Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Pink Leather Journal

Pink is my favorite color. Yes, I confess ~ I am a very ‘girly-girl’. Now I never believed in fairy tales, or wishing on a falling star…. I knew at a very early edge that glass slippers and fairy godmothers and princes on white horses never existed. But I love pink, I love high heels and purses ~ and I love dressing my daughter in the frilly clothes I always wanted as a child, but never had.

I also love to journal. Writing, for me, is cathartic. To put my thoughts on paper, it somehow makes me feel better, kind of the same feeling I used to get from purging (probably a bad example ~ but fitting for me). I have filled journal after journal the past few years writing my thoughts, poems, letters to myself, my mother, my step-father….and others. But I have not written out the memories of my childhood. There are a few memories I have written in emails to dear therapist, but I’ve never spoken them aloud, or even put the majority of them on paper. Maybe fear has kept me from writing out the past, perhaps fear that someone will read them and judge me or feel sorry for me…I want neither of those things; judgment or pity. Or perhaps I fear that I will fall back into that little girl, and once again, live through the abuse I suffered as a child. I don’t have the answer to the question why.

Recently I was out shopping for a new journal ~ sometimes it can take me awhile to find the right one…I have a red one with a black buckle, an orange one with an owl on it, a brown leather one, one with giraffe print, and many more. As I was looking through the racks I noticed a pink leather book and I picked it up. It’s light pink, soft leather and has the word, “journal” in gold calligraphy on the cover. The pages are off-white with pink lines, thicker than regular paper. I held the book in my hands, feeling the soft, cool leather, and I knew that this was the one. This was the journal I would use to write out the abuse of my past. Somehow, I thought the memories, the filth and shame that I have carried with me for over 30 years would seem softer, more acceptable to me, held inside a soft pink book. I decided I would write the words in light blue ink, soft blue and soft pink ~ the colors that remind me of the innocence of a baby, a small child. For a moment, I was thinking like a dialectician, the book and my memories, the thesis and the antithesis.

Shortly after purchasing the journal, I sat down with a glass of wine, the journal and the pen in front of me, looking at the cover, wondering where I should start. What did I want to say first? Maybe I should start at the end with his death, and work my way back to the day that I died. But, then again, I thought, that might make it worse; maybe ending with his death would serve as closure to me, and thereby making it more difficult for me to handle, emotionally. Closure to a book, a memoir, shouldn’t start with the ending, right? As I pondered the thought of what to write first, I became hesitant to write anything at all. I thought back to the few times I felt brave enough to share some things in writing with Dear Therapist and I think about those things now, locked away in the file cabinet in her office, locked away in the back of her mind, and it makes me feel exposed, as though she has seen me at my most vulnerable…my secrets…my shame.

It had been months since I had allowed myself to willingly come to this place, the ugly place inside of me. Dare I begin the game of hide and seek once more? Sometimes I hide and my memories find me, but now I am the seeker ~ do I really want to find them? I am in a much better place now, stronger emotionally; my head clearer than it has been in a long, long time. The children in me are quiet, for the most part, allowing the adult Grace to lead ‘our’ life and keep us safe.
I picked up my pen and I started to write. I looked down at the paper, the soft paper; lined in delicate pink, and the words, the words I had written in light blue ink, filled the page. And these words written in my left-handed script were laid out before me, I had written them, composed them, but they looked foreign to me. The handwriting seemed too beautiful to have been written by me, but I did write them. I scanned what I had written and I saw his name on the page, his name, in soft blue ink, in my delicate pink journal…and I felt the familiar warmth on my face, and the bile rising in my throat. Once again, I had allowed him inside me, and something that was once beautiful now seemed ruined, dirty, soiled; just like me.

I realized then that tears had stained my cheeks. I don’t know if the tears started during the course of writing, or in the realization that came after, but I closed the book and ran my fingers over the soft pink leather one last time, and I whispered, “I’m so sorry I ruined you, I polluted your beauty and I took away your innocence. And now you are like me.” Like me, the cover of the book is not scarred, it is delicate and beautiful. But the inside, the inside is dirty & shameful…and full of secrets; secrets that I don’t know if I will ever have the courage to write in my journal, or speak out loud.

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