Isolation

Upcoming Holidays 

November
11/23 Thanksgiving
December
12/3 Full Moon
12/21 St. Thomas’ Day/Fire Festival
12/21 Yule/Winter Solstice
12/24  Christmas Eve/Satanic and demon revels/Da Meur/Grand High Climax
12/15  Christmas Day
12/31 New Year’s Eve
January
1/1  New Year’s Day
1/7  St Winebald’s Day
1/12 Full Moon
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
11/12  Birth of both Rosenburg and Goering, Nazi leaders in WWII
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany

 

Isolation 

As ritual abuse survivors, we have probably suffered alone for most of our lives. Most of the survivors I have met were amnesic for their abuse until adulthood. I did meet one young woman who had learned of her abuse when she was a child, but, although she believed it had happened,  she did not remember any of it.

This means that, as children, we started off feeling – and being – different from others. Since I cannot speak for everybody, I’ll share my experiences with isolation; I do believe, though, that they are pretty typical.

I had few opportunities to be around other children before entering first grade. I did notice that other kids knew more than I did, and it was embarrassing. I remember when I was three or four watching my cousins color. I watched them carefully and copied what they did as I had never seen crayons or coloring books before then.

When I got to school, I thought that the other kids knew the rules of the game of life and I didn’t. I was mortified and hid it the best I could by being shy and aloof. Of course I didn’t have friends. Slowly, I watched and learned how to jump rope, play tag, make Cats’ Cradles. By sixth grade, I had made a friend, and in seventh grade, I made another. Both friends were, like me, outsiders.

Inside the cult, all the children were pretty much in the same boat. It was easy to imagine how they felt and easy to imagine that I would feel comfortable with them, if only we had been allowed to talk to each other or play. The children were kept apart deliberately as a means of controlling them. If any two children were allowed to get attached in any way, it was only to put them in double binds and make them hurt each other.

I didn’t belong in grade school. Or high school. Or college. Not at work, not at home, not as a wife and mother. I felt like I was from Mars, simply because I was the only person I knew, or thought I knew, who grew up in a cult but didn’t know it.

When I remembered, two things happened almost immediately. One was that most of my “friends” disappeared when they heard about it, either from me or second-hand. Looking back, these were not friends, they were people I knew. Luckily my kids and my therapist at the time stuck around. I remember my therapist consoling me by saying, “Nature abhors a vacuum. You will attract new people.”

The second one was there was an instant connection between me and other ritual abuse survivors. (My therapist was right! And it only took three weeks!)

I felt so at home with ritual abuse survivors. We did not reject each other because of the enormity of the abuse. There was no need to walk away in order to protect ourselves from the knowledge of how deeply cruel people can be: we already knew. There was a kinship that cut across  boundaries of gender, race, age, nationality, and social class. We understood each other and nobody was shocked by my twisted sense of humor.

Of course, survivors are like any other people. Some got on my nerves or hurt my feelings and I hurt people, never on purpose, but from ignorance, misunderstandings, or my own hang-ups. There was the ever-present possibility of triggering somebody or being triggered, sometimes without knowing it. The initial glow wore off and I learned that even if there was a strong connection, being friends with a survivor can be hard work.

I was blessed to be living in a place where it was easy to meet survivors in person through twelve-step meetings, conferences, peer-led groups, task forces, and poetry readings. There was so much out there that it was, at times, hard to choose.  The Internet was always there and I e-met people from many different countries.

For a variety of reasons, it became harder to meet people in person, most notably because of the chilling effect of the False Memory people. We became much more cautious, even fearful, around fellow survivors. But for about twenty years I did not feel isolated. I was not a Martian, an alien, an outcast, but a regular human being who had had a horrific childhood like so many others.

These days I’m starting to feel isolated once again, but in a different way. Part of it has to do with the difficulty in meeting survivors; you have to work at it. Many of my friends have moved away and some have died. Others have broken with me and we are no longer in contact. Luckily it’s much easier over the Internet. I do not know what I would do without my beloved computer.

Another part has to do with aging. Now isolation is pretty common among older people, especially those who can’t get around very well. I’m no exception: I have arthritis and don’t have the stamina, physically, mentally, or emotionally that I did thirty years ago. I sure wish there were an easy way to hang out with other survivors, preferably with parking close by.

I recently spent the day with a survivor I have known for years. We didn’t even talk about abuse or healing. We talking about the present and did everyday things, like have lunch and go to the supermarket. But the connection, the understanding, was there all the time. We didn’t have to worry about saying something too intense and chasing the other one away. Our backgrounds were a given, like the color of our eyes.

It was such a treat to catch up on our lives and struggles, to implicitly honor each other’s strength and perseverance. Such a treat to be reminded that I belong someplace after all.

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Evidence-Based Trigger Reduction

Up-Coming Holidays
September
9/4 S Labor Day
9/6 Full Moon
9/5 – 9/7 Marriage to the Beast (Satan)
9/7 Feast of the Beast
9/20 – 9/21 Midnight Host
9/22 Fall Equinox
9/29 Michaelmas (?)
October
10/5 Full Moon
10/13 Backwards Halloween
10/13 Friday the Thirteenth
10/22 – 10/29 Preparation for All Hallows’ Eve
1
0/31 Halloween/Samhain/All Hallows Eve
November
11/S Full Moon
11/3 Satanic Revels
11/23 Thanksgiving
Important dates in Nazi groups
9/1 Start of WW2
9/17 Hitler’s alternate half-birthday
10/16 Death of Rosenburg
10/19 Death of Goering
10/20 Hitler’s half-birthday
11/9 Kristallnacht
11/11 Veteran’s Day: Armistice, 1918

Evidence-Based Trigger Reduction

My insurance company wanted to enroll me in a preventative cardiac health program. I understand the logic: it costs less to keep me healthy than have me go to the ER and perhaps get hospitalized. And every year I stay healthy they make money on my premiums.

