Why do I keep the journals?  Is there any value in the pain contained within?

Why have I kept all my journals/sketchbooks?

Yes- they are filled with sprinklings of magical memories about raising children- that is definitely the best part.  But they are also filled with extraordinary pain, confusion, stupidity…

I pull out an old journal from 1991, and sit and smile and laugh as I find little scrawls about the kids, but then turn the pages and my heart is ripped out of my chest as I so desperately tried to make sense of what didn’t make sense.  Letters from my family that sting my cheeks.  I lacked tools and experience to navigate the relationships in my life.  I did the best I could, but how did that affect my children?

So why do I keep the journals?  Is there any value in the pain contained within along with the scratchings of creative process, or even those happy memories?  Is the vice that strangles my heart when I turn the pages strengthened by me keeping them?

I have dragged them with me so many years.  From place to place.

Is it time to let them go?  And if so- how?  One big purge and never look back?

They do prove I have tried my best, that I, even in the darkest despair, scrape pen on paper to remind myself- I AM HERE.  I AM HERE.

Photo 2018-01-09, 8 11 11 PM

“Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.” – JOAN DIDION

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Chris says:

    I feel this post so much. I have journaled since I was 15 – and there were a number of extremely dark years. I threw some of the worst into the trash because I couldn’t bear to relive them. No regrets. Sometimes it’s fine to pick and choose. I think it depends on if you write them to reread yourself, or as a time capsule that other people might read later to better understand your life. Good or bad, they are a part of the story…

    1. Kat Thorsen says:

      Thank you, Chris! Your take on it has empowered me!

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