A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it,
or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face.
It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy.
~ Edward P. Morgan
I'm learning a lot about the health and healing benefits of journaling. This blog for instance, for me is part catharsis, part foundation of an inspired memoir, and unexpectedly, bringing comfort and useful help to those who are or have gone through similar experiences like my own. Last week I noticed I was developing an accelerated increase of what I call scatter-chatter brain. Thoughts, insights, expressions, ideas were backing-up in my brain - - because I hadn't been blogging or private journaling with consistent regularity. From my brain, it went to my body and my heart; feeling sluggish in my healing process, physically fatigued, easily distracted and overwhelmed, unable to concentrate and diminished productivity. The antidote is easy to adjust and return on-course - - write. Get it out. Do a dump. Pause - Reflect - Write and Repeat. Until I feel better or the scatter-chatter brain cloud passes. It works - - for me. Does it have to make sense? No. Not unless I want it to - - like this blog for instance. My private journals however, are the places where I ramble, babble, let it rip, sometimes incoherently when I try to reread them - - they don't always need to be read or reread - - certainly not by anyone other than myself. Unless of course I say so (or I'm dead)...
Here's a question...
How would you feel if someone helped themselves to reading your personal journal without your knowledge? The place where you unload your private thoughts, fears, dreams, etc. Betrayed? Angry? Hurt? Might being grateful be at all a possibility?
1/4/12 - Dear Diary,
...I left the house this morning at 11 am to go to my recovery group and Boomer was still in bed. He sleeps alot, isolates himself (even more than me), drinks all the time, whether he's alone or not, and isn't taking care of himself; eating, hygiene, working out, etc. He looks and moves as though he's older than 55. It saddens me immensely. I know there's nothing I can do if he won't help himself. While I'm not nearly as unhappy or lonely as I was at my last entry in September, it breaks my heart to watch this deterioration of Boomer and our relationship. I'm desperate for the right words to sensitively talk with him - - and they won't come. I just don't know what to do...
My fears and worries over Boomer's escalating disease (read Reality, Bowing, and Maya) the expanding self-destructive behaviors, actions, and attitudes were becoming insurmountable, primarily because I couldn't talk with him. To have an open, candid, thoughtful conversation with him was nearly impossible without it turning into a direct verbal berating toward me, designed solely to deflect attention away from himself, blame me, bring me down right there with him in the cesspool of self-loathing and shattered esteem. Classic additive behavior - - and as the spouse, it's sometimes more harsh. The intention of the paranoid diseased mind is to try to bring you down along with them, so they can feel a little better about themselves. It's tricky, sensitive and complicated business when you're first learning how to deal with active alcoholism in the healthiest, most compassionate way while feeling completely helpless, scared and alone. But it's not impossible. You tread softly, get out of the way, watch and listen, and trust that a power greater than you will open a window or a door of opportunity - - you simply have to ask for help from that power source, whatever/whomever it may be for you.
I spoke to a trusted recovery friend often about what to do; how to approach it, what to say, when to say it, and how to protect myself - - emotionally. Boomer, as his alcoholic persona, may have become physically and emotionally neglectful, verbally abusive, but he did not lay a hand on me. Never. That doesn't make the other stuff, less significant, it is just as significant - - and for some can do just as much, if not more, damage than being smacked around. In my recovery, I have gratitude that physical violence wasn't not something I endured as the spouse of an alcoholic (read One Thing). When I expressed my eagerness to talk with Boomer, to my friend Jane (not her real name), she kept saying to me, "In time Shannon, not your time. You can't force it. When it's time, you'll know and you'll be ready. Have faith, trust and patience." Me patient? That's one of my biggest character flaws and on-going challenges - - patience. I don't have time for it - - HA! So I wait, watch & listen and keep going to meetings to learn.
It was a Tuesday morning, 9:00 a.m. I stepped out of the bedroom in my jammies and baby blue terry cloth robe with SMO (read Every Name) monogrammed on it (it was a gift from Boomer of course). We'd had a bit of a cold snap happening in Florida at the time. Boomer, who'd been up all night, drinking, among others things, approached me and without so much as a good morning, callously said, "We need to talk." This time, it had nothing to do with mustache pranks (read Talk).
He sat on the sofa, I in his leopard chair (read Chair), where he opened with "I saw your journal sitting on the back counter, so I picked it up and read a few pages..." "Holy shit," was my first thought, "it's becoming this now? He's turning into one those guys?" I didn't say a word, I sat there, watching and listening while he attempted to summarize the entry above that he helped himself to reading. Within a single moment, it came to me, this was the discussion window I had been yearning for. The Universe, Source, God, what ever your preference, works in wild and wacky ways sometimes. Okay, Boomer, we do need to talk. Great. I'm in, let's talk.
He got overly dramatic (read He Said), as the disease often made him do, but there was a discussion. About my being in recovery, him feeling threatened that I was attempting to plant roots in Florida while he isolated and drank, slowly becoming a fraction of the man I know and love. I said I was was worried about him, what he's doing to himself, what it's doing to us. I was scared and angry that this, just 7 months in, was what our "new life" in Florida had become. I said I was angry at the empty promises, the growing pessimism and expanding victim of life role he was taking on. His method of coping was killing him, and my heart was breaking watching it happen - - helplessly. I said I was lonesome for the man I love, married and wanted to spend the rest of my life with, but he's self-destructing yet again, it's worse than ever and it's painful, hurtful to watch. He flippantly remarked about my recovery group, saying that maybe he should find a group. "Absolutely," I encouraged, "how about AA?" "No, I mean a men's group of some sort," he resisted. "Look into it, honey," I said, "Maybe that will help you deal with whatever is going on for you, cause there is something. You're drowning in whatever is going on with you, and your coping mechanism of choice isn't working nor is it something I'm able to condone, deny or look away from any longer. I can't do it. I won't do it. For me. For you. For us."
We sat in silence for several minutes. Then I opened my mouth one more time, "You know Boomer, under any other circumstances or another time in my life, I might have been furious or feel betrayed that you helped yourself to my private journal. But I'm not. In some strange way, I think I subconsciously left it on the in counter hoping you'd look inside and see what I see. I've been desperate to talk with you, tell you what is on my mind and heart, my worries and concerns. You helping yourself to my journal did that. So thank you." Boomer sat silent. Coming back to me with, "Maybe I can try to do better."
I've said it before, without formal recovery, the alcoholic will be unsuccessful to "try to do better." However, there is hope for us, as loved ones who are trapped in the grips of despair and suffering as a result from living with active alcoholism or any other active addiction for that matter. If it wasn't for diligently doing my own recovery work, I know I would never had seen that conversation as the opportunity I had been desperate for; let alone actually thanking Boomer for invading my privacy and trying to use my own personal thoughts against me. From that day on, I continued writing in my journal, I don't know if Boomer ever snooped again, but I do know I didn't leave it lying out on the counter anymore. While I had gratitude for what he had done, there was still a lesson for me learn as part of my own development and self-preservation amidst active alcoholism...
Don't leave the bloody journal out in the open if you don't want read. Period.