Is it better to tell someone what you have been through, or is it re-traumatizing to describe the details and bring up those feelings again?

I think that it is much more important to talk about the experience(s) and to admit what happened. If you don’t talk about a secret, then you can pretend to ignore it, but it lurks under the surface like a poison and eats away at you. You give the memories more power over you when you are constantly afraid of what will happen if you speak up and you have to guard everything that you say to make sure that you don’t let any hints slip. You look at other people and worry, can they tell what I’m thinking? Do they know that I am hiding something? Do they already guess the truth? You can’t get past it when you are always worried like this.

When you talk about it, it temporarily feels worse because you do bring up the grief and the pain to the front. But then you let some of that go. Hopefully, you also gain support from the person you tell, and this helps lessen the burden. Or maybe you just write it down for yourself, but now the words are down on the page instead of in your head, and it leeches out some of that poison. You can start to move past the horror and sadness, and begin to heal.

I was born an Aquarius with my Sun in the third house, ruling communication. I think that the most important thing for me to do, and also my biggest challenge, is to speak out. Writing, talking, telling the truth and sharing my feelings: these are hard to do, but they are the best thing that I have to give.

Once, a Reiki healer told me that I was blocked in my throat chakra, because I was not telling secrets. A homeopathic doctor also told me that my tendency to have many throat infections is related to my difficulty speaking. I don’t know how much I believe in their methods, but I think that they saw some truth in me. I do have trouble speaking up and it has caused many of my problems in my life.

I do have to be careful about who I speak to, what I say, and when I say it. But I need to practice speaking and writing and telling more. This is the key to my own healing.

I am still looking for a job. I have had a few interviews, but none of them have panned out. I am having trouble getting references because I haven’t had a job in a few years and I haven’t stayed in contact with any of my old coworkers. Right now I am trying to get a job as a substitute teacher so that I can get some references and experience. Maybe when the new school year starts next fall, I will have a better resume.

Meanwhile, I have been trying to find ways to use my time. I haven’t been writing easily. I’m not sure why, I just can’t motivate myself. I have been working on other creative endeavors instead. I was crocheting for a while, making amigurumi as presents for others. I ran out of ideas for that. Then I turned to scrapbooking because I have so many pictures now.

On the one hand, I am really enjoying it. I have all of these happy memories and good pictures of them. I want to preserve these good times that I have with my family. I also enjoy the creativity. It’s very flexible and I can be visually creative in a way that is easy for me to make sense and keep trying it until it looks good.

On the other hand, I am now staying at home, reading scrapbook forums, and taking photos of my kids. I feel like a soccer mom.

I scrapped another writing project. I still have it saved, because I don’t like to throw things away, but I’m not working on it anymore and I don’t know if I will ever go back to it. It started to get to depressing to work on. This sucks, because I thought things were going well.

I got frustrated by the ending. You know, the point of the story that I was working toward. I liked the ending until I realized that it was a twist to make it look as if the characters were going to win, and then they lose so that one character dies and the other two at left scarred. Okay, not so happy.

Then I stopped to think about my other stories. Then I realized that every single story involved clever twists that resulted in snatching away the happy ending at the last moment.

That is really depressing.

Are they bad? I don’t know. I’m sure some people like stories that end this way. I can think of a few that I appreciated. But in general, I don’t like them. I actually hate them, usually. They aren’t the kind of stories that I want to write. So why have I been writing them? I tried to think about better alternatives, but they all sound stupid.

Why do I have a problem with happy endings? is this another one of my psychological scars that I need to heal, because I don’t believe in happy endings somewhere down in my subconscious? I hate that thought. I guess I need to fix that. I guess I will try to write a new story, start fresh, because thinking about trying to fix old attempts sounds too hard. I hate that I am quitting halfway through again, but I am just beating my head against the wall.

I miss being a writer. I miss the person that I was when I was writing all the time. I miss having that need to.write, the compulsion, that made me sit down and scribble notes in every spare moment.

