Flashbacks, Triggers,and Worksheets

The American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) is presenting “Way Maker World Conference.”

Thursday, September 14 – Saturday, September 18, 2021, Orlando, FL.

This is a huge conference held every two years. Almost 4,000 people have registered and they are expecting 7,000. There will be approximately 50 pre-conference workshops, 175 clinical/biblical workshops, and 200 exhibitors.

Presentations are organized into thirteen tracks. The ones that caught my attention are “Abuse, Violence, and Trauma-Informed Care,” “Mental Health, the Brain and Neuroscience,” and “Psychiatry, Behavioral Medicine, and Collaborative Care.” Among other topics covered are addictions, sexuality, family issues, and pastoral counseling.

I tried using the AACC therapist finder and it needs work. Or else I am using it wrong! If you are looking for Christian counseling. or think you may in the future, you might want to copy the information on the conference site. I recognized a couple of presenters that are good with RA. If you would like to consult them for a referral in your area, write me and I will put you in touch.

The AACC website is: https://www.aacc.net/

Their blog is at https://www.aacc.net/category/aacc-blog/

The conference website is: https://worldconference.net

Contact information: PO Box 739 Forest, VA 24551, contactmemberservices@aacc.net, 1-800-526-8673


I learned something new yesterday about flashbacks. My therapist knows so much, and it never occurs to her to tell me unless I ask! But half the time I have no idea that there is something to ask about.

I had always assumed that flashbacks were always triggered by something in the present. If I couldn’t identify the trigger, it was because it had snuck in under the radar. But she said that not all flashbacks are triggered by present-day events. Some are due to a part sharing a memory, wanting the “me” who is out to have a particular piece of information. In that case, it’s fruitless to look for a trigger. Or the trigger might simply be a thought that part had, like “she’s strong enough to know this now.”

In situations where there is a trigger, it’s useful to see the connection. Then in the future, if you encounter the same trigger, you may be prepared for a flashback. And the trigger itself is a piece of information – it may well be part of the memory.

A trigger is very useful to sort out how much of your reaction comes from the present situation and how much comes from the past and is, in effect, part of the flashback. This helps ground you in the present and helps prevent a melt-down or other over-reaction. It gives you more control and freedom to chose among your coping mechanisms.

Some people have designed flashback worksheets to help them connect the trigger to the flashback. I found that they weren’t very useful to me because I got all hung up in searching for a trigger that didn’t exist, or that existed but was invisible to me, so I stopped using them. But other people have found them very helpful.

A blog entry on a trigger-free worksheet I designed is at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/flashback-worksheets/.

In short, it consists of these questions:

1. What am I thinking/feeling?
2. What from the past could have set off this reaction?
3. What in the present could be causing this reaction?
4. How can I test if it’s from the past or present? (or both)
5. If it’s in the
Present – what action can I take to solve the problem?
Past – what can I do to calm myself down?

It’s interesting to see that eight years ago I suspected that not all flashbacks are preceded by triggers. I had forgotten that insight and had to come across the information all over again in therapy. I am so expert at forgetting!

By the way, my therapist told me that it is very, very common for ritual abuse survivors to be preoccupied with their own deaths. It doesn’t seem to be something that develops in old age. It just seems to come with the RA territory. For me, it’s a gnawing intrusive thought that pops up several times a day (or night). I find that it sometimes appears at random times and sometimes it’s part of a routine. Like every time I go out of the house, I think, “I might die while I am out. What do I need to do before I leave? What don’t I want people to see?” And then I talk myself out of worrying about it. And remind myself that the actuarial tables say I might well live into my nineties.

She also told me that the fear of being killed was because we were told we would be killed if we told what had been done to us. So that surge of fear is a feeling-flashback.

I was going to say that all intrusive thoughts are visitors from the past. But that’s not true – present-day anxiety can cause rumination and intrusive thoughts that just pop into your mind. Say you are working at a company where there are a lot of layoffs and you are worried that you will lose your job. It would be perfectly natural to have intrusive thoughts about becoming unemployed, even if job insecurity was not a family issue in your childhood.

Not every bad thing in the world can be ascribed to the cult. Not every bad thing in the world is your fault, either.


Upcoming Holidays

5/31 Memorial Day

6/10 Annular Solar Eclipse
6/20 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/24 (?) St John’s Day
6/24 Full Moon

7/4 Independence Day
7/23 Full Moon
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Grand Climax

8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/13 Friday the 13th
8/15 (?) Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
8/22 Full Moon
8/24 St. Bartholomew’s Day

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups

6/6 D-Day (Invasion of France in WW2)
7/18 Tisha B’Av (Jewish Day of Mourning)
7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party

(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: 

 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/ 

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/

Another Round of Flashbacks

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

* Beltane, is, of course, tomorrow. And Walpurgisnacht is tonight. I’ve written about both in prior posts.



