I am eagerly reading them and hoping they have been uncensored. 

So, when it comes to my diaries, I think I must burn them. It is all well and good to read other's thoughts, disappointment, and journeys, but I do not think I want anyone to read mine.  Double standard, I know. I am painfully aware of my own ridiculousness on any given day (my children are excellent at pointing it out, God love them) but even more so when I think of my own journals.

More Clementine, one of the few times she is not barking
When my four children where little, I started journals for each of them. I would write once a week, in lovely cloth covered books, thinking tenderly of the time they would read my words. Sort of a "love letter", from me, for them to read when I am gone. I am always a romantic.  I chose the books carefully, looking for ones that I thought were both beautiful and reflective of each child's personality. I kept them by my bed, on a table I had purchased from the 1st Presbyterian church annual rummage sale for $15, along with the current journal I was writing in. (It drives my children crazy that I remember how much everything costs and where I purchased it, they often quiz me by showing me an object and asking " where and what did it cost?" I have yet to disappoint them by not knowing the answer.)

 I found while writing to them, my internal censor kept me from writing much more then "I love you" over and over. This, I think, would be very boring to read, even for them. I was just so painfully aware of the way things can be so woefully misunderstood by the reader (remember, I have read lots of other peoples journals) and did not want to do any inadvertent damage. You know, the kind that damage that happens when you are trying to do something quite nice and it backfires. There were days when one of these darling, angelic, children would make my blood boil, of course, it would be the day I most wanted  to write in their "book" and write them the words that simply should not be recorded. "Words are sharp knives", my mother always said.  The worse part is, these thoughts would most likely be read after I am gone and I would not be able to correct any misunderstanding caused by my anger, long since dissipated. I just could not have that; too hurtful in the end and what would the point be in that?

While I have often cursed Daphne Du Maurier for sealing her diaries until 2030, (and I am so curious about her relationship to James Barry…) and I have enjoyed a life time of entering the lives of people in a very personal way, I think, I will just give my journals a last look, before they get a heave ho. 


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