Healing from Ritual Abuse: Phase One

I found an old notebook and read it through in one sitting. My best friend told me not to do that, but I am not one to take good advice, even advice I routinely give others.

The notebook covers nine months, from early October 1988 to late June 1989. It includes, in late March, my discovery of my ritual abuse background. Ellen Bass
calls this the crisis phase. I had had so many other momentous things happen in the preceding couple of years that crisis no longer felt like crisis — it felt like more of the same. So I call it phase one of dealing with ritual abuse.

I sat down to read it, knowing that it was a journal about abuse, but not knowing the date or whether it included ritual abuse.’The first entry reads: “I see an image far away of the garden the lovely garden I remember someone shelling peas they are green and smell green and taste green and smell green under my fingernails.” (Something bad happened in that garden, of course.)

The last entry: “If this stuff didn’t happen and I’m making it up, something else worse happened to make me make it up.”  Quite a change in viewpoint.

It was strange to read it. I remember writing most entries and remember the events that I wrote about. Other times it’s not familiar but it comes back if I just sit quietly for a few moments. And sometimes I can’t remember for the life of me. Seems I felt strongly about people whose names I don’t even recognize. I feel guilty, like I am disloyal to them. But I remembered far more than I forgot.

Everything was so raw. My unconscious was close to the surface and spilled out over every part of my life. I can follow the patterns in my writing and I see that my unconscious is working in the same way today, but in the background. It has been   a steady companion through the years.

Today I appreciate, for the most part, the calm, the ability to enjoy ordinary things, the joy I get from contributing to my community. Other times I would like to be open and passionate like I was in the beginning of the process. I could, and probably will, read that notebook over and over just to get a taste of that intensity.

As the memories and feelings flowed through me back then, I was filled with a great sense of love for people I knew, people in general, myself, and life itself. I remember the fear and horror and I remember being paranoid and delusional. I was afraid to be with my cats, for example, because I thought they could read my mind. But I don’t remember being filled with love. I find that very strange. Love came roaring out, like a lion released from its cage. How could I have forgotten that?

I see the effects of experiencing that burst of love, though. Before I remembered the ritual abuse, I thought I was incapable of love. Or that I could love like everybody else but I was incapable of recognizing it or feeling it. When I thought of my inability, I was filled with a yearning to feel love, both given and received. Now I know who and what I love even though I often feel constricted in my ability to let it in and express my feelings. But I am secure and no longer feel like a one-legged alien.

I’d like to transcribe it all and send you every word. I think that’s a bit much, though. I will probably just make selections and offer them to you with comments.

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