Cheryl Benadie

Author, Speaker, Change Agent

“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.” – Christina Baldwin

I witnessed my father beat up my mother from the time I could remember. Living with that monster of fear has a way of stuffing your voice so far down to the far corners of your soul that there is no air left when you do try to speak.

It was no surprise that I had a severe stutter in high school and felt like I was a stranger in my own life. The only escape I had was any world that a book took me to, and my imagination helped me to be a brave member of the Famous Five, or the miraculous Matilda who had incredible power to recreate her reality, or the woman desired in any of the romance novels I read.

My first journal gave me the air to breathe. When we had to stifle our terror, I felt a slow release as I saw the words – my words ­­­– form on the page. I was so reserved as a teenager that some of my uncles thought it was a waste of time for me to study Communication and thought that I should become a librarian instead.

Journaling was a way that I could fight back.

I wasn’t judged for my anger (that I couldn’t express in healthy ways), there was no shame for my sadness. The page was always there – ready, waiting – a breathing room for me to find the air to fill my lungs again.

Over the years, I’ve amassed countless journals and they’ve even morphed into online versions. I’ve even become more sophisticated with my journaling by separating it into different sections, so that I can continue to be an avid student of my own life.

I’ve made the mistake of trying to convince people to start journaling and now accept that most people are scared to write. They think they need to be a world renowned author in order to write in secret. They fear that they aren’t smart enough, don’t have the ‘right’ words or wouldn’t know where to start.

What they’re really sayings is: “I’m scared. I’m scared to look into the mirror of me – because I probably won’t like what I see.”

I get that. Reflecting on what you’re feeling and trying to uncover why you’re feeling it is messy. And often ugly. What most people don’t realise is that that once they push past that initial yuckiness, there is a strange and alluding beauty that unfolds.

You begin to really see yourself.

You see all the labels that has been pasted onto you by family, society, culture etc and then realise “oh wait, I have some choices here.” You come face to face with your own loneliness, you stare into the tenderness of your own vulnerability and begin to desire to keep yourself safe.

Over time, the mystery of love begins to unfold and you realise how unfair it is to expect anyone else on this planet to love you when you don’t love yourself fully yet. Your brain and heart start to do a silent dance, even when you’re not writing, simply because you’re learning to pay attention.

You’ll be standing in a queue and all of a sudden understand why you’re buying this particular item today. And then decide you no longer need it because your inner child is actually ok now and doesn’t need to be placated.

You’ll catch yourself in the middle of an argument with your spouse and realise that he’s actually on your side and you just need to explain things from a different perspective.

One day, you might even smile at yourself in the mirror while washing your hands – and really mean it.

Writing hasn’t helped me to put the pieces of a broken life back together – it’s helped me see that I started out on this journey of life whole, perfect and complete. And I can always live, love and work from a place of wholeness, because who I am is part of the mystery of love that I can choose to enjoy every day.

So, I’m not going to try to convince you that journaling is a good idea – you already know it is. I’m simply going to invite you to look into the mirror of you, because I have a feeling that you will learn to love what you see.

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