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Journal Power

Journaling changed my life. Journaling became a safe place to vent. Almost 40 years ago I began journaling to save my sanity. I had only one rule. I could write anything I wanted, whether it was screaming one word in frustration or a page full of the same sentence. My journal became my friend.

My therapist recommended I journal. I resisted for a long time. I was in such dire distress every day over my critically-ill child, my failing marriage, my deep unhappiness, helplessness, depression, and anxiety. I had a healthy child depending on me. I felt consumed, immobilized, and overwhelmed by my pain. And why would I want to lessen my suffering to feel better when the situation would never improve? I was committed to suffering. It hurt too much to do anything else.

The room in my head became less and less. My eating was out of control. I felt cornered by my misery with no where to go. Pain is a great motivator. I surrendered to my journal. My first entries were pages filled with the “F” word.

Then I wrote this:

“For as long as I can remember, food has been my friend. Food has lessened the emotional pain, distracted me from my life and created a sense of safety for me. Overeating helps me numb my inner pain.”

“Do not take the food out of my mouth for it helps me be brave. My mouth is full and my belly is safe. My mind is busy with my belly busy.”

“I do not feel when my belly is full. I do not sense when my mouth is busy.”

“Am I able to take steps beyond my full stomach? My safety relies on meals. My steps into my new world are imprinted on buttered bread.”

“How much clearer will I hear if my stomach is growling? What does it mean to me to be hungry?”

I found my authentic voice and it was painful to hear. I heard me. I believed me. I took time for me. I demonstrated I was worth listening to. I found my authentic voice.

I couldn’t ignore what I wrote. Now I journal with a keyboard. Sometimes I journal on paper. Sometimes I journal in my head. Whatever works. Rules are made by only me. No one else is allowed in.

Airing my pain helps me find self-compassion. I cry in my journal with words. I listen to my words to make room for more life. I have more energy. I have more room inside my head. Journaling is a powerful gift I give myself.

Breathe in the fresh air, Put your mind at ease. Let down your hair, Let it flow in the breeze. Let your eyes wander To all the beauty to be seen. If those toxic thoughts you still do ponder, Then let out a scream. Scream until the pain is gone, Until you no longer feel afraid. Open your eyes to a new dawn, Let the darkness fade. No longer compare yourself Or your flaws to others’ perfections. Take the negativity off the shelf. Focus on your direction. Pick the sadness up off the floor, Sweep it into the wind. Close the door on self-hatred. Never let it back in. For the lies it would often tell you, You will no longer agree. Happiness and love are what you should hold onto. They are whom you should give the key. Pay no attention to the toxic thoughts, Listen to those who adore everything you are. Overthinking was what you once were taught, But now those thoughts you put in a jar. Focus on your goals, Never lose your fight. It’s time to open new scrolls. Everything will be all right.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • I have journals for everything. My day-to-day journal, my dream journal, my art class notes journal, my Eckhart Tolle journal. I don’t know what I would do without writing down all the wisdom I hear and that I am working on. It’s like there’s this secret part of me that I discover anew when I read it back. Yesterday, I helped my mom with some financial things. We met at the social hall. She is getting dementia pretty bad. When we were done, she handed me a bag with her dresses that she wanted me to wash so that she wouldn’t have to pay them to do it. I told her I didn’t want to do laundry and she said she thought I’d want to save her $15. I told her I could pay her cell phone. It was all so petty. When I got home, I found a laminated note I had left in my pocket. It said, “Compassion is the river that washes away anger to let us love.” I write this stuff down all the time but I don’t live it. I’m trying. There’s like a little angel going behind me saying “Do you remember when you wrote that? Why not live it?”

  • Thank you for this reading. Your words around food were powerful. Your line “I do not feel when my belly is full. I do not sense when my mouth is busy.” I feel that. If I’m eating, I don’t have to worry about anything else. It’s a way of not dealing with my problems. That awareness you put in your journal reminds me of the times I’ve written things like that. I can’t use food anymore to deal with my feelings. I can’t. It’s too important to be in the present with myself and not hide from myself. I really appreciate the reminder today. Thanks.

