What We Call Ourselves

Here are two pages about my personal feelings about Christmas:
https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/christmas-plans/ (The images disappeared — I don’t know why.)
https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/ephemeral-equilibrium-another-christmas/
This page is about the source of winter holiday customs. I wrote about Yule and the winter solstice but a great deal applies to Christmas, too. https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/

For many, many years, we had no name. We did not know what had happened to us, or even what was still happening. How could we have a name if we didn’t have any idea of what was going on? Its like somebody in the middle ages got sick. They could say, “I am sick” but they couldn’t say, “I have a bacterial infection” because nobody knew bacteria even existed.

At the end of the twentieth century, we discovered what was making us feel awful – ritual abuse. For the first time we had words to talk about it and we could name ourselves as “survivors of ritual abuse.”

There is a great deal of power in a name. In many cultures, it is believed that if a person knows your real name they have control over you and you must do whatever they want. This certainly resonates for many ritual abuse and mind control survivors. As long as an alter believes this, it is true. But if they stop believing it and decide it is a lie, a perpetrator may call their name until the cows come home and that alter does not respond. (Except internally, where they might giggle at their disobedience or give an internal finger.)

For us, having a name took the power away from the perpetrators and gave it back to us. This was a process, of course, it didn’t happen overnight. But when we connected to other survivors, we saw that we belonged and we could take courage from every step each person took away from their abusers. We were a community. A community with a name.

I don’t know exactly when survivors started calling themselves “ritual abuse survivors” and “mind control survivors.” The earliest citation I could find was in “Michele Remembers” (1980) where Pazder called it “ritualized abuse.” I do know that it was already in our culture in the mid to late eighties when we started to speak out and identify ourselves as survivors.

Today, the words we use are “ritual abuse,” “ritualized abuse,” “Satanic ritual abuse,” and “mind control.” “Mind control” has evolved from ”mind control experimentation.” In the early days, it was, “Let’s see what we can do with torture, drugs, planned dissociation, and hypnotism.” Then, when the perpetrators  knew what they were doing, it was no longer experimentation.

Memories often surface in this order: physical/emotional abuse, sexual abuse, ritual abuse, and finally government/military mind control. In the eighties, therefore, it seemed that almost all survivors had been subjected “only” to ritual abuse, simply because many people had not yet remembered government/military mind control. Now, an awful lot of us belong in both those categories.

The names we use to describe ourselves, both among ourselves and when speaking to outsiders, hasn’t changed much in the past thirty five-years.

I was used in mind control experimentation and child pornography and I sometimes speak of myself as a survivor of government/academic mind control experimentation or child pornography. My primary identity, however, is that of a ritual abuse survivor. Similarly, I have friends whose primary identity is mind control survivor although they may also have suffered ritual abuse, prostitution, etc. What we call ourselves is our name; that’s who we are, that’s our identity.

Often, it is not the group itself that chooses a name, but doctors or psychologists or other professionals. Look at autism, for example. First there was no name, because nobody had thought to study this particular subset of neuro-psychological conditions. The term was first used by Eugen Bleuler in 1911 to refer to a set of symptoms of schizophrenia. At about the same time, Hans Asperger identified a similar condition among people who did not appear to be schizophrenic. In the ’60’s, doctors began to see autism as a condition completely separate from schizophrenia.

Slowly, Asperger’s came to represent people with high-functioning autism. Now the medical profession refers to “Autism Spectrum Disorder.”  The people with either autism or Asperger’s had no say in choosing any of these names. I wonder what they would have come up with if they had been able to conceptualize themselves as a group and named themselves, rather than leaving it to professionals. My guess is that if they had chosen their own name, it would have stuck for half a century. They, too, would have been a community with a name, with an identity.

I think many of us get very upset when somebody who is not a survivor tries to give us a different name. I know I do. It feels like an attempt to strip me of my identity, and I do not appreciate it. Can you imagine being spoken of as a person with “Abuse Spectrum Disorder?”

Soon, I plan to write about how different names can help us explain our experiences to those who have not been there and how they can help us join with other groups of survivors and increase our collective strength as we fight for recognition, resources, influence, and justice. We could do this freely in order to take advantage of the social implications of the changed name(s), while still retaining our identity as ritual abuse and/or mind control survivors. So stay tuned!

Loneliness

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.

When You Lose Weight, Where Does It Go?

Recently, I have been thinking about where my weight goes when I lose it. Now of course I know that fat weighs something, and that fat gets metabolized when I need extra energy, and therefore my weight drops. Quite scientific.

But that’s not what I mean. I think the little fat cells leave my body and go someplace else. Right now I think they have gone on vacation, probably to Palm Springs. I have never been to  Palm Springs, and would like to. Would I run into them on the street? Would we recognize each other?

I don’t often mention this to people, but if anybody would understand and not think I was bananas, it would be you guys. So now you know. Please don’t reject me, at least not for this fantasy.

I lose other things, too, in mysterious ways. What happens to the fingerprints on the doors when I look right at them? The door I see looks freshly painted; the real door has accumulated months and months of fingerprints.

This vision problem explains why I can look right at my glasses five or six times and not see them. Or lose a chair in my not-so-big apartment.

My current theory is that the fingerprints haven’t moved. There is something wrong with my eyes, something which comes and goes and which doesn’t show up during the few minutes each year I am at the ophthalmologist. I have Googled for intermittent problems with vision and found nothing to explain this. I should give it a name and write an article about it so that the next person searching for this condition won’t be as frustrated as I am.

There’s an opposite phenomenon, too. Things arrive from some unknown place and land in my apartment. Sometimes they stay, sometimes they leave. The more I care about them, the more apt they are to take off. A tape of Cory Hammond’s Greenbaum speech, bought right after the conference before it was made unavailable, comes and goes quite regularly. I always put it in a safe place, and it never stays there.

Recently two identical black long-sleeved t-shirts arrived in my bureau drawer. I don’t remember ever seeing them. Shoulder pads which had been cut out, so they were definitely vintage. I like them, but I would not cry if they disappeared, which means they will be around for a long time. Not complaining!

I used to be careful to ask everybody who had visited if they had left a sweater or socks or a hat. Nobody ever said yes, so I figured I could enjoy them. They would know they were appreciated and feel that their journey had been worthwhile.

Now I am sure that some of you are giggling and thinking that multiples often put something away or hide it and then switch and have no idea where it is. Or one alter buys clothes and nobody else knows where they came from. To the best of my knowledge that doesn’t happen to me because I believe that my system is organized differently. Could be. Nothing ever shows up on my charge card, but I frequent thrift shops a lot.

I don’t rule out anything in this crazy life, especially with dissociation. So far, all the evidence I have suggests that I have a poor memory, as do many people who aren’t dissociated. But I am ready to accept any new external facts that I find or internal insights that offers a different explanation. Keeps life interesting, doesn’t it?