Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Journal to the Center of the Soul

(By John Joseph*)

One of the simplest and most effective tools in my recovery has been soul journaling. There’s something powerful about the act of writing out the pain, the people, and the prayers (positively and negatively) that put them all in a better perspective. I don’t know if it’s the power of the words themselves or just the fact that I write them out of my head that brings some relief, but time and again I’ve experienced good things from journaling.

I’m not a write-in-the-journal-every-day kind of guy. I write when I feel like I need or want to. It’s sporadic, and weeks can go by in between entries. Sometimes I write four or five pages; at other times, only a paragraph.

Recently, when I needed to do some journaling about my mother, I could write only one sentence: “Mom . . . upside down spells ‘wow.' ” Obviously I have some work to do on that relationship.

I think it’s important to write positive things as well as negative. It’s good to celebrate even the smallest victories in our recovery from abuse—a day with less depression or the realization that each day is a gift. It’s also possible to address the true self in our journals—that part of our soul that responds to nurturing through self-affirmation and blessing. There’s a lot of healing we can gift to ourselves through positive words.

Writing things out is an ancient prescription for soul health. Journaling, even sporadically, can be part of your journey to the center of who you really are.

(*John Joseph is a pseudonym of a pastor. He's a regular contributor to this blog.)


Dan said...

Question has your spouse been able to help or not in the healing process. In what ways have they helped or maybe hindered the process.

Cecil Murphey said...

Dan, my wife was totally behind me. When I fist talked about my sexual abuse she said, "I don't understand this, but I love you and I'm with you." She encouraged me to to talk about it. That was such a special gift.

I'd like to hear from other men and the reaction of their apouses.

Dan said...

That's fantastic Cecil.
I would love to hear more men share, or maybe their spouse share along with them. Also what's been most helpful in the process of healing.

Anonymous said...

My wife has been supportive, but distant. She doesn't really want to read books / articles about it, listens if I bring it up, doesn't ask a lot of questions. I'm in my late 50's, talking about things that happened when I was 11/12, and I first brought it up with her about 4 years ago.

I'm sure she doesn't know quite what to say or do, but truthfully my parents were emotionally distant and it kind of feels like a repeat, like I'm doing this processing / recovery stuff without her.

Cecil Murphey said...

Dear Anonymous, your situation isn't that unusual. Here's one suggestion I offer:
Tell her you need to talk about it.
At one point, I thought my wife was probably worn out from listening and I said. "I'm going to be different when this healing is over. If you don't hear me, we'll still be married, but you won't know who I am."
My wife began to cry. "Why wouldn't I want to hear?"

The point of this is that you make her realize how important ahw is to your healing.


Dan said...

I'm not so sure my wife understands the deep wounds that I have, and the healing that has taken place.I would hope that she understands that more healing is still needed. Sometimes that last statement should be obvious just by my reactions to her hurting me.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for taking time to respond; good advice. I should do that, and I think I have in ways, but haven't straight out said it - it's hard for me to straight out ask for almost anything, but that's not an excuse, I need to learn how to do that better.

Thanks again for the response, and for the blog in general.

Roger Mann said...

When I first began to really deal with my abuse and try various things to recover and become better relationally, my then wife really didn't understand and didn't want to hear about it. I think it was hard for her not to feel like it was all about her for some reason. As my healing journey continued I tried to share some of my journaling but again it seemed to make her angry and upset. So of course I stopped bringing her into it. As I changed there were bumps along the journey. Times I would feel very insecure or angry. Finally she left me and a year later we were divorced.

I am remarried now to a woman with some abuse issues of her own. I have always felt that her history would help her understand mine. To some extent it has but she has remarked on several occasions that the extent of mine sometimes is difficult for her to grasp. The effects seem so deeply ingrained that she has accepted that we will have difficulties at times due to my many triggers and I do understand. The first two years were very hard on her.

Now we can share and she can identify when I am triggered and can help me through it. Marriage is not easy for survivors. But it can be healing to have someone who truly understands and is willing to stand with you through the journey.

Roger Mann said...

I would also like to say something about journaling. I refused to do it at first. There was something about seeing details in black and white that made them real. I could lie to myself when it was all in my head. Once I began to put it out there in writing I could not pretend it didn't happen. I wept many tears writing at my computer. Lots of misspelled words and typos were in those first years journaling. At first I thought I was just posting replies to others. After some time I read back what I had wrote and realize I was journaling and at the same time it hit me that I was better mentally and emotionally for it.

Journaling helps get it out of your head. I read my first few sloppy entries and cried again as I accepted that yes, it did happen, it really was that bad, and I have lived a lie for almost 50 years. I can sit down to write even today and discover something else that I need to work on emotionally, relationally. It's amazing what you can learn about yourself when you sit, focus and allow God to just open your heart.

I highly recommend it even if no one else sees it.