15. My paper journal
How much devotion should I admit to?
In my bedside drawer I have a beautiful green leather bound journal with gilt edged paper. It was purchased from Liberty for me about ten years ago and lay empty until I met my best beloved. It gets written in, in fits and starts. I wrote in it nearly every day before I moved in with Sion, it was my way of managing my hopes and fears, and of committing brave new love to the light of day before I dared to speak it out loud. It is a gestalt entity, a receptive ear to both the deep dark places and the sky blue spaces of my heart and mind.
The private me has more of the childlike impulses I mentioned in An Avenue of Trees. I self-censor continually. I have friends who tell me that I'm one of the most emotional people they've ever met, and that they've never known someone who talks about feelings as much as I do, it makes me wonder what would happen if I didn't keep things under control and at, what I hope is, a socially acceptable level.
I think this is where the writing comes in. I was continually silenced as a child by the overwhelming events I found myself part of. My anger was 'turned off' for fear of it causing debilitating migraine - so I 'learned' that being angry was 'wrong'. Predictably enough, like so many other people, as an adult this suppressed anger and frustration would emerge as periodic depression. (My mother feels guilty about this now but faced with a toddler that turned into a screaming incandescent sobbing mess when crossed, and then collapsed for three days, what else could she have done apart from try and get me to control it?)
So the only place I could 'hear myself think' became my writing. So as I write this, I'm speaking to you in my first voice. Actually, the more I think about it, this online journal is occupies a strange place between the private me and the one I let you see in real life. I think it connects the two somehow. I still self-censor but I feel much safer because I know that those that choose to comment are less likely to close down my thoughts.
In my paper journal I play with word use more, I'll run from prose into verse and back again without a care, I'll express the scariest things I'm feeling, which then bizarrely get turned into opening chapters for stories that I don't finish. Or I'll start a story idea and it will trigger a memory and then I do some strange gestalt therapy conversation on paper with the object of my frustration. I'll also write far more positively too, express my utmost, most of it about the nature of love and usually the love I'm feeling for another at that moment. Some romantic, some erotic, some platonic. I've written about 'falling in friend' on this journal before, but in my paper journal I'll give voice to the deep platonic love that I have for one friend or another that I could never express in real life. Because convention would declare that as barking.
Into this you can add recipes, the odd telephone number, thumbnail sketches, and beloved quotes and poems noted from books I'm reading at the time. It is an incoherent muddle, but it is mine. I'm strangely proud of it.
I've kept a journal, on and off, since I was a teenager. Looking back through them is painful and embarrassing and a revelation. I can see this other person, someone who I am different to, and I see the stupid mistakes she made and I shake my head knowingly!? I see her as an alternative me, as if she lived in a parallel universe and I want to step through the door to the past and tell her that she'll be ok, and under no circumstances should she go out with him or her. But perhaps if she hadn't walked that particular path, then I would not be who I am?
So my journal tells me the worst about myself. And that is painful. But every time I sift through the words laid down over many years, I get the strange pang of guilt wrapped around my grudging appreciation of my own ability and realise something - I should write more.