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.

Pain Ends by Katy A. Brown

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?”