To me, the journal is an essential vomitorium, a depository, a giant worry doll that contains it, holds it- allows for LETTING GO. It allows me to make sense. I find that journaling is different from keeping a diary.
The difference between diary keeping and journaling (to me):
A diary is a record of events, happenings, day to days.
Journaling is a place to vent, vomit, express without thought or judgement.
Both techniques tell my story. Both are healing but to me, the stream-of-consciousness journaling is most therapeutic.
As I look back through my hundreds upon hundreds of messy journals- I find that the themes and struggles are repeated ad nauseum– but yet, though the despair and issues may seem repetitive, I see now that I have been able to WORK THROUGH gigantic life events (divorce, parent’s illnesses and deaths, parenthood, growth, severe anxiety and insomnia etc etc etc. stuff we all struggle with… ) via, what I call, a personal therapy process- and most seriously, through journaling, I have simply been able to walk through dark nights of the soul by simply acknowledging my story.
When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away – they own us, then they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending – to rise strong, reckon with our story and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends. – Brene Brown
My journals feed my creativity. They help me keep the creative process alive.
I just read through my March-June 2001 journal where I was in the depths of some of the hardest heartache I have ever experienced. FUCKING AWFUL TIMES. I read through my predictable grief of anger-denial-bargaining-depression-acceptance-repeat spiral… Ramblings of pleading, notes to self, articles of interest, and yet- somehow by the end- a giant paradigm shift.
It is evident that the journal was a depository of ramblings to quiet the brain- at the time I felt INSANE and incoherent- but now in retrospect I actually seem to make some sense. Though I want to yell at the woman I was then- for I seemed incapable of seeing the truth behind what was happening, I can now see that I, in the end, worked through to the truth on my own- I worked it out. I GOT IT.
Journal writing can help you improve your thinking and decision-making skills, release and review emotions, and refocus your choices and direction in life. Journaling can help you create an action plan to improve the quality of your life; tap into your goals, dreams and strengths; and address the obstacles—perceived and real—that are keeping you from achieving what you want. It can also help you relieve stress, since you can describe a problem and gain insights on how to resolve it. – SOURCE
I began journaling at age 6 (48 years ago) at the first house we rented in Canada after we moved here from Sweden. And though those pages are simply child drawings and lists, they were just as much a container for my anxiety as my journals (and indeed this blog) are now.
So, yes- looking back on all my journals- the struggle seems always to be the same, and indeed the boxes piled up behind me as I write this, do seem to be the maniacal ramblings of Dr. Mabuse– yet, they contain evidence that I am able to make it through what life throws at me- by being fully honest, at least with MYSELF.
I continue to carry a journal and pen with me everywhere I go. The greatest tool when anxiety hits. I still vomit out the seemingly same old stuff. But I AM HERE and I AM MOVING FORWARD! I love growing old, I love surviving, I love today, and I love that in my darkest of dark moments, I can still find a journal and a pen- and chicken scratch my way back to the light.
Please note, my endless ramblings and pages and this blog ARE NOT A PLEA FOR HELP nor INTENDED FOR ANYONE TO WORRY ABOUT ME. Worry instead if I stop writing, stop vomiting, stop exploring the darkness. Worry when I have a pasted on smile and hum under my breath, through the sunny cellophane of which not very appetizing frustrations can be readily distinguished, as Nabokov wrote in Lolita.
I am simply sharing what works for me. Sharing the process. When darkness hits and I write, I am simply working it out- like today, I feel light- BECAUSE I WROTE IT OUT!
Is this the purpose of journaling? As the life raft? My maintenance of my mental health? The recording of dark lovely struggles, white knuckling, holding on to the ledge trying not to fall any further. And so I keep asking, keep scribbling:
What am I fighting?
What can I surrender to? How do you surrender?
Am I meant to be here exactly as I am now?
Are things really exactly as they should be?
I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh