Phases of Healing from Ritual Abuse

I’m sorry this is late. WordPress and I are not getting along very well these days.

For ten years, it allowed me to space things the way I wanted. If it didn’t look right, I could switch to html, see what had gone wrong, and fix it. I guess they decided that was too complicated, so they simplified it. I have fewer choices, and I cannot do what I want to do. Technically, I can continue using the old system but it’s hidden deep down among all the things I don’t want to do. Figuring it out drives me bats.

Yesterday and the day before, I gave up after about three hours. I am hoping today is my lucky day. If not, I will waste only more three more hours and try again tomorrow.

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The phases I am about to describe aren’t from the literature; they are from my own experience. The literature generally starts with Phase 1: Stabilization. Well, it’s been thirty years, and I don’t feel reliably stable some days. So I am just going to let you know what I have observed about my own process.

Phase 1 was pre-memory. It lasted way too long for my taste because I was just spinning my wheels. I knew there was something wrong with me, and I knew I wanted to find out what it was and fix it. So I guessed and guessed and guessed as to what that might be. Never even came close! I read every book Freud wrote and then branched out to other psychiatry and psychology books. Nothing resonated. I went into therapy, but my therapists were not “trauma-informed.” Nobody was in those days, so I cannot fault them for not being able to properly diagnose me.

Back then, it was the general consensus that parent-child incest occurred in only one in a million families. In 1955, the year I graduated from high school, the population of America was 171, 685,337. (https://www.populationpyramid.net) That means that people believed that 171 American families were incestuous. (Of course, there would be considerably more if marriages between first or second cousins were counted.) Little wonder that it never crossed my mind. 

Phase 2 was the emergence of memories and frequent, long-lasting flashbacks. This was the hardest time for me because it was all so new and intense. I had no framework for my experiences, and nothing seemed to make sense. I was afraid that I would become psychotic and that my heart would stop from the terror I felt.

Technically, I was psychotic. I thought my cats could read my mind and were in contact with their relatives, who I had been tricked into killing when I was four. I also believed that if my clock radio was quiet, “they” could send thoughts into my mind, so I kept it on all night. However, I knew these things weren’t true. I never took antipsychotic medication and never was hospitalized. Looking back, I interpret these thoughts as memories of the lies they told me. 

When I say that the flashbacks were long-lasting, one body memory lasted for three whole months. It seemed just as intense the whole time. Dealing with all this while working full time was exhausting. Luckily I could sleep at night, and my sleep was relatively undisturbed.

I was also was lucky to have, for the first time, a therapist who knew not only what incest was, but what ritual abuse was. He was smart and loving and had support from a study group of therapists dealing with similar clients. He was a rock for me in those confusing times.

I do not know how I would have fared had I had a therapist who still believed that incest was rare and that ritual abuse did not exist. I think I would have believed them because, after all, they were the authority, and I would have been relieved that nothing like that happened in my family. However, what would I have done with the flashbacks? Perhaps I would have pushed my memories back down into my unconscious, stopping the flashbacks. Or perhaps I would have believed I was truly psychotic, been referred to a psychiatrist who did not believe ritual abuse existed, and been heavily medicated. 

Phase 3 was the consolidation phase. Flashbacks occurred much less often, and I had a chance to catch my breath and focus on learning how to live with my new-discovered past. I read voraciously and spent a great deal of time in the presence of other survivors. It was a true identity crisis, and I looked to the “coming out” process as a guide. I was not the person I had thought I was and I did not know how to behave like the person I now knew I was. 

My past explained so many of my present problems! I suddenly believed in cause and effect, whereas in the past, since I couldn’t see the connection, I had always been confused, at best. It was such a relief to have a reason for my troubles, even though it was a horrible reason. 

And now came the hard job of minimizing the effects of my past on my present life and opening up possibilities that had always been denied to me. I did not have to be a robot, following the teaching and commands of the cult. I could learn to be free, to consider my options, and to make a choice based on my own needs, ethics, and desires, not somebody else’s. This was all foreign territory to me. Luckily, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Understand that my experience didn’t follow these steps exactly. There are days even now when I slip back into Phase 2 or when my denial would take me back into Phase 1 if it could. Unfortunately, even if I convinced myself that I made it all up, I couldn’t forget what I had “made up.” My old identity doesn’t fit anymore.

And each time I open a new area, I start from the very beginning. There was a time when I remembered the ritual abuse but not the mind control or the child pornography. It was not as terrifying as the first time I had flashbacks because I knew what they were and knew how to handle them. I had a road map of the process and faith that I was strong enough to live through whatever was in store for me. I also had support from knowledgeable therapists and other survivors. The confusion and fear were less, and the self-confidence was greater.

