Write it Out, Get it Out

17 May 2022

These days, I’m sober – you can read about my journey to sobriety in my blog of 2nd February this year – but I still belong to a Facebook group for those who want to quit. I hope I can give those struggling hope and some helpful advice from one year, three months and 15 days of sobriety.

Last night, one woman wrote a very long post. She has a stressful job, and everything had gone wrong yesterday; she is in the middle of construction on her house and came home to find the contractors had made a big mistake in the work; the hardest thing was dealing with the news from her husband’s doctor: her husband has a serious heart condition and could suffer a fatal heart attack at any time.

She wrote that she has no support group and that, newly sober, she was fighting the desire to drink – to make it all go away for a while.

I saw her post just a few minutes after it went up. She had already received several supporting comments. Her reply to the first was illuminating. She said, “Thank you so much; I already feel better for just getting it all out.”

They say a trouble shared is a trouble halved. I’m not quite sure about that, but certainly women in particular process emotion by talking about it. I process emotion by writing. Either way, it is putting into words our feelings. Once defined by words, the feelings seem to have less power to distress us.

When I attended a recent workshop entitled “Overwhelm,” we were encouraged to get the overwhelm out of our heads on onto paper. Once all our concerns are written down, they become much easier to manage.

As I write this, I am sitting at the kitchen counter in my parents-in-law’s house, which we are selling. I’m at the kitchen counter because there is nowhere else to sit: all the tables have been taken away by a charity. The men from the charity are here now, loading up the white goods and the rest of the furniture they think they can sell. Now begins the mammoth task of cleaning. The only way to deal with this immense project is by writing down all the tasks and creating lists. And lists. And – sigh – more lists.

Once everything is down on paper, it suddenly seems more manageable. Once all the stresses of one’s day and life are written out, they stop churning around in one’s mind like squirrels in a cage.

Most of you already know that I live my life by lists; it’s the only way I can cope.

Do you find it helps to get it all out, or do the thoughts, emotions and overwhelm plague you even more for being written down in black and white?


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