I Am Desolate

Survivors of Incest Anonymous Phone Meeting
Every Wednesday morning by telephone
Noon Eastern Time
11 AM Central Time
10 AM Mountain Time
9 AM Pacific Time
This Twelve-Step telephone meeting is for people with “DID and Internal Fragmentation.” Ritual abuse survivors are welcome.

Many RA survivors have been in Twelve-Step programs other than Survivors of Incest Anonymous  – Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Over-Eaters Anonymous, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families Anonymous, Co-Dependents Anonymous, or Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.

Some of us who have become aware of our pasts thirty or more years ago were in Survivors of Incest Anonymous meetings for ritual abuse survivors before the backlash forced so many back into silence. Those meetings were a source of strength and sanity and are sorely missed.

So it makes me very happy to know that there is an SIA “DID and Internal Fragmentation” meeting open to RA/MC survivors. Information on phone meetings, along with the phone number, is at https://siacominghomephoneline.org/

It would be wonderful to have at least one more meeting, preferably on the weekend, for those who work or need to plan around children. In cases like this, more is truly more!

Anybody who has been in SIA for three months or longer can start a meeting. Alternately, anybody in ACOA for three months or longer could start a DID and RA/MC survivor-friendly meeting. Does anybody reading this qualify? Would you like to start one?

If this happens, let me know, and I will help spread the word.

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I Am Desolate

I’m losing my vision slowly. I diagnosed myself with macular degeneration about twelve years ago and was officially diagnosed ten years ago. The progression was slow, and my attention was more focused on cataracts, which I have had removed.

The rate, however, has speeded up recently. Although I have (I hope) many months when I can still read, it has hit me hard. I can read real books, with their crisp pages and lovely smells, articles on the Net, emails, things I have written. I can see original art, reproductions, cartoons, colors, trees, buildings, all sorts of things. I can see the faces of those I love and those I know only through ZOOM or photos. But there will come a day when all that is lost to me.

I imagine I will cry and read through the tears for hours and hours. Perhaps I can get all the crying done now and still have time to learn how to write with dictation software and read with a screen reader. If so, I will still be able to do the things that are the most precious to me. I will just have to do everything in an entirely different way.

Assistive technology for people with low vision is wonderful, and it will only get better year by year. Right now, there is even a low-vision app on the market that recognizes faces and tells you who is standing in front of you!

Here’s the medical scoop.

I have age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in both eyes. The rods and cones, cells that recognize light, are clustered on a layer of tissue at the back of the eye called the macula. Over time, they are damaged, mainly by UV light, and die off. It starts at the center of the macula. More and more cells die, and the spot that is deteriorating becomes bigger and bigger.

So, at first, there is a small area in the central field of vision where it is hard to differentiate things of similar colors and intensity. Depth vision is affected. The deficits are slight but relentlessly become more troublesome over time. It takes longer to adjust to changes in light intensity. It’s worse in low light conditions, better in really bright light. I don’t understand why, but it is much worse in my dominant eye.

This condition is called “dry AMD,” and there is no treatment to reverse it or slow it down. There is another form, more serious, called “wet AMD.” Wet AMD can be treated, thank goodness.

What happens is either the tissue behind the retina swells and leaks or the blood vessels behind the retina bleed. In both cases, the fluid pushes the retina up, causing wrinkles. Some rods and cones are pushed together, and others are pulled apart. The retina does not completely relax back to its original shape when the fluid subsides. Objects in the field of vision are distorted as if somebody crumpled a photograph.

Wet MD can be treated but not reversed. A medication is injected into the eye, which dries out the leaking tissue and stops the growth of abnormal blood vessels. If you catch it early and the leak is small, the distortion might become less noticeable. For me, sadly, it didn’t, and I am stuck with it for life (unless it gets worse.)

Last week, I was reading the Sunday paper and thought it was printed with grey ink. When I looked at the paper with my “bad” eye, the ink was black. I realized that my whole field of vision was affected, not just my central vision. This isn’t supposed to happen with dry MD! I must have still another condition. This triggered a week-long melt down which all my ZOOM friends got to enjoy.

I have had a major melt down about my vision before, so I knew it wouldn’t last forever. The summer before the pandemic hit, I stopped driving because of dry MD. I lost so much independence! I would have adapted to COVID a lot better if I could have continued to drive. I am not very graceful about relying on others, whether they be friends, Paratransit, cab drivers, or Uber drivers. And I am not very proficient at using the apps that are supposed to bring Paratransit vans, cabs, and Uber or Lyft cars to me. It is not pleasant to be left standing on a street corner cursing.

I imagine that as the macular degeneration progresses, I will have to adapt to being more and more dependent on other people. I will gallantly conquer as much technology as possible. And once I learn it, there will be a software update, and I will have to learn it all over again. A lifetime of learning stretches in front of me. I am not thrilled.

