Healing from Ritual Abuse: Phase One

I found an old notebook and read it through in one sitting. My best friend told me not to do that, but I am not one to take good advice, even advice I routinely give others.

The notebook covers nine months, from early October 1988 to late June 1989. It includes, in late March, my discovery of my ritual abuse background. Ellen Bass
calls this the crisis phase. I had had so many other momentous things happen in the preceding couple of years that crisis no longer felt like crisis — it felt like more of the same. So I call it phase one of dealing with ritual abuse.

I sat down to read it, knowing that it was a journal about abuse, but not knowing the date or whether it included ritual abuse.’The first entry reads: “I see an image far away of the garden the lovely garden I remember someone shelling peas they are green and smell green and taste green and smell green under my fingernails.” (Something bad happened in that garden, of course.)

The last entry: “If this stuff didn’t happen and I’m making it up, something else worse happened to make me make it up.”  Quite a change in viewpoint.

It was strange to read it. I remember writing most entries and remember the events that I wrote about. Other times it’s not familiar but it comes back if I just sit quietly for a few moments. And sometimes I can’t remember for the life of me. Seems I felt strongly about people whose names I don’t even recognize. I feel guilty, like I am disloyal to them. But I remembered far more than I forgot.

Everything was so raw. My unconscious was close to the surface and spilled out over every part of my life. I can follow the patterns in my writing and I see that my unconscious is working in the same way today, but in the background. It has been   a steady companion through the years.

Today I appreciate, for the most part, the calm, the ability to enjoy ordinary things, the joy I get from contributing to my community. Other times I would like to be open and passionate like I was in the beginning of the process. I could, and probably will, read that notebook over and over just to get a taste of that intensity.

As the memories and feelings flowed through me back then, I was filled with a great sense of love for people I knew, people in general, myself, and life itself. I remember the fear and horror and I remember being paranoid and delusional. I was afraid to be with my cats, for example, because I thought they could read my mind. But I don’t remember being filled with love. I find that very strange. Love came roaring out, like a lion released from its cage. How could I have forgotten that?

I see the effects of experiencing that burst of love, though. Before I remembered the ritual abuse, I thought I was incapable of love. Or that I could love like everybody else but I was incapable of recognizing it or feeling it. When I thought of my inability, I was filled with a yearning to feel love, both given and received. Now I know who and what I love even though I often feel constricted in my ability to let it in and express my feelings. But I am secure and no longer feel like a one-legged alien.

I’d like to transcribe it all and send you every word. I think that’s a bit much, though. I will probably just make selections and offer them to you with comments.

7 thoughts on “Healing from Ritual Abuse: Phase One

  1. Thank you Jean
    I started the memories about 1 year ago. My journal is a collection of pictures and some words. I am truly astonished and amazed at my memories.I have realized now they are real. I appreciate the blog. Knowing others have had similar experiences is comforting. I lost my voice to speak at one point when the memories started coming back. Now I am finding my voice again. I understand I have a voice now when I comment to your blog and in the decisions I am making in my life now.

    Thank you


    1. Thank *you* Carla. It makes me happy that you are reading my blog. I mostly talk to people who remembered years ago and I feel like I am speaking to the choir. I mean that is wonderful in its own way, for I feel that we stop each other from feeling alone and support each other. The shame starts to melt in community. But it is truly precious to be able to meet and speak to somebody who has recently remembered, to be able to hold out a hand.

      The pictures — they must be difficult to explain away as imaginations. I hope you keep all your journals and put them in a safe place where you can find them again when you need validation. I so wish I had kept journaling. And who knows — I forgot that notebook, and I may come across others if I am lucky!


  2. I started remembering r.a. about the same time, 1989 and could really relate to what you wrote. Through the years to follow whenever i had a memory come up that i had already remembered but not finished working on and felt my denial increasing i would find the first time i wrote about it in earlier journals and it would be literally verbatim! I knew there was no way “i” was capable of that, so every time it happened it was very validating of the truth of my memory, no matter how painful or how much i wished it were not true.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.



    1. A whole bunch of us remembered in that period, and then I think there were fewer in subsequent years. Or maybe they just weren’t as vocal about it.

      I wish I had continued journaling, as you did. But usually I sused scraps of paper. They still are useful and bring up emotion in me, but it would have been so vakuable to have 20-30 of these notebooks.

      How are you doing these days?


  3. 1988 was a long time ago. It’s interesting for us to see where people are and how long they’ve been processing the memories. Thanks so much for sharing.


    1. Thank you so much! I think I’m constricted in a lot of things. But it is no longer all the time, or complete even when it is strong. So it is okay, not the end of the world.

      I visited your blog and am following it. I think you have a lot to say.


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