Archive for September, 2009

On my blog entry entitled Getting Triggered by Halloween Preparations, a reader posted the following comment:

I hate to repeat things too! What is that about.. do you think? I really really HATE it! Any insights appreciated. ~ Mia

I, too, have a difficult time with repetition. It took me a long time to be okay with saying things in unison at church, such as the Lord’s Prayer, because the repetition really bothered me. Heck, I cannot even stand to listen to the song Holly Jolly Christmas because it is so repetitive.

I think my problem is that chanting was used as part of the ritual abuse, so anything that reminds me of the chanting is triggering to me. Outright chanting, such as that used at the end of the song Whispers by Evanescence, can put me over the edge. However, even something that repeats a lot without out-and-out chanting, such as the song Kumbaya, really bothers me and always has.

I have been able to push through some of my aversion to repetition, such as speaking in unison in church. I now find that ritual to be comforting. However, I would rather jump off a bridge than listen to Holly Jolly Christmas, so I clearly have a long way to go.

Now, if I am the one creating the ritual, it makes me feel safe. For example, I always check my alarm clock exactly three times before I go to sleep, which is an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) thing. This ritual makes me feel safe and secure, knowing that I have set my alarm clock correctly and will not oversleep in the morning. However, I have little to no patience with rituals that others set up and impose upon me.

I chalk it all up to the ritual abuse. Does anyone else have any theories?

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Feeling Present

What does it mean to feel present? It is hard for me to define it, but it is amazing when I feel it. I still remember the first time I felt present. I was at a park watching my son play on the playground equipment. I felt at peace. The colors around me were vivid, and all felt right with the world. I felt like I had always watched my life from a distance, but, at this moment, I had been “beamed” into my life and was actually experiencing it. I had never felt anything quite like it.

That moment of presence did not last long, and I wasn’t quite sure what it had been once it was over. While it felt peaceful, peace was not really the word for it. It took experiencing it a few more times to get what was going on. It felt like I was finally putting my arms down after holding them up over my head for decades.

I have been thinking about presence a lot because I spent the day yesterday moving in and out of being present. It was amazing. The colors around me were vivid, and I noticed and appreciated things that typically would not even catch my attention. I felt like I was a part of this world, and the world around me was filled with so much beauty. The best way to describe this is feeling “zen.”

I do not yet know how to “make” myself feel present. I have some tools that help, but I cannot yet simply choose to “be present.” I have to silence my mind and not think about the past or future. It helps to focus upon what is around me and appreciate its beauty. These things help, but I still don’t have the ability to “be present” like turning a light switch on or off. Right now, I am just trying to enjoy the beauty of presence while it lasts.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Thank you for being so patient while I took a break last week. I was overwhelmed with many areas of my life, some of which I wrote about here. I am going to try to blog daily this week, but don’t be surprised if I need to ease back in. I try to write ahead, and I am writing this in real time.

On Friday, I did my monthly shopping trip to Target. I have a Target Visa that gives me 10% off one-day of shopping if I use my Target Visa enough, which is sooo not a problem. I always send my nephews a small Halloween present, so I went into the Halloween aisle to look for one. Mistake!

Seeing the black robes, etc., was triggering for me. I did not have a panic attack or anything, but I could feel the “tugging” on my brain in reaction as a part of myself sought to flee the triggers. We are just moving into the Halloween season, so I know I have an entire month of similar experiences ahead of me.

I have decided to try dressing up again this year. I have historically always dressed either as a little girl or a slut, and it took someone else to shed some light on why that was a problem. It seems so obvious now – that I associate ritual abuse with my being a “slutty” little girl – but I really did not see this until someone else pointed it out.

Two years ago, I decided to try dressing up again. (I had stopped ever since having that epiphany.) I was torn between being a spider witch (complete with a black robe) or an injured teen in a prom dress. I chose the spider witch and wound up getting very triggered in the costume – go figure. I decided that I clearly had not pulled myself out of being in the ritual abuse mindset at Halloween, so I did not dress up for Halloween last year.

This year, I am going for comedy, so we will see how this goes. I am going as Ugly Betty. I found a costume kit with the glasses, braces, and wig. I have put together some really tacky clothes, and I will wear sneakers (good for walking to trick or treat with my kid) with a skirt and really loud striped socks. I am hoping this will help me break the “slutty little girl” mold once and for all. We’ll see how it goes.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Needing Rest

Hi, everyone.

