Author Archives: SunlightLives

Ease

Trigger Warning: This essay was written by a teenager in our system who was put through torture-based programming. It is an unedited, stream-of-consciousness style description of her trauma, which may be experienced as raw and provocative. This piece of writing was prompted by our previous essay, in which someone else in our system expressed being unable to remember any torture that utilized electric shock.

Pressure

There is nothing like ease in my heart, to start it beating one more time, after they rape me and drown me, or shock me and beat me, or string me through a parade of torturous programming—programming meant just for me, designed with my mind in theirs.

Captured. I am a caught bird.

Have you ever had to ask yourself whether it is worth it, to stretch out your wings from within a cage? What hurts most deeply? The muscles cramping? The reminder that the cage is built too small for you and that you cannot escape? Or the notion of the life worth living that is going on without you, in some parallel world where slavery cannot exist—where it slips through anybody’s fingers, like falling dust, or settling sand?

There is no room left for me here. I am settling down, deeper, deeper, into the dust of my existence. They have already blown my soul apart. What is left of me? Nothing? No—I see a shadow. A shadow that is me. That is not me but that is pointing to me—if I follow it.

You are a shadow in my mind, Earth. I have only ever known you from afar. I do not know you now. I do not know how to step on you. I only feel my feet hit something that I cannot understand. Again, again, again, step, step, step, like reading a sentence in a book over and over again because somehow my mind can’t hold its hand.

Who are you, death? Are you me? Am I death? Am I living? Am I worth living? Am I anything? Will anyone ever know me? Will they even find me under here? Under the basement? A room for which this language has no title, for it is not meant to exist. The room below the lowest room. The secret room. The programming room.

Electricity soars through me, as though the night sky all at once decided to devour me and leapt at lightspeed. I’m dazed and I’m hungry but I should not eat. Not now. Even taking in love would make me hurl. I have been upturned for too long.

Daisies surround me, and I sense that they are doing something stupid to me now. The programmers. They are singing a song about daisies. As a baby it was chaos; as a child it was confusing because it was nice and mean at the same time; as a teenager I simply wish I could role my eyes. But they’ve got those pried open.

Tingles form on my feet and that means they are starting again. The pain is so loud; or is it the electricity? Soon it turns into ants and the ants are not me anymore. They are eating up the pain. I am a field of daisies. I start to recede. They can pave over me now, do anything they want.

How terrible it is to be in this helmet, with this bite guard keeping me in tact while I get destroyed. How many feet above me do normal people tread the quiet night, under the flickering city lights?

I wish I were them. I wish I were dead. I wish I were not me. But I can’t be. Too many people depend on me. So throw me into a field of daisies if you want—I’ve got family. I’ve got children who need care and nappies, and I’ve got elders who aren’t allowed to tell me that they are on my side. Hey programmers, I’ve got hope. What’ve you got?

Stillness

It’s over. I can walk again. Every step trains me to retreat from my past as I move forward into the sunrise of this new day. I am new again. But I feel old. I feel fragile. But soon I won’t remember. I will look at myself in the mirror and wonder why I am so tired, so depressed, so lonely, so hurt, but with no bruises, no marks to show for it.

School is exhausting because I have to work hard to keep my brain from working. Only certain parts are allowed out at school. God forbid we remember how smart we are.

School is exhausting because the history books teach the wrong lessons, and the science books leave so much out, and the literature pokes fun at me from within my mind (Charles Dickens was used in my programming). I like being outdoors and I like not being attached to any machines. What do you like?

Darkness

There is a place in my heart where I cannot yet remember the eyes in me who saw the murders, who felt the rapes, who got sold over the rickety table, who got beaten with a vengeance. There is only darkness there. Maybe for now this is as it should be.

But there is a spring in me, a spring who would like to tell you what it knows, what it remembers, what it feels, and maybe one day it will. Or will this life end before every single circuit in this brain can have its chance to heal? What is the furthest I can count before I die?

Life

I am alive now, as you can see. I write to you now. I made it. I survived. Maybe you did too. I work really hard at learning to rest, to take in goodness, and to stop working hard. I am learning to be happy. I wish that Happiness had been one of the classes I was forced to take in school, but it wasn’t.

What does it mean to feel happy? Why am I allowed to be this? To feel this? Who am I? After so much electric shock to the brain, I don’t know. I don’t know much anymore. But what I feel to be true is that I used to know many things, and that my mind is mostly made up of hidden knowledge.

I am on a search for it, and I hope I can find it. And I hope you can find whatever you are looking for, too. I hope you have someone in your life who tells you that the things you most deeply dream of are valid, and that is okay to have your wants and needs. I hope you have someone who holds you in a safe way, and isn’t going to leave. I hope you are able to step out into the freedom. Don’t get caught in a programming room like me. Whatever you do, don’t give your ability to think to someone else.

Ease

I really like ease. I can’t say I’m surprised to find this out, and yet I didn’t know it until just recently. My life never gave me a chance to experience ease.

But I do like ease. I want more of it. I wish I didn’t have to work so hard to have ease, and that almost feels like a paradox.

But I know it’s not. I know it can be done. Ease has been found on this planet before, even by survivors of the extremes of life. If it can be found once, it can be found again. I think the place to look for it is in nothing that hurts, or something that matters. That’s where I’ll begin.




Copyright © 2020 SunlightLives All Rights Reserved

Rest

Vacation

I hope you can tell me what rest is. I still do not know.

But what I do know is that I have experienced love.

I have experienced time spent lying on a bed, listening to raindrops beat the roof of a home in which no one beats me.

I have placed my feet into the ocean in rubber boots, and my toes did not get cold or wet, and no part of me drowned.

I have been hugged by a friend who was not holding a knife. And neither of us were murdered for this.

I have cried and burrowed my head into a soft couch, and suddenly felt a kind hand on my back to ease the pain.


I have sat in a car and asked every question that has hibernated in the dreams behind my eyelids, and I have had my questions met with friendship.

I have worn sunglasses in the sun, and a raincoat in the rain. I have walked through the woods in the daytime, and slept at night.

Survivors who read this will understand that I have experienced the world the right way, not backward, as it was in my life growing up.

When I was a child, I did not get to sleep at night. Terrible things happened in the dark woods. The animals stayed away.

Children were asked to take care of adults. Vacations were veils for human trafficking. I was even taught to write backward, in a way that could be read in a mirror’s reflection. I was taught that up was down and down was up, but that I was wrong, no matter what.

But recently, I was treated well by someone. And some of the time I was right, while at other times I was mistaken or clumsy. But my friend’s regard of me did not change.

This is some of what I have experienced, and some of what I have come to learn, while on a vacation. My first, ever, vacation.

Not long ago, I wrote about having never been on a vacation, and about my longing to go on a safe trip where I am not packed away in a suitcase, or forced to attend to anybody in any way, or forced to lie, or to steal, or to destroy, or to kill. All of these actions do not belong on a trip, or in a life, or in a small child’s memory. These types of actions loosen and remove the little red bricks that form my heart.

The bricks were once soft, I suppose, maybe in the womb. But they grew hard with the electricity and the swearing of the men who stood above my twelve-year-old mother’s belly and prevented me from growing a sense of self, while my stem cells trembled but tried anyway to form the beginnings of my vessel for this lifetime.

I really miss her. I really don’t talk about her. It’s really quite hard, to try to tell anyone about my mother. I can hardly tell myself. I do remember a few things; I just don’t think I deserve to harbor any secret memories that are good.

In spending time with someone else and in observing each of us, I saw some limitations in myself more clearly than I had before. I realized that I do not know how to give nice things to myself sometimes, such as a dish towel or a warmer pair of socks. I rarely wander, I rarely move without a goal, and I rarely stay still for very long (unless that is the goal).

I am often running away from, and running toward. I am constantly identifying starting and stopping points. I have been working on the ability to rest for the last few years, and now even resting has paradoxically woven its way into my core set of goals. My helper tells me that taking slow, deep breaths is an important way to rest. On my vacation, I noticed that both my friend and I take short, shallow breaths. Where did we learn that fear chokes the atmosphere of life? How horrible must our environments have been, to teach us that short, shallow breaths are necessary most of the time?

Childlike

I still do not wander or move aimlessly through any part of my day. I do not usually sit still when I am afraid, which is nearly always.

But I do high-five the leaves on the trees, because, as a child inside my system puts it, they are turning into good foliage! Way to go, foliage! You are super!

Why does foliage change? Why does it turn orange and red? Why do the leaves fall? Why do the trees get lonely? Or do they just look lonely to me?

They do this every year? A change of season? Why does my life contain so many bad anniversaries—so many forgotten murders to remember over the course of one year? Why do they do this on special calendar dates? Why do the people scream every year? Like the leaves change. Like the waves swoosh. Why does life do things over and over again?

Why do I breathe over and over again? Why do I live? Why do I keep striving? What is striving? And why did they teach it to me? I don’t like it. It hurts to strive.

I strive to be on vacation. I strive to be on vacation. I strive to be on vacation.

And can I? Can I join? Like a dinosaur? What if they told me I’m a dinosaur? What if I’m extinct? Can I still play? Did you know I like marshmallows? I found big ones and small ones and I ate them while my friend wasn’t looking. They were cooking dinner and they told me not to ruin my appetite but I think my appetite was delighted.

I called my friend a “they” because they are a system, too. Do you know any systems? Lots of DID systems like to go by the pronoun “they” because we are multiple people living in one body and sharing one life. It gets confusing sometimes. Well, most of the time. I wonder if I’m ever not confused. What do you do when you get confused?

Speaking of DID, I wonder if you caught that. If you caught the switch. One person had been writing about the concepts of vacation and rest, and then a number of children came out to ask some of the many questions that they accumulated over the course of the trip we just took with our dear system friend and fellow survivor. If you had heard what I heard inside, you would have heard some tiny voices, higher pitches, different accents too.

