Write Where You Are, to Free Your Heart

by dena on January 24, 2013

How was I freed from haunting memories? 7_10_2013 008

If I had to answer in only one word, it would be “writing.” And that one word needs more explanation for you to see how it helped me.

Within about six months after my husband’s death in 2002, I often used a journaling approach Julia Cameron offered in The Artist’s Way called Morning Pages. It is a practice of dumping everything that comes to mind during three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing first thing on awakening. It is to clear the mind for new creativity to arrive. I think she suggests waiting at least three months before reading these Morning Pages. I moved a year later, then it was eight more years before I came across them – in the midst of another time of moving, so I didn’t read them. I still haven’t. I stored them in a known location this time. I have a lot of curiosity now about the nitty-gritty of what I was experiencing back then.

I feel that process helped me, along with doing normal social stuff with my caring friends and family, hugging trees in the woods by my house, crying when I needed to cry, meditating, and attending bereavement support groups. I was in the process of finding my way back to life, of doing what a dear friend in the same widowhood boat called Re-inventing Myself.

Still, there were a handful of memories that haunted me. That was the word that truly fit the experience, because there were maybe a half dozen particular memories that often came unbidden into my thoughts. Some were of sweet times, some were of difficult times that happened in the last few weeks of his illness, all were accompanied by pain. This was still occurring past the five-year mark of his death.

Then, I received an email from my writing coach, Max Regan. He was announcing his next online bootcamp: participants write 1,000 words a day for 10 days. I felt something click in my heart, in my head. I could use the safety and structure of sending him my 1,000 words each night as a way to bring the haunting memories into printed words and have them witnessed by Max. This idea, this inspiration, felt exactly right.

I remember drafting the outline. The garage where I had my oil changed asked that drivers remain in the car during servicing. I sat in my 2000 Jimmy with a little 3×5-inch notebook and jotted a basic phrase to identify each of those memories. Stopping every few minutes to perform tasks like turning headlights on created what I needed to keep from getting overwhelmed. This, too, felt just right.

To me, a miracle happened from writing a first-draft of each of those memories. Once they were captured in writing, they no longer intruded into my life. I felt a freedom inside, a spaciousness that had been missing for a long time. And I felt gratitude.

I hope this is a reminder that you can write anytime, from anyplace, to soothe your soul and heal your heart.

Blissings, Dena

Thank you for being here. If this is one of your first visits, please consider subscribing for free email or RSS updates.
If you liked this article, please share its gifts with your friends & family.

8 comments
Susan Gordon
Susan Gordon

What a wonderful piece, an invitation to write, to write wherever and whenever.

dena
dena

Thank you, Susan. Sometimes it is our own souls that invite us, or even compel us, to write. You well know this territory.

Paula Jo Nyman
Paula Jo Nyman

This is so heart rending Dena but also so full of hope. Thanks for sharing your heart. I, too had a cathartic experience with writing. My father died when I was only 3. I did not go to the funeral and always felt something missing. Many years later after marriage and the birth of our daughter, I saw the movie "Field of Dreams" where the main character had a chance to see his father as a young man. I cried and cried through that movie and afterwards wrote a letter to my dad. I then had the opportunity to read the letter at my father's graveside and it was very healing. As a bereavement worker, I often told our families to write as a way of grieving healthfully! Thanks again, Dena!

dena
dena

Paula Jo, thank you for sharing your story. My heart is touched by all the pieces of it. The part you referenced in "Field of Dreams" always evokes tears for me, and I can only imagine how intense the effect can be for you and possibly others who lost their fathers. I appreciate you including your experience with writing a letter to your dad and reading it to him at his grave. So beautiful. Love, ~ Dena

Linda Kolker
Linda Kolker

This is a lovely piece, Dena... and your blog looks great!

dena
dena

Thank you for your supportive comment, Linda, it means so very much to me. Love, ~ Dena

Debbie Morton
Debbie Morton

I tried keeping a journal, but that didn't last. However I have sporadically found myself writing poems, which worked better for me, releasing the pain, anger, or the feeling of being alone! So I guess my poems are the same as your journal, in a way!! Love ya, Debbie

dena
dena

Yes, Debbie, whatever type of writing and whenever you feel moved to write are important factors in healing. I am a believer in using whatever works - - and in being open to experimenting. By the way, the majority of my "journals" are those inexpensive spiral ones from the drugstore. Thanks for writing this note, Debbie. I'm glad you have poetry as an expressive outlet. Love, ~ Dena

Previous post:

Next post: