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
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
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.