So here I sit, right in the middle of the anger stage of grief. However, I am being sensible and proactive. I am beginning the information-gathering part of adapting to ever-worsening vision.

Here is what I have found so far:

1. There is more to life than ritual abuse!

2. Eschenbach Optik of America makes all sorts of magnifiers. I haven’t started going through their products to see if there is something I could use now and in the future. Looks a bit pricey, but they have used products for sale, too. https://www.eschenbach.com/

3. MD Support offers a forum and an email list for people with macular degeneration. I was a member about ten years ago when I was first diagnosed and panicky but dropped out. It was an active group with reliable information. I am rejoining.   http://www.mdsupport.org/

4. Living Well with Low Vision – Information and news, resources, free books, clinical trials.   https://lowvision.preventblindness.org/resources/ 

That’s as far as I have gotten.

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Tropical Birds at a Bird Feeder in Panama
This is a lovely, colorful video, but with no music or bird song. It cheered me up immensely. Rather than embedding the video, I am giving you the URL. It’s twelve minutes long, and I don’t want to tax WordPress’s memory. I hope you enjoy it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FB77T30feo

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Upcoming Holidays

January
1/31 New Moon

February
2/2 Candlemas/Imbolc/Satanic Revels
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/12 (?) Lincoln’s Birthday
2/16 Full Moon
2/21 (?) Presidents’ Day/Washington’s birthday
2/25 Walpurgis Day

March
3/1 Shrove Tuesday/ Mardi Gras
3/1 St David’s Day (patron saint of Wales)
3/2 Ash Wednesday/beginning of Lent
3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/17 St. Patrick’s Day (patron saint of Ireland)
3/18 Full Moon
3/21 Spring Equinox

~~~~~~~~~~ 

You can find more information on the following holidays at:

Candlemas – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/
Valentine’s Day – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
Spring Equinox – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/
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/
Beltane – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/
Mothers’ Day – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/
Fathers’ Day – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/ritual-abuse-and-fathers-day/
Summer Solstice (corrected text) – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/
Lammas – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/
and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/ 
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/
Fall Equinox – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/
Halloween (personal) – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/ 
Halloween (background) – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
Thanksgiving – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/thanksgiving/
Yule/Winter Solstice – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/ 

It’s Not Selfish to Put Your Needs First at Times

Warning – Fake Friend Request from “Jean Riseman”
Two people have told me they received a fake friend request using the same photo on my actual page. I am looking to the left and wearing an orange hoodie. No other photos, no posts, can’t remember if they said there was a “mutual friend” listed or not.

I had no idea what to do about this, so I Googled it. I learned:

“If you come across a fake profile, Facebook urges you to report the account. You can do so by going to the profile’s page and clicking the three dots under the cover photo, next to the “Message” button.

If you’re reporting an account that’s disguising itself as another person, click “Find Support or Report Profile.” To report a page that’s pretending to be a company, click

Experts suggest also filing a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center IC3.”

The idea of somebody reporting a fake me to the FBI made me laugh out loud! (And it reminded me of the childhood wish that I had been separated at birth from an identical twin and that someday I would find her.)

I worry that it might be somebody trying to trigger a trusting survivor. So be careful with any friend request that seems a little weird. Safest is when the person asking to befriend you has several friends who are friends with you. Then, you can figure out how they came across you.

I get friend requests from handsome older men in the military, born in the US but stationed in the Middle East. It’s a romance scam – some poor soul in a call center is paid to shower a woman with compliments, make her fall in love, and then ask for money for airplane tickets to visit her. Then, of course, they get sick at the last minute. They don’t realize that any man in the military would be way too young for me!

Other scammers are looking for a way to get personal information or place malware on your computer.

~~~~~~~~~~

I think most of us were called selfish as children. We didn’t know what it meant at first, but we did understand that it was a bad thing to be. We came to believe that we were bad for wanting something that others had, for wanting something that would make us happy or make us stop hurting so much. We learned that taking care of ourselves, even if it didn’t hurt others in any way, was selfish.

Nobody had to spell it out for us. It was clear from the expression on the adults’ faces and their tone of voice that we had made them angry and disgusted. We were filled with shame.

Guilt is the emotion we feel when we have done something we believe is wrong. Whether we did it on purpose, whether we were forced to do it, or whether it was a mistake, we still feel guilty. Shame is different; it is our reaction to something we are, something we cannot change, like the color of our eyes.

So if wanting things meant we were selfish, and selfish was a shameful thing, we were selfish for life, and we must forever be ashamed of ourselves.

