Writing out your thoughts can help you deal with them.

Writing out your thoughts can help you deal with them.

Credit - PixabayPhoto Credit – Pixabay

Let’s start by admitting I’m older than some and younger than others. But I’ve been journaling since before that was even a concern.

From the earliest times I can remember, words were my refuge and my solace; my confidant and my cohort. Retreating into Hardy Boy’s novels to escape real life was a thing I often did before I was 12. Transporting myself through time and space to the old west, where men were men, good and evil were white and black; the right thing to do was clear as day.

There was none of this grey muddle that we live in today. I was young. Life was simple. Retreat was a valid coping mechanism.

Queue up the ‘Growing Up” music and montage. That was most of forty years ago. Two marriages, six children (plus about five other children that were mine by default because I was the grown assed man around the house, but they weren’t biologically mine). That’s another post that I’m not ready to write just yet however.

The World is not Black and White

When we are small, the world is of necessity a simple place. Food is provided, shelter likewise (or it should be, not every child is as fortunate as we in Canada tend to be). Black and White, Right and Wrong, simple lines of definition, this is the way of childhood. Then we grow up.

Emotions start running, hormones are surging through puberty and beyond, girls grow into women, boys into men, and the whole relationship mess starts messing with people’s heads and hearts.

Stuff get’s lost in translation, meaning gets muddled is communication. Essentially, it’s a perfect blend of chaos and mayhem, all wrapped up in interpersonal relationships. What does all this mean to the child who grew up? That black and white clear cut world is gone, you’re now wading through muddles of grey.

I can see an upset person, who’s attacking everybody around them, critical, judgmental, and totally unforgiving. That same person might not be who I see. Maybe there’s pain and insecurity backing that outward shell, and having been hurt when they allowed themselves to be vulnerable before, that person is now unwilling to risk being hurt again. As a result, they button down their defenses so tightly that nobody can see through the cracks to the hurting child inside.

Everybody has baggage.

But it’s your job to carry or stow your own, not your partners responsibility.

That hurting child behind the ramparts; that was me, and it was also my wife, and so many others that I know, and also don’t know yet. See, we all come from our own childhood, and everyone’s is different. My trauma and damage is unique, so is yours. What a joy it was to think, briefly, that becoming an adult meant that I wasn’t going to have to deal with my childhood mess anymore.

Damn but I was wrong. So wrong. See, I had no idea back then that the mess of my childhood wasn’t content to be left behind. I packed it all up, crammed it into my head and internalized the crazy so that I could bring it with me through puberty and into adulthood.

The problem may have started out being my childhood and what I learned growing up in that alcoholic toxic small town where I did. But at forty-odd year’s old, the problem isn’t where I’m from, but rather, the problem had become me.

“The problem isn’t where I’m from, but rather, the problem had become me.”

I couldn’t even begin to define what that previous statement meant as I was surviving the trials of my first few jobs. Alcohol was what adults used to cope with their shitty lives, so when I was working at -5’C in January, hauling lumber through sucking mud and surviving the incessant putrid smell of curing concrete on the job site, looking forward to a beer or twelve was normal.

Until it wasn’t.

See, I’m not good at being content (also another post), and I was miserable. Knowing that I was miserable I started looking for answers through the bottom of the beer stein. Finally, I put down the beer stein, and after a few disastrous forays into suicidal ideation, I eventually started thinking about my thinking.

If you think that sounds circular, you should see how it feels, it’s almost as bad as university philosophy.

You really do need to think about your thinking

How to fix a broken brain? The templates need torn up and thrown away. But where to start?

This is where thinking about your thinking comes into play. There’s a formal name for it, called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which basically means paying attention to your own thoughts and addressing both the thought and the driving points behind it. Google the term, you’ll be directed to so many good resources that you won’t know where to start.

For me, the start comes from beginning to understand the mess.

But how do you separate yourself from yourself? I mean, your thoughts are literally inside your head, how do you get them far enough away from your own self to be able to inspect them impersonally.

Hence, write them down. Typing things out is a manual mechanical feat, and it is kind of something that works. For me personally, nothing beats working through ink and paper, manifesting my own jumbled thoughts in the real world for a look at them apart from my internal self. Now, I’m sure there are many doctoral and philosophical reasons why this is so, and why it works the way it does. However, much the same as why yeast makes malt into beer, I don’t really care beyond the fact that it does work for me.

Removing your thoughts will help you see them better.

The whole premise here is that to understand something we must be able to see the thing for what it is. Thoughts are tricky because while they’re in your head, they’re a messy muddle of unknowable mush, at least for those of us who need to do the work. So get out of your own mind, or at least get the thoughts out of your own mind. Get them out into the open where you can mull them over for their own merit.

An Example:

Thinking ‘nobody loves me, I have to do everything around here, and nobody appreciates any of what I do’ is an emotionally charged self-indulgent thought process. Assessing it before divorcing it from your own head is damned near impossible, especially if you’re the poor fool who’s feeling them feelings and thinking them thoughts.

Write it down. On paper. Do so with the intention of making it real. Like this.

Doing this, I can feel the emotions shifting around to a new viewpoint. The swoops in the writing, the intent required in forming the letters, it all shifts my mental state. I then read it, and yeah, on a bad day it’ll be rough to let go of the feelings, but on day’s like today, where I have been having a rough but not totally overwhelmingly hard day, I can see this for what it is.

These are my thoughts and feelings. They may not be a true reflection of reality.

See, the thing about being human, is that we all have our demons to fight, (or play with), but being human, it’s hard to remember that everybody else also has demons to handle. We can’t see their demons.

With time, patience and attention, we might be able to see the work and results of the demon’s efforts reflected in those we love and care about. But we can’t see the torment of another soul.

Maybe what I feel as being unloved and unappreciated is merely the side effect of others being so busy wrapped in their own struggles that my efforts are appreciated merely for the act of doing them so that other’s (my wife?) doesn’t have to deal with that aspect of things at this moment.

It’s kind of like when you scoop the screaming toddler away from the other parent so they can have a moment to recover and you, with a fresh approach, can distract and calm down the little one. The appreciation isn’t shown by the one who gets a moment to recover, but barring some serious emotional damages, it has to be there.

Sometimes we get so caught up in experiencing our own life that we forget everybody else is simultaneously experiencing their life alongside ours.

Sometimes what we think is truth is merely emotion and feeling masquerading as truth.

Sometimes we need to just get the hell out of our own heads and then turn around, look at what we’re thinking and figure out if thinking out thoughts is in our best interests or if we should be questioning them wholesale or piecemeal.

Soemtimes reality isn’t what you think it is.

Good Luck.

May God bless you and keep you.


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