How Journaling Saved My Life

I’ve been keeping a journal most of my life.

It started in 9th grade at the demand of Mr. V, my English teacher, who I thought I was fooling when I crammed in a week’s worth of journal entries during homeroom. But thinking is thinking and writing is writing; it doesn’t matter where or when, so I caught the bug, and I journaled throughout high school, which I now realize, saved me.

My journal was the most valuable thing I owned. I say “was” because I don’t care so much about the book itself anymore. Yes, I have every single one of them stored in my closet, and not in a box, but on the shelf. Easy access. It’s pretty rewarding to pull out a volume and see where my head was at and, most important, how much I’ve changed since then.

But as wonderful as it is to see my own words staring back at me, it doesn’t compare to the moment they come out and say hi for the first time.

As I said, my journal saved me, like a therapist, like fire sword, like the large brown eyes of a dog. So many times, confused, angry, torn to pieces, lost and hungry, I’d sit with that journal in my lap, putting words around my emotions, sketching big emotive faces and meandering psychedelic doodles in black ink, unknowingly solving my riddles simply by diving deeper into the eye of the storm and sitting in it as the winds swirled around and inevitably died down.

I’ve never closed a journal feeling worse than I did before I opened it. There has to be something to that, a medicine we all have access to.

I’m up to 2 shelves of journals, 2 rows deep. There’s a lot of healing documented in that closet, a lot of wandering and a lot of teetering. Those books are sacred. But only as a symbol because, after years of sitting down to scribble out my feelings, I can confirm with great excitement and encouragement that it’s not the pages that saved me. It’s the sitting.