Oh the Journals…

Shortly after my first miscarriage, I felt compelled to write. I wrote anything and everything that popped into my mind; I practiced creative writing exercises I hadn’t done since college. The writing obsession has followed every miscarriage and has been accompanied by a weird compulsion to buy pretty journals in which to put all that writing. I have battled a lifelong addiction to school supplies (nothing is quite so appealing as an untouched notebook and freshly sharpened colored pencils), so journal collecting became my new school supply shopping spree hobby. I found hand-bound journals, leather journals, floral printed journals, spiral notebook journals (insert Forrest Gump shrimp joke here)… I now have a shelf of about twenty unique and blank volumes waiting for copy. I have used, though not completely filled, about ten other journals.

I also have them stashed in assorted places; there is always one in my bag, there are two at my office in case of cathartic emergencies, and the great multitude of pages resides at home in my library. In spite of my school supply fetish, the truly nerdy part is that I planned out what I would write in each journal based on what the cover and binding and pages looked like. For instance, the black leather cover with the golden gilt-edged pages and snap closure was (or is when I remember to write in it) an event journal. The antique map cover with the magnetic flap closure was for my writing exercises; I was working my way through a photography magazine and writing whatever came to mind with each photo. In a fit of irony, my rant journal is the deceptively pretty cherry blossom printed cover with the Chinese symbol for happiness. It is also mostly pink, which further deepens the subversive irony given that I am not a very frilly girl. For some reason, I thought that the pretty pink outside might soften the venom that has been poured onto those pages. That journal will never be public because it is the one place that I have written anything and everything ugly that I needed to vent. It still gets opened on occasion, and it remains the most used journal I have ever written in. I’m not sure what that says about my anger level, but one secret to its success is that I have never dated a single entry. The anonymity of the dates in that book make it impossible to pinpoint exact times, and for whatever reason, that makes it easier to pour out the emotion and never look back at it. I don’t want to remember the hurt expressed so graphically in those pages.

Most writers use their journals as source material later, but this one will most likely be permanently shelved once it’s full. I allowed myself to spill out anything painful that needed expression without audible utterance; no one but God ever needs to hear most of what I think in my basest moments. I am learning to appreciate stripped-down honesty, but there are some things that move through your head that are so transitory that they are not a complete reflection of who you really are. I have dear sweet friends who can and will curse like sailors and angry Yiddish women or Irishmen briefly and privately when faced with seemingly insurmountable situations. Those all too human and weak moments do not define them or their true reaction to the situation at hand. My subversive, cherry blossom pink, Chinese happiness symbol (did I mention it has pink velvet ribbon trim?) journal is a record of all those horrible first reactions that you don’t really mean but you’d really like to say if there were no consequences for unfiltered speech. The true reason to edit those thoughts is that we should be speaking truth in love in order to edify ourselves and each other. Speaking without thinking is not a loving or commendable action. I wholeheartedly believe that we speak out of the overflow of our hearts (see Luke 6:45), which means my pretty pink journal is full of terrible things that were/are in my heart. But two things have happened with that journal: it has been a purge valve for the evil things stored up in my heart, and, as I have grown past the anger, I have written in that journal less and less. Now to find a more suitable journal for the rest of the journey…

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