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.