“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
—Louis L’Amour

How Writing Helps Us Heal

Conflict is a necessary ingredient for creating an intriguing story. And conflict is an inevitable part of life. Disappointment, sadness, sickness, and death plague us at different points in time and in different ways.

We all have methods of coping with what we don’t understand, of dealing with painful situations in our lives. One therapeutic technique that helps us heal in times of confusion, broken hearts, and deepest loss is simple but so very powerful—writing.

Journal writing

Photo by Vivianna_love

The Healing Power of Writing

1. Writing allows us make sense of things.

When we don’t know what to do, putting words on paper feels tangible. It’s black and white in an otherwise grey time. When we don’t feel like talking, writing lets us speak in a solitary way. The page is a never-ending space for depositing our concerns and fears and hopes.

2. Writing helps us to let go and accept that we may never find answers.

Exploring our emotions via writing keeps all our questions and possible answers accessible. We make concrete progress over time. We review and rework and eventually move beyond whatever we’re working to process.

3. Writing improves our mental and physical health.

Research proves that writing about troubling issues boosts our immune system and improves our emotional health, which in turn benefits our lives in a multitude of ways. Writing gives us a space to channel, process, and release negative emotions.

4. Writing changes our outlook.

Journaling may be a popular form of therapeutic writing, but anyone who has gotten lost in a novel knows that stories have the ability to transport us. We can evolve our viewpoint through writing a fictional version of an event—perhaps with an alternative ending or from a new perspective—or by crafting a story based on a specific emotion but with a completely different set of circumstances.

How has writing helped you heal?

PRACTICE

Write for fifteen minutes about something that bothers you—an event or emotion. Feel free to fictionalize it or change the circumstances as needed in order to feel comfortable sharing your practice.

When you’re finished, please share your practice in the comments section. And be sure to leave a few notes on other people’s comments too!

I know this type of writing is personal by nature, so if you don’t want to post your practice today, please let us know what you think about the healing power of writing instead.

About Melissa Tydell

Melissa Tydell is a freelance writer, content consultant, and blogger who enjoys sharing her love of the written word with others. You can connect with Melissa through her website, blog, or Twitter.

  • Guest

    It was the buoyant smile on his face that worried her. The smile she hadn’t seen for years. Except in snatches, on childhood holidays. Gliding over a deep green lake. Crashing into the sea at sunset. Snatches of his smile, after they’d come to this country which had sunk every trace of boyishness she remembered her father having.

    But now, his smile was up and not even two deaths in the family could sink it.

    His wife was in the shadows when he smiled, somewhere in the corner of the room, fussing about feeding the cats and what colour should they paint the outside room. When she emerged into the conversation, with her bottomless sighs and sharp tongue, his joy refused to be quelled. As if he were already sailing out on the sparkling horizon, far away from all known land.

    Her heart was faster than her head. It felt like a huge spear of fire had shot into her, and she had to hold onto the nearest thing – the patchwork Biggie Best rocking chair – to steady herself. The chair lurched forward, giving no support. She had to sit down because her legs had caught fire too. They were weak, unsteady.

    As she closed her eyes she remembered standing on a porch with an old lady, their eyes fixed. There in the endless green lawn, between the roses and their tangled stems, walked her parents, hand in hand.

  • Guest

    It was the buoyant smile on his face that worried her. The smile she hadn’t seen for years. Except in snatches, on childhood holidays. Gliding over a deep green lake. Crashing into the sea at sunset. Snatches of his smile, after they’d come to this country which had sunk every trace of boyishness she remembered her father having.

    But now, his smile was up and not even two deaths in the family could sink it.

    His wife was in the shadows when he smiled, somewhere in the corner of the room, fussing about feeding the cats and what colour should they paint the outside room. When she emerged into the conversation, with her bottomless sighs and sharp tongue, his joy refused to be quelled. As if he were already sailing out on the sparkling horizon, far away from all known land.

