Never underestimate the power of the written word.

Brendan McDonnellMy office: ‘Base’, Spinola Bay, Malta.

I’m not the songbird of our generation I’m just a kid who’s been writing in his journal for a couple of years. Anyway, I feel quite a weight off my shoulders having shared my first two pieces of writing. I actually wrote them quite a while ago but I’ve only just felt ready to share them. I have had an overwhelming response so far it’s amazing. I’m not sure how long I can keep up the profoundly moving, ‘from the heart’ blog posts but I’ll do my best haha.

This post may not be as heavy as my first two, but I think it contains valuable insights that I need to share to illustrate some of the points I’ve made so far. I am sharing exactly what I wrote in my first journal in 2008 and 2009.

Like I’ve already said twice, in order to overcome bad experiences we need to remove the emotions tied to them and in order to remove the emotions we must begin resolving them. As you should see here, the emotions that I’ve been working to overcome are the very same emotions that were present when I was 15 years old. They held me down for over 5 years until I was 20 and decided (on my own accord) that enough was enough and embarked on the journey that is resolving them. I believe that the unresolved emotions tied to the experience that was my dad’s death are mainly what caused me to develop negative habits and behaviours over the years which I’m now trying ever so hard to change. I still have remnant anger management issues and I over think even the simplest of things. This goes to show that I am only part way into the journey that is finding resolution.

As much as we may believe, most of us don’t have the means to deal with unresolved emotions and the problems associated with them ALONE. As I previously wrote, when I couldn’t find answers I sought help. In 2012 I went back to my childhood psychologist and she told me to start writing. I wouldn’t have started writing without her guidance. Her simple piece of advice profoundly changed my life.

I actually attempted to do something about the unresolved emotions tied to my dad’s death much earlier. At the end of 2008 and early into 2009 I started a journal. Like so many, I really struggled to articulate my thoughts and believed that my attempt at journaling was a failure. This was because I was only able to write around 300 words over a period of 6 months. I stopped writing and hid the journal away along with my dad’s suicide letter until my unresolved emotions caught up with me in 2012.

In 2012 after I returned to the psychologist I re-read what I had written back in 2008 and 2009. This was when I realised how much of a success it was. The few words I wrote when I was 16 provide the clearest of comparisons. When I compare them to my later journal entries, not only do they show me how far I’ve come, they clearly illustrate the fact that emotions and behaviours don’t simply disappear if you hide from them long enough. Based on my writing I can now say with confidence, at the very least I have started dealing with the emotions that held me down. If I had have thrown my 300 words away like many do, only then would it have been a failure. I wouldn’t have anything to compare to.

Far too often I encounter ‘mature’ people who carry the same unresolved emotions and problems associated with them their entire life! As they say, stubborn people die stubborn. I understand that we are a product of our environment and sometimes carrying these problems with us isn’t our fault in a sense, but in the end it is your life. Who’s driving the bus!?

If I can overcome the emotions tied to my dad’s death and begin dealing with the problems that were associated with them, you can too.

Brendan McDonnellMy first ever Instagram post. I thought it was fitting.

Obviously, if there is a problem it needs be dealt with. If you do not understand how to fix a problem, seek help. Honestly and objectively addressing your own problems head on is one of the only ways to move forward.

In addressing my own problems I’ve found that quite often writing even the simplest of things helps me find clarity. A lot of people ask me how I got here or how I understand some things. My only answer is that I am exactly the same as everyone else; I just have a few little journals that clearly document my growth. When I’m struggling I have these journals to fall back on. They continue to propel me forward because they show me exactly what I don’t want to be.

So don’t be lazy, pick up a pen and spill your shit onto a page. You never know who it might help one day :)

Brendan McDonnellThe A4 lined workbook I used as a journal in 2008 and 2009.

This is exactly what I wrote in an A4 lined workbook in 2008 and early 2009 at age 16 and 17.

Sometime in early November 2008:

Prior to starting this journal I felt I needed to speak to someone about my feelings and what goes through my mind.

