An Amazing Adventure

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

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I didn’t tell you what I was going to do over Christmas because I didn’t want to jinx myself. A couple of people who learned about it tried their hardest to talk me out of it. I took their concerns seriously and thought of canceling, but decided to do my best to reassure them and go ahead and do what I wanted.

I went to Alaska for a week with two dear friends in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights! I had seen them in Maine as a kid – Northern Lights, not my friends – and remember them as being beautiful. I would lie on my back on the grass and watch them partially obscure the zillion stars visible on dark nights. They looked like sheer white curtains edged in green, waving slowly in the breeze. I knew that, if I saw them again, they wouldn’t look like my childhood Northern Lights, but I was sure they would be gorgeous.

Our adventure started off inauspiciously. We had to change planes in Portland to get to Anchorage. The flight we were supposed to take was canceled because of mechanical problems. There was no back-up plane available, no empty seats at all on any flight on any airline to Anchorage . . . for the next three days. It took us a while to figure out that we couldn’t return home unless we could score a rental car. So it was probably Portland for the next few days, like it or not, assuming we were lucky enough to find a hotel with unbooked rooms. Luckily Portland is the home of Powell’s Bookstore, the world’s largest independent bookstore. ( https://www.powells.com/ for those planning to visit Portland soon.)

Suddenly the airline agent announced that there was a “Christmas miracle.” A free plane with seats for all of us was on its way from Seattle! Talk about pulling a rabbit out of a hat! We got to go, after all, just a few hours late. Happy, happy, happy.

As we landed at Anchorage, we were welcomed with Solstice fireworks celebrating the slow return of real daylight. We grabbed some food and staggered into bed for a few hours’ sleep before getting up at five to be driven to the train station for the nine-hour trip to Fairbanks. 

There were only about four hours with enough light to see the scenery. Dawn faded into twilight, and the sun never got over the horizon. I love trains so much! It would have been a treat even if it had been pitch black the whole time. It had a proper dining car and a cafe with snacks and cards and toys for the kids.

We saw a bald eagle, a lot of large ravens, and eleven moose. The moose were in pairs, a mother with her calf, pawing the snow to uncover small trees with tender bark. No bears; they are all asleep this time of year.

Another quick dinner and a few hours of sleep. We spent the next day on a small bus to Coldfoot Camp, which is half-way between Fairbanks and Deadhorse, on the Arctic Ocean. That’s where the oil in the Alaska pipeline originates.

Alaska is vast and sparsely populated. An Internet search yields these statistics: there are only 736,855 people in the whole state; 297,832 of them live in Anchorage, the largest city; 33,645 in Fairbanks, the second-largest; and 84 in Coldfoot. (By the way, there are about 750,000 caribou and 200,000 moose in Alaska.) The reason Coldfoot is that big is that it is the only place to get gas in the 500 miles between Fairbanks and Deadhorse. It also provides amenities for the truckers: overnight truck parking, a restaurant, a bar, showers, parts for minor repairs, and a chance to connect with old friends. Recently, small rooms for tourists chasing the Northern Lights have been added.

On our first night in Coldfoot, we joined a group of young Chinese tourists who had come to see the Northern Lights. Our group had the use of a small log cabin with a wood-fired stove to hang out in. Every now and then, somebody would go outside to see if there was any action. At times, there were very faint lights, barely visible to the naked eye. They looked better in photos with a ten-second exposure, but not by a whole lot. We amused ourselves with short trips to the outhouse. It was thirty below zero – I kid you not. The trick is to sit on your mittens, so you don’t get stuck.

At about three in the morning, we were ready to give up, when the sky exploded with green streaks. They rose from all parts of the horizon and met at the top in swirls. They moved slowly and changed shape for about ten minutes and then faded away. It was absolutely breath-taking.

During the day, we caught up on sleep and took a dog sled ride. Fun but bitter, bitter cold, what with the wind chill factor. Those puppies run fast! The next evening we went back for seconds on the Northern Lights, but there was nothing. It’s okay. I got my wish, and it was far better than I had imagined.

We took a small plane instead of the bus back to Fairbanks, which was fun. Christmas day, we were planning to visit some hot springs outside of Fairbanks, but we were so sleep-deprived that we settled for watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” and a nice meal at the hotel. And then it was time for Anchorage and home.

Now that I am home, how do I feel? Very grateful, but still sleep-deprived! And all sneezy from a head cold. Happy to be back in familiar surroundings, with my cat and my very own bed and temperatures well above freezing. I’m still feeling high from being out of my comfort zone, proud of my courage, and sated with beauty. I’m not 100% percent home; I’m startled that the sun rises at 7:30 and doesn’t set for nine and a half hours. The Internet feels like a luxury – one click of the mouse brings me contact with survivors, my people, my kin. I know there are survivors in Alaska, but I didn’t know how to find them. The days of feeling crazy without constant validation of my past are long over, and I do fine on my own now. But it is so nice not to be alone!

