Writing Is My Friend

Oct 12th, 2010 | By | Category: All Posts, Guest Blog

by Patty Hite

Writing was easy for me. My mother encouraged me to write.  When I was a young child, I remember shopping with her, looking for perfect pieces of stationary. Money was tight so I cherished each piece.  I cut up used birthday and holiday cards to make my own books to write in. Most of what I wrote were questions about life and the whys and why nots of everyday living. I wrote a whole book on why a chair was called a chair and another one on why my brothers did stupid things.

As an older child my writing took on more of my ponderings about life and why I was so sad. I remember sitting under a tree far from everyone else, crying and writing down my thoughts. I didn’t know why I was so sad until many years later when the flashbacks of my childhood started to erupt and shatter my world. Before I knew it was a good thing to write about my abuse, I was already doing it. I never included names and or details. It was for my eyes only and I was afraid that if someone else read them, I would hurt those I loved. So even in my writing, I kept the secrets of my abuse.

When I started reading books about sexual abuse, they recommended writing about the abuse in detail and to write to my abusers. I didn’t have to send the letters, but it was a way of expressing how much they hurt me and how their actions reflected on my life. I wrote with so much anger and rage that my pen ripped the paper. I have written several letters to them at different times throughout my healing. I don’t tear the paper any more, but as each thing is revealed to me, I inform them of each one.

Most of my life was spent in a dissociated state, so I don’t remember things leading up to my abuse or immediately following my abuse.  I do remember the acts of abuse. I used to spend time trying to remember the before and after and the why and why not of my abuse. So instead of pondering about those times, I started to freewrite about it. Freewriting is putting pen to paper and cutting loose. There is no worry about spelling or formats, dotting your “I’s” or crossing your “T’s.” When I did this, life changed for me because everything poured out. It was like the gates opened and the dam broke. Every thought and every emotion came forth because there was freedom from penmanship and corrections. I wrote until I couldn’t write anymore and my brain was done and my hand was cramped. I put it away for about a week because I was afraid to read it. These sheets of paper held every part of me, every thought and every emotion. It was the doorway to the why and whatnot I was searching for my whole life.

As I continued healing from my abuse, I also used lists as a way to compare different areas in my life. When I was working on my self-esteem, I made a list of my bad qualities verses my good qualities. When I started doing this, the list for my good qualities was pretty small, but as I progressed and created new lists, I was able to compare them to my first ones and see my growth. I also made lists of my coping mechanisms versus what I could do to replace them and also lists of my false beliefs versus my new beliefs. Lists, lists, lists.

I think it is so important, especially while healing, to carry paper and pen. Most of my triggers happened outside of the home. After a while we become desensitized in our homes; we make it comfortable by eliminating those things that are uncomfortable to us. Being out in public all our senses awaken to everything.  Smell, touch, sound, rain, snow, and the time of day all play major parts in our abuse and trigger emotional reactions. It was these things that I wrote down as a reminder to deal with them at a later time. Anytime my emotions reacted, good or bad, I wanted to make note of it so I could re-evaluate if they reacted in order or out of order. There were many times I wanted to strangle a cashier or run someone over with my cart. These were the reactions I wanted to make note of.

Writing has been such a major part of my healing and I recommend it to every survivor. I didn’t have therapy or support groups when I started my healing, but I had a friend in writing. There are no limits to expressing my secrets, my fears, anger at my abusers or a heartfelt letter to myself. My lists helped me “see” what was real and what was false and keeping track of my emotions out in public helped me to wrangle them in. Writing is truly my friend.

Related Posts:
If I Didn’t Write, I’d Have Died a Long Time Ago
Writing: My Power Tool for Rebuilding After Abuse
Paper is My Safest Friend

As a survivor of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, Patty Hite has been tenaciously pursuing her healing for over thirty years.  She’s a passionate advocate for all survivors and dedicates her life to inspiring emotional wholeness in others. As a former victim of spousal abuse, she’s delighted to find true love with her husband of ­­­­five years.  She’s blessed with four children and six grandchildren.

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13 comments
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  1. Patty,
    I love the way you impart freedom in your blog. Your title, “Writing Is My Friend” is so appropriate. You help us take the ‘rules’ out of writing and encourage us to feel comfortable being ourselves– just the way our friend would. Writing to heal isn’t supposed to sound pretty or impress anyone. Thanks for sharing this!
    Hugs, Christina

  2. Great blog, Patty. Writing is so important in getting out what we’re really feeling and also being able to look back and remember your feeling about things.

