Gratitude Lists

Ages ago, I came across the idea of making a gratitude list, and sporadically I actually do it. 

I don’t think the point of listing things I am grateful for is to make me all perky and happy and eager to skip through the day. I think it is to serve as a reminder that, yes, life is awful, but there are also little pockets of wonderful things along the way. This is especially useful when I am depressed.

(I was worried about becoming deeply depressed a couple of months ago, but it didn’t happen. I’m not depressed now, but I can remember what it was like. No need to worry about me.)

It’s my experience that depression devours everything in its path. Everything is a burden. Everything will go wrong. Being with people is frightening and must be avoided, if possible, because people bring me harm and pain. I can still recognize when it is a pretty day but the contrast between the sunshine and the contents of my mind is unbearable. It’s not quite as awful when the sky is overcast and gloomy.

Depression devours my past and future, as well as the present. When I remember things, it is always incidents that are humiliating or hurtful to me or others. The past is full of failures, and the successes don’t count because they were no big deal – any idiot would have succeeded. Since it has been this way for my whole life, there is no reason to expect the future to be different. I cannot remember ever feeling different, so I cannot imagine feeling different in the future.  

Depression really sucks!

I have learned to recognize when I am depressed and to think of it as something foreign that has invaded me. It is not me, and it is not my truth. It is mine to handle in the moment, but I have handled it in the past, and I will damn well do it again. What if I took a short hike in a beautiful forest and happened to brush up against a fungus without knowing it? And what if that fungus invaded my body and made me miserable? That fungus would not make me worthless, pathetic, evil. It would just make me sick. That’s how I like to look at depression these days.

Back to gratitude lists. Depression or fungus, these things would remain true and would be worthy of gratitude.

My cat doesn’t care – he treats me the same as always. He still sits on my lap, and his fur is still warm and incredibly soft.

I have a roof over my head that isn’t leaking because we fixed it last year.

I have enough food, and I can eat what I want. I don’t have to choke down something I hate.

Most people think I am kind and gentle, so I must be kind and gentle, at least at times. I am not rotten through and through.

I’m not hooked on crystal meth. Or heroin. Or coke. Or prescription drugs.

My kids love me. Despite my start in life, I did not abuse them. I did not allow others to abuse them. I broke the generational chain.

The smoke plume that made the sky orange fell to earth, and our air was as bad as places right next to the fires. I stayed indoors for 3 – 4 days. But now there is an ocean breeze, and the air isn’t dangerous anymore, so I have been out gardening.

YES! I AM grateful for these things. None of these things make me feel worse, the way a bright sunny day would. And they all ring true. And I am grateful for that, too! 

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Upcoming Holidays

September
9/22 Fall Equinox
October 
10/1 Full moon
10/12 Columbus Day  
10/13 Backward Halloween 
10/31 Full moon (Blue 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
11/11 Veterans’ Day (?)
11/13 Friday the thirteenth 
11/14 New moon
11/26 Thanksgiving Day (United States)
11/30 St Andrew’s Day 
9/29 Michaelmas/Feast of Archangel Michael and of all Angels
 

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
9/28 Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
10/3 Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles, harvest festival)
10/19 Death of Goering
10/12 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 fell on 4/12 this year.)
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.)

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* 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 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/
 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/

 

An Amazing Adventure

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

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I didn’t tell you what I was going to do over Christmas because I didn’t want to jinx myself. A couple of people who learned about it tried their hardest to talk me out of it. I took their concerns seriously and thought of canceling, but decided to do my best to reassure them and go ahead and do what I wanted.

I went to Alaska for a week with two dear friends in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights! I had seen them in Maine as a kid – Northern Lights, not my friends – and remember them as being beautiful. I would lie on my back on the grass and watch them partially obscure the zillion stars visible on dark nights. They looked like sheer white curtains edged in green, waving slowly in the breeze. I knew that, if I saw them again, they wouldn’t look like my childhood Northern Lights, but I was sure they would be gorgeous.

Our adventure started off inauspiciously. We had to change planes in Portland to get to Anchorage. The flight we were supposed to take was canceled because of mechanical problems. There was no back-up plane available, no empty seats at all on any flight on any airline to Anchorage . . . for the next three days. It took us a while to figure out that we couldn’t return home unless we could score a rental car. So it was probably Portland for the next few days, like it or not, assuming we were lucky enough to find a hotel with unbooked rooms. Luckily Portland is the home of Powell’s Bookstore, the world’s largest independent bookstore. ( https://www.powells.com/ for those planning to visit Portland soon.)

