* The International’s Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) Annual Conference is coming up. The pre-conference is March 12 – 13, and the main conference is March 14 – 16. It’s being held in San Francisco. Information: https://annualconference.isst-d.org/

I’m attending the conference this year and would love to connect with anybody who is going. We could hang out at break times and get to know each other better.

ISSTD is also offering two regional conferences.

* “A Day With Professor Michael Salter” – plus Margot Sunderland, Adah Sachs, Kathryn Livingston, Mark Linington, Elly Hanson, Sue Richardson, Valerie Sinason, and Nancy Borrett – is in London on March 5. Information: https://www.isst-d.org/training-and-conferences/upcoming-conferences/london-regional-conference/

* “Diagnosis and Treatment of DID and PTSD in Indigenous Peoples” is in Fairbanks AK on June 17 – 20. Information: https://www.isst-d.org/training-and-conferences/upcoming-conferences/fairbanks-regional-conference/


I think there are at least three variations of the word “loneliness:” being alone, feeling lonely but not recognizing the feeling, and feeling lonely and knowing it.

“A lonely existence.” Here somebody is making a judgment about how another person lives. That person may or may not feel lonely, but, looking at them from the outside, you think, “I would be so lonely if I lived like that.” Examples: recluses, who seldom leave their houses, widows who are ignored by others, elderly people confined to their homes by illness, hermits, and hermit crabs, leaving their shells only to find a larger one and, once a year, to mate. (They don’t even get completely out of their shells for this rare event.) To find out whether a person is perfectly content to live alone, you have to ask. (The crabs use body-English.)

Feeling lonely, but not having words to describe the feeling. This was how I felt about my existence until late grade school. I saw others interacting with each other and felt stupid, afraid, and a little sad. I wanted to do what they were doing, but I didn’t know how and was scared to try. So I just stared at them. The other kids knew how to play and laugh and, I guessed, have a good time. The grown-ups knew how to talk to each other and make the other person smile. I didn’t know these things and didn’t know how others had learned them.

And no, I wasn’t autistic, just very traumatized.

Kids like me are sometimes called “frozen children,” frozen with fear. They try to blend into the background and be so inconspicuous that they become invisible. They fear that being noticed automatically brings punishment because they have been routinely punished for moving freely, for speaking, for showing they liked something or somebody, for no reason at all. I’ve written more about frozen kids and their opposite, angry, acting out kids at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/cult-kids/.

Like other frozen kids, I was isolated from my classmates, and I had no access to other children, except in the cult. There was no way for me to learn how to play jacks or marbles, jump rope, makes a cat’s cradle with another girl. And I was instructed not to interact with adults who were not family or cult members, except for answering the teachers’ direct questions relating to schoolwork. Isolation was reinforced at every turn.

At a certain point in grade school I started to want to interact with other people. I think it was at that point that I became aware that I was lonely. I have a feeling that one of my books had a character that was portrayed as lonely, but I cannot remember the title. “The Pokey Little Puppy” comes to mind, but it focused on the puppy’s behavior and its consequences, not his feelings.

The feeling intensified, even when I started making friends when I was twelve. I knew I was allowed to because my mother pushed me to have friends, to become popular. I also think it was because I was starting to be considered odd for never participating, and it was very important that I blend in and not draw attention to myself or my family.

You see, I had explained to myself that the problem was that I was friendless and that if I had friends like everybody else, I would stop feeling so awful and start being happy. It didn’t work that way, though. Having friends just made me even more lonely. Maybe I had the wrong friends? Or not enough of them? Maybe because I needed to lose ten pounds? Or maybe I wasn’t interesting enough, or funny enough, or? or? or?

I knew there was something very wrong with me, and, since I couldn’t figure it out, I would just have to put up with it.

And suddenly the flashbacks, first of molestation, then of physical abuse, and finally of ritual abuse, came rushing in and completely changed my life.

