Monday, April 15, 2013

to journal or not to journal, that is a question

I think I am going to start journaling again.

There is a history here.  I started keeping a journal when I was in high school, and I was an obsessive journaler.  I would start writing late at night and go on for pages and pages.  I wrote about who I had a crush on and how my classes were going and God and the Bible and my parents and how much they misunderstood me.

At the time, it seemed horribly significant.  I would write a paragraph that seemed particular beautiful, and I would want to share it with everyone (thank god, I never did, because I was also horribly shy about my writing).  I would think, the world needs to read this.

Ah, the megalomania of youth.

Then I spent years in therapy (it was what one did back in the 80s), and like most people who go through some kind of therapy, I found it helpful.  It gave me some perspective on my life, helped me grow up and be less self-obsessed.

For better or for worse, the new, more mature me equated journaling with all that self-obsession.  All the endless ruminating on what I was thinking and feeling, the belief that it was so important that it needed to be written down. Even though I never showed it to anyone, I believed in some tiny corner of my mind that someday someone would find it and read it, because it was important.

So I stopped.  I haven't kept a journal in more than fifteen years.  Eventually I started this blog, and then I had a place to write when I was trying to work something out in my head that didn't feel so self-absorbed, because you guys read it and you give me feedback and I can tell which posts are interesting and which ones are just meandering bits of fluff.  It doesn't feel so enclosed.

But I've got lots going on in my head these days, and I don't usually post private stuff.  Occasionally I publish posts here that are so personal that I am later embarrassed (I would link to an example or two, but that would just call attention to posts that I really am not sure I want anyone to read).  But usually I write about what I'm reading, or what I was learning in school, or some issue that is interesting to me and that I think will be interesting to you.

For the last several weeks, everything I can think of to write about feels too private (and maybe more importantly, too boring) to post here.  The thought of journaling still bugs me, though.  It's strongly associated in my mind with a particular period in my history that I don't want to revisit.  But there's stuff in my head that I need to get out.

I know some of you keep journals, do you have any advice?  I decided to try it this morning.  I sat down this morning and stared at the blank screen for awhile and couldn't get up any enthusiasm to write about anything.  So I fell back on an old standby from when I used to go to those spirituality workshops which seemed to always promote journaling-- write a list.  Start with "I am" statements (I am a mother, I am a student, I am hungry, I am lonely, I am not sure I want to do this, etc), and then let yourself branch out, but keep to a list format.  I made it to 30 statements in about eight minutes, so I guess that is pretty good.  Huh.  I just found myself thinking, "But I still would rather write something that feels important enough to post here."  Interesting.

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