I know what I love to do. It’s what I’ve always loved to do. Write. I’ve been writing in my journals for just about my entire life. There was a time that I didn’t even know it. In my journals I would also include story ideas, poems and different bits and pieces of short stories.
I was quite young on the Christmas morning that my mother gave me my first diary – a small plain yellow book with a latch on it that came with a tiny gold key. In gold letters the front cover said, “DIARY”. It was magical. I was in awe and became quiet and focused as I realized the significance of this special gift. I started writing on that Christmas Day and I never stopped. When I filled one diary to the last page, I’d write in more diaries. Then I wanted something a little bigger – and so it began – spiral notebook after spiral notebook.
Hidden inside an old large square box that I had quietly placed at the back of my closet, was the neat pile of my priceless journals, full of short stories, poems and my deepest thoughts and dreams and observations about loved ones. It was my safe private world of my truth, a place that filled my loneliness when my childhood home was empty once more. A safe place for my authentic self, my ideas. Bad spelling and all. I was deeply ashamed of my complete inability to be able to spell. I was so creative in my different attempts at spelling, that more often than not, I would have to finally give up on trying to find a word in the dictionary – it could not be found. In the class room in 6th grade, my biggest fear was that idiotic game called, “Spelling Bee”. Just the thought of it still gives me stage fright. I was so spooked and mortified just waiting for my turn that I never ever once, EVER, spelled a word correctly. I hated that game. (I still do). My God, how many years did I have to wait and wait for spell check to be invented?
Around the time I started to discover alcohol, I wrote less and less. Drinking and bars became a big distraction in my young life. And as the story often goes for us drinkers, I met my husband-to-be in a bar. About 8 or 9 months later we got married. It was just a couple of weeks before my 26th birthday. I barely knew my then husband except for the fact he drank the way I did, which was a plus, and he grew up in my same home town. He was 7 years older so we had never met before that night in a bar.
I could not dare let him know about my beloved writing of my truths, deep thoughts and adventures – I only had one choice. A few weeks before we were to be married in my father’s back yard – I gathered up my pile of precious journals and separated them into two neat piles and carefully wrapped them up with tape and string. When night-time fell upon me, I put them in a bag, hopped in my car and started to drive around town. I kept glancing at my precious bag of cargo that was riding next to me as if it was a baby. I drove down a couple more streets.
Finally, I found it. An old and dented black dumpster that was sitting on a slight angle behind a well-lit store. Why was my heart racing? My body grew uncomfortable. I parked my car as I felt anxious yet determined to finish my mission. Completely disregarding my enormous discomfort, I looked over my right shoulder down the ally. The coast was clear. I literally picked up all my thoughts, stories, creativity and feelings not only from my adolescence, but also words about my brother, words about my parents divorce – my documented history of my teenage years to my early 20’s. Quickly, unceremoniously, I tossed my past life into the air as it formed an arch and fell into the black dented dumpster as if it was a huge black volcano. I was recklessly standing above its dangerous heat and flames – I was too close to the edge and I became acutely aware that I might fall into the black volcano along with my tied and taped journals. They fell deep inside with loud echoing thump that startled me. I closed the top to the huge dumpster, quickly got back in my car and without blinking, I drove back home.
A huge part of me fell into the erupting volcano that night along with my love of writing and full documentation of my whole life that included endless entries about my big brother who is no longer with us. That mistake – it was the best that I could do at that point in my life but I wanted to protect myself, from what, I did not know. I was never able to look at the significance of what I did until I found the courage to leave my marriage 3 long years later. That action of throwing away my years of writing, something that I had loved to do, something that kept me sane, very well could be the biggest regret in my life. But I was an alcoholic who was about to marry and alcoholic and I did not want my passion to be known – especially with the shame and embarrassment that I had knowing I was so horrible at spelling.
It was not until I was separated and on my own with my baby boy when I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to write again. I bought a brand new thick spiral notebook. I picked up a pen and my journey to returning to be my authentic self started again. But this time, it was insignificant to me that I was bad at spelling.
Once more I have a pile of years worth of writing in journals. I am a writer. I am compelled to do so. It is my time travel. It is my passion. It is gratifying. As I read through my newest pile of old journals that start in 1986, I am able to write my book for single sober parents with a documentation of my personal and accurate time line. I am able to read about my health challenges through the years. Sometimes, as I read my old journals, it is as if I am pulling the nails out of my own coffin as I take a look inside. I lose track of all time, the hours and days fly by as I read and highlight my journals and write my book. Sometimes, I become exhausted and must take a long break. Sometimes, I laugh at myself. And sometimes I cry and heal myself. And when my chronic intestinal pain becomes quite uncomfortable, I move my lap top to my bed, surround myself with soft pillows, and I continue to write. Because I am a writer. I am compelled to do so.
And it is my fault if I chose to not share my true self, my authentic self, with someone dear to me in my life. Not because it keeps them from knowing who I am, but worse, it keeps me from being just who I am supposed to be.