The Power of Writing Your Heart Out

February 13, 2012

This is a guest post written by Margarita Tartakovsky, who blogs regularly at Weightless and MargaritaTartakovsky.com.

I’ve never been a regular journaler. Even though I’m a writer, I journal in spurts. Spurts of anger, confusion, grief, gratitude.

But writing Weightless and my personal blog has been similar to journaling: It’s allowed me to write my heart out. Even though it’s intimidating and scary to let others glimpse into your heart, and there’s been plenty of self-doubt – should I be so open? will people think I’m weird? will they get it? will they get me? – it’s been healing, too.

JournallingWriting has helped me make sense of my thoughts and perspectives. To examine them. To get to know them. To question them. To pay attention to the patterns in my life. To realize that my desire for thinness wasn’t a real desire for thinness. It was a front. Of course, at the time, I thought that I just wanted to lose a few – or 20. But I realized that what lurked underneath that desire for thinness was a desire for peace, calm, confidence and happiness.

A desperate desire to be someone else because I didn’t think I was cool enough or acceptable enough as I was. I’d convinced myself, somehow, that being thin would give me everything I’d ever wanted. At the core, it would give me pure confidence, a self-image that wouldn’t shake from the sight of a pretty, put-together girl walking into the room. A self-image that wouldn’t bend to others’ beliefs. A self-image that wouldn’t survive and thrive based on compliments.

As the years passed, I realized that the desire for thinness is a mirage. No amount of weight loss can help me gain confidence. Because that changes. The pounds pile on or they melt away. It’s impermanent, fleeting. And my self-image can’t have such a shaky, unreliable foundation.

I’ve realized this, in part, thanks to writing.

Writing has helped me relinquish the emotions and thoughts I’d hid or misunderstood for years. To release my super tight grip. Writing has given me relief, allowed me to stop holding these things in for so, oh-so long.

Through writing and reading and interviewing brilliant bloggers, authors and experts, I’ve had the chance to dig deeper and better understand myself. To understand my struggles. To better educate myself on true health, well-being and fulfillment.

These voices, including Mara’s, have taught me about having a positive body image, being myself, taking it easy and enjoying life. Learning about intuitive eating and Ellyn Satter’s work has helped me build a healthier relationship with food and with myself. So has learning about Health At Every Size. It’s helped me appreciate and love my body and choose movement that’s enjoyable and fun – because that’s part of genuinely nourishing your body and yourself. That it’s OK – and, in fact, healthy – to enjoy what you’re eating.

Continuously writing about these topics helps me grasp them and live them. When I’m feeling upset and like gaining weight means that I suck or look horrendous, writing about body image helps me remember who I am and what I stand for. To remind me of how amazing my body really is. To remind me of what matters.

Writing has helped me focus on what I love: words. Instead of focusing on flaws and limits, I focus on learning, growing and improving my ability to string together words into stories, to write truthfully. Instead of narrowing my life by focusing on rigid, unattainable standards, I’m expanding it by truly challenging my mind and pursuing my passions.

The more I write, the more I explore and embrace my voice. And the more I explore and embrace what I’m saying, the more I learn about, welcome and celebrate who I am. Writing has helped me appreciate myself as a whole and enjoy life without having to change my physical appearance or my core.

Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com. She also writes the blog Weightless, which¬†focuses on everything from body image to society’s damaging standards to eating disorders.¬†You can learn more about Margarita and her work here.

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