My first journal had a puffed, white, plastic cover. A dancing bear stood frozen amidst cotton candy clouds, the body guard to my precious 11-year-old secrets: A list of what I got for Christmas that year, musings on both the love and hate I felt for one boy, my favourable review of the squiggly slide in the McDonald’s down the street. As I grew older, it took longer to finish each journal, the entries usually reserved for times of teen angst and heartbreak, but I continued to keep one even to this day, two decades later.
Last night, I wrote on the last of the pages of my most recent journal, one that I started almost exactly 4 years ago on April 8th, 2008, chronicling my struggle to regain my independence after two separate Lupus flares. I was tempted many times during the last four years to start anew, to save myself from having to revisit the pages of the past. At times, I could hardly go near it, but I knew it was important to finish, to see it through to the end.
I want to share something I wrote on October 14th, 2009 while recovering from Lupus Cerebritis in my parent’s home:
Don’t you dare give into fear. Don’t you dare. Don’t let it take you. Don’t let it break you. Hold on. Hold on tight to who you know you are inside. Don’t let go. You’ve heard the voice inside – your voice – your future self heralds you towards her. She’s shining, remember? Shining and healthy and YOU. Don’t let the fear in. Don’t let it come near. Don’t.
I continue to journal because I need to re-visit entries like this. I need the reminder that you’re always your biggest ally, that there is always something on the other side of what you know, and that sometimes you need your past to help you realize there is a future.