The damage was already done

(Continued from previous post)

One of the recent roadblocks in my writing has to do with oppression. Revisiting the past for my current writing reawakened the ways in which I tailored my writing toward the end of the marriage. It stems from a violation of my trust over twenty years ago. I sought advice from SIL about this last week. More on that in a bit.

I don’t know when I realized he was reading my private journals. I don’t recall ever having a deliberate conversation or confronting him about it. Only that several times over the years he would tell me not to write anything bad about him. What business was it of his what I wrote about in my private journals? He said he didn’t want bad things written about him. He didn’t want me committing his crimes on paper, I guess.

I did, though. I did for a long time. It was the only way I could cope with our toxic relationship. It turned out to be a blessing too, when we went for the custody evaluation and I was able to photocopy those pages to share with the psychologist – to support what I was saying. It was the first time I shared with anyone what really happened behind our doors. It was cathartic and vindicating. Someone had heard me.

At some point near the end of our marriage though, I stopped writing anything I wouldn’t share in my Mom’s Club. I was worried he’d find out and worried about what he would do. (Turned out I had every reason to be afraid. Once, he’d read my text messages with a family member and went positively ballistic.)

I never actually caught him reading my journals, but there were things that happened that were just too coincidental. He had this knack for mentioning things out of the blue. Things I had on my mind. People I may have written about. It was so sly, but in retrospect it was so obvious. I had so much anxiety all the time, I was too busy defending myself to even consider where it was coming from.

A month before our wedding, one night after I got home from work, he asked if I minded him looking at my old photo albums. No. Of course not.

(Who asks their fiancé if it’s okay to look at their old pictures??) Then he said he had been looking at one from high school. Okay, whatever. He asked me who the two guys were in a newspaper clipping I’d saved. He asked if I dated them. No. I might’ve said I’d had a longtime “flirtation” with one of them that went nowhere. I might’ve said we’d spent some time together one summer, but that again – it went nowhere. (To be fair, I have been guilty of oversharing information and the guys in my life didn’t enjoy that a whole lot.)

Then he asked, when’s the last time you spoke to him? My heart dropped to the floor of my stomach and I’m fairly certain my face lost all its color as I tried like hell to recover myself. Because the truth was, the answer was yesterday.

This “friend” of mine called me at work out of nowhere to catch up literally the previous day. We hadn’t spoken for years until that day and, quite frankly, I was annoyed that he called at all. I learned, over all the years of flirtation, that all of it was wasted breath. Moreover, I was getting married and didn’t need this interruption. MOREOVER, he too was married and the wife was “out of town.” Disgusting doesn’t begin to describe my reaction.

I knew I couldn’t keep this from him, it felt wrong or deceptive or … something. But I also knew that his jealousy would erupt into a horrible fight, so I opted to wait to tell him until the weekend. Paid for that, I did.

So coming back to the present, I had been writing a great deal a few months back, referencing old journals, and then all of a sudden the tires squealed to a halt. I know some of it was due to unearthing all that shit again. But it was also because, as I read what I had written, more and more things came to light that he must surely have read. It explained things I could never have recognized at the time.

Two weeks ago I identified this revelation – how he affected what I wrote in the last year or so of our marriage – and how I was feeling like I couldn’t write NOW because of who might be reading. And that, in itself, was clogging the pipeline of my creativity.

SIL was here a few days ago and I used the opportunity to discuss it with her. All of the above. She had some suggestions, one of which was to write specifically about this block. (She also said my friend’s call “was a sign of sorts, don’t you think?”) My therapist had similar ideas and one really strong one which – if it isn’t already obvious – I have risen to.

I don’t know where this takes me going forward, but – like when they say, “dance like no one is watching” – I’m going to write like no one is reading.

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