Journaling Woes

I believe in journaling, probably too much. I could journal “about” things forever, make lists, generate ideas, create art, and then pile those journals up primarily to watch the stack become higher and higher. And, what have I accomplished? Well, if I must tie it to being productive, I have not done much that is quantifiable. However, if I can justify tying the journaling to being generative, helping to get my brain in order, lodging loose bits and pieces somewhere (even if I never go back and review them), then I am doing alright.

Back in 2019, I put a post on Medium entitled “Journaler/Journalee” which you can read at – Not much has changed in the 1 1/2 years since I wrote that, except maybe a pandemic that allowed me even more time to write. I write in Decomposition journals, finishing one every 5-6 weeks. That’s a lot, in my opinion. I decorate them with my art, write whenever and wherever I want, no rules. They are my go-to, like a best friend, except that I don’t write down anything I’m not comfortable with other people reading.

I have a journal my mother left behind when she passed away in November 2020. She wrote in it, albeit not consistently, from 2004 to 2007. The journal entries focus on the people in her life as the Parkinsons’ progressed. She expressed frustration and anger related to the disease, but also focused quite a bit on her brother’s cancer diagnosis, and then her dog’s cancer diagnosis. She periodically wrote about others, mostly as part of lists regarding their traits; On 12/24/05, there is a list of 23 relatives (all of whom attended a Chanukah party at my house that day), and as an example, mom wrote about me and my siblings:

Pamela – when she is good – she is wonderful

Glenn – (didn’t make the list, although his wife did)

Denise – solid! Independent! Level headed, great girl

Kenny – my rock

The comment about me is a certainly a backhanded compliment. In addition, everyone’s spouse was included, except mine. When I think about this, I cannot come up with any logic for the inclusions and exclusions.

Near the last pages of the journal, sometime in December 2007, my mother wrote about me. She was clearly angry about something, and literally wished I was dead. It would be harsh and even mean if it wasn’t written in rhyme, or maybe if it hadn’t been interspersed with stanzas about anger at her illness. However, I feel more sympathy than rage, more sadness than anger.

Reading someone else’s journal is a roller coaster ride. The intrigue and emotions, passion and turmoil, lend themselves to introspection, but also lend them to a jostling of memories in ways that may be challenging. I will be leaving my journals behind some day; if anyone ever looks at them (which is unlikely), they can make any meaning they need to at the time.