I woke this morning with my demons gleefully doing their best to destroy me. I tried for about 15 minutes to silence them, but today they were pretty fierce in their attack — so, I got up and made coffee.
Then, I went — don’t ask me why — in search of my old journals. Started reading some stuff I’d written over 20 years ago. Needless to say that was embarrassing.
And that’s when the Beach Boys made their appearance. Wouldn’t it be nice, they sang, and then I filled in the rest.
Wouldn’t it be nice to go back and tell that younger version of yourself to not be so fucking self-indulgent, self-centred and selfish? Most of what I read that I’d written those long years ago I didn’t even remember — and it made me embarrassed that I’d bothered to write it at all.
So that makes me wonder if, perhaps, I’ve completely misunderstood the purpose of journaling. While I always thought it was a way of expressing your innermost thoughts, the stuff you don’t tell even your best friend, and a way of purging the mind and soul of your darkest secrets, it turns out that reading that stuff later on is a tad unsettling.
I read about troubles in my marriage, parenting faux-pas on a grand scale, and bitter arguments with friends. I read about how I had handled these events, and I was appalled at how badly I had actually mishandled them.
Now, here I sit, sipping coffee that is too weak, because, when your demons send you tilting you forget how much coffee to put in the filter, feeling like the world’s worst human being. All because of some words I wrote a long time ago.
These feelings will pass. The immediate urge I had to pick up my phone and call or text apologies to those I felt I had harmed is passing. Can you imagine the surprise and discomfort following through on that would have caused. More angst!
What should I do with all those old journals? The first thought to come to mind is to burn them. I sure as hell don’t want another visit in those fraught pages. Do I want anyone reading those thoughts after I’ve died? What if I were to drop dead today?
I know that not everything I put in my journals was sad, bad or depressing, it just happened that that is what I stumbled upon today. Still, revisiting the past like that is a severe jolt.
In a way, I suppose, it’s a good thing.
Looking back on that younger version of myself I can see that despite my mistakes, my vanities, my frailties I was trying. Trying to understand myself and those I love and trying, most of all to do the right thing.
Hopefully, those that matter most in my life know that, and hopefully it is enough.
And, hopefully, the next time my demons come to visit I can tell them to take a flying leap. The past is in the past; my journals are proof of that.