I’m sure a lot of people can relate to what I have written. These phases are simple – the before, the beginning, and the middle. I doubt there will be an end, a time when I say, “That’s it. I have done everything and there is no more work to do. Now I will take up guppy breeding.” 

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UPCOMING HOLIDAYS

March
 3/21 Spring Equinox
 3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan
 3/28 Full Moon
 3/28 Palm Sunday

April
4/1 April Fool’s Day
4/1 Maundy Thursday (commemoration of the Last Supper)
4/2 Good Friday
4/3 Holy Saturday
4/4 Easter Sunday
4/8 Day of the Masters
4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/26 Full Moon
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

May
5/1 Beltane
5/9 Mothers’ Day
5/12 (?) Armed Forces Day
5/23 Pentecost
5/26 Total Lunar Eclipse
5/26 Full Moon
5/31 Memorial Day

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
3/28 – 4/4  Passover/Pesach (Deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt)
4/4 Hitler’s alternate birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday, 4/20, and Easter of the current year. This year Easter falls on 4/4.)
4/8 Yom HaShoah  (Holocaust Remembrance Day)
4/15 Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day)
4/20 Hitler’s birthday
4/15 Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day)
5/8 V-E Day (Victory in Europe, WW2)
5/17 Shavuot (Festival of Harvest, Festival of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices, and the equinoxes.)

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* You can find more information on the following holidays at:

Spring Equinox: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/

Easter: personal. (for background, see Spring Equinox) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/easter-blues/

Walpurgisnacht/May Eve: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/

Beltane: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/

Mothers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/

Fathers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/ritual-abuse-and-fathers-day/

Summer Solstice: (corrected text) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/
Lammas: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/
and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-feast-of-the-beast/

Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-ii/

Fall Equinox: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/

Halloween: {personal) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/ 
Halloween: (background) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
 
Thanksgiving: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/thanksgiving/ 
Yule/Winter Solstice: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/
Candlemas: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/
 
Valentine’s Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/

 

4 thoughts on “Phases of Healing from Ritual Abuse

    1. I’m sorry I missed your question!

      My answer? Write what you have to say, what you know. The people who can benefit will find your writing.

      If you want to reach people who are just remembering and feeling overwhelmed, think back to what it was like for you, and share your experience. Tell them that a year, or ten years, or thirty have gone by, and things are very different now. But in the beginning, you thought life would be like that forever. But the little things that they do to try and cope and get through the day will add up, and suddenly they will look back and see the changes they have made.

      I’m assuming you have an RA background. If I have misunderstood, maybe you could explain.

      Like

  1. I can relate to this. It’s informative.
    I had a pre memory phase which was a schizoid depression following a breakdown. That was the toughest phase. It was cruel.
    Then came a memory phase when memories were released roughly one every two weeks. It wasn’t flashbacks, it was a once and done. That phase lasted about four years and since then new memories have only surfaced now and again. The memory phase was better than the phase before, because now there was a reason for the problems I had had, even if I didn’t really understand or believe it. Also I started to slowly heal. The main problem with the memory phase was I lost most of my social relationships. The people I knew before weren’t interested in me anymore or I saw troubling things in them.
    Something like consolidation there has been repair. But really this also started with the memory recalls. It’s been very slow and steady. It took four years before I was confident that the memories were real. Then there was getting used to being a different person and having had a different life on top of what I knew. Also there was getting used to the shocking memories. Also there has been a complete remapping of the world and the people in it and getting used to that. This has all gone together with gradual repair of the damage, brokenness and disconnection. This repair happens on its own and the psychological and spiritual things are like milestones and features along the way.
    I have found resting, waiting, and making sure I meet my basic needs (food, housing, rest, clothes and hygiene) to be helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I relate to everything you are saying. In some places, I use different words, but it feels like we are talking about the same thing.

      Two things I totally relate to but didn’t mention. One was losing a lot of relationships. Some were rocky but ended up solid. Some just became more and more solid at every step. The ones that I really lost, well, I didn’t care much anymore.

      And your last sentence…yes, what really helped was being patient. I did a lot of waiting and just got out of the way of my process. It felt like things were going to happen internally on their own timetable. I remember saying to myself, “If I am going to suffer, I might as well suffer in comfort and beauty.” A bunch of supermarket flowers became a meaningful tribute to my survival and an honoring of those that didn’t make it.

      Liked by 1 person

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