following thistles through the four cowlike stomachs of my blog


It’s only been a week since my last therapy appointment. I have another one hour window this afternoon. Something has changed.

Shall I say that? Should I claim this? I might have to take it back. I’m probably just making it up…

But I saw something after last week, as I digested the session through the four cowlike stomachs of my blog.

  • Rumen — This is the first part of the cow’s stomach. It helps break down complex plant products like grass.
  • Reticulum — Here the food mixes with the cow’s saliva and produces cud. Cows burp up the cud into their mouths and chew it to help break it down more. When you see a cow that looks like she is chomping on bubble gum, really she is chewing her cud.
  • Omasum — Here all the water is absorbed out of the food.
  • Abomasum — Here is where the food is finally digested, similar to what happens in a human stomach. (info source here)

I chewed my way through a lot of material in my blogs this past week. The pasture was steep and rocky, but fertile. Bob was like a cowboy, herding me around to the lushest grazing.

I hope I can get this into words, what I saw, what I ate, where the real food was.

First I ate thistles and briars. I thought my therapist did not like me any more. I thought I had ruined another relationship.

But when Bob said this was only a memory of how I’d felt as a child, a memory of how I felt when my father withdrew from me, after the Mr. McCormick confession — then it felt like the thistles made it all the way to the abomasum, where the food is finally digested.

I saw that my big problem was JUST A PERCEPTION. I saw that I had gone through my life ever since then with the perception that there was something wrong with me. I expected people not to like me, once they found out. I was always afraid it would happen again. And it did, it kept happening.

My father couldn’t handle it. He just couldn’t. I was polluted perhaps, in his mind. Who knows what he thought? I only know that I lost him, lost his love, began to expect to be hated, to believe I was disgusting.

But it was only a perception. My father had a reaction. I had a reaction to his reaction. And my reaction lasted for 50+ years.

I realized that I could see my therapist in two ways, and they were very different, almost diametrically opposed. In one view she was above me, looked down on me, saw me as an inferior, an unclean loser, a sick person, someone to handle with latex gloves. In the other view she genuinely liked me, saw that I was only confused about myself, and wanted to help, was extending her bare hand.

I realized that the first view arose directly out of what happened with Mr. McCormick and my father. I began to view myself as an inferior person, unclean, crazy. The perception grew like a slow cancer over the years, spreading underground, taking over more and more of my inner life as well as my perceptions of others.

I realized that I could discard one view in favor of the other one. I realized that my father’s reaction to me could not have changed me. I realized that no one’s perception of me can change me. I realized that even my perception of myself can’t change me. I realized that nothing about me was changed by that whole experience of sexual abuse, except my self-concept.

According to how I perceive myself, I expect certain treatment from others, corresponding to that self-perception. I’m sure my behavior was affected by Mr. McCormick. I picked up on his feelings. I took on the need to hide, the shame, the fear, the disgust. I’m sure my father picked up on my feelings about myself, and they tied into secret feelings he had about himself. And he backed away from me, and I was devastated. That’s how this stuff perpetuates through the generations.

But the buck stops here. I’ve seen through it.

Or so I think.

Maybe I’m not as far along as I think I am. Maybe I’m still just ruminating. Maybe I’ll be forever stuck chewing gum and blogging about it. Maybe this is all tripe, which I’ll never eat (tripe comes from the first three cow stomachs). Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think I’ve been seriously fed.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Matthew 25:35–36




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Sarah Mohan

Sarah Mohan

I’m probably just making it up