Posted by: Marie | September 3, 2009

(139) Reader Input: Shared or private?

Post #139

Solicitation for Reader Input

A few days back, an interesting discussion arose between my friend Evan and me in response to a post. The discussion was about the value of choosing to selectively share what we write in our journals versus the value of choosing to never share what we write. I’m interested in hearing what the rest of you readers have to say . . .

Do you keep a personal/therapy journal? What kinds of “stuff” do you put in there? How do you decide what to write about?

Do you allow anyone to read it? If no, why not? If yes, then who? Do they read everything or just some things? How do you decide what to share?

What is the main purpose of your sharing? What type of feedback do you want? Or, do you want no feedback, but rather just the knowledge that another human being has read it? How do you handle it when your “audience” says something judgmental?

Do you sometimes wonder if you have the “right” to expend time and energy writing down “stuff”? Do you sometimes wonder if you have the right to ask others to read it — if it is reasonable to “burden” someone else with the details?

I really want to hear your stories!! Please send me your comments!

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Responses

  1. Hi Marie,

    Happy to share my experience on this.

    Yes, I do keep a private journal. I have kept it for 13 months. I have not missed a day, I think. I write everything in it. I use it to keep track better of my system. My therapist accesses it through password and reads it every day. It’s just a long webpage with a date/time stamp on each entry. I write anything and everything in it. I vent. I analyze. I say what I did. I write down my feelings. I tried for years to keep a journal, but never really succeeded. Until a year ago. I think having it electronic and having a laptop and wireless helps, because I can do it from anywhere in the house, at work, and I keep the laptop with me usually.

    I have taken some of the journal posts that I think may be helpful to others and have turned them into blog entries. But that’s not that often. I usually keep the blog a little less personal (because it’s safer) and the private journal is no holds barred.

    My therapist and I don’t make a point to talk about what I write in my journal. But it’s helpful to me that she knows what’s going on. This allows us to forgo talking about the details and talk about the meanings.

    With the blog, I look for validation from others. I look for people to think about what I write and say whether they think differently or not about it. I also think it’s important for me to SPEAK OUT. I am no activist, but I have found healing in being able to speak out in my own, perhaps small, way.

    I also keep a hardcopy journal with really heavy 90lb paper (it’s a Canson wirebound drawing journal). I sometimes hand write in there. But also use it for drawings.

    As far as my blog audience saying something judgmental, well, I will have to blog about that. I really have been lucky so far in that I have had really supportive and thoughtful comments. I’ve only had a couple of issues. But they were minor.

    As far as having the “right” to spend energy on writing, I would have to say that I think of this as one of the most important things I have to do in life now. It’s not a matter of “right” for me. It’s a matter of needing to do this to function and, dare I say, heal. I do think about what I share in the private journal as being a burden to my therapist. I have talked with her about that. She assures me it’s not and continues to encourage me. I have to trust her on that. I think never sharing with anyone reinforces the “keeping it inside” way of doing things. Maybe others can make it work that way. I seem to not be able to.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write about this.

    Paul

    • Hi, Paul –

      It sounds like you have really put a lot of thought into how you support and heal all the different aspects of “who you are”. I am pleased that you are making healing such a high priority.

      I have the same experience as you when it comes to asking someone else (therapist) to read my writing — I need to share in order to counteract the tendency to “keep it inside”. And, I feel I am being burdensome when I ask someone else to read it — but I really need that other person to read it in order to validate my feelings and experiences in my own mind — it’s almost like my feelings and experiences don’t really exist (aren’t real?) unless another person acknowledges them.

      Anyway, thank you so much for sharing!

      – Marie

  2. I don’t keep a journal; I do have a therapy-specific blog, which basically serves the same purpose. I don’t feel the need to keep a journal for a couple of reasons — one being that my processing is quick and I remember it, so if, for example, I am doing an exercise recommended by my therapist, I usually mull it over for several days, and then do the actual work quite rapidly yet accurately, and take it back to her. My process would tend to be inhibited by writing about it on a daily basis.

    When I write on the therapy blog, I welcome feedback and perspective, but I’m not looking for validation, per se. On some issues, it’s useful for my readership to argue or disagree with me. Much of what I write about is, indirectly or directly, for the benefit of my readers, many of whom are also in therapy but who may not have the same capacity to articulate their own experiences … I validate them, rather than vice versa.

    I rarely receive what I would call truly negative or confrontational feedback -I don’t think feedback is negative unless it is actively abusively critical of me. I’ve had some genuine arguments with readers, and feelings have run high at times, but there was never any rancor involved. I will also say that because that blog has an invitation-only readership, I’m able to trust the intentions of the readers, which is not something that can really be done on a public blog.

    Regardless of whether a blog is public or private, I think it is true that some people are not sufficiently stable to handle reader feedback. This is not a criticism of the blogger; it’s the simple truth. I think each blogger needs to honestly assess how susceptible he or she is to criticism, how solid inner opinions and beliefs are, whether there is a desire to “please,” whether the blog is a substitute for healthy social interaction. All of these things are crucial factors in whether it is safe to share honestly and openly on a blog, regarding very personal matters.

    • Hi, David –

      You make some really great points about using a blog as a therapeutic journal . . . since that is how I’m using this blog, I found your thoughts very relative.

      I agree with you that a blogger should honestly assess his or her ability to handle strongly opinionated comments that might be at odds with what the blogger believes. For me, I welcome controversial comments because it allows me to see things in ways I hadn’t seen them before — assuming the comments are not outright abusive, as you said.

      I am also learning that it is okay for people to not agree with me . . . a disagreement does not invalidate my experience. And, I am not obligated to defend my position, I can simply acknowledge the other person’s position and let it go at that, if that is the healthiest response.

      So, thank you for sharing your insights . . . I always enjoy your writing!

      – Marie

  3. Today I begin my journey in writing in a public journal (blog). I read some of your questions and answers about the abuse and decided I need to start opening up about my past life if I intend to get past it. I have kept a lot of things bottled up, yes it interferes with relationships, yes it interferes with whom you choose to hangout with.

    Maybe this is not quite the comment you were looking for but I believe anyone who can open up and share their abuse has courage.

    • Hi, Crainey –

      Congratulations on starting your public journal! I do find great value in sharing my story . . . especially the stuff that carries so much shame. This on-line community is so awesome!

      And, by the way, your comment is exactly what I was looking for! I really appreciate your input! You have courage, too!

      – Marie

  4. I don’t really keep a daily journal but I do write about what I have a hard time saying in words. What I write takes more of a poetic form and doesn’t usually say things out right. If I didn’t write I think that I would explode.

    I have shared a few entries with my T particularly when I can’t find the words to explain how I feel. I don’t think that I write very well but it is mostly just for myself anyway.

    This may seem weird but one thing that I do stress about is what will people think if they find this journal and read it if by some chance I die. Nobody in real life knows this part of me.

    My next step was to start the blog. I need to start acknowledging what is inside. With the blog I am finally telling others but still anon about it. I’m hoping someday to be able to talk RL people about it.

    • Hi, lostinamaze –

      It sound like you are being responsible in how you are dealing with your “stuff”. I’m glad you are moving at your own pace and designing your own plan of action.

      That is an interesting thought about people reading what you write after you die . . I guess, if you share your story while you are still alive, it won’t be an issue . . . hmmmmm

      Thanks for your input!

      – Marie


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