It felt impossible to find enough time for all the feelings that inhabited my soul and body. To relieve some of the pressure, I set aside twenty minutes every morning before work. I sat in my favorite rocking chair in the spacious light of my living room, closed my eyes, and turned my attention inward.
Sometimes a wave of feeling—neediness or grief or wrongness—washed over me. I stayed inside the emotion, letting it shower me, and some understanding might come. As I sat with a sudden feeling of wrongness, I might recall an incident at work and see how a student’s plea to see me right away triggered old feelings that I must please everyone.
If no feeling pounced on me, I would try to ask my inner child what was happening with her. In these early months, she was like an adopted real child, shy and untrusting. The adult part of me tried to be patient and reassuring, learning how to become trustworthy. Sometimes there were mere glimpses of a girl running by or hiding from me. Most of the time I knew she arrived when I felt a rush of sadness and tears. As I wrote in my journal:
I’ve been so busy, suddenly I feel so sad. Ancient sadness. No end. It feels like a raisin shriveled up in my chest where my heart should be. I want the red hot pain of opening and living, loving people and things, loving the world as it is. Instead I have this shriveled little triangle.
I want to cry but I can’t. The tears swim at the edge of my eyes. Little girl, I want to hold you and let you cry.
This is an excerpt from chapter 2 of The River of Forgetting – A Memoir of Healing from Sexual Abuse.