Today I bought a journal. A bound leather book with blank pages, I picked it up in spontaneous desperation, when my head was bursting with everything that I couldn't do or say or scream.
I used to write in a journal all the time, I had several dating back into high school and even earlier. One fairly humorous one had the blow-by-blow (if you will) description of my first kiss. (I was eleven, horrific thought, now that I have daughters of my own.) One day, several years ago, I read through them all, noting the patterns and self-loathing and negativity and it occurred to me that I only wrote when I was unhappy; when school was overwhelming me or I had lost a boyfriend or gained 10 pounds.
At that realization, I chose to make a fresh start. I got rid of all the journals, every last one. I decided to write only on my computer, a safer and more secret place, and to write in all moods rather than just the black ones.
The funny thing is, though, that typing on a screen isn't nearly as cathartic as an angry scrawl of ink across a blank page. And I find that instead of simply writing what I need to get out of my head, I often feel that I've got to produce some level of masterpiece before I can post it on this blog. That often leaves me too daunted to be able to write anything at all, and I end up staying silent.
Then came tonight. Tonight my mind was swirling, a veritable tempest of stress, rage, frustration and anxiety. I don't know what set me off today, but my nerves have been raw since the moment I woke. Kurt stayed late at work and I was overly furious and shortly after he came home, I simply... fled. I ran away from home.
And the first thing I did was go and buy a journal. The feel of it in my hands calmed me a little before I even began to write. I went to a coffee shop and sat, softly touching the smooth pages for a moment and then I just began to pour out the incoherent babble from behind my eyes.
"I feel so trapped, stuck, overwhelmed, who am I really? I have titles, Mother-Wife-Sister-Daughter-Friend but who am I to ME? If all those other things were stripped of me what would be left? Or am I defined by others only only the reflection of what they see need take?"
"Watching the clock, stolen time. He's at home, railing in his mind at me for leaving and taking this moment away and I DO care, I feel badly to need to run, why can't I just embrace it all why am I so frazzled?"
"Lists lists in my head. Always this feeling of having missed something, having screwed up. Anxious."
"I miss her. I fear I screwed up Big Time and now all is lost. Burned bridges scorching my skin from every direction."
"How do I become something to be proud of? I feel like I've taken a million first steps and not moved an inch."
More and more like that, random and hot and painful, and then...
"I just want to find what's really me, if there's anything there at all besides what I am to them."
Ah. That's the real trouble, isn't it? An identity of my own. I've gone and grown up, gotten married and had children without ever really finding out what I'm good at, what makes me satisfied and proud. I think all the tension I'm feeling lately is related to that. I spend my days with my children, with my friends, trying to stay on top of a household and a life and in all that daily minutae, I have lost something of myself.
I've been toying with the idea of freelance writing for years now, even more so lately. Whether or not it's a success, I think it's something that I have to try, for my own sanity. Because I need something personal to be excited about, to focus on and find pride in, something outside of my motherhood and marriage, something that is my own measure of merit.
I needed space tonight, where I could rant and rave and, ultimately, find some purpose and clarity. When I got rid of my journals all those years ago, I didn't realize that I was actually getting rid of the one place that was solely my own.