Someone once gave me a diary. It was about the size of a small book, with a little latch and key. I remember how hard I tried to write in that little plastic covered book, but I didn’t know who to write to or what to write. Dear Diary, I wish I didn’t have to share a bedroom with my sister who I think is crazy. What if my sister read that? Then I lost the key and the latch broke. The book seemed totally useless and I tossed it in the trash.
Since my first experience with a diary, I’ve discovered how valuable it is for me to write my thoughts down. I prefer to say that I journal rather than to say that I keep a diary. It sounds a little more sophisticated to my ears.
My journals do not have a latch, or a key, but none-the-less, I do not have to worry about anyone reading them. Why would they? I no longer share a bedroom with that sister who I later discovered was not crazy, just creative and for as long as I’ve kept a journal, neither my husband nor sons have been curious about what lies between the covers of all those composition books on the shelf.
When I first started to journal, it felt a little like trying to write in my first diary; I was at a loss as to what to say and who to say it to. Yet something inside of me wanted to keep track of what was going on in my life. At first, I simply recorded what I planted in my garden and the number of quarts of peaches I put up each year. Then, I realized I had much more to talk about with myself than the list of chores I completed in a day.
The tone in my writing began changing with the pregnancy of our first child. Then, I began writing about my fears of becoming a mother, which uncovered my thoughts about my own mother, which then led to reflecting on my father and his death by suicide.
Suddenly, it felt as though invisible flood gates inside my mind opened up. There was a sense of freedom to say what I’d never said out loud to anyone. I no longer had to keep any secrets, pretend that all was well when it was not, or keep a lid on my feelings. When I wrote in the privacy of the pages of my journal, I no longer worried about offending anyone with words because I knew my words were safe with me.
It was quite by accident when I discovered that when writing thoughts down, the thoughts were no longer useless ethereal vapors. Instead, they were real and gave shape and form to my life. My thoughts are what formed who I was, which led to the question, “Do I like who I’ve become?”
Sometimes I did, other times I did not, but when we write down our thoughts, it gives us all the power we need to discover just exactly who we are. Then, we can alter what needs altering and be okay with what remains the same for the time being.
Why bother to journal? Seeing our thoughts written down causes us to see how those thoughts shape our lives. Then, if we want to alter anything, we can. But the change starts with first taking a look at those thoughts.