When I sort through our photos, I’ll try to put something up on the blog header, replacing the Christmas tree. I hope there’s a good picture of the Northern lights that will fit the space. No promises – these are amateur photos, remember!

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Oh, a note about the reading by Joy Hargo. The first poem she read was the one I posted!!!! My heart swelled, and I burst into tears. She was speaking directly to me, “Put down those potato chips…”

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Upcoming Holidays

January
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
1/20 St. Agnes’ Eve
February
2/2 Candlemas/Imbolc/Satanic Revels
2/8 Full moon
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/25 Shrove Tuesday/ Mardi Gras
2/25 Walpurgis Day
2/26 Ash Wednesday
March 
3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/9 Full moon
3/13 Friday the Thirteenth
3/17 Spring Equinox
3/17 St. Patrick’s Day
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups=
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
2/10 Tu Bishvat/Tu B’Shevat (celebration of spring)
3/10 Purim (Deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman in Persia)

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

Dissociation Was a Real Friend on Christmas

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

* Background on pagan winter holidays is at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/

* And here is a post on how I handled Christmas through the years. https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/ephemeral-equilibrium-another-christmas/

* Don’t forget that I’m putting together an anthology of accounts of survivors’ loss of babies through forced abortion, sacrifice, or forced adoption. I am also looking for submissions from husbands, partners, close friends, therapists, or pastors.

You can ask me questions or send your submission through this blog’s comment section, rahome@ra-info.org, or PO Box 14276, 4304 18th Street, San Francisco CA 94114. And tell your friends!

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Before I start talking about myself, I want to wish all of you a safe Christmas. For those of you who are afraid you might be accessed, it’s not too late to work out a safety plan. It’s always a good idea to have a plan B just in case something goes wrong with plan A. Give yourself lots of credit for doing this because it is hard to think through the options and it takes a great deal of courage to face the possibility of present-day accessing.

For everybody, I wish you, not an absence of triggers, but the wisdom to handle them well so that they may contribute to your knowledge of yourself and your past and bring some resolution and peace to all inside. And may you get some joy in the day, whether it is from a Christmas tradition, being with people you care about, or something else entirely.

I used to send cards with a lion walking hand in hand with a lamb. It said, “Peace on Earth – may it begin with us.” May it begin with all our inner selves.

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I’ve been thinking about my childhood Christmases, wondering how I could ever have gotten through them after what happened on Christmas Eve. In my family’s tradition, holidays began at midnight. Sometimes they ended before dawn, sometimes they went through the next day, or even a couple of days, especially if they occurred on a Friday.

So the “night” Christmas was on Christmas Eve. The next day, exhausted and traumatized, we woke up to the regular “day” Christmas, which, in my opinion, was really over the top. My brother and I opened our stockings before breakfast and then, later in the day, were showered with expensive presents that we really didn’t want. Although I asked for books almost every year, I cannot remember getting any. Of course, we pretended to be delighted.

How did I get through Christmas? Dissociation. What had happened the night before was a thousand miles away, a thousand years away, tucked away in a corner of my mind that would not be visited for forty years. Looking back over old photographs, I can spot when I needed dissociation so much to protect myself that I was totally tranced out.

I have a picture of me on Christmas Day, in my pajamas, hair neatly combed. I am looking…at what? At nothing, because nothing had happened. There was no shadow to glimpse, no half-remembered bad dream. I call that tranced-out look “the thousand miles stare” because I am looking at what didn’t happen, what never existed, except perhaps a thousand years ago, a thousand miles away.

Looking closely at the photo, I can see lots of wrapping paper but no toys. It’s as if they, too, had never existed or as if they had disappeared, like magic. The only thing that brings a little smile to my face are the icicles on the tree. They were made of long slender strips of lead and they made the Christmas tree lights dance and reflect out into the room. The tinsel sold today is far safer for pets and babies but not nearly as pretty. The lead tinsel must have been expensive for we picked every strand off the tree and saved it for the next year.

Amnesia for the Satanic Christmas spread out into the real Christmas. I cannot remember what we ate that day. I only remember a few things I received – soap in my stocking, a doll that wet itself after you fed it, complete with a trunk full of clothes. This was when I was three. I remember a Lego set with directions on how to build a brick house. I must have been ten or twelve then. And chocolates in my stocking, although I was overweight. I asked my mother why she had given me candy, and she said that they had fewer calories because they contained nuts. That made no sense to me at all.

