Easter Blues

There is some information on the background of Easter at “The Spring Equinox” — https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/

On a good day, I don’t much like to write. This is because I once had a job as a technical writer, and the engineers who had to sign off on my work were impossible. They didn’t think it was important, so they tossed it on their desks and ignored it. I had to nag them mercilessly. Finally, they would glance through it and hand it back. I dealt with that by putting ridiculous things in several places to catch their attention. It caught their attention but also annoyed them no end. They got back at me by criticizing my choice of words, my every comma. That sure took all the joy out of doing a good job.

Now the days before Easter are not good days. The Internal Committee of Annoyed Engineers is joined by a large group of cult people telling me not to talk, not to write, not to let anybody know what went on. Their threats drown out the relatively reasonable voices of the engineers. I have, therefore, written nothing for this blog entry until the last minute. (Oh, and then I forgot to post it!) I wish I had gotten it over with a week ago, but I didn’t.

To add to my misery, I did something to my back and it hurts when I stand, walk, or lie down. I’m confined to the chair in front of the computer; my writer’s block is therefore always right in front of me. Plus, I have cabin fever and am quite grumpy.

I haven’t forgotten, though, that it used to be much, much worse. I remember the endless nightmares, the body memories, the terrible images that flashed in front of my eyes at random times. I remember being afraid of everybody and everything and feeling suicidal day and night. I thought “This will be my life from now on, and I do not think I can bear it one more minute.”

I was wrong; that wasn’t my life, it was “just a phase” of my life. If somebody had told me that, it would have taken a lot of self-control not to scream at them that they didn’t know what they were talking about and they were cruel to tell me such a blatant lie. When you are in so much pain, a second expands into eternity and the idea of possible change disappears. But slowly, the pain abates and things shift and you wake up one day and realize that things are different.

I am grateful for the changes — grateful that I am not suicidal, grateful that I am not flooded with flashbacks, and grateful that the things that are bothering me are minor annoyances. It’s normal to have writer’s block and a bad back and I know that and welcome the peace that has come to replace the agony.

I hope all of you had an easier time of these hard days than you did in the beginning and that next year it will be still a little easier.

Perfectionism and Procrastination — Two Sides of the Coin

These two traits go hand-in-hand for me.  It has to be perfect. But I am afraid it won’t be perfect. So I stall. If I never start, I can’t say I tried my hardest and it still wasn’t very good. I can pretend that once I get started I will whiz through it and it will turn out . . . perfect.

Unfortunately, I don’t quite believe this. If I had only taken pre-med courses, I would have gotten straights A’s, been admitted to the top medical schools, once again gotten straight A’s, and by now would be beloved by thousands of grateful patients and adoring students, right? I sorta doubt it. And I know for sure it’s not true that if I hadn’t dropped piano lessons after three weeks I would now be a famous concert pianist. I dropped them for a sensible reason: I couldn’t tell which note was higher than another. Glenn Gould didn’t have to overcome that handicap, but I did, and more besides, like little sense of rhythm and uncoordinated fingers.

So even though I know better, I continue to procrastinate because, “I don’t know how to do it.” “I might make a mistake.” “It’s so hard, and I will feel stupid.” And then I feel stupid and defective for procrastinating. That’s a lose-lose situation.

I have a running to-do list. Every day (or two or three) I check off “do the dishes.” And the next day I add “do the dishes.” Every week I check off “water plants on Sunday” and immediately add it back to the list.

You would think I’d feel like I never get anything done, but it is so much fun to check off items that I actually feel quite accomplished. As a matter of fact, I’m tempted to list doing the dishes this way:
Then I would get seven things done instead of just one.

Oh, what sophisticated tricks I play with myself!

In an attempt to tackle this problem in a more serious way, I thought up two little mottos and put them at the beginning of the list. I used a large fancy type face and green for one motto and purple for the other. I never check off my mottos, as they are guidelines, not tasks. I don’t want to tell myself, “Well, I did that today, so it is done, and I don’t have to do it again tomorrow.”

Better to do a half-assed job than not to do it at all
Better now than later

This means that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be better than nothing at all. And if something is better than nothing, I can wash one dish, and it will be better than washing none. Under these circumstances, it is hard to fail miserably.

But maybe I can figure out a way to follow the guidelines and still fail . . . if I just try hard enough.


I’m writing about something I don’t have a lot of personal experience with. I’d like to have balance in my life, but I don’t feel I do as a rule. Sometimes for short periods of time I seem to achieve balance, and it feels real good — so good that I’d like to have it all the time.

I think that many ritual abuse survivors tend to have big swings. We go overboard in one direction and then overboard in the opposite direction. For some of us the swings are rapid, for others it may take years to switch positions.

It’s how we were raised, after all. We had to shift between everyday life and cult life over and over. We were expected to adapt seamlessly to radically different situations and to function competently in each environment. We learned well, or we wouldn’t be here today.

I find it easier to understand huge shifts in belief and behavior in people who are multiple than in people who don’t have discrete alters. One alter may be vegetarian, another may be interested only in meat and potatoes. One alter may be highly sexual, another totally asexual.

It makes sense to me that behavior would change drastically depending on which alter was out. With non-multiples, it feels sort of like a conversion or a relapse experience. You’ll hear people say things like, “I used to eat meat, but then I saw how immoral it was, and now I can’t stand the thought.” Or “I was doing so good. I didn’t have an affair for months and months, but now I’m back to one night stands.”

In either case, the swings are due to ambivalence — we either are drawn to or repelled by things that remind us of our abuse. The attraction to elements of the abuse is often an attempt to “tell the story” or to bring a memory into consciousness. It doesn’t mean that we, in our essential selves, are like the abusers. We aren’t.

I often struggle with procrastination, which is a huge barrier to achieving balance in life. I realized that, today, I am certain that I am not being hurt at any particular moment. But I still have little faith that if I go and do something else I will remain safe. My anxiety is so high that it’s easier to sit in one chair all day than to psych myself up enough to move. It’s better now that

I understand this because I don’t have to spend energy any longer scolding myself for being lazy. I’m not lazy; I’m terrified because I was tortured as a child.

Another barrier to balance is the false belief that I am only worth something if I am being useful to others. Of course it’s great to be helpful to others, but I know that unless I take good care of myself, I will wear myself out and stop being effective. I know this in theory, but my instinct is to put myself last. I need to remind myself that I am worth as much as every other human being on earth — no more, no less.

I need to remember that I count and that I am safe today, and that anxiety won’t kill me. Then I can cook and do my laundry, work on my website, visit the grandkids, go swimming, spend time in nature. The transitions may be creaky, but I can have balance in my life after all.