My Presentation at the An Infinite Mind’s “Healing Together” Conference

* The International’s Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) Annual Conference is coming up. The pre-conference is March 12 – 13, and the main conference is March 14 – 16. It’s being held in San Francisco. Information: https://annualconference.isst-d.org/

I’m attending the conference this year and would love to connect with anybody who is going. We could hang out at break times and get to know each other better.

ISSTD is also offering two regional conferences. 

*A Day With Professor Michael Salter” – plus Margot Sunderland, Adah Sachs, Kathryn Livingston, Mark Linington, Elly Hanson, Sue Richardson, Valerie Sinason, and Nancy Borrett – is in London on March 5. Information: https://www.isst-d.org/training-and-conferences/upcoming-conferences/london-regional-conference/

* “Diagnosis and “Treatment of DID and PTSD in Indigenous Peoples” is in Fairbanks AK on June 17 – 20. Information: https://www.isst-d.org/training-and-conferences/upcoming-conferences/fairbanks-regional-conference/

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The vibe at An Infinite Mind’s conference was just like last year’s, except stronger. It was warm and friendly and accepting, also open and trusting and real. Once again, there was a great deal of diversity compared to other conferences I have been to. There were more men, more differently-abled people, more people of different races, more gay, lesbian, bi, and trans people, a wider range of ages, and more people with green or blue or pink hair. That is greatly to be celebrated.

And guess what? There were almost 100 more people there than there were last year! They must be doing something right.

I learned some new things, met some amazing people, touched base with people I had hung out with last year. It’s relaxing and energizing at the same time to be with others who are like me in so many ways, and I wish I could experience it 24/365. But I’m not complaining – the memory of those 24/48-plus hours will buoy me up for many a day.

So – the presentation. I survived, obviously. There were about 30, 35 people there, over half survivors, and the rest split between therapists and support people. I had prepared the talk for therapists, so I made it more general, more inclusive, as I went along. There was time for questions after each section, and that worked very nicely, People quickly engaged and they liked that format.

It felt weird because I went into flashback almost immediately. I’d expected the flashback to come after the presentation, the way it did at previous conferences. But no, it was 90 minutes of flashback, which gradually lifted afterwards. I felt like an actress playing a part, and I could feel that the way I moved my body and my hands was not normal for me. I couldn’t tell about my voice because I was using a microphone, so, of course, my voice sounded very different to me. Although I didn’t feel like a different person, you might say I switched, and another part gave the presentation. I don’t know.

I lost my place once, fell silent, and then said, “I don’t know where I am.” Nobody seemed to take it literally. I quickly found my footing, apologized, and continued. And I did let one set of questions go on too long and had to rush through the end. None of this was a disaster. People came up to me afterwards and thanked me and were very warm and supportive. And nobody knew I was in a flashback unless I told on myself!

So it was just fine – it really was.

One thing I really love about being in a group of RA survivors is that we can go from tears to laughter in a minute. So many of us seem to have the same sense of humor. It’s a bond. I love it! And I’m glad that people think I am funny – humor is such a gift.

The ice is broken, and now there can be other RA presentations. Maybe even a panel! There is plenty of time to brainstorm and plan.

Perhaps you-all could help start the brainstorming and share your ideas in the comments section. If you could go to a conference on DID, what would you want the RA sessions to be like? Let your imagination soar!! Topics, of course, but also format. Academic presentations, art shows, music, anything.

Perhaps I could develop some of those ideas into a blog post.

 

PS This is not an apology; it’s an explanation. The post is late this time because I was on the plane coming home on the 10th. Yesterday, I made time to write it, but I didn’t post it until today. I read it with fresh eyes, did some editing, and and then clicked “publish.” I still have lots of every-day life things to do – get some food in the fridge, read 150 emails and sort out the important ones, laundry, things like that.

PPS The cat is much better! I was afraid he would die when I was away, and I wouldn’t get to say goodbye. Luckily, I worried for nothing. Magical thinking tells me that it was my fretting that made him better, but logically I think it was his resilient little body.

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Upcoming Holidays

February
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/25 Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
2/25 Walpurgis Day
2/26 Ash Wednesday

March 
3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/9 Full moon<
3/13 Friday the Thirteenth
3/17 Spring Equinox
3/17 St. Patrick’s Day
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan

April
4/1 April Fool´s Day
4/5 Palm Sunday
4/7 Full moon
4/8 Day of the Masters
4/9 Maundy Thursday (commemoration of the Last Supper)
4/10 Good Friday
4/11 Holy Saturday
4/12 Easter Sunday<
4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
2/10 Tu Bishvat/Tu B’Shevat (celebration of spring)

(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes.)

A New Friend

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”

A while ago I was so very lonely for real life, face-to-face interaction with survivors. I vaguely thought how to go about creating opportunities, as most all of the people I had known had moved out of the area for various reasons – mainly the ridiculous cost of living around here.

Since I was doing nothing except day dreaming, the Universe took over. The Universe’s solution was to motivate a RA/MC survivor to find other survivors and hopefully create some community and mutual support . I’ll call her Starling, just to give her a name. She Googled and found me and another woman! She emailed me and gently asked if I would be interested in meeting and perhaps starting a support group for survivors. You bet!

There were only the two of us at our first meeting and it was at a public place with easy parking, good coffee, and lots of space and empty tables for privacy. We liked each other, felt safe with each other, liked that we were open to different group formats, and, most of all, thrilled that we had connected. Most subsequent meetings have been at my house because that solves my parking problem. And I serve frozen blueberries.

