As far back as I can recall, I’ve been more comfortable keeping my thoughts and feelings to myself (especially outside of my close family and friends). I’m not cold or distant—I’m just uncomfortable burdening others with personal matters.

About a year and a half ago, due to a massive life change, I found that containment was becoming more and more difficult. I wanted to talk to someone—anyone—and yet I abhorred the idea of inflicting my personal problems on another person. Financial considerations made paying a professional an impossibility.

I can’t remember where the idea came from, but one morning I went to a drugstore and bought a tub of brightly colored sidewalk chalk. I walked around the area and discovered a vacant storefront (so as to not disturb the sidewalk in front of someone’s business).

I opened the chalk, got down on my hands and knees, and started writing what was on my mind. You probably think that writing out my thoughts in public for everyone to see is in perfect contrast to how I’ve described myself. You’re absolutely right. The key was to write in such a way that my words were unreadable to anyone but myself. I found a guide for medieval runes online and used it to replace the letters I was writing with. I wrote paragraphs in front of the whole world about how I was feeling, but in an alphabet that made it unreadable to a passersby, in a material that was intentionally temporary.

The first few times, I did this in broad daylight. This had the unpleasant effect of drawing attention and inviting questions, neither of which are things I’m looking to obtain a surplus of in my life. I soon switched to writing late at night or early in the morning. This way, I could simply relax and let my thoughts flow. Sometimes, it’d be a few short words, and other times, it’d be a drawn-out soliloquy. Either way, it all helps, and the world ensures that these thoughts fade away as quickly as they come.