Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Return to Journaling

This is a continuation of my post from yesterday.

When I began journaling back in 1977, I had no idea what or how to write. I had encountered the concept of journaling in a workshop on methods to help folks heal from severe trauma. I remember one part of the presentation that seemed a bit strange. The presenter said something like: “Often the survivor needs permission to just to write. As the therapist, you need to give them that permission as well as the protection that what they write will not be used to hurt them. One way of doing this is to suggest that they can destroy whatever the write as soon as they write it.”

I understood the need to give a client protection and permission as well as power. Perhaps my love of books and writing made me hesitate to suggest that the product could be destroyed—at least the product of my own writing. That’s why I have written my journal in “blank” books. That and that I truly love the look and feel of many of those books. Of the nineteen volumes that I have written, some are very plain; a few have leather covers; a few have special formats, such as Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

So I began journaling with the idea that what I wrote I would not destroy. I now believe that was an important decision. Though the years I have read old journal entries and found that I am often revisiting and dealing with the same personal issues again and again. That rather confirms one of the theories I use as a therapist: we each grow, not in a straight line from one point to another, but in an upward spiral, confronting the same issues again and again. As we spiral upward in experience and maturity, we deal with these issues at a higher level on the spiral.

For example, in my post of November 29th I told the story of finding that I had stopped journaling the day I learned of my father’s death and had not even realized it for about ten weeks. That took place in 1983. Last night as I was reading from one of my old journals, I came across this entry from December 2, 2003:

Back again! When am I going to learn that one of the first signs that I am descending back down into “the valley of the shadow” is that I stop journaling?

Thus, one of the important parts of journaling for me is the ability to go back and read where I was years ago. I don’t feel the need for protection that what I write is going to be used to hurt me. Of course, I don’t share my spiritual journaling publicly the way I share my blogging! And I have already unfortunately experienced that what I blog can come back to cause me pain, as I wrote in my entry “truth” on November 22nd.

I have now returned to writing in my spiritual journal. I cannot say that I feel more “centered” than I did before I realized that I had been neglecting that discipline for more than a year. I can say that my return to journaling feels good, like a conversation with an old friend that I have not encountered in a long time.


  1. journaling can be like breathing. necessary even when difficult.

  2. Jay Are: That’s an interesting analogy, especially since when I am much stressed I often forget to breath.

  3. you see!! you need to keep doing both.

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