And now I am back, narrating, typing, wondering why I do the things I do, why I type the things I am, and why I was given this life—a life that feels very complicated and confusing, a life that I have to explain to most people, while wishing that someone, anyone, could explain it to me.

The moment I got home from vacation, I immediately cried in confusion. Many tears were shed, and questions asked. Still, there is more.

Amnesia

As a part of the system who had amnesia, I am waking up to the realization that many people can get away with extreme, organized cruelty, and they have been doing so for centuries at least.

I would like to know the true history of this planet. Someone inside my system is hoping that after we die, or even while we are living, we can be shown the true and complete history of this planet, and especially the true and complete history of this last century.

I think what we are saying is that we want a remedy for all of the deception.

I have no contextual memory of having the soles of my feet repeatedly shocked with electricity. But during my vacation, I visited many places with which I sensed a familiarity. I experienced repeated body memories of shock on the soles of my feet. They were painful, and they eventually became somewhat debilitating. I sensed that what I was experiencing was an internal punishment—a programmed mechanism designed to prevent me from ever stepping foot on places where crimes against me have occurred.

While on vacation, I stepped on as many places like that as I could. I would have stepped on more.

I am not afraid of discovering the truth. I feel like I am suffocating without it. Do you? Do you ever wonder what it would be like, if all the people in your life, and all the people who address the world and attempt to control it, would begin to tell the truth?

Would we need vacations anymore?

Deception

I have been lied to. I have been kept from the truth. I have been kept from the truth of what was done to my body and mind for decades. I yearn to rediscover what other parts of me already know. I yearn to be set free from the pain and injustice.

I have been lied to by family members, neighbors, friends, schools, medical institutions, and more abusers than I can count. I have also been lied to by myself.

Perhaps the cruelest lies came from my former owners, and their deception was in the title they gave themselves in relationship to me—the power they told me that they held over my life, my cells, my spirit.

You have also been lied to. Maybe in the same ways, maybe in other ways. But you have definitely been lied to by history books, newscasters, and world leaders.

I think I would be able to rest with greater ease if I knew the truth. When something is profoundly and fundamentally wrong, and deep down it can be sensed but not understood, it is difficult to fully rest. It is difficult to let go and trust that the environment—whether external or internal—does not carry any hidden weapons.

For any survivors who feel that they are suffering alone, or that they see things differently from others around them, I want to validate your experiences, your pain, and your vulnerably held views on life. Just because a majority believes something, that does not mean that it is the truth. The truth is the truth, and it rings in a way that everybody recognizes.

It rings with the feelings of undeniability, relief, and peace. Just like an autumn leaf, settling down into its resting spot on the earth.




Copyright © 2020 SunlightLives All Rights Reserved

Nighttime Story

I have never been told a bedtime story.

In most of my memories of falling asleep, I am lying on a metal bed in a metal room, or on a cold basement floor, or on a soiled mattress, or by a dumpster in an alley, or in the woods, or in a cage.

In some memories I am not lying down at all—I am sitting or standing. I was expected to be able to fall asleep this way, and awaken into an immediate state of complete concentration.

In some memories, I am being drugged to sleep, while being raped or tortured.

My abusers knew that if they did this to me, then I would learn to do it to myself. That is how post-traumatic stress operates. I was intended to experience distress while trying to fall asleep, no matter what. No matter where I was, or what I was seeking for myself. No matter if I was young or old, free or not free, alone or with others, safe or not safe. I was intended to never have a single restful night’s sleep in my lifetime.

As in general, I was intended to feel distress during an experience that is meant to feel peaceful, comforting, and safe. I was shown, over and over again, that I do not deserve any of the benevolence possible in the realms of human experience.

Most of the moments that came before sleep were saturated with loneliness. I spent many nights falling asleep alone. Some nights an abuser was there with me, but on these nights the loneliness, the feeling of being unseen and unwanted, was even more profound.

There were times when I was told stories at night, as I was falling asleep. But I have never been told a story that was kind.

At bedtime, if I was read anything at all, I would be read terrible stories about the wicked actions my soul had supposedly taken in other lifetimes. Other times, I would be read programming stories that were designed to strengthen my internal programming, and to send my unconscious mind negative messaging, and pain. I could sense how devastated I was becoming, but I could not sense the specific content. This made it almost impossible to fight the messaging, since I did not know exactly what it was doing to me.

When I was young, I was raised in an institutional, abusive setting, where slaves were being created and destroyed, programmed and controlled, and deployed with cold calculation. Some of the children who were also raised this way later became public figures, and most people would never guess at their true origins.

I got along better with the children who stayed connected to their hearts, and I struggled to get along with the ones who did not. The ones who did not stay connected to their hearts were the ones who were rewarded the most. Though these rewards were addictive, I saw that I did not truly want them. Having been exposed to nothing other than pain in all its varieties, I did not know what I wanted. I just knew that I did not want anything that was being offered. Except I did want to earn time spent with some of the other slaves—my friends. But this time spent together was always used against us later, so even this reward came with its own pain.

I chose not to deaden my heart. So I suppose I will never know what hurts worse: a heart that lives its life fully deadened until the end, or a heart that goes through every conceivable tragedy, and feels it all.

I know that I somehow survived my choice, though many people do not. I know that I survived with enough hope in me that I still search for and yearn for freedom. I know that the people who created me, and who raised me in this covert network setting—the ones with the coldest hearts—appeared to have the easiest lives and the most difficult lives, all at once. They lived in paradox.

They took responsibility for nothing. And no matter how hard they tried to provoke their life force, they could feel nothing.

They did not consciously care about anything, so they were not bothered by my suffering. But they were unspeakably empty inside, and they did not know what they could possibly do about it.

They lived at these two extremes. Stunned by the cruelty of their actions, I chose to do the opposite.

I take responsibility for everything, and feel everything.

Not only was my body trafficked, but so was my mind, and so was my heart. My creativity was trafficked. My reasoning was trafficked. My compassion was trafficked.

Empathy shattered my heart into millions of shards. Even if I had gone through my life never being physically touched, I would still be extraordinary broken, from all that my senses and spirit have witnessed, and all that I have attuned to.

There are young children in my system who know the darkness so well, so thoroughly, that they would like nothing more than to hold it, and to teach it how to play.

In recovery, I am learning to apply the loving qualities that I carry to my internal world, after a lifetime of being forced to apply them only to the external world. I was taught to neglect myself. I will not. I will continue to deepen my ability to take care of myself. I will learn to take care of myself in more and more ways.

I will find special blankets, and I will swaddle the parts of me inside who believe that only others deserve care, and that they should be able to take it freely from me.

I will hum to the parts who believe that being taken care of, being listened to, and being gazed upon, is selfish.

I will speak to myself, and my own words will tell me that I deserve peace.

And one of these days, I will figure out a way to read myself a nighttime story. Most stories find a way to trigger me, since my internal world contains thousands of uniquely traumatized people. But maybe, maybe I will read my system a story that we, ourselves, have written. Maybe this will be the key.

Here is what I would read to myself tonight, to address my suffering and to help myself fall asleep:

Nighttime Story

Hello. Here are some of the things you may need to hear, before you can allow yourself a peaceful night’s sleep.

  • Even though they told you that your soul bought this lifetime from them, no, it did not. You are not indebted to them, or to anyone. You are a person, and you have a right to live here. You would know that if they had not enslaved your parents and your birth. If you had ever known freedom in this lifetime, then you would be able to know and feel what they took away from you, and you would know that it was not your fault. Because you have never known freedom, you are not familiar with the specks in your irises that allow you to witness what love is, and what love does. You are too attuned to slavery. You do not know what simple love is, yet. But you will.
  • Even though you do not feel like a human, you get to be one. Whatever they told you they did to your body and mind, and however much code you see in your inner field of vision, you are really the energy residing within the temporary home of this lifetime, and this body and mind. You have a spirit, and having a spirit gives you rights. You have the same rights as every other being. They do not have all of the rights that they deserve yet, either. We are going to work on helping heal the planet, together.
  • Even though you have been raped so many times in so many different ways, you do not deserve to be raped ever again. You never deserved it, and I do not know why it happened, nor why it happened so many times, and so brutally. I do not know why the rapists have never acknowledged what they have done. Maybe they believe it will break them. Maybe they know that it will bring them into contact with what hides within themselves, which might look like ugliness and evil, unless a kind heart gazes at it with compassion and non-judgment, at which point it will begin to melt into something softer, something smaller, something more pure, yet confused—something living.
  • Even though you feel alone, you are not. There is a spirit world that knows you, and a place where you belong. Even when people cannot understand you, or cannot understand or believe your past, it does not mean that they wish to reject you. Maybe they also feel sad that you cannot reach each other. Maybe they also feel the pain and frustration of their own limitations. Maybe they are not willing to risk losing or changing their belief systems, because a part of them is still in survival mode. Maybe a small piece of your story resonates too closely with theirs.

The perpetrators who raised you chose to reject you, and to use you. Though some people in the world today may have similar wishes, you can choose to be with those who wish you kindness—even though kindness is foreign, and therefore feels more terrifying right now. This pain and fear of the unknown, of kindness, will eventually shift. I am sorry that even healing hurts. I am sorry that even kindness hurts, right now.

How can someone like you find peace? I wish I could find a way to download a peace program into you, like an angel would—rather than download a self-harm program into you, like a network trainer would. I am sorry that they did that.

  • No, you did not let them do that. You did not let them do anything. Remember—you wanted to escape. Remember—you tried. And you had never even been taught the concept of escape. How did you know you wanted more than total slavery, if that is all you had ever experienced? How did you know you wanted more than metal walls and arctic classrooms, if that had been your only world?

Somehow, you thought to yourself, anywhere else.

