I hardly ever get the chance to share one of my magazine pieces as they don’t tend to put them online for fairly obvious reasons. (At least I hope the reasons are obvious!) But a piece I wrote last year about why I keep a diary is available in an online format.
If you’re interested in reading the piece, and I do hope you are, it’s not like a usual url link. It’s the entire magazine. My piece, about the diary I’ve kept since I was ten, and why, is on pages 40 and 41.The magazine, Woman’s World, is the Women’s Institute annual and my piece is called The Diary Of You.
How though did it save my sanity? Well as I say in the piece, it was only as a result of keeping a diary that I realised I had recently been rewriting my history. As I’ve spoken about before here, my ex died last year, more than 30 years after we parted. And it blew me away just how painful I found this.
The lovely relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam explained it all to me and kindly agreed to be quoted in this article and also one I wrote for The Guardian about it last year.There was still some grieving to be done and while this may sound obvious to some people, I truly had no idea! I thought I was past all my pain with this person but, no, he came back into my life by dying!
I found myself plunged back 30 years. I was grieving all over again for the lost relationship. The desolation of being left for someone else. The long lonely nights that seemed to go on forever only… here is where memory played a cruel trick on me. You see, those long lonely nights weren’t that long. Nor that lonely! Oh I don’t mean I replaced him quickly; very far from it in fact. But I wasn’t sad and bereft for very long. I recovered. I am a survivor. I moved on and soon forgot all about him. When I heard he was having a baby (well not him but you know what I mean) I just shrugged and said, yeah, figures. Knew that would happen.
But it took rereading my diary to remind me of all this! The euphoria at being alone at last. The freedom – which it turns out included the freedom NOT to have children. One I still cherish. He went his way. I went mine. And I survived.
As I say in my piece for Woman’s World, you can often be accused of self indulgence if you keep a diary but you know what? I don’t care. Someone told me the other day that she found Facebook so cathartic that it probably helped her avoid more treatment for mental health issues she faced from time to time. I can well understand it. Yes this splurging of our innermost feelings online for all and anyone to read can seem self-obsessed but it’s also very healing and besides we do know, those of us who splurge, that actually very few people do ever read it anyway. It’s the telling of the story that does you good. If some people find that distasteful, well no one forces them to read it do they?
Talking is good for you. Talking about what troubles you especially so. I made a big mistake 30 years ago when I kept most of my pain to myself. Buried it as quickly as I could and got on with a new life. Now it’s good to get on with a new life after you’ve been dumped for someone else. But sometimes, years later, you discover you buried the pain alive. Not dead. And it reaches back up through your throat and very nearly throttles you.
My diary reminded me that, actually, it wasn’t so bad after all. In fact, it reads like quite an exciting adventure as various new lives were tried out till I found the one that worked. An entry in my diary for the month when I began seeing my beloved, 25 years ago this June, has this very simple sentence: I don’t think I’m going to be lonely anymore.
And so it has proved.
Have a good Friday and a great weekend. Thanks for reading.