Therapy: The Modern Hero’s Journey by Jane Rowan
Mighty Odysseus undertook his journeys through stormy seas, past seductive Sirens and fearful monsters, on and on through the trials that marked him as a heroic figure. In the end he came home to a faithful wife, whose loyalty he tested before he believed her.
Joseph Campbell, the beloved author of The Hero of a Thousand Faces and presenter of “The Power of Myth,” made it very clear that the real hero’s journeys of our times are internal ones. They are the battles with the storms, temptations, and calls to faithfulness that take place inside our own psyches. Our protagonist is as likely to be a woman as a man.
The essence of a heroic journey is that we feel a call to change something in our lives, that we are willing to meet this call and take risks for it, that we encounter frightening forces that seem to threaten our very existence, that we receive help (in the old days, from supernatural forces; in these days, often from a therapist or mentor or teacher), and finally that we return home in some sense, to a place both new and old.
Every week, many millions of people enter their therapist’s offices and bravely undertake this inner voyage, returning to the daunting waves and rocks, the monsters from their childhoods and the ghosts of their families. The therapist’s office is an amazingly intimate venue, where we sweat and cry through our transformations. There are remarkably few books that honor and describe the deep revolutions that take places there, and also the ups and downs—the weeks when it feels impossible to drag ourselves there, the times we are frightened to trust the very person we need to depend on, the utter hopelessness we feel at times.
We don’t spend enough energy honoring the courage it takes to come face to face with ourselves. Think of the high-powered executive who dares to take a deep look at his chronic anger. He may find a small boy cowering in the corner, his inner child afraid of a domineering father. Imagine how scary that is. Think of a depressed woman in a dysfunctional marriage who finds tremendous anger underneath her depression; the anger makes sense, but may destroy her marriage.
In my book, The River of Forgetting: A Memoir of Healing from Sexual Abuse, I wanted to celebrate this process by showing both the amazing connections that are formed between client and therapist and the nasty bits. I didn’t hold back from showing the times that I became irrationally enraged at my therapist. Learning to trust and rely on her was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and utterly transformative.
It may seem strange, but my inspirations for writing were pure gratitude and joy. Yes, The River of Forgetting is a story about childhood abuse and healing, but it’s also a story of deep transformation and the miraculous nature of what happens inside the therapist’s office. I haven’t found many books that speak honestly about this process, which I believe is our modern equivalent of the Odyssey.
About the author ~
Jane Rowan is a New England poet and writer. After teaching science for three decades in a private college, she retired to pursue the creative life. She has published numerous articles and the self-help booklet Caring for the Child Within—A Manual for Grownups, available through her website and through Amazon (Kindle). An excerpt from The River of Forgetting appeared in Women Reinvented: True Stories of Empowerment and Change.
Her book ~
People don’t make up things like that for fun.
That’s what Jane’s therapist tells her when Jane reports fragmentary memories from her childhood that hint at sexual abuse. A busy, successful scientist, Jane at first fights the implications, but finally has to admit that something indeed happened. With help from a gifted therapist as well as creative arts, Jane taps into her own aliveness and reconciles with both her parents’ love and their betrayal.
This deeply personal memoir invites the reader behind the closed doors of the therapist’s office and into the author’s journal and her very body. Jane’s tender story shows how we can use the challenges of painful childhood traumas to transform our lives.
Read an excerpt ~
Chapter 1: Pandora’s Box
The memory emerged from a dim corner of my mind, jolting me awake. It was a humid morning in August. The air flowed softly through the bedroom window, bringing in a catbird’s song from the cherry tree just outside. I sat up in bed and propped a pillow behind me, grabbed my spiral-bound journal from its place on the bedside table, and began scribbling:
I am three or four and I hurt between my legs. I’m perched on the toilet in the big bathroom in our house at Shell Beach. The door is opposite me and the light streams in from the window on my right.
I feel the sting when I pee. My mother says that I slipped in the bathtub and fell on the bathtub rim. I have no memory of anything that caused the hurt, but I know I don’t believe her story of how it happened.
Fear sank claws into my stomach. I wondered what had happened and who had hurt me.
No way. Surely not. Not my father. I don’t know how to tell what’s true. I don’t want to make things up.
This was Revelation Day, the day that started me on a long journey into my past. How did it happen that a 52-year-old woman suddenly woke up to the possibility of long-ago abuse? What had kept the issues at bay so long? Why could the past now grab me by the throat?
Friday, June 10th
Book reviewed at One Day at a Time
Monday, June 13th
Interviewed at Examiner
Tuesday, June 14th
Interviewed at The Hot Author Report
Thursday, June 16th
Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking
Friday, June 17th
Guest blogging at Review from Here
Monday, June 20th
Interviewed at American Chronicle
Tuesday, June 21st
Interviewed at Blogcritics
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Book reviewed at The Bookish Dame
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Interviewed at Divine Caroline
Monday, June 27th
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Tuesday, June 28th
Podcast interview at 6:30 PM Eastern at A Book and A Chat
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Book reviewed at Reading Frenzy
Thursday, June 30th
Book spotlighted at The Writer’s Life