An interesting Article on Elizabeth Loftus

Want to hear my excuse for this late blog post?

I was out having fun! I have no guilt, none at all.

A friend took me to a small Asian district that I have shopped in and eaten in and loved for years. I hadn’t been there for 14 months. My favorite small supermarket had my favorite fish and staples like bok choi and fish sauce and I was in heaven. We lunched together on take-out Banh Mi. 

She also took me to a small garden center, another shop I have loved for ages. I bought six-packs of lettuce and white cosmos and white stock. Also, three tomatoes, even though I have no idea where I can put them in the garden. Worst comes to worst, I can give them away in trade for some tomatoes when they ripen.

And I went to the doctor. He’s better in person than on Telemed! What’s more, I went all by myself. First time I took Lyft since early March 2020.

I took these places for granted when I could go any day I wanted to. Now they are as much a treat as a tropical vacation. 

~~~~~~~~~~ 

I have subscribed to the New Yorker for years. Although it is pretty poor on issues such as child abuse, DID, and memory, I love the cartoons, the poetry, most of the fiction, and many of the articles.

The April 5 issue had a long article on Elizabeth Loftus by Rachel Aviv. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/04/05/how-elizabeth-loftus-changed-the-meaning-of-memory I read it out of curiosity, expecting to be annoyed. To tell the truth, I was not disappointed.

When I initially heard of Loftus’ research and her connection with the False Memory Foundation (she was on their Scientific Advisory Board), there was little criticism of her work. Gradually, people started critiquing her often-cited early experiments on memory. I had hoped that pointing out the flaws in her reasoning would make a dent in her growing prestige, but I was mistaken.

Loftus started studying the malleability of memory in the ’70s. She questioned eye-witnesses about car crashes, using different verbs – hit, smashed, collided, etc., and found that, when the subjects were later asked about the speed of the cars, the more vivid verbs were correlated with higher estimated speeds. This led to more studies on the shaping of descriptions of events by the use of leading questions.

Her most famous experiment is widely known as “Lost in a Shopping Mall.” The formation of false memories; Loftus, E. F., & Pickrell, J. E. (1995) Psychiatric Annals, 25(12), 720–725. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1996-29546-001)

From the abstract: “ 24 Ss (aged 18–53 yrs) were provided with a brief description of 3 true events and 1 false event that they had supposedly witnessed with a close family member between ages of 4 and 6 yrs. Ss were required to record details of their memories concerning these events. This was followed by 2 successive interviews over 2 wks, in which Ss were asked to rate the clarity of their memory and confidence they felt regarding memory for events. Ss were then debriefed and asked to identify the false events. Ss were able to recall 68% of true events and used more words when describing true memories. During the 1st interview, 75% resisted suggestion about being lost in false events, and continued to resist during 2nd interview. 19 Ss correctly identified false events.”

The False Memory Syndrome Foundation used the article to “prove” that memories of childhood sexual abuse had been “suggested” by therapists. The fact that 75% of the subjects could identify which was the false event was overlooked.

Although the False Memory Syndrome Foundation ceased to exist in December of 2019, it continues to cause immeasurable harm to survivors, their therapists, and other supporters. Their views were widely disseminated by the media and are still held by many, many people. Our accounts of abuse (especially ritual abuse) are disbelieved, discounted, or minimized. 

Dr. Loftus became sought after as an expert witness on memory for the defense of many men accused of sexually assaulting women. She testified in the trials of Harvey Weinstein, O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, Ted Bundy, and about 300 others. Among her many books are “The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse.”

I do understand that memory can be inaccurate, that it can change over time, and that it can be shaped by leading questions. I do not understand how research that shows that some memories are accurate can be discounted or how inaccuracy of some memories can be generalized to “prove” inaccuracies of all memories. I have always been irritated by the way the results of Loftus’ research were used in the world outside academia.

This article in the New Yorker, though, gave me a different perspective on Loftus’ work and life and opened my heart. I now feel compassion for her as a person, even though my opinion of her work has not changed.

According to the article, Loftus’ kept a daily journal for six years during middle school and high school. Over and over, she wrote about how happy she was. Yet her father was aloof and emotionally unavailable and her mother was depressed and emotionally unavailable. When she was fourteen, her mother spent six months in a psychiatric hospital. Elizabeth kept writing in her journal about how happy she was and never mentioned her mother’s absence. Five days after her discharge, her mother was discovered dead in a pool at a family vacation house where she and her sister had stopped on the way home. 

Elizabeth and her brothers believed it was an accident, but her father believed it was suicide. In any event, her diary continued recording how happy she was. She did, though, write about her mother on scraps of paper which she paper clipped into the diary. They indicated she regretting not watching TV with her mother when asked, saying she was busy. She also records a long conversation about her mother’s childhood on the day she died, which Elizabeth treasured, saying that was the only time they had been close. She never said she was unhappy, but wrote of things that would have made most children guilty and unhappy.

She married but was unable to have much-wanted children. Elizabeth threw herself into her work, and the couple spent less and less time together and then divorced amicably. They are still good friends. From that time on, her life consisted almost entirely of work.

Throughout the article, she is quoted about wondering whether her mother’s death was a suicide or an accident, which version of her death was false, and which true. Quotes also indicated how unconnected the mother and daughter were. Both Elizabeth and her brother said they had next to no memories of their mother – only one or two hazy ones. 

And once, on the witness stand, she revealed that she had been molested by a male babysitter when she was six. Later she wrote, “the memory flew out of me, out of the blackness of the past, hitting me full force.” She had never forgotten the incident, but apparently, she had not remembered it is this way before.   

She also did not realize that she had misinterpreted what had happened until she worried that it had made her pregnant when she got her period later than her classmates. (She remembers that there was no penetration.)

It seems, that in her personal life as well as in her research, she can never be sure whether a memory is accurate or not, and that she has never been able to resolve her doubt about the cause of her mother’s death. 

Now I can feel compassion for that sad and brave child, doing such a good job of putting on a good front. I truly believe that she meant no harm and that her research might have taken a different turn had it been conducted today, now that we have information about the neurological storage of memory and the difference between implicit and traumatic memory.

In the next post, I will share something I wrote about memory in back in 1992.

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Upcoming Holidays

April
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

June
 6/10 Annular Solar Eclipse
 6/20 Fathers’ Day
 6/21 Summer solstice
 6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
 6/24 (?) St John’s Day
 6/24 Full Moon

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
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.)

