Saturday, September 17, 2011
Tolson 4 TEARS Reviews "The Source of All Things"
The Source of All Things by Tracy Ross is literally and figuratively a healing journey. Ross embraces the wilderness as the vehicle that transports her from victim to survivor. Along the way, Ross seeks to make sense of the child sexual abuse she experienced. There may be maps to navigate the natural world, but no directions for exploring the alien territory of abuse.
In the aftermath of her biological father’s sudden death, Ross’ mother marries a man who becomes devoted to her children. At four-years-old, Tracy adores her step-father, who protects her, provides for her, and engages her in outdoor sports, hiking trails, and camping trips. By the time Tracy is eight-years-old, her step-father is also molesting her. He infiltrated a vulnerable family, and advanced on the girl like a vulture. Yet her mother is depressed and disengaged from the family unit, so many steps behind the reality of what her husband is doing that she never catches up to meet Tracy’s needs.
At sixteen-years-old, Tracy is strong enough to fulfill her own need for surviving abuse and betrayals. She enters a boarding school and embarks on wilderness adventures. Sometimes these travels require risking her life. Other times, Tracy finds comforts in nature that manage her self-destructive behavior. Child sexual abuse violates boundaries, and trekking through mountain valleys and desert floors offer boundless opportunities for Tracy’s hope and healing.
Chapter 21, titled “Shooting Stars" (or Birth Stories) reveals to the reader how child sexual abuse may affect every area of a victim’s life, including marriage, pregnancy, birth, and parenting. There are no clear paths to healing these wounds; Tracy uses nature like others use art or music.
Tracy confronts her step-father about thirty years after the sexual assaults. She takes him back to the source, where the abuse first occurred. As he admits to abusing her, she questions if she could forgive him. She writes, “Love cuts with a serrated blade, and there are shreds of my feelings that form an unbreakable bond to my parents.” This is my point of departure, where I wonder just how much compassion a survivor of child abuse has to exert for a confirmed sexual predator.
The Source of All Things is a memoir that is well-written and well worth reading. A victim may see that he/she is not alone in the conflicting emotions and ambivalent feelings. Ross shows great courage in telling her story to bring awareness to the absolute devastation of child sexual abuse, and the long journey of recovery.
Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story