Writing that no one else needs to see

I’ve taken to writing in my journal again. Or in some random google doc. Sometimes I write in those places–instead of here–because I’m writing about stuff that I’m not ready to talk about in this space yet. More often than not, I’m just writing stuff that I don’t think anybody else needs to read. I have convinced myself that recognizing that something is not necessarily meant for public consumption demonstrates a certain maturity I surely lacked before, but it’s just as possible that cowardice is keeping me away.

I continue to work on the things I have been working on for so long. I have this sense that I’m at the precipice of an evolution of sorts, but the changes will happen so slowly that I won’t recognize any of it until it’s already happened. I suppose that is always the case with personal growth (barring some jolting, life altering experience that shifts one’s perspective irrevocably): we shuffle clumsily in a certain direction and don’t realize how far we’ve come until we can finally look back with an altered perspective. Who knows, maybe I’m full of it, but there is this idea, this suggestion in the back of my mind, that I’m done with the bullshit I’ve been engaging in for the past decade. Or better said, I’m done engaging in it without realizing. There is every possibility I’ll keep playing these dumb games with myself, but I think I’ll at least be cognizant of them, which is progress I suppose.

And time marches on, imperceptibly in the moment, momentously in the remembering. Every day FB prompts me to revisit the posts and photos I put up on that calendar day, each year before. I am constantly in awe of how little I remember even with these visual and written cues. Was my daughter ever that small? Why can’t I conjure even an inkling of how it felt to parent back then? Especially with “memories” generated by FB, where every installment falls somewhere between farce and facade, I am gutted by how little these publish-able moments really mean to me. After the initial, ohs and ahs and wasn’t she/he cute… there is very little connection to that time, that child, that mother behind the camera. They may as well be strangers to me.

I think that may be the greatest surprise of my life (after pretty much everything I’ve ever felt about motherhood): how little I actually remember. It’s baffling to me, how thoroughly time erases what has come before. Is it my ADD? My depression? The medications I take (and have taken) to tame both? Is it just how my brain works? I mean there are some things I can reach back and touch, but even that pain–or elation–reverberate like echoes, having lost almost entirely the mass and velocity of the actual experience.*

I wonder sometimes, if I’m the only one who recalls so little without the prompting of moments frozen in time. It’s comforting to know that I’m too normal to be the only one who does anything… that simple statistics assure that I’m quite literally never the only one…

I’m one cocktail in and unsure that this makes any sense, so I’m going to sign off. I hope you had a nice (and long) weekend. I hope this week doesn’t present any unforeseen challenges, and that those you foresee aren’t so bad.

How well do you remember the past? Do you write anything that you don’t let others see?

*My old blog does help me remember, but I need that sheer volume of words whose entire purpose is/was dedicated to remembering to bring me back. And even then, I can recall very little of what is not presented in a post.

11 Comments

  1. Am reading the newish book The Notorious RBG. It is a big Fan book. But it also spotlights what life was like for young women starting in the mid 1960 and moving forward. Reminded me of the changes and process that has been made even though there is still so much farther to go to equality. We forget. Same is true in our personal life which is what you are talking about. It is normal and human. And also good to be reminded of this.
    Completely understand you processing things in private writings. Makes sense to me the non-blog person. BUT, thank you for the gift of what you do post because it helps me see my personal world in different lights.
    PS: At one of my children’s home last night babysitting/connecting with my granddaughter and after she was asleep I folded and sorted two laundry loads thinking of you all and how very hard it is to be full-time employed outside the home and also raise children and keep the laundry going. I actually enjoy, now, the process of folding and stacking laundry by category because you start with a heap of mess and end with order. But I wished somehow all of your generation had that help and how often it is this sort of mundane thing that cannot get done and makes us all crazy. Good wishes and joy and such support to you all.

    1. Please do tell us if you like the book when you’re done. I’d be interesting in reading it if it were recommended. 😉

      I actually enjoy folding laundry too, because I know when it’s over and it does look orderly. If it weren’t for the dang socks with no matches that end up strewn all over the place because I’m not sure what to do with them, it might be my favorite “chore.”

