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.
â€œPlease come on in. You look like you could do with some coffee. Would you like a cup?â€
Cyndi grabbed the mug to prevent herself from going into a full-blown panic attack. Dr. Johnson sensing her distress said encouragingly, â€œI know itâ€™s hard to open up and share your story, but once you do, the anxiety will start going down.â€ That reassurance seemed to be exactly what Cyndi needed.
Peering up at her doctorâ€™s kind face, she quickly looked back down at the beige carpeting. I can do this. I have to tell her! I canâ€™t keep the secret hidden any longer. â€œEvery moment I feel the effects of what I went through,â€ she starts in a small, toneless voice, pausing briefly to brush an imaginary strand of hair from her cheek.
â€œI remember standing at the kitchen sink, washing dishes when all of the sudden I couldnâ€™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 areaâ€ Her shoulders shook and she wrapped her arms around herself like a cocoon.
Dr. Johnson looked compassionately at Cyndi and spoke very gently, â€œIâ€™m so sorry. You must have felt so all aloneâ€ Cyndi nodded shakily.
â€œWhat happened next?â€
â€œI tried squirming to get away from him, but he was too strong. I couldnâ€™t stop him. I canâ€™tâ€¦.â€ Dr. Johnson reached for a squishy ball on her desk and handed it to Cyndi, who took it and started squeezing it.
â€œCyndi, your reactions make a lot of sense. I understand your reluctanceâ€”no one wants to revisit painful images that stir up unwanted feelings. Youâ€™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.â€
â€œThe 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 wouldnâ€™t see. His finger felt as large as a log that would rip me apart.â€ Tears came to Cyndiâ€™s eyes.
â€œWhat thoughts are going through your mind right now?â€
â€œItâ€™s all my fault. Iâ€™m bad. I must have done something wrong. I should have stopped him.â€
Dr. Johnson gently reminded me, â€œYou were just a small child. He was the adult, the responsible one.â€
â€œIf you had to go back in time and intervene, what would you like to do?â€
â€œIâ€™d look him straight in the eye and say, â€œGet away from me, or Iâ€™ll call 911. Theyâ€™ll lock you up in jail and throw away the key.â€
â€œRemember youâ€™re safe. This is now, not then.â€
â€œI am beginning to see that thereâ€™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.â€
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