For the month of April I’m blogging alphabetically about quick, easy, and practical ways to relieve stress. To see the other posts in this series, click here.
When I was young, I was a big journaler. From the time I could write, I would record my thoughts. I had diaries. I would write letters to my parents when I was angry (both the type I gave to them and the type I didn’t.) I would write notes, poems, stories, and wishes on scrap pieces of paper. When I was really young, I was especially fond of the adding tape for my grandfather’s calculator. It seemed like it went on and on indefinitely; I could write until my little heart was content. My love of writing what was in my heart continued until my junior year of high school.
When I was a junior, my mom found my journal. This particular journal was a plain ol’ red, 1 inch three-ring-binder. It was so full that it was expanded at least the full one inch. For whatever reason, my mother was in my room one day, saw the gap between my mattress and box spring, and confiscated my journal. She read the entire thing. Perhaps I should have hidden it better. Perhaps she had a right to read what her minor daughter had been writing. Personally, I don’t agree with either one of those statements.
My journal contained an all-too-detailed record of my young life and all of my most intimate thoughts. After reading it all, my mom grounded me for all the horribly sinful things that she discovered. I was literally grounded for 6 months. That wasn’t fun. But what really upset me the most was this intense sense that I had been violated. My inner most being had been unwillingly exposed to her, to the last person in the world that I would ever share those thoughts with.
After that time, I quit writing. No more poems. No more silly thoughts. No more records of my sinful behavior. And, most especially, no record of my feelings and innermost thoughts.
I tried a few times in college to start journaling again, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I just had this feeling like I was no longer writing to express myself. It felt like whatever I was writing could be discovered, so I couldn’t write freely. Writing had lost the sense of freedom – the sense of escape and expression that it had once provided me.
Back when I did journal, it was a great way for me to process my thoughts. It was a great way for me to express my emotions, but it was more than just expression. Being able to see my emotions in writing somehow allowed me to see them in a different light. It gave me the ability to step back and process them and use reason to decipher those emotions. When I process situations in my head, I tend to stay stuck in my emotions, but when I process on paper, I can let my emotions out, and then begin to move past them or work with them to make some kind of positive progress. It was a great outlet for me. I know that it still would be.
Sometimes, this blog plays the role that my journal used to play. I think that’s why I’ve had such success in dealing with my stress in these last couple of weeks. I do really well when I have to put my thoughts on paper. Reflection alone isn’t enough for me; I really benefit from writing out what I’m thinking or feeling or struggling with. I need to find a way to reincorporate journaling into my life. I don’t know if that means pen and paper or if it’s something I might do on the computer. Regardless, it’s something I think I could benefit from.
We have a great pond in my backyard with a deck over it. I can see myself sitting out on the deck and journaling my worries away. It feel a little more relaxed just thinking about it. It’s something I definitely need to make room for in my life.