Dissociation Was a Real Friend on Christmas

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

* Background on pagan winter holidays is at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/

* And here is a post on how I handled Christmas through the years. https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/ephemeral-equilibrium-another-christmas/

* Don’t forget that I’m putting together an anthology of accounts of survivors’ loss of babies through forced abortion, sacrifice, or forced adoption. I am also looking for submissions from husbands, partners, close friends, therapists, or pastors.

You can ask me questions or send your submission through this blog’s comment section, rahome@ra-info.org, or PO Box 14276, 4304 18th Street, San Francisco CA 94114. And tell your friends!

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Before I start talking about myself, I want to wish all of you a safe Christmas. For those of you who are afraid you might be accessed, it’s not too late to work out a safety plan. It’s always a good idea to have a plan B just in case something goes wrong with plan A. Give yourself lots of credit for doing this because it is hard to think through the options and it takes a great deal of courage to face the possibility of present-day accessing.

For everybody, I wish you, not an absence of triggers, but the wisdom to handle them well so that they may contribute to your knowledge of yourself and your past and bring some resolution and peace to all inside. And may you get some joy in the day, whether it is from a Christmas tradition, being with people you care about, or something else entirely.

I used to send cards with a lion walking hand in hand with a lamb. It said, “Peace on Earth – may it begin with us.” May it begin with all our inner selves.

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I’ve been thinking about my childhood Christmases, wondering how I could ever have gotten through them after what happened on Christmas Eve. In my family’s tradition, holidays began at midnight. Sometimes they ended before dawn, sometimes they went through the next day, or even a couple of days, especially if they occurred on a Friday.

So the “night” Christmas was on Christmas Eve. The next day, exhausted and traumatized, we woke up to the regular “day” Christmas, which, in my opinion, was really over the top. My brother and I opened our stockings before breakfast and then, later in the day, were showered with expensive presents that we really didn’t want. Although I asked for books almost every year, I cannot remember getting any. Of course, we pretended to be delighted.

How did I get through Christmas? Dissociation. What had happened the night before was a thousand miles away, a thousand years away, tucked away in a corner of my mind that would not be visited for forty years. Looking back over old photographs, I can spot when I needed dissociation so much to protect myself that I was totally tranced out.

I have a picture of me on Christmas Day, in my pajamas, hair neatly combed. I am looking…at what? At nothing, because nothing had happened. There was no shadow to glimpse, no half-remembered bad dream. I call that tranced-out look “the thousand miles stare” because I am looking at what didn’t happen, what never existed, except perhaps a thousand years ago, a thousand miles away.

Looking closely at the photo, I can see lots of wrapping paper but no toys. It’s as if they, too, had never existed or as if they had disappeared, like magic. The only thing that brings a little smile to my face are the icicles on the tree. They were made of long slender strips of lead and they made the Christmas tree lights dance and reflect out into the room. The tinsel sold today is far safer for pets and babies but not nearly as pretty. The lead tinsel must have been expensive for we picked every strand off the tree and saved it for the next year.

Amnesia for the Satanic Christmas spread out into the real Christmas. I cannot remember what we ate that day. I only remember a few things I received – soap in my stocking, a doll that wet itself after you fed it, complete with a trunk full of clothes. This was when I was three. I remember a Lego set with directions on how to build a brick house. I must have been ten or twelve then. And chocolates in my stocking, although I was overweight. I asked my mother why she had given me candy, and she said that they had fewer calories because they contained nuts. That made no sense to me at all.

It was just one of an infinite number of double messages. Do this, but don’t do it. Don’t do this unless I tell you to and then it is your fault because you did it. Our regular life was filled with such contradictions. And, of course, I could not see the contradictions between my “day” life and my “night” life, because I couldn’t remember the “night” life. (Who knows what presents were given to children the night before Christmas?) My parents, who were also amnesic for all that, were just as dissociated as I was and just as full of contradictory messages. All of us were stumbling along in a sea of things that didn’t make sense, trying our hardest to keep our heads above water.

I could not have handled it if I had remembered and so, when things got rough, I dissociated. Not just from the horrors of the Satanic life I led, but from everything that was around me. In the moment this photo was taken, I was not aware of the tree or the presents or of my parents and brother in the room. All I was aware of was nothing, and that was a blessing.

