Here it is – the last blog entry of the year on the first day of the year. (Oh, well.) It’s traditional to look back over the past year and see what you accomplished and to look forward to the next year and make a list of things that you WILL accomplish, dammit.
I don’t do well with summaries and New Year’s resolutions.
Some parts of me talking and other parts answering: “What did I accomplish in 2021?” “Nothing.” “Oh come on, don’t be so dramatic.” “Well, yeah, some things. But not nearly enough. And I didn’t do them very well, either.” “Give it a rest.”
“What should I choose as goals for 2022?” “None, because making resolutions or setting goals is a jinx.” “Why should it be a jinx? It should fill me with energy and enthusiasm! Onward! Ride into the sunrise! The wonderful future beckons!” “Give it a rest.”
So there will be no fond summary of all the events in 2021 and no optimistic list of resolutions for 2022.
However, I have to write about something. I had no idea what I wanted to say, so I looked back over earlier posts to see if a topic inspired me. “Phobias and Counterphobias” caught my eye.
A phobia is a fear of something. There are as many phobias as there are things or kinds of people in the world. Now isn’t that cheerful?
Philia is the love of something. It doesn’t have to be head-over-heels love; it can be simple fondness. Sounds better?
I also think a philia may be an unconscious attempt to stir things up and become conscious of the abuse.
Of course, some phobias can be very effective at protecting you. Think of fear of black widow spiders, scorpions, or peanut butter if you are allergic to it. And philias can get you in trouble at times. What about certain collections, say of fruit, which will ripen, rot, and attract fruit flies and ants? What if you long for scorpions or black widow spiders as pets?
It’s not hard to understand why RA survivors are afraid of things that were used in their abuse. Even before survivors become conscious of what was done to them, fears can surge up through the amnesia. For decades, for example, I was afraid of tall trees, especially if I looked up toward their tops. They looked like alien creatures that had come from space to attack and kill people. Then I remembered that I had been sexually abused in the woods. I had tranced out and projected my pain and fear of the perpetrator onto the treetops I saw as I lay on my back, waiting for it to be over. After I had processed and accepted this memory, I was no longer afraid of trees.
In Freudian terms, a phobia is a defense against overwhelming feelings associated with memories. If you are afraid of something, you will naturally want to avoid it. And if you avoid it, you are protected from being triggered, protected from remembering.
But why are some survivors be fascinated by things that could remind them of the abuse? Well, a philia is also a defense against fear in that it denies the fear. “Oh, no, I’m not afraid, because nothing ever happened to me. Others are afraid of knives and guns, but I love them. I love the shooting range, and I go hunting every year. And I have a large knife collection – pocket knives, kitchen knives, knives used by hunters and scuba divers.”
(I also think that a philia may be an unconscious attempt to trigger a memory into consciousness.)
Come to think of it, that’s a defense that I still use today. I take something destructive from the cult and use it for something constructive. I offer my horrible memory of throwing my terror up at the treetops in the hope that it may make even one person feel less alone, less crazy. And I have a collection of empty 22 shells from my childhood. They make good iced tea glasses for my dollhouse.
Phobias and philias can exist at the same time. I love some aspects of many things and hate some other aspects. Consider Christmas. I gave no presents and received none. I did not send cards. I did not buy a tree or hang a wreath. My dinner was fish stew, polenta, and broccoli. But I listened to carols day after day. Right now, YouTube is streaming an instrumental version of “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.” It makes me happy, whereas presents make my skin crawl.
Love and hate are not necessarily life-long reactions to something that reminds us of a trauma. A person may switch between loving and hating something, sometimes rapidly. Perhaps this depends on which part is in front. Or perhaps the same “you” gets sick of liking something and starts seeing the icky aspects of it. Or you get tired of hating it and start to look for something pleasant hidden deep down in the unpleasant.
In writing this, I began to think that there is no reason to choose between loving and hating something. Why not feel both at once? Or better still, why not jump out of the mindset of being forced to choose and do something entirely different?
I love Christmas.
I hate Christmas
So what – I am grateful I lived to experience another Christmas.
Or bingo! Now I understand why I feel this way.
Or I’ll celebrate by binging on the Grateful Dead – or post rock – or cute kitten videos.
Wonder what else I will think of!
1/2 New Moon
1/6 Epiphany/Three Kings’ Day
1/7 St Winebald’s Day
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Full Moon
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
1/17 (?) Martin Luther King Jr. Day
1/20 St. Agnes’ Eve
1/31 New Moon
2/2 Candlemas/Imbolc/Satanic Revels
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/12 (?) Lincoln’s Birthday
2/16 Full Moon
2/21 (?) Presidents’ Day/Washington’s birthday
2/25 Walpurgis Day
Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
11/29 -12/16 Chanukah/Hanukkah (Jewish Festival of Lights)
1/16 – 1/17 (sundown to sundown) Tu Bishvat/Tu B’Shevat (Jewish celebration of spring)
1/12 Birth of both Rosenberg and Goering, Nazi Leaders in WWII
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
2/26 Purim (Deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman in Persia)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices, and the equinoxes.)
You can find more information on the following holidays at:
Candlemas – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/
Valentine’s Day – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
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/
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/
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/
4 thoughts on “Phobias and Philias”
I wish you the healthiest and best for this new year! As I read this, the old familiar ache washed over my middle. I love water in all its many forms, especially if it’s moving. I am also terrified of water. My denial is wearing thin. And that is good news. Thank you.
And may you have a great 2022!
I know what you mean about denial wearing thin, and sadly I also join you in loving water, looking at it, listening to it, being in it, and yet fearing it. It doesn’t repulse me, it just scares me silly.
I love your trees in winter photo. I rad your note re photo and found your Alaska photos—gorgeous! Northern lights—amazing!
so glad you liked it! And good to touch base again.
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