My Presentation at the An Infinite Mind’s “Healing Together” Conference

* The International’s Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) Annual Conference is coming up. The pre-conference is March 12 – 13, and the main conference is March 14 – 16. It’s being held in San Francisco. Information: https://annualconference.isst-d.org/

I’m attending the conference this year and would love to connect with anybody who is going. We could hang out at break times and get to know each other better.

ISSTD is also offering two regional conferences. 

*A Day With Professor Michael Salter” – plus Margot Sunderland, Adah Sachs, Kathryn Livingston, Mark Linington, Elly Hanson, Sue Richardson, Valerie Sinason, and Nancy Borrett – is in London on March 5. Information: https://www.isst-d.org/training-and-conferences/upcoming-conferences/london-regional-conference/

* “Diagnosis and “Treatment of DID and PTSD in Indigenous Peoples” is in Fairbanks AK on June 17 – 20. Information: https://www.isst-d.org/training-and-conferences/upcoming-conferences/fairbanks-regional-conference/

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The vibe at An Infinite Mind’s conference was just like last year’s, except stronger. It was warm and friendly and accepting, also open and trusting and real. Once again, there was a great deal of diversity compared to other conferences I have been to. There were more men, more differently-abled people, more people of different races, more gay, lesbian, bi, and trans people, a wider range of ages, and more people with green or blue or pink hair. That is greatly to be celebrated.

And guess what? There were almost 100 more people there than there were last year! They must be doing something right.

I learned some new things, met some amazing people, touched base with people I had hung out with last year. It’s relaxing and energizing at the same time to be with others who are like me in so many ways, and I wish I could experience it 24/365. But I’m not complaining – the memory of those 24/48-plus hours will buoy me up for many a day.

So – the presentation. I survived, obviously. There were about 30, 35 people there, over half survivors, and the rest split between therapists and support people. I had prepared the talk for therapists, so I made it more general, more inclusive, as I went along. There was time for questions after each section, and that worked very nicely, People quickly engaged and they liked that format.

It felt weird because I went into flashback almost immediately. I’d expected the flashback to come after the presentation, the way it did at previous conferences. But no, it was 90 minutes of flashback, which gradually lifted afterwards. I felt like an actress playing a part, and I could feel that the way I moved my body and my hands was not normal for me. I couldn’t tell about my voice because I was using a microphone, so, of course, my voice sounded very different to me. Although I didn’t feel like a different person, you might say I switched, and another part gave the presentation. I don’t know.

I lost my place once, fell silent, and then said, “I don’t know where I am.” Nobody seemed to take it literally. I quickly found my footing, apologized, and continued. And I did let one set of questions go on too long and had to rush through the end. None of this was a disaster. People came up to me afterwards and thanked me and were very warm and supportive. And nobody knew I was in a flashback unless I told on myself!

So it was just fine – it really was.

One thing I really love about being in a group of RA survivors is that we can go from tears to laughter in a minute. So many of us seem to have the same sense of humor. It’s a bond. I love it! And I’m glad that people think I am funny – humor is such a gift.

The ice is broken, and now there can be other RA presentations. Maybe even a panel! There is plenty of time to brainstorm and plan.

Perhaps you-all could help start the brainstorming and share your ideas in the comments section. If you could go to a conference on DID, what would you want the RA sessions to be like? Let your imagination soar!! Topics, of course, but also format. Academic presentations, art shows, music, anything.

Perhaps I could develop some of those ideas into a blog post.

 

PS This is not an apology; it’s an explanation. The post is late this time because I was on the plane coming home on the 10th. Yesterday, I made time to write it, but I didn’t post it until today. I read it with fresh eyes, did some editing, and and then clicked “publish.” I still have lots of every-day life things to do – get some food in the fridge, read 150 emails and sort out the important ones, laundry, things like that.

PPS The cat is much better! I was afraid he would die when I was away, and I wouldn’t get to say goodbye. Luckily, I worried for nothing. Magical thinking tells me that it was my fretting that made him better, but logically I think it was his resilient little body.

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Upcoming Holidays

February
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/25 Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
2/25 Walpurgis Day
2/26 Ash Wednesday

March 
3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/9 Full moon<
3/13 Friday the Thirteenth
3/17 Spring Equinox
3/17 St. Patrick’s Day
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan

April
4/1 April Fool´s Day
4/5 Palm Sunday
4/7 Full moon
4/8 Day of the Masters
4/9 Maundy Thursday (commemoration of the Last Supper)
4/10 Good Friday
4/11 Holy Saturday
4/12 Easter Sunday<
4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
2/10 Tu Bishvat/Tu B’Shevat (celebration of spring)

(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes.)

