I Wish I Had Kept an RA Journal

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”
* Looking for people who have been used as breeders in a cult setting for submissions for an anthology I hope to put together. Even if you have not been abused this way, could you spread the word and tell all your survivor friends and supportive therapists or pastors about the project? They can write me at rahome@ra-info.org for more information. Thank you so much!

I Wish I Had Kept an RA Journal

The other day I came across a piece of paper. It was writing dating from sometime between 1994 and 1996, a time when many memories were surfacing. I have no recollection of writing it.

I’ve never been good at journaling. I start one, do a few pages, put it aside and forget about it. Then when I need to write something down I either start a new journal or grab any old piece of paper. Since there is no central place I keep all these writings, I cannot go back and look something up.

Many people have the organizational skills to keep their writing together, and maybe even date it or – wow! – index it. I wish I were that way, but I’m not, and never will be. I did make a small step toward organization and made a “locator book” where I write where I have put things. Now I have only one thing to lose instead of dozens…as long as I remember to use the book!

That piece of paper upset me and has been on my mind ever since I found it about two weeks before Beltane. Even though it’s important, I wasn’t ready to pursue it back in the ’90’s. I was so overwhelmed then, and I pursued the things that were pursuing me and taking over my life. I can’t fault myself: I think I made the right choice.

But now I am more stable and less often in relentless flashbacks. So I have the luxury of pursuing it now.

I have wondered for a long time why I am so fragmented. I learned that fragments were used in one of the experimental programming systems that were implanted in me. But I couldn’t have become fragmented then: I didn’t start being used for MC experimentation until I was six. And if fragmentation had been induced at that age, there would have been a trace, a memory, a longing for a less fragmented state. I never experienced any loss or yearning.

I don’t have trouble accepting that I was pretty well dissociated before the age of six because I remember what it felt like to be dissociated back then. Early photos show the vacant stare of a dissociated child. Before the age of about a year and a half I looked like a regular baby; my face was expressive and my body seemed to move freely.

Although I remember being dissociated, I don’t remember being multiple, in the classic sense, with inner parts with separate personalities and histories and places within my mind. I remember thinking just the way I think now and I remember freezing and going blank just the way I do now.

In the writing that I discovered, I was dialoguing with a two-year-old boy, a baby still. He did not know what happened to him, but he knew it hurt. I asked if somebody did know, and he pointed to another two-year-old boy whose body was covered with intersecting black lines. He reminded me of a picture puzzle. This boy could not talk. He understood me and nodded or shook his head to communicate. Since he couldn’t tell me what had happened. he pointed to another boy.

This one was in pieces, tiny pieces. The boy with the marks tried to reassemble him. He could only find pieces that fit for one little finger. That is where the writing stopped.

What it signals to me is heart-breaking. I feel that I was electroshocked when I was two and that was what caused the fragmentation. Recently I asked a survivor half my age what a feather symbolized, as I have doodled feathers on and off since childhood, and she told me it meant electroshock. I felt validated.

I had no words at the time to describe to anybody, even  myself, what had happened, and no way to make myself whole again. But fragments could be assembled to make a small part of me, and that is how I have always experienced myself. Small groups of fragments come together to write a blog entry or feed the cats and then dissolve, waiting safely someplace until needed again.

I’ve also always had some confusion about my gender. I know I am a woman, and I don’t feel like a man in a woman’s body. There are times, however, especially when I first wake up, when I am surprised to find that I am a woman. I remembered abuse when I was five that explained the confusion to my satisfaction. Looking at the writing, though, it seems to me that messing with my beliefs about my gender started around the age of two. Why? I have no idea, at least consciously

It just now occurred to me that the first little boy I spoke with is, indeed an alter. He took me forward in time to the moment when he felt the electroshock and then to when he was fragmented and no longer himself.  It shows me I was once unfragmented but have forgotten what that felt like. although I do have a couple of memories from before the age of two. Was I multiple then? I don’t know.

Every answer brings up more questions. I know that this process will continue for the rest of my life. Each time I get an answer, with its accompanying questions, I know myself a little better. I know for sure that there will not be enough time to answer all the questions raised, and so I shall never completely know my past. Some days that makes me sad and angry, other days I think I know all too much about my past, and that too makes me sad and angry.

 

Upcoming Holidays
May
5/28 Memorial Day
5/29 Full moon
June
6/17 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer Solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/23 St John’s Eve
6/28 Full moon
July
7/4 Fourth of July/US Independence Day
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Full Moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2
7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)

Safety on the Inside

Here is a page with literally hundreds of articles on safety in all sort of places and situations. Well worth reading!  http://www.minneapolismn.gov/police/crimeprevention/

I’ve saved the most important part of keeping yourself safe for last. Why? It’s the hardest to write! And perhaps it will linger in your mind, which has been prepared by all sorts of practical advice in dealing with the outside world.

Your internal safety and internal communication are crucial to creating external safety. All the precautions in the world won’t help if part of you refuses to take them and sabotages every effort of yours to put them in place. The image that comes to my mind is having a pretty carriage, attaching six horses to differ parts of it, and then telling the horses to pull as hard as they can indifferent directions. Even if one horse is stronger than the others, it won’t go smoothly on one direction. Chances are it will quickly break into a million pieces.

Internal communication, therefore, is the key to successfully keeping yourself safe. Everybody has to be on the same page, or at least watching when the others agree on a plan and put it into action. You might try appealing to alters’ curiosity. “We did it the old way last time. Let’s try a new way as an experiment and see what happens.” Or you might try reassuring your insiders that you are older and stronger and wiser and you have found all these nifty new safety devices and therefore you can keep the whole system safe.

