A writer’s work is a reflection of the joys, the tragedies, the desires, the unspoken moments of the preoccupation with the past and the present. And while for many, it may be an exhilarating expression that may be joyful and bittersweet at the same time, for some it is merely a way of healing themselves.
A writer gets healed through the expression of the written word.
A befitting example of this unique expression of self healing, is the life and work of the world renowned Austrian Psychiatrist, Victor Frankl’s ” Man’s Search for Expression”. Frankl, not only had to tragically face the agonizing experience of the Holocaust but four Nazi death camps too. This was followed by the horrifying reality of seeing his parents, his wife and the other members of his family die in the Holocaust.
Unlike many who perished from the trauma of the Holocaust horrors, Frankl not only survived but was enlightened by his experience. Through his famous book, he provided evidence to the world on why those who survive, survive the ordeal. Frankl’s reasoning was simple – he believed that the quest for the meaning for life is a powerful motivating factor for human survival.
This powerful belief is what motivated those who survived through the unspeakable cruelty live unlike those who lost their will to live because they could see no meaning in their life and perished. Victor Frankl not merely survived but triumphantly lived to tell his story and through the process not merely healed himself but healed others through the 92 years of his existence.
“Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte is another work that reflects the possible healing that the writer may have experienced through her writing. Emily Bronte’s tragedy ridden and turbulent life is mirrored in the chaotic, tragic and passionate story of her novel. As a mere child of three, Emily Bronte lost her Mother to cancer, and few years later tragedy struck again when her sisters Maria and Elizabeth died.
Living on the lonely barren moors with her family and just her imagination and creativity for companionship, Emily Bronte died from poor health at the incredibly young age of thirty.
She lived a tragic and lonely life but had been inspired to pen her only novel that was eventually acclaimed by the world as a literary masterpiece. A novel that would undeniably have given her the spirit to move on with her life and rejoice in the success of her literary skills.
All of us, certainly possess the ability to express but finding out our talent to express is the key to healing ourselves. For someone who considers the written word a friend, unless the words are not expressed, the extent of their thoughts would forever remain unknown to them.
The abandonment of thoughts through writing would enable the writer to come to terms with the feelings or the past.
Our life is a series of transitions and at every stage we are faced with numerous experiences that are rich, enjoyable and not so enjoyable. Even articles or mere writings that talk about the death of a loved one, illness or life changing event enable not just the writer to comprehend the learning value of the episode in the life but come to better terms with the experience.
In a process that involves reflecting, an objective analysis of the cathartic experiences, the writer reduces the stressful personal impact of their experiences on themselves. This of course is largely based on the writer’s desire to be as excruciating honest as possible!
The fears that have been experienced through the traumas are also skillfully reduced through this action, since the written word is a safe technique of voicing the concern or anger.
Known as one of India’s most prolific and controversial writers, Kamala Das’s autobiography is a beautiful and compelling example of writing that can be at best termed as a healing experience for its writer. She has portrayed her feelings and her sense of betrayal with such powerful clarity that it is evident to a reader that fear has played no role in her decision to pen her autobiography.
“My Story” is a portrayal of her seething inner conflicts and struggle to come to terms with her life experiences.
Das’s autobiography is a painful reflection of the writer’s loneliness, her tragic search of unrequited love, the sweet memories of her grandmother’s companionship in her ancestral home, the quest for the elusive meaning of life and myriad experiences. And through its pages, the reader gets the glimpse of a lady who stood up to a traditional society through her frank and heart wrenching honesty.
Writing would not just help heal, nurture and help us to grow, it would also enable us to carry less emotional burdens.
It would mean bidding farewell to “skeletons in our cupboard” – secrets or traumas that would finally be able to rest in peace. The undesirable memories would finally be powerless to affect our emotional and physical well being.
It is then that our objective through our writing could be termed as purposeful. And in the process, our ability to clear the clutter in our life, better than never before.