How a diary helps us grow by teaching us to articulate our feelings without shame
During my recent home move I spent a lot of time sorting through my stuff and tripping down memory lane. Parts of that were quite fun. One such was the rediscovery of a diary I kept as a teen—filled with my thoughts just as I was discovering sex and relationships for the first time.
It was fun to read my words, and it is amazing how I could re-feel the feelings I had at the time, how fresh they still felt, and how easy it was to remember my “self” from so many years ago.
But something else struck me too. I did not write with total honesty. I hid things. I could even remember now the things I had hidden. Even then I was conscious of writing for an audience, regulating how I might be perceived. And yes, shame, the desire to hide things I might consider embarrassing or unflattering, was very much in operation in my diary, even as it is now.
In a way this blog is a diary. I do try to be open as I possibly can, but also have to admit that I still care what people think. I know I should let go, and after all, isn’t that the point? If you can’t be open in a diary, open with yourself, what’s the point?
The other day, I butted up against a solemn promise I made to Mistress. She asked me an innocent question which I found that I was embarrassed to answer. I honoured my commitment to always be fully transparent, but it didn’t flow out easily, and I still worded it in such a way as to preserve decorum and modesty. It was a silly story, pretty embarrassing, and one which involved explaining how I had gotten hot pepper residue on my privates. In the end it was that it was kind of cringeworthy, and humorous, that made it easy enough to tell.
Why is it so important to us to preserve a façade? What purpose or role does shame have in self-preservation? One of my closest friends thinks out loud. Her thoughts tumble out of her as she has them, all of her fears and anxieties. I love listening to her talk, in part because I can feel her embarrassment, but also marvel at how by speaking her fears she lets them go. She may be the freest person I know. She’s certainly very grown up that way. I take that freshness, that honesty, as a positive example.
Note to self. Take this as a challenge. Time to let go of fear and post more freely.