Whenever my path is forcing change on me, I find solace in my journal.
The ‘nine years’ as I call them — 29, 39, 49, have all been times I turned inward and wrote. I’d been writing fairly steadily since I’d turned 29. Most of it was self-indulgent whining that never seemed to change. Looking back now I see that I didn’t understand and didn’t want to learn the lessons I was being given, so I just kept repeating the story. Looking back now, I think my growth was fairly typical of my age and time.
But I remember when I truly began to pour my heart into my journal.
It was in late 2002 when my mother was dying of breast cancer in the Palliative Care ward of Saint Mary’s Hospital.
One of my sisters and I had gone away for the weekend to my favorite place, Long Beach at Tofino, BC. It’s a wild, crazy chaotic, mystical spot on the far west coast of Canada that touches my soul to this day. We came back to news that Mom was not doing well and she was going into emergency at the hospital. When I got there, everything I had put aside on that glorious November weekend came hurtling back into my life.
I wasn’t ready to see my mom in the hospital and in fact, I nearly passed out when I saw her. She was drugged for the pain caused by the cancer’s spread to her bones. She wasn’t really coherent, but there she was in a yellow hospital gown and I knew it was real. This was it, the mother that I was finally understanding and getting to know, was dying.
I knew I wouldn’t leave her there to wake up all alone, scared and disoriented. I already had my clothes and everything I needed to stay and the nurses were kind enough to bring in a cardiac recliner (which is not nearly as comfortable as it sounds) and a blanket. There was nothing to read, except a Bible, and there was no way I was reading that.
The only thing I could use for distraction was my journal I’d brought with me to Tofino. So I pulled it out and started writing about things. Nothing too heavy. I circled around the pain, but found the simple act of the looping letters joining together to form words comforted and calmed me. I fell into a light sleep.
At some point, Mom woke up. “You stayed!” She said it with such surprise and gratitude, I knew it was the right thing for both of us. I asked her if she’d like me to read to her. My mother was a devout Catholic, so I knew how much she’d appreciate hearing the comforting words from the Bible. So I read from the Old Testament until she fell asleep.
After Mom was moved into palliative care at Saint Mary’s, my journal was my constant companion. I had moved into my parents place so that I could be with my dad, who was in the middle stages of Alzheimers disease and very confused by time and Mom being gone. I visited Mom every evening on my way home from work or took my dad into visit when work became too much.
Every time I had a moment, or there were too many people in her room visiting, I hid away in one of the quiet rooms and wrote. Pages and pages, of my fear and my tiredness and my aching for what was coming. And then I guiltily wrote how much I wanted it all to be over because I was so tired and scared and I just wanted quiet. Until it happened, of course.
That’s not exactly true… I believe with all my heart that it was because I had my journal to spill out all of my hurt, grief, fear, and sorrow that I was able to also catch the moments of stunning beauty in my mother's death. Writing my pain allowed me to be more present to her and to my family because I wasn’t so caught up in the drama and the family dynamics of everything that was happening. I am still inspired by how much grace my mother was capable of showing, even as Death came to collect her from her decaying body.
I think I would have missed so much if I hadn’t had my journal as an outlet. And I believe I would have had a much more difficult time processing my grief for the mother that was had been both my most challenging relationship and my most steadfast.
For several years after she passed, I was a serious journaler, writing, taking writing courses, and then I finally mustered the courage to break free and moved onto my new life.Eventually, I stopped, more or less, until the next crisis came 15 years later.
But that’s another story for another day.
HERE’S WHAT I KNOW TO BE TRUE
When you write in your journal it’s not always going to be choirs of angels singing inspirations, Aha! Moments, and understandings. Sometimes it’s going to be drivel and mind chatter that will make you bored and restless and want to give up.
It’s supposed to be this way.
Keep circling around that tender spot in your life, whatever it is — the loss of a loved one, a job, a life that you have outgrown — or someone who hurt you so bad you feel like your life rests on a crumbling foundation. Eventually, there will be a crack big enough for you to slip into and shine the light of understanding.
Sometimes we’ve got to write the driveling, sniveling, boring stuff that makes us want to scream to wear a groove deep enough in our life to expose that raw nerve and get to the truth of what really matters.
The journal is not your judge or jury. It is simply a vessel that holds the words that flow from your pen. You can go back to the same story as many times as you need to spiral around the truth. There is no friend I know who can do that for you, to give you the space you need to find your way while still hanging onto your every word.
When you find that crack, I promise you, you WILL be ready to hear what your heart needs you to know. It may not be easy to hear, but you WILL keep moving forward — with your heart lighting the way.
I CAN HELP YOU
If you’re stuck in a life that doesn’t fill you up with passion and make you greet each day with a smile — the question is, are you ready to do something about it?
If you are willing to take a deep dive into learning who you truly are, Writing From the Heart is the place to begin.
Writing From the Heart Live & Interactive is a 3-hour journey into the deep.
You’ll meet with me in a private video room where you and a small group (no more than 8 people per cocoon of love) will be able to talk to me and each other as we learn how to quiet our minds, listen to our hearts and write what it has to say. It’s a powerful and moving experience.
Working with me live in a gentle loving environment that I call a Cocoon of Love, you will feel safe, unjudged, and gently nudged to do what you may not dare to do on your own.
Each Writing From the Heart workshop is about 3-hours long, and you’ll be working with a small group of people that you will very quickly discover become your biggest fans. We share and encourage and support each other. This is why it becomes a Cocoon of Love.
Being together live — sharing, hearing, and witnessing each other is incredibly affirming. You’ll discover that your cocoon-mates, even if they don’t share your exact story will understand your fear and pain because they have their own.
Two LIVE opportunities each month
I’m going back to the basics of journal writing, renewing my commitment to helping you to heal your old stories, so that you can write a new life and discover the zest for living it, instead of watching it pass you by.
Being a journal writer is not about being a good writer. It’s about being a good listener and the live experience is the best way I’ve ever found to connect to your heart. I’ve missed it in my pre-recorded video courses. I’ve also discovered so many of you don’t have the confidence to start. I’m here for you!
Click the button below for more information about the course, and how to enroll.
kathy mercure is a storyhealer, storylistener, and storyteller. Her life’s work is to gently draw stories from her students and help them unblock their writing, find their voice, and heal their lives. Her passion is to support women and men in realizing their true identity as a valued human being, claiming their passions, and speaking their truth as they become their most authentic selves. (Photo by EagleSpirit Soul Shots)