In the first few years, I was totally absorbed by just getting through the flashbacks, trying to make sense of the insanity I was remembering, and figuring out ways of managing my new life. Deep inside, though, changes were occurring that I would only recognize later.

About ten years on, maybe longer, I realized I was no longer lonely. I had not become a social butterfly; I still was introverted and spent a lot of time alone. But I didn’t yearn for interaction with people! Something major had shifted.

Another ten years or so, and I realized that the cause of my loneliness had never been a lack of attachment to other people. I had lost part of myself, and it was that part of me that I yearned to connect to. All along, I had wanted to be one, not to be split by amnesia into what I think of as a “night part” and a “day part.” Neither one was me because the other half was missing. But once I remembered, I was whole.

Reading the last paragraph, it sounds like I am saying that I integrated, that the different parts merged into each other. Since I don’t have discrete parts with personalities and histories of their own, it doesn’t feel like integration. It feels like I accepted that this had happened to me and that it had been the most important thing in my life, affecting each and every part of my development. It had been hidden from me for decades and had been the source of my unhappiness.

Now I don’t have to wonder what the matter with me is. I know exactly what it is. And I no longer feel there is anything the matter with me at all, given what I lived through as a child.


Upcoming Holidays

2/25 Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
2/25 Walpurgis Day
2/26 Ash Wednesday

3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/9 Full moon<
3/13 Friday the Thirteent
3/17 Spring Equinox
3/17 St. Patrick’s Day
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan

4/1 April Fool´s Day
4/5 Palm Sunday
4/7 Full moon
4/8 Day of the Masters
4/9 Maundy Thursday (commemoration of the Last Supper)
4/10 Good Friday
4/11 Holy Saturday
4/12 Easter Sunday<
4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
2/10 Tu Bishvat/Tu B’Shevat (celebration of spring)

(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes.)

Coming Out as a Model for Dealing with Ritual Abuse Memories 

* ZLibrary offers 4,836,367 free ebooks and 75,268184 articles. (That’s of today – it’s probably more by now.) Search for “ritual abuse” in books; the first page contains many good titles and a few more interesting ones are scattered through the following pages. Haven’t yet explored the article section, but there must be many articles on ritual abuse. https://b-ok.org/

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

* Additional information on the following holidays is available at:

Labor Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/labor-day/
Fall Equinox: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/
Halloween: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/ 
Halloween: (personal): https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2018/10/20/halloween-2018/


My first job as a newly graduated social worker was “Drug and Youth Program Coordinator” for a three-town area in the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. There was a tiny bit of clinical work every now and then, but mostly it was administrative. My goal was clinical work, being a therapist for individuals and families and running groups.

By chance, one of the program directors was gay, and for some unknown reason, he was “outed” widely by one of his program’s Board members. I was incensed. I couldn’t do much of anything for him, but I could perhaps do something for the gay and lesbian community. I wrote a letter to the Director of an organization called the Homophile Community Health Center offering to volunteer, got interviewed, and was accepted. I was open about being straight and was given all the family work because it was assumed I would be able to be supportive of parents who had just learned that their child was gay or lesbian. It was a good fit, and when a position opened up, they hired me.

I loved that place. The Clinical Director was wonderful, and we did all sorts of things together – writing grants, designing an educational program for graduate student interns and volunteers, and forming groups for our clients. Many of the clients were young and having trouble navigating their entry into the dating scene and the community as a whole. It was there that I really became a clinical social worker, not a hope-to-be-someday clinical social worker.

I got to see people in every stage of coming out and so was able to reassure my younger clients that their reactions were normal and that it would get easier. Little did I know that what they were teaching me would be helpful to me not only in my professional life but in my personal life as well.

About ten years later, my memories came. I know that the process of remembering is different for different people. For me, the realization that I was a ritual abuse survivor was like having a ton of bricks fall on my head. Images filled my mind and flooded me with emotion (mainly fear and horror) every waking moment. They infiltrated my dreams. The only time they let up was when I was working, and I thanked them for that as if they were kind friends.

