A New Friend

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A while ago I was so very lonely for real life, face-to-face interaction with survivors. I vaguely thought how to go about creating opportunities, as most all of the people I had known had moved out of the area for various reasons – mainly the ridiculous cost of living around here.

Since I was doing nothing except day dreaming, the Universe took over. The Universe’s solution was to motivate a RA/MC survivor to find other survivors and hopefully create some community and mutual support . I’ll call her Starling, just to give her a name. She Googled and found me and another woman! She emailed me and gently asked if I would be interested in meeting and perhaps starting a support group for survivors. You bet!

There were only the two of us at our first meeting and it was at a public place with easy parking, good coffee, and lots of space and empty tables for privacy. We liked each other, felt safe with each other, liked that we were open to different group formats, and, most of all, thrilled that we had connected. Most subsequent meetings have been at my house because that solves my parking problem. And I serve frozen blueberries.

The core group consists of Starling, me, and the other woman she found through Google. One woman from of town came once, and a friend of mine will hopefully attend regularly once things get settled. We all are very grateful to be together. Each time we meet we leave energized. It is such a blessing to be with people who understand, who get it without needing a lengthy explanation, who laugh at the same things.

Now this is a lot in itself. But there’s another blessing – Starling and I have become good friends. A couple of years ago I had a run of making new friends, but then they all moved out of town, far away. One even moved to Africa. Then there was a long dry spell. Looks like things have turned around for me.

We are so different! As teens, she was part of the punk scene and I was preppy. She is very spiritual and if I am the least bit spiritual, I don’t know it. She is into raw foods, I am an omnivore trying to eat things with a lower carbon footprint. She’s into alternative medicine, and has been for years and years. Me, I am Western medicine all the way. (I’m open minded enough to have tried other approaches, but they just didn’t seem to work for me.) We don’t try to convert each other, we don’t judge, we just learn things.

We’ve started to do things together outside of meetings. Girly things, like getting our hair cut together, and slightly more serious things, like Starling coming along for moral support when I need to take my cat to the vet. We’ve talked about day-tripping into the country to get a taste of the ocean and redwood forests.

And then there are opportunities for activism I never would have thought of. I didn’t know it, but there are ‘zine conventions and alternate book publishing conventions. (A ‘zine is a homemade booklet or pamphlet.) We could share a table and put out RA/MC material! I could finally finish a few of the dozen half-written pamphlets sitting in my “current projects” file. We could print up bumper stickers, a source of instant gratification as they roll into the printer tray.

Starling found an independent radical newspaper that reviews books and ‘zines and sends issues of their paper to prisoners for free. Her first ‘zine, on her experience with ritual abuse and Nazi mind control, got reviewed by the newspaper and Starling now has sent out over fifty copies to prisoners who wrote her requesting it. Imagine how much that must mean to a survivor who is imprisoned and unable to locate the sources of support that we can freely access.

So thank you, Universe, for the loss of my loneliness, for a new survivor group, a new friend, new doors opening to fun and rewarding opportunities for activism. You did real well by me!

Upcoming Holidays

October

10/13 Backwards Halloween
10/24 Full Moon
10/31 Halloween/Samhain/All Hallow’s Eve/ Hallomas/ All Souls Day/Start of the Celtic new year.
November

11/1 All Saints’ Day
11/22 US Thanksgiving
11/23 Full Moon
December
12/21 Yule/Winter Solstice
12/22 Full Moon
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/25 Christmas Day
12/31 New Year’s Eve

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups

9/1 N Start of WW2
10/12 Hitler’s half birthday
10/15 Death of Goering
10/16 Death of Rosenburg
11/9 Kristallnacht
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween

Ritual Abuse and the Protestant Work Ethic

Upcoming Holidays
4/10 Full moon
4/14 Good Friday
4/16 Easter Sunday

4/21 – 5/ (third week of April) Preparation for sacrifice in some Satanic sects
4/30  Walpurgisnacht/May Eve
5/1  Beltane/May Day/ Labour Day in Europe   
Important dates in Nazi groups
4/16  Hitler’s alternate birthday
4/20 Hitler’s birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday, 4/20, and Easter of the current year.)
4/30  Anniversary of Hitler’s death

This post is not about ritual abuse itself, it is about my family, which practiced Satanism, and how they raised their children. It was strictly ordered, with no room for children to be spontaneous or independent. Everything had to be down the right way, in a defined length of time. And the children were watched to make sure they were doing things right. My therapist feels that this child-rearing method was as harmful to me as the cult, albeit in a far less violent way.

Now back to the present. The weather has been cold and overcast or rainy for weeks, it seems. At least three weeks. Not good gardening weather – soil too soggy to work and temperature too chilly to enjoy. But for a few days the skies cleared and the temperature rose to seventy. Bliss!

Except some days I didn’t go out. The other days I went out so late that most of the garden was in shade. It wasn’t particularly enjoyable.

I brooded over what was happening and came up with the realization that I was using gardening as a reward after I did all the things (or most of them) on my to-do list. That’s “If you don’t finish your vegetables you don’t get dessert” thinking. Why can’t I start the meal with dessert? After all, I live alone: nobody will see and nobody will know unless I tell them. Why can’t I garden in the nicest part of the day, replenish myself, and then do the stuff on the list calmly and proficiently? Gardening without guilt! But that’s not the way my family did things.

