Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Writing to cope

I’ve always been a writer.

In grade one, I kept a diary in a book with Tweety Bird on the front cover. It had a lock and key as well as confessions of my first crush.

In grade eight I had to write weekly journals for school, one being about a neighbour who passed away from Leukemia at the age of five. I was asked to share this one to my class. When I looked up from my notebook, everyone had tears in their eyes.

In high school, my journal’s front cover was decorated with City and Colour and Dashboard Confessional lyrics. On the inside, I wrote about high school frustrations, parties, friends, ex-friends, fights and stresses with family.

For the majority of my university career, I kept a blog, where I would write on a daily basis and communicate with my 100+ followers about how things were going, issues I felt like ranting about and my battle with confidence.

Photo by: Basykes
Last week, I felt the urge to start journaling privately again (in a notebook for my eyes only). So, I went out and purchased a notebook from the dollar store. I don’t just write about difficult topics or not-so-great days, but I also write about challenges, opportunities and my goal to stay positive.

It’s safe to say that for majority of my life, I’ve been writing to cope.

Sometimes, I keep feelings to myself. After a hard day at work, a family fight, a crushing realization or a difficult encounter, I really do not want to talk about the traumas I’ve experienced. As time goes on, though, I don’t feel relieved. Instead, I feel as if the things that have gotten under my skin are now in my blood stream preventing me from sleeping at night.

My thoughts revolve around the bothers that soon begin to eat away at my self-confidence, spirituality and sense of self.

After writing a journal entry about my day, including how I felt in each situation, however, I feel freed. I feel my chest change from the mass of a heavy paperweight to a light feather. I feel at peace and continue my day, or move on to the next one, with ease and a smile.

When traumatic or inspirational incidents take place, they fall into those two categories subjectively. What I feel is traumatic may not be on the same level as another person’s trauma, but the incident that may have disturbed me has subjectively become my own.

Writing down my thoughts allows me to communicate with my number one: Me. I can confide in my journal and myself because book binds, lined paper and pens don’t judge and neither do I. I know the thoughts and feelings I have and when I write them down, I am communicating with the one person who knows me best.

Most of the time, these journals become self-reflections. I’ll start off writing in an irritated or concerned tone and by my last sentence, I’ve mentally accepted the situation and found a way to look past it. I write down these re-evaluations, too.

The best part about journal writing for me, though, is when I go back and read entries from years, months, weeks, days or moments before. When I write, I keep in mind that my audience is myself. So, when I go back and read what I had written, I’m not only remembering how I felt earlier, but I’m also effectively coping with whatever experience I had written about (whether good or bad).

And when I close my journal and cap my pen, the tough moments or exciting revelations are still there, but this time, they don’t keep me from doing my best nor do they keep me up at night.

-- Leviana Coccia

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