I said sure. The lady who enrolled me had a script to read from and she could not deviate from it to answer my questions or take additional information or laugh at my jokes. But she did tell me I would have access to a triage nurse and to a health coach. I get weekly emails from a lovely, sensible, brassy life coach on the Internet, so a health coach sounded exciting!

The health coach called within a couple of days. The poor thing had a different script to read which consisted of asking me questions that I had to answer on a Likert scale of 1-10. That is impossible for me because I get lost in the numbers and my only honest answer is, “I don’t know.” I faked it as best I could. There were also some easier questions, like, “Have you used any tobacco products in the last month?” and “How many servings of fruit and vegetables a day do you get?” (I didn’t know because I don’t know how big a serving is. I can count the different vegetables, though.),

The only thing the health coach could latch on to was my stress level. Now I know it’s been a lot, lot, lot worse but I don’t think it is low enough to be considered perfect. So I thought about the last ten years or so and guessed it was a four. “What would I like it to be?” “A two,” I said.

Then she listed some ways of reducing stress and asked me what I could commit to. Walking briskly for thirty minutes a day, every day, has been out of the question for well over fifteen years. My present goal is to walk 1800 steps a day spread out over twenty-four hours. The script then made her ask about dancing! Meditating would be wonderful, but I have tried many times and keep forgetting to do it. Frankly, the process of enrolling dissociated old me in an evidence-based program like they offered seemed a little ridiculous.

Finally I agreed I could journal about my stress levels for a month. I chose a bright yellow notebook and put it near the computer where I had to look at it every day.

Day 1 was a snap. I thought I had missed Day 2 but when I looked on Day 3 I saw I had identified a trigger and had written down a plan of dealing with it. Day 4 the morning passed and I still had no idea what my stress level was or what to write. So I wrote, “No triggers that I can see, therefore no plan of action.” This is going to be harder than I thought.

It has occurred to me that I may already be identifying triggers and coming up with doable plans. If I am going to accomplish anything, I have to do something new. It’s like losing weight – you can’t expect to get lighter if you keep on eating the same yummy foods every day. Not that forgetting things and messing stuff up and pushing unpleasant or anxiety-provoking things out of awareness is exactly yummy.

The problem is that I already know how to reduce my weight. (By the way, I just reached my goal after being on a plateau for about a month. Yippee! But then I went right back up again. No yippee. And then back to my goal again!) I think I am doing everything I can to reduce stress, with the emphasis on the “can.” But obviously I am not, or I would be meditating. I know meditating is wonderful for lowering stress, I understand the directions, I have quiet time, but…

I just came up with a plan of action. Break the big goal into little goals. Sit still and breathe consciously for two minutes a day. Then make it three minutes a day. Then make it twice a day. Etcetera.

Get a meditation Fitbit that will effortless track my behavior. HA! I would have to invent it. It’s easier to make my own graph and enter my progress. Or maybe not. Maybe the Internet has one ready-made for me. I spent too much time looking and found that the charts and graphs are mostly for general health or yoga and most cost more than $50.00.

I think I have gotten off-track, which is writing about the journal of triggers and action plans. I just looked at the yellow notebook and found that I hadn’t written anything in fourteen days. Obviously not high priority, right? How am I going to explain this to my health coach?

All I can say to her is that charting things appeals to accountant-type people and I am a poet.

I stopped to wonder why I have lost interest in tracking my stress levels. I don’t think it will teach me anything new because I am already pretty good at identifying triggers and managing them. I feel I have better things to turn my energy to.

I can’t imagine anybody finding something helpful in this rambling post about not doing something I committed myself to. I think I’m writing it simply because I want to complain and it feels good to complain to people who I trust to not sneer as they put me down for failing such an easy task. And for being different from all those people who gave evidence that this system really does work. I feel like the eternal outsider, but I am not when I am in your company.

Thank you, my friends, for being here for me.

A Separate Arc for the Skunks

This is a happy story for kids, child alters, and other sensible people.

My father could be pretty mean with words.

He told us that Noah called all the animals to come into the Arc when it started to rain. But the skunks smelled so bad Noah didn’t want them on board. So he built a separate Arc for the skunks.

Every time the grownups did something and us kids had to do something different, he said, “Separate Arc for the skunks.” Like at a family party, if there was a kids’ table and a grown-up’s table.

That hurt our feelings. We didn’t smell bad. How could we smell bad if they washed us and our clothes all the time? They never let us get dirty, anyway.

Besides, skunks don’t smell all that bad. Especially if you think of elephants and hippos peeing and pooing in the Arc for forty days and forty nights. Yuck!

So I made a pretend separate Arc for the skunks and all their friends. It has six restaurants with everything they want to eat and plenty of it. It has soft beds and the cabins have night lights so nobody has to be scared of the dark. It has an orchestra that can play all the tunes in the world. It has a bowling alley, a movie theater, and a swimming pool with a waterfall and water slides and inner tubes.

It has everything the skunks and their friends could ever want.

So there!