I started writing when I was very young. I never knew quite why I wrote, only that I enjoyed it. In my thirties, I picked my pen back up and started writing with a purpose, though I didn’t realize there was a reason at the time. I turned to poetry. It was a form of self-expression that was cathartic for me. I was able to explore feelings, memories, and situations that made others, myself included, uncomfortable talking about. I was able to reach within myself and verbalize on paper things I couldn’t bring myself to say out loud. I also was afraid of what others would think of me if they knew my deepest, darkest thoughts. For a long time, I wrote for my eyes only. It was during this process that I encountered a book about poetry therapy. It was this book Finding What You Didn’t Lose by John Fox that opened a new world to me. It allowed me to explore and release things I held hostage inside me. He later came out with a second book Poetic Medicine that I found equally informative. That might not be the order in which they were written, but it was the order in which I read them. I even thought for a while that I’d like to go into poetic/art therapy. I still think it would be rewarding to help others break down the barriers and find catharsis.
Each of us at one time or another holds on to pain or negative emotions that we aren’t willing to acknowledge or work through. We must first own or accept it in order to let it go and free ourselves. We must not only learn to forgive others but to forgive ourselves as well. I think one of the biggest struggles is not to blame others for our circumstances. Sure, it might have been something someone else did that hurt us, but we must own our feelings. There is no room for finger pointing in healing. Our feelings are our responsibility. We have the power to release them. One has a choice of living in the past (no matter how painful it might have been) or forging ahead and creating new memories of positive light. It seems that most every good thing in life stems from love, so I use that as a starting point for myself.
Through poetry, writing in general, and many other art mediums, we are able to reflect on our pain, guilt, and any other emotion that is affecting our lives. We are given the opportunity to express these emotions, to let it them rise to the surface. We are able to take something nameless and give it a title, to make something beautiful out of it. We are able to cleanse our souls and move on with life. Of course, many artists create many beautiful works purely from those emotions that aren’t so desperate.
I realize people are different and work through their own reactions to their life circumstances however they see fit. I tried doing it myself in many ways that were not beneficial. Writing was the most rewarding to me. I wrote tons of gloomy poetry back in my day (and still do on occasion!). For years, I wouldn’t even look at it, and even once threw it all away, just to find out years later that I’d made copies of much of it. I find it interesting to see how much I’ve grown. I also see where I blamed anyone and everyone for my circumstances. I failed to accept responsibility for years. I can’t tell you for certain that writing enabled me to finally let go of the negativity or if it was trust in something greater than me. Maybe, it worked hand in hand. What I do know is that it took acceptance of my emotions, responsibility on my part, to let myself heal from the inside out. And though I long ago forgave those I blamed, it took forgiving myself, acceptance of my flaws to move on. And only after that was I able to find that inner peace I so desperately desired. I have found that nothing good comes from harboring ill feelings. I have no problem admitting that I still stumble and fall, and I just pick myself back up, dust myself off, and take another step. Life is a process, so I take one moment at a time and love along my way.