My ex-husband and I were not very compatible. Who knows all of the reasons why we tried to make it work for nearly a decade. I tell this story to friends who did not know me then, to illustrate just how incompatible we actually were.
When my ex-husband and I were just beginning the process of divorce, we found a moment when we were in need of clarity. We tried to open up to each other and share some things so that we could end our relationship in friendship. He confided in me some things he had been holding inside, and I shared with him. When I was finished, I asked him if he knew any of these things already. I asked, “Did you read some of them in my journal?” His response was, “You keep a journal?!” He was not in touch with the creative process and I can truly say that he really didn’t understand me.
Yes. I keep a journal. I have for my entire adult life. Its a place where I can go where I am able to release my emotions, fears, and successes. It helps me to at the pieces of my life and try to make sense of it as a whole. In A Voice of Her Own, Marlene A. Schiwy writes, “To create wholeness in our lives is to heal ourselves. The etymology of the words makes this clear. They derive from the Germanic heil (from the anglo-saxon hale), or whole with its variations heilen (to heal) and heilig (holy). In other words, to heal is make whole, and to be whole is to be holy.” p.113 Oddly enough, I began my journal writing journey as I was living on Heil Ave. I was tweny years old, fairly new to Paganism, and taking classes at a local college. I remember a professor telling the class that writing can heal, but that it does not make good poetry. He was mostly right (the Confessionals excluded), so I began to keep a journal. I found journaling to be a creative act in its own right. I began to read The Diaries of Anais Nin. They were filled with love, loss, regret, betrayal, and self discovery. I admired the way she poured all of herself into them. The unexpurgated diaries are confessionals that reveal all the parts of herself. Together they are complete, whole. And I believe, for her, they were holy.
In my journaling, I have tried to take my cues from her. I attempt to approach the page as honestly as I possibly can, knowing that no one will read it but myself. This leads to a lot of events mundanely told, sometimes rambling and listing, but sometimes, once in a while, I get pure uncensored emotion that flows out in a string of beautiful words. When the experience is painful to revisit, this can be bittersweet. I have recently had an experience in my life that made me question all of those words. My history with them had seemed to me to be so solid. So much so, that I was afraid to go back and reread them. Afraid that they might not be the art, through experience, I had imagined them to be. But I did begin to reread them. I try to take comfort in knowing that all of our experiences, good and bad, can make us whole. Our experiences make up who we are and show us how we connect with the world. As I reread the words I have written, I no longer am questioning their validity. I see emotion that flows onto the page capturing things in a way that only I can express. I feel complete, holy. And I am ready to begin to heal.
Beautiful post. It is so true that words have the power to heal and that journals can pull you through rough times. I’m no where near as good about keeping a journal as you are, but I always find that when I’m going through difficult times and/or times of self growth, I return to them.