by LINDA JOY MYERS on NOVEMBER 30, 2008
Writing the truth of who we are creates a web that catches us in its strong grasp of images, memories, and parts of ourselves that we may have lost or forgotten. In this way, writing provides a road map for healing. When we listen to ourselves, we tune into a quiet inner voice that sometime gets lost in the cacophony of the world, and we find ourselves again—re-cover ourselves. If we give voice to our fears and worries, out of that comes our courage and a new way to know ourselves. We give voice to the joy that life has provided us, and in that mirror we see the future.
This process helps us as we strive to find ways to re-cover a sense of self that was damaged or not nurtured enough. As Alice Miller discusses in her book The Truth Shall Set You Free, she speaks of the need for a witness as we heal—the therapist becomes this healing witness. She says that children who had witnesses who observed them, supported them or helped them through difficult or dysfunctional situations have a better chance of mental health than those who didn’t have such a figure. What might help is it list the witnesses you have had in your life who were observing you in some say—a teacher, mentor, grandparent, uncle or aunt, neighbor, or friend.
Part of the goal of therapy is to provide a way to witness yourself, first as you listen to yourself, and then as you hear what the therapist has to say, the mirror to the child you once were and the adult you are now. When you talk or write your story, you are the person you were then and the listener at the same time. These stories must be told to free the self from the prison of childhood trauma.
When doing any writing exercises, keep in mind that you are writing with your own voice, writing the truth of your own life as authentically as you can, tasting the way it would feel if you were to give this assignment to a client. This experiential learning is one of the best ways to integrate experience. Write from your own voice, write from yourself for yourself.
Some conditions that benefit from writing
- The lost self
- Family roles, rules, and voices
- Identity Issues
- Generational family patterns
- Self-esteem issues
- Addiction patterns
- Physical Illnesses
- Trauma and abuse experiences
- Work and Esteem Issues
- Fear and anxiety responses
- Conflict with spouse or partner
If You Want to Write
- Choose a time and place where you feel safe and able to write whatever comes to mind.
- Select a nice journal and pen for your writing. It helps to create a writing ritual.
- Freewrite your stories. Perhaps you want to write about family, so choose a certain time that you remember, or an issues that bothers you. Just freely write for at least 15 minutes. When you don’t know what to say, allow the pen to remain on the page and write, “I don’t know what I am saying or where to go with this, I have nothing to say, but I like the way the sun is shining on the tree outside.” Write what you see and notice as a way to keep the pen going until other thoughts or images come your way.
- Invite yourself to write what you see, feel, taste and smell as a way to stay in the present.
- Don’t explore dark painful memories for too long. Set a time limit of 5 minutes. Immediately after, write a “light” story or a happier memory.