I started journal writing before high school as a cathartic exercise. I used it as a way to deal with my feelings about my physical handicap, partial paralysis from a stroke when I was four years old, and the reactions other people had to me. I didn’t see myself as handicapped, probably because I dealt with it for all of my life, and it made me angry when people treated me as feeble and dim-witted. It still does. I destroyed the entries as soon as I wrote them. My parents saw me write, but I don’t think they knew the extent of my writings. It would have made them cry, and they have cried enough. Parental worry can only be fully realized once one becomes a parent themselves. My children are healthy and sound thankfully, but the worry is very real. It has led to many a sleepless night and feelings of utter helplessness. I wouldn’t give my parents more of a reason to worry over me. (I admit this knowing that my parents are reading this blog. This is to them—I am fine. I am healthy, loved, and secure. Do not worry beyond the normal amount.)
Looking back, I was a writer before I entered high school, but it was intensely personal. It wouldn’t be until many years later when I was finishing up my studies for my Master’s degree and teaching certificate at Rutgers University that I shared my work with anyone. I had to take a summer writing seminar as a requirement for graduation. Half the day, we were allowed to go where we pleased, to write. I had a particular spot on the quad where I’d like to sit and write. I wrote about my children, my dogs, my parents; I made up stories for passing students on their way to class. It was peaceful, a part of my hectic day that I was required to be reflective, a time I could take to be by myself and not feel guilty because I was away from my young children and other familial obligations. The second half of the day was for sharing and critiquing. This was daunting, but I found my voice, and through it, I found MY VOICE. I found the confidence to share my stories, and saw the first glimmer that I was a writer.