It’s the sad truth that it takes a long time and a lot of hard work to establish internal communication and cooperation. I’ve heard of some people who left the cult all at once and never looked back. Like they snapped their fingers or threw a light switch and immediately saw everything differently. But all the people I know (myself included) had a dimmer switch to work with. They left slowly, left and came back, left and came back, over and over. Many have made it all the way into freedom, others are still struggling and experimenting.

It’s not how long it takes, it’s how persistent you are and how strongly you persevere. You take small steps forward, rest, assess how it went, and plan your next small step. You stay curious and willing to experiment with new approaches. You stay determined. And then one day there is a break through.

I met a woman who was beaten up in her apartment on a regular basis. She tried different ways of keeping her assailants out, but none worked. Or they seemed to work for a few weeks, and then her apartment was broken into again, just as she started to relax a little. She was hurt, puzzled, frightened, and discouraged to the point of giving up. She was convinced that they  knew how to bypass each way she tried of securing the windows and doors.

She had also been talking to her insiders and thought they all agreed on the efforts to keep intruders out.  She kept talking to them even in the face of failure. One day a little stepped up and said that if she opened the door, they did get hurt, but that the men had promised that if they could come and hit her a little they would not kill her sister. The little was full of love and more than willing to get hurt to save her sister’s life.

Suddenly it all made sense. Her perpetrators had no high tech or magic way of bypassing the alarms, they just knew how to bully a child. What worked was helping the newly discovered alter to grieve, thanking her for her loving heart, explaining how the adults tried to control children by making threats, and finally explaining that they would not kill her sister because they wanted her alive.

There were no more “break ins.” But there were, of course, other challenges to be met with a whole new bunch of baby steps.

This short entry only skims the surface of things that you can do internally. You can find an article by Arauna Morgan, “Seeing and Breaking the Chains: Steps for Recognizing On-Going Abuse and How to Break FREE,”  at http://endritualabuse.org/healing/breaking-the-chains/. If you get overwhelmed reading it, remember that you don’t have to do everything at once. Pick what speaks to your condition and start with that.

Try and remember that every small step is an achievement: reading part of the article, talking to your insiders, speaking to them with love and respect, pondering what else you can do to protect yourselves. Most of all, cherishing your hope and determination.

 

I hope you all get through the holidays okay. May you stay safe, inside and out, may you cry if you need to, may you be calmly alone or with people you trust and care about. For those of you that have a faith that celebrates these days, may your soul be filled. For those of you that don’t, may you think of things you can be grateful for and feel happy about them, even for a moment.

Personal Safety – Your Home

The most important thing you can do (I sound like a broken record) is to make sure that all of your insiders are on the same page. If 99% of y’all want your home to be safe and secure from intruders, and one child part opens the door on cue, your efforts will have been in vain. Having said that, let’s go through some of the more common things you can do to make your home secure.

I assume most of us rent and will have to get the landlord’s permission to install anything permanent. If you are lucky, you may be successful in making the argument that safety improvements will add to the value of the property and protect it from physical damage. If not, you will have to make do with simple methods that make no physical changes to the apartment.

Make sure the landlord has changed the locks when you move in. Don’t loan anybody your keys, and if you do, re-key the locks.

There are affordable alarms (many under $10.00) that sound when doors or windows are opened.  (Look over a site like http://www.thehomesecuritysuperstore.com/door-alarms-sub=141 for ideas.) You can take them with you when you move or visit somebody. I doubt I could use them, though, because it would be next to impossible for me to remember that they are there. The neighbors or the police do not take kindly to have alarms blaring several times a week.

One survivor I knew sprinkled corn starch by the door before she went to bed. First thing each morning, she checked for footprints. She never found any, but it was very reassuring.

If you are allowed to have pets, dogs afford some degree of protection. Small yappy dogs are better at deterring intruders than large silent ones. You may have many “false alarms” which could drive both you and the neighbors nuts.

Getting to know your neighbors is a huge plus. There is one nosy old lady on our block who spends a lot of her time looking out the window. She’s a one-person crime watch. She has called people to tell them that there is somebody suspicious checking out their house and she has also opened her window and yelled at somebody she thought might be breaking into a car.

If you only get to know one person, pick the busy-body. A small gift, like a plate of brownies, will bring you extra attention. If there is a Neighborhood Crime Watch, join it, read its literature, and attend meetings. Even though it is hard to trust people, remember that the chances of a neighbor belonging to the cult are extremely low. You are safer being known by your neighbors than by keeping a low profile.

If you own your own home, there are additional things you can do. Install motion-sensitive lights and a security camera – or a fake one. Check the landscaping for places an intruder could hide. Plant fast-growing rose bushes or other thorny shrubs under windows. Install iron grates over ground-floor windows. Check the Internet for ways to mechanically secure sliding glass doors and windows.

Last but not least, install and use a deadbolt on your front door. Google “home safety intruders” for more ideas on how to secure windows and doors. Most are simple enough to be installed by those of us who are not mechanically-minded.

I’m going to end by suggesting that you invite your child alters to be part of the project and explain each step you are taking to make everybody safer. Invite them to ask questions and tell them that this is a new way to protect everybody, including the body. They don’t have do it the old way anymore. It’s also a good idea to teach them not to fool with the alarms because the sound will scare everybody, inside and out. And be sure to explain things more than once! It takes time for kids to absorb new information.