Many many years ago, when I was first dating my husband, I realized that he was much more expressive and emotionally honest with me through writing. The email he sent, the letters he’d write to me, were so touching and emotional. But he was never like that in person. He never expressed how he felt or admit his feelings, good or bad. When we moved in together I didn’t get any more letters or emails where he expressed his feelings to me. So I bought a journal called the Desire Journal. It had a soft, plush cover, and a lock with two keys. I wrote a message in it about how I wanted us to be able to write little notes back and forth to each other in it, to make it an expressive record of our relationship. It meant a lot to me for him to be able to continue to talk about his feelings. But unfortunately, he didn’t ever write anything in it. In fact, he lost his key almost immediately. The journal sat on our bookshelf for years, and I would think about it often. Eventually, I lost my key as well.
When we moved to our new apartment, we only brought a small collection of our books as the bookshelf we could have here could only hold about a third of our books. He brought 2 boxes of comic books and filled up two of the four shelves. I brought all my journals and school notebooks and filled up a third. With the journals, I also brought the Desire journal. I had left it in a box that I didn’t realize was books to be put away. I thought it was full of promotional materials for a nonprofit I used to volunteer for. But when I went to get something out of this box a couple months ago, I saw the Desire journal. I realized how much I desired to be writing to my husband in it. And fortunately for us, it had been left unlocked.
Over the years, the strain of his lack of communication on our relationship has been monumental. I’ve printed out divorce papers twice. I’ve been driven crazy. I bash my head into walls. I’ve cut myself. I’ve cried terribly over the pain of needing someone and having them essentially ignore me. I’ve felt so neglected for so many years, and I’ve hit my breaking point. I can no longer tolerate telling someone all these horrible feelings and thoughts I am having, only to get silence in return. The pain of that is unbearable.
I’ve talked with my husband about how he needs to talk to me so I don’t feel like he doesn’t care about me or how he makes me feel. Nothing has changed. And with the pressure of grad school, things have only gotten worse. So when I saw that journal, I pulled it out and wrote another plea to my husband in it. Telling him how there’s so much damage that has been done, but we can try to fix things and have a normal, healthy relationship if he’d just be honest with me about how he feels.
I waited until he got home from work to tell him about the journal. About how I’m on the verge of a breakdown all the time and I really need him to talk to me right now. He read the first note, and the recent note, and started crying. Reading that first note made him think about everything we’ve struggled with since I wrote it and how it didn’t have to happen, he said. But that he would like the opportunity to start talking to me from within its pages.
I was nervous. I knew he’d been working a lot and would need to wait until his day off to write. But he didn’t even touch it after that night. I told him this so he took it to his drawing table. It sat there a couple of more days. His weekend came, and it was still sitting there. With how fragile I was that week, I wasn’t sure what would happen if he did the same thing as the first time I tried to give it to him. It was anxiously on my mind for days.
And then, it happened. The journal wasn’t there anymore. It was the night before he was going to go back to work after his days off. It was nowhere in sight, and a part of me got hope. But just in case, given his history, I figured I’d remind him about the book. I sheepishly went and asked him if he’d remembered about it. That’s when he told me to check my nightstand.
I could hardly believe it. There it was, inside my nightstand, with a new note from my husband in it. I read it and read it again. He actually wrote to me. Told me how he’d really like for us to talk to each other more. To start over. He just wasn’t sure how to do it. So I wrote a nice long response about forgiveness, wisdom and starting over. I hope that when he reads it, he’ll realize it’s possible to let go of the resentment, to forgive but not forget. To start over a little wiser.
I’m going to leave it at his desk for him tomorrow. I hope he enjoys getting it back from me as much as I did getting it from him.