Finding Happiness Among the Horrors of Ritual Abuse

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Finding Happiness Among the Horrors of Ritual Abuse

This picture was taken only a year or so after the memories flooded me. Looking at the photo, it’s hard to believe that I had been recently curled up in a ball in bed afraid that the force of the memories would kill me. I feared that my body could not take the stress of learning what had been done to me and that my heart would simply stop. Hour after hour of horror, the full strength of the emotions I had felt as a little child and had buried away for the sake of survival. I do not know how I pulled myself together to do what I needed to do – eat, sleep, shower, drive, work, pay bills – all the mechanics of daily life. But I did, somehow.

It isn’t just fear, anger, and sadness that are buried. All emotions are. After ritual abuse, who would dare show joy? The adults would disapprove and you would feel guilty to the core.

With some people, emotions burst through the amnesic barriers at times and show themselves with great force. With me, the world was dull and flat. I did have a full range of emotions, but they were faint, like ghosts of the buried ones. I had no idea what a “real” emotion felt like while I was amnesic for the ritual abuse. I was very timid, afraid of meeting new people. afraid of new places, afraid of getting lost. And once I had children, I was really afraid I would not understand what they were saying and not be able to protect them. I had no way of explaining to myself why I seemed so much more timid than others.

Just as the whole range of emotions had been buried, the whole range reappeared once the damn that held the memories at bay had broken. Enthusiasm, enjoyment, and even joy came back. Not at first: the reaction to the memories was too strong to let anything surface that was not related to the horrors I had seen and been a part of. But they did reappear.

So here I am, on a beach, with beautiful waves breaking and sand dunes and sea gulls. Hungry sea gulls. Brave sea gulls when they spotted food.

I had brought what? Bread? Cold cuts? I don’t remember. I do remember the gulls circled and one would get up the courage to take the food from my hand. I remember that their bills dripped, like a junky spotting cocaine. And I remember that if the piece of food was too big to swallow in one gulp they would fly away as fast as they could to escape their thieving pals.

I was ecstatic. When the food was all gone and the gulls had left, I felt satisfied and pleased that they had trusted me enough to eat from my hand. It had been perfect. I felt happy, I think it is called. And they didn’t even bite me!

14 thoughts on “Finding Happiness Among the Horrors of Ritual Abuse

  1. . I can certainly relate to know finding great pleasure in the most simple of things as a survivor and relate to the rest of your post too. I get triggered a lot and I know if i explained to most people what was going on with me they would think I am crazy and deluded. I know that i am not, although has taken a few years for me to believe myself and come out of the denial. I met a kind hearted lady who was able to help me find balance in my life after I became unbalanced by the weight of my emotions once i started remembering. The journey continues… I look forward to reading your posts.


    1. You got me laughing at myself! In an attempt to regain that pleasure, I save bread etc and feed the ducks and pigeons. But I feel guilty because I don not do it often enough. I also triggered myself when I pulled some KFC out of the trash can hoping they would like the French fries, which they did, but I also discovered they are chicken and chicken bones.

      I am glad you found that person,and hope she is still there for her. The pwoer of kindness is amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aw thank you for replying Jean. Sorry to hear about the KFC being a trigger. Horrible when they sneak up on you like that, although I hope to get better at dealing with them.

        My friend and therapist is still there for me and pretty sure she isn’t going anywhere so I am blessed. Happy to have found your blog too and admire you for having the courage to share this information. X


  2. Hi Jean ,

    Your writing gives me courage. It seems that for me, I’m standing at the beginning of healing (and even questioning that sometimes) so reading your words gives me courage.
    Did you ever doubt your memories? For me, my life is busy with three young children and there are times that memories seem to disappear and I question everything until something pops up and it al seems real. It’s like this vicious cycle that never ends. Was it like that for you?
    Sometimes I’m doubting the memories because I seem like an a-typical survivor, because I can function and have this enormous drive in taking care of the kids so everything else gets pushed aside.
    I don’t know if I’m making myself clear,
    Thank you for writing


    1. Oh, I am so glad. I think it is good that I talk about what it was like in the beginning, or nobody would believe me when I describe what it is like now.

      Yes, I doubted them a lot. And I tried to explain them away, even hoping it was a brain tumor, believe it or not. Now I don’t doubt as often. but every now and them I do. The way I handled it was to say “Well, it is just an hypothesis. When a better explanation comes along, I will change the hypothesis.” Now I figure I am scared by what I am about to remember.

      A lot of survivors are very high functioning. And a lot aren’t. So there is no typical survivor.


