The old journal from when I was a child is a fabric covered book with a repeating, teddy bear design. There is a scratch and sniff sticker with an anthropomorphised slice of pizza on it that states “Good job.” An understanding of the different struggles that I faced as a child are evidenced on the back flyleaf of the book where I wrote out the word endocrinologist (and spelled it correctly, no doubt copied from our family dictionary.) How many children write or know the word, never mind encounter an endocrinologist in their pre-teen years. There are a myriad of scribblings in pen on the outside cover. This journal was one of two that I kept as a child. I cannot locate the other one. And can only hope it is still in my parents basement, surviving the two moves we made when I was 14-15 years old. That journal had the peanuts’ character Lucy on it with a speech balloon above her head that read ‘Keep Out’. It was a hard back, red-lacquered, covered volume complete with combination lock. Wherever it is, it holds the stories and secrets of my childhood, scribbled drawings, confessions of crushes and loves, and early efforts at cursive.
I have been journaling my entire life. This will be the legacy of my daily life that I leave behind. I do not know if anyone will read them. This is my archive. Right now, I consult it to see where I was and how far I have come. In the entries, I reflect, and try to throw in some of what occurred that day. It is tough to strike the balance, because I want to write about what I feel and discuss what happened that day for historical purposes, leaving the breadcrumbs of my life behind me in the form of words. The journals are a place where I can explore different writing styles, different feelings and situations with which I am struggling. The blank page does not judge. It is open to, and will accept, whatever I want to place on its pages.
There are recurring themes, love of my parents, my brother, discussions of surgeries, and fear of being alone, and whether that will persist for the rest of my life, difficulties with interactions with other people, love of tennis, reading, libraries, and my inability to keep fish alive as discussed in this entry in 1989:
April 29, 1989
Today one of our fish died. It was the second to the smallest one. On Friday we found out that the guppie was eaten by the biggest one. I am very depressed.
I can’t wait till tomorrow. I will be able to see —– on the bus. I think he likes me.
(N.B. I actually redacted the boy’s name in the original entry.)
April 30, 1989
Today my biggest fish died. I am very sad. I hope I can get more fish. I don’t know why my fish always die.
Also my friend are avoiding me even the one I love. It was rainy today we stayed in for recess that’s indoor recess. I wish mom would come home I need to talk to her.
Here’s a prayer for my fish. I am sorry and I bet you will go to Heaven. Amen.
In this entry you can see the need to reflect, the need and love of Mom, and the inability to keep anything other than myself alive, otherwise known as humility. All recurring themes that would be discussed in various shapes and forms in journals to come.
In some ways, I have not changed, but in others I have. I still love to go to Copley Place with my mother, write about trips to the library with my father, go to museums and take trips to Cape Cod. I’m still nervous about doctor’s appointments, and am enmeshed in some sort of medical care. In other ways I have changed. I am stronger, more resilient, ready to fight for what’s right, and excited about my successes. Also new and integral to my growth as a human are taking on a career, including community service as part of my life, continuing a lifelong love of exercise, and never giving up.
It is all such great stuff. If you do not journal, I highly recommend that you start. Just grab a blank sheet of paper, or a notebook, and start writing, pen to paper. There is something so much more intimate about pen and paper. It, the book or paper, rests against your body or lap. The pen is in your hand. You may be sitting on the couch, or laying on your stomach writing on your bed. It is a very physical, mental and emotional task that I feel is as beneficial as daily yoga practices or exercise.
Go ahead, share yourself with yourself.