There is little more cringe-inducing than going back and reading old journals. I used to keep journals like crazy, but I found that I was at my most prolific when things in my life were at their worst. The last time I religiously kept a journal was in 2003 and, although I’ve tried many times since then, I just can’t seem to get into it like I once did.
Yesterday morning, I found that journal I kept from about January to May of 2003. I was looking for a picture for Throwback Thursday, so exactly how I came across that journal, I have no idea. It is 35 single spaced typewritten pages. For some reason, I get this image of Jack Nicholson in the The Shining when I think about 35 single spaced typewritten pages which is a bit frightening. Reading it yesterday was proof positive of negative emotions fueling amazing amounts of journaling.
I don’t know that I’ve mentioned it here, but my therapist is retiring in June. This makes me very sad, but I understand – I don’t want to work forever either. Over the last 15 years, I’ve been to many different therapists, none of which ever seemed to help me much. I’d feel fine inside the 50 minute session, and then, the second I walked out the door, the tranquility and resolve I had would evaporate instantaneously. I shudder to think of all the money I’ve spent over the years chasing “the fix” that would keep me from feeling anxious and/or depressed. It seemed like nothing worked – at least not long term. It wasn’t until late 2009 when I started going to my current therapist that I finally found what turned out to be the answer for me. I had to stop trying to fix my anxious nature – I wasn’t broken. What WAS broken was my reaction to my anxious thoughts and feelings.
For years, I fused with my anxiety. It was my reality. Not many people outside of my closest friends and family (and sometimes, not even them) were aware of what I was doing, but I took every thought I had as the gods-honest truth. Realizing that I didn’t have to buy into them as truth produced my mantra – “feelings aren’t facts.” I still struggle to remember it sometimes, but I’m getting amazingly good at recognizing when I’m starting to fuse with feelings. Like going back to the breath is half the battle of meditation, recognizing when I’ve reverted to old habits is as much of a win as not reverting to them at all. In some ways, I feel like it’s a bigger win.
Reading through that old journal was a shining example of how fused with my thoughts and feelings I actually was. I kind of wanted to throttle 2003-me, but he didn’t have the benefit of my mature experience. If only we’d have been able to harness the energy that came out of all that fusing, our energy problems would have been solved. Sadly, I recall that kind of fusion being decidedly endothermic in nature.
I’ve said before that realizing feelings aren’t facts is sometimes a bummer – kind of like how Barbra Streisand says that as you get older, you can’t sing those “dependent, victim songs” any more. But this is actually a much better place to be. And when I do feel bad, I remember that feelings aren’t facts and I buy records. Because as Schroeder says:So after reading that old journal that was full of fusion and angst and sadness, I decided to buy 2003-me a record to cheer him up plus I already wanted it so double-win. It should be arriving in the next week or so. And it was only $13 with shipping!