This shelf holds 18 years of journals.
I journal (and knit) so that others might live. No really, I do.
These are not diaries, let us be clear. I might write down the mundane things that happen in a day but I write them in much greater detail than the three lines that are generally afforded to someone who buys a 5 year diary. There just isn't enough space in a 5 year diary for me. I like to use ALL the words. My mother and her mother before her kept diaries. 5 year diaries that were/are often stretched to 7 years, depending on whether days can be added above or below the slots printed on the page. An Iowa nature of frugality and use it upedness cannot be overcome by a mere 5 years prescribed to a diary. For the life of me, although I have seen the diaries and I know that it can be done, I don't see HOW the Meemster (my partental unit) manages to so accurately and succinctly convey her day in just three lines.
Like I said, I like to use ALL the words.
I also like to paste in ticket stubs and odd pieces of paper that mean something and cards that people send me and the programs from summer nights at Blossom and wedding programs and odds and ends of things.
And I like to write.
No, I probably should say that I NEED to write. I started journaling 18 years ago when I was going through a particularly rocky point in my life. I had to find an outlet for all of the things. I had unsuccessfully kept a diary at various times in my life but they would just drift to the side of life after a period of time. Just another project started and failed. Three lines a day was all that I needed to do and I couldn't manage it. Those diaries sat there and mocked me.
And then I saw "The English Patient." What does that movie have to do with journaling you might be asking yourself. Well I will tell you. The character played by Ralph Fiennes has a diary of sorts, one that his nurse reads. It has maps and pages of importance stuck in it and things pasted in it and words written and it was his life. And I knew I wanted just that thing. I needed it in some way that I couldn't even define for myself. I just knew. I went out the next day and bought just a basic small note binder and started writing and pasting and stuff. I hadn't really thought through the whole why am I writing and what am I writing part. I just knew that all the words had to be mine.
I am a person who tends to internalize things. It has always been something I have struggled with. My feelings are hurt over something or someone has done something that really cheezes me off and my natural "bent" is to internalize those feelings. Sometimes that isn't a problem. And sometimes it is. I have learned to ask myself, when faced with an issue that raises my BP, "Is that a hill that I want to die on?" Most of the time it isn't. I can work out the whole, "hill I want to die on" thing by writing it out, as if in conversation with myself and the other person. Sometimes that is all it takes to know that, nope, not going to throw myself into battle over this thing. I have written it out and I am moving on. If journaling about it doesn't solve that dilemma of to speak or not to speak....then I speak.
At other times the whole internalizing things can be a big problem. You can internalize the things that bother you for only so long and then......
KABOOOOOOOOOOOM! My head blows off and my mouth opens and bad lava juju comes out. Words cannot be taken back. Or just as likely I will KABOOOOOOM internally and then my brain goes FRRRRRRRRRRRITZ and it isn't good. I get to a point and I can feel myself spiraling down into the bad day where everything is bad and blue and no one likes me and HHBL hates me and has done this "thing" deliberately, even though I KNOW that isn't true. When those times come I know I haven't journaled enough. It is much, much better to express these things through the modem of my fingers writing on virtual paper rather than just letting words fly from my mouth. That is much better for everyone in my life.
It may sound nuts but I actually do the writing portion of my journaling in Evernote. So awesome is Evernote.
Never leave me Evernote. Never, ever, ever.
I write daily, or at least I try to. At the end of the month I print the pages out, cut them into individual days and paste them into the journal for the year. Yes, I am perfectly aware that I could just keep all of that in Evernote and never actually print it out. No, I am not going to change how I do this. I like the way I journal. PFFFFFFT!
I am open and honest, always, in my journal. If you cannot be honest with yourself then what is the point of the thing. If HHBL and I have a disagreement, yes that does happen, I journal it. But I also journal the resolution. That is only fair. I journal my prayers. I journal my hopes. I journal my disappointments.
I journal it all.
And I am going to keep on journaling until I can't do it any more. When I am gone the progeny can read them or burn them or send them to the Smithsonian with a nice note from me. I can, with all honesty, say that these 18 journals have helped stay sane.