I miss the joy that I got from writing. I used to sit there for hours on end, just writing, not caring about anything else until I got too hungry or too cramped and I was forced to stop. It wasn’t about word count our how many hours I put into working, just about the joy of letting the story flow onto the page as it came to life in my mind.

I miss that feeling of total exhaustion and exhilaration after I finished writing, and feeling excited about the next time that I could get to write.

I miss having my mind filled with stories and characters just waiting to come out.

I miss the person that I was when I was a writer. I had something that I was always working on and towards. I was always creating. I was always looking at the world like a writer, trying to find new words, phrases, ideas, emotions, and sensations around me. I miss how alive I felt.

I wish that I could capture that again. Why is it so hard to find the words to say what I mean now? Why has my writing become a chore? I don’t know why I let it get taken away from me. It’s harder to recapture than I thought.

Sometimes I think I’m healing and I have found my voice again, but I get so tired. I shouldn’t be tired.I should be energized.

Please, Muse, come back to me.

I hope that I have washed your every trace off of my skin.
I hope that the blast of hot water from the shower nozzle has
erased your scent
removed your skin cells
rinsed your oils.

I hope that no scent of you,
no stray piece of hair,
no errant stain
remains on any piece of my belongings.

I inspect my blanket, that you once slept under,

I monitor each word that I say carefully
to make sure that no reference to you
escapes my lips.
I will no longer parrot your words.

I have hidden your pictures
and your begrudgingly-presented gifts
in a box deep in the closet,
where I never have to see them.

If I could find the subtle knife,
my first cuts would be
to excise your memory from my nightmares.

When I first left jared, I did not talk to many people for a while. Of course, I saw my new family at home, and confided in them; I saw my coworkers when I went to work, although I did not tell them what was going on; my current friends knew that I had left him, and since they had already guessed at most of the situation for themselves, they approved: Carmen, Rachel & Coco, Sarah, Perry & Jerry, Robin & Jason, and Rusty were all supportive. I also called my mom and told her a little of what had happened.

I was afraid, though, to say anything to the people I had known longer, the ones who were also friends (or at least acquainted) with him. I knew some of them were much closer to him than to me, and would most likely support him without knowing any details. I also thought that some of our mutual friends would judge me harshly for my actions, that is, cheating on my husband and then leaving him for the same people that I had cheated with. I knew that it looked bad; I was also embarrassed and frightened of revealing the truth of why I had left. I thought some of them, like Jeff, Jen, and Lisa, whom I thought were closer to me, would sympathize with me if they knew my reasons, but I could not bring myself to confide in them right away.

I did not want to be the bitter ex, to be broadcasting negative stories about jared, however true they were. I knew that he was already being vocal about what happened: I saw his comments online (Facebook, Twitter, Livejournal) about how unhappy he was, pleading with me to come back at first and begging people to help him through the rough times, or to talk some sense into me; later, when I refused to see him or speak to him, he was angry, and then he began to make comments about how badly I had treated him. I could only imagine from the things that he said so freely online, just what sort of things he was telling our friends in person. (I know what he said to my mom on Facebook, before she blocked him, and that was also harsh.)

And I could see from my friends’ online accounts that they were responding with sympathy: and then I began to see nothing from them at all, because many of them removed me from their friends’ lists. Most of those were not a surprise. I also removed some people myself, because I did not want to see their conversations with him. Still, I did not say anything on the subject.

Then, a few months later, it came around to my birthday, and L&D wanted to throw a party for me. Our circle of friends would come, of course; I also invited Mac, who was more than happy to see me again, and when I admitted to him that I had left Jared, he expressed some sympathy and did not press for details.

Then I ventured to contact Jen, and invite her and Jeff to come to the party. I apologized for not talking to her in a while, said that I missed her, explained that I did not know what Jared had told her but I could give her an explanation for my actions if she wanted to, etc. Jen responded that she did not want to just show up at a party at my new house with strange people, which was understandable, but she missed me. She missed me! She also said that Jared was not saying bad things about me, and she didn’t want to get into the middle of things. Then she asked about details of my current life.

