I held the familiar “Life” notebook in my hands at 7:15 this morning, sitting on a bench in the mall before work began. I read for a while, then read a bit on my break too.
But by lunch time, I couldn’t do it anymore. I shoved the tome back in my bag.
The Life notebook is the journal I used in Japan. And no matter how fondly I look back on that time in my life, the reality is always different than what I want to remember.
thought remembered writing about the sunsets. About my students. About breaking free from addictive behaviors and beginning to love myself for the first time.
But my memory was wrong. The reality? I wrote about loneliness, about food deprivation that bordered on starvation (though I didn’t notice that as I wrote it), about unhappiness so deep that I couldn’t sit still. Couldn’t stand myself. I wrote about being so upset about not being able to open a peanut butter jar that I sobbed and went to stand out in the rain. I wrote about longing for chocolate the way one longs for human touch.
The more I read today, the more I felt the sensation of rawness, of unbidden vulnerability. Like my chest was a giant bruise someone was pressing on too hard. I felt suffocated. Trapped.
I don’t want to look back. I don’t want to think about that time.
I kept this journal among the dozens of others that I threw out this year. I knew that the memories would be precious to me one day. I knew I couldn’t discard that entire chapter.
But man, it is tough.
I feel exposed, and tethered, and terrified.
I don’t want to connect with that lonely, unhappy girl. Even if she’s me.
I don’t want to remember.