Last week I received my contributor’s copy of Cringe: Teenage Diaries, Journals, Notes, Letters, Poems, and Abandoned Rock Operas. My friend, Sarah, put together this compilation of real teenage diary and journal entries, and it is screamingly funny in an OH MY GOD WHY DID NO ONE PUNCH ME IN THE FACE kind of way.

The entry I submitted is from the diary I kept during my freshman year in college, the year before I started taking meds for The Crazy, and there were so many choice excerpts that I had a hard time deciding which one was the most humiliating. Take for instance this entry from February 11, 1994:

It reads:

Ryan called the other night. I sent him a barney valentine card. Satan does live. He gets his vitality in Ryan. Satan himself called at the most vulnerable point of my entire semester yet. And how did Heather do? But of course she prattled to the tyranny of Satan and his servants. Without going into detail, I’ll just relate what I’ve learned: I need to justify myself to no one except me and my Heavenly Father. No one else. The only opinion that counts is that of God. All else is foolish. And Ryan/Satan is just that.

Ryan/Satan was my boyfriend in high school, the first boyfriend I ever had, who broke up with me after three months because, oh, I WAS INSANE? I think he was calling me when I was in college to see if maybe I had grown any alien appendages, like a tree trunk jutting out from my brain, because certainly that was inevitable.

Then there’s this one from February 8, 1994:

It reads:

Tuesday afternoon. But not by much. 12:38pm. I have a few before my daily carnal indulgence — Guiding Light. I think the weather has a lot to do with these complacent feelings I’m experiencing. Is it snow or just albino raindrops? Can’t tell. Okay, about yesterday. First off, I was walking to the computer lab at about 7:30am yesterday when *bum ba bum* the National Anthem began to resound across campus and the flag began to ascend its pole. I was walking with my head down and happened to look up. There were about 20 people out there on the quad that early. Every single one of them stopped dead in his tracks, placed his hand over his heart, faced the flag, and contributed to the silence of the moment. It was a goose-bumping experience — one I could experience no place else. Saluting God’s country at God’s University. Brother Hedengren was discussing the source of “numerous perceptions” in Phil 110. Do we experience these warm fuzzy sensations from God, from Satan, or from ourselves? He then related the story of his nine year old daughter bearing her testimony of Heavenly Father. She lost her rabbit and after a few weeks of fervent prayer, a kid in her class at school showed up with a rabbit he had found for show-and-tell. Her rabbit, no doubt. God lives.

HOLY CRAP. Saluting God’s country at God’s university. If that isn’t the creepiest thing I’ve ever written, right after ALBINO RAINDROPS.

Finally, the one I am most embarrassed over, from February 3, 1994 (that was a particularly bad month for The Crazy):

9:24am Thursday morning. Ooh yeah. I can feel the latent fatigue so eager to rack my body. Calculus is in a half-hour and since I don’t know how to use the table of integrals, I’m not going to waste my time nor my paper. I got about four-five hours of sleep last night — after seeing a movie like that sleep doesn’t come easy. Philadelphia. Homosexuality and aids. Poignant film, must say. Made me reconsider some of my hard-core conservative bias. These homosexuals with aids — yes, they choose the lifestyle, but not the disease. They, too, are human beings with real human emotion and real human moms and dads. One could say, and I probably would have also, that in choosing the lifestyle they choose the disease. But many of them do not have the protective agent of the gospel in their lives. Many of them genuinely don’t know that it’s wrong. How can justice be accounted for in these cases? These people are suffering for their wrong choices, but what if in the first case they don’t know that it’s wrong? How does anyone who is not homosexual know that homosexuals choose to have those tendencies? Yes, it is true that homosexuals can choose not to act on those feelings, but how can they choose the right of a situation they don’t know implicates wrong? Homosexuality isn’t any worse than blatant fornication, is it? Just because heterosexuality is “natural” doesn’t mean that heterosexual promiscuity is justified. Both cases seem equally wrong to me. Karen is coming to Utah on the 28th of this month to stay for a week. I really love Karen. She has been one of my greatest friends. It would hurt me if she was hurt. So many wonder how I can embrace the gospel and return her friendship at the same time. Exactly the way I return all of my other friendships — cliche, I know, but love the friend, not the sin. If we persecute homosexuals, we are Satan’s tools.

