4.18.2012

"Writing is both mask and unveiling." -E.B. White

One of my biggest regrets in life took place my junior year in high school...

Allow me to set the scene. I'm 16 years old and my very first real boyfriend has just dumped me. I emphasize the word real because public school kids have "boyfriends" or "girlfriends" as early on as kindergarten. It's just something you do; albeit, you never talk to them, touch them or make direct eye contact, but they belong to you. And the WHOLE school district knows it. The joys of growing up in a small town...

But I digress...

I'm 16 years old and my boyfriend has just dumped me. The pain is fresh and all consuming. I have yet to greet the age in which I possess the ability to put on a brave face and smile despite the pain --something one usually does not perfect until they are an adult. Adults are experts at producing the fake smile, the polite nod, the casual shoulder shrug that convinces others they are not broken, numb, clinging to the edge of themselves weak and uncertain how much longer they can hold on. No, my pain was worn on my sleeve. I cried openly, refused to eat, and indulged my sufferings with gloomy tunes and not so happily-ever-after romances. I feed the pain. In some way it made me feel more alive, as if until that very moment I had yet to live. 

During this time, I wrote a lot. 

As long as I can remember I've kept two journals. A personal diary and a writer's journal. In the first I wrote daily, detailed accounts chronicling the events in my life. Dear Diary, today was the school pep rally. I was allowed to wear my cheerleading uniform to class. I wish I could wear it everyday. It makes me feel pretty and popular. You know, stuff like that. In the second one, I wrote fiction.  In that notebook my best friends came to life. To you they'd be imperfectly developed characters, but I knew better, ever then, I knew they were bits and pieces of my soul. Taking on new life in the form of narrative.

In this season of my life, the characters that filled the page were lonely, sad, angry, and tormented. They understood me, so I clung desperately to each of them.

Let's fast forward a few months. As with most high school heartaches, mine soon passed. I no longer felt sad. Life had returned to normal. One day, in the dead of winter, I picked up my diary and thumbed through a few of the entries detailing the breakup aftermath. My face flushed with embarrassment. I felt ashamed of my emotions, thoughts and candid writing during that time. I quickly pulled my writing journal out from between the mattress and box springs and thumped through those pages as well. I no longer recognized the characters, who just a few months earlier, where my greatest comfort. Now, they seemed so unlike me, so sad. In that moment, I was ashamed of each and everyone of them. Ashamed of the words on the page that I had penned. Ashamed of myself. My only concern was that some how I needed to destroy the evidence that those emotion, words, and characters ever existed. I quickly ran downstairs towards the wood burning stove with the two journals in my hand. I paused for only a second --one thoughtless second-- and then opened the furnace door and threw both of the journals into the blazing fire. I sat there for probably less than a minute and watched the pages bend, crackle, burn, and quickly turn into ash. I closed the door and went back to my room without a single glance behind me. 

I wish I still had those journals. Those pieces of my soul. Proof that the emotion was felt, that the moment was lived, and that I flourished in spite of it, or maybe, because of it.

5 comments:

Amira said...

Danielle, I seem to experience this with everything I write! It used to happen with old journals and diaries. I would go back and re-read what I had poured onto the pages, and it would embarass me later. So I'd have to tear out the pages so no one would ever find them. I think it's why I finally gave up on actually keeping a journal. In some ways, my blog has taken that place.

Cara said...

I think everyone can relate to that. Hey, at least you were writing at all when you were a teenager! Keep on writing!

Allie Todd said...

I really love this post, it was so well written. And I can completely relate. (I mean... doesn't everyone have that horrible break-up in their past when they were so young and so naive?)

The best thing about recognizing your past regrets, is that once you acknowledge them, you can make sure not to repeat them in the future.

Get writing, girl!

Jeanelle said...

Just found your blog through SOML! I loved this post... I can completely agree. 3 years ago, I went through a painful, careless break-up that left me reeling. Of course, it took place 2 days before I was set to move to Barcelona, Spain for graduate school... (making it that more stupid in my mind why someone would humiliate me when I was leaving anyways!)

Anyways - it propelled me into writing, blogging and healing my broken heart. Finally after many months I read back on my very first blog post (of course about "Goodbyes") and cringed about how much emotion I poured into that silly guy. But now, I am glad that I have it (albeit its all over the internet) but still! It's a piece of me...

Long story short, I really enjoyed this post :) Thanks for sharing.

xx

Lacey in the City said...

You are such a great writer! I luckily stumbled upon you through Story of My Life, which I stumbled upon otday through Traffic Jelly. Oh how I love finding bloggers that I can relate to!!!