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Posts Tagged ‘Ritual Abuse’

Victory (c) Microsoft

Victory (c) Microsoft

I recovered my Achilles’ heel – the final piece to the puzzle that explains my freak out whenever I see a splinter, my aversion to silence, and my need to use the bathroom immediately before bed, even if I just went five minutes before. With the recovery of this memory, I have fully reclaimed myself – Hallelujah!

***** trigger warning *****

I have already written about the first three parts of this memory. Part 1 is about being buried alive, and Part 2 is about being buried alive with my sister’s “corpse.” Part 3 was about being forced to “kill” my sister, which happened immediately before being put into the box. What I recovered this morning is Part 4.

To weave it all together, I was told that it was time for my sister to die and that I had to be the one to kill her. My entire life was about doing all sorts of vile things to keep her safe. Her death was not an option.

They put something (a rag??) in my hands and told me to smother her with it. I touched her face as lightly as I could, but she “died,” anyhow. My guess is that the rag had ether or equivalent on it to knock her out. They told me that she was dead.

Next I was brought to the “burial site” by the large box I have already described. They made a dramatic entrance with my sister’s limp body in someone’s arms. They placed her into the box and then said that because I was a “bad girl” and killed my sister, I would be buried with her. They made me get into the box and then buried us.

Whether or not I was ever actually buried is another story. That box was HUGE, and I seriously doubt they dug a hole that deep. However, I **believed** that we were buried, which is what is relevant to processing the trauma.

I was frightened but resigned to die. My reason for living was lying “dead” beside me, so I was ready to die as well. I shut down. Then, after a period of time, my sister “came back to life.” The air in the box was already warm, and I feared that my sister might suffocate, so I tried to break out of the box. I always obeyed the rule not to show emotion, but I gave it all I had. I screamed, hit, and clawed the box, desperately trying to get out. That’s how I got the splinters, which were a tangible reminder later that this event really happened, which is why they were always so triggering to me.

Once my sister was fully awake, she joined in trying to escape from the box. No matter how hard we tried or how loudly we screamed, we were trapped, and the more we screamed and moved around, the hotter it got in the box. This is why my sister freaks out unless she has air flowing onto her at all times. She keeps a fan everywhere she goes.

We eventually gave up after a long period of time, and then it was completely silent except for the sounds of our breathing. That’s why silence freaks me out – I always have to have white noise going in the background. We laid there a very long time, so long that I lost control of my bladder – hence the need to use the bathroom immediately before bed every night.

The wait went on and on and on and on and on. I have no concept of time in my memory, but it felt like hours. We were eventually released from the box into the cold night, and somebody gave me a blanket. The kindness of the blanket after the cruelty of the box messed with my head even more.

So, that’s the end of the “old me” story. I am relieved to have finally reclaimed this part of myself so I can heal it.

I sobbed heavily after “reliving” this memory this morning. I played Contemporary Christian music the entire time and couldn’t even get out a “help” in prayer because I was so distraught. I felt God all around me, telling me that this didn’t break me because He wouldn’t let it.

I have nothing left to fear. All of the traumatic memories have been recovered, and I survived! I survived the abuse, and I survived the memories. I know that I have a “fun” couple of weeks ahead of me as I process the emotions, but I WON! I won the war against my abusers and within myself. It might take me a while to recover from this last battle, but the war is won. I am a new creation, and my past no longer has power over me. Praise God!

Photo credit: Microsoft

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I have been very triggered for the past couple of days, and I think I have finally figured out why. Without going into the details, I read someone’s story about an online abuser purposely triggering someone’s minor alter parts with dissociative identity disorder (DID) to exploit them. This has triggered me about my own experiences (in person, not online).

I have written about my experiences before, which you can read here. I guess I still have more to process about those incidents.

At the time I recovered those memories (I believe it was back-to-back but not at the same time), I was horrified that I had lost time as an adult. It was one thing to recognize that I had memory holes as a child, but as an adult? That was particularly disturbing.

