Patterns of Healing

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

* Remember that two anthologies are seeking submissions:

1. Jade Miller is working on an anthology about the difficulty of finding a therapist who can work with DID or other forms of dissociation. Write her at thetraumasurvivorstale@gmail.com

2. I am seeking submissions of accounts of forced abortion, sacrifice, or forced adoption of babies in a cult setting. Contact me through the comments section, rahome@ra-info.org or RA Projects, PO Box 14276, 4304 18th St., San Francisco CA 94114.

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When I was much younger, I thought healing always happened in small steps; each hour, each day, I’d get better. And then one day, poof! I’d be all well and able to forget all about it.

Now I am older and wiser (I hope!) Some things work that way. Head colds, for instance. When I had my knee replaced, it got incrementally less painful. There was a base level of pain which worsened when I did the physical therapy exercises, but, after an hour or so, it returned to base level. The pain lessened a tiny bit each day until one day it had disappeared entirely. What joy!

(This lasted two years until I tripped and fell onto the wheels of my walker. Since then it feels like I have bruised a bone whenever I move a certain way. The doctor is not concerned, so I am not concerned. This is a kind of pain that doesn’t heal – it just stays steady. But it is infrequent and minor and thus easy to live with.)

I am talking about osteoarthritis, where pain increases as the disease progresses. There is an initial flare up, which leaves a small residue of pain. Then another flare up, which increases the level of pain. And another and another. If you made a graph, it would look like a flight of stairs.

When I look back at all the years I have been dealing with ritual abuse, these models don’t seem to apply. Healing didn’t proceed evenly, in a straight line to completion. Luckily, I was not stuck forever at a steady amount of emotional pain and dysfunction. Nor did I heal something, then take on something else, heal that, etc., creating a stair-like pattern leading to “all better.”

There is a pattern that people often speak of, and that is a circular, or spiral form of healing. You deal with something once, then go on to something else. Later, you come back and revisit it, but at a deeper level. It’s as if you needed time to absorb what you had learned. Each time it is really tough, but each time, you can do it. I’ve experienced this, but it isn’t my usual pattern.

This is how my journey looked. Without doing anything, I got used to my new reality. Perhaps it was like moving to another country; in time, just by living there, I picked up the language and got used to a new culture. I’m not entirely comfortable in my new identity, but at least I don’t feel crazy or evil any more.

At various times, I had a lot of flashbacks to different things that were done to me. I was distraught, but I bulled through it. I wrote about what had happened, I told people, sometimes I drew it. Gradually the flashbacks faded in intensity and became further apart. Each time I worked through a wave of flashbacks, I felt there was more of me, if that makes any sense.

Yesterday I had a flashback to something that hadn’t bothered me for fifteen years. What happened? New situation, unfamiliar people, same old triggers.

This involves dentistry, I had been going to a wonderfully kind dentist who patiently worked with me for about ten years of memories of dental torture. Then we had clear sailing for about fifteen years until he inconsiderately retired. 

I thought I knew how to explain to my new dentist how to prevent me from going into flashback by talking to me throughout the procedure. He didn’t understand: he thought I wanted him to explain what he was going to do. That was not enough to keep me in present-day reality. 

So does this mean I’m “not healed” from those experiences? I don’t think so. I think it means that being with strangers, in an unfamiliar setting, made me feel more vulnerable. Then the coping mechanism I had relied on for fifteen years failed. Since I didn’t know it would fail, I had no back-up plan. Before the next procedure, there will be a back-up plan;  hopefully, one that will work. I like this guy and don’t want to start over looking for a new dentist.

Having flashbacks after so many years of calm did not feel like a dismal failure on my part. It felt like a normal part of living long-term with the effects of ritual abuse. Something to cope with, nothing to freak out about. Just another pothole on the road of life.

This is why I don’t think in terms of healing or not-healing – or even getting better or regressing. I think in terms of understanding why I react the way I do to certain situations and then managing those reactions. I have figured out why I had that flashback and I have a plan for how to handle the next visit. That’s enough.

The more I learn about my past and the ways I deal with its after-effects, the more I accept how very different I am from people who have not been severely abused. And also how very much the same we all are in our common humanity. 

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Upcoming Holidays

June
6/24 St John’s Day

July
7/2 Total solar eclipse. Visible in parts of South America
7/4 Fourth of July/ US Independence Day
7/16 Full moon
July 16 – 17 Partial lunar eclipse. Visible in South America, Africa, most of Europe and Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God

August
8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/15 Full moon
8/15 (?) Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups

7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party

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

 

  

  

 

A Ritual Abuse Survivor Writes Her Dentist

Another survivor has sent me an account of her experiences as a breeder and given me permission to share it on the blog. I’ll post it next time. And there is a third person who is also interested in sharing.

