I’m attempting to process a suggestion made by my new case manager yesterday and my reaction to it — especially my reaction to it. During the course of our visit, which mostly consisted of filling out initial paperwork since this was only our second visit, she mentioned journaling. I told her I was an avid journaler, had been for years.
Her suggestion was to burn, shred, tear up, or otherwise destroy what I’ve written.
This suggestion seriously hit me the wrong way! My reaction went something like this:
Thinking to myself: Wait… what?
Voices quickly firing off in my mind: Did she just say what we think she said?…. She’s not to be trusted…. She knows nothing about us…. Destroy 22 years worth of writing?! That’s more than 16 journals…. What about the sketch journals and art journals? For that matter, what about the blogs or anything else we’ve written or worked on?…. She done lost her goddamn mind….
I was completely aghast, positively horrified by the idea of destroying my life’s work in this way. Quite honestly, I about lost it! I told her, maybe a little too firmly and aggressively, “NO! I refuse to do that! I will NOT destroy my journals! So, not happening.”
A protector voice immediately took over telling me: STOP talking! Don’t say anything else! (I swear I thought I literally heard sirens going off in my mind because I felt so angry.)
Then, I promptly shut down — got quiet, listening to the voices of agreement in my head, ALL expressing the same disgust and rage over a suggestion that seemed to blatantly disregard how much time and effort I have put into recording my life in this way.
Throughout my journals and everything I’ve ever written, drawn, painted, photographed, or otherwise created, each holds a piece of a puzzle I’ve spent my whole life trying to put back together. I’ve worked hard on myself for the past 22 years to gain a better understanding of my life, my personality, my values — everything about ME, as an “individual” — despite my struggles with mental illness, trauma, and life, in general. Every single part of me has contributed to those journals in an attempt to understand what it means to be human in a general sense as well as an abstract sense. My journals are a part of me. They reflect the good and the bad. They are a timeline of my life. Everything I’ve ever created is a part of that timeline.
And all of it is my legacy to my children.
My case manager continued to explain that destroying whatever I’ve written out of angst and pain would allow me to release it, let it go. Holding onto it all would only prevent me from moving forward. This reminded me of a statement made by my counselor a few weeks ago — something about how I hold my past on a pedestal, refusing to let it go and move forward. I can’t remember his exact words, but both sentiments were basically the same — at least, in my mind.
Get the fuck over it and move on already.
The effects of mental illness and trauma are only a piece of the puzzle that is my life as well. ALL of my life experiences — good and bad — have made me the person I am today. All of that self-introspection in my journals and through my art are my attempts to process and cope with the effects of trauma on my life, especially when nothing else helps! The act of releasing is in the art of writing it all down. It is in the art of creation. I purge it from my system each and every time I find the words or imagery to get it out. My journals, my art, my blogs, and whatever else I choose to create are my life-line. Why would I want to destroy that? To destroy any of it would be like destroying a part of myself.
My case manager noticed I shut down, saying, “You got quiet.” I only smiled, patiently waiting for her to change the subject — all the while, seething inside.