Loneliness

I know everybody is thinking about the election and our new President-to-be. I definitely am, and I’m full of emotion. But I tell myself I will continue to do what I normally do. Chop wood, carry water (Old Zen saying, “What did you do before enlightenment? What are you doing after?) Many of us have to think and write about ritual abuse, and I might as well be one of those people.

My wish for all of us is that we take time to sort out how much of our reaction is a “feeling” flashback and how much is purely a reaction to the situation. And that we do not react out of fear and panic — or hope and happiness, for that matter..   

For the first forty-plus years of my life, I was extremely lonely. I didn’t feel connected to people and I didn’t feel that anybody knew me, except as an acquaintance. I remember, year after year, having no friends. I yearned after friends until I became a teen, and then I yearned after both regular friends and boyfriends. I didn’t feel connected to adults, either. They were either aliens or enemies.

Then, in middle age, something amazing happened. I remembered! I started getting flashbacks! In the small slices of time between absolute terror, I “got it” – I understood why I had difficulty making friends, recognizing when somebody felt I was their friend, and, in fact, feeling connected in any way to any human being. Fear was like a fortress around me, separating me from other people, protecting me, but also leaving me isolated and unhappy.

After I remembered, whenever I met another ritual abuse survivor, I immediately started hanging out with them. There was a kinship there, a kinship I had never before experienced. We had commonalities because of our childhoods. We used the same words, had the same twisted sense of humor, and were incredibly confused and courageous at the same time.

The usual social divisions melted away. Age, gender, sexual orientation, race, education, and social class just plain didn’t matter in comparison to what we all had lived through. I felt so much more comfortable with these people who had been strangers to me just a week or so ago than I had felt with anybody else in my life. It felt like family. It was family. It’s still that way.

Those were the good old days, when survivors were’t afraid to be “out.” There were so many ways to meet each other: SIA meetings, of course, but also peer support groups, poetry readings, lending libraries, toy exchanges for the littles. Thinking of those times fills me with nostalgia.

The euphoria wore off, of course, and then the FMSF came and really put a damper on things. There were fewer and fewer ways to get together and gradually the groups all faded away. There once were five or six SIA meetings a week in my city and now there are none. We get together only at conferences and on the Internet.

But even without the groups, I am no longer lonely. That is odd because I have only a few friends and they either work long hours or are far away geographically. I know I am accepted and appreciated, even though I am pretty much alone. I spend most of the day at the computer but I don’t mind — I feel complete.

I believe that the reason I stopped being lonely is that I found the part(s) of myself that I was cut off from. All those years I had been lonely for myself, and I had absolutely no idea. I am so grateful that the barriers between me and me have lifted and that I have all that I need. I am truly blessed.

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12 thoughts on “Loneliness

  1. I know I feel much less lonely now that the truth about the Clintons is coming out. She was used once or twice in my abuse. Not sexually but I’m other roles.

    1. Oh, Jan, how awful. This whole campaign must have been unbelievably hard for you. Not that the last twenty or so years haven’t been. How do you manage to keep going? I can barely imagine how isolated you must have been feeling.

  2. Though the abuse I struggled with was of a different kind, I can relate to your expression and experience of loneliness, and difference, in childhood (and for me beyond). It’s good to hear that you found your way out of that well of isolation and loneliness; and that you’ve emerged into the light of friendship and compassion – for yourself as much as for others.

    1. I think that abuse of any kind results in life-long difficulties. Pain is pain, no matter what caused it. Of course there are differences too — RA is different from, say, many operations at a young age. But I think we all can empathize with each other. I hope your isolation and loneliness lift, too.

  3. This is just what I needed today! I think I am reacting to the election, having some flashbacks and starting to anticipate the holidays. I really don’t have any friends that I am close to. But I am more involved with the community I have and I have a service dog. He is Mobility assistance and Diabetes Alert and he is my bestest friend always ready to snuggle or play or go for a walk. He helps with my PTSD tremendously.
    Thank you for being there, Jeanne. You are important in my life.

    1. Gosh, I forgot about the season. Long dark nights, cold weather for many, and all that holiday cheer, plus memories of what happened to us. What a great setting!

      I would love to have a service dog but I couldn’t walk him. Cats are nice, but not inclined to be helpful. I sometimes think about a service monkey! How can you take care of him if you have mobility problems?

      1. In the beginning I was only able to walk a city block with him. Gradually, walking him became part of my Physical Therapy and we take long walks. It has done wonders for my Agoraphobia. Many people are in wheelchairs and they enlist the help of others to walk their dog. It is doable! Email me if you are interested…

        1. Well, I would be interested if I didn’t have two cats. They definitely wouldn’t take to a dog, even a service dog! I can only walk a half block, with the walker, and each year it gets less, despite all sorts of physical therapy. So I walk in water. Maybe a service dolphin?

    1. Not sure I understand. Do you mean our process and progress are similar, though the things that caused our difficulties are different? Hope you continue step by step on the path that is unfolding for you!

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