I think reading someone else’s somewhat similar story has triggered me because I have another layer of horror to process – the awareness that I was a walking victim until I integrated my host personality and stopped losing time. Until that happened, I was vulnerable to anyone with knowledge of ritual abuse. I haven’t recovered specifically what trigger word or action the guy at the party used to call out and exploit one of my minor alter parts, but I do know that this person knew about an emotional “button” I had installed in my head that I was completely unaware of. That’s disturbing on so many levels.

A part of me fears how many other times someone “pressed the button” and exploited me as an adult. Another part knows that whether it never happened again or happened 100 more times, I am still **me**, and I am OK. No matter what anyone else did to me and no matter what age I was, I am still the same person today and still have the same value. So, I don’t think that is what is specifically triggering me.

I don’t know. I had very disturbing dreams the first night and took enough Xanax last night to be sure I slept soundly enough not to dream. I have that floaty feeling in my face and a headache, which is what I used to get when different internal parts were triggered. I had a very tough time getting through work yesterday, and I took today off to rest, but I am still feeling off. I want to cry, and my head is killing me.

I know I will be OK, and I am relieved to know that through integration, I have taken back my power so someone cannot just “press my button” and exploit me today. However, the idea that I was that vulnerable for 35 years of my life is really triggering me right now.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I have shared many times that Isurvive, a message board for child abuse survivors, helped get me through healing from child abuse. I have not been active on the site for several years – pretty much since I started the blog. I only have so many hours in the day to spend online, and the blog took up too much time for me to stay active over there.

While I was still active, I pushed for a separate forum for ritual abuse survivors. I wasn’t really sure where to post memories of being buried alive, etc. Ritual abuse is its own animal and does not really fit into any other category of abuse. The board owner at that time came up with the label of “ritualized abuse” because she wanted to encompass not only cult abuse but also systematic abuse by one abuser … and the Ritualized Abuse forum was born.

I have also shared that I continue to be active with Isurvive behind the scenes. I learned through the grapevine that several members were posting over there (some who also read my blog) but that there wasn’t anyone posting who was farther along in healing. While Isurvive has great directors and moderators, my understanding is that none of them experienced ritual abuse. (My apologies if I am wrong about this.)

So, I have decided to become active again in the Ritualized Abuse forum only. I am hoping to add the perspective of someone farther along in healing so those who are posting there can have hope of surviving the healing process. Also, I want the members to know that at least one person (1) can handle reading about the dark stuff; and (2) has been there (maybe not with the exact form of abuse but in the ballpark). I hope that my experience, both in childhood and in healing, will bring an added level of hope and healing over there.

I am announcing this here in case my active involvement in that forum will make participating in that forum more appealing to any of my readers. It’s tough to open up and talk about ritual abuse in a forum filled with strangers. Perhaps having a friendly face over there will make this easier.

If you do decide to post over there and you also post comments on my blog, please let me know the cross-reference name (unless you prefer to keep this private). That way, I’ll know that the two of you are the same person.

Image credit: Isurvive.org

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This week, I have been talking about the need to remember enough of the trauma to “let go.” I have also been sharing some personal examples of how this process has worked for me. You can catch up here and here.

I don’t want anyone to think that there is something “wrong” with them if they don’t experience the same results that I did in “letting go” of my most traumatizing memory in about three weeks’ time. Healing is not a race or a competition.

I don’t think it is possible to “let go” of trauma in three weeks without a significant amount of practice and experience in working through trauma. When I first started on my healing journey, I recovered memories of the mother-daughter sexual abuse. My “breakthrough crisis” lasted for six weeks – every single minute of six weeks. I then got a four-hour reprieve where I realized there was actually life after this horrifying experience. When the four hours ended, I was right back where I was before – drowning in emotional pain – but this time I had the **hope** of a future that was not consumed by pain.

My therapist assured me that the healing process would move me toward shorter difficult periods (from six weeks to hours or days) and that the easier periods would grow longer (from four hours to weeks or even months!). Of course, I had a hard time believing this in the moment, but it gave me hope.