Anywhere else must be as bad or better than here. It is worth it to take the risk to try to leave. And even though they caught you and they hung you from your ankles, and even though the torture that went on that day would be too hard to express right now, it was still worth the risk, because no punishment could be worse than the constant, utter emptiness of being raised by a psychopath. Or by a machine. Or by nobody at all.

  • There is nothing wrong with you. I will remind you every day, if I can, because you always forget. I think it’s hard to remember that there is nothing wrong with you, when the society you live in does not hug you. When the society you live in does not offer you a blanket, or a place to rest, or therapy for your body, mind, and spirit. When they do not even believe you. When you have to offer yourself a blanket, and pull it over to yourself using your own broken arm. Yes, it’s still broken, and it still hurts, but we can heal it. We will find a way.
  • It is okay to be different. Being different does not mean being lonely. I hope you will continue to find people who will connect to you by truly looking at you. If people are only seeking to find aspects of themselves, then yes, you may feel very lonely around them. Especially if they do not truly want to know themselves, either.

The more you heal, the more your relationships might shift, change, end, or begin. Unfortunately you cannot control this. Staying still to preserve these relationships would hurt more. It would hurt like the past hurt. It would hurt like living a lie hurts. I see that you want to grow and heal, and I believe that you have the capacity to experience freedom, without collapsing, or having a heart attack, or being alone.

For those of you who are still worried about betraying your owners, don’t. They know that they have betrayed you. It is written in the very fabric of the property contracts that they created before you were born. It is a betrayal because you are not property. It is null and void, because you are a living, breathing being. It is a betrayal because they do not have the right to own anyone or anything, human or non-human. What is ownership? Where did this concept originate? One day we will fully reject it, and then we will sense their betrayal, and we may feel stunned, and our innocence may be freed.

  • If you believe that you are not a real person, that is okay for now. It does not negate who you truly are, and how you experience yourself, and how others experience you. You are not who they tried to made you into, nor are you the who they tried to make you believe you are. You cannot trust beliefs that were imposed on you by slave owners. They had an agenda. Your well-being has never been included in it. They told you that you were not a real person because the more you believed this, the easier it was for them to use you as an object. They wanted to use you as an object because they are sick and they do not know how to heal themselves.
  • I hear you asking: Why do people have to heal themselves, if they have been abused by somebody else? Why should they have to take responsibility for what someone else did?

I do not know. I like your question. This does seem unjust. Maybe there is something about it we do not yet understand.

I hear you reply: They told me that I am really also them, in another lifetime, and I am experiencing my own violence and hatred.

Well, that is a convenient way of looking at it, for them. Even if this were somehow true, they were still the ones who inhabited the adult bodies committing violence, and you were in the tiny child body. It was their responsibility to stop beating you.

But, of course, what they said is not true, and I know that you sense this, deep down inside. You have such a capacity to take self-responsibility, that I know you would be willing to own the darkness inside of you, if this darkness had been yours. But this darkness was theirs. Maybe healing involves giving it back to them. Some way, somehow, it will be healed.

  • A little voice asks: Why am I so bad inside?

And I answer, What do you mean? Do you feel bad inside?

She says, Yes.

I ask, What does that feel like?

She says, Screaming. Like someone is screaming and I can’t get to them. I think it is me. I used to scream when they would hurt me, and I couldn’t get inside of their minds enough to make their thoughts want to stop hurting me. But when I tried, and I entered into their minds, I thought I was them, and I thought I was doing this terrible thing to myself, and I thought I was bad. Do you understand me? And am I bad?

And I answer, I understand and I remember, and you are not bad. Not at all. That is why little spirit flowers grow all around you. Because they feel safe to.

And she smiles.

  • You each have a free pass* to enter our internal safe place, wherever you are inside, no matter what you believe you have done to deserve your pain, or your programming. We want you to come back, no questions asked, no blame, no punishments. You are allowed to live an internally peaceful life now.
  • You each have a free pass to tell your truth, feel your feelings, and believe yourselves. You are allowed to believe yourselves, all of yourself. You can even believe the programming, if you want to, or if you need to for now. Eventually, we will all know the truth, and we will do whatever we can to dissolve the programming, and to see our true selves again.

You may be wondering how we can see ourselves again, if we were broken before we were even born. I don’t know, but I just know that we can. I think we have always existed, and the person we would have been if we had lived in complete harmony, resides inside of us somewhere. I can feel this person, and I want to free this person, and be this person. I want us all to give this person the right to exist, and to give ourselves the right to drop this trauma, and to be who we are.

  • I know you have been forced to commit harm as a child. I know you have been forced to commit harm as an adult. I know there are some people who dissociate when you speak about this. I know there are many people with whom these memories would not be safe to share. And, I know that there are others who would understand, and who would see you only as a victim, and as a person who tried to bring as much healing as possible to every horrific, tragic, or grotesque circumstance. I know that the departed victims see you this way. They see the intentions of your heart. I know that spirit sees you this way. I know that your own spirit sees you this way. This is what makes it easier to move forward; it is always easier to believe the truth when we do not have to believe it alone.

Together, we can hope that all beings learn to see themselves the way their own spirits see them.

  • I know that you are a good mother. I know that you battle with yourself every day, wondering how it can be true that searching for your missing children does not always appear to be an active search in the physical world. In our internal world, you can learn to find yourself, and then find each of them, whether they are alive or deceased. And hopefully, one day we will find them in the external world.

The abusers have taken control over so much of the physical matter on this planet, that it is safer and quicker to connect in spirit first, and see what paths open up as a result. It was hard to become a good mother at the age of eleven, but you did. The children know that every decision you made was made in love, and it changed their lives. Just like you, they have their own guardian angels, and they always have their true family, in their hearts, and in their internal worlds. Always.

  • I know that you miss your friends. The word friends is not nearly a strong enough word for what we were to each other. I hope we find each other again. I am glad you can feel their spirits with you.

The understanding we experienced in each other’s presences has been cruelly ripped away. A person’s journey may be arduous, but it does not have to be completely arduous. Though you were told you don’t deserve to ever see them again, or that in some twisted way it will make you stronger, maybe the fact that you want to see them matters more. Maybe acknowledging your desires makes you stronger. After all, the abusers were never strong enough to acknowledge your desires, nor their own. And many of them died this way. I hear you wondering what happened to their dark hearts, when they died. I shall pray about it with you.

  • I know you worry about safety. I know you worry about survival. I know it is hard to trust that it will be okay, and that our spirit will carry us through this life. You have the hardest job of all, because you have to have the human experience. The parts in the system who are connected to spirit can sit and watch the unfoldment of our life path, but you are the one who walks the legs forward every day into the unknown.
  • I know that you worry about having enough to support yourself. You oscillate between blaming yourself for being unable to function like a healthy adult, and feeling enraged at a world that has taken so much from you, enslaved you, and not paid you back. I do not know if the justice system will ever learn to offer justice. I certainly hope so. I hope that eventually a sense of peace will come over you.
  • I know that the little ones inside want more outside friends to play with. We will find them. It takes time, which is unfair to you. I also know it can be hard to trust in a friendship again, after you have been forced to witness your friends suffer and die.

You each deserve a safe upbringing. You deserve your own bodies and your own parents, and your own chance to go to the safest and most fun preschool in the universe. And you each deserve to be loved. I know this is very hard to believe, because you feel unworthy and unlovable, and yet somehow it is what you yearn for so deeply that when I peer into you, I see an entire galaxy. Look at you, you are so vast, you hold so much. What true beings you are.

  • I know that you want to share healing with all beings. We can tell them about what has worked for us. We can tell everyone that they deserve their own internal safe place, with a healing center where every truth is allowed to exist, and where every lie is allowed to be healed. This place can have a healing waterfall, which lovingly turns all programming, and all self-doubt and self-hatred, into what it was originally meant to be.

We can advocate for others. We can tell people that they are not monsters. What is a monster? I have never heard of a monster that could spontaneously create itself. Monsters seem to be the creations of great pain and agony that were never witnessed or aided, but were ignored and provoked, until they could not handle being so small and so vulnerable anymore. I feel like I understand monsters and I want to love them, if I can, from a distance that is safe for me and them.

  • I know that you miss many of the monsters from your past, since they were the only adults you knew, and that you wish them well. I will not allow anyone to tell you that you can’t love them. You can.

But loving them, and hurting yourself, are two different things. Love only takes care. Love doesn’t hurt. That’s why I won’t let you hurt yourself, or keep yourself small, or live a lie, or remain in your programming or trauma for longer than you must. It may feel like you are betraying your caregivers, as you seek freedom, but you are not. You are only betraying their betrayal of you. Maybe this can somehow heal you both.

  • And yes, they will still need to go through with their own healing journeys. It would not be fair if your healing also healed them automatically. They are not you.
  • I am proud of you for continuing to live life, even after life has given you an uncountable number of reasons not to. Life has not been kind, and yet you stay. Some of that may be Stockholm Syndrome, some of that may be a sadly twisted addiction to pain and suffering, and some of that is hope, commitment to healing, and a deeper wisdom that you allow to call you to move forward. You will not be in pain forever.

I repeat, you will not be in pain forever.




*The concept of a free pass was invented by my system, and we want to share it with everyone. We have used it to deprogram, but also to give space and freedom to our thoughts and feelings, even if they seem wrong, crazy, unbelievable, negative, or harmful.

Like many former slaves, we have entire houses of conflicting feelings inside of us. It is hard to let them all be true, together. Sometimes we imagine ourselves to be an entire country, planet, universe, etc. We imagine ourselves to contain enough land, water, air, sunlight, and space for all of our beliefs, memories, impulses, thoughts, feelings, and desires to exist and roam freely, and grow.

We hope that all beings are able to extend themselves this free pass, and hold all parts of themselves in equal reverence. We have noticed that our negative feelings, beliefs, and impulses, can always be traced back to prior abuse. And we noticed that they dissolve, once they are given space to exist, and enough attention. This is helping us to gradually believe in our own innocence.