I wanted to recall what happened on the 17th of November, 2007 with someone but I didn’t. I still think about my Dad each and every day of my life.

End of entry.

For me this says a lot.

Only a year after my dad’s death I wanted to share my experience but I wasn’t able to find the power to do so until 10 days ago. It took me 7 years, 6 months and 19 days to develop the self confidence and courage to do it. I questioned myself for a long time and I was afraid of sharing my story. I’ve overcome my fear and now I’m sharing my story for anyone to see.

26/11/2008:

Studying can be stressful. I felt like I’d had enough for life. This later changed after I had a break and went to training. Unsure how I will go tomorrow in the exams… Year 11 is nearly over and I will be free for 6 weeks.

End of entry.

Like I wrote in my first post, I was young and alone after my dad’s death, but for some reason I never really ran off course. During the 5 or so years following my dad’s death I was very focused on study and practicing Muay Thai in the gym but I wasn’t exactly aware of what I was studying and training for in the bigger picture. That has only become apparent recently. Don’t get me wrong, I really love Muay Thai and design, but in the scheme of things, they are merely the avenues I’ve taken to grow as a person and in a sense get myself ready to share my story now. I think they were damn good avenues to take. My passions for Muay Thai and design have helped expand my mind at a rapid rate and given me a lot of strength.

04/12/2008:

Ate well today. It is 11:08pm and I feel alone. Debbie does not care what I am doing, she won’t even tell me where she is. I cannot contact her. I am home alone. Tomorrow will be a hard training session and hopefully a good day.

Debbie is not changing. My brothers and I are changing.

End of entry.

My bucket was full and for a long time I struggled to empathise with others. I was immature and didn’t have the power to empathise with my mum. After 5 years of resentment I finally realised that in order to survive the grief of her life partner taking his own life, my mum needed to go away. She needed space. So, I was left alone. And that was partly why I crawled into a shell and emotionally shut myself off from the rest of the world.

She didn’t do anything wrong. In fact she was completely selfless during this time. She did what she had to do so that she did not put her grief on me and my brothers. Looking back, in fact some of the times when she decided to stay at home for me during this period may have been the worst. At times I would listen to her crying herself to sleep at night and find myself holding her in my arms before school while she wept. Remember that I was 15 years old and knee high to a grasshopper.

I believe she is the most powerful woman in my universe. Her story goes far beyond the loss of her husband to suicide. She is twice the person I will ever be and I will tell you all about her one day. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my mother for being the person she is. Despite the large amount of resent I developed toward her and the fact that I only referred to her as “Debbie” for a long time, after I started to mature, started dealing with my problems and made these realisations, she was there waiting for me. She did what she had to do. She stayed alive. And when I needed her most, she was there. Waiting. For me.

15/03/2009:

I am all choked up.

I know it is mum and dad’s wedding anniversary today.

I cannot verbalise my thoughts! I feel like there is something wrong with me.

Once again Debbie has gone out. Does she want a family? I am over everything. I have no support in anything. I do whatever I want always alone. School is getting hard. I want to talk but I cannot and I don’t know why. Who do I have to talk to but Dad?

End of entry.

Brendan McDonnellMy journal entry from March 15, 2009.

I’ve felt helpless for a long time because I didn’t know how to share all of this with the people I love. If I could have earlier, I would have. I remember every time a loved one has cried to me, every time they’ve reached out to me and every time I’ve been unable to help. Every time I’ve said “I can’t explain this to you” or “wait till I finish this and you’ll understand”. I’m still saying these things because I’ve only posted two piece of text so far. I haven’t told the rest yet. But I will do my best to tell you exactly how I got here step by step. I don’t have the answers to everything. I don’t have the answers to anything in fact. All I have is what I’ve done. And I’ve documented it and I am going to share everything I’ve documented with you.

18/03/2009:

I still to this day have not recalled the events of the day I found Dad (except to the police on the day when I made half of a police report before Matthew told the police to leave me alone).

