I wasn’t expecting this, it was a surprise. A good surprise.
Memories from my past started to come to my conscious level at all times of the day. Randomly throughout my day, at no particular time, a sweet childhood memory that I didn’t know I’d kept would present itself and stop me in my tracks.
Emotions, thoughts about old friends and experiences started to play themselves in my mind allowing me to reminisce and process. It’s been a powerful and fulfilling experience. It’s even been a peaceful experience.
Sometimes cringy, annoying memories would surface, craving for me to deal with them and process them so they could put themselves to rest.
I’ve heard it said before that writing clears out the toxins. It’s true.
Recently I cleaned out my computer. It’s a few years old now and had got clogged up with unused programs and files that I no longer needed. I’d deleted files but they remained in my Recycle Bin taking up gigabytes of space. There were programs running in the background that I didn’t even know I still had. All this background activity was using memory that required extra processing power that slowed down my day to day work. When I cleaned it all up, my PC began running like new again. Fast.
That’s how I see my brain.
Hurts, pain, immaturity, anger, grievance, betrayal, shame, and stupidity. All running in the background of my mind, taking up space and reducing my processing power.
I didn’t even know these things were running in the background and yet, there was a constant hum, drowning out my days.
So, I started writing.
At first, I wrote and wrote, filling pages with thousands of words. It was like a damn breaking. So much crud, it was everywhere. So much that I didn’t know where to start. So, I just started shoveling. Getting the words on the page, letting it go. I felt much better. If only my fingers could type faster.
After about a week I felt like I had cleaned out most of it, and I had. But I wasn’t done.
The first week is the easiest because things are so obvious. The things to write about are right in front of your face. You can probably think of things right now, that have happened recently that you want to write about.
It’s like cleaning your house: You pick up clothes, put the dishes away, mow the lawn and wipe down the counter tops. It makes a huge difference. Less clutter.
At this point it’s tempting to stop.
Look under the chest of drawers, there’s dust under there. Get on a stool and look on the top of the fridge and look under the oven. Yuck.
There’s work do.
Under my oven I found lids to some plastic containers that I thought I’d lost. My son, when he was smaller, had stuffed them under there while playing.
I found an old USB drive filled with old pictures in a box in the back of my closet. You know what it’s like when you are cleaning and find a box of old pictures? I sat there and browsed through them with tears for the entire afternoon.
You understand what I’m trying to say, right? You just don’t know what you’re holding onto until you do the hard and dirty business of writing. So….
Keep writing, even when you don’t think there is anything left to write about. Write. Keep writing. Write about your day and why you thought you reacted the way you did to that situation. Write about your family and how much you love them. Why do you love them? Write about that.
Write about what you are grateful for or ungrateful for. Why do you hurt?
Write as if you were writing a letter to yourself in the future. Write a letter to your future spouse or children. What kind of person do you want to be?
Write about your past, write about your plans for the future.
Joan Didion said “I don’t know what I think until I write it down”.
Writing clears your mind, removing the old files. How? By processing them. The reason that I am now having old thoughts and memories surface is because I have finally dealt with other thoughts that were blocking the way.
Jordan Peterson, a Canadian Psychologist says that if you have a memory that keeps replaying itself in your mind and you can’t let it go, it’s your brain trying to tell you something. In other words, you haven’t finished dealing with it yet. So, write about that haunting fear or scary, hurtful memory. Write about what you fear the most. Bring that fear into the day light and expose it.
I started having original ideas for the first time in my life. I started to form my opinions. I started to gain confidence because I knew what I thought and why I thought it.
All because I wrote about it. Every day.