Keeping a Diary
Writing has always been important to me, both writing short stories and keeping a diary. As a kid, I had a diary. I remember writing short reports of when we went on outings, like to the theatre or to the zoo. It definitely had importance to me. Nowadays, I don’t keep a diary. I simply can’t find the right time of day to write in it regularly. I do write my blog. But there’s something that’s been bothering me: whose narrative am I creating? There’s no one left with whom I can discuss what really happened. So how accurate is my story?
There are many authors in my family, from my mother’s father to my own father. My father loved to write poetry, and he kept a journal for most of his life. He would write sentences, ideas, and bits of poetry. I have all his journals on my attic. I haven’t dared to read them yet. I’m convinced it would make me profoundly upset and I just haven’t felt up to it yet. Maybe one day I will, maybe I won’t.
Something that I have been meaning to reread are my own diaries. I kept a faithful journal every day when I was a teenager, from age fifteen, until I was nineteen. I would write one page a day with a report of what happened. You know, school stuff, friends, how I was in love, etc. etc. I’m curious to see how far my memories coincide with what I wrote twenty years ago. But I’m not sure I’m up for reading that yet.
My Tarot Diary
The past decade there has been one diary that I did manage to keep up from time to time: my tarot diary. I would pull one card, or sometimes more, and reflect on how it connected with the day that had passed. More often than not, it would match my day perfectly and would add an extra layer to what was going on. But that too watered down, and only during times of great distress, I pull out my cards nowadays. It did give me a good connection with the Robin Wood deck that I own. I can recognise quickly what the cards are trying to say.
Finally, for over a year, I’ve been keeping up my blog. In a way, it’s a diary, but in other ways, it isn’t. I don’t keep it up daily, and I don’t write accounts of what happened on a particular day. It’s more distant and less personal than my diary ever was. What I have been doing is telling stories about my past. I talk about things that happened to me and often connect them to a specific theme, like confidence or relationships.
What’s been worrying me lately, is that I am in the only one telling these stories. I look back on what happened, and I write down the way I see things, from solely my perspective. There is no one around who can tell me whether these memories are correct. This makes me uncomfortable.
Memories are unreliable. We change our histories a little bit, every time we recall something that happened. But without anyone to correct me, how do I know what has really transpired?
Additionally, had my parents still been alive, I wouldn’t have been able to talk about these things with them. We weren’t an open family. Emotions were not to be discussed, especially not on the tough topics I’m talking about here. And yes, my brother is still around, but we’re not on speaking terms either. So all I have are my memories and the diaries on the attic.
My Blog, My History
I will continue to blog, even if it means recreating my history. I love writing, and my life has been such that there is still plenty to write about. I’m aware of what I’m doing, though, and it might be holding me back a bit. In a way, I am creating my own narrative. I don’t think it’s too bad, but it’s definitely happening. I’m aware of it and conscious about it. It is what it is. I only hope I will have happier memories to write about in the near future.
Update August 2021
Little has changed since I published this post, except that maybe now I write even less. I do have an app, Daylio, on my phone on which I describe the day I had with a few icons and emoticons. That does give me some overview of what happened on a particular day.
I also see I didn’t mention my fathers diaries. He was faithful in writing something nearly every day. I have all of them on my attic. Maybe one day I’ll be courageous enough to read them.
Diaries will always have a special place in my heart. Like I was taught in university, you always write them for someone to read one day. Whether it’s for your older self, a family member who finds the diary or to leave behind something for posterity.
I agree, that memory is unreliable, but I think there is still value in writing it from your perspective. And why not use your blog in that way? I know it is personal, but are you writing anonymously? Maybe you could still do that. Confessional style writing can be therapeutic and can even help others.
Yes, my blog is anonymous, for as far as that’s possible nowadays ?
I agree that my perspective does count for something ☺️ I never really considered the therapeutic side of things. Thanks, Brigit ?
I do know what you mean about memories being one interpretation but I wonder if that matters? I think that memory can be the way we keep the important things alive after they have happened. They shape us and who we are and so even if they change a little over time, does that matter? Often our understanding of events can alter with experience so it makes sense that we then see things in a different way. This was an interesting post and you have made me think about things so thank you for that. And how interesting to have these old diaries for a time when you do want to dip into them ?
Thanks, Missy ☺️
I know just what you mean Liz (and wow you have been prolific and dedicated in recording your life thus far in various fashions) – I too feel concern that I am putting a glossy spin on things when I write memories, editing out what might show me in a bad light. I think it’s all therapy though, and some of us are scribes and others just aren’t.
The glossy spin is what I meant, Posy. It feels like I’m fashioning myself into some sad, abused, poor thing, while the truth was way broader than that. I did have fun growing up. My mother was an intelligent, fun person too. It wasn’t all bad, and sometimes I seem to forget that angle.
I so totally get this. Sometimes I have memories and then I don’t know whether they are correct. Recently I asked my father about one, but there are things only my mom would know, and I can’t ask her anymore. And like you, I am not on speaking terms with my brother…
As for diaries, I never kept them, so I have to rely on ‘my version’ of those memories.
In one of the final years before my mother passed, I was visiting her together with my now husband. At one point she grabbed and chastised her cat (with words, nothing really abusive) and it opened my eyes. It was real! The memories I had of similar instances happening to me, had indeed happened. That was an important validation to me. I had not imagined it all. And this is why I struggle with my narrative.
What’s changed for me since you wrote this post is that my father has passed away, and I too now have no one to ask whether my memories are correct…
~ Marie xox
I’m sorry for your loss. And yes, it’s a bad place to be in.
I think it is normal to change our memories slightly – but of course as time goes on you can look back and wonder what the true bits are.
I used to keep a rune diary – I love tarot as u know but had some runes for a while until i had my kids and thay started using them in their games and many were lost – anyway I found them fascinating – I had to use a book with them but they were very accurate
That’s really cool. I one had runes read for me at a festival. It was quite accurate for me as well.
One time, when I was still working in retail, I got a promotion. The tarot card I drew that evening literally said ‘receiving a promotion’ in the descriptions. That consolidated for me that reading tarot cards work for me. Speaking of which, maybe I should get my cards out of the drawer and do another reading. It’s been a while actually ?
Memories are truth to you! They are all we have. Writing them down preserves them though they may be slightly inaccurate. Does that really matter?
It doesn’t matter that much, I’m just worried I put a slant on them, that I change them too much according to my current position in life. And since I have no one to discuss them with, I have no way of correcting them. But you’re right, they’re all I have.