    Her heart was faster than her head. It felt like a huge spear of fire had shot into her, and she had to hold onto the nearest thing – the patchwork Biggie Best rocking chair – to steady herself. The chair lurched forward, giving no support. She had to sit down because her legs had caught fire too. They were weak, unsteady.

    As she closed her eyes she remembered standing on a porch with an old lady, their eyes fixed. There in the endless green lawn, between the roses and their tangled stems, walked her parents, hand in hand.

  • Guest

    It was the buoyant smile on his face that worried her. The smile she hadn’t seen for years. Except in snatches, on childhood holidays. Gliding over a deep green lake. Crashing into the sea at sunset. Snatches of his smile, after they’d come to this country which had sunk every trace of boyishness she remembered her father having.

    But now, his smile was up and not even two deaths in the family could sink it.

    His wife was in the shadows when he smiled, somewhere in the corner of the room, fussing about feeding the cats and what colour should they paint the outside room. When she emerged into the conversation, with her bottomless sighs and sharp tongue, his joy refused to be quelled. As if he were already sailing out on the sparkling horizon, far away from all known land.

    Her heart was faster than her head. It felt like a huge spear of fire had shot into her, and she had to hold onto the nearest thing – the patchwork Biggie Best rocking chair – to steady herself. The chair lurched forward, giving no support. She had to sit down because her legs had caught fire too. They were weak, unsteady.

    As she closed her eyes she remembered standing on a porch with an old lady, their eyes fixed. There in the endless green lawn, between the roses and their tangled stems, walked her parents, hand in hand.

    • Wow, I don’t know what it all means but your description is stunning! Why is he smiling, what’s changed, is he dying? I love the way you used the water to describe a person, emotion, and memory, just beautiful.

      • Guest

        Thank you very much. This shows me I need to make this clearer. Like Marianne said, her father is having an affair.

    • Holli K.

      Absolutely beautiful!

      • Guest

        That’s very kind, thank you.

    • “As if he were already sailing out on the sparkling horizon, far away from all known land.” I like.

      • Guest

        Thanks!

    • Von Rupert

      You kept me reading from one line to the next. Lovely, evocative prose. Your scene made me want to cry even though I didn’t understand everything that was occurring– your imagery did the work. NICE!

      • Guest

        Thank you so much.

    • mariannehvest

      Beautiful writing. I like the wife in the shadows fussing. It makes me think about how people who have been together for a long time can develop strange ways of communicating. I’m not sure what is happening here but I imagine he is either going to die or he has a new love.

      • Guest

        Thanks. You’re right – the narrator’s father is having an affair.

    • I like the images you use like buoyant smile. The use of the smile is very powerful, how the smiles differed. The image of the couple walking together hand-in-hand is sweet. There are some parts that might be expanded because I’m not sure who is talking and what the whole circumstance is, but the imagery is stunning.

    • Lovely writing….I actually thought the father was finally at peace with himself. Like when you know you have nothing much to do….but enjoy the moment kind. Love the way you described the authors childhood memories of his father.

  • Barb

    This article is so true and I thank you for it. Right on!
    In 1992 my family began to suffer through a tragedy that lasted for 12 years. At times, the only thing that kept me going was my writing. I wrote about how I felt, about my worries, and it all hurt. There were even days that I wasn’t able to pray so I wrote my prayers. As I look back I realize my writing is what pulled me through and helped me to help others in the family.

    • I’m glad you wrote. Who knows, one day your writings may be used to help others. A lot of the memoir I wrote, such as the dream I posted in this exercise came from reading a few old journals I found from my past. I am glad that your faith and writing pulled you through

    • I know what you mean. There are times I feel strong emotions like hurt, anger, sadness and every time I journal my thoughts I kind of reach a solution or conclusion…it is as though all the answers are already within me, waiting to unfold in the form of written words.
      Keep writing…..I am sure it will be a masterpiece!!

  • Holli K.

    This article has so much truth. Thank you for sharing. My practice is from a journal entry this character is writing about her future husband.

    My heart feels fragile today. It’s not that I don’t trust you when you say that our relationship comes first. Maybe I’m just a little afraid of it all—this whole marriage, lifetime commitment thing. What if we are choosing wrong?