I hope you all can stay safe over these hard, hard days, and that you can find ways to comfort yourselves. None of this was your fault. By the very fact of your reading this blog, you are working to heal yourself from the wounds they inflicted on you. And, in healing yourself, you are part of the growing movement to fight ritual abuse throughout the world. Perhaps this realization will be an additional comfort to you.


Last Saturday I shared at my support group that I felt very spacey, like I was not myself. Like I didn’t really have a self. And that I felt ineffective and inferior. It is really annoying to try to do much of anything feeling that way.

It was suggested that I was dissociating and that maybe a memory was trying to come up. Then they gave me some loving reminders that I had, indeed, done a fair amount in my life, and that I was not sitting alone in the house watching TV or staring out the window all day. I still was doing things, maybe not as many as twenty years ago, but still a fair amount.

Lo and behold, a memory did surface. It was prompted by this chiropractic journey I am on. The brain is part of the body. and the mind seems to be part of the brain (most days!)  It is therefore no surprise that bodywork of any kind can bring up all sorts of things.

I’ll share some examples. Be aware that they are a little more graphic than usual.

Once a bodyworker commented on rigidity in my neck. I asked what caused it. She replied, “Trauma. Trauma usually before the age of two.” And I, who at the moment believed that everything started when I was four, sobbed for the rest of the session.

Another time I was taking a Feldenkrais class. and we were working on one large mat. Some movement, I forget exactly what it was, triggered me. I had an image of myself, naked, with other naked children, lying on the floor in a grid pattern. Somebody made the sign of the cross on my stomach and said the words to the effect of, “In the name of Satan, we offer this child to you.” I was sure they were going to stab me and kill me. Again, I sobbed and shook through the rest of the class.

Once again, healing bodywork reminds me that the mind and the body are one and that they can trigger each other. The movement of my body triggers a memory stored in my mind. Other times, the mind triggers body memories – it works both ways.

We are given exercises to do at home every day. Thirty repetitions, which I consider a lot. One of the ones I am working on now consists of sitting up tall in a chair, raising my hands in a T-position (hands in the air as if I were signaling “I surrender,”) opening my chest, and tipping my head back until I can feel the skin on the front of my neck stretch. It’s a very vulnerable position.

I saw myself naked in that same position. I felt a knife at my throat. A man said, “If you talk about this, we will kill you.” And then I felt something warm, the way blood is warm and sticky, along the length of the knife. I don’t know how old I was, but my thinking was sophisticated enough to realize after a few minutes that I was not bleeding to death. I assumed they had made a superficial cut. I expected a scar, but there wasn’t one.

Later I got a second image of me in that position. This time my eyes were shut. The man said, “If you tell, we will stab your eyes.” And the tip of the knife gently touched first one and then the other eyelid.

These flashbacks don’t consume me like the early ones did. I know through and through that they are flashbacks, and I am firmly in the present once the image has surfaced. I take care of myself by telling myself that I am at home, nobody else is there, that my home is beautiful and filled with things I have chosen. I am flooded with feelings of gratitude for being able to choose whatever I want, anything and everything. Food, reading material, projects, friends, furniture, clothes, everything. This is true freedom!

I am reminded of the end of a poem (Out of the Cult) I wrote and posted here.

then oh!
on the horizon
sunflowers, rivers. green hills, sun and sand, soaring gulls, deer,
rabbits, suburbs and suburbs of warm homes, laughter, dancing,
song, beds and food and drink
a plentitude, a plentitude

It was a long road, but I got here.


Upcoming Holidays

4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve
5/1 Beltane
5/12 Mothers’ Day
5/18 Full moon
5/27 Memorial Day
6/9 – 6/10 Pentecost
6/16 Father’s Day
6/17 Full moon
6/20 Corpus Christi/Feast of the Body of Christ
6/21 Summer solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/24 St John’s Day
7/2 Total solar eclipse. Visible in parts of South America
7/4 Fourth of July/ US Independence Day
7/16 Full moon
July 16 – 17 Partial lunar eclipse. Visible in South America, Africa, most of Europe and Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
4/30 Anniversary of Hitler’s death
5/1 – 5/2 Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day)
5/7 – 5/8 Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day, Day of Remembrance)
5/8 – 5/9 Yom HaAtzma´ut (Israeli Independence Day)
5/8 V-E Day (Victory in Europe, WW2)
5/18 Armed Forces Day (?)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes)

School Shootings

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

* 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/.

