Saturday, February 13, 2010

Writing Down the Pain

I started a diary when I was nine. Now, almost 35 years later, I still keep one. At first it was the usual, "my brother's a moron", "I have the biggest zit in the world on my nose", "I have SOOOOOO much homework" type of entries. But it didn't take long for me to realize that within those pages lay my salvation, if not my sanity.
I could say ANYTHING in those pages. And I wouldn't be judged. Or criticized. Or silenced by shame. I admitted things in those pages that I'd never be able to admit to a real flesh-and-blood person.
Then life got busy. And busier. Daily entries gave way to weekly or monthly. Or bi-annually. Writing became my I didn't feel the same pull to write as a hobby. Or as therapy.
Then came betrayal.
And with it, anger and shame and humiliation and a seemingly bottomless sorrow.
I picked up a notebook and started writing.
I wrote about my anger and shame and humiliation and seemingly bottomless sorrow.
I said all the things I couldn't quite bring myself to say to real flesh-and-blood people.
I spewed hatred and fury and thoughts of revenge. I spilled my agony onto those pages...which somehow shored me up enough to contain it the rest of the time.
Writing through the pain saved me. It allowed me an outlet for the hugeness of the feelings that I thought would swallow me.
It allowed me to see, when I read earlier pages, that I was actually moving forward. That, though I felt raw and ragged, I wasn't as raw and ragged as a few days or weeks ago.
"If I don't write to empty my mind," said Lord Byron, "I would go mad."
Dean Koontz acknowledged that "Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write...can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition.
I believe I would have gone mad, but for the ability to put my madness on the page.


  1. Thank you for this post. I am doing exactly the same and it is such a relief not to self-censor what I am writing. And after one month, I can see the progress I am making and it is making me proud ;-)

  2. Journaling helps so much. Many entries I wrote as if I was speaking to my husband. I could call him an effing bastard in my journal as much as I needed to, rather than saying it to his face and further destroying the relationship we were trying to save. My therapist told me that writing actually uses a different part of the brain to process the trauma, and that's why it helps. I feel as if I've left some of the pain on the page instead of keeping it inside me. I also like that I can look back at my old journal entries and see that I am making progress.


    1. Gee,
      There's a ton of evidence that writing about trauma helps us process it. It gives us power over our story. So glad it's helping you.



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