I first started journaling in my Bible College days and when I think back to why that might have been, I think it was because I finally felt like I was in a safe place; a place where I felt safer to explore my feelings and thoughts. However, knowing what I do now, I was woefully out of touch with those feelings and all that would need to come to the surface in the coming years (thank goodness I did not know) but still, looking back I can see that it was my ‘start’ to the journey of healing and coming to know ‘me’ and who I really was.
I continued journaling into my early years as a new wife and mother. Peeking back into those journals is another glimpse into my development as a person; a little more in touch with some things but there was still very much hidden and undisclosed. Of course I can now read between those lines and see very much what was going on in my heart at the time, that I just couldn’t quite put into words. But I’m proud of that young woman for trying; for searching, for hoping and dreaming even if I wasn’t quite sure what I was hoping for.
After that, my journaling became more sporadic as life began to take on a dizzying pace for me with the accompanying stress. We were a young farm family barely eking out a living. We were living on the same farm yard as my in-laws and I did not have a close bond with my mother-in-law. When my mother died when she was only 48 years old, it seemed to be the catalyst for my submerged childhood emotions and trauma to begin rising more to the surface. I started going through a crisis in just about every area of my life; physically, emotionally, spiritually. I did manage to reach out for a life line and began seeing a counsellor; something that continued for many years. Through those years as I said, I journalled sporadically and when I did I found it therapeutic and calming. But soon after a deep family secret from my childhood emerged; one that sent me reeling and one that eventually led to my younger sister committing suicide. Sometime during those crisis days my journaling ended . I recall reaching for it one day and reading some recent entries that were filled with darkness and bitterness and feeling ill at the thought that someone might one day come across them. Worse yet, reading those words I was sure if I continued that God might strike me down with lightning! Should I burn them? I seriously considered it but it felt like a betrayal of that younger woman who had tried so hard. And so I decided to simply close them, hide them away and never look at them or write in them again.
Where I am now? Thankfully I’ve made much progress coming through those dark times although it never fails to amaze me how many more layers there can be where childhood trauma is concerned. All I know is that God has led me through it all and I haven’t yet been struck down by lightning!
Recently while taking two U of T Creative Writing Classes I was encouraged and in one class, ‘required’ to journal. That was a challenge for me. It helped that it was free-style so we could write on any subject we chose just as long as we wrote steady for ten minutes a day. And so I chose my subjects carefully and wrote. And enjoyed it. And felt a new found freedom coming back into my writing. Since then, I admit I still did not start journaling on my own. But I haven’t forgotten about it. It’s niggled in my mind as something that I might like to do again. And then came this month’s Inscribe blog topic. I’ve read the entries by everyone else with trepidation and interest. Slowly, over the month I’ve become intrigued again with the idea of journaling and so today, on Father’s Day I made a new entry. I’d like to share a bit of it here:
“June 18, 2017. Today is Father’s Day as I sit down to write in this journal six years from the last entry. I haven’t seen him (my father) for almost thirty years now. There are no words to fill in a blank that big – maybe someday I will try – but for today all I want to say is….I’ve noticed an imperceptible change in myself these past weeks. In the past, whenever I’ve felt cornered into explaining his absence in my life I would say things like;“I choose not to see him.”
“I had to separate myself from him.”
“I haven’t seen him in (fill in the blank) years.”
"I…I….I…" And I always walked away feeling guilty and to blame.
But lately I’ve felt free to say it slightly different.“My father chose to not be a part of my life.”
So true. That’s what happened. I was willing to reconcile (which takes two people who truly want to face the truth) but he wanted to continue his lies and abuse. It was that simple. So I chose to move on so I could grow. He was the one who let go.
Thank you God that you never did let go – of me – or him.
I write this in a journal with the Footprints poem on the front. So fitting. You’ve carried me through so much when I felt like I couldn’t’ take even one more step. I know you will continue. It’s all in the journey and I’m so thankful that You are on this journey with me.