There are some topics that I never feel ready to write about but are always in the back of my mind. This is one of them. I still am not ready, but I’m doing it anyway.

There are many reasons why am I not ready. I’m too upset to spend all the time it takes to write a post that stirs up such intense feelings. It feels like an invitation for several nights of dreaming about the topic. I don’t know enough about it to say anything interesting. It has nothing to do with ritual abuse. I just plain don’t want to, not today.


When I was in grade school, we had fire drills and also air raid drills. (This was during Word War Two.) We had to hide under our desks, which, even in second grade, seemed pretty useless to me. Surely, if a bomb came through the roof, it would come through our desks, too. I was too busy thinking how dumb it was to be scared.

At night, the whole city was blacked out. No street lights, no headlights, and heavy black shades throughout the city were taped to the wall so that no light could get through the windows. My mother went out with flashcards to identify planes – were they ours or theirs? I’m not sure what she could have done if it were one of theirs, except scream. She felt useful, while I lay in bed terrified. To this day I like at least some light to come into my bedroom and I getting anxious when planes fly overhead, especially if they are low.

Today schools have lockdown drills and active shooter drills as well as fire drills. In lockdown drills the school doors are locked, the classroom doors locked, the blinds all pulled, and the kids hide in a closet or other sheltered place and stay silent for the duration of the drill, which can be up to ten minutes. I think this happens all across the country, in all grades. Active shooter drills vary more: some are lockdowns, except the school itself remains open for SWAT teams and first responders. Some have all or some of the kids evacuate, sometimes with instructions to bring thing to throw at the shooter if they can.

These drills really scare students. They don’t know whether it is real or a drill. And it reminds them, just as vividly as TV coverage, that the adults no longer consider schools safe. One woman recently told me that her daughter said she wasn’t going to college. “What’s the point? I’ll just get shot.” It’s an ever-present possibility in their minds.

It really upsets me that the kids feel so endangered. They feel helpless in the face of attack, and they feel their teachers and parents are helpless, too. There is no one person or group that they can direct their fear toward – the attacker could be anybody, even somebody they know. And when anybody can be the attacker, everybody is feared.

And then there are the shootings in churches. And clubs and malls and offices. Trucks being driven into groups of pedestrians. Car bombs and bombs in backpacks. The world certainly is dangerous in a way it wasn’t when I was a child.

Of course there are parts of the world where this kind of attack is a normal everyday occurrence. Parts of our country, too, where there are gang wars and drug deals gone bad. And so many parts of the world where violence is far, far worse, and is accompanied by rape, torture, murder, burning of villages and cities, disease, and famine. In comparison, most of us are living in a bubble of safety.

Few people, though, believe they live in a safe place. They see the increase in mass shootings and their sense of safety is shattered. They don’t know how to handle it, and they don’t know what to say when their kids ask questions like,

“Why do the bad guys want to shoot little kids?” Actually, the only honest answer I have for that question is, “I don’t know.”

I believe that none of this, or very little, has anything to do with cults. For one thing, there is no money in it. Cults like money and so have better things to do, like traffic kids, make hard-core porn, run guns, or sell drugs. Cults are not responsible for every bad thing that happens in the world, even though they brag to the kids that all these things are their doing. They have no monopoly on evil – there is plenty to go around, unfortunately.

I have a double dose of fear and confusion. Part is caused by the events that are happening today, and my emotions are appropriate and warranted. Part is a resurgence of feelings about threats they made to me as a kid and things I saw or experienced, both in the ordinary world and the cult world. At least I know that I am triggered and I can sort out how much is from the past and how much from the present. And at least I know that the chances of being shot or having somebody I know be shot are very slim.

But I am still frightened and confused, and that sucks.


Upcoming Holidays

7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Full Moon
8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/26 Full moon
9/3 Labor Day
9/5 – 9/7 Marriage to the Beast (Satan)
9/7 Feast of the Beast
9/22 Fall Equinox

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
9/1 N Start of WW2
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons

Upcoming Holidays

7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God

7/27 Full Moon


8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh

8/26 Full moon


9/3 Labor Day

9/5 – 9/7 Marriage to the Beast (Satan)

9/7 Feast of the Beast

9/22 Fall Equinox

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups

9/1 N Start of WW2

(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)