  3. This is a drag letter. Nothing good happy, joyous or free about it.
    Owww! I start to write about this chit and I get what feels like a knife stabbed under my right breasts. It’s spread top to bottom of ribcage and I can’t take a deep breath.
    “YOU TALK, You die” Shite it hurts.
    Going to push thru it. Prolly programmed alters.
    This is my life- sleep alot, a big alot, binging, purging, depression and thinking suicide as my only release. I don’t get phone calls, stay in my house for weeks, don’t shower, do laundry , no personal stuff. I play games on the puter…..and that’s my days,weeks , months.
    My insiders know what is going on with the cult now, but I don’t. I just get more depressed. So I take some extra meds so I can sleep the day away.
    We’very narrowed down what we’Lloyd do. I feel bad the kids will have to clean up my messy house. It’s going to be a burden on them.. my oldest won’t want anything to do with it, it would mess up here tidy regulated life.
    Abby will be upset, but she also would understand it. We are connected in ou


    1. The letter above was cut off. Guess they reply don’t want me talking.9
      I was speaking of Abby, my youngest. We have a good connection. If love her so much. My granbabies won’t miss me, they don’t even know me. Friends…, none really.
      I watched a show last nite and it was about a cult, or movement as they called it, and parents were trying to get their kids out of it. They had a group, Cult Survivors…run similar to AA. I’ve never heard of it. Wish I could find somplace like that. Talk to others who know the programs and how to break the bonds.
      I’m too down to write.
      I’m too dam old to still be working on, reaction g to things from 35yrs ago.


      1. 30 years ago there used to be groups like that. Survivors of Incest Anonymous used to have groups called “Nothing to Heavy to Share” for RA survivors. But we were all just starting out and nobody knew what they were doing – just struggling along trying to figure it all out. I wanted an instruction manual so badly! But boy, was it great to be with others like me.


    2. Heavens, how down you are. I know it isn’t all parts of you, because you have written about them, or maybe they have written here. But that is such an awful way to feel, even if it is only part of you, and even if it isn’t 100% of the time. How much sorrow and defeat you are carrying all alone.

      I think you are very brave to write about it, as they made you believe, “You talk, you die.” That’s a lie, but the kind of lie that you believe right down in your bones.

      Does anybody, besides us, know how you feel? Or about the eating disorder? Survivors are much more apt to have an eating disorder than be alcoholic or addicted to drugs.

      You do so much for others…I wish there were some way that the healing parts of you could help the parts of you that are so despairing. I wonder what you would do if you met somebody who suffered the way you do. I wonder if you could do that for yourself. If you could ask your angels and the spirits to help you, and be open to them.


  4. thank you for your posts Jean. I appreciate hearing your thoughts and feelings.
    I stay very busy with work and life. The flashbacks are not so bad usually anymore. recently I removed the carpet in my living room. there had been a plan to do this. I had moved into the house and didn’t like it from the beginning. I had such a relief when it was removed. funny the childhood memories of a carpet were stronger than I thought! sitting this morning looking at the cement floor in my home I am so thankful for the many colors, coolness, and contour of my floor. I am so thankful to be alive, a survivor, here in my home.


    1. So glad to hear the flashbacks aren’t so bad! I can remember my amazement when I started to get a few moments with out flashbacks. I actually thought I was doing it wrong — I thought I had to have all the flashbacks there were and then my mind could turn to something else.

      Funny story: Sunny wrote, “Don’t you ever turn it off?” and I thought she was talking about my computer and so I replied “No, I am afraid I would break it.” She was talking about how I thought of RA 24/7 whereas she had more times when she wasn’t even thinking of it than times she was. We had a good laugh!

      I have such a wonderful picture of you, sitting and admiring your floor — maybe watching the colors change as sunlight hits it.


  5. I love how descriptive you are in relating feeding a seagull, and riding horses and the joy and happiness it has brought you. I remember that stage of healing when I was sure I would not survive. And now I have moments of joy in my life that sustain me through the hard times. Being with my adult daughter, my wonderful service dog and my love of nature. I have a few good friends also.I never believed I would be happy again but it is possible. Thank you Jeanne. I am so grateful for everything you do for all of us.


    1. Oh Briana, did we ever work our asses off to get to this place! What a joy to be happy without being afraid it would turn on us – become ugly, or be taken away. Those of us who can feel happiness, remember how hard we worked to arrive at such a place. And those of you who are not yet there – please don’t give up. Remember you aren’t there *YET*. And you may be closer than you think, especially if you think it will never happen. Happiness will just appear one day and surprise you and yu will have no idea how it got there!


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