Phobias and Philias

Here it is – the last blog entry of the year on the first day of the year. (Oh, well.) It’s traditional to look back over the past year and see what you accomplished and to look forward to the next year and make a list of things that you WILL accomplish, dammit.

I don’t do well with summaries and New Year’s resolutions.

Some parts of me talking and other parts answering: “What did I accomplish in 2021?” “Nothing.” “Oh come on, don’t be so dramatic.”  “Well, yeah, some things. But not nearly enough. And I didn’t do them very well, either.” “Give it a rest.”

“What should I choose as goals for 2022?” “None, because making resolutions or setting goals is a jinx.” “Why should it be a jinx? It should fill me with energy and enthusiasm! Onward! Ride into the sunrise! The wonderful future beckons!” “Give it a rest.”

So there will be no fond summary of all the events in 2021 and no optimistic list of resolutions for 2022.

However, I have to write about something. I had no idea what I wanted to say, so I looked back over earlier posts to see if a topic inspired me. “Phobias and Counterphobias” caught my eye.

A phobia is a fear of something. There are as many phobias as there are things or kinds of people in the world. Now isn’t that cheerful?

Philia is the love of something. It doesn’t have to be head-over-heels love; it can be simple fondness. Sounds better?

I also think a philia may be an unconscious attempt to stir things up and become conscious of the abuse.

Of course, some phobias can be very effective at protecting you. Think of fear of black widow spiders, scorpions, or peanut butter if you are allergic to it. And philias can get you in trouble at times. What about certain collections, say of fruit, which will ripen, rot, and attract fruit flies and ants? What if you long for scorpions or black widow spiders as pets?

Enough silliness.

It’s not hard to understand why RA survivors are afraid of things that were used in their abuse. Even before survivors become conscious of what was done to them, fears can surge up through the amnesia. For decades, for example, I was afraid of tall trees, especially if I looked up toward their tops. They looked like alien creatures that had come from space to attack and kill people. Then I remembered that I had been sexually abused in the woods. I had tranced out and projected my pain and fear of the perpetrator onto the treetops I saw as I lay on my back, waiting for it to be over. After I had processed and accepted this memory, I was no longer afraid of trees.

In Freudian terms, a phobia is a defense against overwhelming feelings associated with memories. If you are afraid of something, you will naturally want to avoid it. And if you avoid it, you are protected from being triggered, protected from remembering.

But why are some survivors be fascinated by things that could remind them of the abuse? Well, a philia is also a defense against fear in that it denies the fear. “Oh, no, I’m not afraid, because nothing ever happened to me. Others are afraid of knives and guns, but I love them. I love the shooting range, and I go hunting every year. And I have a large knife collection – pocket knives, kitchen knives, knives used by hunters and scuba divers.”

(I also think that a philia may be an unconscious attempt to trigger a memory into consciousness.)

Come to think of it, that’s a defense that I still use today. I take something destructive from the cult and use it for something constructive. I offer my horrible memory of throwing my terror up at the treetops in the hope that it may make even one person feel less alone, less crazy. And I have a collection of empty 22 shells from my childhood. They make good iced tea glasses for my dollhouse.

Phobias and philias can exist at the same time. I love some aspects of many things and hate some other aspects. Consider Christmas. I gave no presents and received none. I did not send cards. I did not buy a tree or hang a wreath. My dinner was fish stew, polenta, and broccoli. But I listened to carols day after day. Right now, YouTube is streaming an instrumental version of “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.” It makes me happy, whereas presents make my skin crawl.

Love and hate are not necessarily life-long reactions to something that reminds us of a trauma. A person may switch between loving and hating something, sometimes rapidly. Perhaps this depends on which part is in front. Or perhaps the same “you” gets sick of liking something and starts seeing the icky aspects of it. Or you get tired of hating it and start to look for something pleasant hidden deep down in the unpleasant.

In writing this, I began to think that there is no reason to choose between loving and hating something. Why not feel both at once? Or better still, why not jump out of the mindset of being forced to choose and do something entirely different?

I love Christmas.
I hate Christmas
So what – I am grateful I lived to experience another Christmas.
Or bingo! Now I understand why I feel this way.
Or I’ll celebrate by binging on the Grateful Dead – or post rock – or cute kitten videos.

