Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: REMEMBER (10/19/17)
TITLE: Remembering to Forget
By Bonnie Bowden
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Today was the day she would see her. Her therapist. She walked forward, her eyes set on the door at the end of the hallway. She took a deep breath trying to calm her racing heart and still her scrambled thoughts and knocked.
“Please come on in. You look like you could do with some coffee. Would you like a cup?”
Cyndi grabbed the mug to prevent herself from going into a full-blown panic attack. Dr. Johnson sensing her distress said encouragingly, “I know it’s hard to open up and share your story, but once you do, the anxiety will start going down.” That reassurance seemed to be exactly what Cyndi needed.
Peering up at her doctor’s kind face, she quickly looked back down at the beige carpeting. I can do this. I have to tell her! I can’t keep the secret hidden any longer. “Every moment I feel the effects of what I went through,” she starts in a small, toneless voice, pausing briefly to brush an imaginary strand of hair from her cheek.
“I remember standing at the kitchen sink, washing dishes when all of the sudden I couldn’t breathe. I stood very still because the picture of my father and me at the pool was crystal clear. He held me on his knee with one hand, while with the other; he pulled my bathing suit down slightly and reached up and in with his finger and rubbed the sensitive area” Her shoulders shook and she wrapped her arms around herself like a cocoon.
Dr. Johnson looked compassionately at Cyndi and spoke very gently, “I’m so sorry. You must have felt so all alone” Cyndi nodded shakily.
“What happened next?”
“I tried squirming to get away from him, but he was too strong. I couldn’t stop him. I can’t….” Dr. Johnson reached for a squishy ball on her desk and handed it to Cyndi, who took it and started squeezing it.
“Cyndi, your reactions make a lot of sense. I understand your reluctance—no one wants to revisit painful images that stir up unwanted feelings. You’ve spent years trying to avoid these memories. I encourage you to hang in there and keep doing this. You have the opportunity to connect with and emotionally process this experience while I am here to help you.”
“The heat was oppressive that day, sweltering and exhaustive, it stuck to my skin like a bloodsucker. The smell of chlorine in his hair and the sting of it lingered in my nose. I heard my sister and brother laughing and splashing nearby. I prayed they wouldn’t see. His finger felt as large as a log that would rip me apart.” Tears came to Cyndi’s eyes.
“What thoughts are going through your mind right now?”
“It’s all my fault. I’m bad. I must have done something wrong. I should have stopped him.”
Dr. Johnson gently reminded me, “You were just a small child. He was the adult, the responsible one.”
“If you had to go back in time and intervene, what would you like to do?”
“I’d look him straight in the eye and say, “Get away from me, or I’ll call 911. They’ll lock you up in jail and throw away the key.”
“Remember you’re safe. This is now, not then.”
“I am beginning to see that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, a lamplight of hope and healing. Sometimes it seems to disappear behind some clouds, but it is always there, closer on the horizon than before, never to be extinguished.”
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