Asking Your Advice About This Blog

A Wish for Everybody

It’s been one storm after another here on the West Coast. Saturated soil, flooding, emergency evacuations, and almost a dozen deaths from the storms. And I read about similar weather throughout the United States and Canada. One good friend was in an earthquake and another had to evacuate because of a hurricane. 

I wish you and everybody you love safety in this crazy weather. If the present-day threat brings flashbacks, my wish includes that you handle them with gentleness and compassion for the frightened child you once were. 

Spencer’s News

I have been mystified about the lack of hair in the brush every time I brush his long, thick fur. Today, I discovered the reason for this. 

His cat tree is upholstered in a dark carpet material that latches on to loose hair like Velcro. I glanced at the top platform and noticed that it had turned from black to white. So I brushed the cat tree instead of the cat! After about an hour, the wastebasket was filled with fur. Now I can, without guilt, stop feeling I am neglecting him if I don’t brush him every day.

I had lunch with Baker’s previous owner, who told me something very reassuring. (Baker was the Turkish Van mix I adopted before getting Spencer. He got sick just as soon as I adopted him and died of cancer within two months.) She said that Baker was timid for the first few years of his too-short life. If somebody he didn’t know well entered the house, he hid until the intruder was gone. By the time I met him, he was fearless and very social. Hopefully, Spencer is following in his footsteps.

Asking Your Advice About This Blog

When I started the blog, I just wanted a place to publish the short articles I had written for the Survivorship newsletter so that they would be all in one place and unlikely to get lost. 

I then started writing informative articles on various aspects of ritual abuse. There were articles on the background of major Satanic holidays, flashbacks, personal safety, choosing a therapist and evaluating therapy, and DID and defenses. There were guest articles, book reviews, articles about survivors/artists, and some of my poetry and artwork. Not much of anything about my personal life.

Recently, I have been sharing a lot more about myself. At first, I thought I would continue sharing information and just use myself as an example. Gradually, my life today became the focus. Of course, ritual abuse is an ever-present issue for me; it is present in everything I write and everything I do. 

I noticed that I have fewer readers than I used to, fewer new viewers, and fewer return viewers. This is also true for my website, ra-info.org. I thought this was because ra-info hasn’t been updated in a long time and people aren’t reading the blog because they aren’t interested in me. So much of it is about illness and cats, both of which can get tedious.

However, I heard from a friend that neither the website nor the blog appears on the first page of a Google search. They used to be near the top. Google’s algorithm changed, and I didn’t. Guess I need to study SEO (search engine optimization).

(I just checked and found that the sites Google selects are sort of weird. There are a lot of resources in the United Kingdom and lots of material from the 1990s. The top hit is a short article by the Brisbane Rape and Incest Survivors Support Centre in Australia describing ritual abuse and its effects on survivors and giving Australian resources. I wonder what factors made it the first choice when they applied the current algorithm.)

Another friend told me that she thought she had subscribed to the blog, but she didn’t get a copy of new posts or an announcement of any kind. If people who subscribed aren’t getting anything, that surely lowers readership considerably.  

Another friend said that WordPress was too complicated, and so she blogs on SquareSpace, which is becoming popular. Simplicity is very appealing to me. WordPress is so complicated! It drives me nuts three times a month. I write and proof the entry and then spend about 4 – 5 hours just formatting it on WordPress. The draft often vanishes when I am almost ready to publish it, and I have to start over again.  

I’m turning to you all for advice. To make sure subscribers see this request, I’ll send it individually to people I believe have recently subscribed. My questions are –

1. Do you like that I share the struggles of my present life? Would you prefer more information about RA/MC and healing? Do you like the short items about conferences, holidays, my cat, etc.?

2. What do you think of the idea of leaving this WordPress blog up for reference, but starting up anew on SquareSpace?

3. Does anybody know anything about SEO? Would you be willing to coach me? I warn you – I do better if you communicate in regular old English. I’m not fluent in GeekSpeak.

