True story: The first thing I remember buying myself with my money (birthday & allowance saved up) was a Hello Kitty diary. It had a lock. I still remember going to the mall and picking it out. My first entries were pictures and moved on to reporting on current events.
I continued keeping a journal throughout my teenage years. I wrote everything down. Everything. I was always writing in journals, pouring out all that I felt. The writing dwindled when I got to college. It would come back every now and then, but mostly faded away.
The notebooks lived in my parents’ house for many years. When my parents moved, they sent the boxes to me. I promptly stored them away without even opening them up. “Oh God,” I thought when I saw them, “here is over ten pounds of teenage angst.” Cringe. I did not want to look. I did not want to see that image of me as an unhappy, selfish teenager and young adult. When I got those boxes, I decided that I liked who I had become and had no need to revisit all that.
A common friend who happens to live in the Bay Area came over after we heard the news. We got out the old yearbooks and shared our memories. We cried a little, laughed a lot. I took a deep breath and, for the first time in over 15 years, opened the boxes of the old journals.
What I found surprised me. I loved that sassy little teenager. I found so much compassion and love for that girl who was me. I discovered things about myself I had forgotten. (What? I used to draw?) The times when I was angsty and cursing the world, I just laughed out loud instead of cringing when I read the words. I wrote down quotes from what I was listening to and reading. I clipped images from magazines and made great collages. I smiled over captured moments I had completely forgotten, like a night spent on a beach under a blanket looking at stars in Michigan…when I heard Rite of Spring for the first time at Tanglewood while it rained and then how the person I was walking with after the show kept hitting the trees to make them rain on me and I loved the light from the streetlights catching the rain drops. I saw friends who are all grown up now as kids and friends who I have lost along the way who may always be kids in my mind.
On those pages, I saw myself struggle to be compassionate and often fail, but get up and try again anyway. I saw a painfully shy girl who did not want to be shy, clumsily faking it until making it (or not…) looking for a place to call home. I saw a girl walking a spiritual path built on complete trust in God/Universe/Love, even when it scared her.
I was also pretty damned funny at times.
Those journals were a healing, safe place for me to go write down and say whatever I wanted to say without judgment from anyone but me. Years later, I was not expecting them to heal the relationship I have with my younger self. When I finally opened them, I opened to me. I accepted me – all of me.
I am a believer. Writing heals.
This is why I am teaching the writing + yoga workshop series in October at Asha Yoga. I hope that others will find the healing (and laughs) possible through conscious writing. Check out Asha’s website and the Living Yoga tab at the top of this page for more information. I hope to see you there.