    What if the way we feel today is not the way we feel tomorrow?

    It seems our dreams and values have been in line so far, but now, now you seem to be changing things. What if this causes turmoil between us? Even worse—what if I cause you to give up on something you really want to do?

    I hadn’t considered another path until today. You are the one and always have been, it seems. Did I rush it, though? Did I get in over my head?

    Oh but there really is no other way. If not you, then my heart could never go through this again. Real love can cause you to go a little crazy, I suppose, to ache at your very core. It is beautiful while at the same time the scariest thing I’ve ever encountered.

    This is what goes through my mind today, just three months away from the day we will walk down the aisle and make that lasting commitment. Maybe it’s normal to question the very thing in which you’ve never been more certain.

    If my heart has to be so vulnerable, you seem a worthy cause. But today, please be careful with me, today.

    • I LOVE this – how beautifully you have captured the conflict in emotions between being in love and being scared of loss!! Great writing!!!

    • Von Rupert

      Oh boy, do I feel this one! You portray those feelings of fear, uncertainty, vulnerability so well that it transcends the story. I think anyone making a lifechanging decision could read this and say, “Yes! That’s how it feels.”

    • mariannehvest

      This so clearly states the way many young brides to be or young brides feel. All of the worries and questions are stated clearly. She seems to be very much at the mercy of love, wanting it to offer security and stability at least for the moment. I enjoyed reading this just after the one above in which the old married couple are going through the motions of life together but apart in a way. Together they point out how changing love is and how constant is can be too.

    • The venue, a character writing in her journal, is perfect to express the character’s doubts and fears about the relationship. The topics covered are ones that most brides fear and hope about. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Wow really nice. I can totally relate to this. I went through similar emotions just before my marriage. Good writing.

  • (I wrote the following this a.m. in light of the tragedy in Connecticut and because O Holy Night is my favorite Christmas song.)

    Long lies the world, in sin and error,
    Pining, even after He appeared.
    Feel your worth.
    Fall on your knees.
    Hear the angel voices.
    On a night divine…
    When you are reborn.

  • mariannehvest

    When I last looked at him on Saturday, he was lying in bed with his head flung back on the pillow and his chin jutting out. His eyes were dark and sunken, ringed by dark blue-black-purple skin, but those dark rings had a glittering light and I saw that he knew both who I was, and where he was. He’s angry because he’s still here I thought.

    Yesterday his mother, my sister called. She said that we weren’t allowed to see him again. She said there was an agreement between my nephew and his wife. The agreement had been for his wife not to let people see him when he was no longer able to hold his water. Only the preacher can come to visit now. My sister has seen her son for the last time. He is fifty-one. She is sad, she says but needs to keep busy.

    We will go and see my niece. We will have a Christmas dinner. We will make cookies and pies and bar-b-que and ham. We will clean. We will wrap. We will wait here in this season when the layer between here and eternity is so thin.

    • Oh there is so much sadness in this – not being able to see her son, but I love how the family helps keep the mom busy. You showed so much in these few paragraphs. The angst of the son, who is fading and wants to no longer be in his body, and wants dignity. The pain of the mom wanting to see her son, and now only the preacher can visit. The whole family waiting – and eternity is so thin. The other image I got (even though not written) is that for all of us, eternity is thin – our seventy or eighty years pales in the face of eternity. Well done.

      • mariannehvest

        Thanks Heather.

    • Very vivid – Made me recall my own experience with the passing of my mom October a year ago, and my wife’s dad who died from Parkinson’s a few years before that.

      • mariannehvest

        Thank you.

    • Sad and Beautiful xx

      • mariannehvest

        Thanks Kate

    • Sad and Beautiful xx

    • You can feel the helplessness of his mother and appreciate her strength to go on with life. Good writing !!

      • mariannehvest

        Thank you. I appreciate your reading and commenting.

    • I like your last paragraph. Especially the last sentence.

      • mariannehvest

        Thank you. That is one of those lines that just flips into your mind already written.

