Saturday, December 11, 2010
Long before the invention of the Internet and blogging, I had always been a dedicated journal keeper. I think I began at about age 8 and have continued for most of my life, maybe taking occasional breaks here and there. Part of me always felt a little "different" and overly self conscious and I found it difficult to share my innermost thoughts, fears and desires with even my closest friends. So, as is the case for many an angsty teenage girl, my journal became my friend, my confidant, and the Treasure Chest that contained the jewels, the secrets, the broken pieces and the love letters that were the Real Me.
As I got older and my life became more and more a series of circumstances I never would have imagined myself to be a part of, I recognized the importance of recording those events, having the intuitive sense that someone, someday, may find a jewel contained within the rubble. Then finally as I clawed my way out of the mess my life had become, I found journaling to be therapeutic and illuminating. In my journals I opened the doors that contained my own mysteries, riddles that I didn't even know existed and discovered vulnerabilities and strengths I had kept hidden even from myself.
Since relocating recently, I've had the opportunity to sort through my belongings, including those things that get stashed away because they contain sentimental items and family treasures. I have one large plastic tote that contains the oldest, most special treasures; letters from my grandmother who passed on over a decade ago, ribbons from horseback competitions in my middle school years, my kids first t-shirts, all sorts of memorabilia...and, my old journals.
Ever since going through AODA treatment 10 years ago I have established a yearly tradition of re-reading the last few years journals on my birthday. It's a celebration of all the events that have led me to where I am today. It's also an opportunity to identify and reflect upon, patterns, cycles, habits, growth and change. Until this week, however, I have not reached back more than a few years into my past. I have snuck a few peeks, but I always felt like I was holding something of great power and potential danger; the incantations of secrets and lies I had conjured up to delude myself. I was afraid to reveal, even to myself alone in a safe space, the Enchantment that kept me so deliriously rooted in my self destructive lifestyle.
What drew my attention this time was a small notebook, not even a school type notebook, but a notepad really, the kind we used before there were post it notes. On the cover were some doodles I had made, a skinny waitress, an androgynous punk looking character and various small animals. There were a few dates and a long forgotten phone number. Not certain what it was, although I vaguely remembered seeing it over the years, I began to browse through the yellowing dog eared pages. I realized I was holding the oldest journal I still have in my possession. It was from 1980 when my later to be husband and I had just left our hometown to return to my roots in New England. But it was not that simple. I remembered the basic story of course, it was a pretty major event in my life, completely relocating, but I had clearly forgotten some of the more intimate details. You see this was the beginning of a relationship that was to continue for 8 years and produce my oldest child. This was the relationship that was fueled by obsession, jealousy, manipulation, illusion and violence. The glue that kept those vices securely in place, that sealed the lock to the cell of my own personal prison was alcohol, and later, narcotics.
I had left my Midwestern home, or at least it had been for the past 7 years, to go "on the run" with the man I believed to be my "soul mate". I believed, at the time, he was being followed by the DEA because of his involvement with certain people. I believed this to be true because it was what he told me. He said he had to get out of town, went into hiding, dyed his hair and convinced me to sell almost everything I owned to raise money to get out of town.
I had known him for 3 months.
Reading my words from so long ago was eerie...I felt as though a ghost, a wisp of my former self was reaching out to me through the years, trying to explain and justify what had happened. And on the other side, the "Adult Me" listening patiently wanting to say things like "Oh sweetie, it's not supposed to be like that"
So now, Jenny from 30 years ago, young, naive, romantic, giving her all for the sake of "love" is reminding the Jenny of today, cautious, experienced, self protective, of exactly what feelings, beliefs, needs and illusions started this crazy journey through our adult life. A life that took so many unforeseen twists and turns and eventually led me to where I am today, creating a life where I can reach out on a daily basis to women, young and old, who have lived, or are living, driven by the same illusions that were my blueprint back 1980.
Stepping into that life renews my understanding and empathy and bring it to a deeper level than the unreliability of selective memory will allow.
This in itself is a testament to the value of Journaling.
© 2010 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard