Dear Diary….

When I was younger I was big into journaling. I wrote everything single day. Letting out my frustrations with my parents, any problems with friends and I could write pages and pages about whatever boy I liked best at the time. But as I got older, it became harder. Not only was time not as liberally available as it had been in high school, it was much harder to think about what to write.

Then the first lock-down happened, which coincided with the end of my 15 year marriage. No surprise there was plenty to write about and the need to let out all my fears, anger, frustration and all the other emotions that couldn’t go anywhere else filled up a notebook that together with some very special memories made with my kids, turned into a the most precious document of undoubtedly the worst few months of my life so far.

I haven’t done any journaling since. This January, I decided to have another go, but gave up quickly after a few days of just writing down what happened and feeling unsatisfied as it wasn’t giving me the release I was hoping for.

And yesterday I attended an online meetup (my first one, surprisingly, I somehow went through lock-down with only a few video calls to my name) where Jo Bell, from Write to Thrive, gave a talk about journaling. It was a massive eye opener. One of the concepts she introduced us to was to write to yourself. And to be nice.

After an introduction we did some journaling exercises where Jo gave us a question and asked us to answer it in a notebook. We all agreed there is something special about the physical action of writing with pen and paper. The first question was: How do you feel in your mind, your body and your spirit? The answers came a lot easier than I thought they would and I could feel the emotion that I’d been looking for pouring onto the page.

A seven minute free writing exercise with the prompts: How has your day been? How has your week been? pulled down the last bit of the barrier and the words flowed easily and I ended up writing how I wished for more simple moments with my children, board games, cuddles in bed, no need to be productive, improve, grow or do better. Just be.

Answering the next couple of prompts: How am I really? What do I need? made my eyes a little misty and when I answered the last prompt: What is the most kind or loving thing I can say to myself? I had to switch my camera off, as the tears were streaming down my face. Not sad tears necessarily, more stuff that had been stuck inside and needed to come out. The stuff I wanted to come out, but didn’t, when I tried journaling last month.

It was the most rewarding experience and it has inspired me to continue writing to myself and to write kind things. We could all be a bit kinder to ourselves.

Do you journal? And do you find it difficult or does it come easy to you? Let me know in the comments.

Visit Write to Thrive | Jo Bell | Substack to receive weekly journal prompts in your inbox.

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