Uncensored and Free
If you have ever had someone read your journal without your permission, you know how violating this can feel. Even just having the sense that this has happened or could happen can turn your free writing into censored words.
The first time I experienced this was as a teen. My journal was the only place I could really talk. Scarcely a day would pass without the latest news, thoughts and feelings being added to the collection.
I was a troubled teen. Childhood trauma began to surface in symptomatic behaviors that enraged and confused others, including my mother and friends. I was acting out and while I did not understand this nor recognize it at the time, there were clues hidden within the pages of my journal.
Desperation can see people do things they might not normally do. And it led my mom to read my journal. As a mother myself, I can understand how frightening it can be when a child acts unusual. I can understand the temptation to seek some answers in the pages of their thoughts.
All my writing served to do was confuse her more. And frighten her more. I am firmly convinced that if she were asked today about that action, she would be the first to say it was a mistake.
For a while, it stopped my writing dead in its tracks. But my own need to have a friend to talk to brought me back. But it was not the same. I lived in constant fear that what I wrote would be read by someone else. I censored much of my own writing and subsequently, my own feelings and thoughts.
The other time, and the last, was as an adult, wife and mother. Even though I managed to get past much of my teen experience, my fear came flooding back. And so did my censorship.
It has taken a great deal of self-discipline to turn this around. Whether I write about the dishes I have to do and the deadline I have or how angry I am at my family, I have to consciously stop myself from looking at my writing and asking myself how it would read to another set of eyes. And it isn't always easy.
Sure, I could lock things up and post a guard 24/7. I could stop writing. I could bury my journal in a secret place in my garden too. But truly, what would be the point? If someone has a mind to look into my mind, they will find a way. The solution for me was instilling the right I have to privacy to my family. And to instill theirs as well. Now, if I leave my journal laying in the middle of the living room floor, it will stay there. Untouched and unread.
The fear of rejection is a powerful motivator for people. We do care what others think on one level or another. And it is this fear that can see you keep your words on a short leash. Working to get past this can be tough, but it is worth the struggle. After all, what is a journal for in the first place? Even if you plan to one day publish your memoirs for all the world to see, the time that you are actually writing is between you and the words. It's an intimate thing. To feel restricted and fearful of being read uninvited can destroy the entire process. And that is always a huge shame.
Older now and hopefully, wiser, I have come to a much greater acceptance of who I am. I no longer spend valuable time rejecting myself. This helps a great deal when it comes how comfortable I also am around others and their opinions of me. It has been, ironically enough, my journaling that has fostered the greatest growth in this regard.
Strive to write free and uncensored. And try to remember that the only person's opinion you should give a second thought about is your own. You cannot be anything other than yourself - good, bad and ugly. Do whatever you need to so you feel safe and open, even if this means keeping things under lock and key. You have the right and you deserve this intimate exchange with yourself.
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