So I told her about my plans to go back to school, and seeing my family again over Christmas, and a little bit about my current situation. I said that I wanted to see her again, and that L&D would like to meet her and Jeff if they were willing. I asked when they would be available soon to hang out. Then the delays: she was busy, they had only one car, so much was going on, etc. Each time I contacted her, there were reasons to say no, and then finally she stopped responding. (Not long after, Nate started contacting me “as a neutral party to help speed up the divorce”, but he was only listening to Jared’s side of things, so I let Luke tell him to leave me alone, and then blocked him from contacting me.)

I wanted to reconcile: I even wanted to explain things. I wish that there had been time. I wish that I had pushed for things sooner, or been more ready with my explanations, instead of hemming and hawing and “not dragging people into the middle of things.” I deserved to tell my side of the story.

But I acted as I did, and the result is this: the only old friend that I have seen in over a year was Lisa, once for lunch, and though I did explain some things to her and she was sympathetic, the whole thing ended up being too painful. Especially when I asked her if I could see her again on the trip, and she replied that she was busy; and then I later learned through Facebook that she went to Jeff’s birthday dinner, and Jared was there, and nobody (apparently) wanted to invite me.

I did some soul-searching over the past few weeks, and I have reached a conclusion. I have dragged things out for too long trying to cling to old ties that are not really making an effort to stay connected to me. Instead, I am just tearing myself up with disappointment, confusion, and regrets. If there was a time that I could preserve old friendships, it has passed; and I am too concerned that people are still speaking to Jared, which means that stories could pass back and forth, or online conversations will be visible to both of us. It’s too hard to speak to anyone who still holds any respect for him.

It hurts, but just a few weeks ago I finally cut off communication with the last few people: Jeff, Jen, and Lisa. Once, they were my closest friends in the world, and I will always have fond memories of them. But I think that this chapter in my life has already ended. I didn’t want to force people to take sides, but after a while I felt as if all of my old friends were on his side, against me: so be it. He needs friends, and hopefully if they are good friends, they can help him to change and be a better person; I could not change him, but maybe someone else can. I don’t want him to be miserable and alone. I just don’t want what he did to me to ever happen to anyone again.

Good-bye, old friends. I wish you health and happiness. I am sad that our paths went separate ways.

I am not sure how to go about filling in the gaps of everything. Even just glancing over old entries, I see huge holes of things merely alluded to or left entirely unsaid; exaggeration of details in some sense, or outright fabrication; lies and excuses to cover the unhealthy relationship that I had with Jared.

Should I go back and mark which parts are wrong, and correct them? “This entry is a lie.” Should I delete the things that present the truth through a biased lens? “This entry is no longer available, because it was a lie.” Should I add extra entries or footnotes to say what else was happening at the time, that I was previously unwilling to say? “The last entry said this, but the truth is actually . . .”

Or should I let the past stand as I created it at the time, as a testament to the frame of mind that I was in? Would I be biased in the opposite direction, to exaggerate negative details or even invent bad things that never happened, in order to justify what went wrong with my relationship and why I left? Is it my responsibility or even my right to re-write history? I cannot change my past in reality; would it make me feel better to try and change it in my journal?

I have admitted, sometimes, that I was lying in this journal before. It should be obvious that something so public could never be entirely truthful (even if only lying by omission of too-personal details).

It is hard to talk about the painful things, even in private with people that I trust. Maybe it would be better to just write them down in a private journal, and not air my dirty laundry in public. Even when I’m talking to others, I know that I am sometimes guilty of being vague about the details: maybe I am deliberately trying to let them assume that things were worse than they actually were. I don’t know if I trust myself to do any less here.

I still have to think about this more and figure out what is best for me.

