healing, relationships and support
when i log into my facebook account, etc. i often feel afraid and anxious. i think that that i am going to receive hurtful and hateful messages. this is an old thought pattern that originates from when my parents, family and “friends” regularly told me that i was awful, that no one could love me, or like me.
i started writing the first part of this essay on healing after reading a tweet and feeling triggered. as i said above, i usually find using twitter, the telephone, etc. to be hard, emotionally speaking. and so, when i read this tweet, i took it personally, as if this total stranger had written a malicious 140 character attack on me and was sharing it with thousands of other strangers, the evil fuck. there was a part of me that knew it was impossible that this person who i don’t know and who doesn’t know me had written a tweet about me and was really targeting me with the intent of talking mad shit about me! crazy! but that’s basically what i thought and felt at the time. seriously.
i spent the next half hour, maybe up to an hour, feeling harassed, hurt and resentful, arguing with myself, listening angrily to music on youtube, and contemplating how best to effectuate my revenge. hehehe. really, though. i really sort of did – returning, in a way, to all those hours, days, weeks and years of imagining and fantasizing and plotting and planning how i would get my abusers for good and finally be free. i hope this gives you some idea of how even the simplest activities can become serious challenges for people who have experienced abuse and torture.
it is important, i think, to note the emotional process i was engaging in. when i was feeling deeply upset about this tweet, i wasn’t really relating with the actual 140 character phrase that had been written. i was, rather, relating to the hurts and traumas that were done to me in my past, and i was confusing these feelings about the abuse and my abusers with a phrase that is basically irrelevant to me and my life.
what i did then, after that half an hour or hour of feeling triggered, was to sit down and start writing down my feelings. i was soon feeling calmer, and i was able to understand that this nasty, horrible tweet was not, in fact, an attack, and that it wasn’t really horrible and nasty, either. a short time later i started to cry as i revisited the feeling of being hurt and abandoned by the people who were most supposed to care for and love me: my parents and family.
as my head and my heart cleared and were cleansed, i decided to write about the feelings of abandonment that had been surfacing regularly for the last year or more. these feelings of abandonment are both old, triggered feelings from my childhood and my past, as well as feelings based in my present reality where i am less connected to my friends and community than i would like. so i decided to write about my healing process and how i feel hurt and sad about the lack of the kind of support from my friends that i wanted and asked for.
honestly, i understand that people have been supportive to the extent that they are able. the people i know in the radical activist community are good, kind, decent people. despite this, i have not gotten the level of support that i want and deserve.
the question that has surfaced for me over the last year is, “why, as i heal and become a better, healthier, more loving and compassionate man, am i more distanced from most of my friends?”
my life has changed in a number of ways in the last 3 years, and i can think of several incidents and factors that have shaped where i’m at now: drying out, time off from political organizing, increased emotional turmoil in my community in 2013 and 2014, being attacked by co-organizers, one destructive facebook conflict and being attacked over facebook, and time spent healing.
maybe it was naïve of me to think that i could really heal and transform my life without simultaneously transforming my relationships and how i relate to the people and community that i knew. indeed, after some thought, i can only say that it was – if i was going to change in every way, how could my relationships not also change? to believe that they would remain the same in the midst of such profound changes is irrational.
healthy relationships are 50/50 – each person has to meet the other half-way. healthy relationships are conditional and rely on people getting from and giving to each other what they want and ask for, equally, and the more explicit both, or all, people involved in a relationship can be about what they want, the better.
the conclusion that i reach, then, is that my relationships with others were not healthy. not surprising, really, given that my relationship with myself wasn’t at all healthy. i am most emphatically not pointing any fingers – the quality of my relationships with others reflects more on myself than on anyone else. i am the person most responsible for the quality of my relationships.
i want to add that love can and does exist regardless of whether there is any relationship between people. love exists without conditions. loving human beings for being human, for their humanity and our shared humanity, is not about who they are and what they do, but a recognition that we are all sacred, blessed, beautiful and precious simply for breathing and being alive.
i won’t try and answer my question now. i’ll leave it open ended. i can’t really answer it well, as it involves other people, their lives and their psychological motivations, and i simply don’t know enough to say what their reasons are.
it makes me sad, though, and i would like to be close with more people, both friends I have known for years, and new people.
healing feels good, though. healing feels good. healing feels good. my life is literally better than it has ever been. my life is good, and will only get better. i am a better, happier man, and i am a more effective organizer. and now i’m writing, too, one of my childhood dreams.
finally, some practical actions you could do to support me, and to support other survivors:
– follow my blog, like it and share it on FB and with friends! seriously! this blog is really important to me. it helps me raise awareness and speak out about ritual abuse, combat feeling silenced and isolated, helps a new writer with valuable insights to contribute get their voice heard and might even result in me getting paid some cash money to do some writing one of these days!
– message me, call me, ask me to hang out. make plans with me. if you don’t have time to hang out, message me and let me know that you care about me and value our friendship.
– if i disappear, check in on me – i might not be doing well and i could benefit from a visit, or a message.
– educate yourself about ritual abuse, childhood abuse and sexual violence. learn how to listen attentively to survivors when they talk about their experiences, and to provide support in the ways that they ask and that you are capable of doing.
– ask me to talk about ritual abuse at an event. ask me to talk about being poor, being disabled, and going through the criminal injustice system. help me organize to end ritual abuse.
– take good care of yourself and pay loving attention to yourself, your hurts and your joys. find an experienced healer who you trust and ask them to help you heal.
– if you have a conflict with me, talk with me about it face to face, find a skilled mediator and invite me to a mediated discussion. if you have a conflict with someone, talk with them in person and/or find a skilled mediator to facilitate conflict resolution.
– contact me and ask me any questions and tell me your thoughts about ritual abuse and anything else that i write. contacting me in this context is one where i would be delighted to talk and to respond to any questions.
my contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org