There are many beings who are me, who experience a life inside of our one particular body, one particular mind—albeit a shattered mind—one particular life being lived, one particular collection of cells held together by the energy of our particular soul.
So often in the past, there has been fear, anger, and violence directed at me. Being human, unable to fully leave this body, nearly everything about me had to twist, to accommodate my external life. For almost three decades, both body and mind were in a constant state of reconfiguration, flux, movement, bracing, running, pushing, saving, gasping for breath. Adapting and changing to best meet our external circumstances, which were brutal. They were oppressive. They were violent. They were paradoxical, being both highly organized and deeply out-of-control. While paradox can at times feel neutral, and at other times feel holy, survivors of organized abuse carry the collective spiritual dissertation on wicked paradox.
The life I lived was designed to be so controlled, and so controlling of me, that as my initial self-states were being developed in the earliest years of my life, nearly all spontaneity and space for creativity were removed from my environment. Later, I was thrust into spontaneity, and in order to complete what was being asked of me, I was expected to be both obedient and independent. Both automatic and creative.
I have been to many cities, and my first view of each of these cities came from a large computer screen, when I was a toddler sitting and shivering in a gray network classroom, where the exceedingly low temperatures offered the least striking contribution to the cold atmosphere.
The desks were metal, and I can remember running my feet against the metal bar that wrapped around the desk’s four legs. I cannot remember why I was not wearing shoes. It was a punishment. But the events that happened right before and after this moment in my memory are blurred enough to suggest that they were either particularly important, or profoundly violent, or both.
The network center in which I lived was run by fully psychopathic adults, who wore uniforms. In this center, when English was spoken, a significant proportion of the vocabulary was defined differently to me than it is defined in the society in which I now live, and from which I now write about my past. The concepts of mother, father, and family were not defined to me. Instead, my perception of the adults around me was largely centered around the fact that they were in control, and that they were much larger than I was and could force my submission.
This network center had many classrooms, and I knew which classrooms were designated as containers for dynamism, and which classrooms were not. Having no physical contact with any other beings (other than the adults’ violence toward me), and hardly any eye contact, I felt most connected to my coursework, and my pulse. I knew that as long as I had a pulse, I existed, in the personality and body in which I was experiencing myself.
The experience of being young, of being a newly formed human being, evokes curiosity. But I was not allowed to befriend my own natural curiosity. I was tested, and adult men then told me what my mind was interested in learning. The fact that I was a human being, with free will, was in a continuous state of external rejection. Even though this was my constant and only experience, which allowed me no frame of reference for what non-slavery feels like, I could feel that something was wrong. I could feel that the actions of others were hurting me, dimming my capacity to exist, trampling my spirit, like someone rolling back and forth over my body in a wooden car. Somehow, beyond words and definitions, I knew that a crime was being committed against who I really am.
In essence, I was removed from the greater world, before I was even born, and then I was taught about this world at great length, from great distance.
Eventually, I was deployed into this world. The shock of human spontaneity at first caused me to faint, and to convulse on the sidewalk of a European city. Because this occurred in public, my owner, who had been walking with me, had to attend to me, and was socially compelled to feign kindness and concern.
I was trained and programmed further, which was done through torture and conditioning, and the fainting was addressed. Then, heavy nosebleeds began.
The more they plugged up the holes in me, and got me standing upright, the more disconnected I became from my own humanity, and my ability to experience it or to show it.
Try as they might, they cannot make a person into a robot, and then back into a person again.
I was designed to be so carefully programmed that I could handle all circumstances I was placed into, and yet expected to be so creative that I could handle all circumstances I was placed into.
The result of being split and maneuvered so deeply and dangerously, for so many years, is a constant state of internal conflict. The people who live in my internal world do not mean each other any harm, but because of our extreme and incredibly diverse backgrounds, we are constantly bumping into each other. There is so much discord, because we have been trained to be so many different things for our abusers and owners, and to operate in so many different ways. Now that we are experiencing free will choice, all of the possibilities inside are trying to express themselves from their own unique starting locations. We collide internally all the time, even though we mean well.
We are fortunate to live in an internal system that treats our own self-hatred as gently as possible. We regularly send all parts of our system compassion, love, space, and unconditional understanding, even if there is still amnesia for what many parts of the system have been through.
Externally, however, we feel incredibly affected by our circumstances, our community, our greater society, and the overall atmosphere in which we experience living.
