When I told the therapist that I had been keeping a journal since 2 May 1978, she asked if I had re-read it. I told her that I had not looked at my old paper stuff, which encompasses everything from the start date, when I was in the eighth grade, to the time just before Crystal and I moved to California. She suggested that I try reading it. I felt apprehensive about doing that, when it came down to it. I can't exactly identify why. Nevertheless, I did manage to go get those old notebooks and start reading. I thought I'd make notes here, since things started occurring to me as I am reading.
I was writing to be read, even though I have tried to keep a conversational tone out of my journals. I wasn't as conscious of the effort or even the fact that there was a conversational tone to the writing style, at the time. Is it a symptom of the desire for external validation? In reading my childhood writings, the neediness was very clear. I wanted to be understood. I wanted the girl to whom I was attracted to desire me, to know me. It was very difficult for me to feel that desire and not act upon it and just speak up and talk to her. I was terribly insecure, and immature, and at great pains to deny both of these things. I was still building "forts and clubhouses" out of tree limbs in the woods with kids two or three years my junior, when I was fourteen. I was much moved to hyperbolic prose, or at least, romantically colorful prose. It is somewhat amusing to me to note that being shy, awkward, and naive, while at the same time being somewhat precociously adept with prose, produced some rather interesting text. I was very much more sentimental than I am now. Carl Jung tells us that, "Sentimentality is the superstructure erected upon brutality." All I can add to that is that apparently, we learn it young. All punning aside, it does cause me to wonder: do we learn the two concomitantly or does the inculcation of one naturally facilitate the inculcation of the other?
Side note: while looking up the quote to check the wording I stumbled upon an article, by a person named Antonio Dias, discussing Jung's observation. It looks interesting. I wonder what this guy makes or would make of the fact that Ayn Rand and Carl Jung appear to be in agreement over their dislike of Joyce, and do not appear to be that far apart in their justifications for their dislike. The author defends Joyce, I note. I am intrigued by this line:
Sentiment takes any criticism, real or inferred, and turns it into an excuse for a reaction. Anything to keep our focus where we demand it belongs.
Hmm. Perhaps I should drop that idea on some of my own sub-parts and see who squirms. Why anger, indeed. Of course, "an excuse for a reaction" is somewhat lacking in explanatory power. "Anything to keep our focus where we demand it belongs," instigates a better question: why. Is it fear, or something else? Do any of us actually entirely escape the charge of narcissism, if Miller, Gerlach, et al, are right about the ubiquity of childhood traumatization and consequent baggage? I note the author's use of the inclusive "we," in his article. It is not a question of pathology. Herds of "normal" people go mad and turn their times into orgies of bloodshed.
It is not as awkwardly painful, reading this, as I worried that it would be. I was terribly obsessed over Veronica. There was something about her that drew my attraction. It is hard to pick out. I was all over the map in documenting what I felt and this early in the chronology I see very little questioning of why. I'm wondering about how much of a clue I actually had, at the time. I knew that it was her, specifically that I wanted, and I didn't find quite so much interest in many other of the girls in my class. I am wondering if I managed to identify anything substantial in what I valued about her. Was it all physical, at that age? Was it all neediness and desire for external validation? I made a lot of notes in my journal about Veronica that would point to an attraction to her femininity. I was way too young to characterize this observation as such, at the time, but I see it, in the particulars I tended to note about her, and I understand it in light of what moves me today. I liked looking at her bare skin, her arms and legs fascinated me, when she would wear a dress. I wrote frequently of how she dressed and how she wore her hair. I recall that she wore makeup when almost all of the other girls in the class did not, and she was talented and subtle enough with it not to get noticed or rebuked by the nuns, as far as I knew. I haven't seen it, yet, at this point in my reading, but I am wondering if I duly noted my observation about her wearing makeup in some entry. I also see that I was clearly attracted to the sound of particular female voices and laughter. I noted both the sound and the kinesthetic grace of her movements when she laughed.
I was fascinated by the most silly coincidences, like the fact that we had worn sweaters of the same color one day. Oh, my poor brain. I do note, in favor of the child I was then, that I didn't attempt to ascribe such coincidences as the manifestations of some sort of supernatural will or destiny, despite the fact that I would have confessed a belief in God, in those days. I was still a server at Mass.
I note that, for all that I was chided and chastised for absent-mindedness and awkwardness as a boy, I was very observant, when my interest was piqued, having noted the warmth of Jenny's hands, for example when I had occasion to touch them during a classroom experiment with building a model thermometer.
It is interesting to understand, from my reading between the lines now, that my parents probably had a better grasp of my infatuations than I believed them to have at the time. I wanted advice, but I wanted my inner life a secret to them. They both, in their ways, managed to make me feel invaded (and sometimes, all too often, even rejected). Have I done any better than they when Shannon tells me, "I don't like to feel around you."