I love journaling. To me journaling is different from writing in a diary. Writing in a diary is a form of recording. Journaling is a way to plug into the subconscious mind and giving it a voice. I have found it to be an amazing tool to find answers that are not as straightforward as one might expect. Let’s give an example: For over a week now, I have a muscular contraction between my shoulder blades. Af first I did not give it much attention, I had a stressful the day I got it, finding my daughter walking on ice that was not safe yet, and I figured I just may have contracted physically. But the longer it lasted the more unlikely that got. So yesterday morning, while writing in my journal, I focused on what the pain in my shoulders was about.
What I did was write down anything that could be related. In this case: the panic I felt finding my daughter in a very dangerous situation, a photo on FB pinpointing the metaphysical cause of high back pain as lack of support, taking part in a stressful and emotional family constellation, the subject of last week’s blog, and sitting in an unhealthy pose for a prolonged period of time reading a book and working at the dinner table. What I look for while writing is resonance. Which statement, however illogical, resonates most? In this case, apart from the last one, they all resonated. Usually, it is one or two, but occasionally they all do. What I did next was look for a pattern, how are they related? In this case it was easy: lack of support. In each and every case there was a definite case of experiencing lack of support or fear of it. When I reviewed the subject of last week’s blog, I just knew I had to look deeper into that. Journaling is very much about following hunches and trusting that they will lead you in the right direction like a breadcrumb trail would. Having journaled for quite some time now, I trust completely in the process, I know that there are treasures to be found.
Last week, I discovered that I was keeping the people around me emotionally hostage and I decided to set them free. It appeared that being without my tribe made me feel extremely unsafe. Who will support me when no one’s around? Even though, I know that I can support myself, I must convince momma Fear who will do anything to keep me safe. So I asked: ‘What do you fear most, momma Fear?’ – ‘That the child in you will die.’ That was an answer I did not see coming. WHAM! A completely bizar answer, but it felt VERY right. Looking at my list again, everything added up: my daughter on the ice, the lack of support, the family constellation, allowing my tribe to leave – my inner-child felt unsupported. So I asked: How can I support my inner-child? How can I make her feel supported? How can I make her feel safe? What does my inner-child need most? What does Ieniemienie need most? (Huh? Apparently, my inner-child has a name and it has been staring me in the face for the past seven years. Pronounce: /Ee-nee-mee-nee/, a Dutch Sesame Street character, my twitter name since 2008, translates to ‘very tiny’). The answer was so obvious that my husband was rolling his eyes while thinking to him self: You are so smart! How can you be so stupid when it comes to this subject!
Ieniemienie wants to play! With me! She wants my eyes to light up when she enters my awareness, she wants me to see her and acknowledge her for the free spirit she is. She wants me to praise her artwork, not because it is a work of art, but because she made it and she loves it. She wants me to mirror her own pride in her accomplishments. She wants me to take time to play with her and immerse myself in her world. She wants to be in control when we play, boss me around like a kindergartner who will tell you exactly how you need to act and what you need to say when you are playing with them. She doesn’t mind that I have other stuff to attend to, grown-up stuff, she understands. She even is okay with setting a timer to limit our time together as long as I am fully present in that time. She wants me to listen when she asks for my attention, she wants me to acknowledge her need to spend time with me, she wants to be reassured that I will take the time to play with her later when I am too busy to play with her right that moment, not just brush her off. She wants to know that she is important enough to me that I will carve out special time for her, a time when all the other important, grown-up stuff can wait while I play with her. Not just once a month or once a week, no every day, several times. Honestly, she doesn’t trust that I will. And rightfully so, because until now I have tolerated her in the margin of my life, enjoyed her company only occasionally, at my terms, and pushed her out of the way with ease when ‘more important stuff’ came up. My christian reformed socialized left-brain self neglected her most of the time, because Ieniemienie just doesn’t fit the preferred profile. She is way too light-hearted, whimsical, sexy, carefree, unpremeditated, sassy and funny for my socialized calvinistic, heavy-hearted and solemn self. Me, I adore Ieniemienie, always have. I want to be like Ieniemienie! I yearn for this lighter part of me to come out and play. So from this day on, next to my grownup I-have-important-stuff-to-do-list, I will have an Ieniemienie-will-you-come-out-and-playlist, and I will make it equally important. Big breakthrough!
To me, journaling resembles an adventure quest. Do you remember Police Quest, or Myst, or more recently The Room? Adventure games where you wander around a virtual space, looking for clues, picking up things, or touching them in the hope that they will tell you something and lead you somewhere. To me this is the same. I feel around for answers, and one clue will lead to the other. The only difference is that the feedback is internal instead of external. You need to be willing to trust your hunches, and follow clues that seem illogical and even absurd. For that to work, all you have to do is gag your critical voice and stuff it in the closet when you are journaling. Just don’t forget to take it out after you have unearthed something worthwhile, and show it explicitly, at some point in time, it will stop nagging and even start to cooperate. So go out, buy a journal that speaks to your soul, grab a pen, any pen as long as it glides easily over paper, and start asking questions. Don’t give up when it doesn’t seem to work at first, when your critical voice all of a sudden appears to have an evil twin that ruins your adventure quest, just gag him or her too; that closet is big enough to hold the lot of them. Just keep writing and writing and writing. At some point they will fall asleep, I promise.
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