My recent paintings are an autobiography of sorts, and part of the research I do is reading my journals. Example: Dec. 16, 1990 "I hate the damned cat most of the time." There was more in the entry about the general havoc and destruction Dash was wreaking on my kitchen at the time. Dogs at least show remorse when they do something wrong. Cats seem to glory in it, though when my cat wasn't breaking things he was rather sweet.
I spoke with a friend this week about my ex-bf who read my journal -- and held what he read against me for the rest of our relationship. My friend laughed and said he'd never be stupid enough to tell me he'd read my journal. "Would you read it?!" I asked. "Sure!" he replied. Seeing as I used to date this guy I asked if he had read my journals. He said he hadn't, but it was now established that he wasn't stupid enough to tell me if he did.
My journals suffered repeated invasions of privacy by multiple people which caused me to destroy many of them and not to write about my feelings for years. I think it was a different form of abuse really. Other people's nosiness caused me to cut off a healthy coping skill and destroyed my trust in those people.
I didn't really hate my cat. I was just mad at him. Writing what I felt in the moment with the intention of nobody's eyes but my own was a safe way to vent. I sometimes wrote about people the same way. Sometimes I didn't know what I felt and I wrote until I figured it out.
One time, a woman picked up my journal and started to read it in front of me. Short of a fist fight, she wouldn't give it up. In the end, I let her read what I'd written -- which was concern about her parenting skills. Maybe she learned something useful? I'm pretty sure she still holds what I wrote against me too -- which doesn't mean I should have to give up my self-expression to make her happier. There's a reason journals are supposed to be private.
Unlike all these other people, I usually don't reread my journals. Doing research for my paintings has been an interesting journey. The amount of time I obsessed about stupid things and worrying about other people! I want that time back. I guess seeing this is part of the benefits of age and wisdom?
For my current paintings, I summarize my journal entries. I journal more. I figure out major themes and type a summary. When the painting is finished, I've thought and felt all I need to think and feel about the subject. It's a lot of work, but it's also been enormously helpful in seeing things I couldn't see before in people and events. Maybe all this sounds too obsessive compulsive? The thing is, I think everything we feel and experience stays in our muddy brains until it's resolved. Thinking a lot about some things now means I won't have to think about them anymore. In other words, less work in the end.
Sometimes we have to just look for the good in bad outcomes. For instance, I think the US Supreme Court battle has finally cured me of my news addiction. I can't stand to look at those people in DC. They're like cats smashing things in the kitchen for fun. I hope the Democrats win everything in November.