I got a packet from a book called “Growing up Again” by Jean Illsley Clarke from my therapist and I started implementing some of what was on there. I found an infant self and started to fulfill some of her needs. It was difficult to learn how to be child and parent to myself all at the same time, but I’ve always been good at deep difficult things.
Journaling was vital for me. A lot of this stuff is just what I can remember off the top of my head. All the details I could stand to put down are in my journals. And I have to be careful revisiting those journals because it is so easy to recall what I was feeling and how my mind worked at that time. It’s quite depressing. Like I said, no one talks about this stuff because no one likes reliving it and I’m no exception to that rule.
But the coolest journaling exercise is the one where you let the other voices have their say. We all have various voices dictating our lives, often based on past experience. I used to joke that my voices had voices of their own. I found that wasn’t quite true, but neither was it quite false.
After a time of doing this work, we (and I do mean we as I had yet to start integrating all these different pieces of myself into a whole), decided to open the well. It took some doing but we opened it and inside was my eighteen year old self who had been raped. She was the least human looking of the lot. My seven year old had deep wounds and old scars and was peppered with darts and took some healing. But this was a whole different level. A mass of flesh, oozing pus and blood, curled in on and into itself. She looked like a transporter accident in Star Trek.
She was very much alive. And I was very much afraid of her. I could barely look at her. The rape had done far more damage than I had anticipated. I thought I had worked through some of it, and I knew now that I had not. So I had to go through a similar process as I had with my seven year old. I had to talk to her, get her to open up, and accept her as part of myself. I had to learn to love her. I had to promise she would never be raped again. I had to prove I could protect her.
I had to then start dealing with my twenty-seven year old self who had been sexually assaulted. I also had to deal with all the aspects of myself that were twisted and or destroyed by the abuse. I wandered around a burned area, sifting through ashes and trying to decide what these warped shapes were. Were they a part of me? Were they twisted into unnatural and unknown things? Were they things that were forced onto and into me by my parents or others?
I had to deal with the voices that had no form. The voice that was my father. The voice that was my mother. The voice that was from a source unknown. I had to decide what to do with all of these things. Do I keep them? Do I throw them out? Do I hold onto them for now and see if I can figure out what part of me they were originally? Do I see if I can heal them if they are part of me?
This process took all of the time I spent in therapy. A good year or so of finding these pieces of myself, talking to them, learning to accept and love them and gaining their trust. Learning what was a part of me and what I needed to heal or throw out.