No, really. SOMEONE HIT HER. I cannot believe that I actually wrote such bullshit, and this should prove that whenever I make fun of Mormons, I’m just making fun of the Mormon that I was, the ignorant, intolerant, pig-headed adolescent who needed a big one up her pooper.

And because I feel so bad about who that person was, I’m just going to go ahead and link to No on Prop 8. Gay marriage has become such an important issue to me, as it should be an important issue to everyone. It’s a civil rights issue, period. And the only reason anyone wants to deny homosexuals equal rights is a religious one. PERIOD. Your God says it’s a bad thing. But what if my God disagrees? If you take religion out of the equation, THERE IS NO ISSUE. And don’t even get me started on the slippery slope end of the argument, because you know the only reason I’m writing this is because I want to legally marry my dogs. Both of them.

  • kd @ A Bit Squirrelly

    I am amazed how people can completely change and learn to be better. I too hope that this intoloerance and discrimination and attack on civil rights can be overturned!

  • Anonymous

    I agree with your statement of keeping religion out of it. But homosexuals are not so willing to let that be the case.
    Here in Canada there is increasing pressure on religious leaders to perform marriages for gay or lesbian couples. The church was assured (back when we first made it legal) that they would not be forced to do anything against their conscience. Church administrations are now having to take legal actions to protect themselves against just that. If civic weddings were enough for homosexual couples I would say everyone has the freedom to make their own decisions. But, from our experience north of the 50th that doesn’t seem to be enough…

  • Ophelia

    Oh man, I totally know where you were coming from. When I was twelve I was extremely rebellious, and my parents couldn’t handle me. When my doctor told her I needed to see a therapist, my mom decided to instead send me to live with a missionary family that she knew through her Church. She shipped me off to Africa when I was twelve years old, to be thoroughly brainwashed by a bunch of religious nuts who would rather buy Bibles then vaccinations.

    That was a dark period for me. I was basically told that God had sent me there because I was the child of a divorced couple, and the heads of the family regularly tried pressuring me into calling them Mom and Dad. It really didn’t take that long until I started becoming creepy and super religious. I started interpreting everything as being part of some higher purpose, God’s plan. I’d have a bowel movement and would be so totally sure that that particular defecation was inspired by Providence. I started growing my hair out when they suggested it, and stopped questioning the blatant sexism that ran rampant in the house. The males were actually forbidden from helping the females do the laundry.

    Luckily, when I returned home at thirteen it didn’t take long for their influence to wear off. On the bright side, the experience helped squash out my ridiculous notions of religion and helped me to realize that Christianity has basically no credibility. It’s fine if people want to be religious, but they shouldn’t pressure twelve year old kids into converting and they certainly shouldn’t brainwash them.

  • the dalai mama

    You have made me think about my teenage journals. I can admit to you (and your million readers) that I kept all of the notes my girlfriends wrote me in high school. I too had a little bit of crazy in me. I would be hard-pressed to put my journal entries out there for all to read. I am sure my self-loathing and destructive behavior would speak to many others out there, but don’t know if I am fully embraced myself enough to share.

    I applaud you and your raw honesty. It is what keeps us all reading. I think I can say with some confidence that you are the kind a person we would all be lucky to have as a friend.

  • Amy

    Yup, those homos, they CHOSE THE GAY.

    Seriously, I cringe just thinking about what I must have written in my own journal after my best friend came out to me at the tender, self-righteous of 19. Thanks for sharing, Heather.

  • David


    Beyond the crazy diary entries circa 1994 there is something else about you I find terribly interesting. I am dying to know what the trigger was that made you re-evaluate all of your fundamental beliefs. These two people are extremely different and that process of “unlearning” must have been intense.

    I am a gay male (20 from Mass) who was raised in a southern baptist family. The pastor of our church was there when I was born. As a kid I stamped tracks (sp?) to be delivered to peoples front doors. When I was 14 my parents found out that I was gay. They, as a last resort, sat me down with pastor. In the front pew of our church he told me I was going through a terrible phase that all men go through (really?) and that I had to make the right decision or burn in hell.

