I’d like to share with you a creative writing technique that has unlocked many blocks in my life. It’s simple to do in its methodology and can be as shallow or deep as you wish with regards to your current resilience and willingness. You will always be in control of how much you want to explore or reveal to yourself. You’ll need four things only —
1) pen and paper
2) a quiet space
3) at least twenty minutes
4) the willingness to be honest
I am going to do the process myself now. And I am going to share it with you with instructions as I go along. This will help you quickly get the idea. It’s not a rigid exercise so feel free to improvise.
Firstly you’ll need to take a moment to meditate down into some stillness. If you’re not a meditator that’s okay. It just means that with your eyes closed, you are going to focus on your inhalation and your exhalation. Try and move your focus away from thoughts and simply notice the breath. Allow yourself to deeply relax. You can’t get this wrong. It’s a time to just be with yourself. When you are in a zone that is a good few gears lower than you normally operate, think about these questions: What wants to be revealed today? Where do I need some clarity and honesty? What’s needing my attention right now to enable me to be more peaceful and harmonious in my day to day life?
From this space let a question arise. Something that has an open end … not just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. Take your pen and write honestly. Just a few short sentences. And if another question arises from your response, then that’s great, you’re on track. Feel free to interrupt yourself. You can nudge or poke around a little. Even challenge yourself. But always check in with your body and nervous system. This creative exercise of self-inquiry can stir the pot but it’s not aimed at blowing the lid off. Be kind to yourself.
The question that is alive for me right now, the most dominant one is:
Q. Are you worried about not seeing your family in this Covid19 pandemic?
A. I am worried and also I am at ease and trusting. I seem to jump from one to the other. I worry that my mum who is in her late seventies might get sick. This thought really upsets me. I worry that I can not get back to the U.K. in an emergency.
For me, another question came in while I was still writing:
Q. What if you don’t get to say a face-to-face goodbye with your mum? What if Corona Virus or something else takes her?
A. Something just landed in me quite strongly. This is a great question for any time of the day, month, year. It’s about being okay with the relationship and friendship with my mother right now. So that if she were to leave suddenly I can be truly at peace. And more importantly, so can she.
Then another question came in. And also a feeling of energy and enthusiasm.
Q. What can you do now to ensure that this connection between you and your mum is held strong and wholesome and true?
A. We play scrabble every day online and I check in with her by phone once in a while. She is tech-savvy so that makes it easier. We have family WhatsApp group and I speak to my brother and sister about her well being too.
Q. But do you tell her that you love her? Have you had the difficult conversation about this? About what’s worrying you? About how she might feel about leaving suddenly? Sounds like you are building this on a lot of interpretation. It sounds very onesided. As if she’s not included and this is all going on in your head. Stick with the facts — what are the facts?
A. I do write and say that I love her and I believe she knows that I do. But it’s true. I realise now that a lot of this just swims around in my head. It’s a compulsive monologue fueled by fear. It’s not a conversation. So, I am not sticking with the facts because I have not been brave enough to simply ask her how she feels about it all.
Q. What stops you?
I needed some time here. It felt like I’d opened something big. I checked that I had enough time to explore it. I asked myself how much digging I was willing to do around this at this specific moment in time. I felt I had enough time and space and that it was important. I took a few deep breaths.
A. I have often been the person in the family to broach the difficult subjects. It hasn’t always been a great success. I’ve been accused of being morbid and too negative when I have brought up subjects around death. Even when I wrote my own will and sent it to family members there were murmurings of judgement coming my way. I guess I have just chosen to not rock the boat this time. To keep the peace.
Q. But it’s their peace, not yours. Why don’t you write a short but sweet email to your mum? Stay with the facts and the sentiments that you would like to speak. Do you have to include the whole family?
A. That feels comfortable. To keep it short and sweet. Or maybe sweet and short would be the better emphasis. And no, I don’t have to get everyone else caught up in my feelings and anxieties about mum leaving with all these Covid19 restrictions etc. They are all adults and can handle their own fears etc.
I check in with my feeling body now and notice that my neck feels looser and my belly feels softer. The two places that I hold tension and stress. I feel a little apprehension around writing the email but it’s not a strong anxiety. There feels a sense of relief and gratitude. Then my ‘bossy’ voice comes in…
Q. So shall we make a time to do this and really commit to it? There’s no time like the present!
A. Agreed. I will write it now and press send.
I wrote the following email and I sent it.
This covid nightmare is now hitting Australia and it makes me nervous. Should anything happen to you I would not be able to come home. And same, if something happened to me you could not come here. So, I just wanted to say how I feel. It eases my (hopefully needless) worry when I say the sweet and tender things while I can.
I love you. Thanks for being my mum and all that you have done and do. I forgive you for any transgressions and I am truly sorry for mine. I hope our mother and son bond cancels them out — I feel they do and we’re complete here. I know we have different styles in emotional communication. I am here if you want to have a conversation about any of it. And I am here if you’d rather not talk at all.
There — Sweet and short!
Lots and lots of love.
Is there anything that you would like to express and you’re not sure why? Perhaps this little exercise can help liberate that stuckness. We’d love to hear your inspiring stories around self-inquiry and creative writing exercises that support you to recognise the truth of who you truly are. You are important … especially to us here at UPLIFT.
We love you
Paul and Team UPLIFT
I feel inspired by the idea/concept. I feel scared and lost bcuz the actual question he chose very much emphasized that i have no one in the entire world with whom I have any connection, much less close. Closest i would come is one or two folks who might hear of my death and say “hhhmmmnnn, oh really? Well that’s too bad. What time is supper tonight?” I dont know how to change that at 70 and in truth, maybe here is the real truth, I cant change that, for we can’t change others. So all I can do is change myself to be more accepting of what is and be ok with that and let it go rather than ruminate and wish it were not so. Reaching out to pthers, lpoking for ways or places to become involved to “make it not so” only make it worse and empasize it and such efforts are being done for the wrong reason, to help fill me by helping others, something ive done all my life, help others, that is, in my life, my profession and do so without charge as a pro bono solo practice litigator and now am alone and financially destitute, with my small home going into foreclosure and no where to go, no one who cares perhaps all those years i paid more attention to saving others, to saving the world, I was really trying to run away from myself and my aloneness. So now, somehow, I must stop and just accept and learn to find joy in some other way…from inside somehow
Maybe this will be my own first entry in this “question” journal practice t
I was in the same situation you are in and the worry was awful. My mother was older and death was inevitable (as it is for us all) and I always thought I would be there to hold her hand to the end. I was in daily contact with her and visited every 10 weeks. With Covid the border closed and the worry intensified. Then my worst fear happened, we were told her death was close and try as I might I couldn’t get to be with her. It was heartbreaking until I realised that I could close my eyes and be right there next to her, I could feel her hand in mine, my lips on her forehead, that distance is only a concept. Now she has passed I feel her closer than ever. The last call I had with her ended with her saying “I love you”, neither of us knew that was to be the last time we spoke. There is a sense of relief now. She passed and I was angry and sad, then I felt the lightness of no longer worrying. It was ok. Even in death, she is near.
Very helpful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.