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Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
I'm having such a hard time. Towards the end of last month, I began to post more regularly again and even experimented with my first real locked entries. The feedback I received, including many people I'd been out of touch with in these parts, made me feel the power of community. Even more than in my post-every-day years, I had the sense that Live Journal was where I needed to be.

But then something troubling happened. At first, opening up in those locked entries gave me the sensation of an immense burden being lifted. All of the indirection and subterfuge that my circumstances had led me to deploy here suddenly seemed both silly and toxic. As the responses to my confessions settled, however, different feelings began to intrude. I became disgusted with myself for having given so much away. Yes, revealing what has really been going on with me was a huge relief. Unfortunately, however, I began to think of this change of state as a "discharge" in the etymological sense, possibly necessary yet still unseemly.

To be blunt, I was disgusted with myself. And I still am, more often than not. I understand intellectually where this intense aversion to my opening up is coming from. I know myself well enough to know that the release that follows a state of tension tends to steer me into a space of revulsion. Hell, even the Giants winning the World Series, a major unburdening for a sports fan like me, led to me berating myself for caring so much about something so outwardly inconsequential. No matter how irrational I recognize this negativity to be, I am struggling to contain its effects on my psyche. Perhaps the solution is merely to force myself to write more locked entries, in the hopes of renewing my sense of relief. I worry, though, that taking that approach would hurl me into an addictive cycle, one in which each revelation led to greater revulsion at my need to connect with others.

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From: e4q Date: November 13th, 2010 07:36 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)


bless you. even british people rarely get worried about unseemliness these days.

though i did pause the other day to wonder whether coloured toilet paper was actually vulgar, or i was just an unconsionable snob, or whether both.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 15th, 2010 01:04 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: unseemly

Elaine, you have a tremendous gift for making people happier. No matter how gloomy I'm feeling, hearing from you brightens my day.

As far as unseemliness goes, I really do worry about it a lot, at least online. Even writing posts like this without responding to comments right away makes me anxious about my not keeping up appearances.
From: e4q Date: November 15th, 2010 07:46 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: unseemly


the internet keeps. that's what is so good about it. i would get awfully tired if i had to have a whole game of scrabble live, but online i have several games going and i play when i like. win! (or not win, as the case may be)

someone suggested there was a frisson between me and my neurologist. i promptly spent several hours imagining us being married, and me getting to exercise my full gamut of snob, probably to the complete bemusement of him and his friends.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 15th, 2010 08:00 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: unseemly

I love those marrying-one's-doctor fantasies, even if they are too close to marrying-one's-teacher fantasies for me to comfortably enjoy.
From: e4q Date: November 15th, 2010 08:03 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: unseemly

i haven't had one in ages.

reader, i married him!


a *neurologist*
mhkrabat From: mhkrabat Date: November 13th, 2010 12:36 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Empathy. I hate, hate, hate that after-feeling that sometimes comes with unburdening, and yet it seems entirely wrong to retain all the chaos within if you can jettison some of it by getting it out in the open. From my view there's nothing wrong with saying what's on your mind.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 15th, 2010 01:05 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Thank you! I know it's good to unburden. Even writing for my eyes only, in a private journal or entry, does wonders. But in opening up to others, taking that risk, the effect is greatly magnified. I just wish I didn't feel like crap so soon afterwards.
bitterlawngnome From: bitterlawngnome Date: November 13th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It certainly is a fine line. I used to not post about problems, especially depression & withdrawal. But at the moment my thoughts are that people who actually interact with me need to know what's going on, lest they take it on themselves (no, I'm just depressed, you haven't done anything wrong, etc etc etc). Of course I don't know how well that metric would work in your life but it seems to have steered me a safe course most of the time.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 15th, 2010 01:08 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
You know, that's a really good point. Almost no one seems capable of intuiting what's going on with me when I post the sort of cryptic public entry that has been the norm these past five years or so. And that leads to trouble, as when a friend takes something I say or do personally when it's really just a by-product of the mood I was already in. On the other hand, I have found sometimes that confessing how I'm really doing, as I have tried in private conversation or correspondence, sometimes leads to psychologizing responses that end up detracting too much attention from what I am trying to express in a direct manner.
bitterlawngnome From: bitterlawngnome Date: November 13th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Also something my disabled black lesbian social work guru taught me: silence and stoicism is a way of asserting control over situations where you feel powerless. (can I be any more vague, but I imagine you'll understand what I'm talking about)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 15th, 2010 01:11 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I understand. I spent most of my latency period -- age 8-12 -- reading narratives about men who either adopted a stoic attitude towards the horrors of war or treated everyday life as if it were war in order to make such stoicism seem sensible. Ever since, I've retreated into the stoic attitude when it feels like I could be destroyed at any moment.
known_nothing From: known_nothing Date: November 13th, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I felt something similar when I became a bit too open on certain blogs -- many of which became, as the Japanese like to term defunct blogs, "little pebbles" because of my being uncomfortable with that openness. But the effect of these confessions was an increased sense of community.

