All First Aid Kits Should Include Words

Amanda - Appleton, Wisconsin
Entered on July 1, 2008

Growing up means getting hurt. We scrape our knees when we fall off our bicycles, we get our hearts broken, and we earn bad grades on tests. And when all of these things happen, fairly quick fixes are not hard to come by – a kiss on the knee from mom, chocolate frosting to get over a boy, and actually taking home our textbook to study. But deeper pain, pain that crawls inside us for years, is something our first-aid kit through life has no obvious solution for. So I look to something we all have – words.

I am grieving. I have been for four years, and I see no day in the future when I will stop. I lost my dad before I was even a semester of the way through middle school, and there is no “band-aid” for that cut. And as I desperately needed the medicine that could cure me, I was told by hospital workers, therapists – even family friends, that I should journal; to write down my every thought. And through this I found that writing, simple pen strokes to form our language, can stop the bleeding coming from the deepest wound.

Each night after my dad died, I peeked around the cover of a glossy journal hoping my most private thoughts would not escape the pages. They were composed of words that were meant for me only, and it was my responsibility to protect them. As I wrote, I felt a relief come over me. Not that I felt any less sad, but that I felt less anxious. I was not responsible for holding in the grief, or the shameful happiness, or even any of the memories of my dad any longer. The burden then lay on the ink and lined paper my feelings were etched into. I no longer had to be concerned about whether I would forget what it was like to come downstairs to see my dad eating Cheerios each morning, or the feeling I got when we listened to 80’s rock in his black pick-up. Before long, my journal was filled with paper-cuts; it took on my mind’s emotional strains. My writing made the pain easier to deal with, with each turning page and pen that ran dry.

Writing eases the mind; it is gauze to soak up the hurt. And when you write, no matter how stressful, it becomes something other than your own. The messy curves of your handwriting can help your concerns become deep, calming breaths. Your mind can think. You can live. And your words can sooth the pain. After two straight years of journaling, never missing a day, I know the power of writing and how it can ease the pain of a scar – even make it less visible. I wish could I bottle up this remedy, because words have the strength to heal. This, I believe.