Today I bought a hard drive. I didn’t have one, and I have been increasingly worried that I will lose the contents on my Mac. There are photos of my daughter, texts I have written, memories from way back when I worked as a volunteer at a feminist radio station and produced literary criticism for their book program. I am planning to edit this content. Save what is important, throw away what I don’t need, or don’t wish to remember anymore.
How do you edit your past? I’m in the habit of getting rid of the proof of bad memories (the proof meaning physical evidence such as letters, e-mails, diaries etc. ) I remember myself at twelve or thirteen wanting to eradicate my past, meaning my childhood, which seemed to me filled with the most embarrassing and ridiculous things. I am still astonished when I think of how I burned my diary because I wanted to start afresh. At almost forty I still do this. If I could live certain parts of my life over again, or erase certain parts, I would do it. What is it in my psyche which clings to the past in such a desperate way, which uses it to torture myself, to go over and over the stupid behavior, the bad choices, the shame, all the times I came up short in one way or another? I don’t know. Maybe this desire to edit is a way to save myself, save my sanity. Being so hung up in the past that you cannot move forward is terribly unproductive and also kind of destructive. You are not allowed to be destructive anymore when you become a parent. Those days are over when a child comes into the equation. So the answer is: Edit.
I cannot decide if I would want my daughter to see the whole ME one day. I have often reflected upon the possibility of her reading my diary, and I must say that I don’t like the idea of it. Should I burn it like I burned the diary of my childhood? Probably.
My mother’s constant self-criticism has never done me any good. I know I have inherited it, and I do my best to keep it on a low volume, but sometimes it just wants to come out. I do absolutely not want my daughter to inherit what I received from my mother. Sometimes I wish I could make myself a blank sheet, and start coloring anew, so that she can see someone she can be proud of. I know that’s impossible, so I will edit.
Now that I’m to bring up another human being, the problem of “content” has come more and more in the foreground of my thoughts. I don’t know how to edit, without becoming bland, and without becoming a false version of myself. I don’t believe in honesty at all cost but falseness sickens me. I hope to bring her up to become someone who can look kindly at other people without judgement, and to have an open mind. Most of all, I want to bring her up to look kindly upon herself. Maybe then she can accept her flawed mother as well.