I suppose it's true that when you sit down to write, you've got to open a vein...
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 15th, 2010 01:14 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I tried so hard for so long to compose even the most outwardly mundane entry or update as if I were writing a political allegory in need of passing a totalitarian censor. Sometimes that approach resulted in posts that had a powerful undertow even outsiders -- as in, not one of the very few people who really grasped what I was going on about -- could perceive, but more often than not I shut myself off from all support by being so oblique.
kinderheldin From: kinderheldin Date: November 13th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Well said. You reminded me a bit of the Underground Man here. Too conscious of being too conscious, excessive by a degree. I think the feeling is compensatory to letting something go -- for a moment or sometimes more, you want it back. But you had reasons for letting yourself let it go to begin with.

I have such a hard time of letting things go -- getting rid of sentimental objects and objects just in general, because I know I may get mad at myself later. However, it is important to clear out one's living space.

I don't think that revulsion is the only response, but it is one along a spectrum. I think the freedom is another possible part of the feeling, too -- and that is worth the risk.

The psyche has to be carried.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 15th, 2010 01:17 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I was really taken by your discussion of objects here, because even though I wasn't writing about physical memorabilia here, what to do with my collection of memory enhancement devices has certainly been on my mind a great deal. I always swore that I'd never succumb to the mid-life-crisis urge to rid myself of the burden of material history. But that vow is seeming more and more precarious of late.
alsoname From: alsoname Date: November 14th, 2010 06:40 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Probably repeating what has already been said, but: I, too, know that feeling. I probably have deleted most entries that made me feel like that, after swearing to myself never to vomit myself up into the written form ever again, especially in such a vulnerable (read: unseemly) manner. But on the other hand, one thing I have recently realized is that over a lifetime I have built up all these defense mechanisms in which I keep myself closed off from others, and while I feel it protects me from negative interpersonal experiences, it also "protects" me from positive interpersonal experiences, which can only arise from opening up and getting closer. It really sucks, because I guess I want to have my cake and eat it too.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: November 15th, 2010 01:19 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Exactly. I'd love to have my cake and eat it too. But I'm not sure I can live with myself for trying to realize that ambition. To tell the truth, most of my entries of a non-sports and non-music nature have been of the "vomit" kind. Because they were carefully cloaked, however, I could take pleasure in my refusal to be obvious instead of zeroing in on the reasons why I should be disgusted with myself. For whatever reason, I'm less disgusted with my ridiculous arrogance than I am with the nakedness of my interpersonal feelings.
alsoname From: alsoname Date: November 21st, 2010 05:55 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Sorry for the belated reply -- if you've seen my journal lately, you'll know my life has taken a crazy turn.

I definitely understand this disgust you speak of. Speaking for myself, I don't think it sounds as vomitous (that's a word, right?) and disgusting to others as it might to you. It is certainly less solipsistic than the carefully cloaked messages of the past. I hope you will continue to write, if not for an audience (even the limited audience of a locked LJ entry), then at least for yourself.
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