Thank you so much for your feedback. If you tell me what works for you and what falls flat, I can make the posts more helpful to everybody. And if I get some advice on SEO and which platform to use, we can reach more people with less hassle.

Using Gratitude to Adapt to a Newly Diagnosed Condition: Dysautonomia

We Made it Through Another Year

Well, we did it! We made it through another year! 365 days. 8,760 hours. 525,600 minutes. 315,360,000 seconds. Quite an accomplishment, in my opinion, especially when a good many of us could only get through some of those seconds and minutes with clenched fists and clenched teeth. But we did it!

I hesitate to wish my survivor friends a happy new year because I know 2023 is going to be difficult, even if there are happy times. And it could be a terrible year, worse than 2022. So I compromise and say, “I wish you a safe, healthy(er), happy(er) new year.”

That wish is now going out to all of you reading this!

So Cute

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2023/jan/07/balloon-animals-beyond-the-poodle-in-pictures

Spencer is Fine 

For those of you who have just started reading my blog, I adopted the beautiful cat you see lounging in the header. We have been together now for three months. He is still very timid and spends a lot of time hiding. Once, I couldn’t find him for four whole days. He still spends so much time out of sight that his nickname is “Invisible Cat.”

Slowly, he’s getting used to being here. Baby step by baby step, he is getting to know his way around the apartment. He is also becoming more social. If he wants to be petted, he’ll let me know by putting his front paws on my knee as I sit at the computer. One day, he even jumped onto my lap – and then instantly exited on the other side. Oh well, maybe he will try again in a couple of weeks.

And I Am Fine – Even Grateful

Well, sort of. I’m old and creaky to start with, and I keep collecting diseases the way some old ladies collect cats.

I recently acquired a new diagnosis: dysautonomia, or autonomic nervous system failure. It’s unpredictable; it comes and goes, gets progressively worse, or mysteriously goes into remission after years. All the things that the body does without conscious thought can be affected. And it can’t be fixed, at least by Western medicine, and at least not quite yet.

These are the symptoms that most affect my quality of life:
     wide blood pressure variations
     inability to adapt to temperature changes
     loss of ability to smell and taste things
     poor balance

So far, I don’t feel rotten. I have to spend more time taking care of myself, which is a drag. But I am happy to say that I have discovered CBD. (I am not an early adopter.) So I bitch about having another disease, another specialist, and new symptoms to adapt to. I also sing with happiness because CBD works on all the different kinds of pain I have. And it is natural, herbal, vegan, and gluten-free. Many brands are non-GMO and organic, too. It has no side effects, as far as I can tell. My doctors all say, “Go for it.”

I imagine that it’s going to be challenging to adapt to this condition. The symptoms can change from day to day, and just as soon as I accept one configuration of symptoms, more will surely pop up.

I don’t know anybody with dysautonomia and therefore have nobody to turn to for information, advice, and comfort. I do know one person who had it, but her experience was very different from mine. She was stung by thousands of tiny jellyfish while swimming in Indonesian waters. The damaged nerves slowly repaired themselves, and, after 5-10 years, she was able to return to work. She even got pregnant and had a healthy baby! That is not going to be my story.

I did find two online support groups, but the members were a lot sicker than I am. I decided I needed a beginners’ group because reading the entries on these groups filled me with anxiety and dread. If I get that sick on down the road, I know those groups are available to me. But for now, there is no point in looking ahead – I need to concentrate on getting used to the present.

I have read that saying positive affirmations can ease the process of adapting to a new disease. It makes sense. The affirmations don’t erase the critical ways of thinking about oneself, but they do create a new set of neural pathways. I could then choose between old cult messages and the newly created ones, which hopefully will be more accurate and helpful. 

I can’t just start telling myself I am fantastic. I have to do it in a way that doesn’t enrage my Inner Cynic, who would argue long and loud and reinforce the old tapes.