I think that if the abusers of the world were given enough unconditional, non-judgmental attention, they energy of abuse on this planet could start to lift. I do not know who started it—this eons-long chain of abuse—but I am not sure we have time to figure it out. I think action must be taken now, in whatever ways each person can. I believe that cultivating internal freedom can help lead to greater amounts of external freedom for all.




Copyright © 2020 SunlightLives All Rights Reserved

Suitcase

The following essay was written by a seventeen-year-old member of our system, who was trafficked internationally. Trigger Warning: This essay contains descriptions of programming, spiritual abuse, and sexual abuse by a group.

Takeoff

I’m not sure what happened, and I’m not sure if I care to explain it to anyone. I’m not sure if I care for anything at all, anymore—after what has happened to me.

Who am I?

Well, the last thing I can remember is seeing the ominous dance of the tall flames reflecting in my partner’s eyes.

The first thing I can remember is being curled up in a suitcase.

When I was a toddler, it registered in me as a small, cramped box with no light. The walls were made of some sort of cloth. Sometimes the box would rumble. Sometimes I would hear a small squeaking sound.

I later learned that this box was called a suitcase, and that the rumbling occurred when we were moving over broken pavement, and the occasional sound I heard was a squeaky wheel.

I spent my life traveling—in planes, in cars, on boats. But I was not given a ticket, nor a seat, nor a beverage. I was crammed into a suitcase. Sometimes I was not allowed out until we had reached our destination. At other times, I was, because somebody wanted to rape me.

I spent my life traveling, always toward people—people whom I first saw in my mind’s eye, rubbing their hands together, gleefully planning what they were going to do with me.

The children in my system recall being told that our primary home was within this suitcase. Because we were considered property, rather than a person, we were not given a home. We resided in this suitcase, and from within it, we could be wheeled onto the property of whomever had purchased us.

In my mind, it looks like a dark purple suitcase, on wheels, with an extendable handle at the top. I am not sure why it appears purple to me. Was I even allowed to see it from the outside?

There’s a boy inside my system who says that his favorite moment was listening to the sound of the zipper closing around him. Not opening. Closing. It was a sound he was programmed and conditioned to identify with our owner, and our owner’s love for him.

This little boy knows not what gruesome steps were taken, one day long ago, to destroy us even more deeply, as they would routinely do, and then build up his particular identity, from the ashes and rubble that settled over us, as the torture ended.

I’m not sure I need to tell him what was done to make him feel that he is loved, as he is being zipped into a suitcase, for if he closes his eyes I know he can hear it, just as sure as he can still hear the squeak of the wheel—a sound that will always remind us of being pulled across a mysterious pitch-black floor, an airport floor, past gates and terminals, passersby whistling in the wind, none the wiser that there exists a tiny child in that suitcase, who cannot cry because he’s been told it’ll break the barrier between space and time, and rip everyone’s soul to shreds.

This isn’t true, of course. It is just the sort of larger-than-life fear that programmers instill into tiny children. He’s not scared of what it would feel like if the universe were ripped to shreds, he is scared of what it did feel like when our entire universe was shredded, internally, long long ago.

He was broken off of the system through electrical torture, and then placed into the arms of our owner. He was stimulated and given drugs to induce placidity, modesty, happiness, blissful peace, and heightened sensory stimulation, especially physically. The room must be very quiet, and the lights must be dimmed, if one is trying to induce a love child. This is because sounds hurt, in the little ears of someone who’s just been prodded with a needle that amplifies everything.

Imagine being newly born, feeling raw and new and blank, and simultaneously being treated like the developed mind of a child who’s already existed for several years—it’s paradoxical. This new child that they created was held like a baby, and like a boy, and like a slave, and he was told that this person holding him is God, and that God loves him, and that his role in this lifetime is to sit within a suitcase, and to love it. He was told that this is his role because he fits, he fits in the suitcase. He was given a chance to climb in, and see for himself.

A further injection was made. It made him happy, and drowsy, and confused. He heard the words “I love you,” and those words became the mysterious force that pulled the zipper closed.

The zipper closed over the entirety of the world he had ever experienced.

In the darkness, he mildly sensed something else, something to the effect of: It’s closing over my brain, too. It’s hiding my mind from myself. I am hidden from myself now. My job is to hide. My job is to hide my mind from myself. Can’t let them see. Can’t let them hear me.

Or God won’t love me anymore.

Landing

I don’t want to tell you that I recall the feeling of that suitcase as well. As a teenage member of this system, I am prone to shame and embarrassment, and I find it embarrassing to admit that I was born in a suitcase, and that the first years of my life were spent there. Nobody wanted me.

I carry that feeling around with me everywhere, now. Much like my owner’s assistant rolled me around on that terrible, smooth floor—the landing pad taking me back and forth between abuses. The feeling of being unwanted is amplified when I think of the places that broke me, that deepened my internal abyss of horror, grief, loneliness, and identity confusion, all permeated by the haze from the mass of drugs seemingly always hanging from my arm.

If you inquire within us, many little girls and boys will tell you many things about that suitcase. What I can tell you is, there were multiple suitcases. The network we come from knows better than to allow us to attach to anything. Even the mildly stimulating, mundane, cramped existence of a vehicle of life, with wheels. Much like a womb, if it’s all you have, it’s all you know.

But I do know more because I had ears, and they allowed me to hear the playful voices of other children. From my darkness, I could sense that there were kids out there, kids who were allowed to stand in the sunlight, or under the clouds, or in the rain.

Knowing there was more to life—knowing that life had enough room in it for me to stretch my legs out—left me stunned.

Slaves aren’t people. Only people can have plane tickets. Therefore I can’t have a plane ticket. Therefore, my owner says he will do me the immense favor of sticking me in this pit, in order to make me happy, in order to bring me home, in order to bring me to a land where the criminals see right past me, care only about my trembling, closed legs and what they’re hiding, just the same as the criminals in the other countries do—just in different languages or different accents.

And the air. The air is different everywhere. Everywhere I’ve gone, I have noted such vast differences. The climate is different. The voices of the people are different. The energy of the web of interconnectivity among beings and nature is different.

Hearing the voices of those children playing, while I was being rolled away, left a mark on me. Seeing the families, couples, and friends walking down the same roads I walked down, in so many countries, but not experiencing the same chains I experienced around my ankles, left a perplexing thought in my head.

There is more to life than being used, or being broken into, even though my legs twist together and plead for this man to stop, for that man not to shake me, for these fellas not to circle around me. Muffled sounds puff out through the cloth they tied around my mouth. I am a terrorized star. They hold me by my ankles, wrists, and head, and spread me out, and I realize that I have never seen the fullness of my soul before.

Living

He was tiny and his beautiful voice rose up out of him like a sculpture or a vine, creating itself as it woke from its own soul. While dangerous men abused us both, they forced him to sing to me, which felt like watching the shredding of a lawnmower, a tree trimmer, a rose picker—whatever barbaric method people having of cutting down nature in such a loud way that they can’t hear the wails.

A boy I grew up with, a boy I held hands with as we sang in a choir or witnessed a murder, a boy who became a man who became a partner, was the last person I saw, before my eyes closed and dissociation took its last swipe at my life.

We experienced many terrible fires together, over the years. Some were fires set in fireplaces during abuse, some were bonfires, some were house fires, some were rage. We experienced violence together, as children and as adults. We were allowed to save each other from it sometimes, only to be met with even more violence together afterward.

Somehow, it all feels so small when juxtaposed with my memory of his smile. When a soul smiles, it is big. It is bigger than when fifty souls set fire to the stage.

Several years ago, we experienced our last bonfire. Looking into each other’s eyes, we were both fighting the fear that we would be forced to watch the other burn. We were suddenly yanked away from each other, and that is where my memory goes dark.

From within the bag placed over my head, I heard screaming. Suddenly, I felt like a small child again, trapped in a suitcase. Except, I was not hearing the sounds of playing children. Slaves do not get to play, they get hurt. I was hearing the sound of my screaming partner, and I knew that I would soon be screaming too.

Though that night was so brutal that I cannot yet ask it to tell me the rest, I can remember that my partner and I were both made to believe that the other died. I know that neither of us did.

A part of me does feel singed, though, without him. Now I think of him and hope that he is safe. I think of him and I feel glad that souls don’t burn. I hate many of the lessons my life has taught me, but this notion offered me hope every time I was wheeled away from the arms and the home of my partner, knowing that flames were never too far away from him, or from me.

Happiness

There was so much of me that recoiled away from this life of terror, that I feared I’d never really know myself. So much of my soul burrowed inward.

I felt like a facade. I felt like a shield blocking something from knowing the worst of things, the worst of life, and the worst possibility, that this life was happening because of something inside of me that was rotten to the core. Dangerous. I was afraid that I was dangerous, like a fire.

For my entire life, I was afraid that this was happening because I deserved it.

In recovery, I am now questioning what it means to deserve. And I am experiencing what it feels like not to receive something that is deserved. I have not received acknowledgment, nor apology. I have not received justice. I have not received adequate support. I have not received a safe family. I have never been on a vacation.

One day I would like to go on one. I want to know what it is like to have a ticket, and a seat, and a beverage, and I want to know what it is like to be a visible passenger who will not be mistreated.

As a slave, the more I was trafficked and moved from place to place, the more it began to feel like I was losing pieces of myself along the way. I started to feel broken. During my time spent in suitcases, breathing carefully and slowly, I would try to piece myself back together, because I knew that the consequences for breaking would be far worse than the familiar, cold sound of the zipper opening.

I write to you now, even though I am still afraid. I write because I want to be free. When I write, I find a way to unzip my suitcase from the inside, and step out into the sunlight, and join the other children. I walk up to them earnestly, reservedly, and I do not say anything, because I am not sure how to speak.

But when I emerge, I hold the hand of freedom, and this wakes up everything inside of me. I know what it is to be awake. I know what it is to feel. And I want to know what it is to feel something other than darkness, or flame. I want to know what it is to feel happy.