I think it would be wonderful – and possible – to put together an anthology. I can do the editing and set up, but I need your help to let people know that a book is in the works. It would mean posting a notice on your blog, if you have one, and letting all your RA/MC contacts, therapists as well as survivors, know about the project. Ask them to spread the word. And, if this is in their background, ask them to consider writing something – an account of what happened and how it affected them, a rant, a poem, whatever moves them.

There are 300-plus people following my blog at this point, and if, say, half of them helped out this way, I am sure it would come together quite quickly. And I would feel SOOOO supported!!

 

Once again, Forsaken Phoenix has written a marvelous article and given me permission to reblog it.

 

Dear Dr. ***

I know you have a much bigger work load right now and I know that means it’s tougher for you to spend the amount of time with each patient that you’d prefer. So I hope this letter will help both of us prepare for my upcoming fillings.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you worked hard to earn my trust and respect. It’s not easy for me to be at the dentist’s office and it’s even more difficult for me to actually *trust* a dentist. However, believe it or not, you’re one of my most trusted medical professionals and that’s the only reason I have the courage to even attempt this. So thank you, for being the person you are and patiently allowing me to trust you in my own time.

When you first met me, you told me that we were going to work together and fix my mouth so that it wouldn’t hurt and that it would no longer put me at risk medically. You never once fought *me* but instead, you fought *for* me and *with* me. You never once belittled, invalidated, or ridiculed me and you always told me that my comfort level was important to you. You respected my needs and requests.

After our last appointment, I was terrified. But not for the reasons one might expect. I was terrified because I thought you were mad at me. I felt like I let you down. My abuse history says you *should* be mad at me. It says that because I now have cavities, I’ve let you down and you no longer have a responsibility to care about me or my comfort levels – much less my well being. My past says you now have the right, to quite literally, kill me.

But that’s only what *my past* says and not what you’ve ever said or implied. It’s not fair to you, for me to treat you as though you’re one of them.

You only want to save my smile. To help me stay happy and healthy – and for me to assume that you would now torture me or kill me is not fair to you.

So far, you’ve given me no indication that you are giving up on me – so for now, I promise not to give up on fighting for you either.
I recently found out that sedation is not a possibility with my insurance for the fillings. Now, my only option is nitrous oxide. You were also willing to let me try getting them done without Novocaine. I’ve been thinking hard lately and I believe I’ve found a way to at least attempt this. I also think the risk of attempting without Novocaine is too high. My concern is that it might be more painful than I expect and then be processed as torture.

If we could use both nitrous oxide, and a topical anesthetic before the Novocaine injection(s), I think we might be able to make it work. But I would also need your help to get through it.

I would need you to tell me to close my eyes before I have the chance to see the needle. Not seeing the needle will help me to remain calm.

If you could say “1, 2, 3, poke” when doing the injection(s) it would help me feel more like a team player and less like a victim. Having the nitrous oxide and the topical anesthetic would help me as well as I fight to cope.

When you do the injection(s), hearing your voice telling me calmly that I’m doing good, that you’re proud of me – that would help as well, as it would remind me that I’m in the office with *you* and not being tortured by one of my abusers from the past who used to enjoy drugging me.

Before the procedure, having you look me in the eyes and *promise* me sincerely that you *will not* kill me that day would be inexplicably helpful. It may sound silly, but the abusers could never make that promise because the threat of death was part of their fun.

During the drilling, I’m terrified that I will switch or get triggered. My biggest fear there is the fear that you will then be perceived as a threat and I will either attempt to physically attack anyone nearby – or I will dissociate, be unable to move, and end up being retraumatized. Aside from the obvious reasons, I also don’t want that happening because I don’t want my current understanding of your role in my life to be undermined by my past.

One of the biggest ways I know to avoid such worst case scenarios involves your help as well as the hygienist’s. I need to hear your voices talking to me. Reassuring me. Not really telling me what you’re doing – but telling me *how I’m* doing. Telling me I’m doing a good job, that you’re proud of me, and that we’re in this together. That you’re not going anywhere. The abusers from my past enjoyed telling what they were about to do and how they would do it as a shock/threat tactic. So keeping me up to speed on what you’re doing would not be helpful – but updates like “we’re almost done, just X minutes left” are helpful as they show me ‘this *will* end.’

If one of you gets up to leave, please let me know that. Please reassure me that you will be coming back. Please remind me that together, we will get through this, and that you’re proud of me. Knowing you’re proud of me before you step away will remind me that you’re not leaving because I’ve done something to displease you and cause retaliation of some sort. It will remind me that I don’t need to be scared of what will happen when you come back. It will remind me that you are you and not ‘them.’

