The Importance of Keeping a Diary

I've kept a diary since I was ten years old. It began as simply telling what I was doing that day and where I was in my life. What was happening around me and what I thought about those things. That's what it's always been. I've filled books with daily musings about my life.

When I was 14-years-old, I had gone home from boarding school and accidentally left my book journal at home during Christmas break. My sister was in trouble for crashing her car into a tree and had to clean my bedroom after I left. She found my journal and read it. She discovered that I'm gay. Then she proceeded to show it to my parents. They wouldn't let me know that they knew I was gay until Spring Break later that year. Going back to my boarding school, without a physical journal in hand, I started a LiveJournal. I wrote in it everyday. This was in 2002-2003. This was before Youtube. This was before Facebook or Myspace. These were days when online communities were void of spammers and flamers. These were outlaw days.

I dedicated hours writing in that LiveJournal. Letting my friends know what I was doing, why I was doing it and how long I would be doing it. My diaries were therapeutic. Allowing me the chance to share with those my inner thoughts. For the first time, I was allowed to showcase my thoughts and feelings on subjects that were outside of my daily vernacular. Friends liked posts, strangers made comments, online communities were born; these were pre-social media days. This was huge.

I returned to my boarding school for sophomore year. Within my first week back, my parents had hired someone to fix our computer and they found my LiveJournal. It was my stepmom's gay personal assistant. He thought it was cute and showed it to them. My stepmom recalled saying when she first read my LiveJournal, "Damn, he's going to be a writer." Well, in my LiveJournal, my parents discovered that I was really gay. Not just questioning my feelings, that I was completely and totally gay. "You need to butch it up" gay. What transpired was my whole world turning upside down with them hiring two narcotics officers to come escort me off campus, and whisking me off on a private jet to Dallas, Texas where I would be admitted to the first of three units within the following nine months.

I was cut off from the outside world. I wasn't allowed to have phone calls unless the person was pre-approved by my parents. Even then, the staff would sit there and watch us have these phone calls. Mail was opened and read. The items could be confiscated if staff thought it were inappropriate. Doors were meant to be kept open at all times, and whispering wasn't allowed. Boys had to sit with boys and girls had to sit with girls. Unless you were gay, and then you were watched over by staff to make sure nothing funny was going on. There was hardly ever a time that you were left alone. Between staff watching you, seeing therapists, being surrounded by others in the unit was normal and way of life. Privacy wasn't readily available within the confines of those walls. I would sit alone in my thoughts. And I wrote down my thoughts as they came. I was stuck there and had no way out. But I could write it down. I could tell my story to someone. I had to trust that what I had to say was important. It was and still is.

There is a quote by Martha Graham that totally encompasses why I write in a journal,

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

That quote in part is the reason why I have decided to share these diaries. It has been ten years since I was in rehab, where I wrote down my experiences while there. Enough distance has passed to finally share with others. With that, I hope that my diaries can help others who have gone through something similar or inspire those to use writing as a tool for therapeutic expression. It's a cathartic experience. These are The Rehab Diaries. (http;//