I am sorry to have posted such an intense blog entry like Ritual Abuse: Forced Cannibalism and Other Forms of Eating Flesh and then disappear, but I needed some rest. My job has kept me hopping for the last couple of weeks, and I simply needed a break today. I may or may not get something written for tomorrow. If not, I’ll start fresh on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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One form of child abuse that is rarely discussed is forced cannibalism and other forms of being forced to eat flesh. My experience with this was with my beloved dog, which I talked about here. That memory is one of my most traumatizing ones. It ties into my aversion to eating, or even smelling, seafood because I had eaten fish earlier that night and then vomited up the fish after being forced to eat the flesh of my dog. Seeing my dog slaughtered was bad enough – being forced to “eat” my dog was more than I could bear.

Some severely abused children were forced to eat human flesh. This is called “forced cannibalism.” I cannot even imagine the reaction of a child having to endure this level of trauma. Being forced to eat a dog’s flesh was bad enough!

I know that some people reading this blog entry will have a hard time wrapping their minds around this form of abuse. It is incredibly sadistic and extremely emotionally traumatizing. For these reasons, many people who have suffered from this form of child abuse are afraid to speak out. Many of those who suffered from forced cannibalism believe that they were the only ones and fear that nobody will believe them.

This blog is a safe place for those of you who suffered from forced cannibalism to be heard. I will believe you and support you. I know that this level of evil exists in the world.

If you suffered from forced cannibalism, you are not alone. You need not suffer in silence any longer. It is okay to talk about this. As with any other form of abuse, no abuse that you suffered could change the value of who you are. You are not responsible for eating flesh – that responsibility sits squarely on the shoulders of your abusers.

You are not alone.

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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Do you remember when I urged you to contact your congressmen to pass the Protect Our Children Act? Our efforts are already bearing fruit. I received the following email from the National Association to Protect Children, which is the organization that provided me with specific information about how to get that bill passed into law. To learn more about this wonderful organization, click here.

The call from the police officer came late at night. His voice cracking, and tears in his eyes, he said he had just carried a three year old girl out of her home in his arms. In handcuffs was her “father”… a monster who had committed unspeakable crimes.

He was calling to thank PROTECT for making that child rescue possible.

Now we’re thanking you.

New proof is rolling in from the U.S. Justice Department that PROTECT members get children protected…

Thanks to a major PROTECT victory last February in Congress, 124 very special jobs are being created across America right now. These jobs, being filled as this message is written, are dedicated solely to rescuing children from the horror of child pornographers and sexual predators.

That’s 124 new warriors… 124 new soldiers in the war to protect our children. Each will do his or her part to work thousands of new cases, bringing down an iron curtain between predatory pedophiles and tens of thousands of child victims.

We’ll be watching and reporting.

What will never be reported are the countless boys and girls who will be given a chance to flourish and grow up happy, free from abuse, because of you.

Without PROTECT members, these 124 new soldiers would simply not exist. The investigations would never get started. Arrests would never be made. Children would never be rescued. In a world full of “feel-good” talk about children, I thought you would want to know this concrete proof that your investment in PROTECT is paying off.

You did this, PROTECT members. And I’m so proud to be on your side.

–David Keith


Image credit: National Association to Protect Children

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On my blog entry entitled Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) Alter Parts: Understanding Sad Parts, a reader posted the following comment:

I keep having this huge need to just sob LOUD and long, and it’s accompanied by stinging behind my eyes like I’m about to cry, but I can’t do it. That doesn’t feel like “mine”, do you know what I mean? It feels like I’m faking it, like I’m doing something I don’t feel. It’s spontaneous and I’m trying to make it go away, actually! … I want to try to help that younger part; these waves need to go away. Is there anything I’m missing here? ~ Mamarosebud

A sad alter part is a part of you, but you split off the sadness because you couldn’t handle the sadness when you experienced it. You need to grieve, but it feels odd because it doesn’t feel like you, but it is you. Yes, I understand this because I have been there.

The first time I really let all of the tears spill out was a bizarre experience. I began sobbing, and I kept experiencing “loud thoughts” that I was just putting on a show and crying for attention. I felt shame for crying. However, I fought back, thinking, “There is nobody else here, so for whom am I putting on a show??”

