The Importance of Journaling: Caterpillar. Cocoon. Butterfly.
I want to matter.
While trying to discover your future career, most people will give the same advice. They say ‘find out what you’re good at’ and ‘discover the reason why you want to do _x_ and see how you can do that.’
Upon years of reflection and many nights of self-exploration, I know that the reason I want to do most of my dreams is that I simply want to matter. To myself. To others. To the world. To the universe.
I want to have an impact and truly mean something to others. My entire life I’ve been told that it was just ‘so hard to love’ and made to feel like I am a burden. No one ever told me just how much these things become internalized over the years. How you start to treat yourself as such. How you begin to apologize to others for simple things because you’re afraid they will leave or dislike you because you are in the way or ‘too much to handle’.
As I get older, I am working on unlearning these things.
I recognize them and then I throw them away. Into the trash they go, with the rest of the pointless negative opinions people force on me. I am not a burden. I matter. I am a beautiful soul. I am honest and caring and can be really sweet. I stand up for others and I don’t let people/coworkers/fellow students/family members put others down. I am indecisive because I have issues with perfectionism that’s also combined with imposter syndrome (gosh, how I hate this term). I’m strong and I’ve endured a lot but I am no longer a victim to the pain and fear of my past.
That being said, I still want to matter. I want to give others things that I haven’t had. Freedom to be themselves. Creativity nurtured. Soul healed.
How in the hell do I do this?
I will become a professor. That’s the first part. Teaching creative writing and creative nonfiction to writers. I also want to publish. Creative nonfiction via essays and memoirs. Fiction in several genres: romance, speculative fiction, and literary fiction. I feel like my literary voice needs to be heard, and not just because EVERY SINGLE PERSON tells you this when you say you want to be a writer.
Outside of that, I also want to teach foster kids and angel moms and dads (parents who have experienced pregnancy loss and infant loss) like me how to use writing as a coping mechanism. I want to foster emotional intelligence and introspection. I kept journals my entire life, and still have most of them (and plan to use them for a future nonfiction project), but I did it in hopes that my descendants would want to read them.
Quite arrogant for a young kid, huh?
If someone had told me that all those journals could’ve helped me through the really rough times, I would’ve jumped on it. Instead, I just used them to chronicle the worst and best happenings in my life. In my journals, I wrote about the abuse, the fear, the anger, the frustration, the excitement, the happiness, the overwhelming need to end my life, and the weight ‘being a burden’ had on me.
I wrote about the boy from my high school that forced me to jerk him off or he would leave me on the side of the highway with no way home. I wrote about that time I finally fought my brother back and it felt like I regained my power. I wrote about the racism I endured at the hands of Midwestern white folk. I wrote about the adoptive sister that sexually molested me and the pain I felt after an object was left inside my vagina. I also wrote about my desire to go away, go far far away, and never return to the home that held so much pain for me. I wrote about the boy who was murdered that told me he loved me, and kissed my forehead, and made me feel innocent. I wrote about the only thing I ever cared about: Books.
The journaling and writing didn’t end there. I continued it as I got older. When I left for college, I wrote about how my roommate was a slut (her words, not mine) and how she moved out of my room and told everyone lies about me. I wrote about how one of the boys in our friend group tried to rape me, holding me down in my dorm room and grinding his hips into mine while I was frozen from shock.
I wrote about how my mother said “you don’t have to be a part of this family if you don’t want to,” when I didn’t call every day, unknowing that my life was falling apart but her zealotry didn’t allow me to break my silence to her. I wrote about withdrawing from classes – because I’ve known since I was 7 that my adoptive parents “aren’t paying for college, so you better figure something out”. I wrote about how I slept in my studio while studying architecture, knowing I really wanted to be a writer. I wrote about how, when they told me I had to pay two thousand dollars before I could enroll in classes again, I cried for a week and then shrugged; I said I can’t afford that and no one cares about me enough to help me.
I wrote about the army guy I dated, and the one I dated after him who really took my heart. I wrote about how he was married and she was a cheater and so he returned the favor. I wrote about how he told me he loved me and I wanted a baby, anything to keep him with me and he said yes and we tried (but it wouldn’t be until 10 years later that I discover my body is not a friend to pregnancy). I wrote about that day of the threesome when his new thing yelled at him because he seemed to know my body “a little too well”. I wrote about the time after that, learning to be single and not minding the loneliness. I wrote about the guy I knew from high school I almost drunkenly sexed before I shoved him off and kicked him out because…ew.
There was a break, after that time, where I didn’t write at all. Not fiction. Not journaling. Not even nonfiction. I wrote nothing. Nada. Zilch. For years.
I had moved away from my hometown, and that’s when the real healing through journaling was introduced.
I wrote about rooming with my ex, meeting my guy (being stalked by that same ex because I met my guy), cutting to regain control, and my first pregnancy loss. Then my second loss, and almost dying in childbirth, and then my third pregnancy loss. I wrote about my fourth pregnancy, being on bed rest, and almost losing future baby Naomi to an incompetent cervix. I wrote about my mother’s neglect, my father’s disappearance, my friends slowly fading into the background.
Now, I write about how sometimes I felt like a complete shit of a girlfriend because all I know is trauma and pain and fear and scars, and how other times I feel like an amazing woman because out of that, all I know is rejuvenation, resurrection, healing, light, and hope. I feel here but not here, and I write about the journey to not only discover me but the future me.
That’s what I want to help others do.
Regurgitate fear and anger onto the page, breathe in healing and strength. Write out their poison until the cancer is gone and the pessimism and the frustration and the voice-that’s-unheard is heard. I want to show people there is a way to release your demons without losing your self or sense of self. And how if you did, would that really be a bad thing? Phoenix rising from the ashes and all of that.
Caterpillar. Cacoon. Butterfly.
Anyway, so that’s why I write. That’s why I share my story of loss with others. That’s why I make journals and notebooks. That’s why I want to teach. That’s why I want to help others heal.
I just want to matter.