Ritual Abuse and the Protestant Work Ethic

Upcoming Holidays
4/10 Full moon
4/14 Good Friday
4/16 Easter Sunday

4/21 – 5/ (third week of April) Preparation for sacrifice in some Satanic sects
4/30  Walpurgisnacht/May Eve
5/1  Beltane/May Day/ Labour Day in Europe   
Important dates in Nazi groups
4/16  Hitler’s alternate birthday
4/20 Hitler’s birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday, 4/20, and Easter of the current year.)
4/30  Anniversary of Hitler’s death

This post is not about ritual abuse itself, it is about my family, which practiced Satanism, and how they raised their children. It was strictly ordered, with no room for children to be spontaneous or independent. Everything had to be down the right way, in a defined length of time. And the children were watched to make sure they were doing things right. My therapist feels that this child-rearing method was as harmful to me as the cult, albeit in a far less violent way.

Now back to the present. The weather has been cold and overcast or rainy for weeks, it seems. At least three weeks. Not good gardening weather – soil too soggy to work and temperature too chilly to enjoy. But for a few days the skies cleared and the temperature rose to seventy. Bliss!

Except some days I didn’t go out. The other days I went out so late that most of the garden was in shade. It wasn’t particularly enjoyable.

I brooded over what was happening and came up with the realization that I was using gardening as a reward after I did all the things (or most of them) on my to-do list. That’s “If you don’t finish your vegetables you don’t get dessert” thinking. Why can’t I start the meal with dessert? After all, I live alone: nobody will see and nobody will know unless I tell them. Why can’t I garden in the nicest part of the day, replenish myself, and then do the stuff on the list calmly and proficiently? Gardening without guilt! But that’s not the way my family did things.

This is such a simple idea that I am sort of embarrassed that it took so many years to think of it. It is absolutely amazing how tight a hold lessons taught in childhood have on us. There must be hundreds more habits that I never question; I just do what I was made to do as a child.

I can remember being resistant to being told what to do. “I can’t help talking with my mouth full…of teeth.” Being told to hold my knife and fork correctly and then starting to eat the European way. How sophisticated I was at twelve! (In case you don’t know, you hold your fork upside down in your left hand and cut with the knife in your right hand. You then spear whatever you have just cut and put it in your mouth. You can also use the knife to shovel food onto the back of the fork. You don’t need to put your utensils down until you are finished. Much simpler and more efficient than the “correct” American way.)

I can remember sitting at the table silently fuming and not eating my vegetables. “I don’t want to, I won’t do it, you can’t make me.” Yet the orders bore deeper into me than the memory of my resistance.

Back to the work ethic. (We always called it the Protestant work ethic, as if nobody else worked hard.) I know people who don’t make to-do lists. They have a vague idea of what they want to accomplish that day and then they do what they feel like. Their actions are fluid and they seem to expend very little energy. But yet a tremendous amount gets done with very little stress.

I notice they don’t procrastinate. They don’t do a crossword when they feel stuck writing something. Instead, they do the dishes or water the plants. They have faith that they will get unstuck pretty soon and meanwhile they get a pleasant break doing some simple.

I don’t have that faith. I believe I have to push myself, force myself, to get something done. If I lift my eyes, I can see at least twenty things that need doing. I’m afraid that if I don’t push myself, nothing at all will get done. I will drown in guilt and spend the rest of my life staring into space. It’s very tiring.

I think this goes back to the days when I was constantly dissociated, with no idea what state of mind I was in. I didn’t know where I was, what I felt, not doing anything,why or if I was tranced out, nothing. I didn’t move. Somehow I snapped out of it and started my homework, fighting all the time not to slip back into that space where I was floating, didn’t do anything, didn’t know how to read, couldn’t talk or move. I only made myself do the homework because I would have gotten yelled at if I didn’t finish it within a certain time and got everything right, with lovely handwriting. Talk about tiring!

So, yeah, I still am tempted to slip into a trance when I hit a rough spot.  For example, about three paragraphs up I didn’t know what to say next. So I did the New York Times crossword. I was still stuck. Then I thought I would try to do something physical and simple, so I cleaned the cat boxes and watered my Spanish moss. I came back, and I was no longer stuck. Perhaps it was the physical movement that freed me up.

I could get resentful that I am still, after all these years, figuring out ways of breaking old patterns, some from my family, some from the cult. These are my golden years! I am supposed to be dancing around having fun! But I prefer to be grateful that I have a mind that can think things through, hands that can type, and people (you guys!) that are willing to listen to me.