Most affirmations, however, feel like bald-faced lies to me. Lying makes me very uncomfortable because, as a child, I had to lie about so many things.  I’m all for laying down new neural pathways, but I have to do it without lying.

I figured out how to contort myself in order to recast affirmations into a form I can tolerate, even if I cannot wholeheartedly embrace them. “Some other people think I am the greatest person in the world.” “I wish that I could honestly say that I am filled with love for my beautiful body.” 

I think I have found a way to solve the problem. I don’t have to choose – I can see different facets of a situation. Negative aspects and positive aspects can exist side-by-side. All I am trying to do is strengthen one set of neural pathways while leaving the other alone.

I can have mixed feelings about things – hate part of them, but also love part of them. Love the rose, hate the thorns.

Look at this:

Situation: I experience wide blood pressure variations.
I am so grateful that they have finally found a diagnosis.
(That’s completely true,  even though it is a sucky diagnosis.)

Situation: inability to adapt to temperature changes.
I have wonderfully warm tee shirts, sweaters, and hoodies.
(Even though it’s annoying to wear layers in the house.)

Situation: loss of much of my ability to smell and taste things.
I am grateful I can easily feel textures and taste salty, sweet, and acid foods.
It is nice not to have to smell the kitty litter box.
(At the same time, I want to smell the roses! and the sweetpeas, basil, tarragon, hand soap, laundry detergent, and my clean hair.)

Situation: poor balance .
I am grateful for physical therapy.
(It had better work. PT is time-consuming, and the exercises are boring.)

I was surprised at how easy it is to find true, nice, kind things to say to myself. There are no long discussions with the Inner Cynic, no worrying about whether I am being dishonest or not, and no getting sick and tired of the whole damn thing. I wish I had discovered how to do this in high school.

I think it’s time to learn more about the process of forming a new neural pathway. Should I say the positive statement out loud? Do I have to use the same words each time? How often should it be said? At what intervals? How can you tell when the brain has made a new pathway? 

Is there a way to train the brain to go directly to positive thoughts, bypassing the negative ones? Is there an instruction manual available? A workbook?

I’m so glad I thought of using affirmations and gratitude statements, made especially for me, to learn to live with dysautonomia symptoms. And symptoms of everything else in life, too. If it works, why not?

Documentation to Increase the Safety of RA/MC Survivors

A Bit of Self-Care

I am so glad I gave myself permission to be late on posts or to skip one now and then. My lateness is explained by my cat’s behavior. Since I am still a bit hysterical, I made an even bigger decision.

After messing up part of the last post’s ritual dates section, I decided I would give myself a break from all that formatting. You can find the Satanic and Nazi calendars on the “2022 Ritual Calendar” page, as well as links to most major holidays described on the blog.

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Would anybody be willing to make the 2023 ritual calendar? You work off the 2022 one. Replace the dates of the full moon. Delete the 2022 eclipses and add the 2023 ones. Change the dates of the moveable holidays, like Thanksgiving and Easter. If you aren’t sure of some of the dates, look them up anyway. Make notes about anything you think might be wrong. Then I will send it on to somebody else to proofread and check the dates.

I would be very grateful – I have been doing this since 1999.

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If you haven’t gotten the October issue of the GrassRoots newsletter and would like to see it, write https://grassroots-ra-mc-collective.org/contact-us/ to subscribe.

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Cats- Bah, Humbug

Spencer, my new cat, is now in hiding. He is a Turkish Van, gorgeous like Baker but terrified of his new surroundings. I had him confined to my bedroom so he could get used to a small part of the house and have a safe place to return to when he started going out.

He slipped out when I was leaving the room, and I spent the weekend wandering around looking for him and crying. His previous owner even came and spent two hours meowing. Her husband crawled around on hands and knees looking under furniture and checking behind boxes of stuff. No cat.

On Sunday, I put food out in every room, and he ate the food in the office! I heard him meow in the middle of the night, so I came and gave him seconds. He had eaten the food in the office but hadn’t scoped out the other rooms. At least now I know he is alive and somewhere in the office.

