Juliet McDonald: Two Diaries

  • 2 min read

In this moving piece, Juliet attempts to make sense of her childhood traumas by telling her story in the form of two diaries. One written by herself and an imaginary one written by her mother.

2 journals side by side

As a child and teenager, I never had the courage to share my feelings with anybody. A few years ago I felt the need to do something to help me come to terms with my childhood. I decided to write a story telling the events of my childhood in the form of two diaries: one written by me and an imaginary one written by my mother to give two very different perspectives of both our lives. This is one day’s excerpt from the diaries.

March 1. 1965

Oh god, I’m bleeding. I must have damaged something inside after all. I haven’t just broken my leg. Something is wrong inside. Thank god, thank god, thank god. If I don’t tell anybody, hopefully I will just die. I’ll just wait and see what happens.
It was so awful coming to and realising I hadn’t died. God it was awful. I hurt so much and it was so bloody cold.
I didn’t know what I was going to do anymore. I couldn’t face another day, but now I won’t have to. Maybe I’ll die while I’m sleeping tonight. Oh that will be so good. I do have an ache in my stomach. Something is wrong. I just have to wait, just a little while longer, just a little while.
Damn, damn, damn. I am not going to die after all. Mum saw the blood on my clothes. She asked me why I didn’t tell her. I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t say ‘I didn’t want you to know because I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up’.
She told me I had started my first period. I never gave that a thought. It just never occurred to me. I thought I had damaged myself inside when I jumped out of the window. Thank goodness Mum believed me when I told her I fell down the front steps. I could never tell her I attempted to kill myself.
What now? What do I do now?

Mother’s diary
I can’t believe this girl. Ellen started her periods yesterday and she didn’t say a word. What am I going to do with her? I suppose she’s just a bit self-conscious about it. Thank goodness her little sister is so much more forthcoming, at least I know what’s going on with her. I have to take Ellen back to the hospital tomorrow. Then they’ll put a cast on her leg if the swelling has gone down enough. She’ll be able to go back to school in a couple of days. A good job too, I can’t afford to take any more time off work. How on earth did she manage to break 3 bones falling down a few steps? I hope she doesn’t have the same brittle bone problem as Dada. He was forever breaking bones. He only had to sneeze and he broke a rib. She’ll be fine I am sure, if she had brittle bones she’d have broken a lot more by now. Kids eh, with 6 of them there’s always something to worry about.

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