Today's Prompt: 'What is an item you have kept with you that reminds you of an important time in your life?'
I've kept lots of ‘things’ over the years. As my parents would profess, I'm renowned for being a bit of a hoarder. I’d keep anything and everything in my youth. Little things that remind me of happy times; love letters from when I thought I knew what love was, gig tickets covered in sweat and booze, birthday cards, get- well cards, blurry Polaroids from before Polaroids were ‘vintage’ and a black tulip bulb my beloved brought me from Holland that I can’t bring myself to plant in case it dies on me. Amongst other things.
But the one thing that remains constant, and that I can’t bring myself to dispose of is my diary. I've kept a diary since I was 14 years old. I'm now 31. Not the same diary OBVIOUSLY – it would be incredibly heavy and have cost an absolute fortune in paper. Don’t be such an idiot.
My diary has been an outlet for years and years of teenage angst, heartbreak, happiness and anxiety. From my early teens to my thirties I've had somewhere to channel my feelings and emotions over everything from the banal of an argument with my Mum because I hadn't made my bed properly AGAIN, to the devastation of leaving my fiancé practically at the altar.
My diary has helped me in countless ways; it allows me to express thoughts I would never say out loud, think through major decisions and make conclusions about my next steps in life.
It’s a silent comfort.
When I was diagnosed with Crohn's I wasn't honest with my diary for the first time in my life. I lied to myself. Literally. Although mines were the only eyes my pages would ever see, I still couldn't bring myself to express how I felt. I'm not sure why this was; perhaps straight up denial – if I was to put this down in actual words it would become real. It would be a ‘thing’, a stain on my pages for all eternity. I hated everything about what was happening to me and I used my diary instead as an escape rather than a confessional. Eventually as my hospital stays began to last longer, and I became lonelier, I began to seek refuge in my dusty pages again. I tentatively started to document my day to day life as a newly diseased woman. I realised I'd written on everything notable in my life to date so why stop now just because it was hard to put into words.
I have difficulty reading those pages now, years later. I was so, so angry. Then the anger turned to sadness, then abject misery and disillusionment. My main focus was on myself and my pain, but my parents run through my words like a vein. I was devastated that they were hurting. I was angry at being put in the position where I had to be looked after again. I was an adult yet I was suddenly regressed back to childhood against my will. My diary is a stark reminder of just how ill I was both physically and mentally.
Keeping a journal became keeping a blog - the blog you are reading now in fact! I don't often talk about my condition in my leather bound pages now because i share it with al of you. Terrifying as that prospect once was it is now one of the biggest comforts I have in living with chronic illness. It allows me to share with the world something I was once too afraid to share with myself.
My diary is for me, and all of you. I carry it with me to remind myself of all I have achieved and to document all I will achieve in the days to come. Everyday is page one, until I reach page none.
This post was written as part of WEGO Health's Writers Activist Monthly Challenge - #HAWMC