As many of you know, I’ve been seeing a counselor at school for the past few weeks to help cope with some recent issues I’ve had to deal with. He (the counselor) said that talking about some traumatic instances from my childhood might help, so I’m here sharing one of the most awful experiences I’ve had to endure.
Right now, I’m trying desperately to keep a journal, but it doesn’t feel right. No matter how much I force myself, it only ends up feeling forced and not authentic. As a teenager, right when I started the coming out process, I kept a journal religiously so it didn’t make any sense why I couldn’t do it now. Back then, I called it my nolujar (j-o-u-r-n-a-l rearranged). It had EVERYTHING. Homework assignments I thought were cool. The way I felt about other people at my school (especially boys). And how I dealt with my family, particular emphasis on my dad.
One day, when I was 16, my dad was on the phone and needed a sheet of paper to write something down. He went into my room and I, like an idiot, had left my nolujar out on my desk. When I started it, I made sure to keep the first page blank just in case it might deter anyone who wanted to snoop. He ripped out that sheet and just before the front cover closed, he realized that it was more than just a spiral notebook. Luckily, he didn’t read it then since he was on the phone and had gotten his sheet of paper, but he made a mental note to read it when he was done.
Thankfully, he forgot to pick it up after his phone call, but unfortunately, when I came home that day it reminded him to read it.
“That reminds me, go get your journal. I want to read it.”
“You want to read my journal?”
“Yeah, I saw some shit like ‘God hates me’.”
Luckily, my mom was in the next room, overhearing what he was saying and immediately intervened. She came up with some excuse to go to the grocery store. At that minute. Right then and there. Apparently, whatever she had to buy couldn’t wait and she needed dad’s help. Before they left, she pulled me aside and said, “Get rid of it. Don’t just throw it away, you know he’ll make you get it out of the trash. Get rid of it.”
As soon as they pulled out of the driveway and drove out of sight, I grabbed my journal and ran to the burn pile in our backyard. It was mid-autumn, so the weather was perfect for a white tshirt and a pair of cutoff jeans and my hair was almost down to my shoulders. My black tennis shoes had mismatched shoelaces; one was rainbow and one was lime green, and my soles were scribbled all over in phrases I had written in different colored Sharpies. In one hand, I held my journal, in the other, a lighter.
I tossed my nolujar on top of the pile and opened it to the first page: the title page. It read, ‘The Story of a Fucked Up Teenager’. I was proud of it. It had hundreds of pages of my life, spiral-bound and filled with the shit that overflowed from my angsty teenage heart. Like how hard it had been to come out to Heather Crutchfield, the first person I ever came out to. How cool I thought Ms. Kummer, my high school math teacher, was and how I discovered I had a knack for mathematics, especially geometry. And on the last page, a goodbye note I had written to my journal about why I had to destroy it, and how much I hated my father for forcing me to do so.
I lit the bottom corner of the first page, and the flame immediately took. The wind started to pick up, and the pages started flipping quickly as each of them caught on fire, giving me a quick glimpse of everything before it was gone. I remember crouching down trying to hide my face, partially from the smoke, mostly trying to fight back the onslaught of tears. After a few minutes, all that was left was a metal coil and ash.
He made me destroy something I was proud of, something that was the essence of me at that point in my life. And I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him.