Wonder what else I will think of!

~~~~~~~~~

Upcoming Holidays

January

1/2 New Moon
1/6 Epiphany/Three Kings’ Day
1/7 St Winebald’s Day
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Full Moon
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
1/17 (?) Martin Luther King Jr. Day
1/20 St. Agnes’ Eve
1/31 New Moon

February
2/2 Candlemas/Imbolc/Satanic Revels
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/12 (?) Lincoln’s Birthday
2/16 Full Moon
2/21 (?) Presidents’ Day/Washington’s birthday
2/25 Walpurgis Day

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
11/29 -12/16 Chanukah/Hanukkah (Jewish Festival of Lights)
1/16 – 1/17 (sundown to sundown) Tu Bishvat/Tu B’Shevat (Jewish celebration of spring)
1/12 Birth of both Rosenberg and Goering, Nazi Leaders in WWII
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
2/26 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.)

~~~~~~~~~~

You can find more information on the following holidays at:

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/ 
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/ 

Fear

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”
* Looking for people who have been used as breeders in a cult setting for submissions for an anthology I hope to put together. Even if you have not been abused this way, could you spread the word and tell all your survivor friends and therapists or pastors about the project? They can write me at rahome@ra-info.org for more information. Thank you so much!
* 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/

Fear

There are some emotions which have been with me for the better part of my life – or perhaps every single day of my life. I call them constant companions. Guilt, pain, and fear come instantly to mind. I talk more about physical pain than emotional pain these days because, as my emotional pain decreased thanks to antidepressants and hard work on my cult past, my physical pain has grown, thanks to osteoarthritis. Both kinds of pain, though, are tough to live with 24/7.

Fear also is really hard to live with. It permeates every facet of my life, sometimes subtly, sometimes ferociously. It feels like a cage, boxing me in and preventing me from exploring life freely. It’s much safer sitting home alone with my computer or a good book and experiencing life at a distance.

It’s embarrassing at times. I cringe when I say I am phone phobic and many times I don’t say anything, I just grit my teeth and push through. When the fear starts mounting toward panic, I say something like, “I’m almost talked out” and end the call. It’s embarrassing to be late for an appointment because I got lost even though I had driven the route many times. I am always afraid of getting lost, and sometimes the distraction of anxiety makes my fear come true. So I allow myself extra time just in case but sometimes I don’t allow myself enough time to reorient myself.

When I get into the car, I whisper to myself, “It’s okay if I get lost. I have a full tank of gas, several maps, a GPS on my iPhone, and a charge card. And if worst comes to worst, I can ask for directions.” That’s reassuring, but not reassuring enough to totally take away the anxiety.

When the memories were flooding me, I became so agoraphobic that it took courage to go from one room to another in my own home. When you shake going to the bathroom or into the kitchen to cook dinner, that’s really agoraphobia! After all these years, it still happens when I am in flashback mode.

I figured out that I felt safe where I was because nobody was hurting me at the moment and I could see that I was alone. But I could not see all of the next room from where I was and danger might be just around the corner. In the flashback, I had one foot in the present and one in the past. My adult mind knew there was nobody else in the house but my little-girl terror had no such assurance. I felt quite a bit better when I figured that out, but it still was frightening to move from one room to another.

These are just a couple of examples of how fear interferes with living my life fully. I try to figure out what caused the fear in the first place (often easier said than done) and by soothing self-talk and reality checks. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes not. I try and push through the fear, but sometimes I just give in to it. That’s okay – I can’t spend all my precious energy on fighting battles that just pop up again in an hour.

It comes down to choosing between three ways of handling fear: figuring out the cause, talking myself through it, and giving in. And there are two ways of giving in: pushing the fear aside by avoiding looking at whatever is frightening me and allowing myself to sit still and pay attention to the fear, letting it wash over me. It’s reassuring to know that if I do nothing except feel the fear it will eventually turn into something else.

Frank Herbert said it eloquently in “Dune.”

LITANY AGAINST FEAR

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past
I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Upcoming Holidays

June
6/21 Summer Solstice

6/23 Midsummer’s Eve/St. John’s Eve
6/28 Full moon

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 S N Lammas/Lughnasadh

8/26 S Full moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in World War II
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)

Making Anna Proud

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

* A reader wants to know if anybody else was married to the beast. You can post it under “Feast of the Beast” or here if you prefer.

* Also, does anybody know how to get through a flashback when you have been stuck in it for months?