I’ve Learned How to Have Mixed Feelings

On February 9, I will be presenting “Ritual Abuse 101: Recognizing and Treating Survivors” at An Infinite Mind’s conference in Orlando, Florida. Therapists, survivors (including those who are wondering if they have a ritual abuse or government mind control background), and support people are all welcome.

Interesting reading and beautiful photographs: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/29/amateur-stargazers-capture-new-form-of-northern-lights. The original article, for all you science nerds: “Citizen Scientists Discover a New Auroral Form: Dunes Provide Insight Into the Upper Atmosphere.” M. Palmroth et al., Advancing Earth and Space Science, 10.1029/2019. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2019AV000133. 


Please take good care of yourself on Candlemas. It’s easy to forget it is a Satanic holiday because it isn’t in your face, like Halloween, and so it can be hard to figure out why you are having a hard time. Here is some background on the holiday: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/

Information on other spring holidays:

Valentine’s Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
Walpurgis Day: There is some information about St. Walpurga at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/
Spring Equinox: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-feast-of-the-beast/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-ii/
Easter: personal. (for background, see Spring Equinox) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/easter-blues/
Walpurgisnacht/May Eve: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/

~~~~~

Boy, life can be a real roller coaster. Up, down, sideways, backward and forward, sometimes one direction at a time, sometimes pretty much all at once.

I’m still full of amazement from the Alaska trip. I’m also pretty amazed that I was able to post the photos here and change the header. What a gorgeous picture that is! Next time I am feeling technologically venturesome, I will try to use it for my desktop wallpaper. If that works, then maybe I’ll try it on the phone, too.

I’m pleased with myself because I’ve finished the handouts for the presentation I’m giving at the Infinite Mind’s conference. Just one final proofing and checking all the links, and it’s a wrap. I’ve calmed down considerably about the presentation itself because I have thought of most of the things that could go wrong and figured to how I might handle them. Now all I have to do is trust that I am inventive enough to handle something I haven’t thought of! Worst comes to worst, I can always say, “Oh, this is terrible! I don’t know what to do – does anybody have any suggestions?” That wouldn’t be the end of the world, would it?

Now here is a big downer. I have an elderly cat who was in pretty good health until a few days ago. His appetite was great, he was running around like a teenager, and he looked good. I was grateful for every moment, even the most annoying ones. Like deciding in the middle of the night that he absolutely had to walk in circles around my face, pulling my hair at every opportunity.

One day, however, he started to vomit a lot – a very lot. He’d had a horrible bout of pancreatitis four years ago, and it sure looked like a recurrence to me. That illness had been a nightmare: he hadn’t eaten on his own for three whole weeks and we had to force-feed him. At his age, I didn’t want to put him through that again. Preparing myself for the worst, I made a vet appointment and crossed my fingers.

The vet hospitalized him, did a bunch of blood work, and put him on IV rehydration. The blood work showed acute pancreatitis. The next day the vet called to say he was doing well and could come home in a day or so when he was eating on his own. It wasn’t that bad, after all. Otherwise, he was in great shape for an old man. Whew!

However, there was a second big downer waiting for me. That same day I started to copy his symptoms. I knew I was very attached to him, but did I have to be attached in that particular way? Yes, it seemed I did. After vomiting for four hours, I feared I too was getting dehydrated, and so I called my primary care physician’s office and talk to the triage nurse, who covers after hours. She said that it indeed sounded like I was dehydrated, and, before I knew it, I was in the hospital on IV rehydration. It was just food poisoning or stomach flu, not pancreatitis, thank goodness. I alternated between being mad at the situation and finding it hilarious.

I got home the day before the cat did, still feeling rotten, I passed the time doing on-line jigsaw puzzles and crosswords, watching videos of baby otters eating lunch, and other sorts of deep mental exertion. I also found that there are two non-profits where I live that are seeking foster homes for elderly cats. They will pay for food and medical care and even supply rides to the vet! If anything should happen to my kitty, fostering, under those circumstances, would be ideal.

He is home now, and he doesn’t feel so great, either. He lost a lot of weight, doesn’t have much appetite, and has thrown up a couple of times. At least he’s drinking water. We’ll soon see if he is out of the woods or not.

In the olden days, one bad experience would completely wipe out any number of recent good experiences. Life was dismal, always had been, and always would be. I could remember what it was like to feel terrible when I was feeling good, but I couldn’t remember what it was like to feel good when I was feeling terrible.

I am SO GLAD I can hold good and bad experiences in my consciousness simultaneously!!!!! I can actually feel happy and sad at the same time. I’m not sure how I learned to do this, but I did. Perhaps it was grimly writing gratitude lists. Even though I approached the task with a sneer, it forced me to think about the wonderful things in my life. I still couldn’t feel any joy, but I could intellectually see that life wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.

Perhaps it was two opposite parts of me coming together in a kind of subconscious integration. If so, that is pretty nifty! I no longer have to deny the bad to feel pleasure in the good, and I no longer have to give up feeling good to honor my pain. I can have both at once.

In the past, I could switch quickly from one state to the other, but I couldn’t be in both states at the same time. It looked like mixed feelings, but it really wasn’t, because my emotions were sorted into separate piles and not allowed to touch each other. Now there is only one pile, labeled “emotions,” and every possible emotion in the world is welcome to join at any time. Nothing needs to be excluded, nothing needs to be denied. There is no conflict, no desperate, “But what do I really feel?” It’s very peaceful.

