7 ways to use writing for healing

yesterday i talked about the book writing yourself home. as i mentioned, it uses excerpts from women’s writings – some well-known, some not – to illustrate how we can use writing and journaling as a way of healing and self-discovery.

here is one that i found interesting, about “matrophobia”, by ellen amber from her work how i got from there to here.

until i entered therapy, i thought i hated my mother because she set herself up to be first a victim, then a martyr. later i realized it wasn’t my mother i hated but my own capacity to become her.

i saw how much of my life had gone into acting as differently from her as possible. unconsciously, i’d keep my apartment messy, be terribly disorganized, or run late in contra-distinction to her excessive neatness, order and tendency to arrive early. but i wasn’t free of her, i wasn’t actualizing myself, but simply becoming her opposite, her mirror image.

it took me a long time to face the fact that i used anger (usually righteous) to shield my real feelings, and that my beloved hatred masked the terror of giving into my pull towards her. in my panic, i felt i had to reject her completely in order to purge from my very bones what she had transmitted to me about being a woman.

kimberley snow, the author of writing yourself home, then suggests these exercises:

  • describe a matrophobic response: yours, a friend’s, your daughter’s.
  • make a list of all the ways you and your mother are similar.
  • make another list of how you are different.

there are endless more possibilities. here are a few i could think of right off the bat:

  • write about what it might be like for your mother to observe you acting so differently from her.
  • remember an incidence where your mother acted in a way that you disliked very much. now write about that incidence, only with your mother acting in the opposite way.
  • think about some of the rules that your mother had. invent a little fairy tale about how she came to acquire these rules.
  • write out a dialogue in which you teach your mother new, more loving rules.

can you think of more ideas?

(p.s. kimberley snow just let me know that she has a web site about writing yourself home and writing yourself well. thanks!)

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

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