Copyright © 2020 SunlightLives All Rights Reserved

Recovery

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.





Copyright © 2020 SunlightLives All Rights Reserved

Can a Body Give Consent?

Definitions

I am a survivor of commercial sexual exploitation. Rape and money exchanged hands over my body. I have sustained many serious injuries over the course of my life, in the midst of insanity and violence. I still have several old injuries impacting my internal organs, and a deep bone fracture that is struggling to mend itself. My psyche is in thousands of pieces. Just like dropped glass, it does not take much to shatter the sweet mind of an infant.

For a long time, I have been reflecting on the relationship between commercial sexual exploitation, and paid sex. In particular, after hearing someone refer to paid sex as a type of work, and then later as a type of service, I began thinking about whether it is inherently possible for paid sex to operate as a job, or as a service.

I also wonder about the differences between work and service. I consider work to be a paid exchange of labor, be it physical, mental, emotional, energetic, or some combination. People receive money for their time, attention, and skill.

To me, service feels like a word that describes an act from the heart. In our society, it may or may not be paid. Service seeks humbly to fulfill a need in someone. I would not be alive, or recovering, if it were not for the service of many others.

In my experience of witnessing others provide service, especially emotionally supportive service, I notice that it is possible to give service without harming oneself, or even without depleting oneself. Service can sometimes feel immediately beneficial to its recipient, as well as to the person providing the service. When the needs of an individual are very high, the amount of service required might feel overwhelming to those who attempt to provide it, as well as to the individual struggling to provide the rest of it for herself.

I spend most of the minutes in my day trying my best to provide service to myself and my system—to cover years of unmet developmental needs, and years of interpersonal trauma and servitude. I gain temporary reprieve when I am given an hour of outer support, but very often I feel that I need to help the other person help me. And, as a developmental trauma survivor, it is sometimes hard to let go of control, and allow someone else to help me.

My trauma is extreme and unusual, so I work very hard just to be seen and understood. I spend more time than I would prefer to, explaining my trauma and the psyches of my abusers, to help others understand the formation of my internal landscape. Traversing this landscape has felt so difficult for me and for those who know me. Sometimes I feel that my needs overwhelm the people around me—those who try to help, and others merely in proximity to me.

Giving

When I was younger, and my owners were allowing me time with my children, I would cradle and try to nurture these wide-eyed beings, these little springs of innocence whom I had once carried in my belly. My desire to love them, and be of service to their needs, was infinite. It also did not harm me, to do so—unless, of course, abusers got in the way, or unless I was in a particularly overwhelming state of damage and depletion.

I wanted to give to my children, and I did not want to take anything from them.

When I was taking care of my young children, I was also a child. It has taken me years to admit this to myself, and to admit that I was mired in fatigue and brokenness while taking care of them. Having always been enslaved, I never saw myself as a child. There are parts of me who do not know what it is to be a child.

Nevertheless, I do know what it feels like to be filled with the energy of givingness. It filled me somehow, as I attempted to fill the emotional wounds and needs of my children.

Taking

I was also forced to fill the emotional wounds and needs of my perpetrators, and this created a very different dynamic. Having never had their needs properly fulfilled, they were filled with old pain that had long gone bad. They were attempting to have their needs met through my young life force. At the same time, they were attempting to howl to me in desperation, from the depths of their despair, through the ragged curtains of years of rotten layers of filth—old wounds, violent actions they had taken against others to soothe and cover over their own childhood experiences, betrayals of so many other souls.

I had no choice but to try to give to them, and they did not make it easy. Any child deserves nurturing and unconditional love, even a child trapped or lingering within an adult body. There are so many children in this world living in adult bodies: children who were trapped in time, in love lost, in love cruelly taken away, or in love cruelly perverted.

Adults should know better than to steal from newer generations of children. Who will break this cycle? It feels as though certain people cannot. They are not strong enough to obey their heart at the expense of uncovering its rotting pain. They cannot give their pain any air. They fold it within themselves, becoming even darker, even more hidden, even more deprived, and then they all but grow horns.

They abuse children, to try to have their need for their own inner light and innocence met, through the bright light within someone else, someone innocent, kind, small, defenseless.

My decades in this lifetime have not involved much service, in its true sense. I was a slave, and when I was young, my mind formed roots in the dark land of slavery. I examine the concepts of service, work, and sex exchange in particular, through the lens of my experiences with slavery, ownership, exchanges, and power dynamics.

Exchange

The words work and service cut straight through me when I hear them applied to sex. Even if the exchange seems to be voluntary, I wonder if it truly is. I also wonder whether a body can volunteer for sex work.

A person can volunteer their body for sex work, but can a body consent? In my experience, people purchasing sex were most interested in engaging in a dynamic with my physical body. They often wanted to receive something from my emotional body and my mental body as well, whether they knew it or not. People paying for sex have been least of all interested in my spirit, dwelling within the hinges of my being.

Very rarely did anyone stop, for even a moment, to seek out any connection with the true me.

As a slave, I could not consent to sex. The very power dynamic within which I lived my life took everything away from me.

As a person who engaged in paid sex, while attempting to escape a few moments of my treacherous life, I was most often underage, thus still unable to consent. Even when I was in an adult body, the levels of trauma I carried, and the helplessness of my runaway life, could not permit me to consent.

Do there exist life circumstances from which an adult can engage in sex work, without an unjust power dynamic somewhere to be found in her circumstances?

Can sex work theoretically exist? What are the job requirements?

If I were ever to be willing to expose myself to sex work, let’s first break down which aspects of myself I may be exposing. I may be exposing traumatized parts of myself to a frightening act. I may be engaging fragile parts of myself in an overwhelming experience, out of a need for survival, hurting myself to try to stay alive. I may be engaging my energy in an entanglement with a stranger’s energy that isn’t healthy for me. I may be engaging my body in an act that is aversive or harmful to it.

Can an inner child consent to sex? Can an adult harboring an inner child consent to sex?

Can a body consent to being used in an act that is so intimate, and requires so much of it, in exchange for money? Can a body give consent to sex, if the body is not in good health?

Can a body give consent to an act that its dwelling spirit may not necessarily agree to?

When a person penetrates another person, does the person do it with just his physical body, or with mental and energetic aspects of himself, as well?

If so, is there a way that a sex worker can regulate what remnants of this person’s body, mind, and energy get deposited into her?

Because it is my job to take care of myself, and my body, I am very accustomed to having to think of many, many parts, and to try to take them all into consideration.

It is not always easy to treat all parts of self with equal value, especially if there are parts of oneself that have ever been devalued. Yet, children and bodies share the common experience of being unable to advocate for themselves. Therefore, we must remember them, and we must make sure that the world in which we live treats them with respect and concern. I look forward to the day when children, and bodies, are included in conversation, and offered unconditional love.

Invisible

We recognize each other by our bodies, our voices, and our mannerisms. These are visible, audible, noticeable.

I often think of the billions of inner children living invisible lives on this planet. There are so many children who need to work nine-to-five jobs, sit at desks, perform manual labor, and take care of other children. There are so many children who vote.

As a system, we wish we could protect all children, inner and outer, from harm and labor.

The body of a person engaging in paid sex may be an adult, but parts of the psyche may be younger. There may be a scared child living within this life, who may not be anywhere near old enough to understand what is happening. There may be another inner child who is influencing the choice to perform paid sex, because no one has told this child that she or he can be seen and loved without this sacrifice.

For those who engage in paid sex, are their adult selves the ones engaging in these acts, or do their long lost inner children, who may have been abused at the most precious ages, bear the burden?

I would be curious to meet someone who is a sex worker, who has not been abused. I have not yet. I am very open to understanding sex work at the deepest levels, and with my extreme background, different perspectives would help mine to become more well-rounded.

The question of past trauma is also complicated by the fact that not all adults consciously remember abuse in childhood. Sometimes those terrible experiences are held within the unconscious, until they are safe enough to emerge. If sex work is used for survival or financial stability, it may require pushing these inner children further down into the psyche, so as not to be experience the old pain and shame, which might leave the person completely immobilized, and further unable to provide for herself.

I know many survivors who cannot work at all. Their abusers stole so much from them, that in recovery they have barely the strength in them for any exchange.

Needs

If I conversed with someone engaging in paid sex, who felt safe within her choice, I wonder how long it would take before some deeper feelings about it emerged. I also wonder how someone would feel if his or her spouse were a sex worker. I imagine that it would probably feel different than if the spouse were a physical therapist or an acupuncturist, or even a massage therapist. In my experience, there are deep layers within a person that open when they are engaged in sex, which do not open in a body-based therapist or practitioner working with clients.

The network that exerted its control over me and my body, and that exerts its control on our world, has done a thorough job of convincing people that sex is a physical act that does not have significant energetic impact on the people engaged in it. They have done this through the mass media, among other channels.

What is the service people are truly looking for, when they pay for sex?

What does a perceptive sex worker do when she observes that the client is completely misguided about what he is truly looking for? What if he is actually looking for self-esteem, attention, nurture, or acceptance of his body? What if he is looking for the feeling of power over someone, in a misguided attempt to address the pain of a disempowered, hopeless inner child?

Should sex workers have a referral process, by which they refer potential clients to the most appropriate services for them? If so, would any client not be referred out?

I also wonder whether the sex worker can ever truly disengage in the mutuality of sex in a way that provides direct service to the client. I do not know the answer to this. In my experiences of sex, there was always an exchange on multiple levels, including energetic levels, whether one of the parties intended it or not.

Responsibility

Whose responsibility is it to accurately perceive what a sex worker is actually selling? Is the person selling a service, or is the person selling a piece of herself?

Is it the client’s responsibility to make sure that he does not pay for something other than what he is formally requesting?

