An audience of one
my journey with the powerful tool that is journaling
It came to me about 17 years ago – the suggestion to try Julia Cameron’s notable yet very simple journaling practice called Morning Pages – a possible antidote to the creative void I was in after having my first passion project published, Note to Self.
Every morning I would rise and write – three pages, longhand – no matter how tired, grumpy, sick or lazy I was feeling. You see, I also struggled with a chronic pain condition that was difficult to diagnose, treat and manage on a daily basis.
Everyday those pages supported me as I grappled with the enormity of living with the mystery and confines of my dysfunctional physical body. I found so much comfort in journaling that I began to write more, and at other times and in other places. I had all sorts of journals on the go – each one a valuable place to explore what I was dealing with physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. With each painful flare-up the need to seek meaning and understanding would also peak and I would dive even deeper into my situation and very frustrating story.
I wrote my way through the pain, the struggles, the suffering. I wrote abusive letters to my bowel, outraged at the injustice of the debilitating symptoms that would not let up. How hard, unfair, incredulous and seemingly hopeless my situation was. The grief of all I had lost and would keep losing, my dreams of a different life and a different body. Much of the time it was deep, dark, and disturbing, but it had to come out and it had to go some place safe – my journals.
I also wrote of gratitude for the sunshine in winter and line-dried bed sheets and the tea I would drink from my favourite fine bone china cup. My ever-close spoodle and shadow, and the pages…always gratitude for the pages. I wrote of my dream to one day write a book that would heal humanity one person at a time. I wrote of my fears and disappointments, the grief of not being able to live without pain and without answers, and of the hope that one day it might be different.
17 years on I’m still writing on rising – three pages, longhand, daily. And in various other adjunct journals. At any given time I will seek the solace of the blank page to process and explore and discover and clarify whatever it is I am going through – parenting issues, work ruts, family troubles, friendship changes, house moves, breast cancer – and still the debilitating gut symptoms that continue to challenge me and my ability to live a fulfilling life without so much physical pain.
After all these years, all these pages and pens and journals, I know the power of writing for an audience of one – the one that has always needed a safe place to be seen and heard.
Journaling has been and still is my constant companion – the blank page a place of refuge, a place for me to speak and be heard, a place to show my heart and allow myself to be seen. And always, always the blank page unconditionally available and accepting. I journal my way, and I journal my way through everything. And I know without a doubt I am who I have become because of it.