* The International’s Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) Annual Conference is coming up. The pre-conference is March 12 – 13, and the main conference is March 14 – 16. It’s being held in San Francisco. Information: https://annualconference.isst-d.org/
I’m attending the conference this year and would love to connect with anybody who is going. We could hang out at break times and get to know each other better.
ISSTD is also offering two regional conferences.
* “A Day With Professor Michael Salter” – plus Margot Sunderland, Adah Sachs, Kathryn Livingston, Mark Linington, Elly Hanson, Sue Richardson, Valerie Sinason, and Nancy Borrett – is in London on March 5. Information: https://www.isst-d.org/training-and-conferences/upcoming-conferences/london-regional-conference/
* “Diagnosis and Treatment of DID and PTSD in Indigenous Peoples” is in Fairbanks AK on June 17 – 20. Information: https://www.isst-d.org/training-and-conferences/upcoming-conferences/fairbanks-regional-conference/
I think there are at least three variations of the word “loneliness:” being alone, feeling lonely but not recognizing the feeling, and feeling lonely and knowing it.
“A lonely existence.” Here somebody is making a judgment about how another person lives. That person may or may not feel lonely, but, looking at them from the outside, you think, “I would be so lonely if I lived like that.” Examples: recluses, who seldom leave their houses, widows who are ignored by others, elderly people confined to their homes by illness, hermits, and hermit crabs, leaving their shells only to find a larger one and, once a year, to mate. (They don’t even get completely out of their shells for this rare event.) To find out whether a person is perfectly content to live alone, you have to ask. (The crabs use body-English.)
Feeling lonely, but not having words to describe the feeling. This was how I felt about my existence until late grade school. I saw others interacting with each other and felt stupid, afraid, and a little sad. I wanted to do what they were doing, but I didn’t know how and was scared to try. So I just stared at them. The other kids knew how to play and laugh and, I guessed, have a good time. The grown-ups knew how to talk to each other and make the other person smile. I didn’t know these things and didn’t know how others had learned them.
And no, I wasn’t autistic, just very traumatized.
Kids like me are sometimes called “frozen children,” frozen with fear. They try to blend into the background and be so inconspicuous that they become invisible. They fear that being noticed automatically brings punishment because they have been routinely punished for moving freely, for speaking, for showing they liked something or somebody, for no reason at all. I’ve written more about frozen kids and their opposite, angry, acting out kids at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/cult-kids/.
Like other frozen kids, I was isolated from my classmates, and I had no access to other children, except in the cult. There was no way for me to learn how to play jacks or marbles, jump rope, makes a cat’s cradle with another girl. And I was instructed not to interact with adults who were not family or cult members, except for answering the teachers’ direct questions relating to schoolwork. Isolation was reinforced at every turn.
At a certain point in grade school I started to want to interact with other people. I think it was at that point that I became aware that I was lonely. I have a feeling that one of my books had a character that was portrayed as lonely, but I cannot remember the title. “The Pokey Little Puppy” comes to mind, but it focused on the puppy’s behavior and its consequences, not his feelings.
The feeling intensified, even when I started making friends when I was twelve. I knew I was allowed to because my mother pushed me to have friends, to become popular. I also think it was because I was starting to be considered odd for never participating, and it was very important that I blend in and not draw attention to myself or my family.
You see, I had explained to myself that the problem was that I was friendless and that if I had friends like everybody else, I would stop feeling so awful and start being happy. It didn’t work that way, though. Having friends just made me even more lonely. Maybe I had the wrong friends? Or not enough of them? Maybe because I needed to lose ten pounds? Or maybe I wasn’t interesting enough, or funny enough, or? or? or?
I knew there was something very wrong with me, and, since I couldn’t figure it out, I would just have to put up with it.
And suddenly the flashbacks, first of molestation, then of physical abuse, and finally of ritual abuse, came rushing in and completely changed my life.
In the first few years, I was totally absorbed by just getting through the flashbacks, trying to make sense of the insanity I was remembering, and figuring out ways of managing my new life. Deep inside, though, changes were occurring that I would only recognize later.
About ten years on, maybe longer, I realized I was no longer lonely. I had not become a social butterfly; I still was introverted and spent a lot of time alone. But I didn’t yearn for interaction with people! Something major had shifted.
Another ten years or so, and I realized that the cause of my loneliness had never been a lack of attachment to other people. I had lost part of myself, and it was that part of me that I yearned to connect to. All along, I had wanted to be one, not to be split by amnesia into what I think of as a “night part” and a “day part.” Neither one was me because the other half was missing. But once I remembered, I was whole.
Reading the last paragraph, it sounds like I am saying that I integrated, that the different parts merged into each other. Since I don’t have discrete parts with personalities and histories of their own, it doesn’t feel like integration. It feels like I accepted that this had happened to me and that it had been the most important thing in my life, affecting each and every part of my development. It had been hidden from me for decades and had been the source of my unhappiness.
Now I don’t have to wonder what the matter with me is. I know exactly what it is. And I no longer feel there is anything the matter with me at all, given what I lived through as a child.
2/25 Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
2/25 Walpurgis Day
2/26 Ash Wednesday
3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/9 Full moon<
3/13 Friday the Thirteent
3/17 Spring Equinox
3/17 St. Patrick’s Day
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan
4/1 April Fool´s Day
4/5 Palm Sunday
4/7 Full moon
4/8 Day of the Masters
4/9 Maundy Thursday (commemoration of the Last Supper)
4/10 Good Friday
4/11 Holy Saturday
4/12 Easter Sunday<
4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve
Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
2/10 Tu Bishvat/Tu B’Shevat (celebration of spring)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes.)