Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Write It Out?

When it was first suggested to me that when I was feeling irritated, agitated, frustrated, annoyed, resentful, I should sit down and write about it, I couldn't see the point. What was the difference between writing about it, and "reasoning things out with someone else?" Or just thinking about it?

I quickly learned that were I to write out all my feelings, and write about the event which had provoked those feelings, then leave it overnight, or for a few days, return to it when calm and serene, and read it, my character defects and negative thinking leapt off the page and did a high-kick dance before my eyes. It was all so obvious when I'd had time to calm down; because I'd written it in the heat of the feeling, I wasn't censoring myself, and couldn't pretend.

I was a great pretender before Al-Anon. I pretended I was fine when my life was completely unmanageable, I pretended that I felt what I didn't feel, and didn't feel what I did feel...pretending was a childhood coping mechanism which I'd carried into my adult life, and never questioned. Until Al-Anon, and some direct questioning from my sponsor, with regard to honesty in relationships, and whether or not I had any. (I didn't.)

I encourage my sponsees to use this technique of writing about it when they are upset in any way, and to be very detailed in describing their feelings, their assumptions, their expectations, all of it. Invariably, I will hear about how when they went back the next day/several days later and read it, they cringed to see how unreasonable/childish/petty/crazed they sounded. One or two have told me a long time later, that they have stopped using this technique after a few tries, because they "couldn't face the truth about their own thinking" at the time, or because they "didn't want to admit that they could be so unreasonable or resentful."

Because I try to keep the lightest of hands with my sponsees, (both to rein in my own control-freak tendencies, and to allow them to be fully who they are, without feeling in any way criticised) I will suggest this as a tool I found helpful, and then let it go. I don't nag them to do it, I don't ask if they have done it, I just offer it.

Not everything works for everybody. Some people will resist to their deaths any suggestion that they consider their own part in the problems in a relationship; they seem to attend meetings for a while, and then fade away. Some folks are so obsessed with their own bad points, that they will use this as a whip with which to lash themselves - with those sponsees, I suggest that they not look at it until we have a chance to go over it together. That way when they are starting to give themselves hell for being human, I can offer the ways in which I was precisely that crazed, and how I've changed, so they can see that they are not evil, not monsters, but only human. (That's presupposing that I'm only human, as well. Took me a long while to arrive at that destination, I promise you.)

Try it. You might be astounded. Write it out, then go back and read it when you've calmed down. You might find that things previously obscured in the murk of your subconcious, become clear: that, "Why do I do/say/think that?" is suddenly obvious.

What I'm finding so wondrous, is that because I've worked my program like a good little maniacal co-dependent, more often than not, nowadays, this "stop and examine what's really going on inside my head, stripped of any justification or rationalising" occurs in my internal dialogue within the space of a few seconds, so that I can decide before I say or do anything, that I'm being irritable, or unreasonable. Or that I'm setting myself up with an expectation. Or that perhaps my intolerance is in the driver's seat.

I don't need days of time to: write it all out, cool down, go back and read it, then deal with the truth of it. Many times, I can do that now, on the spot. And that is one cool thing.


  1. Yes, that is one cool thing! I look forward to the day I get there!

  2. I like writing for my blog to help me look through me day. In the past to cope often I would forget important events good and bad. Examining the day helps me realize there is a balance some good some not so good that goes on as the day unwinds.
    Thanks for your email today!

  3. I cringe when I think of the my insane reactions and the damage they did to important relationships in my life. Al-anon has showed me a way to heal these relationships. I am not a "writer" by nature but I think I might give it try next time. Those times don't occur very often these days but I'm human :-D


  4. I keep a journal in which I write about deep feelings. I share some things on here in a more general sense. Writing helps for sure. I also like having an inventory in my head in which I can take stock of myself and my behavior.