    That was when my unlearning began.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Casey

    I am so glad I threw out my old diaries. I can only begin to imagine what mortifying things I wrote in them.

    Thank you for linking to No on Prop 8. I wish more people would just see how ridiculous it is to deny equal rights to people based only on their sexual preferences.

  • kitchenbeard

    THANK YOU for posting the link to No On 8.

  • cattitude

    The difference between your teenaged rantings and the rantings of prejudiced homophobes being that YOU grew up.

  • Ben

    1) This showcases the exact reason why I threw most of my old writing away. Might be worth something some day, you say? Not likely unless I’m paying to keep it all a secret.

    2) As for the gay thing, as a proud, card-carrying, able-to-marry who I please, Canadian member, I wish I could start a slow clap but I don’t know if that can happen on a blog comment….

    P.S. All of Canada has fallen apart as a result of allowing gay marriages. We all just dry hump maple trees and curse a lot not.

  • Dana Pugh

    I’ve never commented here…but what you wrote then was eye opening to me. I can’t believe that anyone would ever be so…so…naive. Brainwashed and naive. I loved to see the dichotomy of old you vs. today you. It was a gift to see that people do grow and learn and realize that their God isn’t necessarily everyone’s god.

    Then, reading the comments on this…well…holy crap people. How self centered can you be? Remove god indeed. Please do.

    A friend of mine who is gay, once said that he knew his mother would be okay with it when, upon hearing a coworker discuss how gay people had chosen their life, she barked back–no one in their right mind would choose to be an outcast.

    Thank goodness for critical thinking.

  • Melissa

    because, oh, I WAS INSANE?

    hahahhaa I completely LOLed and I’m not much of an LOLer. Good stuff.

  • Jennifer

    My parents still have almost all of my writing I did as a child. Including middle school journals I kept. I’m too embarrassed to read them.

    Thanks for posting that, and about gay rights. As Chris Rock said, “Gay people have every right to be as miserable as everybody else!” (He’s joking, of course.)

  • Alphafemme

    Thank you SO much for linking to No on Prop 8. It’s so so so scary that it might actually pass. :-( It would be a GIANT step backwards.

    And for the record, I think your journal entries show remarkable thoughtfulness, considering your upbringing and surroundings at the time. Good for you. You were actually *willing* to consider that we queers aren’t just the devil incarnate! And clearly it was a step in the process towards getting to where you are now.

  • Emilie

    “with real human moms and dads” ….that was my favorite part : )

  • Courtney

    LOL! Don’t be so hard on yourself. We were all dipshits back then. At least you were questioning everything…something my Southern, conservative father continues to “cringe” at his 34 year old daughter doing.

  • Rbelle

    That is awesome. I recently read through some old diary entries from high school, college, and beyond, and Oh. My. Gawd. I read a few outloud to my husband because they were so “cute” but the thing that struck me most was how *angsty* they were. Did I really spend that much of my adolescent and college years unhappy? I was so WHINY. If there’s one huge, huge benefit to blogs over traditional diary writing, it’s that there’s the possibility of someone else reading the crap we write – and so we work harder not to make it crap. But man, I’ve really got to rethink saving my old journals “for my grandkids” because I’m not sure I want them knowing I was such a total nutter.

  • Just Plain Queer

    Thank you so much for linking to No on 8. Many right-wing religious organizations (including the Mormon Church) are pouring tons of money into California to air ads of outright LIES: 1. “They’ll be teaching sex to kindergarteners” (–just plain gross,) 2. “Churches will lose their non-profit status” – Churches don’t have to perform gay marriages–that is protected by Freedom of Religion. (If one could recall the separation of Church & State, that would be obvious.)

    If you’re torn on this issue, consider what exactly you think marriage is about. If “Marriage is about money,” then should Brittney Spears’ ex- get half for the drive-thru wedding she had in Vegas, when they were married for a couple of days? If “Marriage is about reproducing”, then should sterile heterosexual couples be permitted to marry? How about older straight couples? How about, “Marriage is about social stability.” If you deny gays & lesbians the right to marry the loves of their lives, should they each be able to marry a person of the opposite sex just for health insurance, etc? (I.e., a gay man marries a lesbian woman?) Isn’t marriage about two people who love each other, respect each other, and will cherish each other, so long as they both shall live?

