Thursday, May 21, 2009
Today's guest blogger is Elizabeth Walker, author of the memoir, The Tablet of My Heart.
The world turns upside down for a young girl when her father begins a fatal battle with the merciless affliction cancer. Before his illness finishes its devastating rampage through her adolescence, she is confronted by a new demon. She falls victim, by the hands of a trusted adult, to sexual abuse. The devastation of these events causes her to question God’s role in her life, and whether He ever loved her at all. The Tablet of My Heart is a collection of poetry from the journal of that young girl. It is narrated by the author of the journal herself, who paints a portrait of words illustrating her emotional journey from hopelessness to healing. It is dedicated to victims of abuse; to bring to them the realization of hope that there is a light at the end of the silence.
You can visit Elizabeth online at www.tabletofmyheart.net.
The Healing Abilities of Poetry and Journaling
So often healing comes through means we never expect. As a matter of fact, I think that generally people in the midst or even at the tail end of devastation think that healing just never comes. That is what I thought at the beginning of my journey. Healing could not possibly be strong enough to devour this pain.
I did not decide to keep a journal to heal. As a matter of fact, I didn’t decide to keep a journal at all, my journal kind of …happened to me. I feared trusting anyone with the filthy, dark, ugly secret that I was harboring. The secret of sexual abuse. The problem was that the weight of the sexual abuse was boiling up from the very pit of my eight-year-old soul and threatening to spill over if I didn’t let it out. That pain, in conjunction with the death of my father (my father was not my abuser), which came shortly after the abuse began, left me in a state of absolute loss, confusion and loneliness. Without the strength to overcome the fears associated with telling on my abuser, in a state of absolute desperation I turned to ink and paper. In doing so I accidentally found a counselor and friend.
Every time I wrote, every time the ink spilled out of my pen into that journal a little bit of pain spilled out of me. I didn’t exactly recognize that what I was doing (writing) was helping me until later – but what I did know was that when I wrote I was able, in that little instant, to sort through my feelings and fears without consequence. No fear of judgment, no fear of being called a liar, no fear of being viewed as bad or being accused of overreacting, just no fear. The secrets that I told my journal were raw, they were without restraint or stutter because I knew that I could trust those pages.
The process was similar to painting a picture. When a painting begins, it just looks like paint on a canvas without form or purpose. But the more you paint, the clearer the picture becomes. My journal illustrated my pain for me. Of course it couldn’t be seen by looking at only one or two entries, but as more and more words fell out of my heart onto the pages, often in the form of poetry, I found myself looking at a portrait that explained the reasons for my emotions and gave me clarity.
My journal entries and poetry walked me through the pain of the loss of my father step by step, from the anger and confusion that knocks you to the ground when you experience the death of a loved one, to the memories of him where I was eventually able to find comfort. My writings helped me determine that I needed to tell someone about the sexual abuse, because writing gave me the priceless opportunity to dissect the pain in order to learn what I had to do to get rid of it.
The same way that a shaken soda pop explodes when you remove the lid, or a steaming pot boils over onto the hot burner, a person’s emotions are real even if not tangible and they will eventually become uncontainable without a way to release pressure as it builds – and will most certainly become tangible in the havoc they can wreak when they explode. Writing was my "release valve". As I said in my book, The Tablet of My Heart, "There is no doubt in my mind that it was God who chose the gift (the tablet that became my journal) His timing is beautiful." The healing abilities that my journal and the poetry I wrote in it had in my life during my most difficult hours are immeasurable. I will cherish this friendship, as even to this day my pen and paper have never betrayed me.