When I was a little girl, I hated school tea parties.
The other girls loved when the teacher announced another father/daughter tea; but her words caused me to slump my shoulders. I was hurt, resentful, ashamed.
You see, I didn’t grow up with my dad. After my parents divorced, I rarely saw or talked to him.
It was years later, when I was in my twenties, before we reconnected. I had experienced God’s forgiveness and transformational love, which made me want to forgive my father and get to know him. It took time, but we eventually developed a loving relationship.
Happily-ever-after ending, right?
It took me years to realize the little girl who struggled to feel adequate and loved grew into a woman facing the same battles.
Revisiting Your Memory Album
We often view life as a series of snapshots. Some happy events, some sad, some almost crushing … isolated snapshots we file in our memory albums.
But life isn’t a line of isolated experiences. It’s more like a movie, a series of events that influence each other and form the characters we become.
Like my story.
Fast-forward some twenty years. I was doing focused journaling about different stages in my life, when I realized there were repeating themes.
Like the countless times I fought a nagging voice that said I was lesser than. Or the times I unconsciously pulled away from loved ones out of fear they’d abandon me. Or the many times I strove to please my heavenly Father so He would keep loving me.
In the pages of my journal, my little girl self emerged. But she had transformed into a woman who until then hadn’t understood why she acted, thought and felt rejection the way she did.
As we journey through dark seasons, our main priority is survival. And as wives, mothers and daughters, we especially feel the responsibility to keep going for the people who depend on us.
But stressful, life-altering events — like long-term illness, abuse, death of a spouse or loved one, divorce or extreme financial hardship — aren’t things we can simply forget. Until we heal trauma’s emotional scars, past forces will reach into our present and hinder our future with unexplained fears, resentment, anxiety, grief or guilt.
How many times have you gone to self-help seminars or read the latest book, only to find momentary freedom?
Or maybe you’ve spent hours in doctor’s offices seeking treatment for the manifestations of a trauma that has wracked your body: stomach problems, insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure or other issues that stem from stress. But the symptoms always return because you have not dealt with the true cause.
Finding true freedom begins as you discover what binds you.
Writing to Heal
Today, because I recognize that my true identity is in Him, I know I am more than adequate and accepted for who God made me. And I am secure in the love God and others have for me.
That’s not to say that I don’t have struggles, but the struggle doesn't own me. I've learned how to pass each one to the One Who bears them for me.
My journey wasn’t easy or fast. There have been many seasons, some difficult and some amazing, with me uncovering freeing revelations as I learned about writing to heal.
Writing for healing, or therapeutic writing, has been around for decades. While this strategy is not a panacea, studies have shown when we write about our trauma, stress or painful secrets, we feel better.
Writing has helped me be honest about my trauma and the unconscious, negative beliefs I held because of it. And it helped me rewrite my inner story so that I not only survived the pain but grew because of it.
Starting Your Healing Journey
Beginning your expressive, healing journey can seem intimidating. But the fact that you survived your darkest moments proves you are stronger than you think.
Sitting down and putting words to your deepest thoughts can help you overcome life’s disappointments, boost your courage and use your pain to build your inner strength.
If you want to learn more about therapeutic writing, please contact us for recommended resources or for information on our Write to Heal workshop series.
Have you already tried therapeutic journaling? How has creative writing helped you? Leave a comment to let us know.
My name is Mari Fitz-Wynn. I am a Therapeutic Writing Coach. It is my pleasure to teach the Faith Journey Publishing Write to Heal workshops. I pray my healing story inspires you to find freedom and the abundant life you’re promised.