A ‘review’ of Innocence Revisited, written by a close friend

This review was written by my friend Susi, written under a headlamp in the jungles of Peru…

INNOCENCE REVISITED : A TALE IN PARTS.

This is a shocking story of cowardly and pathological cruelty, of the betrayal and deviate abuse of a defenceless and trusting child , perpetrated by the very adults charged with her care and well being. And yet is an inspirational message of hope and recovery, and of the capacity of the human spirit to survive and ultimately blossom despite it all.

The victim, Dr. Cathy Kezelman, grew to adulthood with no idea whatsoever of the systematic torture she had endured. She studied medicine, became a successful GP with a busy practice, married and was busy raising four wonderful children when, out of the blue, a beloved niece died in a car accident.  The senseless loss produced a severe emotional shock which rattled loose the locks on Kezelman’s Pandora’s box; beginning the release of the horrendous memories locked away by her childhood mind in an attempt to obliterate them and, literally, save her precious young life.

With courageous, clinical precision, Kezelman takes the  reader through the devastating process of memory retrieval, the reliving of horror after horror over a period of eleven years as earlier and earlier memories surfaced.  The earlier the memory, the deeper it lay buried, and the slower and more agonising the process of prying it out of its hiding place in the distant recesses of her mind.

While Kezelman never flinches in her description of the depravities forced upon her in suburban Sydney and Brisbane in the 1950s and 60s, not once does she apportion blame or give any hint of the rage and disbelief which overwhelm the reader at every turn.  She explains clearly the different ‘PARTS’ into which her young mind learned to divide itself, time after time, in order to separate from the inconceivable agony of the terrified ‘Little Cathy’. ‘Sensible’, ‘Long Suffering’ and others all took their turns in splitting off and saving – even, and especially, ‘Growly’, who was ‘bad and smelly’ and did ‘bad things’.  It is the acceptance and integration of all these split parts of herself, which eventually lead to the beginning of the healing process for ‘older Cathy’, the adult.

This process makes fascinating, if harrowing, reading.  From the opening sequence at the Gap, when Kezelman almost ends her life, to the times when she regresses so far into her childhood she can no longer walk without assistance, through night after sweat-soaked night re-living the pain and terror of her abuse, witnessed by her appalled husband . . . for eleven long years she endured, and wrote, and somehow kept on living . . .

The idea of ‘parts’ resonated throughout the book.  The title, ‘A Tale in Parts’, the split parts of her personality, and on to  the final chapter, ‘Parting Comments’,  a testimony to optimism, survival and hope.

I met Cathy as she was undergoing the process of memory recovery and we started a writers’ group, meeting monthly with another friend. The content of the work she would read to us gave us only an inkling of the real truth – how she managed to get to our meetings, let alone give generous and cheerful advice on our offerings, I’ll never know.  The book she has finally produced is a tribute to her resilience and determination, an education and a revelation for all who read it.

Cathy often referred to her immediate family as, at times, the sole reason she had to continue living. On the advice of her counsellor, she always carried photos of her children with her – and indeed they saved her life on at least one occasion.  She referred to them as ‘her finest achievement’.  Not only did they need her . . . she also needed them. For parents of adult children, this is quite a revelation and well worth consideration – as the sands of life shift, the balance changes . . .

Thank you, Cathy Kezelman, for revealing your deepest and darkest secrets.  May your recovery be complete, as your ‘Tale in Parts’ continues, yes, to shock, but also to inform, advise and comfort all who read it.

Susi Prescott