A small, intimate book burning.

Dear Diary,

You came back to me in a set of two cardboard boxes my parents brought to the house last weekend. They’re hoping to downsize soon, and that means cleaning out the second of two childhood homes I grew up in. I lost your key when I was aged in just the single digits, and for the rest of the time I spent writing regularly, I unlocked it with one of my grandmother’s old pins. Hopefully that pin is somewhere in those boxes, too. But I never got through the rest of the boxes – not once I found you.

I’m not sure what I was expecting to find when I ran upstairs and fished a safety pin out of my jewelry box, struggling to remember exactly how I used to torque the sharp point to pop the lock that mercifully shields the words contained within you. Finally, the pin caught the latch and you popped open. I ignored your cover, adorned in hearts and a “No Peeking” sticker, and I read.

I should have known better.
I want to rip out your pages.
I want to set you on fire.
I may well do both.

Reading you makes me feel like an idiot, even though I haven’t touched pen to your pages since I was 16 years old. I opened you up in 1994 and updated you – sometimes daily, but sometimes silent for months – through the beginning of 2000. I was a new driver. I was a high school sophomore. I was a virgin (yes, for all of you who knew me then and swore otherwise – you read that correctly). You’ve three shades of page – blue, red, and green. I stopped writing just as I reached the green pages, even though I thought I’d have so much to say by then.

But reading you makes me feel like I have nothing to say. It makes me feel like I am still a stupid little girl, hanging her entire self-worth on who likes her, on whether her parents will survive a bout of intense fighting, on whether her period will EVER arrive, on wishing she could be as good at things as her brother is. And calling herself names. Constantly.

You’re fat!
You’re a moron!
Why can’t you do ANYTHING right?!
He’s never going to like you!
Nobody likes you!
Everyone thinks that you are a whore.

I wrote these things. To myself.

Reading you hurts. It makes me sick to my stomach and full of regret and overwhelmed.

I am not one of these impossible people who look back on their childhood personality and think “Oh, how funny. How cute. How innocent.” No. I cannot rationalize you away, Diary, because the words in you came from me. And though I know I was a kid, and I know better now than to look at the world – and morover, at myself – in such a way, I’m still embarrassed by it all. I knew so much about things that meant nothing, and nothing about things that meant so much.

I cannot change who I was, Diary. I was just a kid. And really, I wasn’t that bad. But keeping you, reading you, and knowing that when I’m gone, someone might find you and use a safety pin to unlock all the self-hatred and poison inside you…well, I know what to do.

But I cannot change who I was, Diary. What I can do is find the lighter and some kindle.

And begin saying prayers upon prayers upon prayers that my future daughter will be a bit nicer to herself than her mother once was.

Sincerely,
Becky

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