The River of Forgetting is a memoir describing my journey of recovery from childhood sexual abuse. It begins on an August morning when, as an adult, I recall an early memory and realize that something ugly had happened. The book details the process of discovery and of healing through long and deep therapy. It is a love story of finding the wounded little girl inside of me and loving her back to wholeness.
The River of Forgetting is different from most other memoirs of abuse because I never claim to get all the facts clear. I don't try to tell the whole story of my childhood. Instead I track the process of learning to believe myself and uncovering the many consequences of the abuse and secrecy--the mistrust, dissociation, PTSD, hypervigilance, and difficulty with relationships. At the same time I find my joyous and creative inner child alive inside me after all those years.
Published in Dec. 2010 by Booksmyth Press. See The River of Forgetting for details.
Excerpt from The River of Forgetting
Chapter 1- Pandoras Box
The memory emerged from a dim corner of my mind, jolting me awake. It was a humid morning in August 1995. The air flowed softly through the bedroom window, bringing in a catbirds song from the cherry tree just outside. I sat up in bed and propped a pillow behind me, grabbed my spiral-bound journal from its place on the bedside table, and began scribbling:
I am three or four and I hurt between my legs. Im perched on the toilet in the big bathroom in our house at Shell Beach. The door is opposite me and the light streams in from the window on my right. I feel the sting when I pee. My mother says that I slipped in the bathtub and fell on the bathtub rim. I have no memory of anything that caused the hurt, but I know I dont believe her story of how it happened.
Fear sank its claws into my stomach. I wondered what had happened and
who had hurt me.
No way. Surely not. Not my father. I dont know how to tell whats true. I dont want to make things up.
This was Revelation Day, the day that started me on a long journey into my past. How did it happen that a 52-year-old woman suddenly woke up to the possibility of long-ago abuse? What had kept the issues at bay so long? Why could the past now grab me by the throat?
At that point I had been divorced for ten years, after a long marriage. I had a college-age son, several good friends, and stable family ties. My father had died a year previously at the age of eighty-three, after a long illness with Parkinsons disease. My elderly mother lived alone about two hours away from my home.
I was a scientist. Evidence was my bread and butter. Even though Id moved on from laboratory research to administration, there was nothing I liked better than a juicy set of numbers. Scientific arguments could be fierce and competitive, but they were based on demonstrable facts. I didnt yet realize there was knowledge more important than facts.