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.