Writing can give us such power in the darkest times of our life. On the most basic level, it gives us a voice – and being heard (and hearing ourselves) is one of the most important aspects of beginning to heal. It can serve as a guide, a healing tool or an escape, depending on how you use it.
My earliest days of using writing to heal were when my mother died when I was a child. I was left with an handicapped father who suffered a lot of depression, fought alcoholism, and didn’t have a clue what to do with a nine year old daughter. I was very alone with her death. No one talked about it. No one talked about her. At too young an age to know to ask for help, I turned to writing. I journaled to express my feelings. I wrote fictional stories to escape my pain. Fast forward over 20 years, when my fiance died last summer, I turned once more to writing. This time, being much older and more aware now, I’ve begun to see a balance between two types of writing. I’m finding this past year that this ebb and flow is exactly in line with the ebb and flow of grief…
Journaling is a way to express and process what is going on inside us. It helps us to put out on paper everything that is inside and to be able to see it one step removed. It creates for us a private world where we am free to say every last raw, stinging, angry, shameful, ugly, aching, sad thing that resides in us. That is a vital place to have especially when we are going through grief or trauma. A place where we are safe from any rejection or judgement to freely express the deepest parts of ourselves. And although we may never share any of these words with anyone else, still we are heard. We are heard by our own souls. Don’t underestimate the power of this.
Poetry, fictional stories or writing articles and blog posts have an entirely and wonderfully different focus. The energy here is about creating beauty out of the pain. It is about using our unique perspective and way with words to create art, educate, and move people. So while one might say that journaling is the pouring out of yourself, creative writing is the filling back up. It is the re-energizing of the soul, the way to create a sense of wonder or worth or beauty out of even the darkest times and to feel good about our ability to do so.
For Your Journey: Try playing with this ebb and flow between journaling and creative writing. Listen to your soul, do you feel like you need to deeply express some very private things? Try journaling that out. Do you feel like trying to articulate those feelings in a creative way to others in your life – through a poem or a short story or article? Try shifting between these two forms of writing, alternating daily perhaps, as a way to begin to see how each one can serve you in your own healing.