Healing from child abuse is a process of remembering what happened and finding a way to accept it as part of who you are. The way you get from A to B is going to vary from person to person. For me, yoga and meditation were a huge part of this process. For Michael, yoga is just about the last thing he would do, but art has been very helpful. Art is not my thing (unless you classify writing as “art”), so many of the tools he shares are not tools that I have used. However, we are both moving from A to B one trauma at a time.

The more experience I have in healing from trauma, the better prepared I am to navigate through new memories. My new memories seem to be surfacing about once every six months now, and I am growing more confident in my ability to work through them. If I could just “let it go” without having to remember, I would. That hasn’t been my experience. I need remember enough to heal, and I cannot “let go” until I remember and process.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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In my last blog entry, I answered the question of how a person can “let go” of a traumatic memory that he or she does not remember. I said that you can’t. “Letting go” of a traumatizing memory before processing it is simply denial. The trauma will continue to plague you until you process it. I then shared me experience with healing from mother-daughter sexual abuse – I didn’t have to remember every abusive experience to heal.

Now I would like to focus on healing from the ritual abuse. I recovered my first inkling of there being any ritual abuse with a flash of my soul/spirit being high in the treetops looking down at a bonfire (out-of-body-type memory). Since that first flash, I have recovered quite a few horrific trauma memories of the ritual abuse.

I believe I have needed to process more specific ritual abuse memories than I did of mother-daughter sexual abuse because the ritual abuse memories had significant differences that I needed to heal. With the mother-daughter sexual abuse, it was mostly the same thing over and over again, so I only needed to remember a handful of memories to heal. However, the ritual abuse varied, traumatizing me in different ways. I have had to process specific traumas that are different from one another, at least different enough that I need to work through them one at a time versus in a blanket way.

I started working through the healing process (having flashbacks, seeing a therapist, reading self-help books, etc.) in 2003, and I started working through the ritual abuse traumas in 2005. Even though I did a lot of trauma work and experienced a significant amount of healing, I was still extremely triggered by Christmas because of the memories I just worked through this past Christmas, which I blogged about here:

I could not “piggy-back” that trauma with the other ritual abuse memories despite the fact that I have done an enormous amount of work processing traumas from ritual abuse. I had to remember what happened before I could “let it go.”

I haven’t yet shared what an amazing transformation has taken place inside of me from letting go. For the first time ever, I decided not to “do” anything with those memories. Other that writing about them on the blog, I did not analyze them. I did not sit around thinking about them. I didn’t do exercises to work through my emotions. Instead, I chose to “be” with whatever I felt without judgment or action.

For about three weeks, I was probably clinically depressed. I withdrew from everyone in my life to the extent I could. I didn’t return phone calls or get together with friends. I just went about my day feeling sad. I tried to visualize allowing the pain to pour out of me with nothing to interfere with the process – no distractions, no advice, no trying to make it better, etc.

After about three weeks, I miraculously felt better – I mean really, really better. I found myself sometimes singing Christmas carols and appreciating the beauty of Christmas lights at night. I stopped feeling the urge to wear my “Bah Humbug” shirts. By remembering what happened and “letting go” of the emotions, I found freedom from the emotional bondage.

More tomorrow…

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Dark Skies*** trigger warning ***

I wrote about the first part of the memory here . The next part of the story is truly ghastly.

The hooded figures placed my sister’s “dead” body into a large box. Both my sister and I have always remembered this box. S&L, my most sadistic abusers, gave my parents the box for us to use as a toy chest, and the box always freaked both of us out. (Now I know why.)

The box was HUGE! We could fit two chairs inside of it along with a ton of toys. It was made out of plywood, and it had a lid that was attached with hinges on the back. On the front was a latch screwed in tightly that my parents never thought to remove. They just told us not to climb into the box because, if the lid closed accidentally, we could be locked in if the latched caught.

The hooded figures placed my sister’s “dead” body into the box and then told me to climb inside with her. Obviously, since my sister is alive today, she was not “dead,” but I did not know this. I was just a little kid – younger than my son is now – and I was forced to get into a box with my dead sister that I had just been forced to kill.

