Keeping a progress journal is not “AA approved work” but it helped me. As a writer, journaling has always been my go-to for jotting down ideas, writing my dreams and aspirations and detailing my day-to-day events. Journaling does not always have to be writing. It can be doodling, drawing, cutting and pasting pictures from magazines and even using stickers.
There was a period of about a year in my early sobriety that I would cut out a meditation from “Meditations For Women” and tape it in my journal. I would then reflect on the passage by writing my own ideas and finish it up with cute stickers on the page. It worked for me and when I went back and re-read my entries years later, it gave me hope that change is possible.
For example: on May 26, 2008 I celebrated two years of sobriety yet was still feeling insecure and helpless in a sense. On May 26, 2010, after four years of sobriety, I could see that I was making concrete changes to the way I thought, which in turn changed the way I felt. I had let go of old ideals and notions, replacing them with healthier ways of thinking (and living). On May 26, 2012, I celebrated six years of sobriety and still on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance of truth in my life.
Journaling allowed me to express myself without fear of being judged. It allowed me to express ideas that may or may not be accepted by society. Today I use Penzu, which is an online password protected website where I write my heart out. Of course in the beginning (when it was all new and shiny) I was journaling in Penzu everyday, but like anything else in my life, the shininess dulled and I started journaling when the mood struck or I was really pissed off. I also journal when I feel elated (like when I met my new boyfriend).
Through journaling, which is really just a way of being blatantly honest with myself, I learned what I want in life, what mattered, what didn’t matter, what pissed me off, what made me happy, what I thoroughly enjoyed, what personality traits in myself (and others) I liked and disliked. I learned that I always have the option of changing and adapting. The way I think can always be re-arranged until I am able to think in a way that leaves me feeling peaceful and full of love.
Do you keep a journal? If so, what kind?