My first ever journal entry, February 27, 1971. I was 19, a sophomore in college. I decided it might be important to record my experiences during those formative years. I haven’t stopped. It is May 2023.
That is a lot of journals.
My journals contain a variety of types of entries: Significant and insignificant events. Angst (lots of angst). Unsent letters to former lovers. Stories to unlock stuck emotions. Poems to boyfriends. Expletives. Heartache. Conversations with subpersonalities. Trauma processing. Photos. Soul collages. Lists. Memorabilia. Doodles. Drawings. Conversations with spiritual guides. Stories to gain insight. And more.
In preparation for this post, I started rereading my earliest journals. Gulp. Let’s just say that in my 20s, I was kind of
scandalous untoward hapless fraught. I was active in lots of community theatre in those years. And, well, you know. Theatre people. Scandalous. Untoward. Hapless. Right? OK. Not necessarily. It may have just been me and some of the scoundrels I attracted. And, well, journals are often places where we freely vent and express our worst selves. So, was I really that boy crazy and immature? Did I always pick the unavailable men?
But I do have to give myself credit for my capacity, even at that age, to acquire and maintain teaching jobs that were satisfying and fulfilling. I was 24 when I got my job teaching gifted middle schoolers. Somehow I was a competent, creative teacher by day and a needy, anxious, lost soul by night.
Maybe I should recommend you use your journals to record and process your life, but don’t read them later! Or, at least, be sure to include entries where you report the successes, the peaceful moments, and the creative inspirations.
Of course, in my 20’s, I had yet to receive counseling. As I moved into my 30’s, and started as a client in therapy, my journals became less of a reporting of events and more of a place to process said events and to make connections between my present relationship trials and the early patterns set up in my family of origin; As in, some of those unsent letters to boyfriends became insights into my dysfunctional relationship with my abusive father. (Yes, dears, as much as people would like to think you can ignore your childhood traumas and live happily ever after, well, I have yet to find anyone who has done that. The influence of parents is powerful. If you don’t believe me, just watch a parent with a young child for a little while. You can’t miss it. You can read more on that here.) Ideally, then, if you have childhood trauma, you choose the special combo deal on the menu. Journaling with a generous dollop of therapy. Or, depending on your situation, therapy with a hefty side order of
Your journals may evolve over time, like mine. There was the College Days Memories journal. The I Hate All Humans journal. The attempt at Art Journaling journal. The Why Did I Come to This Planet journal. The Letters to my Future Boyfriend journal. The Bring this Issue to Therapy Journal. The many journals full of dialogues with my inner child, my anxiety, my melancholy, and my headaches. The Multipotentialite’s Manifesto journal. The Argentine Tango with the Younger Man Bad Poetry journal. And most recently, my favorite, the journals containing my slightly humorous The Woman Who…stories. Stories that get me unstuck on those days when hormone levels plummet, my hair is particularly unruly, all of my friends are ignoring me, I decide I actually am that needy, anxious, lost soul, and the planets are in retrograde.
And so, my little chickadees, you may be wondering, oh, but how do I begin? I have your answer. Well, I almost have your answer. (maybe early June) I have created a guided journal just for you! It will actually take you through some of your very specific rainforest-y issues. Sensitivity. Empathy. Loneliness. School. Multipotentiaility. Fear of Failure/Success. Finding your Purposes. Social responsibility. And more. Not only that. I include, in the end, samples of those The Woman (or Person) Who… stories, so you can learn how to write them yourself and you can peer into the deep caverns of my psycho-spiritual escapades. I will be sure to let you know when the book is available.
In the meantime, go easy on your former or your present 20-something self. Even if you feel/felt scandalous, untoward, hapless, and fraught. Even if your nights are needy, anxious, and lost. Try journaling.
It will keep you sane-ish.
To my bloggEEs: You know what else keeps me sane-ish? Writing to you! Thank you so much for being here. Sending you hugs and kisses! Let us know in the comments if you are a journal writer and how that has helped you. Or if you have questions about my latest book’s arrival!
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