How Art Journaling Helped Me Heal Unprocessed Emotions
Updated: Apr 18
"All my life, it has been hard to take up space. I never felt allowed. In my own home, I had to shrink and restrict my movements to squeeze into the corridors and closets. I never felt like I had room to sprawl out. It felt like I always had to adapt to the environment and most of the time, it felt like the stuff was all consuming and energy-draining. I didn't realize how much living this way had made me play 'small' in so many areas of my life until I started my own healing in therapy. I realized I had identified with the mess and it took a gigantic toll on my self-esteem and my ability to take up space in the workplace and in relationships.
As I enter my 30s, as an adult in my own apartment, I am finally engaging in a healing process regarding my feelings about my childhood home and my hoarding parent. I started journalling. Writing down memories. Jotting down thoughts. Illustrating my feelings and collaging with magazine cut-outs. When I put my feelings on paper, it felt like I was organizing my heart. I could take all of the emotional clutter that resides inside of me from the trauma of living in such a disorganized home and put it together in a way that I can control. I could learn to narrate my side of the story. Even if it is just to myself. My art journal is a place of freedom and spaciousness. I can put anything in it. I can keep adding to it, I can tear out pages if I want to, I can cross things out, move things around, paint or paste over, and I can share with whomever I want to, always reminding myself that I have choice in the matter. These are the things I wished for most growing up: privacy, control, choice, space, freedom. These are the things I'm learning to reclaim. Whether it is by decorating my own living space or writing whatever I want in my journal, I'm learning to own my voice and give it room. I'm taking up space and I am reminding myself that I am worth it. Art journalling has become a self-care practice for me and an act of love - a way of honoring my adult self and also my inner child, that part of me that still hurts from the pain of growing up in such a difficult emotional and physical space.
I don't know if I'll ever share the contents with anyone. Maybe. Maybe not. But I know that I am happy knowing it is my choice. Every time I open up to a blank page, I breathe a sigh of relief and gratitude, knowing that finally I have a place to sort out my feelings and there will always be enough room for me in the pages."