Yesterday and today I spent a few hours flipping through old journals. I loved reading notes from my friends and the weird and wonderful things I had stuck in there.
My journals, for the most part, have really only been about me working out issues. I mostly only write in them when I have something on my mind and don't want to sort it out with anyone's help (or, tried and failed). Sometimes though I felt compelled to record stuff that happened in my own life that I probably didn't need to. It felt clunky and awkward at the time, especially when writing about my Pa or things going on at uni that I wasn't dealing with very well. Sometimes I want to tear those pages out, it's not like I won't remember those times.
An aspect of my biggest journal (I'd say at least 250 thin pages, and it spans from 2003-2009) I don't like is that I've recalled events and times spent with people who I have nothing to do with now, and didn't really at the time. I know why I did that though, the same reason I'd qualify doubts at the end of long passages about lurve, and it's because I thought I should. I lied to myself quite a bit, and that really wasn't very fair.
Journals though are only one side of the story. I know that whatever comes my way probably won't be recorded in quite the same flurry as the journals I kept in high school and university - especially seeing as I would sit up in bed before going to sleep to write them. Stephen and I had a quick chat today about how we feel about Pumpernickel's life being captured on social media, and we know that we don't want a lot posted but we also don't know how to monitor it with other people posting stuff. I don't care too much about offending people (though let's be honest, it won't be my own family I am offending), but I do care about not being grumpy cat about it.
Some things I discovered about life, or rediscovered, are as follows.
1. Love is incredibly hard to describe or justify.
Why do you love someone? Who the hell knows! Seriously.
I have lists of all the reasons I told myself why I loved someone, and probably what I loved most was not even the idea of love, but the idea of not losing them. This is dumb.
Sometimes, as especially as a teenager, I'd feel like it wasn't okay not to like someone (romantically or otherwise) because they previous actions had said 'Hello. I am a Good Person.' Even if that person was a crazy person who burned down your house and ran over your cat, it took me a long time to say 'I don't love them. Hey, I don't even like them very much'.
2. Heart break exists, but probably not as we traditionally know it.
I have always said I have had my heart broken twice, though it's actually three times. For me, heart ache was supposed to be like Josie Alibrandi and Jacob breaking up at the end of the book, spending an entire week listening to sad songs. In reality, heart break exists, but it means totally different things for different people. The longest funk I had been in was for four nights, and it was the worst pain I have experienced. Even Heidi was worried. That's a concern when your cat is worried.
My journals pointed to the fact that logically I should hate whoever had broken my heart that week, and I'd often make lists of good reasons not to like someone. Most of the time they weren't even reasons at all.I'd also make lists comparing apples to oranges, which you just can't, or overstate one person's worthiness as a crush over another's.
Like I said is number 1, I wish I had worked this out sooner rather than later. It, whatever the bad situation may be, is always harder than the break up itself.
3. Everyone had flaws, except those who don't love you back.
In high school I had a massive crush on my best friend Simon. He is really is the best person you'll ever meet. In fact, if I hadn't just written about justifying romantic interests, I'd say in terms of good crushes to have, he was probably the most worthy. The thing about Sim and I is that he always knew I had this massive crush on him, but we stayed friends anyway without getting too weird about it. Looking back his reasons for not going out with me, which included 'you're Christian' and 'I go for looks (or half looks, half personality)' were pretty honest. Also, and fortunately, we had no chemistry whatsoever, which a lot of people have assured me (including my own husband) is really important.
4. Saying stuff like 'wow, I deserve my relationship because this and this happened' is so dumb.
Reading these journals now are really interesting, because I have about seven that I have reread and only two of them have anything written about Stephen. It would be so easy to compare Stephen to other things or qualify bad stuff happening so that we could be together, but we are really talking about two worlds colliding right at the end of young adulthood. The simple fact is that we didn't know each other, and I had wrote about him pretty often after we met. I don't really believe in fate and destiny now days, and I don't believe that going through tough times entitles you to anything other than people cutting you some slack. And to be honest, I have had a reasonably easy life. You can't make up for the bad times by having someone new enter the picture. Maybe I'll change my point of view eventually, but for now, apples and oranges are not up for comparison.
