I began journaling on April 16th, 2017 and am on to my third journal at this point. The first journal wraps up as I left New Jersey, just before Labor Day of 2017. The second journal picks up with my arrival in Utah and tracks through the end of August 2018 (the last entry actually talks about me starting to see my therapist for the first time). My third journal is still in progress and continues from where the second one left off.
I have always planned on using these journals as source material, along with this blog and my somewhat porous memory, to write my memoir. So, on Sunday I decided to scan the two completed journals so that I could have lasting digital copies while I started to mark up and make notes in the originals. That wound up taking several hours. I started on the second journal at the same time ‘Bull Durham’ began on Showtime and finished as the credits began to roll.
Later that afternoon, I had some free time and began to read the first journal. I’d glanced at this journal, briefly, back in Utah right after I started in on the second one. I don’t remember it being too ‘out there’ or anything but I was pretty unstable while I was in Utah. It was quite different this time.
I read about 20 pages or so and, holy shit, the material in that journal was written by a raving lunatic. I can not believe what I have written in that journal. It’s as if I were a completely different person back then (which I guess I was). I am in total shock about the whole thing. I’m glad I’m healthy enough to recognize it as the product of someone who was severely mentally ill. I feel bad for myself more than anything else, I think. I was in horrible shape. At the time, I’m pretty sure I was aware that I wasn’t well but I honestly had no idea how sick I actually was.
My actions over the last two years have resulted in a host of negative consequences but after reading the first part of my journal, I realize that things could have been much, much worse. I honestly don’t know how I managed to move from New Jersey to Utah to Oregon. I don’t know how I didn’t lose my job. I don’t know how I didn’t end up homeless (for real ‘homeless’, not staying-in-an-Airbnb ‘homeless’). I don’t know how I’m still alive. I am extraordinarily lucky to be doing as well as I am.
As for using the journals as source material, I don’t think I’m going to be able to get as much information out of them as I would have liked. I’m sure there is stuff in there I can still use and I’m sure there are parts of the journals where I’m considerably less insane. I just need to go through them in a very deliberate manner. I basically do not want to read them any more than I have to. I won’t be casually reading them. I’ll be at my desk, taking notes, so that I can get what I need and then burn them.