I started keeping diaries ~ I guess you could call it journaling ~ from the time I was able to manipulate a pen or pencil on paper and print or write.
Some of my earliest diaries still occupy a special place in my library.
They’re filled with horrid little stick drawings, charts and snippets of conversation. Direct quotes from real interactions or little playlets of my own creation.
What I loved was that I’d never lose my feelings.
I locked them up so no one was ever privy to them…
I captured them at a specific moment in time. Each entry was dated, sometimes even timed, in little red leather bound and lined volumes with tiny gold keys that locked up my thoughts and feelings so no one else was be privy to them.
Read Lily Koppel‘s The Red Leather Diary, Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal, based on her New York Times feature, Speak, Memory.
Oh, how it resonated with me.
I pray no one ever reads my adolescent musings…
Not just the diary itself, but its discovery and the depth and insight of Koppel’s investigation of the life of its young writer. I shudder at the thought of anyone ever reading my adolescent musings.
Back in the 1960s, I felt enormously secure knowing my pubescent ponderings were secret. Safe. The same way about my psychotherapy with Dr. Bob.
Today, blogging is a form of public journaling. Even if no one ever reads you. It’s reflective writing ~ potentially powerful and healing. A way of learning about yourself and your world. Writing and reporting is my way of life after spending half my life on staff of a major daily urban newspaper.
People are the world’s greatest resource…
People fascinate me. For much of my journalistic career I wrote profiles of people. When you take the time to focus on someone, anyone, you find that everyone is a story.
My early explorations of my emotions and motivations continued when I started seeing my first psychiatrist in 1960 at 12 years old. In one of my earliest diaries, I addressed each entry to her.
About eight years ago, I was asked to write a chapter in a book about an intensely personal experience, one I almost never spoke about. A deep secret. I didn’t want to do it, but the editors convinced me.
To begin writing my own deep dark story, I had to change my “voice”…
When I couldn’t begin, they suggested I write in the second person, using “you” instead of “I” and curiously, that voice distanced me enough from my feelings and the pain of that childhood experience, to write the story.
I was able to read and reread it without reliving it, when “I” was “you.” Ultimately, when the story was edited, all my “you’s” were changed into “I’s”. Now, re-reading that story is too vivid. Too close.
Whenever I feel strongly about anything, I find myself writing. It’s natural to sit down and start a blog post. You have no idea how many drafts I start and kill. After more than two years of blogging, it’s much easier to write reflectively. To put my thoughts and feelings down in black and white and reread and edit them.
Responding to your comments is most powerful for me…
It’s cathartic and therapeutic. Healing. What’s even more powerful is responding to your comments.
There’s nothing new about journaling as a therapeutic device. At the same time, developing your own voice is a skill that leads to developing confidence and self-esteem. Believing in what you perceive, even if those perceptions change with time and experience.
And they do.
Every day, I wake up a slightly different person. I think that’s a truth for many of us. We’re not just a day older, but refreshed with another day of living and learning behind us. With the knowledge we’ve faced new challenges. Persevered. Conquered what may have seemed insurmountable.
This week, I saw my psychiatrist, Dr. Bob. Last week, I saw him, too.
Between those two visits ~ seven days ~ my world righted itself.
Writing and “reflecting” here saved me this week…
I kept teaching. I kept blogging here, though not as often as I would like. For that, I want to ask your forgiveness. I kept an eye on your intriguing conversations with each other in the comments to Coming Out Crazy. I responded where and when I could.
And you know what helped me most?
You. To write to, here at Psych Central. Try it. Write down your thoughts and feelings. For yourself. Date what you write. Describe where you are while you’re writing. When. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Just write.
And see what happens. If you like, let me know how it feels. What you learn. That alone can be an emotional release.