5. You don't have to romanticise death for it to still impact your life.
I hope it's okay to write this, and I'm kind of sorry if it's not, but.
One of the most interesting things about rereading my 2001 journal was reading some stuff about my first boyfriend who passed away in 2003. It's sometimes strange to read about Paul and who he was at that time, and also read about how I liked him, then got obsessed with him after we broke up, then started being embarrassed to even see him. It's interesting reading that because it tells me he was alive, and was, for the most part, just an ordinary teenage boy who wore an orange hat and liked computer games. After he died I felt bad that I had been mad for so long, even though we were on friendly terms by them. Every now and then I would write down quotes from songs with 'RIP Paul' scrawled underneath. That makes me cringe a little. It's not something I'll forget, and I don't know why I felt I had to write it. The other thing is that although he was my first boyfriend, and we went out for a whole month, we were never close and not really friends to begin with. I feel uncomfortable about it. The whole thing. I really do. The thing is, Paul and a few years later a girl I was at Tabor with passed away, and I felt like I should be closer to them, and to feel pain about it. Those deaths were always a little one step removed for me, which is okay, but the guilt of not feeling sad enough sometimes got to me.
This is crazy. I can't believe I said that.
6. No one will want to read your journals, and those who do, shouldn't.
I'm pretty big on having a lot of personal space and a lot of time to be introverted. I like people, a lot, and I like crowds and music and all that kind of stuff. The few times I have willingly shared parts of my journal with people, it's been too much for them, it's been used against me (though, in fairness, writing a long list of things you don't like about someone is pretty mean and probably shouldn't be shown to anyone) or it's a little bit hilarious. Let's be honest, some of the dumb stuff that you say, thing or do really is funny.
As a child, and by child I mean I was four at the time, I said 'I'm saving all my Barbies so my little girl can play with them!' This is a sentiment I have kept, so unfortunately Mum and Dad have had to keep two suitcases of Barbie stuff, along with Matt's dinosaurs and Trent's trains and Pokemon thingies. As a teenager I thought it would be great if the same future little girl read my journals. No no no. Someone needs to burn them after I die. Please. How embarrassing.
7. Writing a good journal entry is about description and reflection.
My favourite entries are recollections, followed by how I felt about those situations. For me, it was really fun reading about dates Stephen and I had when we first got together and seeing quotes and silly things he had said (actually, this he still says).
This week, I asked Stephen some advice, and it's kind of timely - it's basically about making meaning out of an observation. Why did I like doing this or that? How did I feel at the time? You don't need to write it that way, in fact flowerly language is almost always much better to write in. What made this moment matter?
8. Songs and events are sometimes really good to capture.
My journals have plenty of song lyrics and sometimes refer to current events. It says something like 'this world is much bigger than you'. That's not a bad thing. Not at all.
9. Don't take everything you read to heart.
I have made this mistake so many times.
"Remember when you said this?"
"I never said that!"
I remember things people have said, and sometimes I try and make it mean something else. Or, I see something as way more important than it actually is. I remember once being really upset that Steve got really into horror movies. This is all based on the fact that anything the least bit supernaturally makes my head go funny. I was appalled, annoyed and so frustrated. But, really, the truth has come out and plenty of my mild manner friends are into some of the weirdest stuff out there that I'd never even dream of watching. The verdict - people say and do things, and it's their justification that matters, not yours.
Also, the last few months I have forgotten doing or saying things. One such example is that Stephen remembers me saying 'It's really important to know your past' while sharing a testimony at youth. I also told them all I liked belly dancing. Neither of these things are a lie, and they are true about me, but belly dancing isn't very important to me anymore and I really don't remember saying the first bit.
10. Forgiveness is a good thing.
Sometimes I will read about something that happened year ago (especially things from high school) and I will still be mad about it! The thing is that once someone leaves your life, or mostly leaves it, there is no room to fight with them about it anymore. One piece of advice we were given on our wedding day was 'don't go to bed angry, stay up all night and fight!' We haven't ever had to stay up all night (or even half of it), but I have never gone to bed angry. So why be angry with memories of people who are still, like, 16 years old (in my head) and 28 (in reality). Lissy, you so crazy.