    They are outspending 10-to-1 on these ads to deny people a right already granted by the Courts. And in 1967, 80% of the population were opposed to interracial marriage, when the Supreme Court handed down their decision making “mixed marriage” legal. It’s as simple as that. “You can ride on the bus, you just have to sit in the back” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

    Love will find a way.

  • toolazytoscrapbook

    Haha! I am sorry, but these are funny! Makes me wish I kept a diary when I was younger! At the same time- SO glad I didn’t do any such thing because I wouldn’t want my teenage self to come back and haunt me. :)
    I think the movie Philadelphia was a big light bulb moment for my little conservative self, too!

    More diary entries, okay? Funny stuff!

  • Kimi

    Oh, Billy!!!!

  • Ericka

    Dear Heather,

    I wanted to leave a comment because I was moved by what you said. Firstly, I think you are awesome. I don’t like when people flame you for not being mormon anymore, or for having the audacity to talk about your feelings when you have a nice life. I have a nice life too (I’m a college student and I’m broke but the hours are good) and I hold very dear my right to complain. I think many people wish they had your job. I wish I had your job. But, you’re an awesome person. And the flamers seem so bitter.

    Anyway, I am a “homosexual” (I thought the repetition of that word was funny). I’ve also felt that leaving a church that you grew up in can be a bit like coming out of the gay closet. I have friend who eventually left the Jehovah’s witnesses. I related to him. I kind of felt that holding a secret that you don’t agree with the stuff you’ve been told to believe your entire life, is a little like holding the secret of your sexual attraction. Also, revealing both secrets has ramifications for how you are going to conduct the rest of your life, so they are both pretty powerful. Aaand, from what I read your dad’s reaction to your liberalism was worse than my dad’s reaction to my sexuality. Perhaps worse than my mom’s reaction to my sexuality as well… (I haven’t decided). Anyways, I’m sure the experiences are also very different. I’m sure I’m not supposed to equate the two coming out experiences. I’m sure gay people say that our experience is harder, but, even though my parents aren’t fiery conservatives, I still have a hard time being honest about my world view. (I am still too liberal for them.)
    However, I think that I admire the intelligence and bravery of people who decide to leave the religion they grew up in. I think that to go through the hardship of disappointing your family for INTELLECTUAL reasons. You know sex is a stronger motivator than intellect.
    Also, I could see the tolerance simmering underneath your obviously very sheltered view of “the homosexuals”

    Okay, long time reader. (Almost) first time poster. Gotta go plot how to help the NO on 8, campaign. No time to proof read. I hope they aren’t too many typos.


    PS- You rock!

  • grace

    Wow. i shredded my journals of shame from “those days” so many years ago. “Cringe” is the only name one could give to a compilation of that kind of writing! LOL

  • rhea

    Thank you for being so open as to share your process of change.

    It is neato to see the first steps of questioning your strongly held beliefs. Goes to show how youth are but vessels in which us oldies fill with information and ‘fact’. And again reminds me how lucky I was that my parents allowed me to be free thinking and provided opportunities to prove it.

  • Shakes

    Yeah, taking a moment to feel moved by God and Country – HOW HUMILIATING! Good thing you’re over all that nonsense and SO much smarter now.

    But the real question is: Why am I still reading your blog??

  • Jenn

    Thank-you for being brave enough to share that.

  • Kristy

    I have never understood the, “Well if gay marriage passes, then people will want to marry their dogs, cats, goats, etc.” WHAT? As though two human beings can be compared with house pets and farm animals? REALLY? Obviously, I’m the idiot who is missing something. Or at least that’s what has been suggested. And the quote above is something that was actually said to me. In my workplace. Sad, but true.

  • bonzai

    Oh my – did Catlover really throw out Adam and Eve as an example?????? As if they were real people? Oy.