  3. Christina and Bethany,

    I had no idea how valuable writing was in my healing. I had no one to talk to about my abuse and the pain I was in and it was a way of releasing my overloaded thoughts and jumbled flashbacks. All I knew was that I had to get it out.

    Hugs to you both, Patty

  4. Patty,
    I couldn’t agree more about the friend that writing is. When I was first encouraged to write out my story, I was so ashamed I couldn’t believe I was that bad. I was afraid to show it to the kind and very forgiving friend that urged me to write it out. I was completely convinced he would email me back and demand i NEVER contact him again. What a joy to read his rely… “Is that all?”, and not said in a belittling way at all. He took my self-condemnation seriously, and answered it exactly like I needed. That wasn’t “all” of course, but it was enough for me to see that I was not ‘unacceptable’ … finally!
    Thank you for your courage to write, for us.

  5. Gordon,

    What a wonderful friend you have. I am so glad that you were able to write and see the benefits of it. It has been a life saver for me and still is. And thank you for your encouragement.

    Patty

  6. Lovely post, Patty. I couldn’t agree with you more about writing being a friend, a good, loyal, trustworthy friend to all survivors. And I recognize the ripping of the paper while writing; it’s a good sign of rage released. Thanks for your honesty and your words! — Libbe.

  7. Libbe, thank you. It’s so wonderful to know that others, especially Survivors, understand how important it is to write and what a release it can be. Glad your back on the computer. :-)

    Patty

  8. Patty you described the very thing that every great writer does when writing a masterpiece. They sit down and write everything in their head without filtering it to make it “pretty”. Trying to write something we expect others to see can inhibit our writing process. If we just put pen to paper and let the thoughts flow out of us we never know what we will find. This has been a great way for me to get to know myself better. I start writing and never know where it’s going to take me. I just start scribbling and go along for the ride.

  9. Great post. Thanks. I love to write and make lists… but have managed to avoid writing the emotions of the abuse to my child or to my own childhood. Even with my wasband… wrote mostly facts, but when I did write the emotions like a letter, it waas such a release. I know it is time to write some of those letters to family regarding my childs abuse first, then maybe my own when I am able to see it.

    Thanks again for the encouragement to get back to it. I will try the free-writing with myself and my child when we take our first family retreat at the end of the month with some of the victims benefit fund received!

  10. Jennifer,

    Isn’t that the truth? I like what you said about we just start writing and we never know where it is going to take me. That is how I feel. And now with a laptop sitting on my lap, look out. My desktop is full of writings. A jot here and a dab there and some are full of things that I just ponder about and some are complete writings. There are times I have to ignore my laptop because my fingers will just take off.

    Love ya, Patty

  11. Lisa,
    I’m so glad you are encouraged to continue writing. It has been so beneficial to me and I know that once you start doing it again, that you will feel the same way. It was always so much easier for me to write about my emotions than to speak about them. I can do it now, but I believe it was because I wrote it out so many times that now it seems natural to me to talk about it. Thanks for sharing and happy writing.

    Patty

  12. thnx alot Patty :) , You helped me alot with this note, really That encouraged me to keep moving in my healing journey after losing most of hope . just these days I felt alone and my friends who gave me strength seem to be away from me and I am in my second difficult stage of overcoming sexual abuse , just yesterday discovered and felt how that how this awful experience isolate me from the world , lose me alot of things I had …….. feeling like I am not an ordinary person after it especially in feelings I cannot feel a thing that I am not ready to feel !!!!. and when I saw your article title “writing is my friend” ……. I said “Me too”
    can find anew friend in writing like Pretty supporting me through me healing journey . thnx again Pretty.
    and really You are good funny writer :) ……. laughed when I read that you wrote a book about”why chair called chair ?” :D

  13. Martha,

    I’m so glad that hope is still stirring in you. I know it’s hard, and sometimes, it’s harder than other times, but hope is what keeps me going. Writing has helped me, still helps me, get thru loneliness and isolation at times. At least when I write, I know that the most important person is paying attention, and that is me.

    For some reason, writing helps me to put things in perspective and when I read what I write, the light bulb goes off inside of me at times. Hope it does the same for you.

    Thank you for your encouragement!! Patty

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