October 5, 2011
Stunning October day
Feeling blessed and lucky
It has been twenty years since I began writing as a way to surf the unending waves of life. Now, I am beginning a project of reading through these archives for the first time and sifting through them to write a book of “A Life in Writing.” This process of delving into the words from my past is helping me cultivate such compassion for the young woman I was, struggling with my family, life, and my place in it.
(The following is an excerpt from this book as it is becoming. I wish I could include the digital photos, but I need to fix some glitches in my site. Until I do, I upload all images to Our Lives, Our Stories on Facebook.):
October 19, 1992, I bought my first journal, walked into Espresso Royale on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin, ordered a cup of coffee, sat down, and wrote:
These are the first words I have ever written in a journal. I wish I would have started a journal a long time ago, but better late than never. Today was a cold Monday. I had an Italian 101 midterm—I think I did very well, but I could have made some dumb mistakes. I have a horrible cold, and when I woke up this morning, I didn’t think I would last the whole day. But, here I am, it’s 5:30, I made it to all of my classes except my 8:50. I am waiting for my water to heat up for tea and my popcorn to finish popping in the air popper. It’s weird to think that I will read this and it will be history. Life goes by too fast.
I was 20 years old. Both of my parents were drowning: my mother in an alcoholic torrent, my father in a lead-footed depression. I was in and out of a rocky relationship and barely able to support myself while making my way through college teaching aerobics and bartending.
The gulf between how I seemed and how I felt was far and wide. To the outside observer, I was outgoing, energetic, active, and laughed often and loudly. On the inside, however, I was barraged by negative self-talk, crumbling beneath the rubble of a shattered self-esteem. Though I had many friends, I felt unworthy of friendship and love. My grades were plummeting. I rarely attended my classes. I was depressed and emotionally desolate. Lonely.
When I began journaling, I did not know that I was constructing a life raft that would carry me along this journey called Life. All I knew was that I too was drowning, and I needed to save myself. Day after day, I walked into that coffee shop and wrote. I began to fill journals, one after the other. Rarely, if ever, did I go back and read what I had written. It was the process of writing that kept me returning to the blank page.
Through journaling and the reflection it fosters, I lifted myself out of that current of despair and began a process of elevating my self-esteem by getting closer to myself. With every page I wrote, I cultivated my inner strength. As I became clearer about who I was, my relationships began to improve. The problems with my parents did not cease, but my propensity to delve into their darkness did. I took charge of my life. I began to dream big dreams on paper, and then over the years, watch those dreams materialize into reality. I wrote. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I never stopped writing.
Writing “is a matter of necessity and that you write to save your life is really true and so far it’s been a very sturdy ladder out of the pit.”
Now journaling is a part of me. I have a bookshelf full of my words, my adventures, my journey.
There is no doubt whatsoever that journaling saved my life. The simple act of putting that pen down on the blank page grounded me. It gave me a place to land, to lay it down so I could live my life.
“From small beginnings come great things.” –Proverb