Dear Dr. Ford:
I would like to recommend to you a recently published book, The Choice, by Dr. Edith Eger. Dr. Eger, a psychologist who has worked with victims of trauma, details her own process of healing from the brutal, dehumanizing experience she suffered as a young adolescent in Auschwitz and in two Nazi labor camps. She made her “choice” to return to Auschwitz, 36 years after she was liberated by U.S. infantry, to confront the demons of guilt that plagued her for all of her adult life. Hers is a story of courage and redemption. I trust that you will find some parallels in her story to your own journey which led you back 36 years, not to a physical location, but to a time and place in your memory. Trauma as we now know, and as you detailed in your testimony, resides not only in information in the hippocampus, it also contains the residue of all the bodily, visceral sensations experienced during the trauma.
I am a psychologist myself, and teach Kabbalah here in Denver. As such, I am often in discussions about letting go of the past and the healing power of forgiveness. The lens through which we understand how a process comes to completion (fully or partially) is the Tree of Life and the flow of energy from the infinite down to the finite; from beyond what we are aware of, can perceive or have planned and what winds up manifesting in our lives. While there is always choice involved, we are often guided by serendipity and the challenges and opportunities presented to us.
For Dr. Eger there always was the possibility of returning to Auschwitz but it was an invitation to share her expertise with chaplains at a trauma victimization conference in Germany which led her to the choice of returning to the concentration camp where her parents were murdered in gas chambers. For you Dr. Ford, your secret of the sexual attack was shared just a few years ago in therapy. Your journey of healing though was not what you planned, but was revealed, both as an extreme challenge and opportunity. The choice was yours. Instead of declining you pushed forward and in so doing, heroically modeled for others the choice to heal.
Dr. Eger: “ I was not able to have the joy and the compassion until I was able to return to Auschwitz. Until I was able to somehow able to reclaim my innocence, assign the shame and guilt to the perpetrator and forgive myself.”
I truly hope you have reclaimed your innocence, assigned the shame and guilt to your perpetrators and forgiven yourself.