Words. Lots and lots of words — and I write tons of them, especially in these last few months. It seemed like the only way I knew to unravel the grief web that had me tied in knots. Did any of my words change anything? Not really. But words are currency. Sometimes they are the only things that carry us on journeys we don’t understand and never planned on. They are what we use to connect to others on those same journeys.
Reading through my first posts, when the pain of loss was so raw, I noticed that some words were dark, the only ones I could muster in grief’s early days. As weeks went on, light began to creep in, allowing space for my trademark humor, a companion I’ve been thankful for all of my life. Even when that humor is ‘noir’, levity will always be a handy commodity. No matter what words I use, one thread underlies them all – keeping it real.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that the old ‘fake it until you make it’ can’t still be a good plan. In fact, the whistling in the dark flavor of storytelling can jumpstart you for the often steep uphill climb. Forging ahead on a wing and prayer, words can carry you along this uncharted ‘after’. That’s the only way I could chart my course without getting stuck in a sinkhole.
When you’re suddenly the only sailor on the ship, you have to do whatever you can to keep afloat. Words help. Words can be the sails that propel you forward even if the story is one you only tell yourself. Journaling is the most basic and therapeutic way of trying to make sense of the unthinkable. It helps you to give voice to an upside down basket of feelings that throws your mind into a swirling blender. Today’s political climate alone offers more than enough topics and emotions to make your journaling head spin!
Whether you write every day or just when the spirit hits, crafting your frustration, loneliness, or anger into some form of written space, helps frame what you are feeling. It gives a tangible framework to create a path forward while reflecting on where you have come. They can be final love letters or continuing conversations but they are your words, for your eyes, in your most critical time.
No matter what form your words take, you’re the admiral of your ship. It’s okay to write when you’re pissed off, feeling sorry for yourself or yes, maybe even have a good day (that does happen). In your journal, your words can be expressive, they can be four-letter or they can form all the questions that don’t seem to have answers. Looking back, mine have been all of the above. Sometimes, they’re even a little weird – but who cares? I figure when you’ve been dropped headfirst into a nightmare, all bets are off.
My husband loved to talk…and talk. I’m no slouch in that department either but he had serious skills. He’d leave in the morning and before my feet touched the shower, he’d call with something he just HAD to tell me. A busy, respected PR guy, he somehow found reasons to call me at 8 times a day with news tidbits, questions about the kids, brainstorming a creative project or regaling me with his latest pun. Boy, you really miss a guy like that!
Now my house holds only one-way conversations. As much as I always secretly laughed at people who talked to themselves – I’ve become one of them! With a million thoughts living in my head and nowhere to go but to clueless Siri, I decided they belong in my trusty journal. It works.
The Dalai Lama said that ‘when you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new’. That’s why I treasure what others write as well. Words are the only bridge I know to take me from inside my head to where the rest of the world lives. I love people who make me think, make me laugh and make me a nice cup of tea. Well, not necessarily in that order but you get my drift.
‘People start to heal, the moment they feel heard’ offered Cheryl Richardson. I think that’s pretty true of all of us. So, next time you read something you want to talk more about, please start the conversation! Share your view, your ideas, your words even if they disagree with what you’ve read.
They say it takes a village and I love having you in mine. Talk to me.