Finding Healing Through Writing

Erin - Grand Rapids, Michigan
Entered on April 24, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Two years ago I had an English class that focused on contemporary female writers and memory. I wrote a series of three vignettes in the style of “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros. I chose this particular style of writing because it was the option that required the most creativity. Yet when I began I had no idea where it would take me. My most powerful memories from my childhood are of my father. I believe that addressing these powerful memories in the form of vignettes with a child voice helped me heal in a way I never could have predicted. I believe that writing is an important form of expression that has the power to facilitate the healing process.

My memories of my father have had the greatest impact because during my childhood I clung to each encounter with him. My parents separated when I was in kindergarten. For the first couple of years my dad lived about a twenty minute drive away. Yet the close proximity did not guarantee consistent visits. Instead the visits were sporadic and I was often left with the feeling that I was always waiting for my dad. Like most children, I loved spending time with my dad. The activities I remember best were the everyday things we would do. Taking the bus to visit his work, making spaghetti, and walking to the park were just a few of things we would do. The most difficult times occurred when he would not show up for visits or when he would move to another state for work and rarely call. In my vignettes I revisited the painful memories and tied them together with the way I felt about my dad.

The vignettes turned out better than I expected. I used a simple voice and rich detail with a clear sense of purpose. I created a narrator that was both vulnerable and strong. The narrator was me, but not the adult version of me. Writing from the inner child perspective was the only way to recount the memories. Allowing her to have a voice for the first time in many ways freed her from the captivity of those memories. Some of the memories were difficult to encounter but they were grounded in the importance of her dad’s presence in her life. The memories showed the depth of love and acceptance that she had for her father. The feedback from my professor was very positive. I gained confidence in my writing and a sense of closure concerning my childhood memories. Overall I believe that the reason I had not been able to fully heal from the difficult experiences was that I was viewing it from an adult perspective. Before I wrote the vignettes thoughts about my childhood were complex, realistic, and analytical. The child narrator that I created was able to simplify her experiences and express her feelings in her own words. Writing the vignettes was a liberating experience because I found healing through the expression of the honest thoughts from the childhood version of myself. I believe that anyone who chooses to write about a difficult experience can find healing through their writing process.