Think back to your childhood. You probably fondly remember curling up with your journal and pouring out your heart onto the pages. Now that you’re an adult, and you’re going through a divorce, you can use journaling in an entirely different but also constructive way. In addition to documenting the facts of your divorce, use the opportunity to vent your feelings, hopes, fears and dreams in a safe and private space.
First, pick a journal: for example, a blank book, a simple composition book, a leather-bound journal, or an electronic journal. Schedule time to write every day, ideally, and follow these additional tips:
1. Write the journal out by hand, if possible. Even if your handwriting isn’t ideal, the process of physically putting pen (or pencil) to paper can allow you to access a more contemplative state of mind.
2. Document key information about the divorce as it happens, instead of waiting. It’s easier to recall events and even exact statements if you take the time to journal immediately. Put any word-for-word statements in quotation marks, and time and date stamp them.
3. Include as much factual information as possible about incidents. For instance, if you saw your ex hit your child or discovered a hidden bank account while pouring through the household books, you’ll want a detailed record of what occurred. Answer the questions who, what, where, when, how and why. List witnesses who were present and their contact information. If possible, include useful physical evidence, such as photographs of a glass that your ex broke during a fight or a nasty email that he or she sent.
4. Journal stressful events, as painful as they may be, to keep a record. Note your ex’s broken promises, failure to keep to the visitation schedule, missed child support and related events.
5. Journal about the children and their activities. Write down what you do with and for them each day, such as driving them to school, taking them to sports or clubs, helping with homework, and cooking dinner.
6. Avoid venting or adding emotional language. Record facts in a straightforward manner, almost as if you were a reporter. Do not name call or make comments that you would not want read in court.
7. If you need to express your frustration, use a separate journal for that purpose alone. Writing down your uncensored feelings can help you process the ups and downs of the emotional roller coaster of the divorce and bring a new perspective.