The Great Pretender

A friend recently told me that lately she's been writing in a diary. "Not exactly like a diary, though," she explained. "I promise to tell myself the real truth."

It's interesting...I totally get what she means. How often do we admit the deeper, darker truths of our lives to anyone, let alone to ourselves? Though I love to write, I have never been able to successfully keep a diary for more than a few months (this blog though is somehow different, don't ask me why). I started when I was a pre-teen, and kept a diary over the three weeks of each year that my family would go on vacation (or move...that happened every couple of years and lasted three weeks) The entries pretty much read like this:

"Today I woke up and ate breakfast. Then we went to the library. I got [insert Judy Blume title here]. We went to the beach. Then we came home and had dinner. Then we got ice-cream. Good night."

Occasionally something exciting happened, like when I learned how to insert a tampon (No, I'm not kidding - there's a big page with the words, in all capitals, of course, as if I was looking ahead and planning how best to embarrass myself in the future, "I Finally Got A Tampon In!!". I often recounted my dreams, gave blow-by-blow accounts of the fights my brother would have with my parents, and fantasized about my fall wardrobe, using diagrams to show my diary the fabulous vests and bracelets I would wear to my first day of the 8th Grade (we were moving again and I had to make an impression).

When I got older and began to have more interesting and more tortured things to tell my diary, I found that it was difficult not to edit myself. Anyone who is honest with their diary most likely has a really depressing collection of entries. You don't take time out to say "Hey Diary, my life is awesome, I'm writing this to you from a party on a yacht...oh, looks like they're about to give me my award, gotta go! TTYL!!!!" My diaries are oddly chipper looking back. Reading them over, it seems like I'm trying to convince myself that I'm having a good time.

Diaries are...rightly...what we spill to when we feel depressed and alone. My entries (sporadic as they are) often start out, simply, "I am so depressed." Then I find that I can't elaborate because what I feel is such a cliche. I want my entries to sound good, dammit. I have always done this, always tinkered with their form and content to make them read like little essays, as if someone other than me might someday pore over them.

The point is that a diary is supposed to be completely unself-conscious. It should be the truth in its most primitive form. My friend has the right idea, telling herself the real truth. I must confess that y
ou won't always read the real, raw truth on this blog; that's why I sometimes feel like the Great Pretender. Like now for example...

Friday will be the 1st Anniversary of my young sister in law R's tragic death and I've tried very hard to pretend that all is well. That Friday is just another day. No big deal. I've got this. It's a lie of course. I have 3 drats of a post marking this anniversary and every time I go back and read it, I find myself editing out the raw truth...just to make it sound better. I'm working on accepting the truth for what it is...raw, real and painful but it's my true truth.

In the end...I am glad though that I write it down and I will work harder to write the real, raw truth. I think rather than a ghost of sufferings past, the real truth might serve as a badge of honor, a reminder that, since simpler times when I spent summer days reading Judy Blume, I've lived through a lot. And lived to tell the tale.


  1. I have never kept a diary, but have been so interested in writing a book on my childhood and sharing with people who have been sexually and physically abused as children. Only problem is my grammar and punctuation sucks! Of course my sister suggested getting a ghost writer. It helps our heart and souls to get pinned up feelings out.


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