“There is great delight in beginning a new notebook, its fresh clean pages as yet uncontaminated; the unexplored possibilities seem infinite”
~ Kate Thompson
I was recently reminded of the benefits of writing as a source of healing and inner exploration. I wrote my first real journal entry in maybe a year. I cannot believe the insight! My writing in the last year has become quite disconnected from my internal experience, and more of a place for recording what I have learned in the day, or notes of things I would like to do. But there was a time when I would fill my pages with deep introspective entries, especially when I was facing difficult life experiences.
My journal writing began when I was 18 years old. First love blues. I was in a long distance relationship and felt the intense agony young people do at this age, of missing my boyfriend. Spending long hours on the phone crying about when I would see him next didn’t do much to ease the pain. I started writing him letters. The relief I got from these letters was noticeable. What fascinated me the most was how I could re-read them and truly understand what I was going through. This morning I realized something else when thinking back. Although every letter was to him, I never gave him these letters. Not once did he read the words on the page. They were my map in this relationship and my tool for helping me truly understand what I needed to about myself at the time.
These letters gave way to journaling and letters to myself. Journal writing became a major source of coping for me throughout some incredibly tough experiences. I relied heavily on my journal through my second serious relationship as well. Eventually my writing led me to understanding how deeply I needed to leave this unsafe situation. My journal entries turned into desperate prayers. I also remember during this time really making a connection to my experiences with anxiety and buried emotions that I was stuffing down. I would experience typical panic symptoms and insomnia which would distract me from my true emotions, ones I was too afraid to look at (like the danger I was in in this relationship). Through journaling, I discovered emotions beneath the panic, which I would have never known were there.
Thinking back on this, I am fascinated with the ability for a notebook and pen to give me the safety I need to feel. I want so badly to be “good” at feelings and emotions, but I habitually bury them most of the time; yes, even the good ones. But not on paper. The pen sets them free and I am able to look at them and respond to them. It is like discovering the map to the treasure I am after. In fact, I believe journaling has defined my treasure. It truly connects me with myself.
Grab the pen today and start writing. You never know what will fill the page!
Happy treasure hunting!