Suddenly the airline agent announced that there was a “Christmas miracle.” A free plane with seats for all of us was on its way from Seattle! Talk about pulling a rabbit out of a hat! We got to go, after all, just a few hours late. Happy, happy, happy.

As we landed at Anchorage, we were welcomed with Solstice fireworks celebrating the slow return of real daylight. We grabbed some food and staggered into bed for a few hours’ sleep before getting up at five to be driven to the train station for the nine-hour trip to Fairbanks. 

There were only about four hours with enough light to see the scenery. Dawn faded into twilight, and the sun never got over the horizon. I love trains so much! It would have been a treat even if it had been pitch black the whole time. It had a proper dining car and a cafe with snacks and cards and toys for the kids.

We saw a bald eagle, a lot of large ravens, and eleven moose. The moose were in pairs, a mother with her calf, pawing the snow to uncover small trees with tender bark. No bears; they are all asleep this time of year.

Another quick dinner and a few hours of sleep. We spent the next day on a small bus to Coldfoot Camp, which is half-way between Fairbanks and Deadhorse, on the Arctic Ocean. That’s where the oil in the Alaska pipeline originates.

Alaska is vast and sparsely populated. An Internet search yields these statistics: there are only 736,855 people in the whole state; 297,832 of them live in Anchorage, the largest city; 33,645 in Fairbanks, the second-largest; and 84 in Coldfoot. (By the way, there are about 750,000 caribou and 200,000 moose in Alaska.) The reason Coldfoot is that big is that it is the only place to get gas in the 500 miles between Fairbanks and Deadhorse. It also provides amenities for the truckers: overnight truck parking, a restaurant, a bar, showers, parts for minor repairs, and a chance to connect with old friends. Recently, small rooms for tourists chasing the Northern Lights have been added.

On our first night in Coldfoot, we joined a group of young Chinese tourists who had come to see the Northern Lights. Our group had the use of a small log cabin with a wood-fired stove to hang out in. Every now and then, somebody would go outside to see if there was any action. At times, there were very faint lights, barely visible to the naked eye. They looked better in photos with a ten-second exposure, but not by a whole lot. We amused ourselves with short trips to the outhouse. It was thirty below zero – I kid you not. The trick is to sit on your mittens, so you don’t get stuck.

At about three in the morning, we were ready to give up, when the sky exploded with green streaks. They rose from all parts of the horizon and met at the top in swirls. They moved slowly and changed shape for about ten minutes and then faded away. It was absolutely breath-taking.

During the day, we caught up on sleep and took a dog sled ride. Fun but bitter, bitter cold, what with the wind chill factor. Those puppies run fast! The next evening we went back for seconds on the Northern Lights, but there was nothing. It’s okay. I got my wish, and it was far better than I had imagined.

We took a small plane instead of the bus back to Fairbanks, which was fun. Christmas day, we were planning to visit some hot springs outside of Fairbanks, but we were so sleep-deprived that we settled for watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” and a nice meal at the hotel. And then it was time for Anchorage and home.

Now that I am home, how do I feel? Very grateful, but still sleep-deprived! And all sneezy from a head cold. Happy to be back in familiar surroundings, with my cat and my very own bed and temperatures well above freezing. I’m still feeling high from being out of my comfort zone, proud of my courage, and sated with beauty. I’m not 100% percent home; I’m startled that the sun rises at 7:30 and doesn’t set for nine and a half hours. The Internet feels like a luxury – one click of the mouse brings me contact with survivors, my people, my kin. I know there are survivors in Alaska, but I didn’t know how to find them. The days of feeling crazy without constant validation of my past are long over, and I do fine on my own now. But it is so nice not to be alone!

When I sort through our photos, I’ll try to put something up on the blog header, replacing the Christmas tree. I hope there’s a good picture of the Northern lights that will fit the space. No promises – these are amateur photos, remember!