The ability to bring a blanket and or a stress ball will help me as I will have a comfort item to help remain grounded and something to squeeze so that I’m not digging my nails into my hands.

I mentioned that the sound of the drill will trigger me and I feel as though you’ve earned the trust level to know why. The sound (for me) is close enough to that of a bone saw. A tool my abusers used to threaten me with to force my cooperation. I don’t tell you this to upset you or incite pity – but to help you better understand the severity of my past abuse and how real and difficult coping with the sound will be. I’ve considered bringing headphones to either block out some of the sound or play music – but I feel that would only cause more confusion for me as I fight to understand where I am and who you are throughout the procedure.

Something you’ve never once said to me but I feel you should be aware of is to not say, “Breathe.” Saying that word alone is part of my past programming and will cause me to immediately *stop* breathing. I will then pass out on you. Instead, simply reminding me “you’re safe, we’re all right here” will cause me to instinctively take a deep breath.

I hope this is helpful. I’ve also signed a release for my therapist to communicate with you. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask him. There may be things he can help clarify or things he sees as helpful for you to be aware of that I haven’t thought of. He is my *most trusted* medical professional and he has my explicit permission to share any and all relevant information with you as he sees fit for the interests of collaboration.

Forsaken Phoenix

 

Upcoming Holidays

March  
3/20 Spring Equinox
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan
3/25 Palm Sunday
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
May
  
5/1 Beltane/May Day/ Labour Day in Europe
5/13 Mothers’ Day
5/28 Memorial Day
5/29 Full moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
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. His alternate birthday is 4/1 this year.)
4/30 Anniversary of Hitler’s death
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)

I’m Having Cataract Surgery!!!

Upcoming Holidays

January
1/31 Full Moon (Blue Moon)
1/31 Total lunar eclipse
February

2/2 Candlemas/Imbolc
2/13 Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
2/14 Ash Wednesday/Beginning of Lent
2/15 Partial solar eclipse.
2/14 Valentine’s Day
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
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
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. His alternate birthday is 4/1 this year.)
4/30 Anniversary of Hitler’s death
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)

I’m Having Cataract Surgery!!!

This blog is a mixture of personal experiences and educational/factual/background/ research on ritual abuse or other topics that impact survivors. This month is going to be totally personal. I feel so into myself, and rightfully so!

In ten days I am going to have cataract surgery. I’m excited and terrified and looking forward to it and dreading it all at the same time.

They do one eye at a time in case there is a problem, even though problems are very rare. My bad eye, which cannot pass the driver’s test any more, is first in line. (The DMV judges people by their best eye.) The optometrist called my better eye “borderline.” Funny or not?

There is a follow-up appointment the next day and another in a week. At that point I will know how well it worked and how well I will be able to see. The possibilities are:

*worse than before, with a need for follow-up treatment, even perhaps further surgery
* pretty darn good: will still need distance glasses
* prefect far vision, except for my astigmatism: will still need distance glasses
* prefect far vision, no need for distance glasses

I’m expecting to still have astigmatism, though the surgeon says it is quite possible it will go away. I will need glasses for computer work, of course, and perhaps a second set for reading. I don’t mind – I am used to glasses – had them ever since first grade. Only thing I don’t like about them is how easy they are to lose.

I had a friend who had his cataracts removed. Before they grew he had 20/20 vision. Afterwards it was even better! He raved over being able to see individual pine needles on trees. This is what I am dreaming of – being able to see details I have never seen before in my whole entire life.

There will be far less glare at night and no more pretty halos around traffic lights. Colors will be sharp and bright again. I am expecting it to be like the difference between colors on a foggy day and on a bright crisp sunny day. Can’t wait!

Of course there is a down side. There always is. For me, it is related to ritual abuse. When I was a child, they told me that if I ever told, they would slash my eyes and blind me.

They made sure I took their threat seriously by running dental instruments inside my eyelids. And, oh, did I believe them. For years I practiced for the day I would be blind. I walked around with my eyes shut, I dressed myself with my eyes shut. I even learned to put on lipstick perfectly with my eyes shut.

And now they will be cutting my eye open for real. They will also tape my head to the chair so that I will not be able to move and mess things up. I’ve worked for many years on the “I’ll blind you” flashbacks at the dentist, but I have not yet encountered a situation where I might have a flashback to having my head immobilized.

I’ll have “conscious sedation,” which will help. And I will tell the anesthesiologist and the rest of the staff to talk constantly in order to keep me anchored to the present. I have found that this both prevents flashbacks and gets me out of one if I slip into it. So I am not worried (Oops, I promised myself I wouldn’t lie any more, and I just did! Well, only a little bit worried. That’s better.)

I will try my best to have a post ready and waiting for the 30th. Even if I don’t, I’ll let you all know how it went.