Content Warning: This essay contains graphic depictions of group rape, violence, and torture, as well as descriptions of child loss, shame, and specific programming practices.
I have been in a continuous state of suffering since my inception. While it may be difficult for some people to believe that this is possible—and while there may be members of my system who are designed to interrupt the truth with internal arguments about how and why what I say is not true—it is true.
Today I feel prompted to share one of the ways I have been kept in continuous internal torment, although I will not be able to share it in full detail, because my system’s abuse, torture, suffering, enslavement, and programming are all so interconnected that any full description of one program would become an entire autobiography of myself, my ancestors, and my children.
So, today, the event that prompted the instantaneous and painful internal retelling of my whole life story, was a need to clean my kitchen.
I had been avoiding it, and noticing that I was avoiding it. A mentor of mine told me that it is okay for the step of noticing to be the first step, and even the only step I am able to take, for however long I need to be at that step. This guidance brought such relief that I also want to share it with you.
In general, I had been noticing that if my kitchen is clean, I can stay organized enough to keep it clean each day, until “one day.”
“One day,” after a while of being able to cook and clean without too much apparent suffering, I appear to “forget” to clean something, or I am overcome with a sudden wave of “fatigue” or “laziness.” The need to avoid ten seconds’ worth of cleaning becomes stronger than the need to maintain the experience of a clean kitchen counter in my home. At that moment I can notice that something about this avoidance need feels extreme, but I usually only have the strength to make a decision and then move on.
If I am unable to clean for ten seconds that day, then this begins a cascade, in which every day, a little bit more of a mess gets left behind. Then, as the amount of time needed to clean my kitchen grows larger, I burrow more deeply into the pain of disability.
Then, guess what happens. A person in my system emerges who has obsessive-compulsive disorder. She cannot tolerate messes or disorganization.
And unfortunately, this is a person who is bound and restrained on a table (in my internal world) by white handkerchiefs, so she cannot clean a thing. Her internal state of restraint takes over my system’s corresponding executive functioning. Consciously, we feel tormented, unable to clean, unable to tolerate the mess, unable to move forward, unable to explore the “why” of our feelings or behaviors, and amnesic to their origins. We become ashamed of our seeming lack of self-responsibility, and lack of cleanliness, which then reinforces a lifetime’s worth of built-up shame—shame that prevents us from flourishing, and keeps us from living a life that we love to live.
The White Handkerchiefs
I am the one on the table. Hello.
The white handkerchiefs contain the tears of my young babies, and their tears contain the memories of what was done to them when I was twelve years old. And my hands cannot yet touch these memories, so despite the fact that most handkerchiefs are weaker than leather straps or metal chains, the memories in the tears in the cloth in my mind make it impossible for me to move.
I cannot clean, and I feel tormented by the mess.
If I have enough strength, and if I have enough external support, I can lie down and face my inner table, and face my inner self lying on it.
I can be myself again, at age twelve, and rest in my memory for as long as I need to. I can rest in the spot where they left me, and gave me no time to get away, before yanking another personality out to replace me, and leaving me abandoned, alone, stuck, and—worst of all—left with no memory for the fate of my children. My memory cuts off before the moment when I witnessed my abusers’ choice of what to do with my babies. Not knowing if they lived or if they died, definitely knowing that they cried, I have been lying there on that table alone, in this position, for almost twenty years.
I am programmed to neglect to clean my home (programming makes me feel like cleaning is painful), and to suffer when my home is messy. Therefore, I am constantly suffering.
I think deep down my system has the capacity to keep a clean home in a routine, daily way. In fact, I know we have this ability. But we can’t do it right now, because we dared to free ourselves.
In general, I am programmed to turn on myself, should I ever seek independence from my indoctrination and enslavement. But how could I not try to escape from people who intentionally tried to make me into someone who mindlessly hurts myself and hurts everyone else?
At least this way, maybe there can be some end to someone’s enslavement. At least I can give myself enough space and time in which to try to free myself. I say that because there are so many others whom I wish I could go back for. I always write for everyone, and I always write for them, and I write this paragraph while energetically holding them. The enslaved.
Underneath me there is a lot of shame.
You have read about my friend who cannot clean because she cannot move, and who cannot move because she is tied down by mournful memories that would crack our skull if not treated carefully.
Well, I am someone else. But I am also unable to clean. I cannot clean because I cannot move, and I cannot move because I cannot tolerate the feeling of how dirty I am. I am too dirty to clean. When I move around and clean, I feel my dirtiness moving around within me. The cleaner I make my outsides, the dirtier I feel in my insides.
Sometimes abusers hide things underneath. Here is what lies underneath a floorboard in my brain labeled “Housecleaning.”
I see myself as a small child, with adults’ bodily fluids coming out of me, lying on the edge of a bed with sheets disheveled from a group orgy. I can’t even see the orgy. I am witnessing the aftermath. I feel surprised that I am being allowed to lie there, and I wonder why. I do not usually receive any time to rest or recuperate.
A part of me feels frozen, and I think the abusers are using a part of me who can come out and freeze this experience, to keep me in it for longer, absorbing all of the pain and shock, and the afterward of unsoothed loneliness and stinging wounds.
I can try to look even more deeply underneath, to see what I can find. It is sad that they have tried to hide my memories from me.
