Halloween 2022

Update on Spencer

A little bit of good news before I get into the heavy stuff.

Spencer, for new readers, is my timid newly-adopted cat. (See the above photo.) He’s been having a terrible time getting used to his new surroundings, as he had lived his whole life in the same place with his mommy. I actually lost him in the apartment for about a week.

But I found him, and he is back in my bedroom and starting to feel comfortable in the smaller space. Hopefully, when he gets free run of the place, he will think of the bedroom as a safe place to retreat to.

Happy! happy! He is bonding with me, more so day by day. He sleeps next to me at night, and we cuddle before I fall asleep. He has started to gently lick my hands as part of his good night routine. 

My next challenge will be to get him off the night shift and onto the day shift. I’m considering moving the computer into my bedroom so I can pay more attention to him during the day. Hope he is not scared of large, bright, noisy machines. 

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Halloween

I thought of my first Halloween here in the heart of the nation’s gay male Mecca. OMG! The costumes! There is a fair amount of kink here and costumes were worn for days, both before and after. The (bad pun) least of it was nude men wearing Santa hats. So many black cats, so many witches, so many Dorothys with little stuffed Totos in their arms. It felt like I was living in a sea of triggers. 

Today, things seem more sedate and, of course, I stay at home except for doctors’ appointments. If I wanted to trigger myself, I would have to go hunting for something on the Internet. I am very grateful I no longer have those intense flashbacks. 

I am also very grateful that, for me, all the cult abuse happened in a couple of days around Halloween. The rest of October has been pretty devoid of horrible memories. For many survivors, though, it seems that the whole month of October is riddled with preparation for coming rituals and then the rituals themselves. In addition to Halloween, there are these days: 10/9 Full Moon, 10/12 Columbus Day (perhaps), 10/13 Backwards Halloween, 10/13 – 10/30 Preparation for Halloween Eve, and 10/25 New Moon.

If you were abused in a Nazi or Neo-Nazi cult, these days may be observed: 10/16 Death of Rosenburg, 10/19, Death of Goering, and 10/20 Hitler’s half-birthday. The Jewish holidays 10/5 Yom Kippur and 10/10 Sukkot, may also be observed by some, but not all, Nazi groups. 

In Polytheistic groups, many Celtic, Druidic, Roman, and Egyptian holidays are added to the basic Satanic calendar.

Turning Flashbacks into Memories

By now, I am desensitized to many anniversary reactions and triggers. After freaking out year after year, they have lost their ability to send me into a full-fledged panic attack. I must say I don’t like Halloween and I don’t like Halloween decorations. I find them ugly and kitschy. The day has become a big money maker, what with costumes and candy and little plastic pumpkins with handles and greeting cards and glow-in-the-dark 6-foot tall skeletons and who knows what else. I’m much more comfortable with The Day of the Dead.

My “anniversary reaction” is now simply one of dislike. It doesn’t precipitate a flashback that plunges me back to a long-forgotten ritual. Or perhaps to a school party that put me in a flashback to a recent ritual. (I have had flashbacks to childhood events that, themselves, precipitated flashbacks – sort of like those Russian dolls, small ones nested into medium ones nested in turn into one final big one.) 

The memory has moved from being so vivid that I almost thought it was happening in the present, to a scary flashback where I was equally conscious of the past event and my present life, to an ordinary memory, just like any other memory. The technical terms are traumatic memory (flashback) and narrative memory.

Traumatic memory: my head is being held under water in a big bucket I can’t hold my breath a moment longer I am going to drown I am going to breathe water and drown I am going to die i am dying i am dying

Narrative memory: Once, when I was about six or seven, they said, “Come and bob for apples – it’s fun. Bite an apple, and if you can bring it to the surface, you can keep it. You’ll get some candy, too.” I believed them and stuck my head in the bucket of water. I could feel apples bouncing off my face, but I couldn’t catch one. I came up for some air and then tried again. Somebody started laughing, and a hand pushed my head down under the water. I thought I was going to drown, but at the last moment, they released me. They laughed and made fun of me and called me stupid. And no apple, no candy, of course.

See the difference?

So how do you get from flashback to memory? I think the answer is to clothe the raw experience in words. 