Having been a baby who was the property of a violent network, I was constantly at the mercy of the most violent impulses, thoughts, and actions of the criminals who raised me. Now, though my life is very different, I have become acutely sensitive to the ways in which I am constantly affected by the choices and actions of others. So much continues to happen to me that is painful, bringing up a lifetime of pain held inside. It hurts me to experience others’ judgment and projection. It hurts me to experience betrayal. It hurts when I genuinely express to my neighbors that their loud music causes me pain and suffering, and then they proceed to turn the volume back up once I have left and some time has passed. Lately, it seems to hurt the most when I have told people that their actions hurt me, and they continue to take those actions anyway, no longer ignorant of their effects.
I have realized that stopping harmful actions can be difficult for people, if they have been hurt and their perpetrators have never been stopped, and their suffering has never been acknowledged. In order to stop harming others, they have to acknowledge that they were harmed, and this might require them to acknowledge that their primary caregivers betrayed them, neglected them, or did not always have their best interests at heart or in mind. Maybe, in certain circumstances, some people feel that they cannot afford to acknowledge this betrayal. Maybe they fear that acknowledging it will destroy them, or destroy their lives. But then, in a misguided attempt to protect themselves from the pain that already exists inside of them, and to protect their false images of their perpetrators or caregivers, their own lack of internal recognition and acknowledgment emanates outward, and affects others. And this is one way in which mistreatment spreads, and remains.
As a system, it is frightening to us that even in recovery, the external world can still hurt us. Our internal world was designed to hurt us as well, via extensive sophisticated programming. But because we are now in recovery, and we recognize that we are this internal world’s sole inhabitants, we realize that we are now free to extend care to each other, to recreate our internal world according to our true nature. There are trees, grass, flowers, mountains, lakes, and houses. There are safe schools, swing sets, playgrounds, and animals who are never mistreated or used. We live and play in this world, and we appear as children and adults, boys and girls, and sometimes other types of beings.
There are special cabins where we can go if we need to release anger, or receive counseling, or be alone and rest.
There is a waterfall that contains healing water, a water that is made up of all of the love we have ever experienced, in this lifetime and beyond, and that holds truth and peace. It is a healing water that can only get stronger, and can remove pain in the gentlest ways possible.
We allow a constant stream of healing water to run through us, reminding us of who we truly are, and giving us permission to be our true selves. We wish for all survivors in recovery to be able to extend this love and this permission to themselves.
Internally, we noticed that sometimes, some of us did not want to step into this healing water. We knew that it would convert us into our true selves, and we were afraid that our true selves were monsters, or abusers. In recovery, we have found many abuser introjects, most if not all of whom were intentionally created during programming. So far, every single one of these beings who has been brave enough to come forward, and to step through the healing water, has turned into a small, innocent child.
Internally, we are starting to realize that we are not, and were not, a monster. And this belief has been surprisingly painful to let go of. Letting go of this belief frees us into a world that is so large and vast, and full of so much new possibility, that we are not sure if our heart can handle it. Our heart was only ever designed to handle pain.
In recovery, the internal world we have created gives us nurture, and gives us refuge. So many of our needs do not get sufficiently met in the external world. These include the need for justice, the need for contact comfort, the need for nourishment, the need for stability, the need for intellectual stimulation, the need for socialization, and the deep need for true connection with others. We are seeking all of these things, but so far, we have experienced them to be elusive.
We believe that part of this difficulty stems from our programming, which causes our pursuits of our needs and wants to hurt us, at each step of the way. For example, when I try to research and connect to some of the intellectual subject matter that was taught to me in network school (subject matter that I loved), my head fills with so much pressure that I cannot proceed. Unfortunately, my education was fully contingent on my slavery, and my abusers had sophisticated ways of splitting and isolating the parts of me that hold various types of knowledge and skill. When I try to approach these places in my mind, I see that they are blocked by heavy walls of complex pain and suffering. My internal world is working hard to heal what has been done to us, but at this stage of our recovery, part of the healing has been in accepting how strong the programming is, and acknowledging that because it was created out of “us” (our own psyche), it is probably about as strong as we are. But not quite. What makes it weaker than us is the nature of its foundation, which is deception. We are a being who loves the truth. Because this abuser-built foundation sits right above our soul, it cannot help but slowly weaken over time, due to its constant contact with our true nature.