  • Rija

    #11 Kristin: Our country was born on the premise of religious freedom; separation of church and state. You have your religious freedom and faith but that should not be imposed on anyone else. If I chose one rule from each religion in the United States, we could be a country with a ban on coffee, no electricity or cars, women without voting rights and children running helter skelter because use of birth control sends you straight to hell. Where should we draw the line?

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Heather! For supporting my friends, myself and my life.

  • Anonymous

    It’s been done : Try to see a show some time. You will laugh until you cry.

  • gingela5

    I threw out most of my journals. Mine weren’t quite as deep as yours–more along the lines of “I think so and so looked at me” or “I hate so and so–she is such a jerk.”

  • Anonymous

    ibis said exactly what I was going to say: “I think they are actually rather wonderful, with their glimmer of the more enlightened person who would later emerge.”

    I thought is was very courageous of you to start questioning the things you were taught, especially when you were attending such a fanatically religious college like BYU.

  • Liz

    First off, the hair was a special kind of awesome.

    But don’t dislike the old Heather too much. At least she was willing to re-evaluate her life and beliefs. She was not utterly close-minded. Also, her honest, sincere, do-gooder enthusiasm is refreshing.

    Reading old diaries is a terrific way to explore how many ways one has grown.

  • Kalisa

    Boy, I have some high school diary entries that are cringe-worthy.

    Living in the south (as you once did), the problem I have with all these propositions banning gay marriage and the whole “let the people decide” argument, is that there was a time when, if you had let the people decide, interracial marriages would also have been illegal.

    WTF do the people know anyway.

  • Kristen in Canada

    Ya, gay marriage up here in Canada has totally ruined our economy and our population.

    Oh, wait, no it hasn’t. It has done nothing but allow everyone regardless of their desires the same fundamental rights. Imagine that.

    I’m not gay. I have gay friends. And they’re married. THE HORROR.

    Religous intolerance boggles my mind. I am so glad that our goverernment has (for the most part) been able to seperate church and state.

    Thank you for posting this stuff Heather.

  • Shakes

    And as for the gay issue, prop 8, their rights… I’m not against gay’s having their rights–I’m against them taking away mine. Once gay marriage is accepted, then guess what? My kindergartner will be read books promoting homosexual unions (it’s already happening). And when he comes home and asks me about it, what am I supposed to do? Have the sex talk with a five year old?
    And then the gays will demand that any religion that preaches against their lifestyle lose their tax exempt status (again already happening). So basically, I don’t get to respectfully disagree with their life choices. I DON’T have a choice or chance to make up my own mind.
    And the next step? Gender neutrality? No boy/girl bathrooms and locker rooms because it’s discriminatory to make someone identify with one gender or the other?

    It’s not about a person making a choice, on their own, to pursue a certain lifestyle. It’s about them forcing that lifestyle onto me and my family. And it’s about everyone who agrees with the movement automatically discounting any other opinion as completely backward and insane without considering it. Without looking at the last 2,500 years of civilization.

    So be it. The movement may have gone too far to be stopped anyway. But the problem is this generation is not going to suffer for these decisions. It’s our children taht will pay for it. But what do I know? I still believe in insane things like the constitution and God and backward ideas like that.

  • maryruth

    honestly: there is nothing worse than that moment when we re-read our words from our youth & realize “oh my god: i was such a loser!”.

    it only sucks that sometimes we’re normal-adolescent losers and sometimes we’re way over-achieving losers with enough battle scars of embarassment to shame the most adjusted, now-normal loser back into childhood.

    i remember those days. & i’m so glad they’re gone.

  • Becky

    Love it. I cringed for you Heather!

    #11 & #28 need to run into each other and get sense knocked into them.

  • Anonymous

    you are an attention grubbing whore, a complete narcissist.

  • Katie

    Holy Shit. And I thought MY journal from HS was bad and all it has it crap like, “I like so-and-so.” Very lame. I’m glad you’ve come to your senses because that is some crazy ass shit you wrote.

  • Lydia

    Thank you for sharing your mortification…LMAO!