~~~~~~~~~~


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

 

 

 

Internal Family Systems Therapy Workshop

There are two announcements after the main part of this post.

I attended a 12-hour Workshop on Internal Family Systems Therapy. It was on ZOOM, and I am pretty comfortable using ZOOM now. I wasn’t triggered by being on video, and there were so many people attending that I just faded into the background. 

I noticed that I have the world’s messiest bookcase as background. I have no desire to tear it apart, find new places for all the papers and vases and other miscellaneous items, nor do I wish to subject myself to the frustration of not being able to find stuff when the bookshelf beautification project is complete. I have some lovely ZOOM virtual backgrounds, which I use on occasion. I do get spooked by seeing parts of me disappearing and reappearing as the software tries to catch up with itself. I shall therefore offer my bookcase, as a kindness, to make many people proud that their offices are tidier than mine. 

I wasn’t triggered by being in a large group, either. I didn’t have to interact with anybody. I also was under no pressure to remember anybody’s name or what we talked about. Actually, there was no pressure to remember anything, come to think about it. That was a treat because when I attend an in-person workshop, I’m expected to spend breaks and lunchtimes with others, to join email groups, and to remember all sorts of things, whether I am presenting or not.

I didn’t know anything about Internal Family Systems Therapy when I signed up for the workshop. Years ago, I had looked at their website and decided that it was pretty complicated and I didn’t have the time to study it. That was the sum total of my knowledge of the subject.

The workshop was well-organized, the slides were clear, and the presenter was knowledgeable. The content was interesting, and I learned a lot. I’d like to share a very brief summary with you all.

