By B. Lynn Goodwin.
Do other people’s needs come first? Do your resentments sometimes expand like a swollen spring river? It’s a familiar predicament. The first thing you should know is that you are not alone.
When I was my mother’s caregiver, I often put my personal needs on hold. I drowned my resentments in comfort foods. Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies were a favorite. I’d pull one after another out of the box and stuff them in my mouth mindlessly as I drove to the pharmacy or the post office or even the grocery store.
This was not a healthy way to problem solve. As my waistbands got tighter, I knew I needed a better way to replenish my reserves.
I got back in touch with my physical needs, as well as my mental, emotional, and spiritual ones, through my journal. In there, I could vent, delve into issues, and untangle messes. My journal allowed me to finish a thought without interruption. It encouraged me to analyze, celebrate, and find the hope that had become elusive.
After I processed my own issues, I had the energy and good will to reach out again.
Want to give it a try? Not sure how to start? Try one of these sentence starts:
- The truth is…
- I am…
- Today I know….
Finish the sentence and keep writing.
Any response works, as long as it came from the heart.
Here are three responses to “The truth is…”:
The truth is not always easy for me to state out loud. If I could say anything without worrying about hurting you, I’d tell you that I love you but I need to shift gears. I feel so stuck. I know you are more stuck. My heart aches for you, but it aches for me, too. I feel my fifties breathing down my back. I want to help you, but sometimes I resent giving up my life to do it.
The truth is… I have a secret life online in a world you refuse to access. I help students in the Academic Assistance Center and they help me. They remind me there is life beyond caregiving.
The truth is that I am tired. Your snail’s pace wears me out. I don’t want to think about it. I want to sip this cup of coffee in the mug you bought when we went to British Columbia, back when I was twelve. I want to listen to the rain drumming on roof and spilling over the edge of the gutter. I want to slide away, like the rain into the gutter, like Alice down the rabbit hole.
How would you respond? Try it right now.
- Pick one of the sentence starts above.
- Write for approximately 12-15 minutes.
- Read it over. Editing is optional.
- Spell check.
- Then send me your response (15-1500 words) at [email protected] with the subject “Journaling-Inspire Me Today”.
- I’ll write back to tell you what I love, and I might post it on writeradvice.com/sharing.html.
Journaling releases mental toxins and deepens awareness. It helps the strong, sane, safe, healthy, hopeful parts of you emerge. Do not underestimate its power. Do not underestimate your own power as a writer. You never know how your words may affect someone else.