” Every burden taken from me
Every night my heart unfolding
[Hem, Half Acre]
I’ve been keeping journals since high school.
At first, they were filled with the sorts of mundane things that one would expect to find from a girl of that age – dreams of the future mixed with crushes on boys who wouldn’t give me the time of day. I might have written about music, and definitely I wrote terrible short stories that I would never share with anyone.
Later, they still held my confessional outbursts about crushes and love and heartbreak, plus my feelings of inadequacy blended together with the feeling that I could take on the world. Oh, teenage years, you were so contrary!
It wasn’t until I was 20 and living in Ocean City, Maryland for the Summer when things started to really take a dark turn. I was depressed and didn’t know it, I thought I was having a “nervous breakdown” but it seems that all the partying I was doing to escape my fundamental unhappiness with myself and my life were finally too much to bear. It was one of the few times that I felt truly suicidal, and I thank my stars every day that I have never been that low again. My journal caught all of this, held it close and mutely listened to my pain while saving it for introspection at a later date.
I used my journals to finally break free of the abusive relationship that I allowed myself to be trapped into, after I came home from O.C. – writing about the spiraling descent of abusive behaviour, being able to see the patterns emerge again and again – it finally, truly helped me break free. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do, because I was so afraid of the consequences – but those journals stood witness, they said in no uncertain terms that This Will Not Stop Until You Take A Stand. They possibly saved my life, and all because of my own words captured there.
My journal witnessed the changes in my life for the better: jobs that gave me the due I deserved, my growth into being bold enough again to take the stage again and sing… learning to DJ and taking over my all-time favourite radio show on FM radio, Subculture Shock, then being gifted management of weekly goth/industrial club night, The Dawning – both of which I also give credit to for helping to save me, but that’s another post. I fell in love, laughed and argued and experienced, and then moved on to the marriage that I’m in now with my delightful, caring husband. My journal caught that all.
I still have every journal. Some have watermarks from tears, or rain. Some look haggard, and others are relatively pristine. Almost all of them were never filled from cover to cover, as I have a bad habit of starting a new book when my life takes a serious change. If you look inside them, you’ll find ephemera from my life at those moments, like ticket stubs and stickers and pieces of paper with sketches. I stack them on a bookshelf and they make an untidy pile, uneven sizes and shapes and colours, but that’s okay. That’s my life.
I hope to keep a journal for the rest of my life. I hope the words keep coming, and the experiences merit being cataloged… but even if they’re not worthy, I’ll still write about them. This is my life, and this is how I understand myself.