Easter Blues

There is some information on the background of Easter at “The Spring Equinox” — https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/

On a good day, I don’t much like to write. This is because I once had a job as a technical writer, and the engineers who had to sign off on my work were impossible. They didn’t think it was important, so they tossed it on their desks and ignored it. I had to nag them mercilessly. Finally, they would glance through it and hand it back. I dealt with that by putting ridiculous things in several places to catch their attention. It caught their attention but also annoyed them no end. They got back at me by criticizing my choice of words, my every comma. That sure took all the joy out of doing a good job.

Now the days before Easter are not good days. The Internal Committee of Annoyed Engineers is joined by a large group of cult people telling me not to talk, not to write, not to let anybody know what went on. Their threats drown out the relatively reasonable voices of the engineers. I have, therefore, written nothing for this blog entry until the last minute. (Oh, and then I forgot to post it!) I wish I had gotten it over with a week ago, but I didn’t.

To add to my misery, I did something to my back and it hurts when I stand, walk, or lie down. I’m confined to the chair in front of the computer; my writer’s block is therefore always right in front of me. Plus, I have cabin fever and am quite grumpy.

I haven’t forgotten, though, that it used to be much, much worse. I remember the endless nightmares, the body memories, the terrible images that flashed in front of my eyes at random times. I remember being afraid of everybody and everything and feeling suicidal day and night. I thought “This will be my life from now on, and I do not think I can bear it one more minute.”

I was wrong; that wasn’t my life, it was “just a phase” of my life. If somebody had told me that, it would have taken a lot of self-control not to scream at them that they didn’t know what they were talking about and they were cruel to tell me such a blatant lie. When you are in so much pain, a second expands into eternity and the idea of possible change disappears. But slowly, the pain abates and things shift and you wake up one day and realize that things are different.

I am grateful for the changes — grateful that I am not suicidal, grateful that I am not flooded with flashbacks, and grateful that the things that are bothering me are minor annoyances. It’s normal to have writer’s block and a bad back and I know that and welcome the peace that has come to replace the agony.

I hope all of you had an easier time of these hard days than you did in the beginning and that next year it will be still a little easier.

Perfectionism and Procrastination — Two Sides of the Coin

These two traits go hand-in-hand for me.  It has to be perfect. But I am afraid it won’t be perfect. So I stall. If I never start, I can’t say I tried my hardest and it still wasn’t very good. I can pretend that once I get started I will whiz through it and it will turn out . . . perfect.

Unfortunately, I don’t quite believe this. If I had only taken pre-med courses, I would have gotten straights A’s, been admitted to the top medical schools, once again gotten straight A’s, and by now would be beloved by thousands of grateful patients and adoring students, right? I sorta doubt it. And I know for sure it’s not true that if I hadn’t dropped piano lessons after three weeks I would now be a famous concert pianist. I dropped them for a sensible reason: I couldn’t tell which note was higher than another. Glenn Gould didn’t have to overcome that handicap, but I did, and more besides, like little sense of rhythm and uncoordinated fingers.

So even though I know better, I continue to procrastinate because, “I don’t know how to do it.” “I might make a mistake.” “It’s so hard, and I will feel stupid.” And then I feel stupid and defective for procrastinating. That’s a lose-lose situation.

I have a running to-do list. Every day (or two or three) I check off “do the dishes.” And the next day I add “do the dishes.” Every week I check off “water plants on Sunday” and immediately add it back to the list.

You would think I’d feel like I never get anything done, but it is so much fun to check off items that I actually feel quite accomplished. As a matter of fact, I’m tempted to list doing the dishes this way:
dishes
glasses
forks
knives
spoons
pots
pans
Then I would get seven things done instead of just one.

Oh, what sophisticated tricks I play with myself!

In an attempt to tackle this problem in a more serious way, I thought up two little mottos and put them at the beginning of the list. I used a large fancy type face and green for one motto and purple for the other. I never check off my mottos, as they are guidelines, not tasks. I don’t want to tell myself, “Well, I did that today, so it is done, and I don’t have to do it again tomorrow.”

Better to do a half-assed job than not to do it at all
Better now than later

This means that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be better than nothing at all. And if something is better than nothing, I can wash one dish, and it will be better than washing none. Under these circumstances, it is hard to fail miserably.

But maybe I can figure out a way to follow the guidelines and still fail . . . if I just try hard enough.