It was just one of an infinite number of double messages. Do this, but don’t do it. Don’t do this unless I tell you to and then it is your fault because you did it. Our regular life was filled with such contradictions. And, of course, I could not see the contradictions between my “day” life and my “night” life, because I couldn’t remember the “night” life. (Who knows what presents were given to children the night before Christmas?) My parents, who were also amnesic for all that, were just as dissociated as I was and just as full of contradictory messages. All of us were stumbling along in a sea of things that didn’t make sense, trying our hardest to keep our heads above water.

I could not have handled it if I had remembered and so, when things got rough, I dissociated. Not just from the horrors of the Satanic life I led, but from everything that was around me. In the moment this photo was taken, I was not aware of the tree or the presents or of my parents and brother in the room. All I was aware of was nothing, and that was a blessing.

I still dissociate at times when things get tough. But now I am in control and I can plan around triggers and can build new, healthier traditions. This year I am spending Christmas at home and a much-loved niece is visiting. We are going to have Dungeness crab and lobster on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We are going to plan the days as we go, doing what we feel like when we feel like it. We will probably go out into the woods unless it rains all the time she is here. No presents will be exchanged. There will be no need to fake being pleased or to push the memories out of my mind because they were so awful.

It’s so much better this way!!!!!

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Upcoming Holidays

December
12/21 Yule/Winter Solstice
12/22 Full Moon
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/25 Christmas Day
12/31 New Year’s Eve
January
1/1 New Year’s Day
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
1/20 Full moon
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
February
2/2 S Candlemas/Imbolc
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/19 Full moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons. Christian and Jewish holidays are often desecrated.)

Missing My Brother

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

* Background on Pagan winter holidays is at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/

* And here is a post on how I handled Christmas through the years. https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/ephemeral-equilibrium-another-christmas/

* Don’t forget that I’m putting together an anthology of accounts of survivor’s loss of a baby through forced abortion, sacrifice, or forced adoption. I am also looking for submissions from husbands, partners, close friends, therapists, or pastors.

You can ask me questions or send your submission through this blog’s comment section, rahome@ra-info.org, or PO Box 14276, 4304 18th Street, San Francisco CA 94114. And tell your friends!

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I’ve been in a funk for the best part of the last two weeks without knowing why. I didn’t think I was triggered, but one never knows. I thought I was just overtired from poor sleep due to pain from arthritis.

My new friend, Starling, and I meet weekly to discuss cult matters and life in general. We talk uninterrupted for ten minutes and then ask for feedback. I chose to describe my low mood and Starling said that she thought I was grieving. I talked about my Australian friend David, who died last year, for a while and then suddenly remembered that my brother’s birthday had passed unnoticed.

My brother has always been very important to me, as he was the only person in my family I liked or loved. We were close as children but grew apart as adults, mostly thanks to his extreme social anxiety. Then in 2001 he had a massive stroke which left him almost completely paralyzed and unable to talk. He spent the next eight years in a nursing home before dying of MRSA.

All my adult life, I had watched him slowly disappear and I had grieved the progressive loss of our relationship. And now he really is gone and there is nothing I can do about it. There are so many things I wish I had said to him even though it would have made him uncomfortable. I hope he knew how much I cared about him and how sad I was – and am – that his life was so hard.

One didn’t talk about important things in our family. It just wasn’t done. We pretended that unimportant things were important, things like the kind of clothes you wore or whether you went to a fancy school. Or table manners. You wouldn’t believe the amount of energy my parents put into criticizing our table manners. All this attention to trivia masked the family secrets.

By then, I was talking a little more freely about real things and so disclosed the ritual abuse to him. He said, “I am sorry I can’t help you. I have no memories.” But he didn’t reject me or think I was crazy. Under the shock of having me disclose, he leaked some information. He told me that the reason he couldn’t look people in the eye was that he saw a knife in their eye and blood. Tell me that is not a cult memory trying to push up to the surface! He never wanted to hear anything about my abuse after that. It was too much, and his defenses tightened up.

I am sorry he never had a chance to remember and to feel the relief of knowing what actually happened, knowing that his symptoms made sense and were not his fault. I sometimes irrationally feel that I prevented him from remembering, that I magically took all the memories and all the healing and left him with nothing.

But it doesn’t work that way. It is a mystery why one person remembers and another doesn’t, why one person’s defenses crack and another’s stay rigidly in place. All I can do is accept that fact and be very sad for him, and for my parents, too.

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Upcoming Holidays

December
12/21 Yule/Winter Solstice
12/22 Full Moon
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/25 Christmas Day
12/31 New Year’s Eve
12/31 New Year’s Eve
January
1/1 New Year’s Day
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/20 Full moon
February
2/2 S Candlemas/Imbolc
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/19 Full moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
11/9 Kristallnacht
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons, as well as some Christian and Jewish holidays.)