Oh No! I Have to Deal with Money Again – and Again and Again and Again

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It’s really hard for me to do anything related to money. I guess it is getting easier because I no longer have full-fledged panic attacks but it still makes my stomach churn and tempts me to procrastinate for a year or two. Although I know I have to do certain things each month, I forget how to do a lot of them and have to figure it out all over again.

I wish I never had to deal with money, like the Queen of England. She doesn’t carry any, ever. What a lucky duck! But perhaps she feels inadequate because she doesn’t know how to buy eggs or veggies or take a taxi. If so, I hope she has come to terms with her neurotic attitude toward money in the last seventy years. I know I haven’t by any means.

One of the major reasons I have such trouble is that my cult role was supposed to be managing the group’s finances. From an early age I was taught each of the functions of a well-run office and later I was taught to supervise others, to be an office manager. It’s not very glamorous but it’s important. Somebody has to do the grunt work and keep things running smoothly.

In a cult, nobody can do anything right, of course, which engenders tremendous anxiety. If there was no animal for a sacrifice, if the books didn’t balance, if somebody got short changed, there was hell to pay. Every now and then I was rewarded, which kept me doggedly pushing through the anxiety, hoping they would notice what a good job I was doing.

I was used in child porn, but I didn’t realize right away that people were getting paid for my performances. I remember my father showing me a thousand dollar bill (in the late forties!) and telling me to look at it closely, as I would never see another one. For once, he was right. Earning money this way, even if it went to others, made money seem shameful and dirty, something I wanted nothing to do with. There’s no pleasure in paying bills or buying something nice for myself with that attitude.

Another thing that influenced me profoundly was that I was taught that I could not take care of myself, and that I would always need my parents to support me and the cult to guide me. So there is a strange mixture of feeling both competent and incompetent. I was a great office manager, but I could only use it in service of the cult. I was not given the opportunity to work, and my very first job, baby sitting, was in my twenties, when I was three thousand miles away from my parents. A couple of times in college I lined something up and then cancelled at the last minute.

They didn’t mind if I worked, they just minded terribly if I worked for money. This explains all the volunteering I do. I get challenged and I get the pleasure of doing something well, but I don’t get a dime. It’s nice being retired now, knowing that I have a reason for not having a job that is acceptable both to society and to myself

Well, obviously, I managed despite all this. My husband did well and there were a few years when I actually supported myself. For a while, my paid job actually entailed keeping the company books. I used what they taught me for good, and, if they knew, I bet they were pissed. Their problem, not mine.

So here I am after all these years, still dreading paying the bills. Still scared to learn my credit rating. Scared of the checkbook, even though I decorated it with puffy animal stickers, still scared of envelops and stamps, still scared of the post office box. Still terrified of doing my taxes. But most important, still acting responsibly, paying my bills, month after month, still handling money almost every week for gas and groceries and other things.

And that’s reason to stand tall.

 

Upcoming Holidays

July
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Full Moon
August
8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/26 Full moon
September
9/3 Labor Day
9/5 – 9/7 Marriage to the Beast (Satan)
9/7 Feast of the Beast
9/22 Fall Equinox

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
9/1 N Start of WW2
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)

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The Dissociative Table

The first time I heard the phrase “dissociative table” I was having dinner with another survivor/therapist. He asked whether I was familiar with the technique and I stared down at the dining room table and went blank. All I could think was that people dissociated, not tables. I covered my confusion by truthfully answering. “No, I’m not familiar with it.”

The dissociative table is a technique developed by George Fraser in 1991. It consists in inviting a group of alters, or inner people, or parts, or ego-states, or self-states, or whatever you like to call them, to come gather around an internal table and sit down and talk. Fraser’s goal is to get to know the alters and the system they belong to with the aim of eventual fusion into one state. With the information gained about the alters, he can help with memory retrieval work and, later in the process, allow alters to merge temporarily so that they can see that they do not die, that they live on in a new state.

I would be tempted not to embrace Fraser’s goal, but to aim to increase communication between alters, to have them get to know each other, and to have them develop social skills. With practice, alters with different points of view can learn to negotiate and reach a compromise. The goal is not integration, but increased communication and harmony. Partial or full integration may occur, if parts want it, but the desired end is simply greater cooperation and diminished chaos.

I would set up rules in advance, like only one person at a time may talk, people take turns talking by going around the table or passing a talking stick, no throwing chairs or other forms of violence by anybody, including me, etc. Once the alters are used to the set-up, I could invite all alters who were interested in a particular topic to come to the table and discuss about it.

I can also imagine people doing it themselves, as a form of self-guided imagery. It sounds like a simple technique, right? Well, a warning – even simple things can quickly get complicated. Think, for example, what it might be like if three adults, twelve littles, six robots, and a tiger all sat down at the same table, especially if not all of them knew English. You would need a way to gracefully end the meeting until you figured out how to handle such a diverse group. Better to prepare for problems in advance, rather than having to think on your feet!

Before starting, you could say, “Let me know if any part of you is uncomfortable with something I suggest. I can always think of something else.” For example, Fraser realizes that some people might have bad associations to sitting at a table and, if so, he substitutes sitting around a rock at the beach or meeting in an open field. If tables are okay, a round one might not be, but a rectangular or oval table might be fine.

Taking turns can be encouraged by passing around a microphone or a talking stick. If a part can’t communicate but has something to say – perhaps it speaks a foreign language, or is preverbal, or is non-human – there may be an interpreter present to help. Pre-verbal parts may be encouraged to draw. If a part doesn’t want to talk, you can give assurance that, although it isn’t yet ready, it can have a turn later on.