This explains why so many survivors are horrified when somebody suggests that it is sensible and right and good and moral to put their own needs first in certain situations. It feels like they are being told to do something shameful on purpose, just like in the old days. It feels as if a person they liked and trusted has turned on them and is trying to trick them into doing something shameful.

It takes tact and perseverance to explain that taking care of one’s needs is not a selfish act. How can you take good care of a baby when you are seriously sleep deprived? How can you teach your children to take good care of themselves when you are ashamed to take care of yourself? Remember, children copy your actions, as well as what you tell them to. When you say one thing and do another, it’s confusing.

I run across this situation over and over again in groups. So many people feel guilty because they are too tired or too busy to support other group members. If they don’t respond, will the world end? Probably not. The person in need has been in that place before and has survived. Chances are they will survive if you put your needs over theirs. Besides, somebody else might very well respond.

The last time this happened, I said, “I think everybody in the group should put their own needs first. Then you would be part of a group where everybody knew how to take care of themselves!” It got a good laugh.

Of course, there are exceptions. For example, in a crisis, many people will forget their needs and tend to the crisis. Afterward, there will be time to relax, recuperate, and return to whatever else needs your attention.

There’s also the situation where somebody is capable of taking care of themselves but doesn’t know how. Assuming you are in a position to help, you can either do what they are asking or encourage them to do it themselves. “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

A respectful way of offering your knowledge might sound like, “I know how to do that, and I don’t find it hard. Would you like to hear about my approach?” Not pushy, not judgmental, not harsh in tone. (By the way, an offered solution is often accepted when the problem isn’t present, simply because there is a lot less pressure.) People generally are pleased when they learn a new skill and feel stronger and more empowered when they take better care of themselves and do not feel dependent on others.

An exception that is better not to make is when the person demands something inappropriate. Then it is best to say no. This happens a lot when the other person is addicted to alcohol or drugs. It’s hard to keep the boundary in the face of escalating demands, but you are not helping the other person if you give in. Instead, you are making it easier for them to hurt themselves and hurting yourself in the process.

It will get easier if you keep practicing how to sort out when to put yourself first and when to meet the other person’s request. You will begin to see that putting yourself first is not a selfish act; it is an act of self-care that others often accept without a problem. They might even support you in your decision! Or, even more amazing, they might gain courage from your decision and start emulating you!

Upcoming Holidays

January
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Full Moon
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
1/17 (?) Martin Luther King Jr. Day
1/20 St. Agnes’ Eve
1/31 New Moon

February
2/2 Candlemas/Imbolc/Satanic Revels
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/12 (?) Lincoln’s Birthday
2/16 Full Moon
2/21 (?) Presidents’ Day/Washington’s birthday
2/25 Walpurgis Day

March
3/1 Shrove Tuesday/ Mardi Gras
3/1 St David’s Day (patron saint of Wales)
3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/2 Ash Wednesday/beginning of Lent
3/17 St. Patrick’s Day (patron saint of Ireland)
3/18 Full Moon
3/21 Spring Equinox

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups

1/16 – 1/17 (sundown to sundown) Tu Bishvat/Tu B’Shevat (Jewish celebration of spring)
1/12 Birth of both Rosenberg and Goering, Nazi Leaders in WWII
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
2/26 Purim (Deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman in Persia)