  • At 5:30 exactly, Philip opens the door to his office and I stand, feeling like I’m marching to my execution. He flicks on the white noise machine while I walk over to my usual chair and settle in. My heart is thumping and I bite the inside of my mouth so hard I taste blood. The pain helps me focus.

    “I had a horrible dream last night.” I say in a rush, wanting to get it over
    with. “I dreamed I was a little girl walking home from school. I was attacked by a gang, raped and set on fire. I was able to smother the flames and ran to a mother who lived on the street, but she wasn’t my mother. This woman took me in, but didn’t take care of me. She didn’t give me medicine for my burns or wash my smoky clothes. After that, I change into a boy who has a little sister, and we try to get away from the mother. We find a friendly woman who chases the mother off and helps
    us escape. My little sister says she wants no pictures of herself. I give her a Sony Walkman so she doesn’t have to hear the rapists’ jeers.”

    I hold my breath, waiting to see his reaction.

    Philip scratches a few notes on his yellow legal pad, but doesn’t seem disgusted. “This has elements of your previous dream about being a boy in a mental hospital
    getting comfort from a therapist. I’m curious, what does a Walkman mean to you?”

    Thank God, he’s not disgusted. I think for a moment. “Alienation, isolated in my own world, a way to numb out and hide.” An image crosses my mind and I gasp.

    “What?”

    I take a deep breath. “I remembered a prayer I said as a little girl. I figured I could sneak it by God if I said it underneath some other words. Oh, I know this sounds crazy. I sang, ‘Mary had a little lamb,’ while under my breath I said, ‘I hate my mother, I wish she were dead.’ I totally forgot about that.”

    “I’m not surprised you were angry with her. Just like in your dream, your mother
    didn’t protect you.”

    A tear trickles down my cheek and drips onto my hand. “Please, I can’t think about being angry.” My voice sounds like a little girl’s. I reach for a Kleenex and crumple it in my palm, spinning the corner into a thread between my fingers.

    “I was thinking, you gave that little girl, your inner self, a walk – man.” He
    emphasizes the man. “Only as a boy could you think about defending yourself or blotting out the jeers. Your mom had you believing you were a defenseless little girl. Yet, you knew Howard had the knife under his pillow and wasn’t attacked sexually.”

    “Makes sense.” My tears are way too close to the surface.

    “You know it’s okay to cry in here.”

    “I can’t. Controlling my emotions is the only defense I had from my father’s abuse. Even though I couldn’t stop him from doing what he did, I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing how much he was hurting me. As long as I hid my real feelings, my father wouldn’t be able to use my hurt against me. I’m still afraid.
    If people see what I really feel, I could get hurt. Or worse, no one would reach out to help me.”

    “Like the mom in the dream?”

    “Yeah.”

    “But you got away from her and found someone to help.”

    “Oh, my God.” Shouldn’t have said that.

    “What?” Philip crosses his legs and settles back in his seat.

    “As long as my dad didn’t know what I was feeling, he couldn’t violate me on the inside, no matter what he did to my body. But I didn’t do anything to stop him and I should have.” Speak calmer.

    “What could you have done?”

    “Told him to stop.”

    “You said that would have cost you your life.”

    “That’s the problem. I said I wanted to die, but obviously I didn’t. I never fought him off or spoke up. If I really wanted to die, why didn’t I say something? I’m worse
    than them.”

    “Seems to me, you’re punishing yourself for wanting to live? You were a little girl
    and it was natural to protect yourself.”

    “That’s no excuse, I should have stopped him.”

    “Even now you want to live. The pain you’re facing now will lead to a better future.”

    “I’ll believe that when I see it. I’m sorry, I didn’t want that to come out so mean. I just can’t hope yet.”

    On my way home, I want to cry, but bury my emotions. Jim and I are going out to dinner and he doesn’t need to see me this upset. Is Philip right? Am I making progress? Is there really hope? Maybe it isn’t my fault.

    • Holli Keaton

      This is so well done. I really appreciate the honesty of the struggle here. Whether it’s sexual abuse or something else, we all face these doubts and have to realize more and more things about our situations until we finally heal. Great piece!

