Welcome to “How I Stay Sane,” a weekly column where real dads talk about the things they do for themselves that help them keep grounded in all the other areas of their life — especially the parenting part. It’s easy to feel strung-out as a parent, but the dads we feature all recognize that, unless they regularly take care of themselves, the parenting part of their life will get a lot harder. The benefits of having that one “thing” are enormous. For Kyle Weckerly, who is 33 and lives in San Antonio with his wife and kids, that thing is journaling, which is a way for him to better understand his mental workload — and get out his frustrations.
In college, I took an entry level English class and part of my teacher’s weekly assignment was to have a journal. She didn’t care what we wrote, as long as we wrote something. It was a writing heavy class and we had to do a ton of it. That’s where I got the idea from her that you needed to be writing constantly in order to write well. Journaling was part of that.
It wasn’t until after college, however, that I started writing seriously, as a hobby. The housing market was horrible, the job market was horrible, the housing bubble had just burst. I journaled to cope with it all.
So I’d write stories and journal on a regular routine. Three years ago, my wife and I had our first daughter and that routine went out of the window. But I still journal when I can. And when I do that stream of consciousness journaling, it’s really about letting all of my bad feelings out so I can clear my mind and figure out what it is that’s really bothering me and what I need to focus on.
Usually, when it put it on paper, it seems so much smaller than what it is in my head. That’s what I really like. The sound of the clicking keys, and then seeing just how small the problem really is is therapeutic. From there, I can start to work or find solutions. I can write down something good that happened that day, something I want to hold onto for later.
Sometimes I keep my journals. But I usually delete them. It’s a source of therapy. There are a couple of times I can remember specifically where I just opened up a file, wrote a bunch of nasty, angry things filled with obscenities, basically every venting onto paper I could, and then I just deleted it. I just needed to say that and then throw it away and move on.
I can get anxious about things. Sometimes, in the morning, it just feels like I wake up and sprint all day. I make sure the kids are ready, I’m ready, I get to work on time without breaking any traffic laws, doing all that, and then making sure I’m killing it at work, and taking care of any project I have on the side. It just feels like there are all these things happening and I have to run just to keep up with it. The journaling is a way to stop, to tell myself that I don’t have to be running, flat out, all of the time. If I journal, I’ll probably find what it is that I need to find mentally.
I wish I could say that by journaling the answers to my problems just come to me, but they don’t. It’s just a step in that process. Of course, in my marriage, I’ve been journaling. It helps me focus and define what it is that is bothering me, whenever my wife and I fight, so I can go back to her and say: Okay, look. Here’s how I feel about this. I’m sorry I couldn’t articulate that earlier. It’s a simple habit that’s extremely helpful.