After Christmas 2016

Sorry, I thought I had posted this. I think I was more upset than I thought!

Christmas Day was sort of okay. I wanted to spend it alone, but I had made a foam-board dollhouse room for a seven-year-old, and I wanted to be there for the opening. It was nice: choice of a wood floor or a wall-to-wall carpeted floor, a door that opened, and a window. I included some of the furniture I didn’t treasure: a basic wooden bed, a bureau, a toy chest with some toys, a red wagon, a red bicycle, and a really gaudy folding screen. A starter set, really.

I like making things for people and I like being pretty sure I am giving a present that they will like, not something I think they ought to like. I knew in advance that the payment for this moment of pleasure was sitting around and talking to the adults. I like them all individually, but as a group I found it overwhelming.

When it came time for the opening of presents, the kid was overwhelmed, too, and escaped to a nice quiet room with a television. So I snuck back home.

I had my heart set on having dim sum, and I got that wish. Like most granted wishes, it wasn’t quite perfect. The restaurant I wanted to go to was closed. The one I ended up at had only a few dim sum on the menu and so I couldn’t get anything exotic, but they were good.

All in all, it was fine. Nothing traumatic, no flashbacks, no scenes, no people being mean to each other with a smile on their face. Not nearly as nice as last year, which I spent with my good friend amid the breath-taking beauty of red rocks in Utah. But boy, would I have been thrilled to have had such a pleasant Christmas when I was a child.

The next few days were like normal days; the gym, the pool, tons of email, a nice big Dungeness crab, a little house work. My car amused itself by throwing a fit. All the alarm lights came on at once but it cleared up the moment the car got to the garage. It wouldn’t misbehave for the mechanics and the diagnostics didn’t show anything. I figure it’s either the electrical system or the computer in the car, and either one will be expensive down the road. They assured me it’s safe to drive, but I am a little nervous.

Now New Year’s Eve is coming up. I feel somewhat apprehensive, and I think that is a flashback to a flashback. The original event was icky things that happened on New Year’s Eve. A big cocktail party that lasted until midnight and then, after the last Old Lang Syne was sung, off to a ritual. For years, the flashbacks consisted of a vague feeling that things were not all right.

Then, in 1999, I was filled with terror. I was sure that Satanists around the world would wreck havoc in any and every way they could think of. Bombs, large bombs. Poisoning the water supplies. Messing up the Internet and computer systems so that the electricity, banks, and phones were knocked out. Assassinations. And many more things I could not even imagine.

My therapist reminded me that I had lived through flashbacks before but I could not believe that this was only a flashback. I was convinced that it was a rational fear, given what I knew.

So I went to a big chain liquor store and bought two expensive jars of caviar. One was for New Year’s Eve, which I spend safely at home alone. If I was killed during the night, I wouldn’t be there to mind spending the extra money. And if I lived, I would have it for breakfast. Best breakfast I have ever had.

I bet some of you can relate. And I bet everybody remembers that nothing out of the ordinary happened. Guess they aren’t as powerful as they led me to believe!!!!!!

I Hate Uncertainty

I will probably will write about the post-Christmas period in the next blog. But no promises!

Here are two pages about my personal feelings about Christmas: (The images disappeared — I don’t know why.)

This page is about the source of winter holiday customs. I wrote about Yule and the winter solstice but a great deal applies to Christmas, too.

Whether it’s personal or on a big scale, uncertainty makes me nervous. I know intellectually that things can change in an instant, any instant, and I will be absolutely unprepared, but I wrap that horrible idea in a cozy blanket of denial. Gets me through the day.

There is massive uncertainty about the direction America will take. I pass on that: nothing much I can do. I will just endeavor to be a decent human being, giving of myself when I can, being as productive as I can. And trying to be more aware, loving, and grateful each day.

On a personal level, I have learned that I can sometimes diminish uncertainty by becoming more informed about whatever it is that is bothering me. Sometimes, not always. Sometimes things just get convoluted.

The Internet is awesome for gathering information! I remember the old days when I had to go to the library. I always ended up surfing the stacks and I spent lots of time sitting on the floor reading books that had nothing to do with whatever I was trying to research. Fond memories – the dusty smell of books, old leather bindings, the joy of coming across a wonderful mis-filed book. But it took up a lot of time, much more than surfing the Internet, even with the distraction of crosswords and cat videos.

I especially hate uncertainty about medical matters. I find that if I have a name for something, I calm right down. But when the doctor doesn’t know or won’t tell me, I am on my own. I can tell the difference from a legitimate website and misinformation or attempts to sell me some magic product that will make me all well again. It’s hard to do, though, because I’m anxious and it is time-consuming.

I’ve just done a good job of avoiding what I thought I wanted to talk about.

Deep breath. Recently I have noticed that I am having trouble with my short-term memory. For example, I put dinner on the table and sit down to eat. But I haven’t brought a fork. So I get up and go to the kitchen to get a fork. But when I am in the kitchen, I have no idea what I came to get. It takes a long moment to come back to me. This can happen a dozen times a day.

I was like that when I first remembered stuff and I was totally overwhelmed. I knew my behavior and the remembering were connected, so I spent exactly zero minutes wondering if I was getting demented. But this time I think it has nothing to do with my RA background. Of course I might be wrong, but it just doesn’t feel the same. Feels more like being stoned. And, of course, I have been reading recently about “mild cognitive difficulties” being a pre-clinical symptom of Alzheimer’s. It apparently shows up about ten years before Alzheimer’s sets in, so I have some time to prepare.

