I used to think that call-backs were some mysterious, irresistible phenomena that I would never be able to understand. Something totally out of ordinary experience, something I had never experienced and was totally unprepared to deal with when I finally would experience it. It frightened me no end.

Looking way back to before I understood I had a cult background, I realized that the conscious experience of a call-back, for me, was simply a strong desire to return home, to establish a closer relationship to my family. (Unconsciously, of course, there were all sorts of intertwined meanings and messages, such as threats of what would happen if I didn’t obey.) It was pretty illogical, because I didn’t like my family very much and I knew I did far better when I didn’t have contact with them, even phone contact.

Some times I resisted the urge, sometimes I didn’t. I resisted more often when my life was full and I had lots of other commitments. Practically speaking, other commitments were a good excuse. But having a full, rich life also meant that I had many other ties that were, in their totality, stronger than the tie to my parents. That makes total sense to me.

Two of the most reliable call-back times were Thanksgiving and Christmas. Nothing odd about that. In a Norman Rockwell world, everybody went back home then and three or four generations sat around the table in harmony and feasted on turkey, or ham, or roast beef, and all the fixings. I felt different from other people because I chose to spend these holidays with my new family, forming new traditions. Those traditions did not include criticizing people’s table manners or grammar and putting people down until adults and children alike were reduced to tears. And they did not include anything far darker.

I had the most peculiar reaction to my thirty-third birthday. I was desolate, filled with guilt, because Jesus died when he was thirty-three. He had changed the world by that age and I had accomplished absolutely nothing. I was filled with a strong, strange, almost magical restlessness. I didn’t understand or know what to do to resolve these feelings, but as the months passed they faded. I expected other birthdays to be similar, but they weren’t. Only twenty years later did it occur to me that this must have been a call-back age.

The strongest call-back of all was when my father was dying. I flew down every weekend to be with him. His immanent death filled me with dread, as if the whole world would be snuffed out when he drew his last breath. I was a total wreck.

I was in even worse shape after he called me to his bedside and showed me a living will asking that no extraordinary measures to be taken to keep him alive. He said I was the only one he trusted to implement the living will but that he wanted me to know that, if I did follow his wishes, I was legally committing murder. Talk about a double bind! He was giving me the choice of killing him, as he wished, or torturing and disrespecting him in his final days. Luckily he died naturally shortly thereafter. Was this a set-up to take over his leadership position? That would certainly explain my deep sense of impending doom.

These examples are pretty typical of some of the types of call-backs people experience. Holidays, certain ages or dates with numerical significance, family birthdays or deaths. Other more idiosyncratic things may also be triggers for a call-back. One friend of mine found that becoming suicidal was the impetus to return to the cult. The hidden message was, “Since ‘normal’ life holds nothing for you, come back to us.”

Why the necessity for call-backs, anyway? If a person never left the cult, they wouldn’t have to be called back. Perhaps cult parents see the wisdom of allowing adolescents a long leash so they can go sow their wild oats and get it out of their system before returning to the fold. Perhaps it is a function of mobility in modern society. Perhaps there is value in having a network of “sleepers;” inactive members who can be mobilized if needed. And then there is the threat to the cult represented by healing, with the conscious or unconscious choice to repudiate cult values and activities and increased awareness of crime committed.

In talking about call-backs, I’ve simplified things a good deal. I haven’t taken multiplicity into account and examined the different reactions of different alters. Nor have I mentioned losing time, which can complicate things immensely. How do you know you have been subjected to a call-back if you are not co-conscious with the alter who got the message and you don’t even know you have lost time?

I’ve also not discussed accessing suffered by government/military mind control survivors. Here it may be not only a matter of call-backs but also the on-going imparting of assignments and fine-tuning of programming. And, with more complicated programming and layered systems, it is more difficult to identify triggers, defuse the programming that results in compliance, and keep oneself free from being assaulted, drugged, or abducted.

I still believe there is nothing magical about a call-back. I believe it is simply a post-hypnotic suggestion or a command to return at a certain time or to perform a certain action, coupled with forceful threats. Like anybody who has unsuccessfully tried hypnosis to stop smoking or lose weight can tell you, post-hypnotic suggestions don’t have to be followed. And the more we work to keep ourselves safe and protected, the less hold the threats will have on us.

10 thoughts on “Call-Backs

  1. Thank you for this. We have struggled with these sorts of things a lot in the last few years, especially last year when a main abuser died. It was nice to hear we aren’t alone with this.


    1. I was a total wreck for years after my father died. I think it was a huge call-back, so powerful. But I stayed away and gradually put the pieces together again. I hope you gain strength each time each resist a call-back until they become not even an option. That sounds pompous, but I mean it gently, with love.


  2. My father past two weeks ago. I am struggling with similar experiences to those of your writing. Not finding the solution as quick as i would like. Thank you for your words.


      1. What helped you get through the feelings you had and didnt expect to have? What do you do when you dont want to miss them? Can i email you?


      2. Oh, gosh, all sorts of things. My pride, during those times when we weren’t speaking. Having kids and wanting them to have happy memories of holidays, instead of tiptoeing around old people who didn’t much like kids. No fun for anybody. Previous plans. With my 33rd birthday, it was so confusing I had no idea what to do so I didn’t do anything. I think that was a really good principle I had — “When in doubt, wait until you figure things out before making a decision.” Well, it took me many years to figure things out. I learned that no matter what the feeling is, if you wait, and just feel it, it will change to something else.

        Now this wasn’t very mature, and probably wasn’t a good idea, but I found that cursing took away the homesickness. (“I can’t believe I miss the rotten &*^%$@(*%#%$! What am I, a &(^%$#@^R&^% masochist?”

        Sure, I will send you my email address.


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