I met with K., whom I see as a spiritual director but who is trained as a Jungian analyst. We had a creative conversation about the question of different strategies people use to live with having done something bad.
He said two images came up for him. The first was the 19th century Second Great Awakening paradigm of the conversion process. I read conversion accounts years ago (for a project on science at Mount Holyoke College) and the pattern is that the unconverted one feels worse and worse about herself, more intensely unworthy, until the selfhatred has grown and grown until it finally breaks and the young person feels God's love and acceptance.
K.'s second image was an old Cherokee ritual called going to water. On a given day every year the members of a community would take off their old clothes by a river and enter the water and follow it downstream to another place where they left the water and put on all new clothes. All wrongs except murder were forgiven by the process of going through the water and other people had to be forgiven all wrongs and debts.
I said I don't want to leave the child in me behind in order to find a new life, and K. had an image of a mother carrying a child with her through the water.
That was powerful for me but I started looking for images that weren't of leaving the old behind and starting anew. One possible direction is to trust that God will bring good out of all that is in me. I know I wouldn't want to be the person I would be if I hadn't had the bad experiences. Rotten stuff is good fertilizer.
I had a stubborn image in my head of a bridge, though I resisted it, not wanting to be a bridge between the world where the harm happened and the new. K. suggested I could be a drawbridge, but the image in my mind is of a suspension bridge. I need to make the picture before I try to say what it means.
A friend sent me this link for making friends with the shadow.