Hello, how’ve you been? I’ve been thinking about what I write in my journal. Mostly it’s a way I talk to myself.
I have a whole lot of patience with me. Friends can get tired of the repetition, but I’m cool with me.
When I was a kid, it was paragraphs, like a letter. That was how I was taught.
“Dear diary, today I ate spaghetti. It was so good!!!!! And the boy I like talked to me. I ran away from him. A little frogs was in the garden. It’s almost Jana’s birthday. Mom said we were going school shopping, but then we didn’t go because she said next week. I was so MAAAAAAD!”
That is what my early journaling looks like. It’s “I did this and did this and felt that” with little detail.
Why did I write that stuff? I had no faith in privacy to write more personal things. I wasn’t safe enough in my family to tell the truth. I knew I needed to write, record, see myself for myself, and make my own history. But I hadn’t found or created much freedom yet.
truth is my usual
Now I’m not afraid for my privacy. Who would read my journal? I tell Ming everything already. There’s no need to confess anything. I have blogs, zines, and friends for that. Poetry is the only place to confess.
Truth is my usual now. I tell the truth to myself, Mother Earth, strangers in an interview about radical mental health–just about everyone.
Nowadays much of what I journal is lists. Or notes like when I’m gathering my thoughts before a radical mental health meeting, which is a list of ideas. I like to be ready for my five minute check in so I have some chance of saying what I want to say. What’s biggest in my life at the moment, and what I would most enjoy being witnessed speaking? What do I most want to share with these friends and strangers, to see what new things I say, considering their care and intelligence?
Planning is another listy thing I do in my journal. I list options for housing, then a side list of things to do pertaining to the options. I draw arrows to connect things.
I make notes from conversations–some pretty phrase someone says, including a pretty phrase I say that surprises me. These phrases might come in handy someday. Or they please me just then.
I asked Ming to list in my journal the people who contributed to the most recent gofundme so I could make sure I thanked everyone. Might not follow through 100%, but with a list, there’s a better chance.
I take notes before a peer counseling meeting of what I want to talk about. Then I take notes during the meeting. It feels good to have this page to refer to later. I want to explore the ideas deeper or tell Ming some nuance of what we discussed. I do similar with a friend’s ideas during a problem-solving call. Thank you, friends!
Lately Ming and I have a family meeting once a week to talk about how things are going for us. We talk about our needs in these categories.
- our relationship
- emotions and stability
- extended fam /relationships with others
- art /goals / projects
- holiday plans
Do we need something we aren’t getting, in any category? Or are we holding onto something we need to release? Is there something we’re avoiding that we need to face?
Then on the same page I list anything we agree to do, pertaining to decisions we made. It’s nice to look at the previous week’s notes and see if we forgot anything. We can wonder if it really matters.
Yeah, I’m a virgo. Hello, I can look like chaos, but I organize really well. The only problem is I expect it of others. Integrity, follow through, and accountability are all important to me. I can get hurt because I’m outlier good at it–I think that’s an autism thing.
So many people are struggling to remember to pay their rent, take out the trash on Monday night, eat the veg before it rots in the fridge. The dog has not been fed in years.
One of the most important things I do in my journal is work on wellness plans. When I get upset like a small crisis, it can help to list everything I’m upset about.
Then I make observations about all the things. I might notice the list is huge. Or I might see that the items on the list are mostly new. I might see how they’re related or informing one another. “Oh, of course I’m freaking out. These problems are all actually about _______.”
Getting the whole truth down on a page can help me rest. I don’t need to keep swirling it around in my head–I can put it on paper and know I can refer to it later, if I need to.
The comprehensiveness of a complete list feels satisfying at a time that satisfaction really helps. I can show it to Ming; he might learn some things that are upsetting me that I didn’t mention.
Then I might make a list of strategies or things to do, to mitigate the problem I’m having. Here are some things I wrote on a recent list.
- cancel appointments
- turn self-expectations down to zero
- alone time
- make a meal plan
- uninstall instagram from my phone
Then on the same page I might make the meal plan, and show all that to Ming.
Rarely I draw something or work on a design. I’ve been wanting to make stickers for my autistic liberation blog, so I have some prototypes like sketches.
What do you write in your journal? Is journaling important to your wellness? What I write in my journal is important to how I love myself. I’m worth the work. Staying functional is how I can keep helping the world. So I do it for the world too.
Do you like journaling neat or messy? I like it messy so I don’t get stuck thinking everything needs to be beautiful. I write on a page from different directions, cross things out, and have semi-legible handwriting. It only needs to be legible to me.