IFS theory postulates that everybody has a Self, everybody has experienced trauma to some degree, and everybody has developed parts to deal with the trauma. These parts came into being to protect the Self from being overwhelmed. Now the person has everything inside themselves that they need to heal. The therapist doesn’t have to give suggestions or advice or teach the client anything. All he/she has to do is guide the internal process of the client. Here’s an example:

T: “Is there a part of you that has thoughts or feelings about X?”
C. “There’s a part that’s mad.”
T. “What’s that like?”
C. Describes how the mad part makes things more complicated, how it would be better if that part went away.
T. “What’s the worst thing that could happen if that part of you stopped making things more complicated?”
C. “I would get overwhelmed and couldn’t cope.”
T. (to client’s Self, sense of “me”) “That mad part of you is doing a very good job of trying to protect you by distracting you.
T. “I wonder what would happen if, just for a second, that part stopped protecting you. If it stepped back, just for a moment, what would that be like?”
C. “I would okay for a short time. I know I would.”
T. Asks both the Self and the part if they are willing to try it. After getting permission, coaches them on how to step back and leave a quiet space between them. Then asks what it was like for each.

See how everything happens internally? Each time the client works with a part, the Self gets stronger, and the part does less and less protecting. Since the protective behavior (cutting, eating or not, worrying, criticizing, etc.) is a distraction to help the Self not deal with the trauma, symptoms diminish. The therapist doesn’t address the symptoms, just guides the client through the process of experimenting and negotiating with the parts.

Once the protectors are all on board and have faith that the Self really is strong enough to deal with the trauma, the healing phase of therapy begins.

There are parts, called “exiles” in IFS therapy, which hold the memories and feelings from the trauma. The therapist guides the client through the process of meeting an exile and learning about the age and the trauma in general terms. The next steps are finding out what the part would have liked to have happened, determining that the adult Self can give what is needed, and then providing it through guided imagery. At that point, the exile part is able to release the trauma and stops being stuck in the past. The trauma becomes a memory and does not have the overwhelmingly intense images and feelings of a flashback.  

I like that the client is not pathologized and that, from the start, the therapist conveys that the client has all that is needed to heal inside themself. I like that all parts of the person are treated with respect and always given freedom of choice. I like that the purpose of a symptom, not the symptom itself, is the focus of attention. It is a gentle, compassionate approach to trauma treatment.

I don’t like that IFST would take a long time for many therapists to learn because of the difference in approach and language and the number of protocols for different processes. (It’s sort of like EMDR in this respect.) Although from reading their website I gathered that it could be blended with other modalities of therapy, it would take much thought and time to do so.

Here is The Internal Family Sytems Institute’s website. https://ifs-institute.com

Browse through the News section for free Webinars and the Resources section for articles, videos, and podcasts. The bibliography in the Research section has a wealth of books, which you can sample at Google Books, Amazon, or Questia.


~~~~~~~~~~ 

Upcoming Holidays

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

June
 6/10 Annular Solar Eclipse
 6/20 Fathers’ Day
 6/21 Summer solstice
 6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
 6/24 (?) St John’s Day
 6/24 Full Moon

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
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.)

* 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/

 ~~~~~~~~~~

*Highlights of a New York Times article


The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are proving highly effective in preventing coronavirus infections under real-world conditions, the C.D.C. found.

Troubling variants were circulating during the time of the study – from December 14, 2020 to March 13, 2021 — yet the vaccines still provided powerful protection.

The C.D.C. enrolled 3,950 people at high risk of being exposed to the virus because they were health care workers, first responders, or others on the front lines….

Among those who were fully vaccinated, there were .04 infections per 1,000 person-days, meaning that among 1,000 persons there would be .04 infections in a day.

There were 0.19 infections per 1,000 person-days among those who had had one dose of the vaccine. In contrast, there were 1.38 infections per 1,000 person-days in unvaccinated people.