The hooded figures closed the lid and latched it, leaving me in the dark. Then, they buried me alive with my dead sister.

From the adult perspective, I seriously doubt they buried us. This was a HUGE plywood box with two children inside, so it would have been heavy, and they would have had to dig a huge (and I mean HUGE) hole in order to bury it. This happened during the daytime, so they probably threw a tarp or blanket over it to make it dark inside and then scooped a few piles of dirt on it to make me think I was underground. I was an extremely traumatized little kid, so I wasn’t exactly thinking through the details.

They left me in the dark for a long time. There was no air circulation, although the plywood was not flush, so I wasn’t at risk for suffocating.

When you are enclosed in a tight place with no airflow for a while, it gets hot. You also hear every single noise – the sound of every breath and every movement. To this day, I must have some sort of background noise going – music, a white noise machine, a fan … SOMETHING!I get triggered by complete silence.

I shared a free-writing exercise I did several years ago. I think this memory is the “box” part, but I still don’t know what the “thrice” is unless it is the triple betrayal of daddy, bonfire, and box. LS = little sister. I have excerpted just the parts pertaining to the box:

*** trigger warning ***

Box. Thrice. Box. Thrice.

Box. Children in a box. Box locked up. Children suffocating. Children die. Children. Box. Box. Box.

Box dark cold scared

Fit in box children fit in box both fit in both latch lock latch lock locked in suffocating hot no air no air hot musty scared locked in box locked in box locked can’t get out with LS

Locked inside hurt scared want to die want to get away want to die die die die die die die die

Hate grownups hate all hate people hate life want to die die die die die die die

Kill me kill kill kill die die die die bang head bang head bang head stop stop stop stop stop want to die die die die die

Kill me die die die die die

Hate box hate daddy hate box hate bonfire hate hate hate hate hate

Hurt LS why hurt LS why why why why why

Why hurt LS why hurt in box why

Hurt me hurt me hurt me hurt me hurt me

Hurt hurt hurt hurt hate hate hate hate hate hate bang head bang head bang head want to die die die die die die

Kill die kill die die kill die die die die die

Why why why

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Woods (c) Lynda BernhardtI have been working on recovering a memory for a while, and I finally got enough of it to blog about. I am still reeling from it (writing this the morning after), so I am just going to write the memory. I haven’t had time to process it yet.

A few nights ago, I “saw” myself standing in the woods. It was this time of year – most of the leaves had fallen from the trees, but the leaves on the ground were still fairly fresh. It was during the daytime, and I saw the people in black hooded robes walking toward me. They were scattered, coming from different directions as if none of them were together and just randomly happened to be walking toward me in the woods. I rarely have memories of the ritual abuse happening during the day, which was disconcerting.

That’s as far as I got the other night. Then, last night (I am writing this on Monday morning), my head started hurting really badly like it does when I have a memory coming. I saw that one hooded figure was carrying a body – a limp body with the hair hanging down toward the ground. The body wasn’t held in a loving way like when you cradle a hurt child. It was held out to be dramatic – “Look! See! This child is dead.”

I tried to absorb seeing a “dead” body when the next wave of the flashback came – that body was of my baby sister. At this point, I experienced internal conflict. The adult me knows that my sister is alive today, but the child me believed her baby sister was dead. I had to reconcile the internal conflict by validating the horror of seeing my sister dead while, at the same time, reassuring myself that she is alive today.

Then, the next wave came – They were carrying her to me because I had “killed” her. That piece is just in flashes with the adult me filling in the blanks. They forced me to smother her with something (a rag?? a pillow??) laced with chloroform or equivalent. I was very gentle because I didn’t want to smother her, but the substance knocked her out, and I believed she was dead from me smothering her.

Then, back to the woods … They were carrying her body there for me to bury. I couldn’t handle any more and shut it down. I tossed and turned for hours, unable to sleep. I am exhausted this morning, and my head really hurts.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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