One time, I think it was in 7th grade, we had to learn how to diagram a sentence in English class. This was the worst experience. I actually tried to learn it at first, failed miserably, then became so scared I did the smart thing and gave up. Better to get an F not trying than an F while trying really hard. I’ll die a happy man never having learned how to diagram a sentence.
I didn’t read much growing up either. I convinced myself I couldn’t find anything good to read, which was partially true, so I didn’t. I was ignorant.
In the summer of 2009 I was homeless. I was going through my first mid-life crisis. I moved across the country to a place where I didn’t know anyone. The only thing that made me feel better was reading. I started making lists of names of books mentioned in books I was already reading. The list ensured I always had something interesting to read, I solved my childhood problem. I began reading voraciously. The TV was thrown into the garbage. For the first time in my life I began to learn.
When I was in the ICU my sister set up a page for me on Caringbridge.org so she could update friends and family on my condition. She tired of the updates and wanted me to write it. I was hurting and on a lot of morphine because I broke every bone in my face. I couldn’t hold a thought for more than 30 seconds. I couldn’t write. Josie kept pestering me to write, she said it would be therapeutic for me.
Since reading had improved my life so much I figured I’d listen to my sister and try to write something. And I wanted all the relief I could get so I started typing. The first thing I remember writing was a post late at night. I was in pain and couldn’t sleep so I took to Caringbridge to bitch and let out some weird energy. I started crying while I typed. I couldn’t figure out the “Why?” of life.
Somehow I wrote a post called The Road To Recovery Is Not A Road. I have no idea where it came from but I liked it. The act of writing it made me feel better.
Writing is a powerful form of therapy. I can’t prove it, but it is. If you experience devastation, which you will at some point, write about it.
And you don’t have to be a “writer” for writing to help you deal with your problems, you just have to make the effort and put the words down and voila, you start to feel a little better.
Write about how the pain makes you feel. Write about what you’re going through. Write about the best and worst case scenarios of your condition.
For some strange reason you’ll feel better when you write it out. It’ll be some raw stuff, it’ll be ugly, you’ll know you’re doing the right thing when you feel embarrassed by what you write. This is also when then medicinal powers of writing are the most potent.
The writing process, putting your thoughts and emotions down, releases a bunch of negative energy. When you experience devastation your body shuts down and sends all the energy to your core to help you survive.
Once you are in Recovery you have to release all this energy or it spoils, causing damage. Writing is the release valve for spoiled negative energy. Let the bad out so the good can do its work.
Writing helps you deal with pain. It shifts your thoughts from your devastation to creating something. Writing helped me focus my thoughts then let go of them. It helped me move on.
I encourage you to write about painful events, even if you never share them with anyone. Hopefully you will share them with someone, anyone, but maybe you won’t and that’s ok. If you have written down how you felt when life was horrible, you can go back and read it when life is good and be grateful for how not terrible life can be.
Being grateful for what you do have is the medicine that will help you get over what you have lost.
If you know someone dealing with devastation, encourage them to write. Show them this post. If you have questions just ask.