 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/29/world/pfizer-moderna-covid-vaccines-infection.html?campaign_id=60&emc=edit_na_20210329&instance_id=0&nl=breaking-news&ref=headline&regi_id=112647142&segment_id=54428&user_id=c9efd3687ea12eec8e32e61a5b86de7d

 

* Survivorship Regular Conference – Saturday and Sunday May 22 – 23, 2021
Clinician’s Conference – Friday May 21, 2021
Information on the speakers, topics, and registration is at https://survivorship.org/the-survivorship-ritual-abuse-and-mind-control-2021-conference/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Became Polyfragmented

I have been meeting by ZOOM with another polyfragmented survivor. We would like to invite others to join us so that we can become a group. If you feel that all or part of your system is fragmented, please contact me through the comments section or email me directly. You will find my address in the comments section.

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I’m annoyed at my process. It seems that for all these years of work on myself, my past, how it shaped me, how it laid the ground for dysfunctional behavior, the guilt, the low-self esteem, etcetera, I should be further along than I am now. And then there are the years and years of therapy, years of another person being by my side and on my side, guiding me and cheering me along.

Don’t get me wrong – I am very grateful to have remembered and thus been able to enter this process. I’m intensely thankful for two exceptional therapists that I’ve worked with over the years. And to have been born in an era when ritual abuse and government/military mind control are talked about and studied, an era when survivors can find each other and share their experience and hard-gained wisdom. I have been so very lucky.

I think that AA and other 12-step groups, along with the women’s movement, laid the groundwork for us to remember and tell others our stories. It was in those meetings that people broke taboos right and left, talking about subjects that had been clothed in silence for generations. My parents didn’t talk about alcoholism. How could they? They did not even have the concept. It was the same with domestic violence and incest and other forms of sexual abuse – they did not even have the concept. 

When I was about fourteen or fifteen, I read that incest occurred in one in a million families. That belief was not exactly conducive to realizing that your family was one of those 160 families. (The population of the United States was 160.2 million in 1953.) And of course, Satanism didn’t exist, and governments were benevolent and would never hurt a child.

Yes, it is so much better to know the truth. I am lucky and grateful, but I am still annoyed and frustrated by my healing process. And I am annoyed that I am annoyed because it’s not helpful!

Anyway, this is what set me off.

I’ve been pondering how my mind works with fragments and no real alters. No alters with specific jobs. No one to take care of this immensely complicated computer, learn to use a cell phone, or do the dishes. No one to decide who gets to be out. No one in charge, no one to hold memories. I don’t understand how the little scraps of my mind get together to get anything at all done.

However, I did find out how I got this way, which is progress, even though it sheds no light on what “this way” is. I found a large sheet of paper, dated 1994, which spelled out how I was fragmented. What is really weird is that I had forgotten that I figured it out years ago. I wonder how much else I don’t know that I once knew. 

This is what I had forgotten for so long. I was electroshocked when I was about two, and the shocks were what splintered me. I don’t know how often it was done, how it was done, who did it, who arranged for it to be done, where it was done, why it was done, why I am not scared of electricity. I just know that my mind was left in little pieces that could not be reassembled.

These things I assume –

My parents must have consented to it or consented to a cover story about what would be done to me. However, there is no trace of anything in my baby book or my mother’s diaries that would indicate anything out of the ordinary happened to me around that age.

Somebody they knew must have put them in touch with whoever was running the program. They did not have the skills necessary to do it themselves. Neither had any technical or mechanical talent.

I am guessing that healthy, bright toddlers were collected from cult members and fragmented to be used later on in various programs.

That’s about as far as I have gotten.

Being electroshocked as a kid raises a lot of questions. I have no idea how I could come through that experience and still look “normal” from the outside. I met developmental milestones, and I seemed “normal” psychologically, except for being shy and timid. There was no obvious physical aftermath. How in the world is all of this possible? I may never know any of the answers.

Realizing that this happened to me is not what is frustrating to me. It feels like a weight on my heart and leaves me numb. What is frustrating is that I could have gotten this information many years ago and just plain forgotten it. Amnesia came roaring back, and I had to remember all over again.

I have long believed that no issue is totally resolved. The process is not linear; it is a spiral. You work on something and make good progress, then turn to something else. In time you come back to the same issue and work on it again, but at a deeper level. I thought that I would know what my issues are and remember the work I had done on them. Now I know that isn’t necessarily true.