It is difficult to begin writing again after four years of silence. It is not that I have not written any journal entries in the past four years (although they have been rare); it is writing with the anticipation of an audience. When you stop, you get out of practice.

It is also daunting to think of all of the gaps and to know that they will never be completely filled. I can barely begin to think of where all these gaps exist, what happened there, and evaluate if such things should even be written of. I know that for some things, I have to try, even though it won’t be easy, both due to volume and the emotional nature of some of these memories. Some of the emotional ones might be the most important to write about. Some emotional ones might be the ones that should be left unsaid.

Yet another issue is the fact that, in truth, it has been more than four years. My online journaling was drastically dropping off for some time before I stopped completely, leading me to call 2005 my “lost year” (even though it contained more journal entries than 2006). All of these point to a common source of the problem.

Why is it important to fill in the gaps? Why not just mark this day forward and start writing from now, rather than dwelling on the past? Do I really need to explain myself to a currently non-existent readership somewhere out in cyberspace? Or worse, to the people I know who might (will probably, from past experience) find this journal: family members, friends, exes; past employers, coworkers, potential future employers?

Tapati recently addressed these issues in her post “Why Do You Dwell On The Past?“, after reading Vyckie‘s post on the same subject. Both write frankly about abusive marriages and very negative experiences with oppressive religious groups, and both have been asked why they don’t just forgive and move on. Tapati says, “I wouldn’t bother to do this writing out of revenge or bitterness. It’s harder on me than on my former abuser! [ . . . ] I have to relive hours of this stuff in order to write it. I have to feel it all over again. No amount of revenge would make that worth it to me.” But, she says, “I write with young women like my former self in mind, sincerely wanting their marriage to work and not understanding the dynamics sufficiently to know when it won’t.” Vyckie also echoes this sentiment when she says, “if we all ‘move on’ then there will be no record ~ no warning.”

Part of why others encourage me to speak out is for that warning, so that no one else will have to go through what I did. But I think part of it is also for my own healing process. I have so many cracks that sometimes I think that one false move might shatter me completely. But just patching up the cracks does not fix the core issue. I want to break down the pieces and put myself back together right, so there won’t be any more demons haunting my thoughts or nightmares to wake me in the middle of the night. So I can understand what I have been through and make myself stronger because of it instead of packing it away in a box to hide in the back of the closet.

So: the beginning of these confessions. In January of 2005, I moved into Jared’s apartment, and not long thereafter, I began spiraling into a depression. I lost interest in school, I stopped writing, my relationship with my family deteriorated, I stopped hanging out with friends except for the ones that I lived with; I stopped making any major decisions in my life, or really try to make any improvements in my career/life. I became a shell that was passive-aggressive, submissive, petulant, procrastinating and vindictive. I was a bitch. I did not like myself and I did not want to look too closely at my life or my actions, so I very rarely wrote anything personal.

I had a myriad of excuses: I was burnt out on school; I was not reacting well to my hormonal birth control; I had a lousy job and trouble with finances; I was losing my friends’ support; I could not handle the “real world” after graduating college; I was watching the disintegration of my parents’ relationship and their eventual separation. I did not want to admit that I was in an unhealthy relationship which could not be fixed. I constantly tried to fix my relationship with Jared while making excuses for his behavior to everyone else, claiming that he was the one good thing that I could count on in my life. I glorified his positive traits while ignoring or diminishing his faults.

I am not saying that I had a good relationship with Jared before we lived together; I know from re-reading old writings that we had problems from the beginning. But moving in together gave him a lot more control over me and stripped away a lot of the initial romance that sustained us. I willingly relinquished that control at times, while at others I allowed him to wear me down.

Late last October, we had been living together for four, almost five years. (Four years and ten months.) We had been dating for three years and two months before we moved in together, so we were just a few weeks shy of our eighth anniversary. We had been married for more than two years.

He crossed a line. He always knew that line was there; I had defined it from the beginning. Although he apologized and promised that it would not happen again, I kept my word: I left him. It was not easy, and I almost couldn’t do it.