I still dissociate at times when things get tough. But now I am in control and I can plan around triggers and can build new, healthier traditions. This year I am spending Christmas at home and a much-loved niece is visiting. We are going to have Dungeness crab and lobster on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We are going to plan the days as we go, doing what we feel like when we feel like it. We will probably go out into the woods unless it rains all the time she is here. No presents will be exchanged. There will be no need to fake being pleased or to push the memories out of my mind because they were so awful.

It’s so much better this way!!!!!

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Upcoming Holidays

December
12/21 Yule/Winter Solstice
12/22 Full Moon
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/25 Christmas Day
12/31 New Year’s Eve
January
1/1 New Year’s Day
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
1/20 Full moon
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
February
2/2 S Candlemas/Imbolc
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/19 Full moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons. Christian and Jewish holidays are often desecrated.)

Missing My Brother

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

* Background on Pagan winter holidays is at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/

* And here is a post on how I handled Christmas through the years. https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/ephemeral-equilibrium-another-christmas/

* Don’t forget that I’m putting together an anthology of accounts of survivor’s loss of a baby through forced abortion, sacrifice, or forced adoption. I am also looking for submissions from husbands, partners, close friends, therapists, or pastors.

You can ask me questions or send your submission through this blog’s comment section, rahome@ra-info.org, or PO Box 14276, 4304 18th Street, San Francisco CA 94114. And tell your friends!

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I’ve been in a funk for the best part of the last two weeks without knowing why. I didn’t think I was triggered, but one never knows. I thought I was just overtired from poor sleep due to pain from arthritis.

My new friend, Starling, and I meet weekly to discuss cult matters and life in general. We talk uninterrupted for ten minutes and then ask for feedback. I chose to describe my low mood and Starling said that she thought I was grieving. I talked about my Australian friend David, who died last year, for a while and then suddenly remembered that my brother’s birthday had passed unnoticed.

My brother has always been very important to me, as he was the only person in my family I liked or loved. We were close as children but grew apart as adults, mostly thanks to his extreme social anxiety. Then in 2001 he had a massive stroke which left him almost completely paralyzed and unable to talk. He spent the next eight years in a nursing home before dying of MRSA.

All my adult life, I had watched him slowly disappear and I had grieved the progressive loss of our relationship. And now he really is gone and there is nothing I can do about it. There are so many things I wish I had said to him even though it would have made him uncomfortable. I hope he knew how much I cared about him and how sad I was – and am – that his life was so hard.

One didn’t talk about important things in our family. It just wasn’t done. We pretended that unimportant things were important, things like the kind of clothes you wore or whether you went to a fancy school. Or table manners. You wouldn’t believe the amount of energy my parents put into criticizing our table manners. All this attention to trivia masked the family secrets.

By then, I was talking a little more freely about real things and so disclosed the ritual abuse to him. He said, “I am sorry I can’t help you. I have no memories.” But he didn’t reject me or think I was crazy. Under the shock of having me disclose, he leaked some information. He told me that the reason he couldn’t look people in the eye was that he saw a knife in their eye and blood. Tell me that is not a cult memory trying to push up to the surface! He never wanted to hear anything about my abuse after that. It was too much, and his defenses tightened up.

I am sorry he never had a chance to remember and to feel the relief of knowing what actually happened, knowing that his symptoms made sense and were not his fault. I sometimes irrationally feel that I prevented him from remembering, that I magically took all the memories and all the healing and left him with nothing.

But it doesn’t work that way. It is a mystery why one person remembers and another doesn’t, why one person’s defenses crack and another’s stay rigidly in place. All I can do is accept that fact and be very sad for him, and for my parents, too.

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Upcoming Holidays

December
12/21 Yule/Winter Solstice
12/22 Full Moon
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/25 Christmas Day
12/31 New Year’s Eve
12/31 New Year’s Eve
January
1/1 New Year’s Day
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/20 Full moon
February
2/2 S Candlemas/Imbolc
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/19 Full moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
11/9 Kristallnacht
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons, as well as some Christian and Jewish holidays.)

