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We survivors of ritual abuse have every reason to be afraid of a lot of things, because a lot of things were used to abuse us. A lot of situations, too. Just about everything they could think of was used in a perverted way. So of course we are afraid!
But if you live your adult life being afraid, you cannot do much of anything because you are paralyzed with fear. You might be afraid of eating, or showering, or even getting out of bed each day. Let alone going grocery shopping, or having friends, or having a job, or raising kids, or …just about everything.
So the sensible thing to do is to suppress the fear and to pretend you aren’t afraid. Stiff upper lip, head high, looking as confident as everybody else. And feeling confident! “I’m not afraid – of course I can do it. Easy peasey.” Perhaps it’s not so hard to suppress fear; perhaps you have practiced it since you were a child and it’s now second nature. Perhaps all the terrified parts are hiding way down inside you, alone and voiceless as always.
Yes, you get through life looking like you are doing well. But you feel numb, sort of robotic. And why is this?
Because if you are good at one way of handling your emotions, the mind applies that technique to all emotions. You aren’t afraid, you aren’t anxious, but you are also not happy or playful or joyful. Life feels flat, dull, empty.
I follow a life coach, Katherine North, who shares her organizational techniques and gives tips for overcoming adversities, large and small alike. By nature, she is pretty scattered, so she has test-driven these techniques. In sharing, she is vulnerable and real. And she writes like a bandit – her words are bursting with life.
I would like to share excerpts of her weekly letter to her followers because she wrote about losing and regaining the capacity to experience joy.
If you want to sign up for Katherine’s newsletter or read a few of her blog posts, go to https://www.declaredominion.com/
I said to my husband Nick, “Babe. I feel like there’s a twinkle light in my heart that isn’t turned on.”
He laughed at me for about ten minutes, and when he recovered, he asked me why.
I didn’t have a good answer. We were doing all the holiday things; the tree was up; the presents purchased; stockings hung. But something in me wasn’t feeling the same glowy cozy feelings I usually feel this time of year.
And I wanted to feel them! Oh, I wanted them BAD.
So I rustled around inside myself for a while, looking for the answer. It was a lot like rustling around a big handbag belonging to a mom with many children: I pulled out some hopes and fears, some diapers and candy canes, the odd sock and a squished granola bar. And as I pulled out all these pieces of my heart and examined them, I realized something.
In order for me to feel the fuzzy cozy glowy feelings I want, first I have to feel utter heartbreak.
Well that was not good news. Not good news at all.
No, I don’t want heartbreak, I want candlelight and mistletoe and solstice rituals and lighting the Hanukkah candles!
But in order to have those things, first I was going to have to let my heart crack.
You see, I could feel that I had installed a little plastic membrane around my heart to hold it together.
This is a necessary move sometimes, because the world is so hard and terrible that in order to walk around and feed our kids and remember to put pants on, we have to instruct our heart that it simply cannot break – not just this second, not for at least ten minutes. But I had put on that protective membrane for an hour… and then forgotten to take it off.
And so there was a barrier between me and my feelings.
That brittle membrane that made me feel like I could keep my shit together was also keeping out the joy.
There was the joy, right there, twinkling all around my little grinchy heart, but it couldn’t trickle all the way down into the insides.
Reader, I did what I had to do.
I watched” Little Women” is what I did. The Susan Sarandon one, with my oldest daughter, and we both cried so hard we shook the couch.
And don’t you know, all those tears melted away that hard membrane?
. . . . Go ahead. Let the world break your heart. Let the flames of fury roar out your ears. Those intense feelings don’t make you weak, they make you awake. Let yourself cry, let yourself rage, go ahead and feel the suffering, but let it move through you and come out of you as some sort of helpful action.
The things I can do are small. But the doing of them heals me.
We can take food to our local food bank, give money to organizations that effectively do the work in the world we wish we could do ourselves, or invite over a lonely neighbor. We can buy gifts and books from truth-telling artists and support other makers. We can call our elected officials. We can tell our truth and listen to others’ truths.
Small actions, yes. Ridiculously small. But a million small actions add up.
So add yours to those millions.
Don’t be afraid to let your heart go ahead and break. Your heartbreak will show you where your energy wants to flow. It’s showing you the places where you can be useful, where your heart can meet up with the world’s need.
Remember that small is powerful. Remember that one person can make a huge difference, at least to one other person. Remember that together our small actions make us a mighty force to be reckoned with.
My little twinkle light is back on, dearheart. It might be tiny, and so might yours, but when we add all ours together, they shine like motherfuckers.
After thirty years, I can slip into work mode and get things done, whether it is dishes or doctor’s appointments, or writing a blog post. But when somebody tells me their story, tears still fill my eyes. It is this deep sadness at the senseless cruelty of ritual abuse that keeps me listening and writing and gives meaning to my life. And, as Katherine said, the tears release the ability to be melted by the beauty of the first ray of sunshine each day. the small kindnesses of strangers, the soft fur of my cat. Hundreds of others things, too.
It is a circle: sorrow releases gratitude for the goodness that exists next to the evil, and the gratitude and joy soothe the sadness.
12/15, 12/22 remaining Sundays of Advent
12/11 Full moon
12/21 Winter solstice/Yule/St. Thomas’ Day
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/26 Annular solar eclipse. Totality will be visible in Saudi Arabia, southern India, Sri Lanka, parts of Indonesia, Singapore, and parts of the Philippines.
12/31 New Year’s Eve
1/1 New Year’s Day
1/7 St Winebald’s Day
1/10 Full moon
1/10-11 Penumbral lunar eclipse. The moon will turn a shade darker during the maximum phase, visible in Australia, Europe, and Africa. Most penumbral lunar eclipses cannot be easily distinguished from a usual full moon. See https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2020-january-10
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
1/20 St. Agnes’ Eve
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
Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
12/22 – 12/30 Chanukah
1/12 N Birth of both Rosenburg and Goering, Nazi leaders in WW2
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
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)