I just wrote a beautiful blog post.

It was saturated with emotion, the sentences flowed as though from divine inspiration. The word choices were not merely adequate, but perfect. It was a masterpiece.

I realized, with a mixture of sadness and relief, that no one would read those words but me. It was too personal, too raw, too painful.

So I printed it out, then saved it – where it will forever remain as a draft. That beautiful thing will be mine and mine alone. Unless I have a sudden surge of bravery, that is – but I very much doubt that time will come anytime soon.

The post was about my life; my aimlessness. It was about my apathy, my experiences with childhood abuse, and the psychological consequences of that abuse as an adult. It was about my feelings of depression, worthlessness, and – dare I say it? Hope.

Those things must remain private – at least for now.

Lucy-TherapistI have sometimes used art and writing as my therapy – channeling my frustration, sadness, and anger into a creative pursuit, in hopes that I may inadvertently help someone deal with similar feelings. Writing about it – seeing the words, in black and white – makes my pain real. It helps me cultivate self-compassion, by imagining that I’m reading the words of someone else; someone I don’t know. Or maybe a friend, or acquaintance. How would I respond if I read the same from them? How would I feel if I heard them say the things that I’m putting on paper – or, I should say, pixels?

Have you ever done this? I know I’m not the only one that writes to clear their head or work through a tough time in their lives. I’m reading a book,Kristin Neff Self Compassion Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, which encourages the reader in one of the beginning exercises to write a letter to themselves from the perspective of a wise, compassionate friend. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I do indeed have a compassionate “friend” inside of me, and I like reading that letter. It’s beautiful and loving. I cried as I wrote it.

But I was also disheartened by this exercise – horrified at how I currently talk to myself. My self-talk is atrociously vicious; if my inner voice were a person, I’d want nothing to do with her. I would never dream of treating anyone else that way – so why do I treat myself like that?

That is the question that I wish to answer – by writing.

Many times, I have escaped into fantasies: books, movies, and video games. I find it ironic that I’d rather kill digital mutated insects in a dystopian wasteland than grapple with my own, very real psychological demons. I’m not denouncing these coping mechanisms – we all need downtime. It’s healthy and perfectly normal to escape into fantasy from time to time. But when it develops into an emotional crutch, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate priorities.

Thor_by_Abrar_AjmalI’m reminded of when I was a Norse Pagan, when I believed words had special power. That the gods would listen, if your intent was clearly stated and genuine. If your entreaties were persuasive enough, they just might make it to another realm, where a deity would hear your plea and intervene.

Since I’ve moved on from Norse Paganism to Secular Buddhism, I don’t believe in gods now – neither many nor none. But I still believe that words have power. The power to enrage, surprise, sell, persuade – or even to heal.

So, if you feel like starting a self-compassion practice, or if you just want to exercise your brain, write a letter to yourself. Put your feelings on paper. Don’t be afraid. Don’t feel pressured to share – it’s okay to keep some things to yourself.

Take the journey. Self-compassion is there, within your reach. All you need do is find the courage to grasp it.

I’m still reaching.