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How to find real breakthroughs with journaling.

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Ann Miller, Mar 1, 2022.

  1. Ann Miller

    Ann Miller Well known member

    No matter where you are in the journaling process, beginner or seasoned vet, you’re going to find it helpful to look for patterns. Patterns might include repeated themes, repeated self talk, repeated emotions, or repeated thoughts. These patterns then, can give you breakthrough moments of clarity and understanding into the ways you may be repressing emotions, getting stuck, or beating yourself up when you’re not looking. Let me share an example from my lived experience.

    Early in my journaling days, I was faithfully working on journaling around past hurtful events. After a few months, I started to notice a theme that I labeled “half loss.” Events in my life had caused me pain, but because I viewed them as a “half loss,” I had never really allowed myself to grieve them fully. My father was an alcoholic, but a functioning one, so I was always fed and clothed and had a nice home…in fact my mother denied there was an issue. But make no mistake, growing up there was nightly fighting and turmoil. I considered it a half loss, half trauma. Later I was sexually abused by a boyfriend in high school. But because I went willingly with him and loved him, I considered that a half trauma. I have a transgender child. So while I have a living, breathing, healthy child, I thought he was a daughter, and he is a son…half loss. My marriage has suffered betrayal and yet we are still together…half loss. You get the idea. But here’s THE MAGIC. I bet none of you reading that list of hurts considers them a half loss…only me. Why? That’s the magic question. Why? Yes, I needed to feel the emotions of all those past hurts that I had just glazed over back in the day. But the real work began in asking myself, ”Why? Why do I consider these obviously painful and life changing events or circumstances as half of a loss. Why?” Am I so attached to a mental picture of my life as a good one that I can’t even see real trauma when it happens? Did I rewrite events in my mind as a coping mechanism? Am I afraid to really experience loss in the moment it happens for fear that I won’t show up perfectly…or even a little bit well? Bingo. Even now, as I write that sentence, I can feel my shoulders drop and my gut punched in…that one hits home. Beautiful understanding. So now what? Now that I know why I view loss as a half loss, what do I DO? (It’s like I can hear you asking) I use this knowledge to definitely view my past hurts as full losses that affected me greatly and formed my particular sense of lack of safety in certain situations or relationships. I use this knowledge to tread carefully when loss comes my way again, as it is bound to do. I use this knowledge to guard against my tendency to shortchange future events. I see this whole half loss thing for what it really is…a thought distortion. Some folks ruminate on their hurts and losses and have thought distortions around being a victim. I’m just the same, only on the opposite end.

    Patterns in emotions are also particularly helpful. One of mine was resentment. Over and over my journal had that emotion arise. Guess what? I needed to do some boundary work. I needed to find my voice and practice using it kindly and firmly. I needed to rearrange my life so that I had time for personally fulfilling pursuits. Yes, I needed to make some changes FOR ME.

    You can do this! You too, can open your eyes and heart and see a pattern emerge and ask yourself all the ‘why” questions, learning, growing, and stretching as you go.

    My very best to each of you.

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