Like many writers, I maintain a journal. Actually, I keep multiple journals at any one time. I keep one for the “Dear Diary” moments; another is my gratitude journal; still another is where most of my poems and stories have their origin. Journaling has not been the consistent undertaking that I desire. Tonight I was reminded of two specific influences on my inconsistency. And tonight I am reclaiming the regularity of my journaling once and for all.
On two occasions over the past twenty-five years, the contents of my journals were compromised by people who claimed to have loved me. On these occasions, insecurities which lay in denial, insisted upon being the subject of my inner most thoughts even though they were not. The consequence was the violent and passionate end of two vested relationships. Love, whatever your definition, rarely recovers from the violence and resentment of a bruised ego.
In both cases the actual journal entries had nothing to do with the offended parties. I never flaunted my journals or my prohibition against their intrusion. I have considered the likelihood that a certain degree of projection on their part had taken place. Perhaps they thought that I had “found them out” during the course of my shaping a story. Or maybe it was that they had been discovered with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar which was my journal, and knew that I was not given to bluffing. Both had been warned during the early stages of the relationships that my notebooks were off limits and I had clearly communicated the consequences of the invasion of my privacy. They knew that they were more likely to be forgiven for infidelity than for examining the contents of what I considered my most sacred space.
Why do you still keep a journal, you ask? Because I can and I must. Because despite all that has happened, I have held on to the belief that there is someone with whom I will share the intimate details of my life as a woman and a writer. You cannot demand to know the thoughts of another. No amount of screaming or beating of the chest; no slap or bruise would have made me change my mind about sharing the content of my journals. I would have sooner died with two black eyes than share my cerebral space with either of those intruders. I would have preferred to have been naked in front of strangers than to face the exposure of my thoughts. I had stated on more than one occasion that my ashes would be found in my pre-selected Pittsburg Steelers® urn before anyone ever read my journals again. However, there is one who will receive the gift my thoughts and my voice; he has earned the only key to unlock the secrets of my sacred space; the only invitation to open the door that is the core of my being.
The most significant challenge to my journaling is not time or space; it is the feeling that I am writing with the past looking over my shoulder. I am aware of my unconscious editing; writing an entry as if it will be discovered and judged before I am ready for its revelation. That is no way to write. It delays and, if left unchallenged, censors what must be said at a particular moment. I am grateful for this awareness; and for the ability to persuade my pen and my thoughts around the challenge. Also, I am no longer alone in my creative endeavors. The extra measure of creative courage that I now have, nicely wrapped in the care, protection and concern of “the one” is the greatest gift that I have ever received.
With that said, I leave you, dear reader, to converse with my pen and my notebook.
I invite you to do the same within the pages of your own journal; fearlessly, lovingly and consistently.