Most often, this is the worker’s responsibility. But what if a client is perceptive enough to see that a sex worker is truly selling herself, not a service? What if he notices that the personality fronting in the sex worker is a child, and not an adult? Then what is appropriate there? Should he immediately refuse the service, knowing that a child cannot consent to sex? If he sees this but does not refuse, is that statutory rape?

I wish that I could trust people to always be kind to one another. I wish that I could trust people to assess their responsibility, and take ownership of it. I wish I lived in a world that did not require anyone to work in a way that causes harm. While I am openly attempting to understand the differences between commercial sexual exploitation, and paid sex, I do not want to believe in any kind of work that causes separation or pain, anywhere in society.

Me

I was never free enough to make the decisions that I would have wanted to make, or to reach for the opportunities that looked like stars to me. As an adult in recovery, I see that I have made hardly any choices in my life, because I have hardly been free to do so. Yet, in slavery, I have been forced to make millions of difficult decisions.

While I consciously attempt to define true responsibility, and dissolve the imposed sense of responsibility that permeates my system, there is a reluctance to letting it go. I think we want to retain our own sense of responsibility for what happened, in order to feel that there were areas of our life over which we had some control. Maybe we do not want to experience the sense of utter, splitting betrayal by higher power, that we perceived to have followed us our entire life, like an anti-security blanket.

Maybe we just feel like somebody has to take responsibility, and we know that our abusers never will.

Maybe the numerous near-constant moments of commercial sexual exploitation, rape, beatings, and trauma-based mind control left us with hardly any time to experience and release our deeply accumulated shame. Moving forward, perhaps we have a chance to sit with it, to give it clothing, water, food, slippers. Perhaps we have a chance to pacify it, and show it its true, gentle smile. Maybe we can know ourselves now, without any imposition or penetration.

Maybe safety can allow our freedom to step forward, and finally emerge into the foreground of our life, like a bird flying just ahead of us, beckoning us to keep going.





Copyright © 2020 SunlightLives All Rights Reserved

Mistakes and Collisions

Trigger Warning: This essay contains depictions of physical violence, staged events, and simulated death.

Breathlessness

I hope that every cell and every fragment of my being will one day see that there is room for mistakes on this planet. Mistakes do not have to cause collisions.

Even if you did not read the remainder of this essay, from the title and the trigger warning alone, you might be able to infer what mistakes mean to me.

I was not given chances to make mistakes as a child.

Children sometimes simulate mistakes and collisions in play. Maybe this is because in real life, mistakes are often not allowed, sometimes not forgiven, and always lead to consequences. It can feel so frightening to know that mistakes can lead to collisions: a car crash, or a broken heirloom, or the ending of a friendship.

Children who grow up in settings of extreme abuse and slavery are taught that their mistakes can cause the sun to explode. They are shown that their mistakes are what cause the slow, painful deaths of their beloved pets, their soft friends, their kind caregivers, or their own children. They are told that they were bred out of a mistake, and therefore they are a mistake.

I am deathly afraid to make a mistake.

When I make a mistake, and it is witnessed by another person, I fill with dread.

When I make a mistake, I fill with the dread of no one loving me. I was told that no one would love a non-perfect contract. This particular phrasing was used with me because I was not a person, I was a slave, and thus they could not refer to me as a person. But they could refer to me as a contract, or as an automaton that does not live up to its programming, its contract. I was told that no one will ever love me if I ever give their mind pause.

When I make a mistake, I fill with the dread of being pummeled, beaten by fifty child soldiers. Sadly, those soldiers were friends of mine. Like me, they were forced to rip so much to pieces.

When I make a mistake, I fill with the dread of watching my friend’s face painted—as a sad clown—and seeing him hanged. As this happened, I was restrained, and told that this is happening because I dropped a ball I was asked to hold.

This experience was meant to teach me never to drop the ball.

At other times, I was told that our abuse was happening because I told a joke that didn’t fly. Or, because the man who raped the two of us didn’t rate it a ten-out-of-ten. My friend and I were often made to be clowns, and placed on stage to fill abusers’ funny bones with our marrow. Then we were raped for being clowns.

In the memory of the hanging, my friend’s death was a simulation. I know he did not die that day, because I have later memories of the two of us that span much of my life. Just like children, my perpetrators also enjoyed simulating mistakes and collisions. They simulate destruction to scare us from every angle, to keep us from moving, to keep us from breathing.

Eventually, a person who is scared in this way, from every angle—fear shoved into every cell—may eventually die of suffocation, without even seeing it coming. A person can be shown so much fear that they become too afraid to move their arms, and then their legs, and then their mouths, and finally, their lungs.

This is why, every day I remind myself to breathe. When I make a mistake, I try to take a deeper breath. I try to give myself more than I have ever been given before. More air, more sensitivity, more space, more possibility.

Thoughtfulness

I am afraid to make mistakes in my outer life, and I am also afraid of the mistakes I carry within my inner life. For example, when I hear the voice of a person in my system, having fear or upset at someone in our present-day life whose actions do not warrant it, I am overcome with the extreme need to heal this emerging internal dynamic within myself, my system—us—because mistakes can be lethal. I feel that I must stop whatever I am doing, sit down, and tune into my solar plexus, to excavate this old wound before it can reach out and touch my outer life again. I do not want to lose another friend to a mistake.

Mistakes can be lethal, or worse. There are much worse things than dying. There are experiences that are harder to bear than dying. There are experiences that are harder to witness than to die from. This is what my past has shown me. More than that, the constant threat of beyond-lethal consequence formed the atmosphere in which I breathed my first and every breath. It was the atmosphere in which I was raised, groomed, trained, beaten, raped, soldiered, and hugged.

This is the atmosphere in which I was bred.

Recently, a friend shared her artwork with me. I loved it so much that I spent a long time looking closely at it, studying it. But, there was something else happening inside too. I heard a timid little voice in my mind—a boy in my system who was afraid that if his friend paints evocative artwork to express her feelings, then the masses will flock to her, and he will be left for dead. Fear immediately surrounded this thought, making it hard to see anything clearly, and I filled with shame.

I should want my friend to express herself, shouldn’t I? What is wrong with me?

In a state of self-rejection, I suddenly started to despise this fearful little thought inside of me. And then I start to feel despisable.

At this stage of my recovery, and with a deep understanding of my own fragmentation, I recognize that these are the thoughts and feelings of a little boy inside who is trapped in his memory. And I do not despise this little boy inside. In fact, recognition of the youngness, innocence, abuse, and deprivation that bore a thought such as his, is what is helping me to open up to its existence, and treat it well.

Paint

By dialoguing with this young boy inside, I have learned that when we were little, we were placed in a room with our friend. In the room, there were two canvases, and two sets of paint brushes and paint. We were asked to paint our feelings. We were both young and did not know what this meant.

The canvases were placed on two easels that faced each other. Therefore, my friend and I needed to turn our backs to each other as we both picked up a brush, and painted. While our canvases could face each other, and our feelings could be reflected in one another’s artwork, our bodies were forced to remain turned away, so we experienced loneliness and separation.

When we were both done, the adults in charge entered the room, and flocked to his painting. As they rushed to praise him for his artwork, they collided with me. I was trampled, kicked, and then left. In the process, my painting had dropped onto me, and smeared the paint—my rejected feelings—across my aching body.

Shifting Responsibility

After receiving some unconditional love from safe people, within my recovery process, I now have a strong-enough and safe-enough container from within which I can view my unhealthy internal dynamics. I can now trust that they always stem from trauma, even before I become aware of the particular memory that caused a certain dynamic. Communicating with my system, and spending time in meditation with them, I uncover the details of painful experiences that we endured, years ago. It feels as though I learn new things about my past every day.

In recovery I find myself owning my trauma, but still disowning it on a deeper level—still unable to hold that this truly happened to me, and that it was not my fault.

It is not my fault that I fill with fear when witnessing the creative expression of others. But had I not looked deeply into my unconscious, I wouldn’t have known this, and I would have blamed myself for being unloving.

As a child, I was originally hurt, deprived of love and friendship, and tortured, by other people—adults who had minds and bodies of their own, and spirits residing within them.

I did not cause this. My spirit did not cause this.

Long before I ever hurt or judged myself or felt shameful about who I am, I was hurt, rejected, and abandoned by others. Long before I could protect myself, or take responsibility for anyone’s actions, I was betrayed. Long before I deprived myself of friendship and connection, I was deprived of it by my caretakers.

Long before I could witness real love, I was told that my daddy loved me, and that is why he was hurting me.

Loyalty

Perhaps this early abuse was the very first test of my loyalty, and perhaps it began at such a young age that I did not stand a chance.

If my owner rapes me, beats me with a chain, and then stands back and opens his arms to me for a hug, will I go to him? I knew, as a toddler, that the answer to this examination must be “Yes.” And so I found ways to drag my body over to his, which was hard to do because of the severe contusions, and the damage from the rape.

It seemed like rape occurred every time his body came anywhere near mine. In fact, he told me that I was a rape magnet. Sometimes this was said lovingly, confusingly. Other times, it was said with blame and shame, and with the intention of placing infinite responsibility into my mind.

His hugs hurt my toddler body. He had beaten it up so badly, and gouged my skin with hooks.

The tiny particles that settled among the dust within my deadened soul, in the crevasses of my lungs, and in the chambers of my heart, were molecules of loyalty. They are invisible, quiet, and have hardly any olfactory notes. I was not meant to notice them, but they were meant to secretly steer every vehicle I drive—every thought I have.

My loyalty was supposed to outweigh my desire to be free. My loyalty was meant to convince my mind to accept its slavery, for the full duration of my life. However, my loyalty was not built by me, it was built by them, and therefore inorganic to my body. I will not let it outlive me.

I have an older body now, and a more fully developed brain. I have stuffed the openings of my mind with healing threads, every chance I’ve gotten. I have given my system whatever I can find, including a home, therapy, nurture, stickers, new friends, stuffed animals, and story books.