I have had sad alter parts that desperately needed to weep, but I could not bring myself to access those tears. I had to keep coming back to that part of myself before I could release the pain. I could feel the weight or heaviness of the sadness, but I did not feel sad because that part felt so separate.

What worked for me was listening to a sad song and invite the alter part to come out and cry. It took several passes before I was successful. After I finally did reach that part, I sobbed and sobbed. It felt miserable in the moment but much, much better afterward.

The only way for the sadness to “go away” is for you to give the sadness a voice. You don’t have to experience the tears as “mine” yet. Just invite the sad part out to grieve, and comfort that part of yourself, even if it feels foreign to you. Fighting it is useless because it is just going to keep coming back and might even become more powerful. Instead, invite that part of yourself to grieve, and love that part through it.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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So, it turns out that I am not handling this latest crap from my mother as well as I hoped. I received her letter on Saturday, and I was truly dying laughing at the absurdity of the whole thing. I slept fitfully that night. On Sunday, I felt waves of anxiety on and off, but it was nothing that I couldn’t handle.

However, Sunday night was really bad. I took some Tussionex to help me sleep better, and it did not work. I was awake every hour on the hour – really annoying. I woke up feeling like I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I was very cranky and irritable, snapping at everyone around me. I wanted to scream and cry.

I called my sister and asked for advice on what to do. I just wanted to tell my mother/abuser to back the f@#$ off, but I feared how that would affect my sister, who still has her in her life. My sister graduates from college in December, and I will cross paths with my mother at that graduation, so I don’t understand why she cannot just back off and wait to make her case then. My sister said that this is an easy semester, and I should just do what I need to do.

My therapist had previously recommended writing her a letter stating that, due to my abuse as a child, it was unsafe for me or my family to be in a relationship with her and not to contact me again. That would open a whole can of worms, getting into the abuse and stuff. I just want her to (1) die; or (2) leave me the h@#$ alone.

I talked to a friend later that morning and told her that I just want to tell my mother to back the f@#$ off. She said that is exactly what I should tell her … so I did. I wrote only five words on an index card and mailed it to her:

Back the F#$% off!! – Faith

That letter went out on Monday. I have been binge eating and feeling like s@#$ ever since, but I did at least sleep well on Monday night. I am writing this on Tuesday night (you will read about her letter in the morning), and I am in so much pain. I have been so triggered all day, having had other annoying things happen in addition to this today. I am so triggered that I am having trouble focusing. I have taken Xanax, drunk wine, and have binged on a ton of food. My stomach is killing me. I don’t feel any better.

I am so friggin’ angry that my mother still has this power over me. I don’t want to have to carve out two hours of my day plus work out childcare and pay over $100 to see my therapist. I don’t want to gain all of my weight back. It makes me so d@#$ angry that my mother still has this level of power over me. I just want her to die and burn in hell and leave me the h#$% alone. Is that really too much to ask?

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I received a hysterically funny letter from my mother/abuser. If you are not up to date on the letter drama with my mother/abuser, read this blog entry beginning with the links at the top.

Since I wrote that blog entry, my mother did write me another letter a couple of weeks ago to tell me of some health issues she was having. I briefly considered responding, decided to ponder whether to contact her, and promptly forgot about it. Then, I received the following letter, which had me in stitches laughing.

Before I share the letter, I probably need to share that my father died suddenly from a heart attack when he was 43 years old. Also, the letter does cover some religious topics, but the usage is so “out there” that it probably will not be triggering. However, I will slap up a trigger warning just in case.

********** possible religious triggers **********

Dearest Faith,

I’m concerned. Your sister told me that you have been concerned that as you get closer to the age Dad died, you think that you will also. Don’t let Satan lie to you, for God has a long life for you to fulfill.

I realize that you have seen death come to those that you loved. I’m sorry that you had to deal with that hurt. But don’t let this fear of death enter into your mind. And don’t push me away thinking that by doing this, you would be saving my life. My father God has promised me another husband and long life.

