In the midst of MK’s purging, she found a bag of letters which I sent her during our second dating series. All the way back to the first letter dated 7/12/76.
Beginning with this letter and then reading the next few months of letters, I was struck by several things. The first was how verbal I was. I shared way too much about what was going on in my head. I can only think of how it would have confused MK. It was like a journal; I wrote things that I should have included in a journal but not sent to her.
I am amazed at how she continued to pursue our relationship. It was like I was verbally uncontrolled; I just rambled on and on. My English and grammar were not good. I confused many parts of speech. As I read them out loud to MK, I edited the grammar so I didn’t sound so uneducated.
Afterwards we talked and I shared how I was embarrassed by the way and the amount I wrote. It wasn’t that I felt shame, I was just surprised. I look back on who I was at 22 in light of who I am at 69. Oh, how mistaken I am to do so. It wasn’t that I only used poor grammar, but what and how I shared what was happening internally was not appropriate. It was as if I had no interior thought life. I expressed everything outside.
I talked a lot about reading the scriptures and praying, but there was obviously no place to process this in my inner life. I didn’t know how to do so through journaling or in community, so I just vomited it all over MK. I think it may have been her pastor’s desire to inhibit this tendency that caused him to suggest I start journaling over 40 years ago. Probably more than anything else, journaling has allowed me to reign in this “Verbal Drool” and be more intentional in what I communicate or express to others.
This is because I am free to write all of my undeveloped thoughts or unreviewed feelings in my journal and see them for what they are. Then I can choose how, what, and when I want to communicate my thoughts and feelings with others. It isn’t that I wasn’t a deep thinker or feeler at 22, but I didn’t have a healthy mechanism to process my thoughts or feelings at that age. So they simply came out.
I have been so guilty of re-writing my own history. I honestly thought of myself at 22 from the perspective of a 69-year-old. I read back into my life the attributes that have taken 47 years to develop. I am not sure what I would have done with the Greg at 22 if he came to me today for advice. I would have been fairly taken aback by his brashness and communication. I am sure my times professionally were not as free flowing as were these letters. I would hope I would have monitored myself more closely in that environment. I received praise for the work I did there; however, it seems my life was personally a bit out of control.
We all need to be careful to not “rewrite” our own history as I have done. Before reading these letters I would have thought of my younger years through the cognitive and emotional faculties that I possess today. This was not the case and it gives me much more grace and patience in dealing with those who are young. I am very thankful those older than I was did so for me back then.