It’s like making a complicated cake with many layers and spending hours decorating it beautifully, then dropping it on the floor. 

Oh well, I can always start over again. I just did.

 ~~~~~~~~~~

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

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/ 
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/
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/

 ~~~~~~~~~~

Upcoming Holidays
November
11/11 Veterans’ Day (?)
11/13 Friday the thirteenth
11/26 Thanksgiving Day (United States)
11/30 Full moon
11/30 St Andrew’s Day
December
Sundays of advent: 11/28, 12/5, 12/12, 12/19
12/4 Total Solar Eclipse
12/14 Total solar eclipse. Totality will be visible in Chile and parts of Argentina. Partial eclipse will be visible in southern South America and south-east Africa. See https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2020-december-14
12/18 Full Moon
12/21 Winter solstice/Yule/St. Thomas’ Day
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/5 Christmas Day
12/29 Full moon
12/31 New Year’s Eve

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
11/29 -12/16 Chanukah/Hanukkah  (Jewish Festival of Lights)
(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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* How to add a comment after a post This blog’s design makes it hard to figure out how to comment. Go down to the bottom of the post (after the calendar) You will see in light grey type: “RATE THIS” tagged (a list of the tags) (the number of) comments” Click on the word “comments” to open all posted comments.

At the very bottom of the page, you will see “LEAVE A REPLY.” That’s where you make a new comment. You can reply to a posted comment by clicking “Reply” under that comment. In each case, make sure to click “POST COMMENT” when you are finished. It’s a good idea to write out your comment first and then paste it in so that you don’t risk losing what you wrote.

Suppressing One Emotion Suppresses All

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

* Additional information on Yule/Winter Solstice is available at:
https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/

~~~~~

We survivors of ritual abuse have every reason to be afraid of a lot of things, because a lot of things were used to abuse us. A lot of situations, too. Just about everything they could think of was used in a perverted way. So of course we are afraid!

But if you live your adult life being afraid, you cannot do much of anything because you are paralyzed with fear. You might be afraid of eating, or showering, or even getting out of bed each day. Let alone going grocery shopping, or having friends, or having a job, or raising kids, or …just about everything.

So the sensible thing to do is to suppress the fear and to pretend you aren’t afraid. Stiff upper lip, head high, looking as confident as everybody else. And feeling confident! “I’m not afraid – of course I can do it. Easy peasey.” Perhaps it’s not so hard to suppress fear; perhaps you have practiced it since you were a child and it’s now second nature. Perhaps all the terrified parts are hiding way down inside you, alone and voiceless as always.

Yes, you get through life looking like you are doing well. But you feel numb, sort of robotic. And why is this?

Because if you are good at one way of handling your emotions, the mind applies that technique to all emotions. You aren’t afraid, you aren’t anxious, but you are also not happy or playful or joyful. Life feels flat, dull, empty.

~~~~~

I follow a life coach, Katherine North, who shares her organizational techniques and gives tips for overcoming adversities, large and small alike. By nature, she is pretty scattered, so she has test-driven these techniques. In sharing, she is vulnerable and real. And she writes like a bandit – her words are bursting with life.

I would like to share excerpts of her weekly letter to her followers because she wrote about losing and regaining the capacity to experience joy.

