Recently I posted about my attempt to remove the clutter from my life. That business is now completed*. However, during my excavation of the study cupboards where I keep my notebooks, I found that some of them were actually used. By me. As a teenager. Something I had completely forgotten I did. Mostly, back in those less-than-favourable days I simply wrote stories** and I have always kept a vigil over these, and I remember most of what I wrote and when and why. However, the personal writings slipped to the back of my head, so rediscovering the lost archives of my personal history was enlightening, if also befuddling***.
My teenage years were not my best days, which I’m sure is true for most people, so I’m surprised much of it has slithered to the recesses of my head, only to be pulled out during my late night pondering. However, I was actually taken aback, because some of the stuff I stumbled upon can not be considered all that normal, even for a troubled teenager.
There are three items of importance, so we’ll start with the most normal and work our way down to the outright wacky.
1.The normal, yet highly depressing diary entries.
Apparently, back when I was around the age of 14-16, I kept a regular^ standard diary. I sort of remember doing this, because I had at that point, been introduced to a rather famous diary, and I started really concerning myself with what I would leave behind in the world. And, according to my teenage logic, the things happening in my life were somewhat akin to WWII.
Mostly, the entries are average teenage stuff. Actually, I wasn’t too focused on boys, save for two, and they were fleeting glimpses into my early view of how relationships worked^^. I moaned. I was actually very good at that. About people who caused me trouble and situations which didn’t go my way. I wrote at length about loneliness and not-fitting-in, about my feelings of powerlessness.
There are a few entries of containing some of the big questions, including one narrative piece entitled ‘What Would it be like to be a Duck”^^^ in which I contemplate the idea of just being a duck. The theme seems to be that being a duck would be easier than being me. Having had a read through, I find that the duck entry is about as weird as it gets.
There was a second diary which I kept during my first year of creative writing, detailing the transition I took changing course and the days living in student accommodation with five other girls, and dating my second boyfriend. The most interesting factor of this book is a list of improvements I wanted to make in my life to try and be a happier and stronger person. Otherwise, there is a lot of drama.
2. Letters to God
This one is odd, because it harks back to the days of my early theology, which was traditionally Christian. I knew that. For many years I tried to follow that particular faith, but even back then it never felt quite right – like a pair of ill-fitting shoes. Often I had questions about the sacred text, about the idea of who God was supposed to be, and when no one did very well to answer me^* I decided to finally go questing into the wider world and discover what I really believed for myself. But that’s another story.
In any case, back during my mid-teens I was reading the bible and trying to make sense of life from a Christian stand-point, and thus, as an extension to this, I started a special diary where I wrote to God. I suppose it was just a form of praying I was comfortable with, because writing helped me process difficult emotions more carefully.
Most of the letters are simply rehashes of the diary entries*^ but with more of a pleading tone. Sometimes I allude to the questions which would ultimately lead to my leaving the religion, but otherwise I am mostly praying for people to talk to, and other usual teenage concerns. I always sign my name at the bottom, I think in part because I had a genuine concern God would not know it was from me otherwise. I didn’t really know myself back then, and I wouldn’t for a long time yet.
I wrote to a higher being, because otherwise I felt completely powerless and alone, and thus I wasn’t aware I had any ability to change circumstances for myself if I could control my attitude. Everything was so world bound and self-centered when I was young, and I think speaking with something I deemed to know me even when I did not know myself, was a way of escaping that mindset in a method I found simple^*^.
3. Diaries in Code.
So, I think we can all agree that the first two items are not all that off. Maybe the letters to God are less common, but not completely out of place in the bedroom of a then Christian, confused, lonely teenage girl with hormones roaming her bloodstream like wildebeest the Serengeti. However, now we get to the rather bazaar item, which, despite being something memorable, I had completely forgotten about.
I wrote some form a depressing diary entirely in a made up language, complete with a code alphabet. Now, I’m certain I did not memorize an entire alphabet whether I made it up or borrowed it, but I have left myself absolutely no frame of reference to be able to read it now. Knowing me, I hid it in a book, but having checked the pages of all the novels I read between the ages of 16-18 (judging by the hand-writing, this is when I wrote these entries) I have still come up short of even a clue.
Chris and I suspect the word I keep writing at the end of every page is my name, because I did that with both the diary and the letters, and the word is five letters long. If this is the case, we have deduced that the symbols correlate directly with letters in the English alphabet. Since my name has three vowels in it, we can safely say which single symbols are ‘I’ and ‘a’, which work in the context of the sentence structure. Other than that, I may have to sit down and try to crack the rest of the code like a puzzle.
Folks, it gets weirder-*
I know what you’re thinking*^*. How can I know the entries are depressing, when I can’t read what it actually says? An excellent question my dear hypothetical audience. The answer: because I doodled bleeding, stabbed hearts on the pages, and one page is a single sentence over and over again, containing what is reasonable to assume must be the word ‘hate’. I’m almost glad I can no longer witness the object of such hatred. My emotions back then were so strong and volatile; I remember how painful it was to feel so angry and alone, but these are not emotions I have experienced for a very long time. So, whoever or whatever it was that elicited such reactions in me, chances are I have let it go, and did so a long time ago.
Losing the code can be considered a blessing. The emotion behind the words is more important than what is being said.
End of list.
Interesting as these discoveries are, there was the pressing question of what I was now to do with them. They couldn’t just be returned to the cupboard to once again be lost to time. The whole point of the big de-clutter was to bring everything up to the jury, including sentimental, and surprising objects, of which these might be considered both.
