I have a stack of journals, dating back to the 70’s. On a snowed-in day last winter, I went through them all and dated them, marking the years in black magic marker on the outside. I have always been a journal-er. In fact it was because of a diary entry that I was able to get my ear pierced on my 16th birthday, even though “nice girls didn’t have pierced ears,” according to my mother (who did get her own ears pierced at some point.)
Journaling became an intentional investment of my time, though, in 1981 when a published author I admired told me that I should write. “Are you kidding?” I thought. I had three young boys at home with me (ages 5, 3, and 1), one of whom had special needs that required lots of time for early childhood intervention by therapists and educators and family members.
“Well, at least keep a journal, ” she admonished, “so when you do have the time, you will have an accurate memory of lessons you have learned and experiences you have had.” She encouraged me not to think of a journal as a diary, recording days’ events, but as a way to record important life events and insights as they occurred.
Since that time, I have consistently recorded my life experience, complete with names and places and dates and raw thoughts of how it was all affecting me. At one point, I thought maybe I shouldn’t put other people’s names in my journals, out of fear someone else would read them. But, I got past that and realized that the value I wanted to get out of the writing was to remember accurately.
As Dave and I have worked through understanding events and experiences that have been hard to shake and ones that have been positively life changing, my journals have been invaluable. He has occasionally asked me to look something up in my journals to have historical perspective. Timing, location, people, situations…..they are there, recorded with honesty and emotion, for the purpose of understanding. We have been able to move on and shake loose and continue to grow as we have been able to understand decisions and events and people and the effect they have had on us individually and as a couple.
My journals are NOT for looking back. They are solidly, committedly, solely for the purpose of knowing how to honestly and confidently go forward.