“Use your words to listen to what is inside of you.”
– Michele Weldon, Writing To Save Your Life
I’ve written for as long as I can remember. At first, it was simply about recording my life, not because it was particularly interesting to me (or anyone else!), but because I imagined that at some point in the future I’d want a record of my boring, mundane, run-of-the-mill life.
As a pre-teen girl I had one of those tiny, lock & key diaries that any nosy parent or sibling could easily find their way into. Until I started kissing boys and smoking pot, I wasn’t too concerned about anybody reading my “personal” stuff. Years later they turned out to be pretty entertaining in a totally embarrassing way. “Oh my God, did I really feel and think that??”
And yet, it was my story.
Fast forward to decades later and writing is in many ways my go-to therapy. It takes the unmitigated mess that is my thoughts and feelings, and enables me to make sense of it all. It’s a process, of course. Insight and enlightenment don’t happen in an instant! But you have to start somewhere, and journal writing for me is where I begin to understand the world, and my place in it.
In the aftermath of loss, one’s world can very suddenly make no sense at all. As if someone is hanging you upside down and shaking you. Hard. Sometimes it’s difficult to identify what’s going to help to get you grounded again.
Expressing what you’re feeling is critical. And for me, writing is what works and helps me achieve a sense of order, balance and sanity again. For others it could be dancing, photography, fiber arts, gardening, cooking…we each have a favored mode of expressing on the outside what is churning on the inside.
For some of us, it is a “must.” I can’t not write when I am upset. I can’t get myself sorted out without seeing it all in black and white on the page (or screen). It takes what feels intangible (and therefore unresolvable), and makes it concrete. When it is written down, it takes a form that I can address in a practical manner. It makes it smaller, and not so overwhelming or unmanageable.
So write! Sing! Cook! Garden! Move your body! Whatever allows you to process and make peace with your experience.
And please, share in the comments below what has worked for you.