Your Diary is Your Friend when no-one Else will be.
Did you ever have a diary when you were younger and wrote down all your adolescent frustrations and problems, anger at your best friend because she stole your boyfriend? Or maybe what you thought at the time, was your unfair treatment by your parents when they forbade you to go to a party or out downtown with your friends to hang out at the local shopping centre? When you wrote, you released all that bad feeling and venom which ran down your pen, through the ink and onto your paper. How therapeutic and good did that feel? This, as far as I know, is the “norm” in a functioning family.
What about if you come from what psychologists call a “dysfunctional” family? Writing may not have been encouraged or even learnt. Could it be it was because you didn’t go to school or you couldn’t be bothered to learn because you rebelled, or you wanted to but were prevented for whatever reason?
Perhaps as in my case, it was because you were half-asleep having been kept up most of the night with a mother sitting in the same bed as you in the tiny touring caravan you all lived in with six cats and your unemployed, cancer riddled and dying father.
The noisy gaslight had been on all night, along with your mother who sat singing endless sad Russian folk songs whilst drinking herself into a stupor because she was reminded of her Russian father who fled over the Caucasus Mountains to Iraq before she was born. A time where he probably endured hunger, was half frozen to death, suffered from starvation and fear of being killed by the advancing enemy or from dying generally. She would poke you and talk to you to see if you were awake and able to receive her rhetorical advances. If you were really lucky, she would stumble out of the caravan door in the middle of the night to stand in her swaying, sweetly sad drunkenness, where she would talk to herself, the cats or the insects flying and crawling around and then bring a juicy little earwig, wriggling like fury to get away and then plop it onto your pillow as you tried to sleep in order to catch the school bus on time which arrived and waited for you at the end of the long straight lane on the main road through the village. Whereupon, you would naturally, jump up screaming and crying out how horrible your mother was and be angry, mystified, frustrated and merely wanting to have a normal mother. Still, for me, that´s not how it was, and I wouldn’t have known what normal was even if someone had told me.
Healing Through Writing
Where am heading with all this, you might ask? Well, we started with topic of healing through journaling. It has been scientifically proven that writing heals. By releasing our worries through writing and putting them onto paper, it gives them less power over us. Our worries are made worse by our infinitely worrying lizard or reptile brain, the part which has only been evolving for the last 285 million years and known in scientific terms as the limbic system.
If you haven´t got a journal to write in or you have never done it, it is never too late to start one and it doesn’t matter if you can only devote 5 minutes a day to it. Those 5 minutes add up when done day-in, day-out for a year. Having a journal is liberating and healing because it allows freedom of thought and expression, it liberates your inner you, whether good or bad. It allows us to let out all our frustrations, worries, angst, as well as our dreams for the future. Make it personal by either covering it with paper of your choosing, drawing on it or sticking pictures, photos, anything on it as long as it feels like it´s yours.
By expressing yourself and your true thoughts in a journal, you will, if you come from an abusive parental controlling childhood or an alcoholic family where chaos reigned and you never knew whether you were coming or going, whether your parents loved you or not, whether you were the parent today or they were, enable yourself to start healing with freedom. No-one needs to read those thoughts and feelings which you keep hidden away under tight lock and key, except you and it is you that is the most important element in all this, you count, more than anything.
Writing has many benefits, it clears the unending fog in your head, and it allows you to write down those fleeting, unfettered thoughts which would normally be forgotten in the blink of an eye. It enables you to go back over your writing either immediately or at a later date, when you feel ready to face them full on and start to use them to heal, because healing is never done in one session, rather it takes years of going forwards and backwards, up and down and round or in a zig-zag line. It is never as straight forward as you think or would like it to be so don´t be impatient, it will happen in its own time. We heal bit by bit when we are ready and able to cope with it.
By writing those sometimes terrifying thoughts that float and race around in your head, threatening to overwhelm you, you can then use your finger to trace a path over these words in order to release them forever from your psyche, your soul and deepest inner self. I do it often and it truly works for me, and I have written a lot over the years. In the past I didn’t keep a journal, rather I wrote troubled poetry, lyrics for songs and children´s stories. It´s only in the last few years that I started a healing journal, where I asked myself questions, questions I should have asked myself years ago and didn’t because my fear was at an all-time high, and because I didn’t truly recognise that I had more healing to do.
By getting the knot of trouble out of my head and onto paper, it allows me to then forget about it, or I can alternatively look at it and disassociate myself from it. It may come back to me another time and tap me on the shoulder at some point in the future and say, “Hey, Charmaine, you need to deal with me, we have unfinished business,” but that is fine. I can of course ignore it if I want to, at my peril. It will come back again and again until I resolve what the problem is.
Because I have already started the first step of dealing with it by putting pen to paper, I know I am healing inside. When we deal with our problems and tangled knots in the future, we know that they are more diluted and not so dangerous any more. So much that they cannot hurt us any more, the way they have in the past because we allowed and gave them permission to show themselves and be dealt with, with love and compassion.
When journaling, we are processing past events and by including forgiveness and gratefulness for the lessons we have learnt from ourselves and others we benefit greatly from it. By wielding our pen/pencil as a sword we learn to vanquish the demons of the past by doing battle with them on paper and we allow ourselves to unleash our and their buried power.
We strip our memories and the events which we have experienced, of their secrecy and the power they have yielded, or which we have allowed them to yield over us when they are held secret or swept under the carpet through fear. Through writing we gain clarity, focus and energy to rise and be born again.
By not going back over things when they raise their ugly heads, we run the risk of trying to bury them too soon, whilst they are still alive and not ready to be buried. Better to navigate the memories when they arise, and to deal with the fear surrounding those often traumatic, awful, nightmarish events because by facing your fears face-on, you rob them of the power they have over you.
Our Inner Family
It is my belief that we have more than one person, our Inner Child inside of us who needs healing, and I am not talking in a schizophrenic way. I see it as us having our Inner Baby who remembers nothing very much of that phase of our life, our Inner Toddler who was the little sponge that soaked up every single word and experience both emotional and physical which was thrown at us and started to believe it, without filtering, deleting or distorting anything because we weren’t able to as we didn’t know any better, Then there´s our Inner Older Child who still believes in the Magic of Life, just, our Inner Adolescent who has started to realise that actually Life isn’t Magic and can be awful, our hormones and feelings in turmoil and on top of that, the insanity of whatever life we are experiencing within our family. Finally, our sensible, logical Inner Adult of today, who moves fluidly between all four or in a haphazard, sometimes tumultuous and dramatic way because it struggles with the way the Inner Children haven’t grown up, or it uses a mixture of all four because healing still needs to take place so that we can become fully integrated. The question is, who is fully integrated in the world? Maybe no-one truly is, there is always somebody out there who has taken some small slight or hurt and grossly blown it out of all proportion taken personal possession of it and then made it “their Drama.”
Apart from that, we also have further members of our family who influence us from generations behind us in the family tree and possibly those whom we inadvertently identified with because they played a big role in our family, either from within the family or strangers who became friends. These might be our parents, grandparents, great grand-parents or even further back. Each person having their “Family of Four” residing within them. Is it any wonder we struggle with others, with relationships and with ourselves? All we can do is just do the best job we can do for and with ourselves and let everything else go because you are the only person that you can control and that´s hard enough!
Transformational Coach & Writer helping professional women to Live Life Freely