The editors of Personal Journaling asked readers to contribute their stories of keeping a journal with someone else. Perhaps an idea below will inspire you to share a bit of your life with someone dear to you—in the pages of a journal.
Expressions of Love
I married a man who hates writing and reading—two things I love. Knowing how he felt about writing, I still asked if he would be interested in keeping a journal with me where we could write love letters, farewell letters and “This is how I feel” letters to one another. Much to my surprise, he agreed. As I look back through the entries, I am amazed at the things we have been through in our short time together. In our journal is the story of our engagement, through my words, and through his. We have chronicled our honeymoon, two job layoffs, our fears and sadness on Sept. 11 (my husband was working in Washington, D.C., on that day) and our deepest emotions about each other. Because my husband works out of town, he often writes goodbye letters to me. As our lives get busy, sometimes we forget to write in the journal, but somehow we always manage to get back to it. Even though my husband doesn’t love to write, he has still helped me keep a precious written record of our love and life together.
—Marcie Flinchum Atkins, Roanoke, Va.
This is my daughter’s first year at medical school. In high school, I introduced her to the therapeutic and creative value of journaling. Because of the many demands and new experiences of a first-year med student, she is frustrated by her inability to find the time or energy to journal. So she and I have devised a unique plan. Instead of writing in a journal, she will send me voice recordings of her experiences as a med student, and I will transcribe them on the computer. Not only will this be a way for her to continue to have the journal experience, but it will also serve to keep us connected even though she now resides in another state.
—Cynthia A. Bowen, Austin, Texas
Mother’s Little Helper
Being the only girl in a family with four boys, my daughter was born patient. Until she turned 13. Then, there was no reasoning with her. I said black, she said white, and it seemed we hurled words of frustration at each other daily.
One day I gave her a journal. I’d hoped it might help her make sense of her world and offer her a place to vent other than on me.
It wasn’t long before our next battle erupted. As usual we both stomped to our respective bedrooms. The echo of slamming doors ringing through the house.
While I sat on my bed, there was a timid knock at my door, in the hallway on the floor at my feet lay her journal. On the first page was details of injustices and frustrations. I was thrilled that she had actually written all this out. In an instant I glimpsed the life this journal would take, becoming a mediator in our seemingly endless battles.
After the requisite ritual of the door slamming, some of our written arguments would go on for hours as we traveled back and forth between gentle knocks. The initial battle entries were always harsh, but each one that followed would soften until a knock produced one of us at the door with tears in our eyes and hugs of reconciliation.
She’s coming up the final stretch of adolescence and this journal still travels back and forth but entries are less frequent and have taken on a new role of sharing life and love. What a perfect record we have created of the inevitable struggles between mother and daughter. These simple words have anchored our hearts in the midst of one of life’s battlegrounds enabling us to come forth less scarred and tattered had this little pink journal not found its way into our life.
—Tami Christopher, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Memories to Treasure
I met my husband when we were both teaching. As a physics teacher, Bill definitely was not excited when I started leaving love notes in his school mailbox. He knew my expectation was to receive sentimental notes in return.
For six months, I would rush to the teacher’s lounge, and read those heart-stirring notes he would laboriously write. The day of the wedding, the notes stopped.
At the age of 49, Bill was diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. After all the shock and grief, I wrote a note to Bill in a journal. That evening, he left the journal on the desk with a note written to me. As the years have gone by, we continue to write daily letters. Bill’s thoughts and feelings as he progresses are now captured treasures. Some pages are so personal, it would be difficult to allow other eyes access. On those precious pages, we have been able to express anger, passion and silliness that we might have missed sharing. Spelling, punctuation and even legible letters are no longer important to this English teacher. Just knowing Bill daily puts the pen on paper to communicate with me is my blessing.
—Becky Zerbe, Albuquerque, N.M.
This article appeared in the June 2002 issue of Personal Journaling.