In Loving Memory of a Woman I Never Met
Journal writing has been a major part of my expression since I can remember. Sometimes it would be a simple entry of how cute I thought a boy in my class was, or maybe how mad I was with my mom, sister or best friend….
At the time my journal was named “Dear Diary” followed with all my private, innocent thoughts. There came a time when a “friend” stole my Dear Diary and read it out loud to all our classmates. At the time I had a major crush on a boy in my class and page after page was filled with my undying love for him. I was totally humiliated. I quit writing for a long time after that.
Not writing brought me so many emotional hurts. I had no way to express them out of my body and not enough maturity to understand what was stirring in my body.
In the fifth grade I was introduced to writing poetry. I loved it. A new way to write my feelings and express my changing emotions and the best thing was the more angst I felt the better the grade on my poetry received. Finally I had a place to express myself.
It would be a couple of years before I would go back to journaling. First though I would express myself through my poems – mostly rhymes and made up words. There came a day when I was told I would be moving from my home town, my safe zone where the world made sense, to another city where no one knew me and where nothing made sense to my mind. I was so angry that a rhyme just would not be enough to express my emotional state.
I picked up my pen, my book and started writing. I wrote about my anger, I wrote about my pain and I wrote until the pages held my tears. It felt so good to be writing once more. To have the freedom of my words to flow against the pages in front of me. And then it happened… A fear came into my body that someone would read my pages and know how I felt.
I couldn’t handle the thought of not writing again but I also couldn’t handle the thought of my humiliation again of someone should read my words…see my soul…know my truth and thoughts…to be that vulnerable; no, that I could not handle.
I made a decision to not place all my thoughts in one place. I decided that I would never write in the same place twice close to one another. I had many journals on the go at one time. I stopped writing as a diary entry and more in a letter form. I would write letters to fictional people telling them about the world I was living in. Sometimes it was facts and other total fantasy. If I was crushing on a boy I would write a love letter to Kevin, telling him all about how much I loved him and what I would like to experience with him. Sometimes the letters would be ripped out of the books they were written in and hidden or burned in the candles I lit. The best part was io never signed my name and I would change the look of the hand writing so it would be like someone else had truly shared their private thoughts instead of me.
I continued this practice for a long time, never getting caught. The not getting caught lead me to the thoughts it would be safe to leave the pages in the books they were written in.
When I was fifteen I was raped by my boyfriend at that time. I stopped writing once more. At the time I was working with a counsellor working through my sexual assault as a child. Although I had been working with Mary for a few months I could not bring myself to tell her what had happened. I had such shame of placing myself in a place where I could be taken advantage of. Only a stupid person would have done what had done, going to his place knowing we would be alone. A part of me must have wanted him to have sex with me or I wouldn’t have done such a stupid thing. All those thoughts in my mind, how could I write that somewhere that someone could find it.
Mary knew something had changed within me. I had shut down and shut her out. She knew I loved to write and she knew I had stopped. Mary asked if I had ever heard of the process Automatic Writing, which I had not. She explained it was a writing technique that disengaged the brain and allowed what is to be placed on the page. There was no right or wrong. It was just ink on a page.
I couldn’t even hold the pen when I first started. There was so much fear in my body around my secret. I could barely hold a pen in my hand. To this day I can feel Mary wrap my hand around the pen like a child first learning to hold a pen to paper. In a way that was exactly what was happening. I cried as the pen was in my hand on that paper, unable to move. Mary started moving my hand across the page. I watched as the ink spread on the page in circles….soon the paper was ripping with the anger and pressure of the pen and the angst in my body.
It would be a few practices before words would be formed on the pages and soon emotions were flowing once more through my dead body. I was back to writing in my many journals and starting a healing process.
I was nineteen when I was involved in a parenting class. I suppose there were many things I learned in the class but today it is only the lesson of journaling that remains with me all these years later.
A man in the class had lost his wife suddenly in a car accident about eight months before the class leaving him a single father of a two year old daughter. He was having a difficult time coming to terms with the loss of his wife. He was feeling disconnected from her and from his daughter.
One day he came to class with his wife’s journal. All her private thoughts in one place, and he held them in his hands. Much too much power for one person. He asked to share with our class two entries she had written. First though he shared what she had written on the first page of her journal – the first page of every journal she had written in:
“If anyone should happen to read this book please respect that these are my thoughts at the time of writing. Please respect my feelings and thoughts as they are not wrong they are just my feelings – if you do not like what you are reading then shame on you for reading them.”
I sat in the room stunned. Shame on another for reading these private thoughts. That sat true for me. The man went on to read the forth to last entry where his wife was so angry with him about whatever had happened. She expressed her anger towards him and her rage flowed across the page and I watched as this man smiled at all the hurtful and hateful words she had written. He then read the second to last entry and it was filled with the love that she felt for him and their daughter. I tear up even today thinking about the powerful love that flowed through her words. But truthfully what really impacted me was the understanding that he understood that her thoughts, emotions and feelings were ever changing and he held onto her hatred of him as dearly as he held onto her love for him.
From that day forward I started writing only in one journal at a time. From start to finish I would write. I allowed every though and every emotion to flow across the pages in each book. I even went back to old journals and finished them off.
The words of this man’s dead wife set me free – for this gift I am forever grateful.