Of Mice, Memories, and Ritual Abuse

My New Blog Is Coming in April!

We are in the checklist/troubleshooting phase. Yeehaw! You know what I love best about SquareSpace? They have a helpful customer service/tech service department! And they hire real, live, intelligent, trained people. No pawing through message boards of customer problems to find our problem and its (possible) solution.

This blog will stay up for reference for a long, long time. It may live forever through the WayBack Machine at https://web.archive.org/.

The new blog will be online sometime in April. As soon as we go live, I will let you know!

Spencer and the Dentist

My dentist, not his. Once again, I asked the assistant to talk to me as much as possible about anything at all. She chose to talk about her cats. Thanks to Annie, I didn’t have a flashback the whole time.

She likes cats, has four cats, fosters other cats, takes care of feral cats…and has a Turkish Angora. She was happy to talk about them for an hour, non-stop. I couldn’t ask for anything better. Except I did ask for something even better, something I really need.

I told her I was 85 and planned to live forever, but was prudently making arrangements for other contingencies. One of the things that I want to have in place is a foster home for Spencer should I become unable to take care of him. I described Spencer’s personality in detail, and she said, “Sure, I’d be glad to! I am used to timid cats and that should be no problem.” That was my lucky day!

As for Spencer’s dentist, his regular vet will see to his teeth. However, I thought it would be good idea to give him preventative care. I am pretty sure I would fail miserably if I tried to brush his teeth because I have more than enough trouble brushing my own.

Mr. Google told me that there were treats called Greenies that keep cats’ teeth clean, preventing the build-up of tartar. So I ordered some. I am supposed to give him eight treats in the morning and eight at night. Of course, since he’s a cat, there was no guarantee he would eat them. 

He LOVES them! But he doesn’t want to stop at eight. He wants the whole bag. And he doesn’t want it twice a day, he wants it available all day long. Plus which, he remembers exactly where he was given them and haunts those places seeking more. 

Sometimes, even a reasonably-priced product from a legitimate company with good customer ratings is so popular with the end users that nobody wants to buy it.

Of Mice, Memories, and Ritual Abuse

I get a lot of medical news – announcements of newly-approved drugs, articles, research findings, social and economic issues. Recently, a research article on mice memories caught my attention. Here is the abstract of the article. Scroll down to see the figures and captions, which are also interesting. “Activating positive memory engrams suppresses depression-like behaviour.”  https://www.nature.com/articles/nature14514#Sec23.

(Sorry folks – I can’t make this link work. You will have to copy and paste.)

I have no idea how they did this because it was described in other papers. Apparently, they could isolate the tiny part of the brain that contained a memory. They could even obtain an image of the shape of the configuration that corresponded to the neural network that held the memory. They then injected a substance that made the image of that particular memory glow when exposed to laser light. Green for memories of fear and pain, red for memories of pleasure.

Now here comes the fun part. They triggered the fear memory, then triggered a pleasant memory. Lo and behold, the green dots became fainter and started to disappear. The pleasant memory was taking the fear out of the unpleasant one!

Just think! No more flashbacks. Constantly diminishing anxiety. No psych meds. No payments to therapists or psychopharmacologists. Just remember to think happy thoughts. Easy peasy!

I can’t remember how many nights I have lain awake at 3 AM thinking, “What’s the matter with you? Can’t you think of anything pleasant? Just one little happy memory? Or you can make up a happy little story. Come on, you can do it.”

But the dark thoughts flowed back in and usurped my mind. I could not think of anything even remotely pleasant. I probably was making each unpleasant memory worse by remembering other unhappy and frightening things and thus reinforcing the fear.

I am split between cynicism and hope. Cheer up! Don’t be so negative! Just think of happy things, and the fear will melt away. Say affirmations daily, and you will no longer feel you are the lowest of the low. Buy a book on cognitive behavior therapy. Make a cheery playlist of uplifting songs.

I believe that these things work. I conceptualize the process in terms of brain plasticity. If you repeat something often enough, that thought becomes readily available. A new neural pathway has been created and strengthened by use. The image that comes to mind is one of a rutted dirt road. Each time a car passes over the road, the ruts become deeper and more visible. Instead of looking like a long-abandoned road, it looks well-traveled.