The core group consists of Starling, me, and the other woman she found through Google. One woman from of town came once, and a friend of mine will hopefully attend regularly once things get settled. We all are very grateful to be together. Each time we meet we leave energized. It is such a blessing to be with people who understand, who get it without needing a lengthy explanation, who laugh at the same things.

Now this is a lot in itself. But there’s another blessing – Starling and I have become good friends. A couple of years ago I had a run of making new friends, but then they all moved out of town, far away. One even moved to Africa. Then there was a long dry spell. Looks like things have turned around for me.

We are so different! As teens, she was part of the punk scene and I was preppy. She is very spiritual and if I am the least bit spiritual, I don’t know it. She is into raw foods, I am an omnivore trying to eat things with a lower carbon footprint. She’s into alternative medicine, and has been for years and years. Me, I am Western medicine all the way. (I’m open minded enough to have tried other approaches, but they just didn’t seem to work for me.) We don’t try to convert each other, we don’t judge, we just learn things.

We’ve started to do things together outside of meetings. Girly things, like getting our hair cut together, and slightly more serious things, like Starling coming along for moral support when I need to take my cat to the vet. We’ve talked about day-tripping into the country to get a taste of the ocean and redwood forests.

And then there are opportunities for activism I never would have thought of. I didn’t know it, but there are ‘zine conventions and alternate book publishing conventions. (A ‘zine is a homemade booklet or pamphlet.) We could share a table and put out RA/MC material! I could finally finish a few of the dozen half-written pamphlets sitting in my “current projects” file. We could print up bumper stickers, a source of instant gratification as they roll into the printer tray.

Starling found an independent radical newspaper that reviews books and ‘zines and sends issues of their paper to prisoners for free. Her first ‘zine, on her experience with ritual abuse and Nazi mind control, got reviewed by the newspaper and Starling now has sent out over fifty copies to prisoners who wrote her requesting it. Imagine how much that must mean to a survivor who is imprisoned and unable to locate the sources of support that we can freely access.

So thank you, Universe, for the loss of my loneliness, for a new survivor group, a new friend, new doors opening to fun and rewarding opportunities for activism. You did real well by me!

Upcoming Holidays

October

10/13 Backwards Halloween
10/24 Full Moon
10/31 Halloween/Samhain/All Hallow’s Eve/ Hallomas/ All Souls Day/Start of the Celtic new year.
November

11/1 All Saints’ Day
11/22 US Thanksgiving
11/23 Full Moon
December
12/21 Yule/Winter Solstice
12/22 Full Moon
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/25 Christmas Day
12/31 New Year’s Eve

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups

9/1 N Start of WW2
10/12 Hitler’s half birthday
10/15 Death of Goering
10/16 Death of Rosenburg
11/9 Kristallnacht
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween

Never Bad Enough

I’m moving the list of holidays to the end of my posts, because I feel it gets too much emphasis if it is at the beginning. If I received complaints, I’ll reconsider.

 

On the first of January of this year, I wrote a post called “Never Good Enough.” I promised I would write about its evil twin, “Never Bad Enough.” So here we go!

The Oxford English Living Dictionary defines evil as “profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force.”

Applying this definition to the goings-on in my cult, my first thought was, “Now who in the world would want another person to be evil?” “And what is evil enough, anyway?” I’m still very naive! Or at least part of me is.

I was raised a Satanist, and we believed that “Satan is the God of Evil.” Human evil is a gift to him, a way of worshiping him, and it pleases him immensely. The absence of evil enrages him and wishy-washy evil infuriates him. When he is pleased by a substantial gift, he rewards the person who gave that gift with material riches and power.

Most parents prefer their children to grow up and be well off, or at least comfortable, in life. They are proud if they are respected, honored, and looked up to. All of these attributes are indicative of power. In that respect, Satanist parents are no different from other parents. In most other senses, they are night-and-day different. Other parents do not think they are doing their children a favor by torturing them.

Now I was raised a good little Satanist, taught to believe that I could please the God of Evil by being as bad as possible and thus grow up to have lots of money, respect, and power.

But just as there are some Christian kids who, deep down, are bored by being good and crave risk and excitement and danger, there are some Satanist kids who, deep down, hate being mean or hurting others. By nature, they are disgusted by destruction and sadism. It’s like they have an innate craving for peace and love and beauty.

Of course these kids don’t shine at learning how to be Satanists. When told to do something, they are slow and sloppy and have to repeat the lesson over and over. They feel like a failure because they are never bad enough. That was me.

Actually, it’s a double bind. If the kids don’t get it right away, they have to repeat it until they are bad enough to satisfy their teachers. If they do it right the first time, they are promoted into having to do something worse. One way or another, they are going to be forced to do evil things, over and over and over.

Yearning to be kind, yet forced to commit cruel acts, my guilt and sense of responsibility for those acts defined me. When I was in the cult, I felt I did not belong, because I was good at the core and therefore could never be bad enough to be a Satanist. When I was free, I felt I did not belong because I was evil at the core and the bad things I did could not be undone or atoned for, no matter how good I was.

Strange paradox, never bad enough to be a Satanist, yet always too bad to be anything else.

 

Upcoming Holidays
February


2/25 Walpurgis Day
March

3/1 Full Moon
3/20 Spring Equinox
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan
3/30 Good Friday/Death of Jesus Christ
3/31 Full Moon (Blue Moon)
April
4/1 Easter Sunday
4/1 April Fool’s Day
4/8 Day of the Masters
4/10 Full Moon
4/16 – 4/23 Grand Climax/Da Meur/ (Preparation for sacrifice in some Satanic sects}
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
4/1 Hitler’s alternate birthday (Easter)
4/20 Hitler’s birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday, 4/20, and Easter of the current year.)
4/30 Anniversary of Hitler’s death
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)