      • Thank you. This therapist was one of the best ones for helping me sort out a lot of things I didn’t want to face. Fortunately healing is possible.

    • mariannehvest

      The details in this are so well remembered. The part about saying I wish my mother would die “under” another line is remarkable. What a way for a child to be able to figure a way around a horrible dilemma. Amazing.

    • Beautifully written. I could feel the pain the little girl is in and the hate she feels for her mother. The ending shows there is hope of a better future.
      Crafted well…good work !!

  • As a pastor (or like any compassionate person) I wish I could fix people. It would make ministry so much easier if I could give everyone their 3 step plan and their struggles would just disappear.

    Yesterday the senior pastor and I had to meet with a young man who was aggressively creating an unhealthy culture within the church. He used to date a young lady who leads one of our ministries. The relationship came to an end. She did not handle it well, and was highly agitated when around the man. He insisted
    on staying active in the ministry she led. We asked him to give her some space and find other areas to volunteer. However, he continued to press and insisted that we force her let him help. He eventually used social media to subtly attack the leadership and the church. Oddly he still wanted to be part of the church, he just wanted his way. No matter what decision we made someone would get upset.

    During our meeting, we had to present requirements he would need to meet in order to still attend our church. He admitted to nothing wrong, and decided to
    leave. That afternoon he made one final parting shot via social media.

    At the end of day, there were no winners. There was no sense of relief, or “I am glad that is over.” I still feel the grief of wishing we could have resolved the issue with him still being an active part of our ministry. But that was not to be. Now the questions flood my mind on what could I have done differently? Was I wrong? What if I would have done xyz instead? As leaders we had to come to a decision we felt would be best and move forward. All I can do now is pray that the time will show that this was best for all involved.

    • Holli K.

      Oh, the many woes of leadership…especially church leadership. I have been, not in this situation, but in ones that this one makes me feel. Well done.

    • madrugada

      You were right. A group can’t function safely if its members don’t respect one another’s boundaries.

    • Relationships in groups are so hard to deal with. My pastor often has to put out fires of discontent among members, it is a tough job. Yet there are winners, for each encounter (positive or negative) does show a person where they are at. It may take years down the road to see it, but these encounters do help a person to grow. Sorry that the person had to fight back with social media. Kinda puts me in mind of Solomon with the two women claiming a baby was theirs – very hard to, without the help of God, sort out the situation.

    • mariannehvest

      What a difficult situation. You in the ministry really have some tough problems but just from what you said, it sounds like the young man was a bit of a narcissist and would have continued to be a problem if he had stayed. Maybe he will come back changed one day and can be accepted back.

    • Dear Sir,
      I feel you have done your best. And I am sure time will prove it to you. The prodigal son will return one day when he learns his mistake.

  • madrugada

    Selecting the right phrase is difficult. You have to read someone. Really study the presentation of their body. Are their shoulders raised or relaxed? Can you see the muscles in their jaw in flex? How long are they holding eye contact? How close to fists are their hands? How many inches of space are there between you? How quickly are those inches closing?

    Remember to be quick. Extended eye contact can be passed off as concern, and while there’s a willingness in most people to attribute silence to deep thought, past a certain point even the less perceptive will start to prickle with the sense of your scheming. Buy time. Repeat the question back to them in a measured, even tone. Or, if you know you’ll need an unusual number of minutes, texture your voice with vulnerability. Insert subtle hesitations.

    “Do I… want you to leave?”

    Consider, first, their capacity for violence. Self-preservation is of the utmost importance. Take mental stock of their criminal history, access to weapons, relationships with the opposite and same sex. Remember the pistol they keep in their bedroom. Remember the seam of a very old knife wound, knit just below their shoulder. If you can frame things in the “I” form, do it. Avoid accusation.

    “I think” (‘Think’ is good. ‘Think’ lays the groundwork for future uncertainty.) “I just need some time alone. Just a day or two.”

    Now, listen.

