If you follow me on IG, you may have realized that I am updating less these days.
That is because I started writing for myself again.
Recently I received a few private messages on social media asking me if I ever detail my journey of finding spirituality. I did start writing a little back in 2021, but I think I am ready to share some glimpses of walking the curious path of self exploration. This is one.
The first time I ever wrote for myself was back in 1993. In a little brown-covered diary my uncle bought me. I have never stopped since then. I wrote all the way until today. I did keep hand-writing my diaries until 2006, that’s when I completely switched online, after creating this blog back in 2004.
In November 2022, I bought myself a 5-year diary I got from Tokyu Hands, where one can journal briefly each day for 5 years. I took it as an opportunity to start writing for myself again. It is like a little promise made to myself. Journaling each day. Just a small one. A promise I will keep to honor myself. And as I keep the promise consistently, I will learn to trust myself more and more. That I can rely on me to show up for myself. And I know this to be true, because I have done this for as long as I can remember.
Technically I have been writing non stop for 30 years now. Somewhere along the way, I became a blogger. And then I became an Instagrammer. And then they called me an influencer. KOL. It doesn’t really matter. But I am a writer. Somewhere along the way I got lost. I stopped writing for myself. I wrote what people want to read. Nowadays people don’t want to even read anymore 😂 so I revert back to writing for myself again.
I underestimated how powerful it is.
Most of my healing was not done through meditation (I suck at it), but journaling. I have processed countless of raw emotions by just penning (keyboarding?!) them down. Nowadays you don’t even have to use a lock. There’s a thing called password. And you will never panic because you run out of pages to write. How things have changed…
My self-healing journey began back in late 2021 just before I wrote this post. It was a dark period where I shut myself off from all forms of social connections, except that I still needed to be present on the internet so social media was my only source of communication with the world. Like an IV drip, it seeps into my veins slowly, unsure if it was life-saving or virulent. Eventually even that became too unbearable, I disabled my Instagram account and I dragged my sorry self to a local sento, hid inside the sauna and toasted my entire being over high heat. When that too got insufferable, I dove straight into the mizuburo so that I could freeze my brain, which was the only way to stop it from manifesting poisonous thoughts. Then I did it over and over again. Every day for a long period of time. It must have been months before I mustered the courage to want to meet another human again.
Sauna+Mizuburo time was the only way to coerce myself to disconnect from the internet world, for the obvious reason: you can’t bring your phone into a public bath where everyone walks around naked. But those hours were my savior. I was forced into having to be with my own thoughts, now that there isn’t a convenient distraction available anymore. It was… challenging, to say the least.
After alternating between roasting myself in an oven box and freezing my back off in an icy pool (sometimes together in silence with other humans who are into self torture as well–you can usually spot us in mizuburo and zazen meditation halls), my absolutely favorite part of the spartan ritual, now with a rather empty mind because the brain has not recovered from hypothermia yet, I would go home, then continue reading my diaries.
It took me months to finish reading over 13 years of handwritten diaries. And that must have been one of the most powerful things I’ve ever done in my adult life, but without the little child that I was, who so fervently wrote some 20 pages every single day, this healing journey wouldn’t have happened.
It is hard to describe how I felt when I relived the years I did not even remember happening. I have a very fuzzy memory about anything that happened before iCloud storage was invented, as if my mind was fiercely protecting myself from knowing me from the yesteryears. Something must have been really, really traumatizing that all I remember is, do not look back. Like the grief-stricken Shinto Kami, Izanagi who pursued all the way to yomi, the land of the dead, I feared that I would find Izanami, the metaphor of my blurry life history, rotting and covered all in maggots. And now that I have awakened the wrath of the vengeful corpse I would have nowhere to escape…
I have also, intentionally shunned those diaries for the longest time because I did not have the courage to face the past. I know heartbreak will entail, and it sounds counterintuitive to want to re-experience it all over again, but instinctively I knew it was the only way to healing. I have buried them so deep the only way I could reach the truth is to tear myself apart once more.
I sat in front of stacks of old, funky smelling pages, looking like an unearthed locked chest from a graveyard now ominously staring at me. It’s your choice now to open the pandora box but you never know what’s inside…
I picked up one of my favorite notebooks I knew has some of the sweetest, but also the most bitter memories. I found some 23-year old dried flowers inside it, so stubbornly refusing to perish, like the pain in the young girl. There were also sketches. Poems. Lyrics. Ticket stubs. Even short novels that the teenage girl wrote because she longed so much for an alternate life. I started with the oldest one. Then move on to the next.
I read them all. One by one. There must have been 30 or 40 diaries and notebooks in total.
It was the perfect chance to to finally initiate the very long awaited inner child work. I am ready to meet the little girl who was writing her diaries. I want to know her. I want to understand her pain. I want to be there for her. I want to hold her just like I would my babies, and reassure her that this time, I will do it right, because I did indeed, and she will be okay, and she will be more wonderful than she could ever imagined herself to be. I will thank her for waiting patiently all these years. And I will hold her precious, hug her tight, and love her I would my own child.
My life is so drastically different now it felt as if I was reading the chronicles of my past life. Part of me must have died. And then reborn. But these things don’t happen just once. We keep dying and rebirthing, endless of times, probably until all traumas are somewhat processed.
As if whisked away by a time machine, I would get sucked completely into the past stories, relating and living so deeply and so muddled between space and time that when I snapped back into the presence from a daze, usually only by a phone call or some sort of sounds from the present world, I had to second guess my reality. Sometimes I burst into tears because I suddenly remembered that in reality, I am now in a safe place, right in my favorite place on earth. I am breathing the air of Japan. No one is hurting me. It was all in the head. I am safe. I am indeed, here and now. At the exact place I feel comfortable existing.
Sometimes I wasn’t sure which was the dream anymore. What was written was so blearily distant, yet so dauntingly intimate. I just allowed, and allowed, and allowed.
I wouldn’t have the time today to detail the whole process of opening the door into my most well hidden past that I did not want myself to remember, but I witnessed all those feelings, relived them first hand, all that has plagued me for decades. I went through the sorrow, pain and loneliness for the second time, which wasn’t any less intense. For the first time I saw so clearly how broken the little girl was, all of her life. I cried for her, but at the same time acknowledged and honored it all. I thanked her deeply for having to go through all these pain so that I could be who I am right now. I held her and told her that she’s now safe, because I am here to protect her now.
And then it dawned upon me why I started writing at such a young age. It was to serve this exact purpose. To help the adult me heal. It was never too late. It was exactly just the time I needed it. I know that this needs to happen, otherwise I will be in a baleful loop and keep replaying those sinister stories I made up in my head and blame it on future people who has not hurt me.
Nearly 30 years of intentionally forgotten dark secrets, now I have the doorway to go back to the child and connect deeply. The tiniest one, the bigger one, the confused one, the innocent one, the grown one. The very broken, humiliated one. I am glad. It’s like time traveling back to see my little child. And this time I can be there for her.
PS: If you enjoy this article or find it helpful, it would mean the world if you could help me support Japan by buying a daikon!