Yet Another Identity Crisis

I came across this piece I wrote a dozen years ago for the Aug/Sept 2003 issue of the Survivorship notes. It’s now 2015 and I’m still right in the middle of this particular identity crisis.

By the way, there is a Blue Moon on Friday and Lamas is on Sunday.  (A Blue Moon is the second full moon in a month.) Stay safe!

When I got my first ritual abuse memories back in the late eighties, I assumed that my therapist knew what he was doing. This was based on little more than the fact that Mike had heard of ritual abuse and that he was in a study group for therapists dealing with incest. My naivite served me well, for I would have been petrified if I had known he was winging it.

It took me a couple of years to figure out that he was no expert. By this time I was through the initial crisis phase. I had figured out that I wouldn’t die of fright and I was beginning to come to terms with an identity I had neither wanted nor imagined. I was staring to feel like a “real” ritual abuse survivor.

I decided to move to San Francisco, the RA healing capital of the world. Although I was moving for other reasons, I was really excited by the thought of being in the same city as Survivorship, BAWAR, and all those wonderful, knowledgeable, experienced therapists. Now I could start healing in earnest!

It didn’t take me long to figure out that Survivorship’s address was a P.O. box and that all those great therapists lived mostly in my imagination. There weren’t very many therapists dealing with RA and most of them weren’t taking new clients or couldn’t work with me for other reasons. It started to dawn on me than San Francisco had just about the same amount of resources as Boston – not many.

All this time I had been reading everything I could get my hands on, hoping to find an instruction manual for healing from RA. The closest book was Safe Passage to Healing by Chrystine Oksana, and even she kept saying, “Trust yourself. Look within for the answers.” Well, I didn’t trust myself, and there were mighty few answers inside, only tons of questions.

As time passed, I started working for Survivorship. (Old social workers never retire, they just volunteer.) I met more and more survivors and put them on pedestals as paragons of healing, assumed they had all the answers that I didn’t. But they were muddling through just as I was. No instruction manuals, no simple and foolproof directions, no gurus. Just a lot of hurting people doing the best they could with what they had. Sigh.

Slowly, slowly, I am coming to realize that I am the world-expert on my own abuse and my own healing. Nobody else’s – just mine. And each person I meet is the world-expert on their abuse and healing. Chrystine was right all along. We have to trust ourselves, hard as it is, and look within, for that is where truth and integrity lie.

I hope you can laugh along with me as I struggle to assume this new identity: “Expert on Healing from Ritual Abuse.” And I hope you realize that this is your identity, too, although it’s probably as uncomfortable as a brand new pair of hiking boots. In time it will soften and fit better.

And when we put our collective wisdom together, we will have an instruction manual for the next generation of survivors. It will probably say something like, “Don’t self-destruct. Get through the days the best you can. Trust yourself, and look within, for you are the expert.”

16 thoughts on “Yet Another Identity Crisis

  1. Yes, this past weekend was a doozy between Blue Moon and Lamas. But, being the survivor I am, I was able to keep myself from self harm. I have taken a break from many years of therapy- I am sick and tired of someone sitting across from me scribbling notes as I talk. How does one dismantle programming? By ourselves? Anyway, thank you for all you do, Jean…


    1. Twice the holidays, twice the pain and struggle. You did great!

      Right now, I feel the best way to tackle programming is to make friends with inside pple, slowly getting to know the more powerful ones. Approaching them with curiosity, and not trying to change them. Trusting that the growing friendship will allow them to change all by themselves. I dunno. I maythink differently tomorrow.


  2. Another great post showing survivors a path to power. I’d say, personal expertise and external support are equally important. We have dual nature – personal and social. It is great to have an icebreaker like you Jean. I just consider that not all the people can be so active, especially in doing such a tremendous work like quitting the cult. There are a lot of all kinds of people stuck there. We should keep it also a common field of work (not just personal), because only common empowerment works and common freedom gives our life universal sense.


    1. Not everybody can be as active as I am but many will be able to when they are a little further along their path. It takes a lot of little tiny steps, but each step brings us closer to freedom. And yes, the social aspect is also needed and having the Internet and blogs helps bring us together as a community.


  3. Yes, a double full moon is certainly hard to handle & creates a lot of emotional & psychic turmoil, internal havoc … Let’s be Brave !

    Soft music to soothe the heart & mind :

    E. *


    1. Thank you for sharing the music you find soothing. I think music is very personal: I found that I became anxious when I listened to it. But then I am strange….I find Vivaldi relaxing!


  4. Hallo,
    I’m a survivor from Germany.
    My English is not that good, but I want to thank you for this really helpfull message! Actually we are on a ponit of our live, where we are surching for a new Therapist, who knows about the special needs of RA-Survivors. In the moment it’s really frustrating. So it was so helpfull to be remembered by you, that there is also a specialist in us, who can help us to find the right and good way to live.

    Please excuse, if there are any gramatically mistakes in my comment!


    1. Your English is good! If you email me and tell me what part of Germany you are living in I may be able to help you find a therapist. You can email me at Even if you find the world’s best therapist, you still will know more about yourself than that person does!


  5. I’m at that same place. Third time this week I heard that message of “no one is really able to fix you”. I guess I knew it but now I’m sure. I think maybe we are more dependant than others sometimes due to our boundaries being crossed and our inner child being abandoned.


    1. I think we wish we could have depended on our parents or those that raised us. But we couldn’t, we only had ourselves. Messes us up a lot in adulthood — trying to depend on untrustworthy people, then deciding we had to do it all alone and not asking for help when it would have been gladly given. I think a good therapist is like a coach, saying, “you and me can put out heads together and try and figure this out.”


  6. Tried to post comment earlier. Hope this works.
    Thanks for this Jeannie. Very timely for me. I really enjoy your blog.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s