Self-Care in December

Upcoming Holidays

December
12/21 St. Thomas’ Day/Fire Festival
12/21 Yule/Winter Solstice (Search for Yule on this blog. The information there also applies to the Pagan background of Christmas.)
12/24  Christmas Eve/Satanic and demon revels/Da Meur/Grand High Climax
12/15  Christmas Day (Search for Christmas on this blog. These posts are personal rather than on the historical background of Christmas.)
12/31 New Year’s Eve

January
1/1 New Year’s Day
1/1 Full Moon
1/7 St Winebald’s Day
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels 
1/31 Full Moon

February
2/2 Candlemas/Imbolc
2/13 Mardi Gras
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/14 Ash Wednesday (beginning of Lent)

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
1/12 Birth of both Rosenberg and Goering, Nazi leaders in WWII
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany

Self-Care in December

Glancing at the ritual dates above, it’s clear that the ten days between the solstice and New Year’s are going to be rough. I usually remind people that not all cults observe all the holidays listed, but for these four days (12/21, 12/24, 12/25, and 12/31), all Satanic cults surely celebrate all of them. Satanic and demon revels, Da Meur, and the Grand High Climax are not part of the Christmas Eve rituals for most cults, but that is the only consolation.

I hope all of you can stay safe and keep your courage up. Try to remember that you have survived many other Decembers and that you have more experience in coping with hard times than you did last year.

This is a good time to plan ahead. If you start the project today and then review it every day, adding things and making changes as you think of them, you should have a pretty solid plan by the time the shit hits the fan.

Do you by any chance have a copy of a survival plan you have made for other holidays? If so, it would be a great starting point. You know which things were helpful and which missed the mark. You can go through it point by point, copying some, changing some, and omitting some. If you don’t have an old one, make sure to keep a copy of this plan for future use.

Here are some issues I suggest you consider.

1. External safety. Do dangerous people know how to reach you? Is there some way to minimize the chances they could access you? They probably will use words or objects to trigger you into attending rituals. You are adult now, even if not all of you believes this, and they can no longer just pick you up and take you away. That’s called kidnapping and they would far rather rely on triggers than do something that could be dangerous for them.

If you are worried that somebody may break in, buy an inexpensive alarm that you can hook over the door. Or arrangement to be with somebody safe, either at their place or yours.

2. Internal safety. Even if nobody triggers you, the time of year in itself is a trigger. Chances are parts of you will yearn to be with your family. Perhaps, just perhaps, there will be a perfect Norman Rockwell-type Christmas this year, with presents and good food and good feelings all around. It’s hard to talk yourself out of giving them just one more chance to respect you and love you and be proud of you.

That’s not too hard to understand. What may seem strange is that you are attached to your abusers, attached to the pain, disappointment and degradation. As a child you thought that if you could please them they would not hurt you; they were punishing you because you were bad and, if you were good, they would reward you. So you kept trying. It gave you a sense of control, no matter how small or how delusional.

Also, they were there and they were the source of attention and the basics of life, like food and water. A child is born a need for others as strong as the very life force, and if all you have is people that abuse you, those are the people you will become attached to.

3. Both these issues point to the need to talk to your inner parts, especially to the little ones. They need to know that you will protect them the very best you can and that they do not have to obey the cult any longer. Their desire to return must be acknowledged as natural and understandable and then soothed. They are very brave to try something different and to trust you.

4. Self-harm. What has helped in the past? Make a list of the people you can call if you need to. Hotlines. Your therapist if you have one. Friends you have been able to count on in the past. Also list any groups you have found helpful, like Twelve-Step groups or on-line support groups, or message boards.

If, despite all the precautions you have taken, you are afraid you might hurt yourself badly, please, please, call 911. You need to live for yourself, for me, for every RA survivor. Here is a poem written and illustrated for ritual abuse survivors by a ritual abuse survivor. I can’t tell you how many times I have read it. http://dadig123.ca/reasons_not_to_kill_yourself.html

5. Self-soothing. You might find that people or activities that can distract you are helpful, too, especially for your littles. Taking a break and having fun can be just as healing as a long serious conversation or having the chance to cry without being judged.

Make a list of things you can do alone that will please your littles (and don’t forget your older parts!) and get together any materials you might want. Coloring books, crayons, magic markers, colored paper, your journal. A musical instrument if you know how to play one, a playlist of favorite music. Videos to dance to – whatever you think might appeal to you and would be more fun than rushing around trying to find things at the very last minute.

6. Prepare a special place for yourself. You could stock it with tea and snacks and stuffies. Cozy blankets, soft pillows, your favorite pj’s would all be welcome. You could decorate it ahead of time with drawings, real or paper flowers, encouraging affirmations. Let your imagination go wild!

These are just suggestions. If you have found something to be especially helpful, it would be a great gift to share with others in the comment sections.

So my wish to all is to stay safe, keep your misery to a minimum, and remember that December is almost over.