Last night I had my cell group at church pray that God would remove this fear of death at age 42 from your thinking. Faith, you are a Christian. You read your Bible, you teach or have taught a Bible study. Trust Jesus. After all, He made only one of you. He gave you, your personality, your looks because he loves you and, has accepted you as His child. You are unique. He has also promised you long life.

So no matter how you treat me, I will continue to write letters and at times, phone you. Maybe one day I will show up on your doorstep. I will continue to pray and do everything I can to keep you from pushing me away.

I love you, Faith. I have and always will. I love you unconditionally. That means I love, accept, and like you, just the way you are. After all God gave you to me, when you were born. You are my daughter and I will treasure you always.

I love you,


Clearly this woman is on another planet. I called my sister and asked WTF?? She has no idea where this is coming from. I left the punctuation errors in the letter on purpose, but this is a very well-written letter for her, so I suspect someone else has put this idea in her head. I am probably the person least afraid of death on the planet. I also find it humorous that she cannot even remember the age her own husband was when he died.

You should be proud of me for laughing hysterically instead of freaking out about the threats to start the letter campaign and possibly show up at my house. As a friend said, she is clearly on another planet, and MapQuest isn’t going to get her this far. At the moment, I am ready to tell her to f#$% off if she has the audacity to call my house. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow, but right now I am dying laughing at the absurdity of this letter.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled Finding a Therapist if you have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a reader posted the following comment (I added asterisks to any reference to G*d to help anyone who is triggered by religion):

I did want to say something in regards to Christian therapist, they are not all the same. I see a Christian clinical psychologist who’s priority is to keep me safe and trusting him at all times. He has a masters in theology and knows there is no place for blaming the wounded. G*d does not operate that way. When I am in his office I am taught the reality of a loving G*d who hates what happened to me and never blames me for any part of it. Instead He looks upon me with an endless love that is more than willing to heal me. There is no blame, shame or guilt put upon me for my feelings or whatever they may be. These sessions that are combined with my doctors skill and his spiritual reliance on the power of G*d to heal the brokenhearted, broken in spirit, broken bodies has helped me in so many ways. Sadly, I now see all to clearly how lacking the church is in actually being what Chr*st has called her to be-a place where all can belong and be safe. ~ Sarah

I am sure that there are exceptions to the rule, as Sarah describes, but I stand by my advice that someone who has suffered from child abuse needs to seek out a professional psychologist for therapy and not rely solely on a Christian counselor without a degree in psychology.

The reason for this is that child abuse survivors have suffered from some very serious trauma, and we need therapists who know what they are doing to help guide us through the healing process. Licensed psychologists have been educated about the cause and aftereffects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other related disorders, including dissociative identity disorder (DID). Someone with a divinity degree does not have this kind of training.

If I was diagnosed with cancer, I might meet with my pastor and pray, but I would also seek out an oncologist because I want a specialist in the area of my illness. The same holds true for healing from child abuse. I am happy to receive additional support from clergy (and did when I was healing), but I am going to rely most heavily on the person who has the training and experience in guiding child abuse survivors through the healing process.

I have heard some terrible stories of Christian counselors whose well-meaning but woefully incompetent guidance only made things worse. My sister’s Christian counselor told her to write her “sins” on a piece of paper (her abuse was considered a “sin”) and then burn it. Just as the paper burned, God was removing her “sins” from her soul. When this one activity did not cure my sister’s PTSD, the counselor then told her that she had “Satan on her shoulder.” What a crock of $#%&!

I know people with DID who had Christian counselors tell them that their alter parts were “demons.” Because these people could not “exorcise the demons,” they assumed that their alter parts were condemning them to hell. Again, what a crock of $#%&!

I am a highly educated and intelligent person, and I have even healed from child abuse, but I do not presume to have the tools that a licensed and educated psychologist does. I can offer advice from my personal experience on my blog, but I would not meet with one of you weekly and “play therapist” because I am not qualified to do so. I think it is irresponsible for people who have not been trained as a therapist to presume that they can heal someone’s PTSD just because they have a divinity degree or have taken a couple of night classes on counseling. Guiding someone through healing from child abuse is a much more serious endeavor than premarital counseling.

If you are seeking a therapist, I strongly urge you to find one with the education and experience to help you heal. If you can find one who is also in a Christian practice, that’s great, but don’t assume that the word “counselor” slapped on a door makes the person qualified to help you heal.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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