Gratitude for Happy Things

If you are wondering which icky holidays are coming up, click on “Ritual Calendar: 2016″at the top right of this page.

Recently I’ve written about important but heavy and sometimes depressing things. So it is time to balance things out a bit. There are a lot of things I am pleased about and grateful for: here are just some of them.

I feel more sensual these days. The cats feel furrier, the sun warmer, the breezes softer. The same old sheets feel silkier. Everything is simply more itself.

All these years of exercise have started paying off in an unexpected way. When I move, I am aware of my muscles doing things. Some stretch, some tighten. The sensation is very pleasurable. And PT exercises faithfully done have made my core kick in by itself with no effort on my part when I get up from a chair or pick up something. Sometimes I notice it tightening at random for reasons of its own. Way cool.

I have great relationships with my daughters and sons-in-law. They picked guys that were right for them, lovable, loving, and steadfast. And things are good between me and my grandkids, some more than others, of course.

Given my start in life – Satanic ritual abuse – who would have expected this? It feels like a miracle. But the totally amazing miracle is that neither of my children were abused, not by me or their dad, not by my parents or their friends. Not by neighbors or teachers. And they protected their own children. The cycle of inter-generational abuse has been stopped cold in its tracks.

My home is getting tidier by the week – well, no, by the month. Parts of it look really great. Other parts still look like they belong to somebody who has trouble throwing things away. I do not feel guilty about this; rather I feel I will get to it fairly soon.

Today I reached my current weight goal. I plan to enjoy it for awhile and then set a goal of losing another five pounds. This take-it-slow strategy has worked very well for me. In ten pounds, I will get to where I want to be. And if I don’t, things aren’t at all bad as it is now.

The raccoons have left my garden for greener pastures. They have not been replaced by stray dogs or cats. Or buffaloes, for that matter.

Doves (not pigeons) made a nest between our house and the neighbor’s and raised two chicks. I think a hummingbird has a nest in my garden. I would love it if a mocking bird did, too.

I’m planning on going indoor sky diving with a friend. (I don’t have the courage to do it outdoors.) You put on a suit that make you look like a flying squirrel and lie down on top of a column of air. There is an instructor with you the whole time and, if you want, he can make you do some simple tricks.

I’ve found a new scheduling method called Bullet Journal. It is far better than index cards or “to do” lists on the computer because it is hard to lose. And it is better than the 31 day-folders/12 monthly-folders system because it takes up a lot less room. (That’s a little known efficient but bulky to-do list: one folder for each day of the month, one for each month. Works like a champ.)

Today has middle-of-the-road weather: not too hot, not too cold; partially sunny, partially cloudy; wind two miles an hour gusting to four. Perfect for picking lettuce.

There is more, of course, but this is enough to keep me happy for a loooong time.

Chronic Pain – My Constant Companion


Upcoming Satanic and Nazi holidays  
Please note that Satanic sects build the year around pagan holidays, adding Christian holidays and major secular holidays. It is the Neo-Nazi groups that defile Jewish holidays.
9/1 (Nazi) Start of WW2:  9/5 (Satanic) Labor Day (US and Canada):  9/5 – 9/7 (Satanic) Marriage to the Beast:  9/7 (Satanic) Feast of the Beast:  9/16 (Satanic) Full Moon:  9/17 (Nazi) Hitler’s alternate half-birthday:  9/20 – 9/21 (Satanic) Midnight Host:  9/22 (Satanic and Nazi) Fall Equinox
Fall Equinox
Labor Day

The last post was about the probable connection of brain and body through inflammation. I was enraged, if you didn’t guess. I’ve calmed down quite a bit since then, at least on the surface. This post is about my feelings about stuff I have had to contend with throughout most of my adult life.

A few years ago, I tried to calculate how many years since the age of twenty I had been in chronic pain. I picked twenty because by then I was pretty much free of the cult and I didn’t want to count the childhood years of abuse. I wanted an estimate of how many years some physical condition created my pain, a condition that was not dependent on another human being to cause it or maintain it. In other words, the after-effects of the abuse. Does that make sense?

I recalculated it today and it came to fifty-five, allowing for a few pain-free years when I was in my low fifties. There were twenty-four years of fibromyalgic-type pain, then a break, then arthritis, first in my knees, then my back, and now also my hands and maybe my neck, too.

And all that time, I was either depressed or on antidepressants. So there was a lot of inflammation in my body, and in my brain, too, until I discovered Wellbutrin about ten years ago. I can just see the body and brain passing inflammation back and forth, like children playing hot potato. “It’s yours.” No, it’s yours. It’s your turn.” “You take it, my turn has been longer than yours.” On and on, for year after year.

The unidentified illness started shortly after I had my second child, followed by a bad case of the flu. I thought (hoped?) for many months that it was a late symptom of the flu and it would clear up rapidly. It came and went in waves, so I often thought I was done with it. The waves gradually got less intense and further apart until I realized, after twenty-five years, that they had disappeared. It was during this time that I was either coping with my depression without medications or using antidepressants that took away my suicidal thoughts but had horrible side effects.

The mystery disease caused what felt like aching pain in my arm, leg, and finger bones. Nothing in my torso, thank goodness. The pain in my hands gave me the worst problems. I had to buy an electric can opener. I had to ask people to open store doors for me — they were too heavy. And I could not type or hold a pen. I mean I could, but I would be crying after a few minutes. Made it hard to be a grownup.

It forced me to ask for help, which was mortifying. I felt exposed, vulnerable, incompetent. And afraid that the people I asked for help would mock me before walking away, leaving me in tears.