*I’m looking for people who have been used as breeders in a cult setting for submissions for an anthology I hope to put together. Even if you have not been abused this way, could you spread the word and tell all your survivor friends and therapists or pastors you know about the project? They can write me at rahome@ra-info.org for more information. Thank you so much!

Beltane is coming up, and I feel I should write about it. But I’m working on a Beltane memory and am very jittery. I don’t want to get out of this space by writing about it yet. I therefore refer you  to “Beltane” at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/ This entry is historical. “Beltane Blues” at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/beltane-blues/, however, is an essay  on self-forgiveness by a man I have known since 1993.

Making Anna Proud

I’m a fan of Anna Kunnecke, who is an online life coach. I haven’t been a client of hers, but she throws out free useful little things to do to get your life going more smoothly. And I think she is hilarious.

I’m quoting part of her latest blog post – you can see all of it at http://declaredominion.com/2018/04/13/are-you-actually-just-a-wimp/

Now, every year I have a terrible times with taxes. It’s so bad that some years I have said that the Ides of April are a cult holiday. It’s a meeting of three fears: authority, money, and the post office. (I imagine not everyone shares my fear of post offices – if you do, I would love to hear if you have figured out what it is all about. The only thing I have remembered is my mother telling me that if I didn’t behave, she would put a stamp on me and mail me. Where? She didn’t say. I didn’t speculate, I don’t think. But I did imagine being stuffed into a mail box.)

So, convergence of phobias. Fear of envelops. Fear of writing a check. Fear of addressing an envelop. Fear of putting the check into it and sealing it. Oh! I almost forgot the stamp. And worst of all, fear of actually mailing it.

When the taxes were over and done with and mailed, I was relieved, pleased with myself, maybe even proud. I mailed them two days early so I didn’t have to worry about them putting me in prison because they were late. I neglected to worry about going to prison for making a mistake and that was very nice.

I planned on giving myself some sort of treat, but forgot to. Oh well, perfection eludes me still.

That very day, Anna sent out her weekly email. She’s addressing last year’s me, who scolded myself for still being stuck with all these stupid anxiety-provoking, procrastination-provoking phobias. Here’s what she said, edited down a bit.
“It’s a little bit like the way that my family is about airports. We have, collectively, spent about 4,000 years in airports – dropping each other off, picking each other up, saying hello, saying goodbye – and instead of being blasé about the whole thing, it’s as though the emotions just grow bigger each time. It’s as if every painful goodbye wells up in me every time I say goodbye, and it gets harder, not easier. We dread these airport partings so much that we have moved to a strict curbside drop-off policy, quick and clean, love-you-bye-kiss-wave-drive away-and-cry.

“We talk about this amongst ourselves, how instead of getting easier it seems to get harder, and how that doesn’t make any sense.

“But it does make sense. Because we are humans, and we remember things. Our minds, sometimes, imperfectly – but our bodies remember.

“So here is the whole reason I am telling you all this.

“If there is something in your life that is hard for you, and every time it comes up you think, THIS SHOULD BE EASIER BY NOW WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME, this is your permission slip to knock that shit right off.

“Give yourself some grace, instead.

“Give yourself some kindness.

“Give yourself a fucking break, okay?

“Some things are harder, even for powerhouses.

“Maybe calling the insurance company is really hard for you, but you’re amazing at being with people in unbearable grief. Maybe dealing with your ex leaves you shaken and hollow-eyed, but you can wrangle a gnarly tax return like a superhero. Maybe you’re basically a total boss about EVERYTHING…unless your stepmom calls.

“We’re all strong in some areas, and we have some things that still reduce us to puddles of melting jello.

“Just be kind to the melting jello that is you.

“It is not the only part of you. It is just a part of you that is reminding you to be human. And human is messy. But human is also sweet.

“So here’s the deal. When I’m a mess this week, I’m going to be kind to myself.

“And when you’re a mess this week, you’re going to be kind to YOURSELF.

“Deal?”

 

I silently say, “Yup, Anna, deal. You’d be proud of me for being kind to my yearly April 15 puddle of jello. And right now I’ll try and not put myself down for not remembering,after all this damn time, all of those horrible things that happened at Beltane.

 

Upcoming Holidays

April
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
June
6/17 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer Solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/23 St John’s Eve
6/28 Full moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
4/20 Hitler’s birthday
5/8 V-E Day: Victory in Europe, WW2
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)