About the River of Forgetting
“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 hints 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 the 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?
About Jane Rowan
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.
Visit Jane at www.janerowan.com and
find out more about her memoir at www.riverofforgetting.com
Visit Jane at her tour page at Pump Up Your Book!
Interview with Jane Rowan
Q: Give us an example of a typical writing day.
A: I have no typical writing day! For The River of Forgetting, it was such a personal and intense project that I had to work on it when I could and how I could. I’d haul out my journals from the relevant time and cull them for useful passages, get back into the feelings of the time, and then try to craft a story that would show just what I was going through. It was important both to capture the intensity of what I went through – recovering old, traumatic memories from childhood – and also to make a narrative that readers could relate to.
Q: Do you write on a computer or with pen/pencil and paper?
A: The computer is my best friend. I am not the world’s best typist, but I so love being able to read my writing (which is nearly impossible when I write longhand) and also having it all typed, not having to retype it, which is hell for me. My laptop, Esmeralda, is like another character to me by now (especially when she gets sick).
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Right now I’m doing a lot of legwork to get The River of Forgetting out into the world and into the hands of people who want or need to read it. I see my audience as made up of three strands. The first, obvious group consists of people who had difficult childhoods and who want to read about how one survivor grew and healed, by therapy and facing the demons. The second group might be therapists who want to understand what their clients are going through. The third consists of people who just want a good read, including the most intimate description of the therapy process that I’ve seen anywhere. Tons of people are interested in therapy – it’s a fascinating aspect of modern human experience.
But in addition, I am writing poetry and I am doing abstract paintings. Painting is such a challenge for me and I love being able to approach it with seriousness and with childlike curiosity, both. I enjoy both the freedom to do anything and the discipline of trying to make a painting that speaks to me and to others.
Q: What are a few of your favorite genres and why?
A: Clearly, I love memoir. I am so interested in the ways people tell their stories – some with great distance and irony (not my favorite style, but interesting), some with more intimacy. My own memoir is so intimate that the reader is practically inside my body. That perhaps is a weakness as well as a strength.
I also love literary fiction, being swept away by characters and story and also seeing how these talented writers work their magic. I sometimes read mysteries and fantasy. Fantasy is so much fun for its potential heroic dimensions; it resonates with some deep human needs.
Q: Do you have a writer’s studio? Describe it for us and what is the view you see from the window?
A: My studio is my living room, and since I live alone, I can mess it up with drafts all over the floor or keep it clean and tidy. I tend toward the messy side. As I’m typing this, I can see bushes and birds through my huge windows. White-throated sparrows, chickadees, tufted titmice, and juncos. My warm and colorful house has been a huge support to me in writing.
Q: Advice for the audience, first time authors, those choosing the writing life.
A: Do what you love and do it passionately. At some point you will need to learn how to edit yourself and how to seek the help of others in refining your work, but don’t let anyone else dictate what you should write. That is a necessary but delicate balance, being yourself utterly, and crafting your work to be accessible.
Q: Who or what was your greatest influence that made you want to be a writer/author?
A: It was sheer gratitude to life. That is what propels my poetry and it’s also what compelled me to write my memoir of abuse and healing. The emphasis is on the healing, not on the old events. I think the process of transformation through therapy is one of the great personal journeys of our time, and I wanted to celebrate it. The novelist George Elliot said, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”