They told me I should journal.
Actually, to be excruciatingly honest, they told me I should journal years ago, when the words Bipolar first escaped their steel lips and wafted through the air silently, destructively, into my life’s definition.
That was 15.
This is 26.
And I have never been consistent with their suggestion. Littered on various laptops and pieces of shrapnel paper are pieces of emotional intensity; the recounting of experiences too painfully vivid to be kept locked in the recesses of my Hippocampus. A psychic bleeding of sorts.
Which, I suppose, is an acceptable analogue for the act of journalling. Or, perhaps, only for those of us who have experienced tumults of exquisite pain, which I’m told if you wait long enough, will be everyone. Then everyone will benefit from psychic blood-letting.
There was a period when I was a consistent chronicler in my teens. When everything seemed emotional, novel, and worthy.
At least to me.
Though the experiences written at that time – the cadences of first love, the guilt of DCF mandates, the blossoming sexuality, the lock downs in psychiatric units, the stigma – when vocalized, have often elicited a jolting look of shock, and the injunction, “You should write a memoir!” So, maybe they were/are/will be note-worthy in some way.
Maybe I’ll write about those here. Maybe you’ll get a taste of this prosaic life. Maybe I’ll reach back through time and spin tales of the acrid smells of hospitals, of what it’s like to wake up every morning and desire death, of the feeling of childbirth, of the emptiness of going home alone, of the manipulative prevarications and the abuse, of the pile of stuffed animals, and how it is that I am still alive.
But maybe I won’t.
I didn’t follow the listeners’s injunctions before as I do not believe that I – or anyone for that matter- could be truly objective about one’s life. Memory is such a funny thing. A recreation truly if you read the neuroscience literature. Especially the more you remember an event.
That belief stopped me but it was more than that.
There was also the fear of hurting my family.
I know that some of them would mutate into monsters in any tale of my childhood, and they still occupy such beautiful, intimate and deeply fragile chambers in my heart. I have forgiven them for their transgressions, but I do not/did not believe that others would be so charitable. I have told others about some childhood experiences, and the response is always a sympathetic gasp, the too simple image of negligent sadists infesting their minds.
Which isn’t the full truth. By whatever definition of truth you wish to insert.
They are complicated, fantastic, terrible, struggling, thriving people.
Just like all of us.
I also believe that that this form of omphaloskepsis is abhorrently narcissistic.
Which it is.
And that there are far too many memoirs in the Western world.
Which there are.
And that my own life is not something that could or should be efficiently mined for story gold.
The instructions to memoir reached a fever-pitch when I was riding a high of collegiate and social success after being told I was too sick to graduate high school. My life could be part memoir/ part self-help novel! But, that concept is a fallacy. There are no shooting trajectories to be found in this story. Just sparks that flare, and fizzle, flare, and fizzle and flare again. Like most lives, I suppose: filled with pain and pleasure, a messy search for meaning in the rubble and treasure of one’s past and predilections.
But we want the shooting star trajectory. We yearn for it. Homeless man into business owner. Welfare queen into public health crusader. Valueless lives into something valuable and enviable.
Which stridently grates against me, as I have had brilliant experiences with the homeless, and terrible experiences with those of the white-coat profession, and the impulse to compare lives, even to compare moments in a life, smacks of elitism and pernicious judgment. Who is anyone to judge that one person’s life is more worthwhile than another? No one. Disgusting socio-cultural indoctrination for wealth, prestige, and egoism.
Tangent, I know. Still, remotely relevant. Orbiting the topic.
So, here I am. Journalling in a public sphere. Not that I expect anyone to actually read this, as I doubt I will pepper it with pretty add-ons, or links to Facebook (love/hate) or Twitter (completely revolting), or even tell anyone that I am doing this. I was never much for self-promotion. Probably because I find any type of marketing to be facile, manipulative, and despicable.
Applying to colleges sucked for that reason.
I’m likely a bad Capitalist American for that sentiment. Not the college one, the one prior. The one that likens marketers to voracious bottom-feeders.
Good on it. Bring on the socialism. Anything to stop the relentless parade of pitches brought to you by the NFL, or Botoxed celebrities hawking fountains of youth, or incessant jingles shattering the atmosphere of enchantment breathed by the Bergamasque Suite.
So, we shall see if this pans out. If self-actualization occurs on these page simulacrums, or if it will all be discarded. If it will help the search for meaning, for purpose, for lasting hope, for understanding. If it will keep the Dementors at bay.
If it could do all of that, hell if it could do even the last one, maybe I will journal.
Maybe they were right.