This is such a simple idea that I am sort of embarrassed that it took so many years to think of it. It is absolutely amazing how tight a hold lessons taught in childhood have on us. There must be hundreds more habits that I never question; I just do what I was made to do as a child.

I can remember being resistant to being told what to do. “I can’t help talking with my mouth full…of teeth.” Being told to hold my knife and fork correctly and then starting to eat the European way. How sophisticated I was at twelve! (In case you don’t know, you hold your fork upside down in your left hand and cut with the knife in your right hand. You then spear whatever you have just cut and put it in your mouth. You can also use the knife to shovel food onto the back of the fork. You don’t need to put your utensils down until you are finished. Much simpler and more efficient than the “correct” American way.)

I can remember sitting at the table silently fuming and not eating my vegetables. “I don’t want to, I won’t do it, you can’t make me.” Yet the orders bore deeper into me than the memory of my resistance.

Back to the work ethic. (We always called it the Protestant work ethic, as if nobody else worked hard.) I know people who don’t make to-do lists. They have a vague idea of what they want to accomplish that day and then they do what they feel like. Their actions are fluid and they seem to expend very little energy. But yet a tremendous amount gets done with very little stress.

I notice they don’t procrastinate. They don’t do a crossword when they feel stuck writing something. Instead, they do the dishes or water the plants. They have faith that they will get unstuck pretty soon and meanwhile they get a pleasant break doing some simple.

I don’t have that faith. I believe I have to push myself, force myself, to get something done. If I lift my eyes, I can see at least twenty things that need doing. I’m afraid that if I don’t push myself, nothing at all will get done. I will drown in guilt and spend the rest of my life staring into space. It’s very tiring.

I think this goes back to the days when I was constantly dissociated, with no idea what state of mind I was in. I didn’t know where I was, what I felt, not doing anything,why or if I was tranced out, nothing. I didn’t move. Somehow I snapped out of it and started my homework, fighting all the time not to slip back into that space where I was floating, didn’t do anything, didn’t know how to read, couldn’t talk or move. I only made myself do the homework because I would have gotten yelled at if I didn’t finish it within a certain time and got everything right, with lovely handwriting. Talk about tiring!

So, yeah, I still am tempted to slip into a trance when I hit a rough spot.  For example, about three paragraphs up I didn’t know what to say next. So I did the New York Times crossword. I was still stuck. Then I thought I would try to do something physical and simple, so I cleaned the cat boxes and watered my Spanish moss. I came back, and I was no longer stuck. Perhaps it was the physical movement that freed me up.

I could get resentful that I am still, after all these years, figuring out ways of breaking old patterns, some from my family, some from the cult. These are my golden years! I am supposed to be dancing around having fun! But I prefer to be grateful that I have a mind that can think things through, hands that can type, and people (you guys!) that are willing to listen to me.

Loneliness

I know everybody is thinking about the election and our new President-to-be. I definitely am, and I’m full of emotion. But I tell myself I will continue to do what I normally do. Chop wood, carry water (Old Zen saying, “What did you do before enlightenment? What are you doing after?) Many of us have to think and write about ritual abuse, and I might as well be one of those people.

My wish for all of us is that we take time to sort out how much of our reaction is a “feeling” flashback and how much is purely a reaction to the situation. And that we do not react out of fear and panic — or hope and happiness, for that matter..   

For the first forty-plus years of my life, I was extremely lonely. I didn’t feel connected to people and I didn’t feel that anybody knew me, except as an acquaintance. I remember, year after year, having no friends. I yearned after friends until I became a teen, and then I yearned after both regular friends and boyfriends. I didn’t feel connected to adults, either. They were either aliens or enemies.

Then, in middle age, something amazing happened. I remembered! I started getting flashbacks! In the small slices of time between absolute terror, I “got it” – I understood why I had difficulty making friends, recognizing when somebody felt I was their friend, and, in fact, feeling connected in any way to any human being. Fear was like a fortress around me, separating me from other people, protecting me, but also leaving me isolated and unhappy.

After I remembered, whenever I met another ritual abuse survivor, I immediately started hanging out with them. There was a kinship there, a kinship I had never before experienced. We had commonalities because of our childhoods. We used the same words, had the same twisted sense of humor, and were incredibly confused and courageous at the same time.

The usual social divisions melted away. Age, gender, sexual orientation, race, education, and social class just plain didn’t matter in comparison to what we all had lived through. I felt so much more comfortable with these people who had been strangers to me just a week or so ago than I had felt with anybody else in my life. It felt like family. It was family. It’s still that way.

Those were the good old days, when survivors were’t afraid to be “out.” There were so many ways to meet each other: SIA meetings, of course, but also peer support groups, poetry readings, lending libraries, toy exchanges for the littles. Thinking of those times fills me with nostalgia.

The euphoria wore off, of course, and then the FMSF came and really put a damper on things. There were fewer and fewer ways to get together and gradually the groups all faded away. There once were five or six SIA meetings a week in my city and now there are none. We get together only at conferences and on the Internet.

But even without the groups, I am no longer lonely. That is odd because I have only a few friends and they either work long hours or are far away geographically. I know I am accepted and appreciated, even though I am pretty much alone. I spend most of the day at the computer but I don’t mind — I feel complete.

I believe that the reason I stopped being lonely is that I found the part(s) of myself that I was cut off from. All those years I had been lonely for myself, and I had absolutely no idea. I am so grateful that the barriers between me and me have lifted and that I have all that I need. I am truly blessed.