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?