The antidote to the horror is always in the past for me too. As I work through trauma, it seems as though it involves working through two different strands of the past. There is the horror and then there is something more positive, and they’ve both been lost behind an amnesiac, dissociative wall and I need both of them.

The ritual abuse is just an especially confusing form of torture. At a conscious, adult level, I’m aware of this, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t leak into my developing sense of conscience, of right and wrong, and of the supernatural domains.

I have, in kind of the same box, the 2x2s, but they are no help with that. They reinforce some bits of the ritual abuse and contradict others, but they aren’t of real use.

However, the third thing in that box is Nata and the spiritual person I developed into when I was with her. And that is going to help. I need to remember that part.

I have in my mind the idea that she tried to teach me certain things, that I was a child and she thought I ought to know them. They were like tying your shoes or being able to feed yourself. Just life skills. But I don’t think that’s quite correct.

She was trying to protect me. For her, maybe especially when she was younger, faith had an element of magic to it. There was a portion of it that was closer to superstition. She gave me a cross to protect me. She wanted me to pray with her so that God would protect me. She wanted me to learn certain prayers so that I could call upon God to protect me when I needed to.

As I think about this, I get this very strong sense of fear—that she felt a real terror—every time we had to go out on the streets to be trafficked. Every time I got into a man’s car with him, every time I stepped behind a building with a man, she was terrified for me. She was trying to help me be brave, but she was terrified.

Would I come back? Would someone finally just kill me or kidnap me or injure me so badly I could not be saved? I was so small. I was five or six years old when this started. And I was never as street-smart as she was. I never had her judgment or her ability to survive. She would have worried because she loved me, but she had this other worry too, that I didn’t ever quite know how to take care of myself under those circumstances. She could never trust me to do that.

She worried when I went with a man and she worried when she had go with a man, because then she had no control over who I went with. She could not then say, “No, not this one. Wait…”

So a part of what she did was about that fear. There’s more to this memory. More pieces. But a part of what I have from it this morning is a very strong sense of her fear for me.