Thursday, May 8, 2008

Therapy Through Blogging

This article on Jezebel touched upon some issues I've been thinking about for awhile. How has blogging affected the way we communicate with each other, and in turn, has it changed our desire to express ourselves from an entirely private matter to something necessarily public?

I’m not sure why I started writing. I don’t remember the specific day or even the year when I made the conscious decision to put a pen to paper. All I have are little clips of memories that sometimes have the semblance of logic and align themselves into the scenes of my life. I remember voraciously filling notebooks with stories of little girls going on vacation and winning Spelling Bees and playing hopscotch. On a patterned couch that served more as a decoration than a symbol for relaxation, I composed my first story, entitled “Caroline’s Chemistry Set.” The basic premise of the story included a little girl who saved a crashing plane with her chemistry set. The naivety of my first stories was endearing, and my parents quickly anointed me an exceptional little author.

But when high school hit, I became entrenched in the drama that the teenage years are known for, engaging in the constant fighting and belittling and lying. These were miserable years, oozing with deceit and self-hatred and lust. I faithfully kept a diary of my antics, because I knew somewhere deep down that I would want to remember that stage of my life.

In my diary I outlined every lie and illegal activity, so that I could always look back, whether it was with fondness or disgust, and still be able to connect with who I was at 15. I had the distinct desire to preserve every conversation, every turn of the head, every moment that would somehow connect me to my younger self when I turned old and grey and surely out of touch.

In 9th grade, this intrinsic drive to document my life turned sour. My mother, concerned about my recent rash behavior, paged through my diary and quickly learned not only of my bad behavior, but also every thought that had run through my meager brain since grade school. In turn, she unwittingly siphoned away my desire to write.

In retrospect, her concerns were of honest descent, but I still don’t feel even her motherhood justified her actions. Not only was I grounded for all of my misconduct, but the will to write and communicate all those feelings and events slowly drained out of me. Writing, for me, became rotten. For months I could not write because I could not trust my parents to award me the privacy I needed to do so. Even the most innocent of entries seemed dead and hung on the page with a dull sense of readability. I was censoring myself. Every word I put down appeared with the intent of someone else reading it. Knowing this inevitably changed my writing, and I lost myself in that.

But slowly, as the months passed, and my mother promised repeatedly to never snoop in my things again, I began to gain back what I’d lost. That honesty, that bluntness which made my writing so refreshing, began to unknowingly seep back into my words. And as I grew, the innocent life I had simultaneously cultivated and fought against was twisted and marred. My pen became my weapon against the world’s evils - my parents’ divorce, my father’s remarriage and the never-ending chain of meaningless relationships which came to symbolize my restlessness.

But ultimately, I was afraid of showing my writing to anyone. It became a gateway into places I was too afraid to broadcast: Look here. Touch here. Hurt me here. I was shy and afraid to admit that I had something I wanted to share, something I needed fucking desperately to share.

I cracked at the beginning of this year. Until my first poetry class, I refused to show any of my work to anyone I didn’t wholly trust. Even my best friends from high school have yet to see the things I’ve put together, because I am afraid of rejection. A writer afraid of rejection! Tough luck, huh?

But the feedback I got from my poetry workshop was positive, and eventually I began to gain confidence in my abilities. I began to realize that while writing what was inside was cathartic, so too was sharing it with people who could take things away from it. And so began this blog, Jess and Josh, a vanity project as we often times joke, but also an exercise in what it’s like to be human. In connecting with people. In laying it all bare for people to dissect, accept, reject. Jess and Josh has made it easier for me to talk about things that are important, things that I would typically shy away from because their intensity inherently births discomfort. The people around me have matured to the point where I don’t necessarily have to be wary of off-topic, mean-spirited comments as I may have been in high school, but I think what I am doing here is not as important for the people who read Jess and Josh as it is for me. This is like THERAPY for Josh and me, however fucked up that sounds.

And it even stretches to issues beyond those I’d be comfortable discussing on Jess and Josh, because yes, there are topics I do try to keep secret. I do not want to become Julia Allison by any means.

My father read the post I wrote about him, calling him weak, attacking him where it hurts most. I thought that would be the end of our relationship, but in fact it has made it stronger. I did not recoil the way I did when my mother read my diary when I was 14. Instead I acknowledged that I had written it, that I meant it, that we both deserved some long overdue honesty. And though it hasn’t necessarily produced immediate change, I do not regret him reading it. In a lot of ways, it was important for both of us that he did.

In a world where technology overrides everything, where my roommate IMs me from the six feet away, where my parents text message me instead of calling, where we are wholly connected in all ways all the time, blogs have become an important medium for cathartic self-work. They have replaced the afternoon teatimes and book clubs and social gatherings. We can whine and bitch about how the computer has connected us in many ways and disconnected us in larger ways, but we cannot fight against it. What’s done is done. So this is my way of remembering how to be human, even if it is through HTML.



Marshall said...

This is quite a piece.

Nayoung said...


Jess, would it be all right if i cite this entry in my paper on gender in the blogosphere?

Jess and Josh said...

Sure, Nayoung, I'd be honored.