Monday, May 08, 2006

to keep or not to keep

I have what I consider to be a major dilemma. Since the age of 12, I have kept diaries, or journals as they are more commonly called, off and on. I would never part with the ones from adolescence. Those diaries were made for children- they even have tiny locks on them. The content features nothing objectionable; I was very reserved, having been raised by a gaggle of very tight-assed closet Irish Catholics.

During early adulthood the writing became more tortured. College offered me a more diverse view of the world. The one I attended happened to be particularly wild and crazy. And competitive. I became more insecure and unstable, and wrote about it fairly candidly, sober or otherwise, thinking that somehow my writing would prove to be therapeutic. Maybe it was; maybe it wasn't.

I once paid a dear price for my diary-keeping habit when a boyfriend, in a moment of compromised integrity, snuck a peek. He thereby learned of my continuing friendship with a celebrity who had been in town. The aftermath of his discovery was particularly diary-worthy.

I derive pleasure from reading past diaries, as a voyeur of my own past. Every once in a while I catch a glimpse of growth when I realize that some past life-or-death issue would be nothing now.

Unmarried, I suffered greatly over the decision of whether or not to have my child. I wrote profusely and openly.

Once the child was born, the future of my diaries came into question. Now there exists a human being who would undoubtedly be affected by my words, some of which debated his birth.

Now when I write, I am cautious, again the stiffled adolescent, now that my child can read. As always, I insist on writing my diaries on paper, the old-fashioned way.

I guess I've answered my question. I have no choice- the diaries must go. But first, today I'm going to indulge in a writing frenzy, laying it all out, in no uncertain terms, no limits, no fears of exposure.

You're all invited to a bonfire at Betty's tonight.

15 comments:

Faith Junkie said...

it's sad that you have to burn you diaries. i burnt mine long ago, but i still feel the depth of my writing as i write as honestly as i can rather than way back when i was thinking of different ways to say things.

i love your blog, though

garnet david said...

I've heard of a pagan ritual in which you write down all your fears and tears and burn them to exorcise them.

Perhaps it will free you from some of those past traumas to literally immolate them.

If it were me, I'd keep a few choice passages from my past, just to show them to my son when he's old enough to appreciate them.

ME Strauss said...

My son will be 21 this summer and if I had diaries, I would give them to him.

I don't know what your diaries say. I'm sorry you feel you must let them go.

I guess I'm hoping you'll change your mind--lock them away somewhere and reconsider when he's much older.

I feel your loss and understand the love that makes it happen.

Torie - Pointless Ramblings said...

Oh this makes me so sad. I just took a class this semester where we studied diaries. I read the diary of an eighteen year old girl from 1921. To think of anyone burning such a thing...oh don't do that. Diaries are such an amazing source of literacy for girls and young woman. There is so much to be gained by the writing in/reading of diaries.

Sideways Chica said...

Dear Betty...what a pleasure to hear your voice again. I can't help but think you might want to keep a few choice passages as Garnet David suggested. Me? I have no idea where my childhood diaries are...and come to think of it, where is my wedding video, and that "other" video I used to worry about...and those photos? Well, I guess you have my vote. Burn away dear betty. Can I light the match?

Ciao chica...

Chris said...

I am not going to burn mine. Someone once asked me what I was going to do with them and it made me wonder.

I have some bad, twisted, vile things written in there. But I figured that my kids (when they are older) might learn from my mistakes.

Great entry.
Chris
My Blog

Betty said...

Faith Junkie,
I haven't done it yet. After reeading these comments, i'm reconsidering.

Betty said...

Garnet,
I actually have a diary which I wrote just for him, starting when he was a baby. Those words were carefully chosen. I have done the burning ritual before and believe it to be powerful.

Betty said...

Liz,
Yes, I am reconsidering. But I do have a diary which I wrote just for him. That will not be burned.

Betty said...

Torie-
I agree. They just seem too valuable. I may not do it!

Betty said...

Teri-
It's just like you to offer your support, no matter what! Yes, you may certainly light the match, when I finally decide to go through with it.

Betty said...

Chris,
I think it would be great for your kids to read your writing. Obviously there's not anything which might hurt them. I'm not so sure in my case.

Shankari said...

Dear Betty,

Writing this after so long- wonder if you have burnt them, or not?!

But I understand just how you feel now- I too am more worried about how my kids may judge me than I did for my parents' or others. But often wonder whether thats the way it should be!

Betty said...

Dear Shankari,

I have not burned them yet. Partly it's because I have not finished writing all that I want to. After reading this comment from you, I resumed writing, and ended up with inspiration for a new post (Knight in Shining Armour) which hopefully will appear today. Thank you!

Hugs,
Betty

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