This is why cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectic behavioral therapy works. Positive thoughts weaken negative ones. It’s not instantaneous by any means, though. You have to be persistent and keep repeating positive thoughts and acting positively.

This was true in the mouse study. If a memory of a negative experience was triggered, and then, before it had faded, a positive memory was triggered, the amount of fear diminished. But the next time, the fear was just as strong. It took many repetitions of pairing memories of negative and positive experiences to extinguish the fear.

I know that mice aren’t people and that not all the discoveries using mice as research subjects apply to humans. Still, this paper has chipped away at my cynicism. So next time I think badly of myself or ruminate on past actions I regret, I will try my hardest to counter these thoughts with positive ones.

I think the positive thoughts don’t have to be on the same subject. Any thought that engenders a sense of well-being will do.

If I can’t think of anything positive in the whole wide world, I can try doing something engrossing. Move furniture? Timed writing prompts? I’ll make a list of activities that require focus and concentration so that I don’t have to remember them in the middle of a negativity storm.

Thank you, little mice!

A Couple of Tips on Communication

There are two announcements after the main part of this post.

Guess we all made it through Candlemas, one of the eight major Satanic holidays. Next week there are two Christian holidays, which are often perverted by Satanic groups. Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is a feast, a celebration of the last day before the beginning of Lent. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, a time of fasting to commemorate the forty days Jesus spent in the desert prior to being crucified. I hope your abusers skipped these days, and if they didn’t, I hope you stay safe and are granted healing.

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Because I wandered through childhood in a daze, I never picked up the social skills that the other kids did. I knew that if you said things in one way, you got good results, but if you said them slightly differently, people would have no idea what you were talking about, or they would take it the wrong way. It was like wanting either hot water or cold water and knowing that water came out of faucets but having no idea which one was for hot water and which one was for cold water. And not knowing you could mix them!

When I was four or five, my mother told me to ask a woman for the time. She added, “Remember to say please and thank you.” So I walked up to the woman and politely said, “Please and thank you, can you tell me the time?” I expected her to smile and tell me what time it was. Instead, she burst out laughing. Why? No idea. I had done exactly what I had been told to do and had gotten a totally unexpected result.

Here I am almost eighty years later, still trying to earn the little rules and tricks of communication that other people seem to use so effortlessly. 

Here is something I learned a few years ago. It’s good to remind myself occasionally.

If you use “but” in a sentence, whatever you are talking about seems difficult or wrong. If you use “and,” though, it seems easy and inviting

“If you are wearing a mask and want to be friendly, make eye contact but don’t hold it too long or you will appear hostile.”
“If you are wearing a mask and want to be friendly, make eye contact and then look away after a couple of seconds.”

“It’s fine to wear a plaid skirt but don’t wear a patterned top.”
‘It’s fine to wear a plaid skirt and a plain top.”

When I hear the sentences with “but” in them, it feels like a threat. If you do this, something terrible will happen. It also sounds bossy, and I don’t like to be told what to do. The “and” sentences seem neutral and informative.

And here is something I learned just a week ago. It’s a little more complicated and will be harder for me to remember, but I think it will be extremely useful.

This approach is for a situation when somebody is doing something you don’t like, and you want them to change their behavior. It doesn’t criticize or confront the other person in any way, and you come across as reasonable and self-confident. You may not get what you want all the time, but I bet you will have a lot more success than if you outright asked the other person for what you wanted. Here is the formula:

I noticed…
I feel…
I need…
Would you consider…?

Let’s see if I can make up something. 

“I noticed that you told a joke that appeared to put down Hispanic people. I felt hurt because I have Mexican relatives. In order to feel comfortable, I need to know that no group will be dissed. Would you consider not telling jokes or using language that seems disrespectful in front of me?”

I doubt if I could figure out how to say this without taking time to work out the steps. I think it would be just as effective if a day or a week elapsed between the incident and my request. I haven’t had time to experiment with this approach since I just learned about it. If I have an occasion to try it out, I’ll let you know the results. 

It’s true. You can teach an old dog new tricks. And the old dog is thrilled!

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We are going to have a poetry reading!!

We have a technical person, a ZOOM account, and four or five poets lined up. If we go for ninety minutes, there is room for a few more people. 