Last night, he again meowed for seconds in the middle of the night. When I went to give it to him, he had not gotten all the way to his hiding place. I could hear him rustling the boxes under the coffee table in the office. Now I know where he is, or at least where he was last night.

Believe me, I looked there at least five times. Rick, his previous owner’s husband, took out every box and looked through them all. Spencer was, obviously, not found.

I am starting to calm down and trust he will come out someday. Somewhere, deep down, he knows I am a nice person who feeds him and brushes him and pets him where he likes it.

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Documentation to Increase the Safety of Survivors

Ellen Lacter has described in great detail how to create  a “Safety Packet.” You can read the whole article here: https://endritualabuse.org/evidence-packets-increase-safety/

The basic idea is to describe your experiences in detail, naming names, and distribute this document to trusted people with instructions that it should be opened on your death and distributed to law enforcement and the media.

The people who have received the documentation should be given extra copies to distribute to other safe people so that the abusers cannot locate all the copies. And you should say, in public, that you have done this and that the shit will hit the fan if you are killed or disappear.

When you read the article, I imagine you will be overwhelmed by the amount of information you are being asked to put in this document. I imagine that working on it will stir up all your “don’t tell” programming. For me, it wasn’t the don’t the ‘don’t tell” programming that arose. It was the “I’m incompetent and worthless” programming. Either way, working on it will be emotional and challenging.

I did this once, a long time ago. I printed out a short version of what Ellen suggested and distributed it. Today, you can put it on a thumb drive – so much easier!

Here is a summary of what is in the safety packet. It doesn’t include everything, or I would have just posted Ellen’s article in full.

1. A summary of what is in the packet and how to use it.

2. A list of the kinds of evidence in the packet.

3. A list of what the abusers might do to kill or “disappear” you.

4. A list of the people who have been given the packet

5. Instructions to those people

6. A witnessed authorization to open the packet upon your death and instructions for distributing the information contained in it to law enforcement and the media.

7. Evidence, such as descriptions of the abuse, recent harassment, reports to law enforcement, and medical records. A list of the abusers, with names, descriptions, and locations of the abuses. A list of victims, alive or dead, and potential victims, with descriptions and photos.

8. A video recording of yourself answering these questions.

What individuals or groups of individuals do you believe want you dead?
Why would these parties want you dead?
Can anyone support or corroborate that these parties have harmed you?
What methods do you believe these parties use to murder or disappear people?
Do you believe there have been any previous attempts on your life? If so, describe the suspected assailants and methods used.
Are you suicidal?
Why do you want to live?
Under what circumstances would you ever suicide?
Do you abuse life-threatening substances?
Do you have lethal weapons or substances in your home?
Do you drive safely? What is your record of traffic accidents and violations?
Do you have any desire to flee your current home and support persons?

My guess is that some of you are feeling overwhelmed just reading a summary of what to include in the safety packet. I know I am.

I believe you can do it. I believe you can pick the least difficult thing to do and give it a try. Then, when you finish it, give yourself a hug and a reward and celebrate your achievement in your own special way. Rest a bit, and then find the second least difficult thing to do.

I think it would be worthwhile to distribute it before you have finished because the process will be very time-consuming. Looking back over the summary of the safety packet contents, I would choose 4, 5, 6, and 8 to include before distributing it.

But don’t let yourself forget that there is more to do. Remember that you followed your plan of doing progressively harder things, and you have achieved your goal. You have gotten stronger by taking small step after small step. And a huge leap by making the video! Just reading over what else there is to be done has desensitized you quite a bit.

Use the same approach of leaving the hardest things for last. For example, write down the names of your abusers and pick the one you are least afraid of. Then, start filling in the information, again, starting with the easiest item and working up. There is no harm in leaving a mark like ???? or an emoji by an item you may want to skip for now and return to later.

I’ll share what I tell myself when the perfectionistic part takes over. “It’s better to do a half-assed job than no job at all.”

I’m not kidding. It’s true.