However, the amount of tragedy I have processed on behalf of my system and my body has not yet tipped the internal scale of responsibility off of me, and onto my perpetrators. The tiny molecules of loyalty within me are remarkably heavy.

If I do not start to open up to the truth, and realize that I have been abused and defiled, through no fault of my own, then I am never going to find my own unconditional self-love and self-kindness. If I do not find a safe way to admit to myself that there were other beings on this planet who were unjustly permitted to shock me to death, many many times over the course of this lifetime, then I will never be able to allow myself to make a mistake.

If I do not cough up the loyalty nestled deep within me, then I will never be able to lift the burden of perfectionism off of myself, and drop it down onto the people to whom it truly belongs.

Innocence

I imagine lifting this burden off of myself, and I wonder what it will transform into as it enters their energetic space. Perfectionism is what it grew to be in me. I imagine that for them it might be something unique to each of them—something of a mirror for their actions, their own histories of abuse, and their deep weaknesses. Without any judgment, I can tell you that the men and women in suits and ties who enslaved me were not strong. They were not strong enough to break out of the chains of their own self-annihilation. Instead, they painted their own reality, and they used my body, my friend’s face, and the entire world, as their canvas.

No wonder self-expressive paintings induce such fear in me.

To the little boy inside of me who fears his friend’s paintings, I want to say that he is allowed to be afraid, and have all of his feelings, for however long he needs. He can worry, he can get scared or angry, and he can make lots and lots of mistakes, in our internal world.

Using blocks and toy trees, he can build a house of pain. And then he can smash it down. And the blocks will tumble and fall. The dust will settle. The foundation of the house will reveal itself, and across its floorboards will be etched the word Innocent.





Copyright © 2020 SunlightLives All Rights Reserved

Street Girl

This essay is written by a seven-year-old female personality in our system. She refers to our former owner as her daddy, and to a former kind caregiver as her mommy, though we were not actually related to either of them. For more about our multiplicity, see our About page.

Creation

I am a street girl.

I am seven years old, and I have long hair. I wear a dress until they tell me to take it off.

I can tell a lot about you from the way you look at me, and the way you look around at the world.

I am a sex slave. And when I run, I become a street girl—if only for a while.

Older members of my system are helping me write about myself in a way that you can understand. Even though my body might look like an adult now, my part of the brain still operates like a child. If I was writing by myself, I would misspell almost everything, and my grammar wouldn’t be so good. But I heard that out here, it’s okay to make mistakes. That is what my helpers tell me now. And I watch them make mistakes all the time! So I suppose it must be true.

I learn fast. I needed to.

I have always been part of a system of people living in one body. It’s like having a lot of friends, but we live together in our internal world, or, our inside world. When I am on the inside, I am called an inside friend. When I am on the outside, I am fronting.

When I am fronting, I am always worrying. I am always worrying that people will hate me, or that I will break somebody.

I never wanted to hurt anybody or do anything bad. When my body was little, the grown-ups around me hurt me and hated me so much, that I learned to take it in, and hate myself.

I am trying to learn about love now. The adults in my system say that long ago, we preserved our self-love, and hid it somewhere inside. They say that in the pursuit of freedom, self-love is allowed, and we will not be punished for it, anymore. I hope this is true.

Smile

I have a smile that makes me appear happy, but I am secretly sad. I always seem cheerful and energetic, even though deep down I feel distraught and lonely. When I was five years old, and I was being trained as a sex slave, I was told that this smile was the diploma I received upon completion of my training. They said my smile was my diploma.

It was really a mask they made, and forced upon me—to cover my anguish.

There have only been a few people who have looked at me and seen through it. One of those people spent some time with me recently, helping me learn to show my true feelings on my face. I felt surprised that she wanted to see them.

I am getting better at showing my feelings, and smiling less. I think this practice has also helped me find my anger, and the beginnings of my long-lost heartbreak. I think those feelings were hiding behind my smile, too.

One day, I hope to start smiling more again, but this time, not because I was trained to. I hope one day my life will be filled with things that make me smile.

When I was a slave, I was blamed for everything, even if it happened in another room, or in another country, or in the middle of the ocean. The only things I was never blamed for were the good things. Those got taken away instead.

Traffick

The we of me has been a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. This is a very big word for what happened to me, and it’s supposed to mean that it wasn’t my fault—I think.

We are a survivor of child pornography, as well as trafficking in an organized pedophile network. I was never around safe people, and my world was dark and twisted. One thing that might surprise you is that little flowers can grow anywhere.

What I mean by that is, because my world was so dark, it was easy for me to notice the beauty in the other children around me. It glowed.

My eyes saw little flowers that grew in their chests, surrounding their innermost vulnerabilities, and weaving into their hearts. They were energetic flowers. They were warm.

In my internal world, I can make a quilt out of these flowers, if I want to.

But I can’t. I can’t think about these children, without remembering the bad things that happened to them. So my quilt is going to have to wait until I get older and all my tears can get out of my body.

But sometimes I can feel their energy around me, and this feels good. I think my soul likes to be kind and light and loving. I wonder if all souls like this. I think so, but I am staying open to whatever the truth may be. When I watched my daddy’s soul, it looked really, really miserable. I think this was from all of the evil action he took, twisting in on itself, and causing intense, violent disharmony within him.

But I do not consider my daddy’s spirit to be evil.

Sometimes the abusive adults had little moments of lightness in them, too. These were very precious, and very confusing. Like a gardener, I felt that it was my fault if I could not give them the conditions they needed to be blooming flowers all the time. I felt that it was my responsibility to nurture them, and I tried very hard to. I tried so hard, that I began to love many of them. The weight of this kind of love feels very heavy in me. I think their needs were so much heavier than I was, especially because I was so little and all by myself.

Living in this network is exhausting and tragic. I was little, but I was already very tired. Sometimes, profound fatigue can wake up rebellion.

One day, tragedy struck my life. My world shattered, and I was stunned. Something about this tragedy broke more than just my heart—it broke some of my attachment to my daddy, and my loyalty to his world. For the first time, I felt completely lost, and I had nowhere to take my feelings.

So I began running away.

Nurture

I had just lost a safe mommy figure who had been kind to me, and I felt out-of-control. Over the years of my life, I had not spent much time with her, by regular standards, but every moment with her was so different from everything else in my world, that it had a deep impact on me. I will remember her forever.

She had been kind, and she had loved me. She had never asked me to give her my body.

She wanted me to understand the world we were trapped in, so that I could eventually try to escape. One day, when I was cheerfully telling her about my daddy raping me, her heart couldn’t withstand it any longer, and she started to explain to me that my daddy was no good. She showed me the definition of Stockholm Syndrome in a book, and explained slowly, until I could understand it. Having been so abused herself, she understood a lot about abuse.

This was the very first time I realized that there might be another kind of life besides mine. I had my first glimmer of the idea that my daddy was betraying me.

In my world, I was not offered warnings. One day, I was told that I will never see her again. She is gone. She was killed. I remember feeling very quiet when I was told.

After she died, parts of me began to split off around a massive hole that was growing inside. Somewhere deep down, there grew a secret wish that I had never met her, because of the pain of losing her. This secret wish made me feel like I was betraying her, and every memory we had shared together. The guilt was so unbearable that I began to split off from it.

The confusion, loneliness, and guilt were tearing me apart. The grown-ups around me kept telling me that I killed her. They said that our memories together are what killed her, and they told me that I better hide these memories away forever.

I know the truth. They did it. But they tried to make me believe it was my fault; they taunted me while making deep cuts in my arm. I was too little to hold my own truth, and their words sank in. They sank into the cracks in my heart, and the cuts on my arm. Years later, when my body was a grown-up, I cut the same arm in the same way, without understanding why.

Runaway

My daddy doesn’t love me. My mommy is gone. I don’t mean anything to anyone now. I have nowhere to go.

Finding myself in sudden, stunned awareness of my dangerous world—which constantly hides, nestled in our larger world—it felt like there was nowhere I could go. But my feet needed to move.

The streets felt safer than the roofs over my abusers’ beds. When I began to run away, I acclimated to life outside. I slept in parks or alleys. I was constantly on the move.

I tried to fend for myself as best as I could, but running and hiding had its limits. Sometimes, when I desperately needed money or safety, the road of no options led me down the nighttime track.

Street trafficking. Soup kitchens. Gangs. The last gaze of a friend as she is hung in the river. A cement brick tied to her ankle.

Thoughts spin inside. The voices of pain pound in boxes in our mind, trying to tell their stories. Different parts of us speak.

“I lost someone I loved on the street; I was angry with myself for letting myself get close to her.”

“Sometimes I missed my daddy when I was on the streets. It was cold. I saw his face in my mind. I was hit with the feeling that he loved me. I knew it was a lie—it was programming he had placed into my mind—but I was all alone, and utterly poor, and sometimes this image of him felt like the only thing I had.”

“I liked the way the park smelled at night, and I liked the peace, but deep down I felt guilty knowing other kids were getting abused while I was taking in gentle breaths.”

“No one can ever love me because of the dirty things I did. I can never touch money again.”

Selling

I started selling myself on the street. I was little, but I was good at it. I made money. I gave it to homeless families sometimes, like the ones I met at the soup kitchen.

I thought the gangs were sad and violent, and I sent prayers to heaven for them. It was strange for me to watch their behavior, because I saw that even the pimps were unconsciously operating on rules that they didn’t understand, rules that they had been indoctrinated with when they were very young.

I stayed as far away from all of that as I could—I was running from the rules, after all. Not toward them. I hid. I waited. I traveled in the daytime, when it was warm and bright and people were too happy to notice me.

I ran back home when I felt I could bear it all, again.

Sometimes I hated the streets more, because I couldn’t feel loved at all, even by my abusers. So I had to try to love myself. I needed to take actions to help myself survive, and actions like these require some self-love. This was hard. I did not like to love myself because I hated myself so much. When I would try to give myself love, sometimes the voices of self-hated would grow even stronger and surround me, like tall shadows.