If you have supportive people around, tell them about the flashback. Let them ask questions. This will clear up misunderstandings, help you search for more words to add to the experience, and, in all probability, make you feel closer to each other. If you can, tell more than one person. Different people ask different questions, leading you to look at the traumatic experience from slightly different angles.

Pen and paper or keyboard and computer are also excellent ways to clothe your experience in words. Journaling has helped countless people. Forget good grammar – just let the words flow. Try to keep your journals in one place and try to organize your computer files so that you can easily find them. 

And date every single thing! I wish I had dated my writings and kept them together. It is invaluable when I come across something to know whether it was written twenty years ago or five. I would then understand where it fits in the ever-evolving narrative of my life.

And don’t forget to talk to yourself, preferably out loud. Explain to your inner parts what a flashback is. Tell them that what was done was horrible, and that they were not at fault in any way. Tell them how sorry you are that it happened and that it was wrong, wrong, wrong. The more you talk about or write about an experience held in a flashback, the faster it moves into narrative memory.

You may be afraid to put words to what you have experienced. That’s part of the flashback, part of the “don’t tell, don’t speak of this, don’t let anybody (even yourself) know” programming. Name your fear, name all the reasons you have to be afraid. When you have clothed your fear in words, it may be possible to turn toward the rest of the traumatic experience. And even if you are not ready, you have taken a huge step toward handling the terror you felt when enduring the abuse, holiday after holiday, year after year.

And remember….Halloween will be over in a few hours.

Borderlines

Halloween

It’s a bit over a week until Halloween. For many of you, these are going to be long, painful days and nights, among the worst of the year. I know that you have gotten through them in the past because you are alive and reading these words. I have total faith you can get through them this year, too, even if you don’t. 

I know that each time you experienced flashbacks, you came to a deeper understanding of what happened to you and what it has meant in your life. The first time, you probably had little idea of what a flashback was and how to deal with it. By trial and error, you found things that helped you ride through the hard hours. Each year you developed more skills in handling flashbacks, pain, and despair. Each year you may have thought that you had forgotten those skills, but they came back when you needed them. They will be there for you this year, too.

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Revisiting My Old Writing 

I was curious to find out what I had written in the early days of this blog. Actually, I was curious to know how my writing had changed over the years.

The first thing that struck me is that I still believe everything I wrote eleven years ago.

I noticed that my writing today is more personal. I share my emotions more openly, I give opinions more freely, and I care less about what others may think. I am less interested in giving historical background, helpful as it is to put things in context. (I do miss doing the research, though.) I hope that the background pieces I wrote for the various holidays are still helpful to people. And I hope that the sharing I do today is just as helpful in its own way.

My spelling and grammar have gone to hell, as has my typing. You can’t tell because I check everything with Grammarly. (Try the free version; it’s very useful.) Comma usage is my biggest problem. I think I have regressed to a second-grader’s understanding of punctuation. I don’t follow the rules; I unconsciously try to copy speech rhythms.

The only change I truly regret is the deterioration in my typing. I have to correct three or four words in every sentence, and I have better uses for my time. 

Here is an earl yentry I made. I wonder what made me choose to write about borderlines instead of, say, the blog’s purpose and my hopes and fears.

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Borderlines

I really, really dislike this label, even though it isn’t one that I have collected (so far) in my career as a client and patient. Many therapists don’t understand the etiology of the cluster of symptoms that comprise “borderline personality” and, therefore, cannot work effectively with “borderline” clients.

For this reason, borderlines have gotten a bad reputation among therapists. They are considered difficult, unpredictable, boundary-breaking, ungrateful, and unchangeable. They are often subtly or not so subtly discriminated against. In clinics, they are assigned to the junior staff, in private practice, they are “referred out,” and in hospitals, they are treated firmly but with little empathy. Not always, but often.

It’s illuminating to consider where the term “borderline” comes from. In the early days of psychoanalysis, it was considered possible to analyze neurotic, but not psychotic, patients. Neurotic people got better as they talked freely about their pasts and their troubles, but psychotics tended to become more disorganized mentally if asked to free associate.

