How I Stopped Journaling & Found Myself

Journaling has been a part of my life since elementary school.

It got me through middle school (as best as any girl can Get Through the worst and most awkward time)

Journaling helped me grieve the loss of my Aunt when I was 15.

It helped me though high school as I faced bullying, tried to fit in and hated it - I could turn to the journal and write how I felt about it all - and there wasn't a voice on the other side telling me I was "weird" or "too much", and best of all I wasn't told to "chill out" for being passionate.

In college I journaled about how I felt so much of college was a sham - I'd watch people cram and pull all-nighters just to pass a test and then promptly forget all the information, because the degree is the placeholder that gives us all prestige and power over another? I called bullshit. I didn't want to participate. I tried to drop out...I wanted to get a van and live in the desert with my books. (More on that at another time).

A majority of the most influential and life changing times in my life have been alone, with my thoughts and a pen on paper.

When I can escape the chaos of the world, find a space of my own and start to write ,things slowly begin to make sense and I don't feel so alone.

Words have been important to me and a part of my story. I can be shy in person but go home and write like crazy about my passions and beliefs and wild theories about all sorts of things!

It became almost a safe escape from living my truth. I could play safe, keep my thoughts to myself and if I wrote it down later, that counted! More importantly if everyone was just nicer I would be able to live my truth, but people aren't nice and people don't like different...I am different... And I love my different. I want to protect it. So I do. On paper.

It wasn't until I began seeing my Naturopath (who quickly transformed to my therapist basically.) As we dove deep into my world to discover the real root of ailments I was experiencing.

Being bullied and made fun of for being passionate about sports as a middle and high school girl was brutal. And without realizing it, I changed... I showed less of the passion in public, I tried to play things cool...and act like I didn't care, while on the inside I was on fire.

A majority of the most influential and life changing times in my life have been alone, with my thoughts and a pen on paper.

That's when my truest self was hidden... She could be found on paper in my writing, but you wouldn't see her in the hallways, or around town. Because around town everyone was watching and talking and gossiping and I protected my 'different' from the whispers and judgments of the outside world.

Together, my Naturopath and I dove into this and I was completely called out! It wasn't easy to realize I'd been playing it safe, and hiding my fullest self for half my life. I resisted it, because I knew my true self was in there - I saw her whenever I was alone and outside, or watching sports, or driving on road trips and singing as loudly as possible to 90's and 2000's hits. Either way, I was woken up to the fact that writing about my truest self, and allowing my truest self to exist once in a while when I was alone was going to need to change. If I wanted to live the life I'd always dreamed of living, there was no more hiding.

I knew my relationship to journaling and words was going to have to change. My journaling couldn't be a stand-in for living authentically. It no longer counted to just write out my thoughts and dreams. I needed to share them, to speak them aloud and face whatever responses would arise.

I was putting my 'different' out into the world. And praying to god she didn't get eaten alive.

It didn't take long before a magical shift happened - I realized that while my 'different' was gentle & sensitive, she was also a fiery, resilient and had a belief in herself that nobody could tear down. She was strong, bold, brave, curious, playful, smart, fun, and more than capable of facing the world!

It wasn't her I needed to protect, instead I needed to simply remove the trauma response put in place at a pivotal age that told me I needed to protect her.

For the past 11 months, I've brought my truest self out of hiding! She no longer lives in words on paper. Now it's all me - the good, the difficult, the highs and the rock bottoms. I live! I live when I am chasing mountain tops, driving dirt roads, jumping into rivers, riding my 2-stroke Husqvarna, running a singletrack trail with my dog Endo. I live when I am awake with the sunrise, and when I sleep in and let myself feel the depth of heartbreak. I live when I tell the joke and everyone laughs, and I live when I tell the joke and there are zero laughs. There is no more retreating to paper and playing it safe. My life is full throttle!

It was nice to look in a journal and see empowering words. What is even better, is looking in the mirror, and seeing an empowered and awakened woman looking back at me.

In May I participated in a Women's retreat where on the final day we took the pages from our journals we kept during the retreat....and....we burned them! Yes...burned them! The pages where the most profound changes and insights and surefire clues for happiness were written. At first I gripped my journal tighter when I heard what was happening (a slight surprise!). During this retreat I learned so much about myself, broke through barriers and felt more connected to my truth and my power than ever! And I wrote all about it in my journal. I felt as though I needed that journal in order to keep the powerful and connected version of me alive.

There was no backing out of the exercise, so I grabbed the lighter and my journal pages and let them burn! It was so liberating! After the pages turned to ash I discovered the reborn, free, wild and truest version of me was still there! Not only that, but I woke up to realize I don't need words or journal entries to fall back on as my truth. It was nice to look in a journal and see empowering words. What is even better, is looking in the mirror, and seeing an empowered and awakened woman looking back at me. Those words, embodied and in action is my life.

I still journal, very often. But no longer is it a way to keep my passion alive, it's a way to connect to myself - express emotions, theorize crazy things, and express myself. If anything comes up that requires a conversation with someone, I have that conversation. If emotions come up that I need to feel - I allow them in, and feel them fully. My journal is no longer a place where I am safe to hide. Instead my journal holds the evidence of the full, wild, embodied and present life I am living everyday.

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