Sunday, April 14, 2013

On Writing Through the Storm

Writing, whether it be this blog, my journal, or my book, is like breathing.  I need to do so daily, frequently, with abandon.  It fuels me.  Those words on the page serve as my mood meter as it tells me just how far from or close to center I've lived.

Folks have asked me why I didn't blog when my mother first entered the nursing facility.  The answer can be as simple or as complicated as life itself.  You see, writing in a journal exposes the "raw" me.  The woman who could finally stop at the end of the day to jot down emotions, observations, random thoughts, and plans of action.  If anyone read my journal, their next call would be to the nearest mental health professional.  My journal reflects the hurt, anger, victories, growth, frustration, exasperation, and ecstasy this life contains.  Those pages are my dumping ground replete with incomplete thoughts, actions, and phrases.  This journal reveals parts of me that I'm proud of and those words who seem to belong to someone else.  I find myself saying, "Did I write that?"

No one needs to know the fear I experienced as my mother faced surgery at 89-years old, the medical folks I couldn't stand, the attitudes expressed by folks I encountered, the shock at having been "dressed down" because my mother didn't meet a system's expectations.  No one needs to read the rage I felt as our current healthcare system insisted on a "one-size fits all" approach to elder rehabilitation.

The journal keeps THAT discouragement at bay.  Yes, I write about life's toils and troubles, but the most important aspect that rises from that collection of words has to do with self-awareness.  Pitfalls to avoid.  Summoning the where-with-all to get up the next morning without reliving the previous day's feelings.  A journal can be the ultimate, most self-sustaining tool on the planet.  These pages provide the clean slate I require.  Every day.  I don't have to relive those emotions.  I've dealt with them, instead of airing them.

Author Julia Cameron advocates writing "Morning Pages" every day.  While I love her teaching and her work, I have to say I've slept better snuggling with my journal every night to dump the day's joys and sorrows.  It works better for me.

So, these blog posts are filtered extracts from my diary.  I've stripped the rawness of the emotions of the day to focus on what matters - care giving and the quality of my mother's life during this time of crisis and healing.

I write to help myself and others facing what I'm facing.  Call it caregiver self-care.

And the best part you might ask?  No prescription required!

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