I’ve noticed a couple of other changes. One of the side-effects of the anti-depressant I take, Wellbutrin, is trouble remembering the right word for something. It’s been there for quite a few years but it got a good deal worse about three or four months ago. I stop in the middle of a sentence, frozen because I can’t remember the word or a substitute for it. I can see the object if it is a noun, and I have an idea of what it is I want to express if it’s a verb or adjective, but there are no words associated with the image or idea. If I am writing, I just put XXX where the word should be. By the next day I can fill in the blank.

I know this is aphasia because my mother became progressively more aphasic before she died. It was from TICs — transient ischemic attacks, mini strokes, when the brain is deprived of oxygen for a short time. But her arteries were all clogged up, and mine are clear. So that’s not the explanation.

(Huh. I just thought that this is the linguistic version of not knowing which object I wanted from the kitchen.)

Another problem is that my fine-motor coordination is shot. Can’t thread a needle, even though I can see the thread and the eye of the needle. My typing is horrible because my fingers don’t land where I want them to. It often takes me as long to clean up a sentence as it did to write it. Very annoying, given the amount of writing I do. It’s also embarrassing when I am rushed and miss some mistakes.

I’m not as worried about clumsiness being a sign of early dementia because I have never read anything about it’s being associated with dementia. But who knows? Maybe I just need to do more surfing.

Now that I have put my fears down in writing and told y’all, it’s unlikely I can keep the denial going. Time to get sensible. My first step will be trying to find some self-administered screening tests for cognitive decline. If things don’t look rosy, I will tell my doctor, who is absolutely wonderful. I can’t think further than that.

Thanks, everybody, for listening.

What We Call Ourselves

Here are two pages about my personal feelings about Christmas: (The images disappeared — I don’t know why.)
This page is about the source of winter holiday customs. I wrote about Yule and the winter solstice but a great deal applies to Christmas, too.

For many, many years, we had no name. We did not know what had happened to us, or even what was still happening. How could we have a name if we didn’t have any idea of what was going on? Its like somebody in the middle ages got sick. They could say, “I am sick” but they couldn’t say, “I have a bacterial infection” because nobody knew bacteria even existed.

At the end of the twentieth century, we discovered what was making us feel awful – ritual abuse. For the first time we had words to talk about it and we could name ourselves as “survivors of ritual abuse.”

There is a great deal of power in a name. In many cultures, it is believed that if a person knows your real name they have control over you and you must do whatever they want. This certainly resonates for many ritual abuse and mind control survivors. As long as an alter believes this, it is true. But if they stop believing it and decide it is a lie, a perpetrator may call their name until the cows come home and that alter does not respond. (Except internally, where they might giggle at their disobedience or give an internal finger.)

For us, having a name took the power away from the perpetrators and gave it back to us. This was a process, of course, it didn’t happen overnight. But when we connected to other survivors, we saw that we belonged and we could take courage from every step each person took away from their abusers. We were a community. A community with a name.

I don’t know exactly when survivors started calling themselves “ritual abuse survivors” and “mind control survivors.” The earliest citation I could find was in “Michele Remembers” (1980) where Pazder called it “ritualized abuse.” I do know that it was already in our culture in the mid to late eighties when we started to speak out and identify ourselves as survivors.

Today, the words we use are “ritual abuse,” “ritualized abuse,” “Satanic ritual abuse,” and “mind control.” “Mind control” has evolved from ”mind control experimentation.” In the early days, it was, “Let’s see what we can do with torture, drugs, planned dissociation, and hypnotism.” Then, when the perpetrators  knew what they were doing, it was no longer experimentation.

Memories often surface in this order: physical/emotional abuse, sexual abuse, ritual abuse, and finally government/military mind control. In the eighties, therefore, it seemed that almost all survivors had been subjected “only” to ritual abuse, simply because many people had not yet remembered government/military mind control. Now, an awful lot of us belong in both those categories.

The names we use to describe ourselves, both among ourselves and when speaking to outsiders, hasn’t changed much in the past thirty five-years.

I was used in mind control experimentation and child pornography and I sometimes speak of myself as a survivor of government/academic mind control experimentation or child pornography. My primary identity, however, is that of a ritual abuse survivor. Similarly, I have friends whose primary identity is mind control survivor although they may also have suffered ritual abuse, prostitution, etc. What we call ourselves is our name; that’s who we are, that’s our identity.

Often, it is not the group itself that chooses a name, but doctors or psychologists or other professionals. Look at autism, for example. First there was no name, because nobody had thought to study this particular subset of neuro-psychological conditions. The term was first used by Eugen Bleuler in 1911 to refer to a set of symptoms of schizophrenia. At about the same time, Hans Asperger identified a similar condition among people who did not appear to be schizophrenic. In the ’60’s, doctors began to see autism as a condition completely separate from schizophrenia.

Slowly, Asperger’s came to represent people with high-functioning autism. Now the medical profession refers to “Autism Spectrum Disorder.”  The people with either autism or Asperger’s had no say in choosing any of these names. I wonder what they would have come up with if they had been able to conceptualize themselves as a group and named themselves, rather than leaving it to professionals. My guess is that if they had chosen their own name, it would have stuck for half a century. They, too, would have been a community with a name, with an identity.

I think many of us get very upset when somebody who is not a survivor tries to give us a different name. I know I do. It feels like an attempt to strip me of my identity, and I do not appreciate it. Can you imagine being spoken of as a person with “Abuse Spectrum Disorder?”

Soon, I plan to write about how different names can help us explain our experiences to those who have not been there and how they can help us join with other groups of survivors and increase our collective strength as we fight for recognition, resources, influence, and justice. We could do this freely in order to take advantage of the social implications of the changed name(s), while still retaining our identity as ritual abuse and/or mind control survivors. So stay tuned!