I had a few years between the end of that episode in my life and being diagnosed with arthritis. But, looking back, it had started five or ten years earlier, overlapping with the mystery disease. I remember being stiff, so stiff that I had to take a hot shower before going downstairs to have coffee. I remember doing back exercises during that period, too. There wasn’t a lot of pain, just the first warnings. I blossomed: started jogging and swimming – and dancing, too! It was a pretty happy period for me.

The arthritis pain stays steady for a while until there is a flare-up. The flare-up eventually dies down but the pain is more intense than before. I did have a knee replacement, which was a miracle until I tripped and fell on my walker. Still, that knee is not at all bad. The real problem is my back: paraphrasing the latest X-ray report: “Her back is a mess and it is going to get worse.” It is all steadily down-hill from here.

I cannot walk a half block without sitting down. I cannot stand more than a couple of minutes. It is painful to lie down, which makes sleep problematic. Thank goodness sitting is still comfortable.  I can sit all day in front of my computer and not feel a bit of pain. I can see sometime in the future having to sleep sitting up; it won’t be fun, but it will be manageable.

So I have lived for all those years with chronic pain. It’s been a constant companion, like depression, my oldest friend. I no longer have to use an electric can opener but there are days when I think of buying one. I can see it coming, as my fingers get bent and my knuckles enlarge so that I can no long wear my favorite rings.

I think many of us were trained to endure pain stoically. If you aren’t allowed to express it externally, you have to bear it internally. Sometimes alters take turns enduring the pain, sometimes there is a further split for the trainer to take advantage of.

For me, there is a “religious” component to living with pain. I was taught that Satan liked pain, and that my pain was a gift to him. If I tried to avoid the pain or complained, it was like a slap in Satan’s face. You absolutely do not ever want to do that.

I am long past believing that, but the habit is deeply ingrained. It is very, very difficult to ask for help and to take care of my body.  Making a doctor’s appointment means I am admitting there is something wrong . . . and asking for help. It took forever to use the walker in public and to allow people to open doors for me and let me to go first. I waited years before I got a handicap placard for my car. I know these behaviors are silly and counterproductive but I am bucking the habits of a lifetime. Each year I am getting a little better at not being so rigidly independent.

There are so many, many losses involved with chronic illnesses and chronic pain. I am very grateful that I have not been deprived of a sense of purpose, of being of use to my community. I think of this every day while writing blog posts, updating my web page, moderating support groups, or laughing and crying with friends. I am grateful, too, for discovering ideas that might be helpful to me personally and for learning of exciting work around the world that others in the field of ritual abuse are doing. I feel blessed that these connections have not been taken away from me.

PS Something else that I am wildly grateful for is that chronic pain still grants me some joy, unlike depression, which sucked all the color, pleasure, and meaning out of life.

In Memory of Dana Raphael

Upcoming holidays – 6/6 D-Day, the invasion of France in WW2 (Nazi): 6/19 Fathers’ Day (US and Canada): 6/20 is both a full moon and the summer solstice

I had planned to finish the eating disorders series, but let too much time slide by. It will come in June, I promise.

Dana Raphael passed away on February 2 of this year. She was one of the pioneers in the field of women’s and children’s health and ritual abuse as it affects the bond between women and their children. I knew her personally and she followed my work closely. I didn’t think of her as a mentor, but rather as a cheerleader. Since there hadn’t been many cheerleaders in my life, I was very, very grateful.

I knew that her life’s work was the Human Lactation Center, which she had co-founded with Margaret Mead in 1975. I didn’t know that she introduced the word doula and that she wrote “The Tender Gift: Breastfeeding,” which people called “the Bible of breastfeeding.” It addresses stigma and medical concerns as well as giving advice and encouragement to new mothers. Pretty damn good for 1973.

Dana’s interest in breastfeeding as important to the well-being of both mothers and infants broadened to include oppression of women, child sexual abuse, and ritual abuse. She became known at the United Nations because The Human Lactation Foundation participated in a large study of lactation and infant growth sponsored by the World Health Organization and co-funded by NIH and USDA. From this work came a strong connection with the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women.

Here is an article in which she describes how she came to be involved with ritual abuse issues–torture.html. In it, she speaks of attending the 2003 S.M.A.R.T conference and being very moved by being in the presence of so many ritual abuse survivors. I was at that conference and witnessed the moment when Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald said they wished they could present on ritual abuse at the United Nations. Dana said, “I think I can help. Speak to me afterwards.” That was the beginning of a yearly meeting on ritual abuse at the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women.

One year – I think it was 2005 – she asked me to be part of the panel. I was honored, I was overwhelmed, and I was scared of having flashbacks, as most of my abuse had taken place in New York City. Despite mixed feelings, I asked Dana what to wear (she said anything that makes you feel like a million dollars), took a deep breath, and accepted. After the presentation, I stepped out onto the street and started having non-stop flashbacks. That dress no longer fits but I cannot bring myself to give it away.

Dana’s accomplishments were many and her interests far-ranging. At the time of her death, she was Executive Director of the Eleventh Commandment Foundation, a NGO that researches the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse on women’s experience of pregnancy, labor, childbirth and lactation. She was an adjunct professor at the Yale School of Medicine and lectured all over the world. She received two Fulbright awards, was involved in more than fifty conferences and symposiums, and wrote or edited five books and over fifty articles.

As if she didn’t have enough to do, she was also on the Board of Directors of the Club of Rome, which is working on climate change issues. And then there was her family, the New York City Ballet, the Connecticut Ballet, the American Museum of Natural History, the Audubon Society, and more I will never find out about.

Here is a picture of the Dana I knew; bright, curious, eager, open to whatever is in the moment. I am grateful that I knew her and wish she were still with us.

DAna Prof photos (8)