When I was eight years old, my maternal grandmother gave me my first journal. It has a cloth cover covered in delicately painted strawberry vines. I found it in a plastic bin in storage with about a dozen other diaries I kept throughout my life. I used this one to record events I deemed important or when I wasn’t keeping a regular journal. The above image is the first entry.
What strikes me about this is how protective I felt toward my mother. What about me? How did I feel? Following entries detail the fights and illustrate (literal drawings) threats and incidents of violence. My anxiety and feelings of responsibility over how the chaos my parents created made THEM feel continued to grow. Although I have learned self-compassion and am working on awareness of how things make ME feel before worrying about others, that protectiveness lingers to this day, both with my father, and also my mother who died 24 years ago. Reading my journals is heartbreaking, but it expands my awareness of the work I’m doing to get better.