Post in the comment section or write me at rahome@ra-info.org if you would like to read your work. I’m asking everybody to read aloud the poems they want to share, time themselves, and let me know how long it took. (The maximum allotted time is ten minutes. If you need less time, we can have more participants.) There will be a place to sign up if you want to be part of the audience.

We haven’t picked a date yet, but it will be on a Saturday. Here are the various time zones so you can figure out if you can make it or not.

7 AM Melbourne Time (Sunday)
12 noon Pacific Time
1 PM Mountain Time
2 PM Central Time
3 PM Eastern Time
8 PM London Time
9 PM Amsterdam Time

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An opportunity to participate in a study of children’s religious rights

Cindy Owre is a Ph.D. student in the Department of History, Classics, and Religion at the University of Alberta. 

She is conducting research on how children’s religious rights and spiritual needs are or are not being met. The goal of this study is to generate ideas for creating policies that will help faith communities and religiously run schools to develop safe spaces where these rights and needs can be nurtured and to provide training so that children can learn how to form healthy relationships with religious leaders and staff. 

She is seeking people over 18 years old who are living in Canada and who have been affected in some way by child sexual abuse or CSA in a religious context. 

For more information, contact Cindy at cowre@ualberta.ca or by phone at 1-825-512-3116. 

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Upcoming Holidays

February
2/12 (?) Lincoln’s Birthday
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/15 (?) Presidents’ Day/Washington’s birthday
2/16 Shrove Tuesday/ Mardi Gras
2/17 Ash Wednesday/beginning of Lent
2/25 Walpurgis Day
2/27 Full Moon

March
3/1 St David’s Day (patron saint of Wales)
3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/17 St. Patrick’s Day (patron saint of Ireland)
3/21 Spring Equinox
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan
3/28 Full Moon
3/28 Palm Sunday

April
4/1 April Fool’s Day
4/1 Maundy Thursday (commemoration of the Last Supper)
4/2 Good Friday
4/3 Holy Saturday
4/4 Easter Sunday
4/8 Day of the Masters
4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/26 Full Moon
4 /30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
3/28 – 4/4 Passover/Pesach (Deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices, and the equinoxes.)

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You can find more information on the following holidays at

Valentine’s Day https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
Spring Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/
Easter: personal. (for background, see Spring Equinox) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/easter-blues/
Walpurgisnacht/May Eve: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/
Beltane: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/
Mothers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/
 Fathers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/ritual-abuse-and-fathers-day/
 Summer Solstice (corrected text) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/
 Lammas https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/
 and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/ 
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-feast-of-the-beast/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-ii/
Fall Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/.
Halloween {personal) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/ 
Halloween (background) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/

Thanksgiving https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/thanksgiving/
Yule/Winter Solstice https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/ 
Candlemas https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/

Over-Reactions and Under-Reactions as Flashbacks

Since this post is all about flashbacks, you might want to go back and read “About BASK Flashbacks: (https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2018/09/10/about-bask-flashbacks/.) I read it periodically to structure my thinking.

You probably don’t remember that I had tentatively started to deal with the stage in my life when I was used in child pornography. I haven’t said anything much about it because the process shut down after just a couple of weeks. 

How do I feel? Sad. Disappointed. Relieved. Numb. 

And brooding about flashbacks – what they are, where they come from, how to tell if I am in one.

Now, sensory flashbacks are pretty easy for me to identify. I see or hear or smell something that isn’t here now. My classic example is when I was splashing around in the pool, and I suddenly smelled beer in the air above the water. There was no question in my mind that the pool was not filled with beer!!! Sometimes I see something for a moment, and then it changes into something else. A dead body by the side of the road turns into a black plastic bag. You get the idea.

Feelings, however, are much harder to identify. I instinctively try to find a present-day explanation for whatever I am feeling. If I am anxious these days it is because of COVD-19. That makes total sense, right? Everybody is anxious about the virus, and there is no reason why I should be any different.

However, underneath the consciousness of every-day stressors, there is a huge layer of anxiety from my childhood trying to come out. At times it pushes through, seemingly out of nowhere. Other times it piggybacks on something in the present that has already made me anxious. (That’s called being triggered.) Most of the time, it sits there, boiling away, gathering steam, waiting to erupt like a geyser.