    “If I leave now, I’m not coming back. Ever. That’s fucking it. You will never see me again. I’ll take everything I ever gave to you and I will walk out of here with it. You will never see or hear from me again.”

    Process the extreme nature of those words. Try to determine the truth behind them. Call character into account here. Is this person prone to making threats? (Yes). Are you worried they’ll hurt themselves? (Yes). Is it worth an extension of your suffering to placate this individual? (Yes). Will you be able to reason with them once they calm down? (Maybe).

    “Why does it have to be forever?” You say. “Can you just give me some time alone to think, please?”

    Prepare yourself for a demand for decision.

    “What is there to think about? Do you want me to leave or NOT?”

    Fold your hand. Relinquish your chips.

    “…not if you’re going to leave forever.”

    “Tell me that you love me, then.”

    Consider what this means. Feel the shape of the manipulation. Know that you will not be allowed to operate in any framework but this broken one as long as you say yes. Watch, carefully, their body language. Watch their hands.

    “I love you.”

    Ask yourself if this is worth your safety. If this moment of quiet has been purchased at too great an expense. Study, again, the creature before you. Take notes on this exchange, even knowing that you’ll lose them. Lie awake until sunrise. Sleep only when they leave. Wake at midnight, exhausted, and do it all again.

    • Wow, what a great portrayal of what goes on in a person’s mind during an encounter. This probably takes just a few seconds, but we process so much information. Hopefully with these clues one can learn to act and not react to a situation. The hardest was the last interaction about leaving forever – sometimes not saying things can save us in the end. LOL re the moment of quiet. Even in the midst of the noise of life, sometimes when I wish moments of quiet, I think twice – for it could stretch to long periods of undesired quiet. Well done piece of writing.

    • mariannehvest

      I like the tone of this like a textbook but with the dialogue that makes the menace seem very close. Well done.

    • Wow. This is so powerful. Really, really good.

    • When i read it i felt that this is a woman who is putting up with domestic violence. I could picture it so clearly. I felt my own body tense. Great job!! Well written, every word, every sentence creates a picture.

  • Baking can be therapeutic they say.

    But for me it is traumatic.

    I finally spot a recipe that requires minimum amount of skill. It is a basic pound cake recipe. I can get this correct, after all it is basic.

    I am seated on the floor with my legs criss-crossed, and a fat book on backing lay opened on my lap. I am on Page 25, ‘Basic Pound Cake’. So instead of baking a plum cake for Christmas I chose this one.

    Why you might ask. Aren’t Plum Cakes easy to bake; besides that’s what everyone bakes on Christmas Eve?

    Sure they are the ones that house the Christmas feel but for a baker who bakes just once a year, like me; I can’t take the risk of chopping plums, sultanas, dates, dried apricots and soaking them in some form of alcohol to ensure even distribution; only to end up with a burnt blackened mass that adorns the waste bin instead of the dining table.

    So there I have made my pick. It will be the Basic Pound Cake, Vanilla flavored. What could go wrong anyway, after all it is basic right?

    I set to work at once, vigorously beating butter and sugar.
    Then I add the eggs, the white first and then the yoke.

    I don’t have an electric beater, so this is kind of laborious.
    I wish I did, but why waste money on some equipment you will use just once a
    year. My arms hurt, but I keep at it, telling myself I am burning calories and shaping my arms in the process.

    Now I add the baking soda; then the baking powder, and mix well. I add a teaspoon of Vanilla essence, without which the cake will not qualify as Vanilla Pound Cake. Finally fold in the flour and mix to ensure there are no lumps.

    Tada….that’s it.

    ‘Pour the mixture into a greased baking tin and leave it in the oven to bake for 30 – 35 minutes’ says the instructions, so I obey. After all while baking we shouldn’t improvise, at-least people like me shouldn’t.

    I set the timer and promise myself not to open the oven till it is 20min. minimum. No, not even peeking.

    I pick up a book, Eat Pray Love and settle on the sofa. Elizabeth Gilbert is in Paris, enjoying her spaghetti and pizza…..but I can’t seem to imagine her doing it. My mind is envisioning the end product in the oven instead.

