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WHY I DON’T KEEP A PERSONAL JOURNAL.

October 23, 2017

 

Somewhere in my teens I was given a diary. Probably a Christmas present.

 

Pink and green with flowers on the cover and a tiny padlock on the side. With a minute key.

 

My teenage dreams and desires written in my best cursive were safe in my diary. It was securely locked and the tiny key hidden safely elsewhere. Like in my bra.

 

I have no recollection of what happened to that diary. I know I stopped writing. Simply not enough time in the day. And very little privacy in a boarding school!

 

But I do know I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to read my diary. It was strictly “For My Eyes Only.”

 

And what do you know but suddenly there it is again. Keeping a diary. Only now it’s called –

 

KEEPING A JOURNAL!

 

Recommended by therapists and doctors and bloggers and people trying to sell you their “How to Become Whole Again” books plus anyone else who thinks they might have something to say about this “new” fad.

 

Here are a few headlines:

 

  • What is Journaling? - Becoming Who You Are

  • What Is a Journal - Journal Ideas and Inspiration - Creative Writing Now

  • Why You Should Keep a Journal (and How to Start Yours) - Lifehacker

  • The Health Benefits of Journaling | Psych Central

  • The Good and the Bad of Journaling | Psychology Today

 

Are we having fun yet?

 

How about different types of journals?

 

  • Bible Journal
  • Gratitude Journal
  • Dream Journal
  • Prayer Journal
  • Pregnancy Journal
  • How To Create a Reflective Journal
  • Reflective Learning Journal
  • Travel Journal
  • 5 Year Journal
 
You can even take classes on How to Journal.
 
The mind boggles.
 
And then there was this thought-provoking article on the website MEDIUM .

 

 

Doist The Productive Benefits of Journaling (plus 11 ideas for making the habit stick) The fascinating things that happen in your brain when you commit words to paper.

 
I tried to find a figure for the number of entries about journaling on Google but gave up. But, to my mind, here’s a good definition of a personal journal.

 

An example of a journal is a diary in which you write about what happens to you and what you are thinking.  www.yourdictionary.com/journal

 

My translation/definition – spilling your innermost guts on to paper.

 

Most of the types of journals listed above I consider more in the nature of record keeping, making notes and so forth.

 

In my pea-sized brain a journal is something intimate and personal.

 

MY teenage diary/journal was something I most definitely didn’t want anyone else to read.

 

So then, why won’t I keep a journal?

 

One day, some day, I’m going to die. No surprise there. And someone else will have to pack up my “stuff.” Maybe a family member, maybe a stranger.

 

And that “someone” might read my journal. Not maliciously, just page through it.

 

And those things I’d put on paper (because it would be handwritten), I’d not want anyone to see. It was personal. It was private.

 

I can allow myself to be brutally honest in my thoughts. Ask forgiveness. Make amends mentally.  And then send those thoughts on their merry way.

 

But once committed to paper?

 

No.

 

Even if I’d left clear directives that all my notebooks had to be destroyed on my demise, there’s always the chance someone, a stranger or not, would flip through the pages.

 

I could, in absentia, and no chance to explain or redeem myself, like -

 

Yes, I did write that but I thought/felt/decided completely differently a week/month/year later.”

 

Too late. I had deeply hurt or infuriated or shocked or whatever.

 

So no, I won’t keep a personal journal. May I Hug You is as close to a journal as I might come.

 

Even there I sometimes write furiously when the urge strikes and later, on re-reading that first draft, I modify, edit, take out parts, even discard the whole thing.

 

For fear of hurting someone or starting a firestorm.

 

For two years after my daughter died I wrote her every night. I guess that was a form of journaling? To me it was partly holding on, partly saying goodbye, dragging myself through the grieving process by bleeding onto paper. And no, I wouldn’t like anyone to read that either.

 

I know there’s One from whom I cannot hide my mental journal (aka my thoughts).

 

Psalm 139:7-12King James Version (KJV)

 

And that’s okay. Actually, it’s cathartic. Especially knowing that in spite of seeing me the way I really am,

 

HE STILL LOVES ME!

 

But as for journaling, knowing one day when I’m gone these scribblings could cause irreparable harm, and ruin the memories and image I hope to leave behind?

 

No.

 

I’ll blog instead. And consider my blog to be a “sanitized journal.

 

Cyber hugs and blessings all.

 

 

 

Kelly Willard - Psalm 139:7-14 Where Could I Go From Your Spirit by

 

Photo by Jason Wong on Unsplash

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