Sometimes I really want to tell someone.

I have no support in anything I do anymore. I am beginning to get sick of school but I know I must stick it out. FTW 666.

End of entry.

End of Journal.

Brendan McDonnellMy journals. Among the only things I know that I can always fall back on.

I think that writing materialises thought. Unless you’re a mathematical mastermind, the equation can only be solved on paper. Now, what I’m presenting is not for everyone. Many people express themselves in different ways or have the ability to verbalise even their deepest of thoughts. But, personally if I never started writing I would never have began solving my problems and in turn helping others solve theirs.

Everyone has something to share and most people have deep thoughts. But I think that a lot of people never work out how to share their greatness. Sometimes ego gets in the way. “I have all these deep thoughts, why do I need to speak about them or write them down, I’m far too advanced for that.” Either this, or people are too scared or lazy to simply spend a few hours writing down or sharing an experience in hope of fixing a problem in their life or facilitating growth in another’s.

The ability to change everything we know is what separates us from canines. As human beings we can change anything and make life better for ourselves and those around us.

Countless people smoke or abuse their partners for example. Everyone knows that smoking kills you and abusing the person you love is heinous but people continue to do these things. Often people go on doing these things their entire life and then even pass these awful traits onto their children. Why? Why not change? If you haven’t been able to change so far then you need to explore different methods. I understand that a lot of people are living in situations where change is not so easy. But anyone who has access to this blog can access a pen and paper. Why not give it a go; it can’t hurt… can it? Think about how else you spend your time.

Like I keep saying, problems do not going to simply go away if you hide from them long enough. They will stay with you and end up haunting you until you give them their meaning in your life. Following my discovery of my dad’s body after he suicided I was very troubled and I remain that way for over 5 years before I was mature enough to begin dealing with my troubles. What I am saying is that I was dealing with the exact feelings that were present when I was 15 years old – 5 years later. When there is a problem you must face it head on. This is relatively easy for some, but incredibly hard for others. No one wants to feel discomfort or suffer. Quite often dealing with your problems is hard and it hurts. But think about the consequences of not attempting to deal with your unresolved emotions, negative behaviours or habits for these are the greatest consequences of all. I don’t want to even consider how I would have turned out if I never embarked on the journey that is resolving the emotions tied to my dad’s death.

I think I’ve repeated myself about 6 times in this piece of writing but, the point of this is to give you an insight into what was happening in my mind when I was younger and show that it does not go away unless you do something about it. I started writing to express myself. It saved me from suffering alone in my mind any longer.

You may express yourself differently, but never underestimate the power of the written word.

I am very happy I have these very short but clear journal entries from back in the day. They are beautiful.

Keep it real.

 

4 Comments. Leave a comment

Comments

  1. owens
    June 14, 2015

    you my friend, are beautiful. ya bastarrrrrdd

    • Brendan McDonnell
      June 14, 2015

      Thanks pal. You’re beautiful-er. I’ve removed the word bastard. People don’t seem to like the word bastard. Bastards hahaha

  2. Cecelia
    June 15, 2015

    Hey Bren,
    Keep up sharing your love. You’re a wise young man. I remember having a conversation with you in the hospital waiting room when we as a family were together for what we thought at the time was our final goodbye to Grandad. You spoke then of how your views of the world were changing as a result of your studies and new experiences and that you wanted to help other young people who may have been through a similar experience to you. Well, you had a dream and now it is reality. You are helping young and old alike to deal with whatever their personal struggles may be. It takes a lot of guts to do what you are doing…

  3. Phillipa Widmer
    June 20, 2015

    Hi Brendan…Amazing young man is an understatement
    I met your Dad only once when I was checking out Matt’s aquarium …I felt his powerful yet gentle aura. .
    ..then remember watching the video of motorbike burn outs at his funeral .
    On so many levels thankyou for sharing. .will be reading xx
    Ps Your mum and I are fb friends x

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