  • I liked the line about I am worth listening to. Journaling is listening to myself. When we talk here, what we say is important and it is coming from our hearts. And it’s all a journal that is added to this blog. I recognize the things I’ve said over these many months. So I’ve got a ready-made journal right here. My journal has both things I write and what I am feeling so that I can hear myself, and also things others have said. This blog is wisdom from ourselves and others. It’s all good.

  • This blog and reflections are a contribution to our total growth. It’s a team effort. And it’s valuable. The wisdom coming from all of us goes a long way. People can relate to whatever it is because we all come from different directions.

  • With the rise of science and medicine, we switched from our collective wisdom to educated wisdom. I love this group because I believe, as long as we talk to each other authentically, the wisdom arises. And too often we think we have to go to a specialist to find what we need. Sometimes we do. Other times the needed nugget is found in authentic sharing. Thank you.

  • Thank you for everything you do. This reading was exactly the right timing for me. I had a knot in my stomach about choices I make for me and choices I make to please people I care about. I thought I’d journal during the meditation. But then I wanted to keep my thoughts very private. So I compromised and turned the page. I wrote and I discovered a love for me and compassion for me. I came to understand me. Then the phrase you said ‘rules are made by only me.’ I’m making inroads and coming to more peace than I had when I sat down this morning.

  • The minute you started reading, my tears started flowing. The synchronicity for me. I’ve been trying to clear out a storage space and I found 50-60 journals of mine. I ripped up the first 20, and then I took the rest home and put them in my bathtub. Yesterday, I went to take a bath and found the journals. I don’t know what to do with them. Part of me wants to read them, another part of me wants to destroy them. I don’t want anyone else to read them. Do I want my kids to be reading what I wrote after I die? It’s a dilemma for me and it stops me from journaling right now. I like proprioceptive writing. What does one do with one’s journals?

  • I think about that when I picture my daughter reading my journals. I know when my daughter bears her soul to me and we share from a deep place, I feel so close to her. I know, when she finds my words of misery, she will feel closer to me because we all feel that pain and we hide it. That’s my take on it. It’s our authenticity. We feel the misery and pain. I want her to know that she is welcome to express that to me. It won’t stop me loving her. I’ll be on the other side and surrounded by loved ones.

  • I’ve shared that before, that I was afraid that other people would find my journal. Now I think, if someone sees it, so be it. I’ve burned my journals before. For me, journaling is freeing the space in my head. It’s getting the thoughts out, putting them on paper so I can see them. That’s accomplished and there is no need to save the journal. A few times I may have gone back to reflect on them. I’m a full moon person and tend to have a fire on the full moon. It’s a release, a freeing feeling to burn the pages and let go. A rite of passage.

  • I have a different take on it. I’ve been in a women’s journal writing group for about 40 years. We meet weekly. We write for ourselves and then we decide if we are comfortable sharing what we learned from the writing process. Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not. That is perfectly acceptable. One member gave her journals to the Schlesinger Library at Harvard because she strongly felt they were a record of what it was like to be a woman in the late 20th century and all the issues she went through first being married, then coming out, then being very political and passionate and very opinionated. She decided not to edit them but to share them as a piece of women’s history. I’m not sure I’d do that, but she did.

  • Journaling is a very personal thing. It was important for me to talk about because it helped me find me.

  • My grandmother was a member of the class of 1907 at her college. A group of her classmates kept up a round-robin letter for about 40 years. They donated it to the college library. It’s proven to be an invaluable historic source for people’s history, not the history of great men. But what life was really like particularly for women during that transitional period.

  • Thank you. Thank you for listening to me and for expressing your words and thoughts. We are all here energetically sharing our space. It’s important to remember our authenticity however we choose to express it. Have a gentle day. Enjoy the sunshine if you have it in your area.

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