Monday, December 27, 2010

On Journaling

My sister gave me a journal for Christmas. I used to journal a lot, but since I started blogging, I've given up the written journal. While blogging helps put things in perspective, I am guarded in this format. When I journal, it's just for me. I rarely look back through journals. In fact, I have a bunch packed in a box in my closet.
I started journaling when I was 10, the summer after fifth grade. I think I filled the whole journal. I decided at that age I would not have a diary because it was too cliche and girly. I thought journal sounded more sensible. I even wrote "Dear Journal" along with the date of every entry. I have always dated entries. Sometimes, if there is time lapse between entries, I give updates that are relevant to the story as if my writing will one day have a reader. Truthfully, I want it to, even though I know it reveals my darkest thinking.
At times I probably held back, but most of the time I wrote as I thought, dirty words and all. My photography professor told us that she journaled and kept them all, but that if anyone should read them in the future after she dies they will think her life was terrible because she mostly wrote when she was depressed or upset about something. I totally get that. Getting it down on paper is a way of getting it OUT of my brain so I can have peace. Logically I still know about my issue, but after I journal it I can let it go and often find a solution.
"What's the worst that can happen?" is a strategy my mom taught me. I don't think she realized she was imparting such wisdom. I know she wanted to help me, but she also wanted me to calm down so we could both get some much needed sleep. I was upset about not finishing a school assignment and I was crying before bed and exhausted and mom said, "What's the worst that can happen? Will someone die? Will you die?" There was more, but that's the basic gist of the game. Then you calm down and think about the actual worst thing that can happen and how you can deal with it should that be the result. That is the basis of my journaling.
I plan. I record. I list. I complain. I exclaim.
Not all entries were downers. With having a husband and kids come overwhelming feelings of love. I've written about the good and my love for my family. I journaled consistently until I had G 5.5 years ago. I even journaled while I was in the hospital on bed rest before having her prematurely. After her birth I did very little journaling. I only journaled when necessary to help myself cope with things. I have a journal from her early years that is very sparse. I was very caught up in taking care of two young children, then going back to school, then finding a job and well, now I'm here.
And I have a new journal. It's a pretty red journal with a motif of leaves and birds on the cover. I've tried to do gratitude journaling, but I've never gotten into a routine. Not that it doesn't help, but I find it better to be more flexible with my journaling. Recently I've been craving the act of emptying my head before bed. Sometimes just writing things down helps me remember. I hate thinking of something I should do the next day right before drifting off to sleep. If I journal before bed, I think of those things and write them. I have the option of referring to my entry the next morning, but usually just writing it before bed helps me remember it the next day.
As much as I love typing, which I do very quickly, I really enjoy writing. I love feeling the pen flow across the paper in cursive style.
I intend on going through my journals one day. I know there is one journal in particular that I want to destroy because I was waaayy too free in what I shared and, well, if my kids want to keep my records in the future I'd rather them not know every gritty detail. My hopes and fears, yes. So, I will keep them. For what it's worth, they are a record of my life.

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