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Oh, a note about the reading by Joy Hargo. The first poem she read was the one I posted!!!! My heart swelled, and I burst into tears. She was speaking directly to me, “Put down those potato chips…”

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Upcoming Holidays

January
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
March 
3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/9 Full moon
3/13 Friday the Thirteenth
3/17 Spring Equinox
3/17 St. Patrick’s Day
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups=
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
2/10 Tu Bishvat/Tu B’Shevat (celebration of spring)
3/10 Purim (Deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman in Persia)

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

Another Round of Flashbacks

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

* Beltane, is, of course, tomorrow. And Walpurgisnacht is tonight. I’ve written about both in prior posts.

https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/

https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/

I hope you all can stay safe over these hard, hard days, and that you can find ways to comfort yourselves. None of this was your fault. By the very fact of your reading this blog, you are working to heal yourself from the wounds they inflicted on you. And, in healing yourself, you are part of the growing movement to fight ritual abuse throughout the world. Perhaps this realization will be an additional comfort to you.

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Last Saturday I shared at my support group that I felt very spacey, like I was not myself. Like I didn’t really have a self. And that I felt ineffective and inferior. It is really annoying to try to do much of anything feeling that way.

It was suggested that I was dissociating and that maybe a memory was trying to come up. Then they gave me some loving reminders that I had, indeed, done a fair amount in my life, and that I was not sitting alone in the house watching TV or staring out the window all day. I still was doing things, maybe not as many as twenty years ago, but still a fair amount.

Lo and behold, a memory did surface. It was prompted by this chiropractic journey I am on. The brain is part of the body. and the mind seems to be part of the brain (most days!)  It is therefore no surprise that bodywork of any kind can bring up all sorts of things.

I’ll share some examples. Be aware that they are a little more graphic than usual.

Once a bodyworker commented on rigidity in my neck. I asked what caused it. She replied, “Trauma. Trauma usually before the age of two.” And I, who at the moment believed that everything started when I was four, sobbed for the rest of the session.

Another time I was taking a Feldenkrais class. and we were working on one large mat. Some movement, I forget exactly what it was, triggered me. I had an image of myself, naked, with other naked children, lying on the floor in a grid pattern. Somebody made the sign of the cross on my stomach and said the words to the effect of, “In the name of Satan, we offer this child to you.” I was sure they were going to stab me and kill me. Again, I sobbed and shook through the rest of the class.

Once again, healing bodywork reminds me that the mind and the body are one and that they can trigger each other. The movement of my body triggers a memory stored in my mind. Other times, the mind triggers body memories – it works both ways.

We are given exercises to do at home every day. Thirty repetitions, which I consider a lot. One of the ones I am working on now consists of sitting up tall in a chair, raising my hands in a T-position (hands in the air as if I were signaling “I surrender,”) opening my chest, and tipping my head back until I can feel the skin on the front of my neck stretch. It’s a very vulnerable position.

I saw myself naked in that same position. I felt a knife at my throat. A man said, “If you talk about this, we will kill you.” And then I felt something warm, the way blood is warm and sticky, along the length of the knife. I don’t know how old I was, but my thinking was sophisticated enough to realize after a few minutes that I was not bleeding to death. I assumed they had made a superficial cut. I expected a scar, but there wasn’t one.

Later I got a second image of me in that position. This time my eyes were shut. The man said, “If you tell, we will stab your eyes.” And the tip of the knife gently touched first one and then the other eyelid.

These flashbacks don’t consume me like the early ones did. I know through and through that they are flashbacks, and I am firmly in the present once the image has surfaced. I take care of myself by telling myself that I am at home, nobody else is there, that my home is beautiful and filled with things I have chosen. I am flooded with feelings of gratitude for being able to choose whatever I want, anything and everything. Food, reading material, projects, friends, furniture, clothes, everything. This is true freedom!

I am reminded of the end of a poem (Out of the Cult) I wrote and posted here.

then oh!
on the horizon
sunflowers, rivers. green hills, sun and sand, soaring gulls, deer,
rabbits, suburbs and suburbs of warm homes, laughter, dancing,
song, beds and food and drink
a plentitude, a plentitude

It was a long road, but I got here.

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Upcoming Holidays

April
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve
May
5/1 Beltane
5/12 Mothers’ Day
5/18 Full moon
5/27 Memorial Day
June
6/9 – 6/10 Pentecost
6/16 Father’s Day
6/17 Full moon
6/20 Corpus Christi/Feast of the Body of Christ
6/21 Summer solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
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

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
4/30 Anniversary of Hitler’s death
5/1 – 5/2 Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day)
5/7 – 5/8 Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day, Day of Remembrance)
5/8 – 5/9 Yom HaAtzma´ut (Israeli Independence Day)
5/8 V-E Day (Victory in Europe, WW2)
5/18 Armed Forces Day (?)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes)