Healing from Ritual Abuse

I belong to a support group for RA/MC survivors that, once a month, spends part of our meeting writing. We are given a word or a phrase as a prompt and then we write as fast as we can for ten minutes. When the time is up, we share what we wrote.

Past prompts have been shame, inside my mind, and out the window. This week it was healing.

I’d like to share what I wrote because I find this format encourages a richness of content and emotion that a neat little blog entry doesn’t always offer.

healing is a rainbow
     One color is black
     One is red
     One is clear for tears

healing is a mystery
     how does it happen?
     What sets it off?

healing is not a good simile
     you heal from a broken bone
     you heal from a disappointment

but how can you possibly heal from
          ritual abuse
          being sold
          being a killer

these things are lifelong
     if you are lucky they didn’t
     physically happen all your life

but the scars and brokenness
          in your body
          in your mind
          in your heart
Go on and on and on forever

I say “learn to live with my past
in a different way”

that is –
     I know some things that happened
     to me – not all, but some

I know and say, yes that is so
that is true that is awful

I can see the path from what
     happened to what is – sometimes
     not all the time but sometimes

I can be with people, be at ease
     with people
with people like me – not always,
     but a lot
with others, less so, but still
     Sometimes, not always
          even with strangers
          even with men

thinking of what I have written
     healing is sometimes not always
     but sometimes

It’s the rough path from the then to the now and on to – what?

It’s just a word, a bridge to
     others I use the word because
     others do – not always, but
     sometimes

It’s an on and off thing
     sometimes I am walking on
     this path, not always but sometimes
     Sometimes not

It seems like a path of time

~~~~~~~~~~ 

The possibility, the beginning of several poems are hidden here. Will they emerge into full fledged poems? I don’t know. I don’t write poems. They use me to get written and I have no control over when they come. I can only wait and see.

What impresses me most about what I wrote is that whatever mysterious thing that happens is not under my conscious control. If it were, I would be working on it all the time, and I would see the results all the time. It would be a linear process.

But things go on below the surface that I am not aware of and then, when it is time, they rise up into my consciousness, like a poem.

One day in the supermarket, I notice that I am not looking at the floor. I am looking at total strangers and smiling! I’m telling them I like their hair or asking what their tattoo means to them. I know I am enjoying myself, and I think they are, too, because they look like they are. I didn’t decide I would initiate these conversations, I didn’t add this task to my marketing list. I just did it.

Like I didn’t plan to write a poem or see it coming. I just sat down and wrote it.

When I first remembered, I didn’t set any goals. I told myself that my only job was not to kill myself. That was hard enough; I was pretty sure anything else would have been impossible. So day after night after day after night I didn’t kill myself. I just let the flashbacks wash over me.

And then one day I noticed I no longer believed the cats could read my mind or that “they” could control me through the radio if it was plugged in but silent. I saw those beliefs as flashbacks of things I had believed as a little kid because grown ups had told me so. Now I was out of flashback. When the thoughts came back, I was both in and not in flashback; I thought those things and was scared but I knew I was in flashback. That was a huge change!

And I hadn’t done anything on purpose except not kill myself.

~~~~~~~~~~ 

upcoming holidays

September

9/5 – 9/7 Feast of the Beast/Marriage of the Beast
9/7 Labor Day (United States)
9/20 Full moon
9/22 Fall Equinox
9/29 Michaelmas/Feast of Archangel Michael and all Angels 

October

10/11 (?) Columbus Day
10/13 Backward Halloween
10/20 Full Moon
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
11/4 Satanic Revels
11/11 (?) Veterans’ Day
11/18-19 Partial Lunar Eclipse
11/19 Full Moon
11/25 Thanksgiving Day (United States)
11/28 First Sunday of Advent
11/30 St Andrew’s Day

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups

9/1 Start of WW2  
9/7 Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year, Day of Judgement)  
9/16 Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Atonement)  
9/21 – 9/27 Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles, Jewish harvest festival
10/4 Hitler’s alternate half-birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual half-birthday, 10/20, and his alternate half-birthdate six months after Easter, which falls on 4/4 this year.)
10/16 Death of Rosenburg  
10/19 Death of Goering
10/20 Hitler’s half-birthday
11/9 Kristallnacht
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.)

~~~~~~~~~~ 

You can find more information on the following holidays at: 

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 2https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-ii/
Fall Equinoxhttps://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/
Walpurgisnacht/May Evehttps://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/
Beltanehttps://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/
Mothers’ Dayhttps://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/


Lammashttps://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/
and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/ 

Me and The Delta

For a few weeks, when things were opening up, I cautiously started going out. I got some N95 masks and started to get familiar with Lyft and taxis again. And grocery stores! It was so good to do my own shopping, to pick out the things I wanted to eat. I could choose the freshest, ripest produce and make impulse buys if something looked good but wasn’t on my list. Except for riding with strangers, I felt safe. 

Each time before leaving the house, I had to weigh the pros and cons. I wasn’t sure how much risk I was willing to take and I had to think things through without guidelines. I mean, I had the CDC guidelines, but I knew they didn’t fit me. No way was I going to a bar or a baseball game or any other place where a whole bunch of people, some vaccinated, some not, were mingling and interacting and closer than six feet away from me. I didn’t want to take that chance, even if the CDC thought it was fine.

I knew that in my state we were nowhere near herd immunity and that Delta, being more contagious, spreads more rapidly. It would take a much higher rate of vaccination to achieve herd immunity and, given the percentage of the population who do not want to be vaccinated, we probably will never get to that point. 

I realized that I had to set my own guidelines and that I had to make similar decisions over and over without any feedback. The process was stressful and emotionally exhausting.

I watched the number of cases rise daily and figured it was getting pretty dangerous out there. I didn’t want to catch the virus and I didn’t want to risk infecting others unknowingly. I had isolated myself at home when the number of cases of the original strain of COVID was way lower than the current number of predominantly Delta COVID. It didn’t make sense to throw caution to the wind just because lots of other people were. So I went back into self-isolation.

How do I feel about it? Sad, but mainly resigned. I think it is a sensible decision, but to tell the truth, I am tired of being sensible. I wish I didn’t feel this was the right decision for me – I would far rather be able to go out and have fun whenever I wanted. I feel deprived.

There are echoes of my childhood issues in this situation. I spent most of my pre-school time in one room at home with trips to the park on nice days. I definitely was deprived of interaction with other children. The days were pretty much the same. I knew nothing else, so I wasn’t sad. 

During these years, I was abused in the cult and developed amnesia for what happened. I didn’t consciously remember, but my body remembered and became stiff and wary. Unconsciously I was absorbing messages – I wasn’t good enough, I was stupid, I was worthless, I was evil. Cult time was intense, home time was boring.

Self-isolation is going to give me another opportunity to look at those deep beliefs, to challenge them, to discover the rules, and then defy the rules, one and all. This will not be boring!

I think that every new trauma can stir up memories of older, similar ones. Thus a flashback is like those nested Russian dolls. There are flashbacks within flashbacks.A flashback to what happened last night, and what happened last year, and what happened when you were 12, and 6, and maybe even 2. And that is very crazy-making. What feelings, what behaviors, are part of which flashback? And would it make sense to sort things into past and present, not one pile for present and many little piles for past events?

This experience of self-isolation doesn’t elicit a full-fledged flashback. It’s more diffuse, mistier. But it is like the nested dolls, with echoes of feelings from different stages of my life when I struggled with loneliness and alienation. 

I may be physically isolated, but I am not emotionally isolated, thanks to ZOOM. My emotional life is rich and I have many friends. I think I can say without exaggeration that I have more friends and more close friends than I have ever had.

I never explicitly worked on making friends. Never read all that self-help advice, never looked at what childhood beliefs and traumas held me back from close relationships. It just happened, like growth spurts happen to children with no effort on their part.

It’s not the first time I’ve been busy working on a problem and all of a sudden I make progress in an entirely different area. A lot must be going on beneath the surface! I don’t understand it, but I am very pleased and grateful.

~~~~~~~~~~ 

upcoming holidays

August

8/22 Full Moon  
8/24 St. Bartholomew’s Day

September

9/5 – 9/7 Feast of the Beast/Marriage of the Beast
9/7 Labor Day (United States)
9/20 Full moon
9/22 Fall Equinox
9/29 Michaelmas/Feast of Archangel Michael and all Angels 

 October

10/11 (?) Columbus Day
10/13 Backward Halloween
10/20 Full Moon
10/31 Halloween/start of Celtic New Year/start of the dark half of the year

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups

9/1 Start of WW2  
9/7 Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year, Day of Judgement)  
9/16 Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Atonement)  
9/21 – 9/27 Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles, Jewish harvest festival
10/4 Hitler’s alternate half-birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual half-birthday, 10/20, and his alternate half-birthdate six months after Easter, which falls on 4/4 this year.)
10/16 Death of Rosenburg  
10/19 Death of Goering
10/20 Hitler’s half-birthday

(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: 

Lammashttps://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 2https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-ii/
Fall Equinoxhttps://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/
Walpurgisnacht/May Evehttps://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/
Beltanehttps://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/
Mothers’ Dayhttps://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/



Flashbacks, Triggers,and Worksheets

The American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) is presenting “Way Maker World Conference.”

Thursday, September 14 – Saturday, September 18, 2021, Orlando, FL.

This is a huge conference held every two years. Almost 4,000 people have registered and they are expecting 7,000. There will be approximately 50 pre-conference workshops, 175 clinical/biblical workshops, and 200 exhibitors.

Presentations are organized into thirteen tracks. The ones that caught my attention are “Abuse, Violence, and Trauma-Informed Care,” “Mental Health, the Brain and Neuroscience,” and “Psychiatry, Behavioral Medicine, and Collaborative Care.” Among other topics covered are addictions, sexuality, family issues, and pastoral counseling.

I tried using the AACC therapist finder and it needs work. Or else I am using it wrong! If you are looking for Christian counseling. or think you may in the future, you might want to copy the information on the conference site. I recognized a couple of presenters that are good with RA. If you would like to consult them for a referral in your area, write me and I will put you in touch.

The AACC website is: https://www.aacc.net/

Their blog is at https://www.aacc.net/category/aacc-blog/

The conference website is: https://worldconference.net

Contact information: PO Box 739 Forest, VA 24551, contactmemberservices@aacc.net, 1-800-526-8673

~~~~~~~

I learned something new yesterday about flashbacks. My therapist knows so much, and it never occurs to her to tell me unless I ask! But half the time I have no idea that there is something to ask about.

I had always assumed that flashbacks were always triggered by something in the present. If I couldn’t identify the trigger, it was because it had snuck in under the radar. But she said that not all flashbacks are triggered by present-day events. Some are due to a part sharing a memory, wanting the “me” who is out to have a particular piece of information. In that case, it’s fruitless to look for a trigger. Or the trigger might simply be a thought that part had, like “she’s strong enough to know this now.”

In situations where there is a trigger, it’s useful to see the connection. Then in the future, if you encounter the same trigger, you may be prepared for a flashback. And the trigger itself is a piece of information – it may well be part of the memory.

A trigger is very useful to sort out how much of your reaction comes from the present situation and how much comes from the past and is, in effect, part of the flashback. This helps ground you in the present and helps prevent a melt-down or other over-reaction. It gives you more control and freedom to chose among your coping mechanisms.

Some people have designed flashback worksheets to help them connect the trigger to the flashback. I found that they weren’t very useful to me because I got all hung up in searching for a trigger that didn’t exist, or that existed but was invisible to me, so I stopped using them. But other people have found them very helpful.

A blog entry on a trigger-free worksheet I designed is at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/flashback-worksheets/.

In short, it consists of these questions:

1. What am I thinking/feeling?
2. What from the past could have set off this reaction?
3. What in the present could be causing this reaction?
4. How can I test if it’s from the past or present? (or both)
5. If it’s in the
Present – what action can I take to solve the problem?
Past – what can I do to calm myself down?

It’s interesting to see that eight years ago I suspected that not all flashbacks are preceded by triggers. I had forgotten that insight and had to come across the information all over again in therapy. I am so expert at forgetting!

By the way, my therapist told me that it is very, very common for ritual abuse survivors to be preoccupied with their own deaths. It doesn’t seem to be something that develops in old age. It just seems to come with the RA territory. For me, it’s a gnawing intrusive thought that pops up several times a day (or night). I find that it sometimes appears at random times and sometimes it’s part of a routine. Like every time I go out of the house, I think, “I might die while I am out. What do I need to do before I leave? What don’t I want people to see?” And then I talk myself out of worrying about it. And remind myself that the actuarial tables say I might well live into my nineties.

She also told me that the fear of being killed was because we were told we would be killed if we told what had been done to us. So that surge of fear is a feeling-flashback.

I was going to say that all intrusive thoughts are visitors from the past. But that’s not true – present-day anxiety can cause rumination and intrusive thoughts that just pop into your mind. Say you are working at a company where there are a lot of layoffs and you are worried that you will lose your job. It would be perfectly natural to have intrusive thoughts about becoming unemployed, even if job insecurity was not a family issue in your childhood.

Not every bad thing in the world can be ascribed to the cult. Not every bad thing in the world is your fault, either.

~~~~~~~~~~ 

Upcoming Holidays

May
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

July
7/4 Independence Day
7/23 Full Moon
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Grand Climax

August
8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/13 Friday the 13th
8/15 (?) Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
8/22 Full Moon
8/24 St. Bartholomew’s Day

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups

6/6 D-Day (Invasion of France in WW2)
7/18 Tisha B’Av (Jewish Day of Mourning)
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.)

~~~~~~~~~~

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

 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/

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/