Walking with Aletheia: A Survivor’s Memoir
by Jean Hargadon Wehner
Ellen Lacter, PhD
How much sadistic and Machiavellian cruelty, false condemnation, and abuse can be inflicted on a child before the mind and spirit can endure no more?
Jean Wehner helps to answer this question in her heart-wrenching memoir. She tells of moments of utter devastation when her mind spontaneously gave her the gift of new personae who made it possible for her to psychologically survive in the worst of her abuse. She came to know them as: Little Jeannie, Beth, Frances, Jeannie, Little Cathy, and a little girl in a cage. These personae helped Jean to preserve some semblance of sanity by holding memories of unthinkable cruelty and pain apart from her for many decades to come and by protecting her innocent and vulnerable core- the little girl. In the end, it turns out that these personae needed Jean too.
So, this memoir is a story of love. It is a description of a courageous journey to discover and deeply connect with the dissociated parts of herself and to invite them into her own heart, no matter how repulsive their memories, no matter how unbearable their heartbreak, no matter how much they had to conform to her abusers’ demands in order to survive, and no matter how much abuser-engineered self-blame and self-hatred they carried as their own.
Jean wrote this memoir for other survivors of child abuse, especially calculated, sadistic abuse and brainwashing, to help survivors follow their own hearts in their healing journeys and to encourage them to lean into their fears and feelings, no matter how disturbing, abhorrent, or illogical. In fact, it is within these confusing and frightening feelings that the worst trauma and the lost parts of self are hidden, and that allow for the whole self to be reclaimed and healed.
Jean also discovered that her personae resided in an inner world that she only first discovered in her healing journey as an adult. Some of her personae were still stuck in the terrible places where they were abused and some were stuck in places that represented their heartbreak and entrapment. However, they were not alone. Powerful archetypal spiritual resources populated this inner world. They surprised Jean when they first appeared to her and they surprised her by their wisdom and unexpected kinds of love, protection, guidance, and rescue that they provided to her personae and to herself. Her inner world became a place of infinite possibility and healing. As other survivors read about Jean’s ability to tap into this deep potential within, they may have increased faith and ability to do the same for themselves.
This book is a victory over cruel and sadistic abuse. Where her abusers tried to implant self-hate, Jean restored love and compassion. She psychologically and spiritually saved the wounded children within herself and then wrote a book to rescue other survivors and their inner children.
Jean’s book is also a resource for therapists. It explains the process of spontaneous formation of dissociated identities to help victims psychologically survive unbearable abuse. Then, it teaches us that compassion, understanding, and love between these personae are the substrata of the path to self-love, peace, and wholeness.
Thank you Jean, all of your personae, and your spiritual helpers for this gift of healing.
Ellen Lacter, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and trauma therapist, Author, A Coloring Book of Healing Images for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (2015).