Today I want to talk a little about something that really helped me get through my parents' divorce. But the thing is, you don't have to be going through divorce for this to benefit you. You can do it all the time, and it is a great way to work through any sort of feelings.
What I want to talk about is journaling. Now, I'm a writer, and I've kept a journal/diary faithfully since I was about 10 years old. Growing up in a large family, where mom's and dad's time was spread pretty thin, it was necessary if I wanted to feel like I had a voice at all. These are just a few of the reasons why journaling was so beneficial for me, particularly in helping me cope with my parents' divorce:
1) Journaling gave me something/someone (I've kind of personified my journal over the years) to talk to. I could be completely honest and open about everything I was feeling, and no one was there to judge me. When you're dealing with probably the most difficult feelings you've ever felt, you don't always like expressing them in front of the world--believe me, I know. Journaling is a safe place to let it all out.
2) Journaling also gave me a place to be angry without doing harm. It's normal and even expected that you should feel angry about what's happening to your family. But expressing those feelings "in anger" will only make you, and the person you're angry with feel worse. With a journal, there's no danger of hurting anyone, because it is for your eyes only. And chances are, you'll be able to work out your feelings as you write, and then be able to calmly talk to the person who's the cause of your anger. Writing really forces you to think about what you're feeling in order to articulate it. When you have to think about it on that level, you're more likely to confront the anger a little more objectively. Then you can decide if the matter is even worth bringing up at all. If it will make things better, you want to address it as level-headedly as possible, or chances are, lashing out in anger will only make it worse.
I've saved myself tons of heartache and many relationships by going to my journal to work things out before expressing how I felt. I still use it today with my own family and marriage.
3)After I'd figured out how I really felt about what was going on in my life, journaling gave me a chance to choose what I was going to do from then on. Writing is creating, and we as human beings have the power to create our perception of the world, and our own future, despite where we've come from. If we do that creating haphazardly, without conscious thought, we can end up with some pretty big chips on our shoulders--chips that will only negatively affect the rest of our lives. No, we can't necessarily change what's going on around us, but we can change the way we choose to re-act to it, and journaling really helped me do that.
Knowing how you feel about something hard you're going through , and why you're feeling that way, is empowering. Once you understand yourself, you are in control of you, and when the world around you seems to be crashing down, it's nice to know that you still have the power to decide who you will be.
In journaling, I decided that my parents' divorce was going to make me stronger. I decided that if I ever got through it, which in the thick of things seemed like only a hope, that I wanted a record of how I'd done it, so I could help someone else. There is something very powerful about putting your aspirations down on paper; you're much more likely to remember and accomplish them. I know, because, look, here I am! :) I made it through!
So, what about you? There are all kinds of ways to keep a journal--to sort through your feelings in a harmless way. I've seen people do sketch journals, or photo journals, or scrapbooks. I have a friend who writes her feelings out in poems, and that seems to work for her. What are some of the ways you can, or already are journaling? Get creative and find your own space where you can be and think and feel safely until you know how you're going to get through what lies ahead. You can still become the person you've always wanted to be, no matter what challenges you face, but first you have to have a clear picture of who that person is. Journaling is a great way to discover her/him.
I'd love to hear your ideas!