Journaling is a processing tool very close to my heart.
As a troubled young girl, I would write all the feelings and thoughts that were too dangerous to express. I would tell myself the stories as I experienced them, not as translated by anyone else.
“That bad boy from the next cottage pushed you off the fence, didn’t he?” This was the public explanation of a broken arm.
“No Mommy. You twisted it too hard.”
“You clumsy girl! Always falling out of bed.” My nose was broken.
“No Mommy. You hit too hard.”
Hiding the pages hadn’t worked. So, when I had a chance I would burn them in the basement incinerator with the garbage.
In high school, I stopped writing altogether. It was there I had learned the power of words. They had the ability to cause harm. They were dangerous and could be held against you.
Fridays were school dance and date nights. Friday afternoon’s grade 9 Science period was the scene of many notes passed around the classroom in text books. One day they even passed one to me.
I was thrilled. No one ever wrote me a hidden note let alone asking me to join them at a dance!
Wanting to seem cooler than I was, I wrote back. “Thank you so much for asking me. My Mom is an old hag. I can’t do anything.”
Even teenage girls can be kind at times. Several wrote back on the note saying how sorry they were I couldn’t join them. One even said maybe if her mother called mine if it would help. Of course, it wouldn’t and I asked her not to do that.
At the end of the period, the note ended its rotation at my desk. I knew I should have thrown it out. But I couldn’t. They really liked me.
Mother found the note. She took like a prize of war and locked it away in a basement cupboard.
From that time, until the day I left home just as I began grade 11, it was used as ammunition. It always hit its mark. Each time I would try to tell my Mother I thought she looked beautiful or that I liked something she did, the answer would be the same.
“You think I don’t know how you really feel? I have it in black and white, written in your own handwriting. Shall I show you?”
I did not begin to write anything personal again until I was in my late thirties. Even then, I still destroyed everything I did write.
It was only when I discovered I could write my faith through journaling my devotionals, that I realized just how powerful my words could be for good. I now facilitate a small journal writing class for young and adult women. Showing them the myriad of ways to journal their feelings safely.
Today, the written word is one of my grandest victories, an act of faith and the path to much understanding.