Every day, I get up and I sit with JANE. I am 58. She is 15. So, in truth, she is inside of me. I have what she needs to become 58. At 15, I would not have known for sure that there would be an adult who came to sit with me. Everyone has a unique story about the after-effects of sexual assault. Mine came along with a whole series of imploding failures, so it has always seemed like A Dark Time with many pieces. High school got very weird afterwards. And, like many girls, I found myself using my turned around sexual energy in dangerous and deadening ways. I sit with girls now, usually in their late 20s and early 30s, speaking about their early sexual lives, and if there has been a Bad Thing, the long lasting effects on their confidence and their understanding of their own sexual response. Often we either throw it” around everywhere, or we freeze. Or both. And it isn’t just the girls. The boys, left alone during these sexual rites of passage, make mistakes, train with porn instead of conversation with mature guys, try to become healthy sexual partners in languages that are secret and confusing and often, hard to follow. Everything shuts down into narrow little tunnels of response rather than great open fields of enjoyment. Intimacy becomes problematic. I have to admit my world is probably skewed because I work as a counselor and educator, so I am hearing when experience is troublesome. But I am listening now for a certain 15 year old girl, and she is still struggling inside of me. Not so much about sex (thank God!) but about trauma. I am still working through the freezing response as a way to meet difficult, ongoing life challenges. They keep coming, I keep freezing. That way of adapting isn’t serving me anymore. It creates somatic response – clenching jaw, stomach acid, inability to focus…instead of the full bodied wail that life demands. So me and Jane, we are working on having a good cry. For all the children frozen. And I am sending a message back through the years to her — there will be many wonderful people who will come to find you, to sit with you, to hold your soul safe. Count on it. The trauma body is not your only way out. You can sing and write and make movies and make love. You can call friends, and bow down to mentors. The natural world is waiting to speak to you. I am talking to you, Jane. We are here.