It was soon discovered that a group of people started off looking neurotic and then suddenly, often temporarily, acted psychotic. Thus they were considered “on the border” between neurosis and psychosis.

If you read the old case histories, you may notice that these patients look to our eyes like high-functioning trauma survivors who were having flashbacks in the therapy hour. Some appear to be multiples that switched periodically. Since analysts in those days had no idea what a flashback was, they assumed that their patients had tricked them into thinking they were neurotic when they really were psychotic.

When clinicians started to study borderlines more closely, it was hypothesized that the mother’s behavior caused the syndrome. A mother who alternately pulled her baby very, very close and then became distant and rejecting set the child up for a lifetime of boundary problems. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Alternate invasion and rejection of the child’s very self could well lead to huge difficulties with relationships. 

In this scenario, the father, other relatives, family friends, teachers, and clergy are ignored, and so is the possibility of physical and sexual abuse. There are many ways of stimulating and then abandoning a child, many ways of messing with forming boundaries. And needless to say, ritual abuse utilizes them all.

When people make the connection between early catastrophic abuse and their present behavior, when they learn what flashbacks are, when they go, “Aha! So that’s why I always expect nice people to turn into monsters,” they have a chance, for the first time, to gain control over their lives and their behaviors. This is as true of borderline behavior as of any other symptom of childhood abuse.

What it comes right down to is that, as ritual abuse survivors, we live on the border of past and present. We are not unchangeable; we are trauma survivors.

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Spencer is Playing Hide and Seek

Yesterday, I made a little pathway to his hiding place in the office so that I could lie down on the floor and we could talk to each other. I didn’t try to touch him, but I noticed we briefly made eye contact. I knew enough to quickly avert my gaze so that he would not think I was being aggressive. 

I was glad to see that he was still alive and as I remembered him – large and mostly white.

It was a baby step, but that was all right. I was resigned to not having him come out of his hiding place until the new year. 

Last night, however, I heard him meowing in my bedroom. In the past, meowing meant he wanted seconds on his midnight meal. I carefully snuck out of the room, shutting the door behind me, got more food, and came back into the bedroom. 

Then the most amazing thing happened. He came right up to my face, snuggled, walked away, came back, and snuggled again. And he purred out loud! I had never heard him purr – only felt the vibration of his chest. The loving went on for an hour or so. I drifted off to sleep, expecting him to go under the covers, where he had spent so much of his early time with me.

This morning I couldn’t find him. My closet door was open, and I decided he had to be there. I didn’t want to spend my morning disturbing him, so I ran back to the computer to tell you all about this happy development.

 

 

Documentation to Increase the Safety of RA/MC Survivors

A Bit of Self-Care

I am so glad I gave myself permission to be late on posts or to skip one now and then. My lateness is explained by my cat’s behavior. Since I am still a bit hysterical, I made an even bigger decision.

After messing up part of the last post’s ritual dates section, I decided I would give myself a break from all that formatting. You can find the Satanic and Nazi calendars on the “2022 Ritual Calendar” page, as well as links to most major holidays described on the blog.

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Would anybody be willing to make the 2023 ritual calendar? You work off the 2022 one. Replace the dates of the full moon. Delete the 2022 eclipses and add the 2023 ones. Change the dates of the moveable holidays, like Thanksgiving and Easter. If you aren’t sure of some of the dates, look them up anyway. Make notes about anything you think might be wrong. Then I will send it on to somebody else to proofread and check the dates.

I would be very grateful – I have been doing this since 1999.

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If you haven’t gotten the October issue of the GrassRoots newsletter and would like to see it, write https://grassroots-ra-mc-collective.org/contact-us/ to subscribe.

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Cats- Bah, Humbug

Spencer, my new cat, is now in hiding. He is a Turkish Van, gorgeous like Baker but terrified of his new surroundings. I had him confined to my bedroom so he could get used to a small part of the house and have a safe place to return to when he started going out.

He slipped out when I was leaving the room, and I spent the weekend wandering around looking for him and crying. His previous owner even came and spent two hours meowing. Her husband crawled around on hands and knees looking under furniture and checking behind boxes of stuff. No cat.

