* 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.


Upcoming Holidays

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.)

A New Friend

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”

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


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.

11/1 All Saints’ Day
11/22 US Thanksgiving
11/23 Full Moon
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


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.