The Writing That's Missing

Lately I've been thinking about the words I didn't write.

an abstact watercolor illustration of an empty journal sitting on a table
Image created via Midjourney

Lately I've been thinking about the words I didn't write.

Back in 2015, when I first became pregnant with Nelle, I was writing publicly about my life with kids. I've since taken that blog down because it was nothing more than me documenting my life.

But because it was public, there were things I didn't write about. Like my anxiety around my pregnancy with Nelle. How I felt like something was wrong. My unease at doctor's appointments. My private thoughts.

And I also wasn't writing in a journal at the time. So those feelings exist only in my memories.

After Nelle died, my therapist gave me a journal. When I started to think about these moments, never captured in my writing, I searched for the journal and found it.

I had only written a few entries, between September 2015 and February 2016. Between when Nelle died and Iris died. So I only have my private thoughts for a brief window of time.

I really regret that now, especially as a writer. Especially as a writer who would love to write a book one day.

The most I can do at this point is try to recreate my memories, now more than eight years later. I'll have to notate what's clear and where my memories feel a bit fuzzy. Compare to entries in this blog that may help me unpack how I was feeling.

This isn't the first time I've regretted not having a journal. Back in college, I worked for a local congressman and knocked on constituents' doors all summer. The stories from that adventure were varied and sometimes hilarious. I wish I'd written them down.

I also spent three years traveling for my job — from 2006 to 2009. I went to small towns all over the United States. It was hard, but also filled with mishaps, seeing the sights of these small downs, trying to find restaurants as a vegetarian, and so many other interesting stories. But I have none of them. And smartphones were new back then — I didn't have one — so I don't even have photos.

Now, I write in a journal daily. Sometimes it's nothing more than a brief recap of the day before, devoid of feelings, but at least it's a record of what happened. Sometimes, if I'm in the mood, I'll expand and write more. It only takes a few minutes. And hopefully I'll never again regret not having my own words.

I recently moved from handwritten journal entries in a Moleskine notebook to writing in an app. I've always been hesitant about recoding my thoughts in an app. Mostly I resist the idea that the app holds my data. But this app has an export feature. If I ever wanted to get my journal entries out, I can.

And the benefit is searchability. I can go back and find notes on anything. I want to eventually tie related ideas together. Let one memory take me back to another memory — something that isn't really possible in a handwritten journal.

I plan to go back and add these few entries from my journal to the app. I am sure it will be difficult, to read about how grief absorbed so much of my life at the time.  

But that's part of the point — being able to reconnect with my past self.

I cry constantly in fear.
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