A journal, says Oliver

I kept journals intermittently as a girl … before I started to worry that the journals would betray me.

It all began with Ms. Hayward, my seventh grade English teacher, and her fondness for passing around ripped pages from Readers Digest. My favorite pages held the Quotable Quotes, many of which I wrote down in my journals.

This one stayed and haunted me: “Keep a secret and you are it’s master. Tell a secret and you become it’s slave.”

I felt like my entire existence was a shameful secret, something I didn’t want anyone to know, something I wanted to forget. So I stopped writing it all down.

I let go of it – and all my words – for such a very long time. But slowly, I have been gathering my words together and trying to make sense of myself again. And this time around, it feels liberating.

[Although – for the record – I am a huge deleter of emails, texts, voicemails and other electronic errata]

nyti.ms/2wrfRP7

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Note to world #9399

It was difficult to watch:

my ex husband so full of whiskey and bullshit, smoking one cigarette after another

criticizing my daughter in the same tones he had used to undermine my own fragile confidence over the course of our marriage

I knew she wanted me to let it go, and I was trying hard, but I finally asked him to stop being so mean

to which he said: I’m not being mean, I’m just making fun of her – which I’m entitled to do as her dad

and for two seconds, we were married again and a lonely pang pierced me so I couldn’t breathe

Me

I think it’s just me.

difference as a point of separation

isolation

abnormality

then it turns out it’s everyone and

I feel empowered by knowledge

numbers

acknowledgement

to a point.

and then I start to feel like

I really just want to be alone again

forget

move on

I don’t want to be part of,

I want to be separate from:

distinct

my own, not #metoo

in a way that may not make sense

but seems right anyway.

gloria beatty, 2018

Sometimes I get carried away and think my life belongs to me.

I forget momentarily that I am someone’s mother, manager, employer, pet owner or coworker – and that I have a Pavlovian response to their needs and desires.

Other people’s needs, the dog’s schedule, my job, my incessant guilt, the sheer fatigue at it all – these are the things that stop me and hold me in place.

Oh, and the enormity of all my failings and flaws and imperfections.

I hold myself in total self-inflicted paralysis.

I become an internet astronaut, an explorer of the World Wide Web – reading about everything I don’t dare do or see or taste or experience – all of which can be wedged between everyone else’s stuff.

I rationalize these imagined restraints on my alleged life until they seem so real that there is no other choice.

I seek temporary relief in the form of randomly scheduled facials, erratically timed trips to the gym and the occasional new top.

But it’s not enough.

Never.

I am: never enough.

Note to world #4435

Today, my oldest child asked if we could sort through her pajamas together.

Peaceful moments in a difficult relationship and organizational zen – all in one place – was almost more than my tiny zone of happiness could absorb.

I pushed aside the conspiracy theories that crowded my joy for one second – I mean, yes of course : aliens could have taken over her body and were probably exploiting my weakness for tidiness in order to study my minimalist neurotic tendencies…..

But now was not the time to be worried about that. My daughter was patiently waiting to examine PJs together.