  • bonzai

    Logan – we don’t think you are brainwashed. We feel that your data is insufficient to reach the conclusion put forth.
    Heterosexualtiy, especially MALE heterosexuals, have done SO much for society – war, rape, slavery, shall I go on? Both sides have their share of issues. But we are all equal in God’s eyes are we not? In MY God’s eyes, we are all welcome here.

  • Nancy

    Too funny. Now that you remember how biased you used to be, maybe it will help you to be more tolerant of others who are still taking the journey. I must admit that your descriptions in the past of the morman lifestyle convinced me to put Mormans in the ‘whacky’ category. Recently, though, I have been following the blog of a morman family whose sister and brother-in-law were in a plane crash. The way this large, close-knit family has supported each other and the young children of the crash victims through their faith and love has given me a new appreciation for what they believe in and practice in their daily life. It may not be totally what I suscribe to, but whatever gets you through the day–whether it be meds, faith, support of loved ones, etc

  • Carley

    You said some very eloquent and important things, but I can’t stop marveling at the length and shininess of your hair back then! That is some seriously amazing hair.

  • Morgaine

    So neither I nor my family is Mormon, but I was raised in a predominantly-Mormon town called Moapa Valley, about an hour in between both Las Vegas, NV, and St. George, UT. I have to say that I am so completely NOT LDS-church worthy. Lol. No missionaries try to convert me, because they no that there’s no way that they can save me. I am very liberal. I like Obama, I FULLY believe in gay marriage, and I think that sex before marriage, while it’s something one needs to be careful and thoughtful about, is not hell-damning. So, very clearly, I am not Mormon. If all that wasn’t enough, I wear very short shorts. Damn me. Damn me straight to a short short Hell.

    Ok. That being said, I like the family structure that the Mormon religion seems to build. I certainly know that it’s not that way with all Mormon families, but I’m going to generalize this for the positive. While I’m glad that I personally don’t have a big family, I can see the upside to it, and it’s a close-knit unit of support and love and sharing of burdens that I really respect.

    There’s actually a South Park episode about that. Stan meets the new Mormon kid in town, and points out all the ridiculous beliefs of Mormons. (I’m not necessarily saying they’re ridiculous. Just because I don’t believe in them doesn’t mean that they aren’t true. Just means I don’t get it.) So Stan points out all these clearly faulty things. And then the kid meets Stan at the bus stop and says, listen. You’re right. This is some crazy shit. But my family is close because of it, and we’re happy. So screw off.

    So no matter what your religion is, no matter if I believe in it or I think it’s ridiculous; if your religion makes you happy, makes your family happy, then I have a massive amount of respect for you.

  • Jen

    Wow. The only other comment I have ever left on your blog is something to the effect of “I wish I had known you at BYU because at least I would have had one real friend.” I take that back now. You were CRAZY.

  • Molly

    I would have punched you in the face, but I am very busy wishing someone had punched me in the face at the same age. At that age, I was studing abroad in Italy (awesome), but looking back on my journals from that year, 10 years later, I can do nothing more than cringe in absolute secondhand embarassment for myself. Bless my heart, I was an arse.

  • juneyor

    Thanks for linking the no on prop 8 page. Thanks for being tolerant. Form one of those people, who some people would like to see burned at the stake. you know cause according to some I am “the gay”

  • Cobbler

    Okay – radical change in attitude, how did that come about – what “opened your eyes” so to speak. But more importantly, WHOA you could write. My diaries were crazy jumbling thoughts that mostly read like a kids story book (yes, even in my early teens) – “Today we went shopping. I bought a new skirt and a story book.” *shudders*

  • Turbo

    Thing I really don’t get about Prop 8 is… why do you care (those that support it)? I understand opposition or support for propositions that affect how much you’ll pay in taxes, etc. but this one? no affect on you. Your perfect little marriage will still be there, just the same. There was an article in the Sacramento Bee the other day and they were talking about the Mormons around here that are giving up their life savings in support. I am sure they will still make it to the space ship behind the comet regardless of people they don’t know get to enjoy the benefits of legal marriage.

    As Heather said, it’s a civil rights issue. So while we’re at it, should we also make their votes only count 3/5ths? make them ride in the front of the bus? squirt them with fire hoses?