~~~~


Upcoming Holidays

February
2/2 Candlemas/Imbolc/Satanic Revels
2/8 Full moon
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/25 Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
2/25 Walpurgis Day
2/26 Ash Wednesday
 March 
3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/9 Full moon
3/13 Friday the Thirteenth
3/17 Spring Equinox
3/17 St. Patrick’s Day
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan
April
4/1 April Fool´s Day
4/5 Palm Sunday
4/7 Full moon
4/8 Day of the Masters
4/9 Maundy Thursday (commemoration of the Last Super)
4/10 Good Friday
4/11 Holy Saturday
4/12 Easter Sunday
4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
2/10 Tu Bishvat/Tu B’Shevat (celebration of spring)
(NOTE: Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes. Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays.)

Photos from My Alaska Trip

On February 9, I will be presenting “Ritual Abuse 101: Recognizing and Treating Survivors” at An Infinite Mind’s conference in Orlando, Florida. Therapists, survivors (including those who are wondering if they have a ritual abuse or government mind control background and support people are all welcome.

~~~~~

I thought I would share some photos from the Alaska trip. I’m still high from the experience, and the photos are really quite wonderful. I hope you enjoy them!

First, a poem that really captures the culture of people living in Alaska. Everybody values self-sufficiency and everybody has each others’ backs.

alaskans

we are fish people, wood people, the people’s people
we are speak up, speak over the river people
steady ship, meandering beach, mountain peak people.
we have to see it for ourselves kind of people.

we are fixer upper, do it or it doesn’t get done people.
we sing at church, we kiss our wives, we carve with our door open we wear suits, we wear boots, we are spring clean saturday people. we are strange but we are no strangers.

happy nalukataq! bingo! amen!
we share our wins, we celebrate.
tree shakers, promise makers
we are believers

at any moment we are
the grandparents and grandchildren of greatness
genius and luck, noble and gathered
wild miracles

we are wayfinding people.
trace the edge of your mother and it will lead you
to a coast. who could truly tell where
you or I begin

or where any of our legends end?
here, north
is not a direction, it’s a bond.
we turn towards each other

— Christy NaMee Eriksen

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People dress in layers in thirty degree below zero weather. Five or six layers aren’t uncommon – it’s the air between the clothes that supplies insulation. Puffy jackets and snow pants have lots of little pockets of air between the material that makes up the filling. Some people wear goggles to protect their eyes. It’s still damn cold.

Here are some things we saw on the way to Coldfoot Camp

 

This was as high as the sun got!

Winter water from the air. The white spaces are ice that has formed over rivers and ponds.

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The infamous outhouse.

View from my bedroom. That ice is on the inside of the window!

 

Now on to the Northern Lights themselves, the star of the show.

This is what they were like on the night we saw them. They are never the same, so if we had come a week earlier or a week later it would have been quite different. There was no moon and there was no ambient light from the cabins. I have not seen so many stars for decades, perhaps ever!

Here’s an idea of what the camera can see when it gathers light for 10 minutes. A person can’t see anything, or sees just enough to wonder if it is wishful thinking or not.

Suddenly, green light appeared to rise from the horizon all around us. It was bright enough to obscure the stars.

It intensified and spread across the sky. Here the light is more diffuse, and the stars peek through.

And right above our heads, a swirl appeared, as if an invisible hand were finger-painting. It moved slowly and spread to the right.

After about ten minutes, the lights faded and we were back to the dark, star-filled sky. I wish the photos were larger so that you could see the more than a few stars.

It was magic to have the body so cold it wanted to run right back into the cabin, and the spirit so entranced it wanted to stare at the sky forever.

~~~~~

Upcoming Holidays

January
1/20 St. Agnes’ Eve
February
2/2 Candlemas/Imbolc/Satanic Revels
2/8 Full moon
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/25 Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
2/25 Walpurgis Day
2/26 Ash Wednesday
March 
3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/9 Full moon
3/13 Friday the Thirteenth
3/17 Spring Equinox
3/17 St. Patrick’s Day
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
2/10 Tu Bishvat/Tu B’Shevat (celebration of spring)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes.)