  2. Interesting. I remember (mostly) everything. Its my curse. My husband is like you, he remembers pretty much nothing. I think he has undiagnosed ADD so maybe that is part of it? He says its his coping mechanism, he shuts out & forgets all the bad parts—so he has no memory of the newborn days & how terrible they were.
    Though I’m not sure I fully remember how I FELT in those moments. ITs hard, after you’ve changed & grown and you are no longer the same person, to look back at the moment and feel the same way. Not sure its even actually possible.

    1. I wonder if your still has residual emotional reactions to things, even if he doesn’t specifically remember them. I know I do. Like I still have very visceral reactions to pregnant bellies even though that time of being envious of them is past. It’s hard for me to remember specifically how bad it felt when I would see them everywhere, but I still kind of inwardly cringe when I spot one. So there is that. I seriously hope there is a time when I don’t feel so strongly about pregnancy, because it is a part of life, and I can’t avoid it (right now there are like five people I have frequent contact with who are pregnant, and I’m not handling it as well as I’d like).

      I think you bring up an important and interesting point, that when we’ve changed a lot, it can be impossible to remember how we felt before that change, because we can’t come from that same place anymore. I never thought of it that way, but it’s probably true.

  3. Interesting. On the one hand I keep these ” mom 1 line a day” journals where I write down little bits. Unfortunately I didn’t start til my oldest was 2.

    But on the other hand recently (I forget why) I was thinking that I literally don’t remember the coming home from work-entering the house part of the day for the 3 month period when my DH was home with the kids (youngest was a baby, period Bren me going back to work and them entering daycare). As in, did I pick up the baby first, etc. I seriously can’t remember. And that was 3 months!

    1. There are so many things I couldn’t possibly remember without some kind of help, like a blog post or a journal entry or someone reminding me. If I haven’t talked with someone about it, and reviewed the details, it just fades away.

  4. Ditto with you and Josey! K and I were just thinking ‘was S this verbose when he was almost 2? what in the heck was he like, really?’ Cannot. Remember. I’ve started a 5 year diary (little space per day – each page is 5 years) (did not describe that well) (tired) and I have stuck with it so far. But also – to the point – sleep deprivation is not helping my lack of memory.

  5. I have a really good memory for the events in my life. I’m also good at remembering when things happened — I recently corrected my friend’s Facebook post about which year she traveled to Paris with her husband (this trip was in 2003). On a mothers’ Facebook group I’m in, some moms said they couldn’t remember when they first got their period. I just don’t understand how someone cannot remember that — it seems so significant that at the very least you would know how old you were but several moms said “I guess in junior high.” I still can’t wrap my brain around not remembering the circumstances when you first got your period!
    But, my memory has actually faded a bit since becoming mom. There are some days from my son’s first few months that really stand out in my mind, but other times just seem blank. I have little recollection of what I did all day in the hospital after my son was born. Or, really, what I did the first few weeks. And, because children develop so continuously in the early years, it’s hard for me to pinpoint what he was able to do and when. When did he switch from an army crawl to a regular crawl? When did he start cruising? When did he string two words together? Six words? When did he switch from purées to table foods? Given my memory, I feel like I should be able to say the month, or even week or day, when all this happened, but I can’t. I regret not keeping a baby book. And, I also find myself forgetting conversations I had with people or forgetting when they happened– I think they were recent but they were several years ago or vice versa. I still remember quite a bit though.

  6. I have a ridiculous memory, and I can remember very important things in great detail. But… I don’t remember the things my kids do, or the things Brian and I do together. It’s crazy. How do I solve this problem? I post EVERYTHING on FB (as you well know) and print mysocialbooks from it each year. We were just flipping through them last night and it was FUN! The kids LOVE reading them too. Those books are magic for all of us, and it’s fun to reconnect as we laugh about it past adventures!

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