Metaphors came to my rescue, giving a small sense of normality and hope to this weird experience. It was like culture shock, like being plunked down in Japan, alone, with no money, not understanding a word of what people were saying. “It’s okay,” I told myself. “You will find somebody who speaks English, and in time you will learn Japanese and understand the culture.”

I remembered my gay and lesbian clients and reassured myself in the same words I had used to reassure them. “This is the first stage of coming out – I am coming out to myself, and I am overwhelmed. I have already come out to the two people I trust the most in this world. They still love me and want to help me. In time I will get used to my newly-discovered identity, and I will have friends like myself. Be patient – coming out is a process.”

In writing this, I tried to think of ways that finding out that you are gay is different from discovering you have ritual abuse in your background. It was really hard. I thought maybe I was clinging to the metaphor because it had been with me for so long and had helped me so much. I didn’t want to risk losing it!

Well, there are differences, I think. I doubt if many people realize they are gay without having had hints and conscious doubts about their sexuality. Maybe I am wrong. Perhaps it is only in retrospect that they can see things that should have alerted them to the possibility that they were not straight. But how could you miss the meaning of having had grade-school crushes on kids of the same sex? Or those dreams at night that were so exciting?

And how could I have missed the peculiar fears? Fear of forgetting how to breathe, fear of suddenly going blind, fear of people in general. Or the weird fascination with bones, rifle shells, raw meat, snakes. Or the content of dreams and fantasies not based on anything I had heard or read.

Easy. There was no context to put them in, so they remained isolated mental experiences, accepted as normal but never to be spoken of. And, when I was a child, it was widely known that some people were homosexual, but it was also widely known that incest occurred in only one out of a million families. And ritual abuse? Totally unknown.

Still, the metaphor was so apt, so powerful, so helpful. It gave me a map and a compass, both sorely needed. It told me what lay ahead, and it was invariably right.

I knew from the start that knowing I had a ritual abuse background, knowing my identity was that of a ritual abuse survivor, would last a lifetime. That living with it would have stages, and that this first stage would not last forever. That I would lose some friends and make others. That I would be ecstatic at being with people like me, that I would fit in as I never had before. That, when the rose-colored glasses slipped from my eyes, I would find that survivors were just like everybody else – some were loving, some bitter and vengeful. I would like some and not others, and some would like me, and some wouldn’t. That one day being a survivor would be “the new normal,” and I would be comfortable in my own skin.

I am so grateful for having this model and grateful to the people who taught me about the process of adaptation to a new minority (and stigmatized) identity. I would have had a far harder time if I had no framework for my experiences. I hope that others may find it useful and feel a little more grounded and hopeful.



Upcoming Holidays

9/2 Labor Day (US)
9/5 – 9/7 Feast of the Beast/Marriage of the Beast
9/13 Full moon
9/13 Friday the 13th
9/23 Fall equinox
10/13 Full moon
10/13 Backward Halloween
10/14 (?) Columbus Day
10/31 Halloween/start of Celtic New Year/start of the dark half of the year
11/1 All Saints’ Day
11/2 All Souls’ Day
11/11 (?) Veterans’ Day
11/12 Full moon
11/28 US Thanksgiving

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
9/1 Start of WW2
9/29 – 10/1 Rosh Hashanah (New Year, Day of Judgement)
10/8 – 10/9 Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
10/16 Death of Rosenburg
10/13 – 10/20 Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles, harvest festival)
10/19 Death of Goering
10/20 Hitler’s actual half-birthday
10/21 Hitler’s alternative half-birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday and half-birthday on 4/20 and 10/20. His alternate birthday is celebrated on Easter of the current year and his alternate half-birthday six months later.)
10/21 – 10/22 Simchat Torah (celebration of the annual cycle of the reading of the Torah)
11/9 Kristallnacht (State-ordered pogroms against Jews in Germany and Austria)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes)