Do you love to write? Letters? Stories? Lists?
If you’re like me, you most likely write daily for work or to organise your home life – shopping lists, reminders, to-do lists.. typically these are things you must write in your diary or schedule to maintain the juggle and life flowing smoothly.
I don’t think you’ll be surprised to know I live by my lists. I carry a filofax, and next to my bed, I have a blank note-book I scribble in most nights before going to sleep at night. It is a particularly useful exercise if there is something I’m feeling worried about something, or something I need to remember to make certain plans for my family.
It’s amazing how easily I fall asleep after doing the “brain-dump” into my notebook.
If you’re not used to collecting your thoughts at the end of the day, and processing how you feel (rather than a specific function like sending an email or recording your “must do…”) the idea of writing simply for the purpose of writing actions for the week, may initially sound daunting. Especially if you are a high-achiever and/or a perfectionist.
There are benefits to keeping a journal or a notebook during your separation.
- It provides you an outlet for your frustrations, grief and other emotions;
- It will help you prioritise your fears and concerns through your separation (and about your future);
- Provides the opportunity to recognise emotional triggers (which is really useful as you and your spouse begin the process of talking about how you will untangle your lives);
- Reminding yourself of the good things that have happened that day or week.
Most importantly, writing will allow you the space for positive encouragement and self-talk – which is so necessary as you navigate this new path.
There are no rules when it comes to writing your thoughts, feelings, concerns
and experiences down in a book.
As you navigate your relationship – whether you are contemplating separation (in which case, remember to clear your web browser after reading this article), or you have already separated, writing is a useful tool to help you get to the heart of whatever you’re dealing with, and out of your mind onto paper.
Through the act of writing, you can acknowledge difficult emotions, and start
to make sense of how you’re feeling, and what direction you want life to take.
Here are some suggestion of how to write in a journal:
- You don’t need a fancy notebook, but it can be nice to have
a fresh book to write in – if you prefer blank pages, look for a sketch book as your journal. I know some people keep journals in their phone, or on their tablet or computer, but honestly, I feel like we tend to write less, and edit more, if we use electronic devices;
- Keep it private;
- Dating each entry can be useful but isn’t necessary;
- Write quickly;
- Don’t censor yourself – the purpose is to get your emotions, thoughts, concerns and feelings out of your mind and onto paper;
- Importantly, don’t go back and edit your work (I’m speaking to you, fellow perfectionists!);
- Give yourself permission to write honestly about how you feel now and how you want to feel, and how you might get there;
- Write in a way that feels natural – if you feel funny “just” writing for the sake of writing, perhaps you can write yourself a letter… even your future self.
There are no set rules to writing for this purpose.
Remember you are simply working to get your emotions, thoughts, concerns and feelings onto paper so you can get some clarity about how you feel, sleep better, concentrate more fully on whatever task you have to do tomorrow, and allow yourself to feel less anxious as you navigate through the next few months.
Megan Sweetlove is a divorce lawyer and the owner of Sweetlove Family Law. Megan has worked with families who are experiencing separation and divorce for over 10 years.
Using a kind, compassionate and caring approach, Megan will work with you to develop a strategy that will enable you to have a successful separation and to work out the best way to move forward, taking into account your economic and emotional needs.
If you or someone you know needs assistance during divorce you can organise a complimentary 20 minute phone appointment with Megan here.
You may wish to clear your browsing history now if you are reading this article on your phone or computer and you are considering separation, but have not yet separated; or you otherwise want to maintain your privacy.