    So I close the book and turn on the CD player to listen to some Christmas Carols. The song playing is “Mary’s Boy Child” by Bony M.

    Oh! I love this one.

    “Mary’s Boy Child Jesus Christ…Cake…on Christmas Day…..Cake….Long time ago…Cake…..the Holy Bible says…Cake…Mary’s Boy…..Cake…..born on Christmas Day”

    I can’t seem to turn off the “Cake” from popping up in between the lyrics.

    “Should I look? Just take a peek maybe. Just to make sure it is rising…..But no, no, no it has just been like 5 min. now”.

    Relax….Breathe…..Calm down.

    “What could go wrong anyway? It is just a simple pound cake. You can bake that properly, no doubt” says the optimist in me.

    “Oh! Really, well a lot of things could go wrong….like it won’t rise….the bottom could get burnt….the cake could collapse in the middle” says the pessimistic me.

    The Optimist: Just because it happened once doesn’t mean it will happen again.

    The Pessimist: That’s true, only thing it has happened every time you try to bake.

    “Will you both just shut up?”

    I walk up to the oven a take a peek. The cake seems to be doing alright.

    “Of course it is…. it has just been like 15 minutes” says the pessimist.

    And so it continues………

    They say baking is therapeutic and I say “No, Journaling is.”

    It has been 30 minutes now….let me go check on that cake!!

  • An old song, if you consider going back to the 70’s, as ancient is “Love Hurts,”
    by a group called of all things, “Nazareth.” It describes a bitter breakup of a
    young couple. The beginning lyrics though came back to me today, haunting and
    capturing the feelings I have when I think of the young Innocents at Sandy Hook
    Elementary.

    Love hurts
    Love scars
    Love wounds and mars
    Any
    heart, not tough,
    or strong enough,
    to take a lot of pain
    Love is like
    a cloud,
    holds a lot of rain…

    All I can think of is the agony of the
    parents of Newtown, CT.

    So many questions. So many thoughts.

    My
    grief is only superficial. My experience as a stranger…only
    vicarious.

    Over the last 3 days, I wake up with a brick on my chest. I
    ponder the 27 year old teacher who died a martyr. Would I have the courage to do
    the same?

    The lead in my chest may weigh heavy but it doesn’t come close
    to what I imagine these poor parents are feeling.

    How much more can we
    stand? How long will the Lord tarry?

    Why does God allow free will? Why is
    that built into our gene pool?

    Where were these kids’ guardian
    angels?

    Did not one parent pray for safety or swipe the sign of the cross
    with a wetted finger of Holy Water across the forehead as their son or daughter
    walked out the door that morning?

    It’s hard to fathom that God would
    allow this.

    Where is the grace? Is it through suffering?

    Is it the
    laws of our land visiting their results upon our children? How
    unfair.

    When will we take responsibility?

    Then there is the issue
    of the guy with the gun. We won’t ever know here on earth the mental anguish he
    endured throughout his young life.

    I live very close to this with a son
    born on the Autism spectrum.

    The disorder itself is not mental
    insanity.

    Unfortunately, there are secondary side dishes that accompany
    an otherwise full entree of the disorder of Autism itself.

    Here are a
    few: Depression, Anxiety, Cognitive processing issues, Fixation, Alienation,
    Isolation, and a whole host of physical health problems that may serve as just
    desserts.

    Those of you who are close to my family know what we deal with
    and how it affects all of us– namely my son.

    I don’t know the family
    dynamics of the killer from CT. I do know that 80% of all marriages where there
    is a child with a disability end in divorce.

    People aren’t made for
    hardship. When life gets difficult, they tend to bail.

    This young man’s
    mother was missing a husband and a father to protect her and her son.

    This is our society today.

    Oh, and the guns?! His
    Mom’s!!!!

    Why weren’t they locked up in a safe that only she had the
    keys?!

    There is all kinds of wrong here.

    All I can say as a voyeur
    on this tragedy is that in my own life, I’ve never been prepared for suffering.
    Except maybe childbirth. I knew what that entailed.