If you want to sign up for Katherine’s newsletter or read a few of her blog posts, go to https://www.declaredominion.com/

~~~~~

I said to my husband Nick, “Babe. I feel like there’s a twinkle light in my heart that isn’t turned on.”

He laughed at me for about ten minutes, and when he recovered, he asked me why.

I didn’t have a good answer. We were doing all the holiday things; the tree was up; the presents purchased; stockings hung. But something in me wasn’t feeling the same glowy cozy feelings I usually feel this time of year.

And I wanted to feel them! Oh, I wanted them BAD.

So I rustled around inside myself for a while, looking for the answer. It was a lot like rustling around a big handbag belonging to a mom with many children: I pulled out some hopes and fears, some diapers and candy canes, the odd sock and a squished granola bar. And as I pulled out all these pieces of my heart and examined them, I realized something.

In order for me to feel the fuzzy cozy glowy feelings I want, first I have to feel utter heartbreak.

Well that was not good news. Not good news at all.

No, I don’t want heartbreak, I want candlelight and mistletoe and solstice rituals and lighting the Hanukkah candles!

But in order to have those things, first I was going to have to let my heart crack.

You see, I could feel that I had installed a little plastic membrane around my heart to hold it together.

This is a necessary move sometimes, because the world is so hard and terrible that in order to walk around and feed our kids and remember to put pants on, we have to instruct our heart that it simply cannot break – not just this second, not for at least ten minutes. But I had put on that protective membrane for an hour… and then forgotten to take it off.

And so there was a barrier between me and my feelings.

That brittle membrane that made me feel like I could keep my shit together was also keeping out the joy.

There was the joy, right there, twinkling all around my little grinchy heart, but it couldn’t trickle all the way down into the insides.

Sigh.

Reader, I did what I had to do.

I watched” Little Women” is what I did. The Susan Sarandon one, with my oldest daughter, and we both cried so hard we shook the couch.

And don’t you know, all those tears melted away that hard membrane?

. . . . Go ahead. Let the world break your heart. Let the flames of fury roar out your ears. Those intense feelings don’t make you weak, they make you awake. Let yourself cry, let yourself rage, go ahead and feel the suffering, but let it move through you and come out of you as some sort of helpful action.

The things I can do are small. But the doing of them heals me.

We can take food to our local food bank, give money to organizations that effectively do the work in the world we wish we could do ourselves, or invite over a lonely neighbor. We can buy gifts and books from truth-telling artists and support other makers. We can call our elected officials. We can tell our truth and listen to others’ truths.

Small actions, yes. Ridiculously small. But a million small actions add up.

So add yours to those millions.

Don’t be afraid to let your heart go ahead and break. Your heartbreak will show you where your energy wants to flow. It’s showing you the places where you can be useful, where your heart can meet up with the world’s need.

Remember that small is powerful. Remember that one person can make a huge difference, at least to one other person. Remember that together our small actions make us a mighty force to be reckoned with.

My little twinkle light is back on, dearheart. It might be tiny, and so might yours, but when we add all ours together, they shine like motherfuckers.

~~~~~

After thirty years, I can slip into work mode and get things done, whether it is dishes or doctor’s appointments, or writing a blog post. But when somebody tells me their story, tears still fill my eyes. It is this deep sadness at the senseless cruelty of ritual abuse that keeps me listening and writing and gives meaning to my life. And, as Katherine said, the tears release the ability to be melted by the beauty of the first ray of sunshine each day. the small kindnesses of strangers, the soft fur of my cat. Hundreds of others things, too.

It is a circle: sorrow releases gratitude for the goodness that exists next to the evil, and the gratitude and joy soothe the sadness.

~~~~~

Upcoming Holidays

December
12/15, 12/22 remaining Sundays of Advent
12/11 Full moon
12/21 Winter solstice/Yule/St. Thomas’ Day
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/26 Annular solar eclipse. Totality will be visible in Saudi Arabia, southern India, Sri Lanka, parts of Indonesia, Singapore, and parts of the Philippines.
12/31 New Year’s Eve
January
1/1 New Year’s Day
1/7 St Winebald’s Day
1/10 Full moon
1/10-11 Penumbral lunar eclipse. The moon will turn a shade darker during the maximum phase, visible in Australia, Europe, and Africa. Most penumbral lunar eclipses cannot be easily distinguished from a usual full moon. See https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2020-january-10
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
1/20 St. Agnes’ Eve
February
2/2 Candlemas/Imbolc/Satanic Revels
2/8 Full moon
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/25 Shrove Tuesday/ Mardi Gras
2/25 Walpurgis Day
2/26 Ash Wednesday

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
12/22 – 12/30 Chanukah
1/12 N Birth of both Rosenburg and Goering, Nazi leaders in WW2
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
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)