Sunday, February 21, 2010

Do You Let Your Partner Read Your Journal?

I know many people who are living with illness who keep a journal, and several well partners who do also.

The writers tell me that they are able to express themselves, unfiltered and unchallenged, in their journals and feel enlightened and purged. They can write nasty things about the nasty doctors who insinuate that they are malingering or depressed. They can write about the heartache that attaches to all the things they are no longer able to do, alone or with the partner. And they can write secret thoughts - about wanting it to all be over, or rage at the ill partner for being ill or rage at the well partner for being well.

I kept a journal during my first year of illness when my pain condition was out of control and seemingly undiagnosable. I wrote like an avalanche. Words exploded onto the page. At times it felt as if a switch in my consciousness had been shut off and language streamed out from a source more limbic.

I wrote about my mother's voraciousness and my father's sedateness. I wrote about Richard's endless kindness and my crushing ambivalence over wanting him to do even more and fearing that one more request to hold my while I cried would finally shatter him. I wote about my yearning for Paris and my resistance to stepping even a few feet outside and facing the unbearable contrast between my limitations and nature's perseverance.

Sometimes people give children a present of a dreamcatcher -- an object made form sticks and strings crafted into the shape of a web, decorated with beads and feathers. It is used as a charm to protect sleeping children from nightmares. My journals were my dreamcatcher. They bound my terrors so that I could focus on ways to try to lessen my physical pain.

At the end of every day, I showed Richard the pages I had written. I showed him so he could keep pace with me and so that I wouldn't have to say any of the things I wrote about out loud. It was a form of intimacy.

Do you keep a journal? What does writing a journal do for you? And do you ever share it with your partner?


MelD said...

Due to some abuse issues in my life, I had a hard time trusting my now husband. While dating, I had so many doubts that even now I struggle with at times. So, one night, I sat down and let him read the journal I had started when I met him. (when a large event happens in my life, I start a new journal). In my journal he was able to read about my doubts, and which of his actions made me feel insecure. He was able to read all my doubts about how my health issues, the health issues of my children, and my youngest son's special needs would result in our relationship not lasting.

sharing my journal with my then boyfriend resulted in our drawing closer to each other faster then we would have normally. It allowed him insight into how I truly felt, versus the person I appeared on the outside. In making myself vulnerable, he was able to offer me the love that I needed. He was able to understand how my health conditions ravage not only my body but my spirit, my zeal for life.

My husband and I married the day after Christmas. A month from today we will have known each other one year. Sharing my journal with him brought such beauty into my life. I recommend it for any person wanting their husband to better understand them.

If you journal, you can't look at your husband and say, "You just don't understand" unless you've let him read that journal. I encourage you all to take that step.

Thank you for blogging about this subject!

Barbara K. said...

what a wonderful story MelD. I wish you and your husband continuing connectedness