When I try to look underneath again, I see men and women raping and hurting me. At first this is all I see, and my body feels thrown around by them, like an ocean storm would batter driftwood.
I feel choked, invaded, sad, surprised at myself for feeling sad, parentless, aimless, and tired. I feel profound discomfort in how much I am being penetrated by adults who know me well enough to enter me in body and in mind.
As I keep looking, another layer of the memory shows up. The men and women are holding cleaning supplies. I see adults spraying me with cleaning spray, brushing my teeth with a sponge, tickling my abdomen with a feather duster, and sticking a toilet brush up my backside. Someone is hammering a nail into my shoulder. The amount of exhaustion I feel is causing my internal defenses to fall, and allowing these memories to embed themselves more deeply. I suddenly see cockroaches crawling on me. A man must have released them from the little plastic container I notice rolling away on the floor.
I am beginning to feel remarkably neutral about everything that is happening, as though time is slowing down. Another part of me is afraid of the roaches, because they are pre-programmed to represent confident or capable fragments of me who are enslaved inside my internal world. The men and women are reacting to the bugs as though they are shocked and aghast at them and at me, and they spray me with harsh liquid to kill the bugs, which makes me believe that the corresponding parts within me have been destroyed.
They scrub my arm up to my neck. The person who scrubs my arm makes a pre-programmed motion around my neck that makes me feel as though I am wearing a noose, holding a bouquet, and in love with him with all my heart. This is a strange time to be feeling devotion.
Another part of me feels a metal cleaning brush being used inside my mouth. It goes in deeply and I gag. This entire time, these adults have been saying mean things to me, calling me names, calling me dirty, reminding me of terrible things I have done (that they made me do), and telling me they are scrubbing me for my own good, but that I will never be clean enough, and no one else will ever love me, or will try to scrub me this way, as lovingly as they are scrubbing me.
Hearing the word “lovingly” suddenly evokes a stored memory of being given false love, which confuses my perception of their abuse. (I could only feel the emotions from the memory at the time of their release. In recovery, I later found that these stemmed from memories of being held, rocked, stroked, swaddled, drugged, and comforted by abusers, which is the closest thing to a loving memory that my system has ever been given.)
Someone is vacuuming the rug while this is happening, seemingly oblivious to the other adults tormenting me. He has made me feel as though my pain is invisible and worthless. The vacuum is loud and the sound hurts me, but I cannot cover my ears because I am already rocking and swaying on all fours, trying to keep upright. They have injected something in me to make me experience sounds even more extremely and more painfully than I would naturally have done.
I begin to look straight ahead, and to make the humming sound of the vacuum. My heart starts to pound. This is when they know I am going away, and a new person is forming within my mind.
I continue to feel all that they are doing to me, yet I also feel like I am holding someone’s hand, someone who is now swaying in the ocean with me, and I am about to lose her—or maybe she is about to lose me.
Our hands break hold, and one of us is washed away.
The next thing I know, I wake up in the middle of a grassy meadow. I am naked and alone, my ears are ringing, and I have never seen this place before.
I am in a precious spot in our internal world. Because it is always the present day in our internal safe place, I can feel that decades have gone by.
I feel stripped and bare, because my memories are in fragments behind me. But as I recall where I have been, and what has been done to me, the story I have told you begins to come together. I begin to feel more whole, and I timidly ask for clothing. A friend appears and brings me some. He is a little boy whom I have forgotten, but I sense that once, long ago, we were the same.
In writing about my life, I have joined some of my memories together, and others are still lost. This is what it means to be polyfragmented. I think I am polyfragmentedfragmentedfragmented. I think I am alive.
I think I am real, but I have been through so much that I am afraid to go through any more.
Cleaning is hard, and it can be hard for lots of people in lots of ways. I used to think that I just “couldn’t get it together” enough to organize my life. This was horribly diminishing, but ironically correct. I couldn’t get my memory fragments together enough, until now, until being given (and giving myself) enough recovery time and a safe enough place to live. And patience.
Cleaning can also be painful if it points out fundamental problems on a larger scale, on an external scale. Cleaning that produces garbage is unnatural (and is an effect of this industrialized planet’s captivity), just as my memory of “being cleaned to produce the feeling of dirtiness” is unnatural.
Usually, when an activity is hard for me, it is because I have been tortured within its context before. This is one of many, many examples of torture-based mind control to produce internal captivity. I would wish other survivors to know this, so that they do not blame themselves for their struggles to survive. I am learning to blame my abusers. It is challenging, because they told me not to blame them.
And they hid their actions from me in my own internal world. And they made me forget. But I don’t actually have to remember, in order to be kind to myself. I can try to be kind to myself anyway. It is hard for me because I haven’t received kindness before. (Even if others in my system have received some kindness, it does not usually transfer over to others inside the system.)
So if you know a survivor of enslavement, I hope you will hold their hand when they are ready to feel their hand held. It might help them to be able to grab the hands of the parts of themselves whom they lost, in their massive traumas, and in their massive escapes.
If you are a survivor of enslavement, then I hope someone will hold your hand, and I hope you won’t have to do it all by yourself. It’s not that I don’t believe in you or I don’t believe that you can do it. It’s just that I’m realizing we did not deserve to get treated so badly, or to be left hurting and all alone.
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