    In free will if I
    think of myself, I only have control over myself. But I do have
    control.

    My thoughts, words, and actions.

    What a great influence,
    if I choose right over wrong.

    The following is a passage I found written
    by the venerable, Fulton J. Sheen.

    In the light of this horrific event,
    it is a hard truth.

    But, so far, what I have heard, these words only,
    make sense.

    [Mary’s] sacrifice… gave courage to
    those whose burdens are heavier than their pleasures—to those who have children
    destined for death when they are hardly launched on the sea of life, to those
    who find their love’s surrender betrayed and…

    even despised. If Our Lord allowed Mary to suffer
    the trials that even the most grieved mother could suffer—such as to have her
    Son pursued by the totalitarian soldiers at two years of age, to be a refugee in
    a foreign country, to point to a Father’s business that would end in death, to
    be arrested falsely, to be condemned by His own people, and to suffer the
    taking-off in the prime of life—it was in order to convince mothers with sorrows
    that trials without pleasures and that the final issues of life are not solved
    here below. If the Father gave His Son a Cross and the Mother a sword, then
    somehow sorrow does fit into the Divine plan of life. If Divine Innocence and
    His Mother, who was a sinless creature, both underwent agonies, it cannot be
    that life is a snare and a mockery, but rather it is made clear that love and
    sorrow often go together in this life and that only in the next life is sorrow
    left behind.

    [Mary’s] sacrifice… gave courage to
    those whose burdens are heavier than their pleasures—to those who have children
    destined for death when they are hardly launched on the sea of life, to those
    who find their love’s surrender betrayed and…

    even despised. If Our Lord allowed Mary to suffer
    the trials that even the most grieved mother could suffer—such as to have her
    Son pursued by the totalitarian soldiers at two years of age, to be a refugee in
    a foreign country, to point to a Father’s business that would end in death, to
    be arrested falsely, to be condemned by His own people, and to suffer the
    taking-off in the prime of life—it was in order to convince mothers with sorrows
    that trials without pleasures and that the final issues of life are not solved
    here below. If the Father gave His Son a Cross and the Mother a sword, then
    somehow sorrow does fit into the Divine plan of life. If Divine Innocence and
    His Mother, who was a sinless creature, both underwent agonies, it cannot be
    that life is a snare and a mockery, but rather it is made clear that love and
    sorrow often go together in this life and that only in the next life is sorrow
    left behind.

  • Lis

    I really enjoyed this article. When i am really upset or angry with someone I write a letter or email. This helps me to flush out my feeling and gives me a greater perspective. By the end of my writing I feel heard in a strange way and am almost never angry anymore. I pretty much never end up sending what I have written to the person.

  • Never mind “heal”… what about writing helping us to “evolve”? Arguably, we are all wounded, but from wherever we are, we can grow into our higher nature. Yes, my argument might be just a matter of semantics — and I appreciate your points — but I’m on a mission to downplay our “woundedness”. Evolution speaks of moving forward, not backward. What say ye?

    • Oh I don’t know PJ. I’ve spent so long downplaying my woundedness till my writing just feels distant. It’s only “recovered” because I’ve been forcing myself to be anguished instead of bouncing straight to anger or going into Pollyanna happiness.

      • Audrey… It sounds like you’re doing the right thing for yourself. Perhaps I see all this “healing” as “evolution”… and I chose to use the latter concept. The main immediate difference i can see is that “evolution” might be embracing a larger perspective. Evolution would put one’s healing in a framework that includes everyone. I’m trying to move away from my problems being so central. My problems exist as part of humanity’s folly. Anyway… big subject. Thanks for your comment.

    • Interesting point, PJ. I do believe culture, and story, specifically, plays a part in evolutionary adaptation, although I don’t know if I could articulate that point much. I do reflection (backward looking) is an important part of evolving. But what I think you’re getting at is a narcissistic navel-gazing at our wounds rather than the kind of reflection that can move us forward. We need to grieve, but you can easily get stuck there and turn it into a ploy for attention.