The problem was that there was too much of a gray area surrounding that line, and the line was drawn in the wrong place. I should have ended the relationship a lot earlier. I did not know until I left and began to think for myself again just how much I had lost, or how much damage had been done. It is only now that I am trying to reconstruct my core values and my personality that I realize just how far I let things go, and how much pain it is causing to fix myself now.

It is also hard for me to look at the two people who now love me and say, “I am broken. I have a lot of problems, and I need your help and your patience to fix them. I don’t know how long it will take, everything that I will ask from you, or how bad the damage is. It is not your fault, but now you have to deal with it if you want to be with me.” I know that they accept this burden willingly, and they have offered their unconditional support and love to get me through this. But it is still hard for me to ask for help, hard to see the look of disappointment in their faces when I snap at a small slight or flinch away when they touch me. I know that they do not like to see me in pain but I can’t hide the pain if I am going to heal.

Thus begins the difficult task of filling in the gaps in my journal and my heart.

Well, at first it seemed as simple as getting my old entries from Movable Type and importing them directly into Word Press. But when I began sorting through my entries in order to categorize them, I began to notice some glaring errors. First: almost every single date stamp is wrong. Apparently at some point my MT installation decided to put entries into “batches”. So, for example, say there are 31 entries in March 2002 (one for every day: I was writing quite prolifically). Entries for the days 3/27-3/31 are all marked 4/05; 3/20–3/26 are marked as 3/20; 3/12-3/19 are all 3/14; and so on. There is no fix for this problem but to go through by hand, checking each entry against my previous archive list (which is, gratefully, still available on the almighty Internet Archive), and changing the date manually.

Now a second issue has emerged: some entries do not contain any text at all. These were in the MT export files, but because of the process by which I stripped off unnecessary code before importing the files into WP, any entry that contained one or more hyperlinks has been completely erased. Fortunately, I still have the back-up files, and I am trying to find ways to batch edit and import them rather than going through each one by hand (since there are 156 of them!). I am lucky enough to have a tech fairy assisting me. 🙂 (Tech Fairy wishes to remain uncredited, after setting up my domain, installing WP, importing all of my old entries and providing invaluable advice for setting up this website!)

Hopefully this will be the last of the problems that crops up, but since I had not predicted any of the previous ones either, I am not confident. This means that the archives will look a bit strange for a while as I continue to identify and fix issues in old entries.

I have not yet begun to work on the actual appearance for the website, or locate and transcribe old hand-written diary entries to fill in the four-year gap of silence! I want to make sure that what I already have is in good condition before I go tweaking anything or adding something new.

After four years of silence (almost exactly; my last online post was August 16, 2006), I find myself once again compelled to post my private thoughts and feelings on a website that is visible for all the rest of the world to read (at least, those with Internet access).

What could I possibly be thinking?

Well, first of all, I miss writing a journal online. It was fun. It was a good habit, because it encouraged me to write on a regular basis. It provided me with an archive of past experiences and ideas to help me recall things that would have otherwise been lost to time. It forced me to examine my life with an honesty that I could not achieve with in private journals alone. It gave me a little corner of the web where I could stand up and shout, “Here I am! This is my life!”

I would also like to think (even if it’s just a fantasy) that someone out there actually enjoys reading what I write. Granted, I know from my website logs that most of the people who visited my previous journals were those who already knew me (yes Grandma, I saw your IP address logged many times). I also know that there are a veritable glut of other journals already on the Internet, many of them by people who are more famous, lead more interesting lives, and/or are willing to reveal far more scandalous personal details than I ever would. And with limited time in your day, you (hypothetical reader) would likely choose those other journals/blogs/Facebook/tweets over me.

In one sense, I do care if people read this: I want them to read it, to enjoy it, to think a little about the world around them. In another sense, I don’t care if no one else does end up coming here, because I will keep on writing anyways.

Well, here I am!

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