I came across this piece I wrote a dozen years ago for the Aug/Sept 2003 issue of the Survivorship notes. It’s now 2015 and I’m still right in the middle of this particular identity crisis.
By the way, there is a Blue Moon on Friday and Lamas is on Sunday. (A Blue Moon is the second full moon in a month.) Stay safe!
When I got my first ritual abuse memories back in the late eighties, I assumed that my therapist knew what he was doing. This was based on little more than the fact that Mike had heard of ritual abuse and that he was in a study group for therapists dealing with incest. My naivite served me well, for I would have been petrified if I had known he was winging it.
It took me a couple of years to figure out that he was no expert. By this time I was through the initial crisis phase. I had figured out that I wouldn’t die of fright and I was beginning to come to terms with an identity I had neither wanted nor imagined. I was staring to feel like a “real” ritual abuse survivor.
I decided to move to San Francisco, the RA healing capital of the world. Although I was moving for other reasons, I was really excited by the thought of being in the same city as Survivorship, BAWAR, and all those wonderful, knowledgeable, experienced therapists. Now I could start healing in earnest!
It didn’t take me long to figure out that Survivorship’s address was a P.O. box and that all those great therapists lived mostly in my imagination. There weren’t very many therapists dealing with RA and most of them weren’t taking new clients or couldn’t work with me for other reasons. It started to dawn on me than San Francisco had just about the same amount of resources as Boston – not many.
All this time I had been reading everything I could get my hands on, hoping to find an instruction manual for healing from RA. The closest book was Safe Passage to Healing by Chrystine Oksana, and even she kept saying, “Trust yourself. Look within for the answers.” Well, I didn’t trust myself, and there were mighty few answers inside, only tons of questions.
As time passed, I started working for Survivorship. (Old social workers never retire, they just volunteer.) I met more and more survivors and put them on pedestals as paragons of healing, assumed they had all the answers that I didn’t. But they were muddling through just as I was. No instruction manuals, no simple and foolproof directions, no gurus. Just a lot of hurting people doing the best they could with what they had. Sigh.
Slowly, slowly, I am coming to realize that I am the world-expert on my own abuse and my own healing. Nobody else’s – just mine. And each person I meet is the world-expert on their abuse and healing. Chrystine was right all along. We have to trust ourselves, hard as it is, and look within, for that is where truth and integrity lie.
I hope you can laugh along with me as I struggle to assume this new identity: “Expert on Healing from Ritual Abuse.” And I hope you realize that this is your identity, too, although it’s probably as uncomfortable as a brand new pair of hiking boots. In time it will soften and fit better.
And when we put our collective wisdom together, we will have an instruction manual for the next generation of survivors. It will probably say something like, “Don’t self-destruct. Get through the days the best you can. Trust yourself, and look within, for you are the expert.”