Memories: True or False?

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

* Additional information on the following holidays is available at:
 Fall Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/
Halloween: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/ 
Halloween: (personal): https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2018/10/20/halloween-2018/


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Memory is often thought of in black or white terms. “Is it accurate, or did I imagine it?” “Yes, it’s true – no, it’s false.” But the real truth of a memory is, “it depends.”

Let’s look at some of the things that affect the accuracy of a memory – everybody’s memories.

Most important is your perception of an event. If you are a little kid and see a person in a gorilla suit, you might think it is a real gorilla. You will then remember seeing a real live gorilla. Not in the zoo, but out on the street or running around a football field at half-time.

So is this memory true or false? Both! You don’t remember what you actually saw, you remember what you thought you saw.

When I was four, they took me to see Bambi, and I was devastated when the forest started burning. A few months later, in a vulnerable state, having been separated from my beloved caretaker, my dog, and most of my toys, I was taken on a sleeper train to my grandfather’s summer home. (I have ritual abuse memories from that summer.) On the way home, on the same train, I stared out the window, watching as dusk turned to night.

I never forgot the train racing through burning woods and my fear that the flames would engulf the train and I would die, as the forest animals had died, in the fire. If this had actually happened, it would have been talked about and become part of the family history. Later, I could have researched it in newspaper archives. But it wasn’t a real fire I remembered. It was an imagined fire that blended the scene from Bambi, scraps of things I had heard of forest fires, my intense fear and rage, and a sense of imminent death.

Was this memory true or false? Both! It was not a memory of an actual event, but it was was a true memory, accurate in every detail, of what I saw in my mind’s eye as I was carried towards an unknown fate.

Another time I believed that a memory was a fantasy and it turned out to be of a real event. I was sitting in my high chair, and my mother was sitting in a chair a few feet away. I was playing with the most beautiful thing – a paper circle with pins with colored glass heads stuck all around the edge of the ring. This couldn’t be true, because I doubted I could remember that far back, and because nobody would be dumb enough to give a baby fifty sewing pins to play with. Years later, when I mentioned this to my mother, she said it was indeed true, and that she was sitting right there watching me so I couldn’t get hurt.

Sometimes memories change a little each time we think about them. They evolve over time, like a good story. This kind of drift is normal. Sometimes they get fuzzier, especially if we don’t think about them very often. Our minds aren’t like cameras, recording every detail for posterity.

Now let’s look at some of the effects that extreme abuse, like ritual abuse, has on memory.

Most important is that trauma memories get stored differently in the brain from ordinary memories. Different parts of the memory get stored in different places. Sometimes it is the beginning, middle, and end of the event that are separated from each other. Sometimes it is sight, sound, emotion, etc. that get separated. Each time the brain encounters trauma, it reacts the same way, until it becomes the brain’s default setting. If the splitting is extreme, alters are formed, and different parts of the memories are stored by different alters.

Many survivors’ memories are of what they believed at the time, rather than what actually happened. Children are easily tricked; they are naive and do not have the experience to tell lies from truth. Children desperately want to believe that adults know more than children do and that adults tell the truth. And their abusers are masters of deception who carefully plan how to trick children into believing what they want them to.

Finally, it is because the trauma they suffered is horrendous. If your whole body is wracked by pain, if you have been given hallucinogens, if you are terrified that you are about to be killed, there is very little brain-power left over to figure out whether something is real or not. Especially if you are only three years old.

When memories first surface, they can be very confusing. It takes time to figure out what they are all about. It takes courage to hold on to the belief that you would not be seeing these images if nothing terrible had happened. It takes time and patience to learn to be aware that you are in the present, not back then when all those crazy things were happening. When you have one foot solidly in the present and the other in the past, then you can look at your memory with adult eyes and figure out if you were tricked as a child, and if so, how.

Slowly, things start to make sense. You gradually start to believe you are not crazy. You start to believe in yourself, in your own judgment, your own intuition. This is called healing!

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Upcoming Holidays

September
9/23 Fall equinox
October
10/13 Full moon
10/13 Backward Halloween
10/14 (?) Columbus Day
10/31 Halloween/start of Celtic New Year/start of the dark half of the year
November
11/1 All Saints’ Day
11/2 All Souls’ Day
11/11 (?) Veterans’ Day
11/12 Full moon
11/28 US Thanksgiving

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
9/29 – 10/1 Rosh Hashanah (New Year, Day of Judgement)
10/8 – 10/9 Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
10/16 Death of Rosenburg
10/13 – 10/20 Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles, harvest festival)
10/19 Death of Goering
10/20 Hitler’s actual half-birthday
10/21 Hitler’s alternative half-birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday and half-birthday on 4/20 and 10/20. His alternate birthday is celebrated on Easter of the current year and his alternate half-birthday six months later.)
10/21 – 10/22 Simchat Torah (celebration of the annual complete cycle of reading of the Torah)
11/9 Kristallnacht State-ordered pogroms against Jews in Germany and Austria)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes)

 

Dissociation Was a Real Friend on Christmas

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

* Background on pagan winter holidays is at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/

* And here is a post on how I handled Christmas through the years. https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/ephemeral-equilibrium-another-christmas/

* Don’t forget that I’m putting together an anthology of accounts of survivors’ loss of babies through forced abortion, sacrifice, or forced adoption. I am also looking for submissions from husbands, partners, close friends, therapists, or pastors.

You can ask me questions or send your submission through this blog’s comment section, rahome@ra-info.org, or PO Box 14276, 4304 18th Street, San Francisco CA 94114. And tell your friends!

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Before I start talking about myself, I want to wish all of you a safe Christmas. For those of you who are afraid you might be accessed, it’s not too late to work out a safety plan. It’s always a good idea to have a plan B just in case something goes wrong with plan A. Give yourself lots of credit for doing this because it is hard to think through the options and it takes a great deal of courage to face the possibility of present-day accessing.

For everybody, I wish you, not an absence of triggers, but the wisdom to handle them well so that they may contribute to your knowledge of yourself and your past and bring some resolution and peace to all inside. And may you get some joy in the day, whether it is from a Christmas tradition, being with people you care about, or something else entirely.

I used to send cards with a lion walking hand in hand with a lamb. It said, “Peace on Earth – may it begin with us.” May it begin with all our inner selves.

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I’ve been thinking about my childhood Christmases, wondering how I could ever have gotten through them after what happened on Christmas Eve. In my family’s tradition, holidays began at midnight. Sometimes they ended before dawn, sometimes they went through the next day, or even a couple of days, especially if they occurred on a Friday.

So the “night” Christmas was on Christmas Eve. The next day, exhausted and traumatized, we woke up to the regular “day” Christmas, which, in my opinion, was really over the top. My brother and I opened our stockings before breakfast and then, later in the day, were showered with expensive presents that we really didn’t want. Although I asked for books almost every year, I cannot remember getting any. Of course, we pretended to be delighted.

How did I get through Christmas? Dissociation. What had happened the night before was a thousand miles away, a thousand years away, tucked away in a corner of my mind that would not be visited for forty years. Looking back over old photographs, I can spot when I needed dissociation so much to protect myself that I was totally tranced out.

I have a picture of me on Christmas Day, in my pajamas, hair neatly combed. I am looking…at what? At nothing, because nothing had happened. There was no shadow to glimpse, no half-remembered bad dream. I call that tranced-out look “the thousand miles stare” because I am looking at what didn’t happen, what never existed, except perhaps a thousand years ago, a thousand miles away.

Looking closely at the photo, I can see lots of wrapping paper but no toys. It’s as if they, too, had never existed or as if they had disappeared, like magic. The only thing that brings a little smile to my face are the icicles on the tree. They were made of long slender strips of lead and they made the Christmas tree lights dance and reflect out into the room. The tinsel sold today is far safer for pets and babies but not nearly as pretty. The lead tinsel must have been expensive for we picked every strand off the tree and saved it for the next year.

Amnesia for the Satanic Christmas spread out into the real Christmas. I cannot remember what we ate that day. I only remember a few things I received – soap in my stocking, a doll that wet itself after you fed it, complete with a trunk full of clothes. This was when I was three. I remember a Lego set with directions on how to build a brick house. I must have been ten or twelve then. And chocolates in my stocking, although I was overweight. I asked my mother why she had given me candy, and she said that they had fewer calories because they contained nuts. That made no sense to me at all.

It was just one of an infinite number of double messages. Do this, but don’t do it. Don’t do this unless I tell you to and then it is your fault because you did it. Our regular life was filled with such contradictions. And, of course, I could not see the contradictions between my “day” life and my “night” life, because I couldn’t remember the “night” life. (Who knows what presents were given to children the night before Christmas?) My parents, who were also amnesic for all that, were just as dissociated as I was and just as full of contradictory messages. All of us were stumbling along in a sea of things that didn’t make sense, trying our hardest to keep our heads above water.

I could not have handled it if I had remembered and so, when things got rough, I dissociated. Not just from the horrors of the Satanic life I led, but from everything that was around me. In the moment this photo was taken, I was not aware of the tree or the presents or of my parents and brother in the room. All I was aware of was nothing, and that was a blessing.

I still dissociate at times when things get tough. But now I am in control and I can plan around triggers and can build new, healthier traditions. This year I am spending Christmas at home and a much-loved niece is visiting. We are going to have Dungeness crab and lobster on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We are going to plan the days as we go, doing what we feel like when we feel like it. We will probably go out into the woods unless it rains all the time she is here. No presents will be exchanged. There will be no need to fake being pleased or to push the memories out of my mind because they were so awful.

It’s so much better this way!!!!!

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Upcoming Holidays

December
12/21 Yule/Winter Solstice
12/22 Full Moon
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/25 Christmas Day
12/31 New Year’s Eve
January
1/1 New Year’s Day
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
1/20 Full moon
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
February
2/2 S Candlemas/Imbolc
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/19 Full moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons. Christian and Jewish holidays are often desecrated.)

