I did the Pennebaker Paradigm for 2 days and decided I had done enough. I do believe I will keep doing free writing in 20 minute bursts every day, just not about bad memories. My experience was this: First, I tried to just write about the painful memory. This was sort of good, because it made it real…but it also made me pretty sad. I did a good job of stopping when it felt like too much, and grounding, using writing. For example, I wrote about what my bedroom looked like and what clothes I was wearing. Later, I switched to a different style, where I rewrote the trauma. In this version, a second, empowered “me” comes to my rescue. That felt very contrived at first, but I think it was a good exercise/ thought experiment. I’m glad I did it, because it inspired this poem that I rather like, even though it’s short and simple.
The child says he will not sleep
Until he writes the perfect poem
The adult says, yes, he will
And turns out the light
The child says he’s afraid of the dark
He’s afraid to sleep
He’s afraid of nightmares
The adult says, “I love you.
Hold my hand.”