October 27, 2011
From my private journal.
Writing as Therapy for Gay Men
By Brian Bolding
As a gay man in today’s world, we need to equip ourselves with tools to make sure we get through the days. I found early on in my life that I needed a creative outlet to channel all my frustration, anger, sadness, joy and my sexuality issues. At the age of 15, I turned to writing. I’m so thankful that I did.
I’m a firm believer that writing can be an essential part of growing and healing. I didn’t know a thing about how to write when I started, and I truly don’t believe you do, either. What matters most is that you are getting down on paper your thoughts and emptying that confused and sometimes clouded brain of yours. As a side note, it’s always beneficial to look back over what you wrote to see how far you’ve grown or how much you need to change.
Everybody needs to have a journal. I don’t know how I would have survived without one. I always carry around one in my backpack so whenever the urge strikes, I can sit down and start writing in it. I also carry a laptop just in case I’m in a typing mood. Having a journal is like having a mini psychiatrist walking around with you every day of your life. Unlike other psychiatrists, it’s hard for yourself to get on your own nerves, because you the only person in your life who never leaves your side.
When a five-year relationship of mine ended a few years ago, I found that even getting out of bed was a chore. Once I did venture outdoors, though, nothing seemed worth enjoying, nothing could replace the memory of my once beautiful relationship. Friends tried to console me, family tried to defend me and love me, and while I am thankful for every single person who helped me get through those dark days, my journal was the one constant source that I could sit down with and just expunge my soul and let it all truly hang out. One of the first things I wrote about was called “Reasons to get up in the Morning.” Number one was ‘because you don’t want to be a lifeless zombie and miss anything.’ I truly feel that nobody could have made me see that point unless I myself was ready to express it. Sometimes we get stubborn when something tragic or near to our heart ends, and only we can say when we are ready to explore the world after a crisis arises. No friend can talk you out of a bed if you truly don’t want to, but if you are connected to your soul and your heart, and you are able to express yourself through writing, it just might help you, too.
A close friend of mine passed away about ten years ago. I had no one to turn to since he and I didn’t really have any friends in common, but I soon found myself writing a novel. I am not classically trained and I don’t think I’m the best writer in the world. I truly think that there is a great story in all of us. You don’t have to set out to create the next New York Times best seller, the only purpose as writing as therapy is that you get on paper (or computer screen, in a blog) what is trapped in your mind, in your heart, in your soul. Even happy times can be wonderful times to write. When I got a great promotion at work about three years ago, nobody could understand what I was going through, the price I had to pay to get to where I was at my job, the sacrifices I had to make in order to work hard enough to get there. I turned to writing to express that joy and it made the lives of those who knew me a little less bothersome. Nobody was able to rain on my parade because I was having my own party with pen and paper. My killjoy friends couldn’t ask me “what if” this happens, or “what if” that happens.
So, if you can’t spell, there’s always spell-check. If you don’t think you can write, there’s always painting. If you don’t think you are creative at all, I beg to differ. I believe that every single person has a story in them, a good painting in them, a great piece of clay pottery that they can mold. If you have a soul, you can create. And if you want to move on from something tragic in your life, or even celebrate your happiness, keeping a journal and writing as therapy surely can’t be a bad thing. You might be surprised with what you find out about yourself. You might be shocked to discover you have a novel hiding inside of you somewhere. You just never know until you try, and staying connected with your emotions and your heart is the most important key in moving on in your life and staying happy.