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

~~~~~~~~~~ 

You can find more information on the following holidays at:

Candlemas – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/
Valentine’s Day – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
Spring Equinox – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/
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/
Beltane – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/
Mothers’ Dayhttps://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/
Fathers’ Day – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/ritual-abuse-and-fathers-day/
Summer Solstice (corrected text) – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/
Lammas – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/
and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/
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/
Fall Equinox – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/
Halloween (personal) – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/ 
Halloween (background) – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
Thanksgiving – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/thanksgiving/
Yule/Winter Solstice – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/ 

Phobias and Philias

Here it is – the last blog entry of the year on the first day of the year. (Oh, well.) It’s traditional to look back over the past year and see what you accomplished and to look forward to the next year and make a list of things that you WILL accomplish, dammit.

I don’t do well with summaries and New Year’s resolutions.

Some parts of me talking and other parts answering: “What did I accomplish in 2021?” “Nothing.” “Oh come on, don’t be so dramatic.”  “Well, yeah, some things. But not nearly enough. And I didn’t do them very well, either.” “Give it a rest.”

“What should I choose as goals for 2022?” “None, because making resolutions or setting goals is a jinx.” “Why should it be a jinx? It should fill me with energy and enthusiasm! Onward! Ride into the sunrise! The wonderful future beckons!” “Give it a rest.”

So there will be no fond summary of all the events in 2021 and no optimistic list of resolutions for 2022.

However, I have to write about something. I had no idea what I wanted to say, so I looked back over earlier posts to see if a topic inspired me. “Phobias and Counterphobias” caught my eye.

A phobia is a fear of something. There are as many phobias as there are things or kinds of people in the world. Now isn’t that cheerful?

Philia is the love of something. It doesn’t have to be head-over-heels love; it can be simple fondness. Sounds better?

I also think a philia may be an unconscious attempt to stir things up and become conscious of the abuse.

Of course, some phobias can be very effective at protecting you. Think of fear of black widow spiders, scorpions, or peanut butter if you are allergic to it. And philias can get you in trouble at times. What about certain collections, say of fruit, which will ripen, rot, and attract fruit flies and ants? What if you long for scorpions or black widow spiders as pets?

Enough silliness.

It’s not hard to understand why RA survivors are afraid of things that were used in their abuse. Even before survivors become conscious of what was done to them, fears can surge up through the amnesia. For decades, for example, I was afraid of tall trees, especially if I looked up toward their tops. They looked like alien creatures that had come from space to attack and kill people. Then I remembered that I had been sexually abused in the woods. I had tranced out and projected my pain and fear of the perpetrator onto the treetops I saw as I lay on my back, waiting for it to be over. After I had processed and accepted this memory, I was no longer afraid of trees.

In Freudian terms, a phobia is a defense against overwhelming feelings associated with memories. If you are afraid of something, you will naturally want to avoid it. And if you avoid it, you are protected from being triggered, protected from remembering.

But why are some survivors be fascinated by things that could remind them of the abuse? Well, a philia is also a defense against fear in that it denies the fear. “Oh, no, I’m not afraid, because nothing ever happened to me. Others are afraid of knives and guns, but I love them. I love the shooting range, and I go hunting every year. And I have a large knife collection – pocket knives, kitchen knives, knives used by hunters and scuba divers.”

(I also think that a philia may be an unconscious attempt to trigger a memory into consciousness.)

Come to think of it, that’s a defense that I still use today. I take something destructive from the cult and use it for something constructive. I offer my horrible memory of throwing my terror up at the treetops in the hope that it may make even one person feel less alone, less crazy. And I have a collection of empty 22 shells from my childhood. They make good iced tea glasses for my dollhouse.

Phobias and philias can exist at the same time. I love some aspects of many things and hate some other aspects. Consider Christmas. I gave no presents and received none. I did not send cards. I did not buy a tree or hang a wreath. My dinner was fish stew, polenta, and broccoli. But I listened to carols day after day. Right now, YouTube is streaming an instrumental version of “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.” It makes me happy, whereas presents make my skin crawl.

Love and hate are not necessarily life-long reactions to something that reminds us of a trauma. A person may switch between loving and hating something, sometimes rapidly. Perhaps this depends on which part is in front. Or perhaps the same “you” gets sick of liking something and starts seeing the icky aspects of it. Or you get tired of hating it and start to look for something pleasant hidden deep down in the unpleasant.

In writing this, I began to think that there is no reason to choose between loving and hating something. Why not feel both at once? Or better still, why not jump out of the mindset of being forced to choose and do something entirely different?

I love Christmas.
I hate Christmas
So what – I am grateful I lived to experience another Christmas.
Or bingo! Now I understand why I feel this way.
Or I’ll celebrate by binging on the Grateful Dead – or post rock – or cute kitten videos.

Wonder what else I will think of!

~~~~~~~~~

Upcoming Holidays

January

1/2 New Moon
1/6 Epiphany/Three Kings’ Day
1/7 St Winebald’s Day
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Full Moon
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
1/17 (?) Martin Luther King Jr. Day
1/20 St. Agnes’ Eve
1/31 New Moon

February
2/2 Candlemas/Imbolc/Satanic Revels
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/12 (?) Lincoln’s Birthday
2/16 Full Moon
2/21 (?) Presidents’ Day/Washington’s birthday
2/25 Walpurgis Day

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
11/29 -12/16 Chanukah/Hanukkah (Jewish Festival of Lights)
1/16 – 1/17 (sundown to sundown) Tu Bishvat/Tu B’Shevat (Jewish celebration of spring)
1/12 Birth of both Rosenberg and Goering, Nazi Leaders in WWII
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
2/26 Purim (Deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman in Persia)

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

~~~~~~~~~~

You can find more information on the following holidays at:

Candlemas – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/
Valentine’s Day – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
Spring Equinox – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/
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/
Beltane – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/
Mothers’ Day – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/
Fathers’ Day – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/ritual-abuse-and-fathers-day/
Summer Solstice (corrected text) – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/
Lammas – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/
and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/ 
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/
Fall Equinox – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/
Halloween (personal) – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/ 
Halloween (background) – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
Thanksgiving – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/thanksgiving/
Yule/Winter Solstice – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/