If you read my previous post, you may remember my system of mindful questioning I used in order to help with the difficulties of attachment and letting go of possessions I didn’t ultimately need or even particularly want. This is obviously harder with items with have sentimental value and reside in a period of your personal history. Things like diaries and letters for example. However, the decision was not as hard as I thought it would be.
I read through the first diary, and immediately resented the memories and feelings it gave me. Much of my teenage years were unhappy for many aspects beyond my control, but I have learned now the truth behind many of the circumstances I went through and understand why the Universe presented me with such a difficult time. I’ve learned all the lessons I needed to learn to become who I am today, so I already knew I was going to rid myself of the item itself. This was not something I wanted to come across again, nor look upon to remember my teenage years. Nor do I want future generations to find such hateful things. So, I shredded the entries and bid them farewell, thankful that I wasn’t that person anymore.
I did the same with the university diary, because again, the person I was is not a person I was proud to be, and is no longer who I am. Everything I had to learn from such passages I have, thankfully, already gleaned**^, and so I simply thanked them for reminding me of the power I possess over my own life, and passed them on.
As for the letters to God, there was no need to hang on to these either. Firstly, they were selfish appeals to a deity I no longer believe in^^*. Secondly, they, again, expressed thoughts and feelings I no longer experienced and had long since come to terms with. With these, I simply thanked them for the release and catharsis they had provided me when I wrote them, and shredded them while uttering a blessing. These words were no longer mine, and so keeping them served no purpose than to remind me of the dark emotions of someone gone.
Lastly, the deeply depressive coded messages. I suspect I coded my words to shield them from the eyes of prying parents**^^, but this has ensured I don’t need to relive the experiences again. I considered keeping it as an item of interest, something for future generations to puzzle over. However, I realise I don’t want the contents to be uncovered. Normal perhaps as a turbulent emotional period is in teenage years, I don’t want my children or grand-children to feel these are things they should hide or bury under a layer of coding^^**. These ugly feelings should be shared and dealt with, that way they cannot become so strong that such hatred and longing grows from them like fungus on a poisoned tree.
Once these coded words had given me this last lesson about how I will one day conduct myself as a parent, and now are of no more use to me. So I thanked them for the wonder of their rediscovery, and I shredded them into the ether.
Although all these items have a staple place in my history, they are only archives of the past. The whole idea behind being mindful is to remain always in the present moment. When I held these items and re-read the words, I didn’t associate with the girl who had written them; she felt distant to me, and as such, the diaries did not feel like mine. They belonged to a person who longer exists.
The girl who wrote them grew and changed into what I believe and hope is a better person. I’ve grown away from those broken days of my youth, and spent a great deal of time developing self-awareness and compassion (for both myself and others), and actively pushing anger from my life, because it is a destructive feeling which bodes ill on all sides. These objects do not help work towards peace and mindful living.
Instead I will step forward away from them, and continue to live now as I am here today, just thankful I’m not the girl who was so broken inside she wrote these desperate words.
There are no angry desperate words in me now.
*Apart from actually taking the rest of the donated items to the charity shop, because Chris is still away doing exams, and has with him the mode of transportation. As much as I want it all gone, I also don’t want to spend the few hours I have in the day lugging heavy boxes up a steep hill on foot in the rain.
**They are bad. Really, really bad. I suppose that’ll be what professors talk about in the documentaries about my life; the origins of my writing skills. I plan to someday include extracts in my memoirs. …. That’ll happen right? …. Guys…. Right?
***I didn’t think that was a word. Go figure.
^Regular being every few days, which is strange considering I’m lucky if I have time to update this once a week. Back then I had stuff like homework and moping deal with, and I still managed to sit down every couple of nights to splurge some hormonal testimony onto a page. Now, I don’t have such matters to concern myself with, and I still struggle to make time to keep this blog going, and even then I can go months without a word. This is just another example of how being a grown up is lame.
^^It’s no wonder I didn’t fare well with men for a little while; luckily when I was about 17 my dad passed me a copy of ‘Men are from Mars‘ and I quickly learned that men and women think very differently. I still use knowledge from that book to this day.
^^^I wasn’t great at capitalising title sentences then, but it’s interesting to see the beginnings of how I titled life writing, compared to what I do now. Of course, some other titles include ‘Life is so Hard’ and ‘I wish I Knew Why’. Make of that what you will.
^*Some tried, but could only refute my wondering with circular logic. There was however one particular man of the cloth, who in no uncertain terms, told me simply not to question anything because God would take it as ill faith. -_-
*^Minus the duck one. How amazing would it have been if I had actually written to Lord on high talking about wishing he would make me a duck because human life was too exhausting? I wouldn’t have put it past me to do so, but unfortunately (or maybe very fortunately) I wasn’t quite that strange. At least not yet.
^*^ My spelling however, was atrocious. If God had been reading, he may have struggled with the phonetics.
-* And ever so slightly serial killerish.
*^*Syke – I have absolutely no idea what you are thinking. I’m not a mind reader.
**^Other than learning the lesson that I had already learned the lesson, if that counts. I’m sure it must in some capacity.
^^*At least not in the Christian form anyway. Don’t worry, the Universe and I are still tight. Big U and I just have a far better understanding, and I choose to celebrate the greatness of it in ways I find much more comfortable and personal. I bet the Universe all in all its aspects is happy I’m no longer always begging it for the answer for very superficial things.
**^^This might make me sound deeply paranoid, however, I was really into adventure/mystery tales at the time, and secret codes are just cool. If you do not think so, I would recommend you leave now.
^^** Alice’s list of things which should be in code: treasure maps, secret Romeo & Juliette style love letters, HTML, medieval plots to over-throw the tyrant king, childhood languages.