On Sunday, I put food out in every room, and he ate the food in the office! I heard him meow in the middle of the night, so I came and gave him seconds. He had eaten the food in the office but hadn’t scoped out the other rooms. At least now I know he is alive and somewhere in the office.

Last night, he again meowed for seconds in the middle of the night. When I went to give it to him, he had not gotten all the way to his hiding place. I could hear him rustling the boxes under the coffee table in the office. Now I know where he is, or at least where he was last night.

Believe me, I looked there at least five times. Rick, his previous owner’s husband, took out every box and looked through them all. Spencer was, obviously, not found.

I am starting to calm down and trust he will come out someday. Somewhere, deep down, he knows I am a nice person who feeds him and brushes him and pets him where he likes it.

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Documentation to Increase the Safety of Survivors

Ellen Lacter has described in great detail how to create  a “Safety Packet.” You can read the whole article here: https://endritualabuse.org/evidence-packets-increase-safety/

The basic idea is to describe your experiences in detail, naming names, and distribute this document to trusted people with instructions that it should be opened on your death and distributed to law enforcement and the media.

The people who have received the documentation should be given extra copies to distribute to other safe people so that the abusers cannot locate all the copies. And you should say, in public, that you have done this and that the shit will hit the fan if you are killed or disappear.

When you read the article, I imagine you will be overwhelmed by the amount of information you are being asked to put in this document. I imagine that working on it will stir up all your “don’t tell” programming. For me, it wasn’t the don’t the ‘don’t tell” programming that arose. It was the “I’m incompetent and worthless” programming. Either way, working on it will be emotional and challenging.

I did this once, a long time ago. I printed out a short version of what Ellen suggested and distributed it. Today, you can put it on a thumb drive – so much easier!

Here is a summary of what is in the safety packet. It doesn’t include everything, or I would have just posted Ellen’s article in full.

1. A summary of what is in the packet and how to use it.

2. A list of the kinds of evidence in the packet.

3. A list of what the abusers might do to kill or “disappear” you.

4. A list of the people who have been given the packet

5. Instructions to those people

6. A witnessed authorization to open the packet upon your death and instructions for distributing the information contained in it to law enforcement and the media.

7. Evidence, such as descriptions of the abuse, recent harassment, reports to law enforcement, and medical records. A list of the abusers, with names, descriptions, and locations of the abuses. A list of victims, alive or dead, and potential victims, with descriptions and photos.

8. A video recording of yourself answering these questions.

What individuals or groups of individuals do you believe want you dead?
Why would these parties want you dead?
Can anyone support or corroborate that these parties have harmed you?
What methods do you believe these parties use to murder or disappear people?
Do you believe there have been any previous attempts on your life? If so, describe the suspected assailants and methods used.
Are you suicidal?
Why do you want to live?
Under what circumstances would you ever suicide?
Do you abuse life-threatening substances?
Do you have lethal weapons or substances in your home?
Do you drive safely? What is your record of traffic accidents and violations?
Do you have any desire to flee your current home and support persons?

My guess is that some of you are feeling overwhelmed just reading a summary of what to include in the safety packet. I know I am.

I believe you can do it. I believe you can pick the least difficult thing to do and give it a try. Then, when you finish it, give yourself a hug and a reward and celebrate your achievement in your own special way. Rest a bit, and then find the second least difficult thing to do.

I think it would be worthwhile to distribute it before you have finished because the process will be very time-consuming. Looking back over the summary of the safety packet contents, I would choose 4, 5, 6, and 8 to include before distributing it.

But don’t let yourself forget that there is more to do. Remember that you followed your plan of doing progressively harder things, and you have achieved your goal. You have gotten stronger by taking small step after small step. And a huge leap by making the video! Just reading over what else there is to be done has desensitized you quite a bit.

Use the same approach of leaving the hardest things for last. For example, write down the names of your abusers and pick the one you are least afraid of. Then, start filling in the information, again, starting with the easiest item and working up. There is no harm in leaving a mark like ???? or an emoji by an item you may want to skip for now and return to later.

I’ll share what I tell myself when the perfectionistic part takes over. “It’s better to do a half-assed job than no job at all.”

I’m not kidding. It’s true.