writing process emotions

Writing to Process Your Emotions

I’m sitting in my kitchen with the door open, listening to the wind whoosh through the leaves of my neighbours’ trees, reggae playing on my Bose speaker. The sun is shining, I’ve got the house to myself, and summer surrounds me. There are a million things I could be doing right now, but I decided it was time to sit down and write. I’m writing to sift through my thoughts and let words roll themselves around in my brain. I’m writing because, despite the bright sunshine and warm weather, my thoughts are in shadow. And I’m writing because there’s some shit I’m working through, and writing out my thoughts helps me process my emotions.

The past year has been one of great change for me. My work is different (I’m splitting my time between a group dental practice here in Saskatoon and a smaller practice in North Battleford) and I’m taking steps to move into coaching in addition to practicing dentistry (I guess the most accurate description is life coaching). Upheaval has marched alongside change, and I’ve been feeling not only unsettled, but also anxious.

That anxiety has been uncomfortable, and it’s taken so much of my energy to manage it. I’m finally feeling better – less anxious, less like I’m about to slide into depression, less overwhelmed – and I have enough space to breathe and look back and assess.

What’s surprised me the most about this turbulent time is that my husband, whom I’ve known for 23 years, was not there for me in the ways I expected him to be. And that felt very much like betrayal.

It’s perhaps not fair of me to expect him to know what I need when I’m in crisis. Yet, the women around me – despite knowing many of them for a relatively short time – all seemed to be able to be there for me, supporting me in their individual ways, helping me get to the other side of a period of great anxiety and stress. My husband, who’s shared my life for over 20 years, seemed to tuck tail and turn away, leaving me stranded in shadow at the time of my greatest need.

Our relationship seems tarnished now, my husband like a stranger. I feel heartbroken, and also deeply angry at him.

I’m not sure how to get past my sadness and anger. So I’m writing. To clarify my thoughts. To crack open the darkness and shed some light onto it.

Elie Wiesel, writer, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor, said, “Out of despair, one creates. What else can one do?” For me, writing itself is cathartic, and gaining perspective also helps. Because Elie Wiesel, who lost his father, mother, and sister to the Holocaust and survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald, knew a hell of a lot more about despair than I hope I ever will.

So I’m heading out to my patio, to sip on coconut water while I read a novel and sit in the summer sun. Because, for me, despair is an indulgence, a mantle that I choose to don. My anger and sadness are still there, but they don’t get to rule me. Today, I choose light.

writing to process your emotions