Another part of our challenge in getting our needs met seems to stem from the way in which trauma is handled in society. We have noticed that if people have not looked at their own traumas, if we approach them with ours, they will be unable to support us. It seems as though this muscle can only be built through the deep internal work of self-recovery. Because we allow so much space for our own suffering, we easily recognize the suffering in others, and when we can, we do our best to offer compassion. There has been so much trauma on the planet, individually, in groups, and on larger scales. There continues to be a bewilderingly cruel amount of deception coming from the people who have chosen to claim power over the land and living beings, the people who claim to govern various parts of the planet, some of whose cruelty I have personally experienced. Their deception is traumatizing. The amount of control and power that they have carefully gathered is nauseating.
Now that the parts of our system who grew up exclusively in a remote, institutional setting are awake, and are observing the external world without preconceptions, we have noticed just how profoundly people’s actions affect other people, and we have been alarmed at how little awareness of this exists. This cause and effect seems to be a foundational aspect of the way in which this world works, but many people are cut off from their empathy. We observe that people have been so hurt by certain actions once taken against them, that they no longer recognize the effects of those very actions on others. We feel that there are so many people in the world who have not had enough empathy extended toward them. They have locked their pain away, but their eyes and hearts are also locked behind those internal doors. As a result of their lack of motion toward recovery, others continue to be hurt and traumatized, including new beings entering this planet, such as baby animals (both humans and other animals) and plants.
There is another unmet need on my system’s list, that I did not type out earlier. I heard a voice inside of me say, the need for love, but I hesitated to type that out without understanding what it is that my own mind means by that.
I was taught that I do not need love to survive; I need only to do what I am told. I was born directly out of the needs of others, and I was not treated with any care or consideration, so I have great sensitivity to the experience of lack of empathy, understanding, compassion, and acceptance. I have great sensitivity to the experience of not being witnessed. I have a difficult time watching others not make time and space for their own feelings, thoughts, wounds, and inner children. While I make space for my own, I sometimes struggle to do it with the gentleness of a true mother.
Because of my past, I know that it is possible to become a mother, while still being a child. I became a mother at eleven. I became a grandmother in my early twenties. Even while physically still a child, I instinctively knew what it meant to love someone as an adult, to extend mature love to someone. I often felt like I was a child and an adult at the same time.
Today, as I walked around familiar city streets, I walk these streets as a freed person. But this same pavement was also part of a worldwide “track” from which I was trafficked and enslaved. Some of the streets that I now walk in the daytime are streets that I remember running down in the middle of the night, sometimes with a baby in my arms.
Walking in the daytime, I have the space to observe other people who also inhabit this city, who also walk the streets with relative freedom. What I witness is other adults who are also children. I witness other people who are of an adult age, and who have adult responsibilities, but who still have many young places inside, and who are trying to do their best.
I witness many limitations in people that stem from trauma, including the traumatizing society in which we live. Some of the ignorance that I witness can feel terrifying to me. Many parts of my system are very surprised to hear that people vote for leaders whose deception and inappropriate action has been documented. We feel that once ignorance can no longer be claimed, action must be taken. Because we were constantly forced into action, both in slavery and in rebellion, we have a difficult time recognizing that sometimes, people simply don’t know what to do.
Sometimes we observe people harming each other, other times we observe people ignoring each other. At best, we observe adults (often mixed with inner children), trying to help each other. It is healing for us when we can observe kindness and love. It helps us learn to better cultivate love in our internal world, and in our external world.
I know that I have a need for love; sometimes it is difficult to acknowledge, because as a child I did not have a dependable source of love.
I hope the people of the world can start to hold hands, and see the impact we all have on each other. This is what my system does, internally, to help break our internal programming. Even though we are so different, and the world that the abusers built inside of us was so dark and cruel, and required constant internal punishment, betrayal, and pain, we have been dismantling that world, and building a new one of our own. The more we build a world that is bright and loving, the more we gradually trust in ourselves, and trust in our true benevolent nature.
We hope that our external world will start to change too, and that more of the cruelty on this planet will start to lift. We hope that people will start to realize that they deserve a better world, even if it means acknowledging that their caregivers did not provide them with one. We hope that people realize that they are capable, and that we can cooperate with this earth to create an atmosphere where there is enough for all, where love can be allowed out of its cages, and where there is peace.
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