Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Deep Journal Work: A Quandary

I'm still working my way (slowly) through Ira Progoff's "At a Journal Workshop", which is all about working with the different periods of your life and building a life history from them. There's more to it than that, but I'm only about a quarter of the way through the book, working through the exercises as I go.

The problem I'm running into is that the first time period I chose to work with surrounds my bipolar diagnosis. This was a particularly tumultuous period for me, and some of it is difficult to write about, even at a distance of five years. A lot of it is stuff I don't want anyone else to read. And so even though I've never worried about anyone reading my stuff before, I've gone to the computer to do this work.

But...I don't feel the same connection with the work when I type it out on a keyboard as I do when I'm writing it out longhand. I'm not sure what the difference is, but there is definitely a difference. So I'm not sure how I should approach this work. I feel like I will write more deeply and honestly if I write in a notebook. But on the other hand, I only feel free to write that deeply and honestly if I'm writing in a password protected file.

One of my books on journaling says that when you have concerns about privacy, you need to ask yourself, What's the worst that could happen if someone read this? And that usually, when you put it in perspective, the worst isn't that bad. But it doesn't really have any sage advice to offer if your answer is Well, duh, empires would fall!

Writing Prompt: Under what circumstances are you most comfortable doing deep journal work? Do you worry about privacy? If so, what safeguards do you have in place? What is the worst that would happen if someone read your deepest thoughts?

10 comments:

Gianna said...

can you get a locked file cabinet? A small one wouldn't cost that much.

Jazz said...

I have a locking file cabinet...
I think the deep, abiding fear is not that my husband will read it--he already knows everything I'm going to write--it's this fear that my mother will read it and think she's raised a pervert/freak/horrible awful person. That sounds so silly, doesn't it? But that's the root of the fear, I think.

Gianna said...

well, fears are often not terribly rational, and they also often have a grain of truth in them...

you need to do what you feel safe doing.

again, understanding that fears may not be rational, is it all possible for your mom to get into the filing cabinet if you make sure you and your husband are the only ones with the keys?

or like I said, buy your OWN little one and you can be the only one with the keys...you can also get your hubby to make a promise that if you die he will grab a hold of those particular journals and never let you mom see them!

just suggestions...good luck...

Jazz said...

Thanks, Gianna.
I know it's irrational! That's the worst part of it! I was just thinking about it, and I'm thinking maybe I would feel better if I wrote the entries in longhand, typed them into the computer, and then destroyed the originals. That way I get the benefit of doing the original writing in longhand, and the safety of the electronic protection.

Gah, I'm just a bundle of irrationality, aren't I?

Gianna said...

no..don't beat yourself up...you need to feel safe...I think your idea of doing it in longhand and then typing it is an excellent idea!!

go for it...

and I am by no means putting you down when I say not all fear is rational...I meant it when I said there is often a grain of truth to our "irrational" fears...the most important thing is that you feel safe so that you can heal more completely!!

Jazz said...

Gianna--
I agree...figuring out how to do this work safely is the most important thing...because I think I really do need to do this work. This period of my life is something that I've really avoided thinking about and writing about except in the most general terms, because it is so difficult and painful to remember. I think I still feel a lot of guilt...guilt for putting myself in a situation that ended up causing me and my family a great deal of anxiety, guilt for going to a psychiatrist and letting him talk me into taking meds in the first place, guilt for taking the damn meds for so long when it was clear that they were doing more harm than good, guilt for buying into the whole meds-for-life thing...guilt for not being able to be an advocate for my son when he was having so much trouble in school...

Yeah, there's a lot of stuff I need to work through.

And there is certainly a grain of truth to "irrational" fears. Some of what I need to write would upset some people very much.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Jazz,
I'm out and about and don't have time to write a thoughtful comment. But I want to applaud you on your hard work--despite your fears!

Whether a fear is rational or not, it's still real. And I believe that those of us who are willing to persevere despite our fears deserved the highest praise!

Susan

Jazz said...

Thanks, Susan!

Annie said...

Jazz, I am relating to what you said and my relationship with my mom. I was afraid my mother had the power to read my thoughts and know my "stuff" even if she didn't read something.Talk about irrational! But I think there is a connection with daughters and mothers that makes privacy very important. Maybe you could journal on privacy in general or mother/daughter relationship?
You are very brave to be doing this process and I wish you well in doing it. Peace Annie

Jazz said...

Annie--
I think that's a good idea...I've journaled on privacy before, but not on the specifics of my relationship with my mother, or of where that fear comes from. I don't believe she ever read my stuff, even when I was a teenager, because if she had, I suspect she would have been concerned enough to confront me on some of it. So I'm not sure where this fear is coming from...unless it's that old parental approval thing I thought I'd left behind me!