It was not a good evening.
First of all, our principal called a staff meeting after last period—it was to take place during the time when we hold clubs. The students were to run their clubs on their own. The meeting ran until 5:30. It must have started at four.
Our principal’s English is noticeable inferior to the last principal’s. It’s not so much that he makes more mistakes, but he is just less comfortable speaking it. So the meeting was almost entirely in in the National Language, and my ability to sustain the effort it takes to try to decipher it, or even to decipher the one word translations my colleagues often offer when I ask them, doesn’t last until 5:30. I understood something—there was a Powerpoint presentation in English—but everything that was a specific instruction to us about how the plan he was presenting to us was to work in our school was in the National Language, and after 5 pm I couldn’t even summon the energy to try.
So I came home completely exhausted and unable to approach anything coming up from the parts effectively. Mainly I just observed.
I know that what is surfacing now is this other “marriage,” which was of course not a marriage, but violent, ritualized sexual abuse. There is at least that in my head as a framework.
It’s not the same as the separation anxiety. It’s not the same as the profound grief that has been the focus of the trauma in my mind for the last three months. It’s completely different, and I don’t really know how to help myself with it.
There are some general themes that came to light over the course of the evening and some specific little bits, and hopefully these things will start to help me cope with the memories that are going to surface.
The first idea is that it seems to me what is surfacing is not a single memory, but an entire set of them. They aren’t clearly differentiated as different events in my mind. It is as though they are all the same event running continuously, without any break.
This is probably how I experienced it. I was ritually abused, the part(s) that deal with ritual abuse surfaced for it, the abuse ended temporarily and the part(s) went away again until the next time it happened. So, for that piece of me, it probably feels that it doesn’t end, that life is nothing but the endless torture of extreme and bizarre abuse.
That is one element of the memories: there is no normal life in between. And so for one part of me or perhaps several parts of me there is just really no hope. This is all life is. I am not sure where the memories are coming from, but I suspect they come from Hannah. Ruthie is getting them, but I don’t think they are her memories. I think they are leaking in from somewhere else.
I don’t know what to do about that, except to understand that this isn’t about individual memories. It’s not a neat and tidy set of events in my mind. It’s more like an endless loop with slight changes in parts of the loop. So, at the beginning of working through them, it doesn’t make sense to try to understand them as individual events. It doesn’t make sense to try to think about what happened in that way. It makes more sense to deal with elements that were common to many of the specific events.
The first element that seems to be common to all of them is intense confusion. The confusion itself is devastating. That alone feels like torture. Ruthie wants to break her head. She has this idea that it will work if she smashes it on something. The memories put her in such a state that she cannot even remember her own name. I am pretty sure I know who she is, but she doesn’t know. She is just too confused to be sure of anything. And it feels awful. It is torture.
I don’t know what helps with confusion, but that is what I have to find out. That is the first layer to deal with.
The specific detail that surfaced is that a key element of the rituals was that I was restrained. There were restraints on my hands and feet, and this was totally terrifying to me, both because it signaled the horrors that lay ahead for me and because there is something about restraints that makes you feel utterly powerless. And powerlessness is the second overwhelming emotion that’s common to the ritual abuse. So I need to address that specifically. I need the parts to be present enough to see that there are no longer any restraints, that no one is going to allow this to happen again, not ever.
And then, of course, there is my adult reaction to this. There is my horror now, in the present, that my father did this to me when I was still learning the alphabet, when I had no idea how to even tie my shoes, when I was in diapers.