Journaling has been something I have been doing since I was a little girl. Not consistently though until the last few years. My early journals were typical of a girl moving into puberty, Jr. High and High School, with talk of which boy was the cutest, drama with friends and siblings, and my dreams for the future. In High School they became much more. An outlet to describe frustrations in my family life (typical teenager complaints), a safe place to explore the larger world and my gigantic dreams which were too large and out there for most people in my life. I’m sure most people who knew me then, thought I was crazy for having such big dreams and growing up in such a small town.
After I became an adult, the journals changed again as an even more safe place to talk about my fears, sadness, guilt, shame, mistakes, anger, and dreams. When I had my first child, miscarriages, and later twins, the journals became a place to express all I had before, adding marriage troubles, and my hopes and dreams for my children.
When I moved out in June 2012 to get divorced and start a new life, I had a relatively new and thriving business. The journals became a place to work through all the changes in my life, express my fears in being a single mother and business owner, channeling my relatives and guides as I transitioned into a more authentic version of who I was. They also became a place to create many things for my business, which shifted from genealogy to WWI and WWII research, speaking, and writing.
My journaling has been so intense the last several years, so vulnerable and open, that I have personally changed a great deal, as have those around me. As we heal ourselves, others heal too, even if we are unaware it is happening. I channel the soldiers when they show up asking for help. The research and writing, and even the programs I teach, heal the living and the dead.
The journals that have shown up and gifted to me since December are also full of magic. I ask them before I write in them, what do you want from me? The last journal I filled told me I had to be more open, honest, and vulnerable about everything and share the journal with my fiancé! That was a scary concept because I don’t share my journals. Yet I knew if I could be vulnerable and authentic, and share my writing with him, I would be able to share more of myself with the world when the time was right.
Do you know what happened when he read the journal? We both healed. I didn’t die of fright or shame or guilt over anything I wrote. He didn’t head for the hills and never speak to me again. The entire process allowed me to move into a place I had never been. A very good place.
We are all works in progress. As I shift more each day into a more authentic, aware version of myself, a healer, mother, soon to be wife, daughter, friend, business owner, the people entering my reality is shifting and changing. Clients are showing up asking for military research but also so much more. I’m hearing words and phrases:
I’m looking for answers, closure, peace, healing.
Words they put into their stories when we talk include: answers, closure, peace, healing, shame, guilt, fear, anger, love, trauma, PTSD, inherited trauma, resolution, secrets, pain, and many more.
I’m trying to understand WHO my father really was. Why our relationship was as it was. WHO I am after learning all this.
These secrets were kept for so long. What do I do with them? How do I resolve the past and understand?
Would you please write a summary of my dad’s service to be read at his military funeral?
At least a few of my new clients are journaling about their lives, families, trauma (both their own and inherited), and research on their family members. Some of them use journaling to understand the past to heal it and themselves. Others use it to also record their journey through the research, the questions and answers, and healing, in preparation to write a book or walk in Europe where their soldier walked (and often died.)
When we think of genealogical or military research, we often focus only on the research and adding information to our family tree. Too often we choose not to write anything. It becomes a single short fact in a tree or database.
What would happen if we had a journal dedicated to our research? A safe place to document our progress, questions, answers, hidden family secrets, and all the shame, guilt, anger, hate, and even LOVE that arises throughout the process?
Are you using journaling for your research? How has it helped you? What tips do you have for others who are ready to start this process of research and healing?
© 2017 World War II Research and Writing Center