Journalling is a fantastic tool for working through thoughts and feelings. It’s great to get the raw stuff out, but it’s not always pretty. So how does it feel when you go back and look at old journal entries?
I find it helpful to re-read recent journal entries, as in from the last week or two. That can help me see how my mental goings-on have been evolving, and it lets me see realizations I’ve come to or changes or progress that I’ve made. When I start to go further back, like several months to years, I’ll read what I wrote and think wow, I am/was such a doofus. For me, journal entries don’t age well; once I’m no longer connected to the mental place I was in when I wrote them, they just sound silly.
And when I say they’re silly and I’m a doofus, it’s not really a self-critical thing. When I journal, it’s raw and totally unfiltered, so it isn’t particularly presentable. I’m okay with that, and don’t have any interest in trying to make my journalling less out there. I figure if I can be out there with my journalling, that allows me to be less out there in the rest of my life. That’s a good thing, because journal me is not suitable for public consumption.
I think that’s part of why I throw away old journals when I get suicidal. I don’t like the idea of me being dead and someone reading raw, unfiltered me. When I was recently hospitalized, I took my current journal in with me in my purse, and it bothers me to know that people probably looked through it when they were listing my belongings in emerg, the assessment unit, and then the inpatient unit. I have no way of knowing whether they did or not, but given how shitty many of the staff were, I would be surprised.
I’m okay (most of the time) being in my head with that me, but that’s just for me, not other people. There are exceptions, though, not with keeping journals to myself, but going unfiltered. There are occasionally people that I decide I feel safe with, so I turn the filter off, at which point all hell may break loose, because unfiltered me is a scary thing to behold.
Anyway, bringing it back to journalling, I’m going to continue letting the batshit flow freely, but not dig it up again once it’s in the past. I don’t have any older journals now because they all got thrown out a few months ago. To keep from losing the useful bullet journal component in the future, I’ve decided to keep my bullet journal and let-the-crazy-flow-freely journal in different notebooks. The bullet journals I can keep, the crazy ones I can toss as the urge strikes.
So now it’s over to you. How do you feel about reading old journal entries?