Mothers’ Day and GrassRoots RA/MC Survivors’ Collective

Mothers’ Day

MOTHER

i weep when your title is called. v

i never understood you. weak woman of child. comforter. betrayer.

you chose to stay. you chose to abide. you chose to adorn the robes.

i remember you dressed up as a black cat in a kindergarten play.

i remember your soup.

you were a victim of the times.

From Leni’s blog, “My life as a dissociative.”  https://ourdissociativelives.wordpress.com/2022/05/08/mother/

Once again this year, I skimmed over Mothers’ Day…until I read what Leni wrote about her mother. I found it beautiful and evocative. I almost saw my own mother in Leni’s writing – but she was never a black cat in a school play, and I never went to kindergarten.

How very different both our mothers might have been if the society they lived in had known as much about trauma as ours does today. It makes me very sad.

She was always a vague, undefined figure to me. Partly it was her passive personality, partly because I was raised by others for the first ten years of my life. She was more like a babysitter than a mother. I considered my mother a minor player in my life.

We didn’t celebrate Mothers’ Day, either in the Day Life or the Night Life. It wasn’t a big Hallmark holiday back then. No wonder I don’t react much to Mothers’ Day.

Here is a quote from a post about Mothers’ Day that I wrote in 2016. https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/

“One year, though, I got a shock when I was driving to therapy. I was listening to a C&W radio station, and there was a song about a mother comforting her daughter about loss. The loss of her best friend when she was a child, a divorce, and finally, the mother’s death. “What can I do to help you say goodbye?” The tears were streaming down my face.

“My mother would not have comforted me. At best, she would have told me to act my age. As a result, I learned early on not to let her know my feelings. I never went to her for advice, for a quick good-luck hug, for a smile on hearing good news. I aimed for a distant, polite relationship, like two strangers who don’t much like each other thrown into close proximity. I got the distance, all right, but underneath the veneer was seething resentment and anger.”

I didn’t know then that I could miss what I had never had.

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GrassRoots RA/MC Survivors’ Collective

I just realized that I hadn’t written at length about the project taking up most of my time. It provides me with a lot of fulfilling experiences, including working with a kick-ass group of survivors, as well as a goodly number of triggers.

At this stage in my process, triggers only rarely send me into intense, long-lasting flashbacks. They are more like little reminders that something happened long ago that could use some attention today. I finally can welcome them! I get why my first therapist called them “gifts from the unconscious.” At the time, I wanted to strangle him because they felt like gifts given in the cult, prettily wrapped packages of blood, poo, or the corpse of a pet. Now I understand that my unconscious is suggesting a way to make today’s life a little bit better.

Why did I tell you this? I think it was to explain why I have time and energy for a big rewarding project. Perhaps this is the light I occasionally glimpsed when I was deep in the tunnel.

GrassRoots was envisioned as a place where survivors could come together, find ideas for projects, find volunteers to help them bring their idea to fruition, and read how-to articles on a variety of subjects. We imagined that people who worked together might well “click” and heal a little with and through each other. They might even go on to work on other projects or become personal friends. On many levels, it promised to be a way to break the isolation that so many survivors feel today. And as survivors talk to each other, tell their stories, work together, and form friendships, it breaks the old rules – “Don’t talk,” “You are stupid and incompetent,” “It’s forbidden to have a friend,” “Happiness is evil.”

The process would build community in two different ways, on a micro-level with one-to-one connections and on a macro-level by having more books, art exhibits, podcasts, Webinars, etc., readily available to survivors all over the world.

I must have been a matchmaker in a past life. It gives me so much pleasure to bring people together and have them be grateful to have met each other. Or maybe I was an agent running around finding a publisher for a wonderful book on an unpopular subject.

I remember the joy I felt when I put together poetry readings, first in my living room thirty years ago, then in feminist bookstores. We could speak of things that were taboo, we could witness each other’s pain and struggle to grow, to become healthy, and to create happy, fulfilled lives. I could see joy behind their tears, and my joy was increased ten-fold, twenty-fold, by theirs.

Back then, the joy was ephemeral because I quickly sank back into a stream of flashbacks. Now the flashbacks are far fewer, and I handle them much better. The joy lasts and gives me a desire to do more in and for my community. It’s a feedback loop; the happier I am, the more I do, and the more I do, the happier I am. Of course, I get down at times, but I always seem to pull quickly out of that place of lingering despair and come back to my new normal.

Now the structure of GrassRoots is set up (of course, it needs polishing), and word is getting out. There are quite a few people who are saying,” I can’t right now, but maybe next month, or in the fall, or after my hip replacement.” One day, this little hatchling will take off like a big bird, a bird that keeps growing all its life. And so many people will be cheering it on!

