My sister was cleaning out her closet earlier today and told me her rule of “If it makes me cringe, it goes.” and it got me thinking. If I had that mindset, all my journal, diaries of all the things I can’t write about online, things I wrote even before I had an online outlet, all thrown out. Because usually, what I write down are the things that are particularly poignant, i.e. embarrassing to see looking back, because they were written at the height of the emotion, or right after those moments, or in those weak moments of pain, and seeming tragedies.
My 13 year old me liked to jot down texts, as when we were younger, phones could only keep a maximum of 30. I wanted to, at the time, remember every little thing, thinking that when this seemingly forever person and I grew old together, the texts I kept we could show our grandchildren were priceless as they showed how we first started as a couple.
However, 15+ years and several failed (or imagined) romances later, I find myself cringing at the moments I chose to write down, and what I didn’t. The glimpses of my adolescence and those I chose to spend time agonizing over, well, seem inane and unworthy of the ink and paper I used to immortalize them in my life. You can actually read how badly they treated me and how gullible I was then, and how those people chose to help me crash and burn into the ground.
When you’re thirteen and leading life, everything is a tragedy and my younger self definitely sought to see how this would work out, seeing a shiny life and an amazing smile and imagining forever, and when that didn’t work out, would whine and moan about what I did wrong and why he didn’t call.
Looking back now, and even through the cringing, I see the value of writing down, even those silly childhood flirty texts, they let me see how much better I have it now. That I was rejected by this person or that, or strung along, or duped into thinking they were so wonderful but amazingly, had a secret girlfriend, or was waiting for someone better to come along. It also got me seeing how badly I’ve been looking at things, and how the little things matter, or don’t really in the scheme of my life.
Names will be kept secret of course, but if you’re still there, reading this, thank you. For treating me horribly. Stringing me along. Writing poetry that was insincere at best, designed to hook me into your schemes at the worst. Introducing me to your friends as “that girl”.
It’s made me stronger, and shown me that I should find a person who treats me like I deserve to be treated. Who doesn’t forget I’m there, in the background, supporting them (albeit a bit sarcastic). Who sees me as I am and knows that this is the person they got into a relationship with, and not looking for something more to come along, but are happy with what life throws into the mix.
So journals, you’re here to stay, the memories I’m keeping making me cringe but always, helping me remember who I was, who I am now, and who I should be with.