Divorce Journaling: Paper Therapy

I was happily married for 26 years to my best friend.  We were planning for our retirement in the next three years.

We were a loving, tight-knit family, a husband and wife who worked together well, communicated constantly, shared most of the same values and took pride in our bright, beautiful and talented children.

Little did I know life had very different plans for me.

The bottom fell out of my life the day my husband told me he was having an affair with someone twenty five years his junior.  He was planning to start a “new” family, leaving me, our 15 year old son and 20 year old daughter behind.

When I say the bottom fell out, I mean I lost 20 pounds in two months, barely ate, would wake in a panic from broken, restless sleep and power-walked compulsively to de-stress.  I thought about my situation obsessively and spoke about it to anyone who would listen.  I clung to the hope that I would awaken from what was obviously a nightmare.

Many years later, as I look back, I see that besides my friends and family, the thing that got me through the chaos was my journal.  I used to say it saved my life.  I know for a fact it saved my sanity.

Let’s face it: friends get tired of hearing the same story over and over again but I felt compelled to keep processing this sudden, life-changing event.  I was fortunate to consult a therapist through my work because I don’t know how I could have afforded it.  I felt truly alone for the first time since getting married a couple of decades before.

I felt no one truly understood my confusion and pain.  Well-intentioned people wanted me to “just get over it” but I couldn’t.  Sometimes, I thought I might be going crazy.

The hamster wheel was spinning a million miles an hour.  I was lost in this new landscape with few beacons to light the way in the terrible darkness.

I have learned so much since, about resiliency, about self-care and about life in general.

All this was accepted unconditionally by my journal which was there for me at 3 in the morning when I couldn’t sleep and my heart was racing.  It accepted my rage, my fear, my growth, my emerging Self.  My journal became my confidante, my paper therapist and eventually, my life coach.

My profound belief in the healing gifts of journal keeping lead me to study the subject more fully.  I needed to understand why, on some days, journaling was a healing salve, and on other days, I would ruminate and feel worse.

During this process of discovery and study, I found my life purpose:  I want to bring the tremendous potential of journal writing to others.   And I have a special place in my heart for women who are going through divorce.

As with any worthwhile life skill, you can learn guidelines, principles and a variety of techniques to get the most benefit from the time you spend with your journal.

As the result of my personal experience and studies with the Therapeutic Writing Institute in Denver, Colorado, I created a workshop called “Divorce:  Transition the Write Way.”  Guided writing prompts and weekly themes are specially designed to focus on the important phases of recovery.  Instead of writing yourself into more confusion or getting sucked into the downward spiral of rumination, you learn helpful and healing strategies.

As invaluable as learning those skills can be, the greatest gift of this workshop is the support of women like you who are going through a similar experience.  As any woman knows who has spent time in circle with other women, the power of sisterhood is amazing.  When we bring compassion and understanding to one another through this process, it can be life-changing.

Whether you are an experienced or novice journaler, bringing intention and focused attention to your writing takes its healing power to a new level.  It can transform your experience in ways that make you smarter, stronger and more resilient to life’s challenges.

What participants are saying:

“I never realised how powerful journaling was until I joined your class. It is very therapeutic.” Liz C

“By exploring myself and intentions in the  weekly exercises,I uncovered a lot of buried feelings of hurt, pain, and despair. In a short amount of time I was no longer stuck in a rut or spinning my wheels. As I allowed words to come out on paper, I gained the clarity, self-acceptance, and forgiveness that I needed to take my life back. With that shift, I found a profound sense of joy, happiness, and peace of mind. With Helene as my fabulous guide/mentor/, I felt truly safe and supported.” – Tracy K

“I loved Helene’s workshop. The divorce journaling really helped me to write my own story rather than be a character in somebody else’s. It exceeded my expectations.” – Darlene M

“Helene makes this workshop very interesting and very powerful. I love the prompts to get you writing. This workshop helped me to move on and see that there is light at the end of those dark days of what I went through.” Lise A

“I love how Helene explains the journaling. She is very passionate about this and it makes it that much more pleasurable. I love the use of prompts. I love that we are not alone in our story. Others are going through it too.

I believe that this workshop helped me immensely. Loved Helene’s way of listening and teaching her passion. I looked forward to coming each session to meet up and share and write. I would do it again and again.” Sandra M


You can also find out more by listening to this Youtube interview about the reasons to consider journaling about your divorce.

Read Mike Cohen’s article in the Suburban here.

Please contact me about the next workshop by email or by calling 514-620-2222.  You can also consult the Upcoming Events page.

I hope to see you in circle soon.  In the meantime…

Ink well!

Helene Brunet,

Montreal, CANADA



Frequently Asked Questions


Do I need to be a good writer?

Absolutely not! While many journal keepers enjoy writing, anyone can benefit from the quiet time sitting with your journal will provide. There is no need for good grammar or spelling, just a willingness to put your thoughts and feelings on paper.

What is journaling and how does it help you deal with divorce?

Study after study demonstrates that writing down and expressing your feelings about challenging life events helps in myriad ways.  How exactly does this magic happen?

Journaling is a skill which can be learned. Writing to heal benefits from a little structure and guidance. When you set an intention to bring focused attention to understanding, processing and healing, you target parts of the brain that can bring these desired outcomes into being.

Think of this workshop as a place to learn the tools you need to guide you so you can move forward. With the support and acceptance of women just like you, you uncover insights and develop solutions.

What can I expect to get out of this?

Your journal is your 24/7 friend and confidant. It tracks your progress from the smallest changes to your most cherished accomplishments. It sheds light on who you are and where you want to go. It’s a time to be still, to get in touch with your inner voice and uncover golden nuggets of insight.

How does journaling work in a group?

We work with writing prompts and different weekly themes like Self-care, Grieving Loss and Moving Forward. The power of the group is amazing: you are supported and heard by like-minded women going through a similar experience. You no longer feel like you’re the only one experiencing this dramatic life event.


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