Saturday, March 5, 2016

Why should you journal your relationship? Clarity, my friends

From Divorced Moms a few days ago as I try to catch up.

Finding Clarity: The Importance of Documenting Your Relationships
by Lizzy Smith                    
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March 03, 2016
635702451946097051Fotolia_84150659_XS.jpgHere's one of my biggest pieces of advice to those of you in difficult relationships: Write yourself letters. Keep a journal. Document it. You should never forget or confuse your painful reality.

There were times in my highly abusive marriage that I thought I would explode in anger, sadness and frustration. One day, I started writing myself emails as a reminder that I was living in Hell. I did not want to have another makeup session with my husband and "forget" how horrible things really were.

You see, life can be really confusing when you are living a life of volatility. There are good times and then - bam! - things turn horrible and ugly in an instant. And then there's a period of calm and peace until - bam! - again, another terrible episode. During those "good" times (I use this term loosely because when one is walking on eggshells, nothing is ever good-- you know that life will become ugly and frightening again, you're just not sure when), I needed something I could refer back to that reminded me of my true reality. Something I could read and remember, and could use to smack myself upside the head and say "Lizzy, your Hell is REAL. This whole 'he's being such a great guy right now' is a fallacy."

Sometimes instead of writing myself an email, I'd draw pictures. One night, my husband, Rob the Great (Alcoholic) came home drunk, screamed at me, and passed out. It was early, like 7 pm. I sat on the floor not far from our bed, watching him breathe and I loathed him. I took out a piece of paper and drew a picture of a volcano exploding. I wrote notes that said things like: Rob is happy (that was near the bottom of the volcano when the lava was nowhere near the top), and then the smoke coming out of the top (Rob is about ready to scream at me), then spewing volcano with a stick figure of me covering my head in fear. I filed it away so I could pull it out at any time and remind myself that somewhere in that picture of a volcano was Rob's behavior-- either calm or exploding. One thing that was a given-- Rob would cycle through my volcano picture: calm, seething, exploding. Repeat. Because of the uncertainty of when any of this would happen, life was truly scary for me Every.Single.Day. Dreadful, really.

My emails, writings, and diagrams have helped me. There are times even to this day when I will start remembering only our good times and wonder if maybe I overreacted. And then all I need to do is refer back to my trusty file and read and remember. No, Lizzy, you were right. Things were bad, very bad. As tempting as it can be to romanticize a former relationship, this can be extremely dangerous, especially if you are trying to escape, or are escaping, an abusive relationship. You must never, ever forget reality.

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