If you do want to try this by yourself or with a client, I strongly recommend you read all of Fraser’s article carefully. “The Dissociative Table Technique: A Strategy for Working with Ego States in Dissociative Disorders and Ego-State Therapy.” Dissociation, Vol. 4, No. 4, (Dec. 1991) pp. 205 – 213. You can download it for free at https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/handle/1794/1467   There is also an updated version of the article, “Fraser’s ‘Dissociative Table Technique’ Revisited, Revised: A Strategy for Working with Ego States in Dissociative Disorders and Ego-State Therapy.” Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, Vol. 4, No. 4, (Jan. 2003) pp 5-28. I haven’t been able to locate a free copy, only an abstract.

Fraser draws from different schools of hypnosis and often uses forced choices (“Would you like to speak to me with your eyes open or closed?”) He incorporates imagery that was widely used at the time and may still be in wide use in these days of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. He has the parts notice that there is a movie screen or a TV monitor in the room and invites people to project their memories onto the screen. This allows a measure of distance and also lets everybody else see what is being shown and described. And there is a remote with stop, pause, and rewind buttons to give control over the pace of sharing.

If there is a child in the movie who is in distress, he may ask the part who created the movie to step into the movie and comfort the child or confront the person who is hurting the child.

Fraser also suggests that there is a stage, with a mirror, near the table. A part can go there and change its age or gender, if desired. The new identity can be seen in the mirror. Fraser has alters fuse (what other therapists call integrate.) He can have two alters join in a partial fusion (that is, only a small part of the system fuses, not all the parts in the system,) and the others, who are watching, can see that nobody dies or gets hurt in the process. He can ask parts to consider temporary fusion. “I will assure them that they do not have to stay fused forever if they do not like it, but they should at least give it a chance for an hour or a few days, and then come apart and decide for themselves the advantages of fusion.”

The whole work of therapy has been done in this one internal room. And, at the end of therapy, all alters are fused and there is no more need for the room with the table, and stage, and movie screen.

 

Upcoming Holidays

July
7/4 Fourth of July/US Independence Day
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Full Moon
August
8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/26 Full moon
September
9/3 Labor Day
9/5 – 9/7 Marriage to the Beast (Satan)
9/7 Feast of the Beast
9/22 Fall Equinox

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
9/1 N Start of WW2
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)

Fear

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* Looking for people who have been used as breeders in a cult setting for submissions for an anthology I hope to put together. Even if you have not been abused this way, could you spread the word and tell all your survivor friends and therapists or pastors about the project? They can write me at rahome@ra-info.org for more information. Thank you so much!
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Fear

There are some emotions which have been with me for the better part of my life – or perhaps every single day of my life. I call them constant companions. Guilt, pain, and fear come instantly to mind. I talk more about physical pain than emotional pain these days because, as my emotional pain decreased thanks to antidepressants and hard work on my cult past, my physical pain has grown, thanks to osteoarthritis. Both kinds of pain, though, are tough to live with 24/7.

Fear also is really hard to live with. It permeates every facet of my life, sometimes subtly, sometimes ferociously. It feels like a cage, boxing me in and preventing me from exploring life freely. It’s much safer sitting home alone with my computer or a good book and experiencing life at a distance.

It’s embarrassing at times. I cringe when I say I am phone phobic and many times I don’t say anything, I just grit my teeth and push through. When the fear starts mounting toward panic, I say something like, “I’m almost talked out” and end the call. It’s embarrassing to be late for an appointment because I got lost even though I had driven the route many times. I am always afraid of getting lost, and sometimes the distraction of anxiety makes my fear come true. So I allow myself extra time just in case but sometimes I don’t allow myself enough time to reorient myself.

When I get into the car, I whisper to myself, “It’s okay if I get lost. I have a full tank of gas, several maps, a GPS on my iPhone, and a charge card. And if worst comes to worst, I can ask for directions.” That’s reassuring, but not reassuring enough to totally take away the anxiety.

When the memories were flooding me, I became so agoraphobic that it took courage to go from one room to another in my own home. When you shake going to the bathroom or into the kitchen to cook dinner, that’s really agoraphobia! After all these years, it still happens when I am in flashback mode.

I figured out that I felt safe where I was because nobody was hurting me at the moment and I could see that I was alone. But I could not see all of the next room from where I was and danger might be just around the corner. In the flashback, I had one foot in the present and one in the past. My adult mind knew there was nobody else in the house but my little-girl terror had no such assurance. I felt quite a bit better when I figured that out, but it still was frightening to move from one room to another.

These are just a couple of examples of how fear interferes with living my life fully. I try to figure out what caused the fear in the first place (often easier said than done) and by soothing self-talk and reality checks. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes not. I try and push through the fear, but sometimes I just give in to it. That’s okay – I can’t spend all my precious energy on fighting battles that just pop up again in an hour.

It comes down to choosing between three ways of handling fear: figuring out the cause, talking myself through it, and giving in. And there are two ways of giving in: pushing the fear aside by avoiding looking at whatever is frightening me and allowing myself to sit still and pay attention to the fear, letting it wash over me. It’s reassuring to know that if I do nothing except feel the fear it will eventually turn into something else.

Frank Herbert said it eloquently in “Dune.”

LITANY AGAINST FEAR

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past
I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Upcoming Holidays

June
6/21 Summer Solstice

6/23 Midsummer’s Eve/St. John’s Eve
6/28 Full moon

July
7/4 Fourth of July/US Independence Day

7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God

7/27 Full Moon

August
8/1 S N Lammas/Lughnasadh

8/26 S Full moon

Dates important to Neo-Nazi groups
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in World War II
(Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lamas, Halloween, solstices, equinoxes, and full moons.)