Thursday, May 19, 2011


As I have mentioned before, I am reading Pat Conroy's book, "My Reading Life" (Doubleday:2010). As it happens, I have been writing about about secrets in my journal. In his discussions about Thomas Wolfe who I admire as well, Conroy states: "Like good students of literature, we (Conroy and his mother) began to make the comparisons and reach the conclusions that would both enrich and complicate our lives. " (pg 254)

Wolfe had a father who was an alcoholic and although Conroy and his mother differed in their interpretation of Wolfe's father, it gave both of them the avenue to discuss a previously taboo subject and that was the violence of Conroy's own father. Conroy felt that Wolfe in his fiction gave him the means to begin the long process of healing and of learning how not to hate his own father for it was apparent that Wolfe loved his father even though he was an out of control alcoholic. As Conroy said: "Literature can do many things; sometimes it can even do the most important things. " (pg 255) Conroy's mother thought of Wolfe's father a figure of high comedy while Conroy thought of him as a violent man. This is an opinion that I, myself, share for I have also read all of Wolfe's books.

In Joseph Gold's book, "Read For Your Life"(Godwit:1990), the author states that many of us read stories as an effective method of withdrawing from the turbulence of worldliness and getting at the reality of of one's own consciousness. For me reading does that and then I continue this process in my journals. I began to see in my journal entries of my teenage years that I had many secrets and yearnings that were similar to Pat Conroy's although different. I had a father who was a violent man and beat up on all of us in the family as Conroy's father had done. There are differences. Conroy loved and respected him. I felt none of those emotions.

In my teenage years, I use the journal to try and escape who I was for I was afraid of my imagination and wanted to control my emotions. I have learned since then that there is no way one can control one's emotions but to let them out in acceptable ways. I was afraid of the stories that I had in my head for I was trying to mature without the presence of parents. I no longer feel that way.

Still, it is always amazing that the one person we know the least about is the self we carry with us everyday. Carl G. Jung, the great Swiss therapist, worked all of his long life to uncover who he was but said before he died that he never did understand all that he was. I use the journals to try to learn who I am and I am always seeing some new aspect of the self or have a dream that gives me an hint of some unconscious feature that I did not conscious know. Each of us are all in this fix of trying to figure out who we are and never really knowing for sure as we change from one moment to the other.

Still, I think it is important that we try. Whenever I do uncover some secret that I kept from the self it gives me more freedom to expand who I am into other areas and to figure out more of the inner self who is me. I know that as a teen, I used to twist and turn in agony and pain from my life. The work I have been doing has given me relief from all that. I am at peace for the most part although when I am not I explore the reason behind it and find out why I am making myself miserable. I know it will be another secret that I am keeping from myself.

It would not be a simple matter of just uncovering all of the secrets but there are good reasons they are secrets. The self can't always accept what is hidden. Sometimes the truth is too much to accept so it must be discovered in stages. I call the barriers in the way, "sentinels", who raise their hands and say "stop" until I can accept the truth I have found so far. They are there to protect the self from doing too much damage by exposing oneself to too much truth too soon. When I first heard of the notion of "dropping acid" or LSD I knew I would never try that avenue of truth seeking. That was seeing all of the truth in too fast and too soon of a form. Besides, I have an active imagination and don't need help seeing wondrous things.

I often lack the confidence of believing in my own vision. I let others convince me of their truths and let them convince me that their truths are more truer than mine. Or, if I share my secrets they use those secrets against me. That happened to me once. I never did that again. I told some secrets to a therapist who wrote them down in my medical records and my supervisor checked them out and read them. I will never do that again. There has to be a happy medium. The one person we should strive towards not having secrets is ourselves and even that is not possible. Still, I try.

Conroy in his book had his mother to help him with his discoveries and his reading life as well as his writing. He also had a great English teacher. I also had people along the way that helped me discover my pathway. I don't want to lose the sense of wonderment when I discover things about the inner self when I uncover them in reading and writing. It might sound egotistical but as my aunt as always saying, "there you have it." I also don't want to shy away what is true for me too.

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