The Dissociative Table

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”
* If you are concerned about being tracked through your search engine, here is one that, unlike even duckduckgo.com, is encrypted https://www.searchencrypt.com/

The first time I heard the phrase “dissociative table” I was having dinner with another survivor/therapist. He asked whether I was familiar with the technique and I stared down at the dining room table and went blank. All I could think was that people dissociated, not tables. I covered my confusion by truthfully answering. “No, I’m not familiar with it.”

The dissociative table is a technique developed by George Fraser in 1991. It consists in inviting a group of alters, or inner people, or parts, or ego-states, or self-states, or whatever you like to call them, to come gather around an internal table and sit down and talk. Fraser’s goal is to get to know the alters and the system they belong to with the aim of eventual fusion into one state. With the information gained about the alters, he can help with memory retrieval work and, later in the process, allow alters to merge temporarily so that they can see that they do not die, that they live on in a new state.

I would be tempted not to embrace Fraser’s goal, but to aim to increase communication between alters, to have them get to know each other, and to have them develop social skills. With practice, alters with different points of view can learn to negotiate and reach a compromise. The goal is not integration, but increased communication and harmony. Partial or full integration may occur, if parts want it, but the desired end is simply greater cooperation and diminished chaos.

I would set up rules in advance, like only one person at a time may talk, people take turns talking by going around the table or passing a talking stick, no throwing chairs or other forms of violence by anybody, including me, etc. Once the alters are used to the set-up, I could invite all alters who were interested in a particular topic to come to the table and discuss about it.

I can also imagine people doing it themselves, as a form of self-guided imagery. It sounds like a simple technique, right? Well, a warning – even simple things can quickly get complicated. Think, for example, what it might be like if three adults, twelve littles, six robots, and a tiger all sat down at the same table, especially if not all of them knew English. You would need a way to gracefully end the meeting until you figured out how to handle such a diverse group. Better to prepare for problems in advance, rather than having to think on your feet!

Before starting, you could say, “Let me know if any part of you is uncomfortable with something I suggest. I can always think of something else.” For example, Fraser realizes that some people might have bad associations to sitting at a table and, if so, he substitutes sitting around a rock at the beach or meeting in an open field. If tables are okay, a round one might not be, but a rectangular or oval table might be fine.

Taking turns can be encouraged by passing around a microphone or a talking stick. If a part can’t communicate but has something to say – perhaps it speaks a foreign language, or is preverbal, or is non-human – there may be an interpreter present to help. Pre-verbal parts may be encouraged to draw. If a part doesn’t want to talk, you can give assurance that, although it isn’t yet ready, it can have a turn later on.

If you do want to try this by yourself or with a client, I strongly recommend you read all of Fraser’s article carefully. “The Dissociative Table Technique: A Strategy for Working with Ego States in Dissociative Disorders and Ego-State Therapy.” Dissociation, Vol. 4, No. 4, (Dec. 1991) pp. 205 – 213. You can download it for free at https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/handle/1794/1467   There is also an updated version of the article, “Fraser’s ‘Dissociative Table Technique’ Revisited, Revised: A Strategy for Working with Ego States in Dissociative Disorders and Ego-State Therapy.” Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, Vol. 4, No. 4, (Jan. 2003) pp 5-28. I haven’t been able to locate a free copy, only an abstract.

Fraser draws from different schools of hypnosis and often uses forced choices (“Would you like to speak to me with your eyes open or closed?”) He incorporates imagery that was widely used at the time and may still be in wide use in these days of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. He has the parts notice that there is a movie screen or a TV monitor in the room and invites people to project their memories onto the screen. This allows a measure of distance and also lets everybody else see what is being shown and described. And there is a remote with stop, pause, and rewind buttons to give control over the pace of sharing.

If there is a child in the movie who is in distress, he may ask the part who created the movie to step into the movie and comfort the child or confront the person who is hurting the child.

Fraser also suggests that there is a stage, with a mirror, near the table. A part can go there and change its age or gender, if desired. The new identity can be seen in the mirror. Fraser has alters fuse (what other therapists call integrate.) He can have two alters join in a partial fusion (that is, only a small part of the system fuses, not all the parts in the system,) and the others, who are watching, can see that nobody dies or gets hurt in the process. He can ask parts to consider temporary fusion. “I will assure them that they do not have to stay fused forever if they do not like it, but they should at least give it a chance for an hour or a few days, and then come apart and decide for themselves the advantages of fusion.”

The whole work of therapy has been done in this one internal room. And, at the end of therapy, all alters are fused and there is no more need for the room with the table, and stage, and movie screen.

 

Upcoming Holidays

July
7/4 Fourth of July/US Independence Day
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Full Moon
August
8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/26 Full moon
September
9/3 Labor Day
9/5 – 9/7 Marriage to the Beast (Satan)
9/7 Feast of the Beast
9/22 Fall Equinox

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
9/1 N Start of WW2
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)