Hey – just had a thought – why not put the GrassRoots newsletter up on this blog? I’ll sneak it in between posts!

~~~~~~~~~

Upcoming Holidays

May
5/15 Full Moon
5/15 – 5/16 Total lunar eclipse visible in south and west Europe, south and west Asia, Africa, much North America, South America, and Antarctica. https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/lunar/2022-may-16
5/21 (?) Armed Forces Day
5/26 (?) Ascension Day
5/30 Memorial Day

June
6/5 Pentecost
6/6 (?) Whit Monday
6/12 (?) Trinity Sunday
6/14 Full Moon
6/16 (?) Corpus Christi/Feast of the Body of Christ
6/19 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve

6/24 (?) St John’s Day

 

July
7/4 Independence Day

7/13 Full Moon

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


7/27 Grand Climax

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups

6/4 – 6/6  Shavuot (Harvest Festival, Festival of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments)

(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:

Candlemas – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/
Valentine’s Day – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-
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/ 

Mothers’ Day

I’m interrupting “Eating Disorders” to post about Mothers’ Day, which is coming fast. This year it is on May 8.

I wrote this way back in April, 1999, for the Survivorship Monthly Notes. Nothing has been changed, except grammar and spelling mistakes. And not much has changed in my feelings about Mothers’ Day in the intervening seventeen years.

For me, May is a wonderful time because nothing much happens between Beltane and Memorial Day. It’s almost a whole month without the anniversary of a ritual date and so I really have time to catch my breath after the long and difficult spring. But it’s not that easy for most survivors, because right in the middle of the month comes . . . Mothers’ Day.

My family did not observe Mothers’ Day, either in the day life or the night life. It meant nothing to my mother, and she looked down her nose at the commercialism of the commemoration. Perhaps she wasn’t thrilled at being a mother? I don’t know; I can only guess.

I have no idea what others experienced in the cult on Mothers’ Day, but I can imagine, and the things I imagine are horrible. I presume they were designed to break any sense of attachment and safety that a child might still feel toward Mother. I presume that all attachment had to be to the cult itself, and that tender feelings between mothers and children were anathema.

So I sail through Mothers’ Day, with memories only of my own kids’ little hands holding lilies of the valley, coffee and burned toast in bed, and home-made cards telling me how great I was. An hour of fame, and then a normal day.

One year, though, I got a shock when I was driving to therapy. I was listening to a C&W radio station and there was a song about a mother comforting her daughter about loss. The loss of her best friend when she was a child, a divorce, and finally the mother’s death. “What can I do to help you say goodbye?” The tears were streaming down my face.

My mother would not have comforted me. At best, she would have told me to act my age. As a result, I learned early on not to let her know my feelings. I never went to her for advice, for a quick good-luck hug, for a smile on hearing good news. I aimed for a distant, polite relationship, like two strangers who don’t much like each other thrown into close proximity. I got the distance, all right, but underneath the veneer was seething resentment and anger.

And of course I modeled my relationships with other adults on what I had learned at home. It never occurred to me to ask a teacher for help. It just never crossed my mind that adults could be a resource. Once, in high school, a classmate became psychotic and I and a couple of other secretive girls helped her hide it from the teachers for several months. If there was a problem, the children took care of it themselves because, if the grown-ups found out, boy, did the problem ever expand!

The truth of it, for those of us who were born into cult families, is that we never had real mothers. Our mothers did not delight in our spirits and active little bodies. I learned as an adult that some mothers do.

Ours swung between sadism and dissociation, and neither of these traits is supposed to be part of mothering. They could not teach us how to love and connect with people because they themselves couldn’t. Or if they could, it was intermittent or ineffectual. They did not have the resources to protect us, to raise us as we needed to be raised.

That day, after therapy, I stopped at a bookstore and found a “Random Acts of Kindness” bumper sticker. I also bought a book by Laurel Holliday called “Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries.” (You can get inexpensive used copies on Amazon.) I expected stories of devastation, like the stories I read of ritual abuse survivors’ childhoods.

What I found, though, was the writings of children who were loved by their families, children who were vibrantly alive. A disaster came upon them from outside. They responded with grief, terror, despair. But there is also humor in these diaries, and joy. There is so much empathy; these children loved themselves, loved life, and felt the pain of those who were tortured, gunned down, starved to death. Even in the Warsaw Ghetto, a father risked his life to obtain bread for his children and birthdays were celebrated as best as possible. It is beautiful to read how people cared for each other, even unto death.