A post from the blog Magic In The Backyard asks what are some reasons why people censor their writing and how can we be fearless writers. While this isn't one of the assignments on the blog, this relates very much to the topic.
I mentioned in my previous post that I had kept journals from the time that I was nine years old until a little over two years ago when I experienced something that made me afraid to write. It sounds a little crazy, I know. Talking about it now gives me a mental image that I am holding a pen in my trembling hand and can't make eye contact with the notebook. As I move my pen closer to the notebook my whole body begins to shake with fear as if I know that once the ink touches the paper a giant monster is going to emerge from the page and steal me away to a dark land where they eat people like me for lunch, people who express their feelings. You would be frightened too. Wouldn't you?
This is what actually happened. I was married to my oldest daughter's father for one year and one month. I left him when she was eight months old. The guy is a classic example of a sociopath, psychologists call it Anti-Social personality disorder these days. That's a ridiculously long and complicated story for another time though. He ended up waging a full out custody war against me, as people of that nature tend to do, and somehow twelve of my journals became the focus of several motions he filed and also a four hour deposition.
My ex (whom I refer to as Jim Bob Firepants because his name is James and he lies a lot so his pants are on fire) got the journals because he took them from our house before I moved all of my stuff out. Luckily, I had left all of my other notebooks at my parents house in a trunk so he only had a small chunk of my inner workings to try and use against me. And try to use it against me he did. It was mortifying. He was accusing me of being unstable and said he had "evidence" that I purposely infected someone with a disease and I was trying to infect our daughter with it too. He really said this, in fact he insisted it. This "evidence" came from something I wrote several years ago about a guy I had dated who broke up with me in an email. The guy and I had mutual friends and we all ended up at his house one day. I used his computer when I was there and it ended up crashing from a virus. Now, I doubt I am the one who caused the virus on his computer, usually it takes a while for a virus to completely screw up a computer, I just happened to be the one using it when it crashed. In my journal I wrote about how his karma came back in the form of a virus. I didn't explain in my journal that it was because he broke up with me in an email and I thought it was ironic because I already knew what I was meaning. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would end up in a deposition with an attorney interrogating me about my notebooks. Never in my wildest dreams would I have even considered that I would be explaining the meaning of my thoughts and poems to opposing counsel, a court reporter, and my attorney to whom I was paying $250 and hour. It was humiliating to say the least but that was the point of the whole thing. If revenge was professional basket ball than my ex would be Michael Jordon.
The whole charade had no effect on the outcome in court because it was absolutely ludicrous and by the time custody was determined he had already came up with numerous other evil plots to destroy me and ultimately putting our daughter's well being at risk which cost him legal and physical custody. I was really affected by it though. The whole thing was quite traumatizing for me. The things I write are for me and I don't write with the expectation that someone may read them some day. It made me afraid to write about everything that I thought about after that because I feared that it could happen again. When I did try to write, I chose my words carefully so that nothing could be misinterpreted and twisted to make me out to be a villain. My purpose for writing was defeated once I started to censor my thoughts so I just stopped.
I'm back to writing now though! It feels really empowering to take back the things that my ex took from me. I'm not going to worry about censoring what I am thinking or feeling when it comes to my own personal journal or any other place. The worst thing that could happen has already happened to me and I survived it.