I have to remain open to the idea that some of the anxiety I am feeling today comes from those unprocessed feelings from the past. I search for clues (when I remember that I am dealing with more than COVID-19. aging, and chronic pain.) Did it come bursting out of nowhere? Probably from the past. Was I already feeling anxious and started to feel lots more so? Is there anything similar in the two situations? Could I have been triggered?

A psychologist once told me, “If somebody is over-reacting, it means they had to under-react in the past.” This idea has been very useful to me over the years. I do over-react quite a bit, and I have learned to trace my feelings back to situations in my childhood.

It just occurred to me that it doesn’t have to be childhood feelings. David Free, a man I had been e-friends with for twenty-five years, died a couple of years ago. I thought about him a lot, but I didn’t cry. Shortly afterward, a man I barely knew died. I had liked him, but he was an acquaintance, not a friend. I cried for weeks! Of course, I was grieving for David as well. I have no idea why I couldn’t grieve at the time, but I couldn’t. I had to wait to be triggered before I could finally feel my sorrow.

Anxiety from the past doesn’t work on an on/off switch; it’s on a dimmer. When it is strongest, I am in full-fledged panic mode, and when it is weakest, I am totally numb. I’ve only realized this recently; feeling numb is just as much a flashback as feeling panicked.

When I got flashbacks to Satanic abuses, I was not numb. I was full of feelings, mainly fear and anger. When the memories were of family life, they could be accompanied by feelings (mainly outrage and anger,) or I could feel sort of stunned. But anything to do with pornography, I am numb. I can describe the scene, but I cannot retrieve anything of what I felt back then. The only emotion that comes through this veil of numbness is shame. 

I have the sense that I felt nothing until it was all over, and only then did I feel shame. And then I forgot everything – the people involved, the audience, the acts I performed, everything. I had been taught (programmed) to forget. 

I learned about the forgetting part of the experience when I was giving presentations at Survivorship. I did fine during the workshop, but I was dissociated afterward, and I felt like I was floating. I could not remember what I had said, and I did not recognize any of the people who came up to talk to me, even if I had known them for years. The first time this happened, I was shocked, and I froze and said nothing. I learned to tell people I was in a flashback and could not recognize them. Then I realized I could be calmer and more matter-of-fact if I told them beforehand. The workshops went much more smoothly

I’ve learned so much about my process in the few weeks I’ve been working on these issues. My decision has already paid off, and I believe that I will learn much, much more. I don’t know if I am looking forward to learning more or dreading it. Or both!

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Upcoming Holidays

October
10/1 Full moon
10/12 Columbus Day
10/13 Backward Halloween
10/31 Full moon (Blue Moon)
10/31 Halloween/start of Celtic New Year/start of the dark half of the year
November
11/1 All Saints’ Day
11/2 All Souls’ Day
11/11 Veterans’ Day (?)
11/13 Friday the thirteenth
11/14 New moon
11/26 Thanksgiving Day (United States)
11/30 St Andrew’s Day
9/29 Michaelmas/Feast of Archangel Michael and of all Angels
December
Sundays of advent: 11/28, 12/5, 12/12, 12/19
12/4 New Moon
12/4 Total Solar Eclipse
12/14 New moon
12/14 Total solar eclipse. Totality visible in Chile and parts of Argentina. Partial eclipse visible in southern South America and south-east Africa. See https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2020-december-14
12/18 Full Moon
12/21 Winter solstice/Yule/St. Thomas’ Day
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/5 Christmas Day
12/29 Full moon
12/31 New Year’s Eve

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
10/3 Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles, harvest festival)
10/19 Death of Goering
10/12 Hitler’s alternate half-birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual half-birthday, 10/20, and his alternate half-birthdate six months after Easter, which fell on 4/12 this year.)
10/20 Hitler’s half-birthday
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes.)

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* You can find more information on the following holidays at: 

Halloween {personal) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/
Halloween (background) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
Thanksgiving https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/thanksgiving/
Yule/Winter Solstice https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/ 
Candlemas https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/
Valentine’s Day https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
Spring Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/
Easter: (personal) For background, see Spring Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/easter-blues/
Walpurgisnacht/May Eve: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/
Beltane: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/
Mothers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/
Fathers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/ritual-abuse-and-fathers-day/
Summer Solstice (corrected text) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/
Lammas https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/
and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-feast-of-the-beast/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-ii/
Fall Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/