It felt more familiar to have my daddy control my life, and maintain his role of loving me and hating me. Then, I knew who I was. I was him—reflected. That was okay. I could be that. That was me.

Okay, I thought. Okay.

I feel dirty because of what I did on the street, and it is still very hard to talk about. Sometimes I would try to tell the other girls that they are being exploited. I think I got through to a few of them. One of them died.

I know it wasn’t my fault, but I don’t believe myself. I blame myself, still, to this day. I can see her face. She had a short bob haircut. She was kind. She had an edge. She was soft when no one was looking. She was good at her job.

She met me, and she died. Part of me felt heartbroken for her, but part of me felt happy for her, because I knew how painful life is for so many of us, and how sweet the spirit world can be.

I miss being a spirit, but I still believe I deserve to be here in this painful life, because I still feel that I am bad.

Lessons

Because my friend died some time after my mommy died, I was already primed to blame myself for deaths. I thought I did it again, I caused another kind life to end. I felt doubly bad about myself.

I realized I can cause harm, and be harmed—beaten, raped, told off, threatened—on the streets as well as in the secret world I was born into.

Losing my mommy lifted the illusions I carried about my dangerous world. Losing my friend lifted my illusions about the streets. I realized that pain could follow me anywhere. So even though I would continue to run away from time to time, for many years, each time I ran away I would eventually find myself back home.

The only way I could have truly run away from danger would have been if I had found a safe home. And even though some children have this, others do not ever find it.

That night long ago, when I lost my friend to the violence of the streets, the river continued to flow, her blood entering its streams. I reflected on her loss of life, and on my loss of possibility.

I felt that this experience was teaching me that I could not escape the life I was going to live. I could not escape my thoughts, my pain, and the consequences of human actions. That is when I decided that I will be the strongest and truest version of myself, no matter where I am, what is done to me, or who I get sold to.

I splintered into many pieces of myself, trying to withstand and endure this life. The greatest split in me is the split between the parts of me who love my daddy, and the parts who do not. Looking back, I recognize that it took bravery to feel each of those ways. Now I am looking for the bravery to put both halves of myself together.

The adults in my system tell me that the bravery I awoke in myself, that night by the river, is part of what helped us free ourselves, decades later, and finally give ourselves a safe home.

They tell me that I am not to blame for what happened. I cannot understand them, but I will try to reflect on this too. How could anything ever not be my fault?

Maybe this will be the next thing I learn.





Copyright © 2020 SunlightLives All Rights Reserved

I Am Kind to This Body

The following essay was written by various members of our system, as the “we of me” had an internal conversation about the nature of a body, and of a person’s relationship to their body. To learn more about our multiplicity, please see the About page. Thank you for reading.

What is my body? Is my body my property?

No. I would never refer to a living being as property. 

But then again, is my body only alive because I am in it? Would my body not be a living being if it were not for me?

When I was young, I was often directly told that I existed only because my abusers existed. I was only alive to feed their lives. My existence was intended to be in service to them—full, unconditional, accepting, childlike loving service, to the criminals who were breaking my heart. And breaking my bones.

I did not have an existence of my own. So now I sit, wondering, whether my body’s existence has the right to be universally cared about, whether I am occupying my body or not, or, whether I treat it well or not.

I do not wish to be an abuser of my own body—ever. Yet, because of almost three decades’ worth of enslavement and abuse, sometimes I struggle to connect with my body and hear it. This makes me feel like a neglectful parent.

And at times in the past, I have hurt it myself. Now, without going into self-blame, I am trying to stay with these questions, because they are leading me to wonder how much I have treated my body the way that my abusers used to treat me.

I know, on some level, that my body is unconditionally accepting of me and my circumstances, and it will do its best to handle whatever happens to it, and return to a healed state, if it can. This is exactly the way I responded to my abuse. I was too young and vulnerable to do anything but love the abusers, accept their treatment, and strive to survive.

I work in partnership with my body now, trying to feed it healthy foods, movement, sunrays, and air. But at times in the past, I have neglected it. I have hurt it. I have wanted to feel physical pain and injury rather than be in layers of pain and injury in my mind.

I think that because I am a mind control survivor (and was still being victimized at the time), I had a belief that the internal state of my mind did not matter to others, especially when they could not see it. Growing up, I saw that not only did the adults in my life not care about my mental and emotional anguish, but they organized significant portions of their lives around creating this anguish in me. Meanwhile, ordinary people could not see these wounds. They were too well hidden.

I felt that my mental wounds would never have value to anyone. I did not believe that my body had much value either, because it was being violated, shamed, and battered so much. Except sometimes I was told that my body did have value, such as when I was being forced to carry children. The many experiences I had of abusers wanting my body, but neglecting my mind and heart, sent me even more complicated messaging about myself, and the different aspects—body, mind, spirit–that form my existence.

I also knew that physical wounds show, and mental wounds are easier to miss or to ignore. Experiences of self-inflicted bodily injury, or overexercising, or neglect, also did not feel as complexly layered as the emotional pain, confusion, and grief that I held inside. Years later, at this stage of my recovery, I have a better understanding of my relationship to my body than I have ever had before. I knew that it was wrong to hurt any other person, but it took me many years to start to understand that it was also wrong to hurt me.

But while I try to take care of my body every day, I feel out-of-control when I consider the idea that I should be able to do whatever I want to it, or with it, because it is my body. That reminds me of what my abusers did to me when I was a child. What about listening to what my body needs or wants? 

Though this may seem strange, even my pierced ears are making me wonder. Did I pierce my ears in partnership with my body, or despite my body? I honestly do not know. But I can sense a feeling of appreciation inside of myself, for the conversation the we of me are having inside about our body. I sense that my body is finally feeling included.

I try to treat every member of my system with the kindness that they have always deserved and needed. But I noticed, some time ago, that I could not do the same for my body. I felt too much hatred toward it. The feeling was so strong, and the more I sat with it, the stronger it got. Tuning into my memories of abuse, I came to see that it was my abusers’ hatred of me, of themselves ultimately, that I was remembering, and feeling, as if it were happening now.

Then, I realized I was also feeling the agony of being physically imprisoned in so much pain, trauma, and illness. Well, I had felt that my whole life. That was my story. That wasn’t my body’s fault, it was the perpetrators’ fault. I am now gradually learning to direct my feelings at their source—the people who hurt me—rather than at myself, and my innocent body.

Someone suggested to me that I can begin to consider my body to be one of the members of my system. This changed everything. All of a sudden, my body mattered. All of a sudden, my body held a place of value within me, a precious place of value that I reserve for each member of my system. All of a sudden, I realized it had been victimized, too.

Furthermore, it was the only member of our system that was never able to leave, to dissociate from the abuse. It withstood all of it.

I had been feeling as though, with its old injuries and illness, that it was victimizing me, and not listening to me, until I finally realized that this was not true. The closest true statement would perhaps be, that it was reflecting back the deep and thorough victimization that I had been put through—a victimization I can seldom actually acknowledge.

In my recovery, I had somehow been healing emotional wounds while simultaneously refusing to believe the story of how they got there. My body’s injuries are indisputable. So is my fragmented psyche. I have been harmed from a very young age, and I have been struggling not to push away the proof.

I feel that no one should have more ownership of my body than I do. But, I do not feel that I can claim full ownership of it either. It is a body. It works with a mind, and a soul. These are all parts of my experience, but my body has its own wisdom, and I do not feel that I have the right to exploit or mistreat my body simply because I can. There are many actions toward bodies that are legal, but harmful.

Even more unfortunately, there are also many actions toward bodies that are illegal, harmful, and not prosecuted—such as the many violent actions that were done to my body. Ultimately, as an adult in recovery, I am in charge of ensuring that my own actions toward my body are loving. Even if there is never any prosecution of the crimes against me, I will do my best to give myself reparations.

I am starting to realize that my body is not bad. It has suffered. It carries the effects of years of suffering. I have also caused it suffering, but I know now that it was never in my true nature to do so. In my mind, I see the faces of the criminals who taught me to take a hammer to my own arms. I see the lifetime of “teachers” who told me I was dirty, gross, bad, a punching bag. They taught me that I wasn’t one of the beings who should be protected from harm. I was taught to harm myself.

This deepening understanding of my own compulsions and self-neglect has been the very thing that freed me from my own harmful actions. Now, I strive every day to bring my body healing. I am starting to now see it as sick, injured, and abused, rather than guilty, lazy, ugly, dirty, bad. I am taking loving actions toward my body. I am deepening my respect for it. I am listening to it. I am setting an example for the young parts of my system. Now, having freed ourselves, we can take actions we have never been allowed to take.

We can take the opposite of the actions that were taken against us. We can take the opposite of the actions that we were forced to take. Now we finally can, and oh, have we been longing to.





Copyright © SunlightLives 2020 All Rights Reserved

Ownership

As a survivor of trauma-based mind control and child slavery, the foundation of almost every memory I have is rape. The feelings within almost every memory—even memories that also contain sweetness, such as memories of my children—are torment, pain, confusion, and physical and psychic invasion. The people who invaded my body and my mind focused on the concept of splitting: they forcibly disconnected parts of my psyche from each other, using overwhelming trauma and torture; they disconnected me from the notion that my life has value, so that they could use me completely; they disconnected me from my own free will; and, in fulfillment of one of their primary goals, they disconnected themselves from any blame, shame, or consequences.

As I write about my abusers, I hesitate to call them “my” abusers, for a reason I don’t fully understand, which perhaps has to do with the concept of ownership, in its various forms. They abused me, which makes them former abusers of mine, but they didn’t have any real relationship with me. They were exploring their relationship with themselves and their world. They were using me, and my world, as a tool. As a reflection device. Sometimes, as a weapon. I have been owned for almost three decades, so I am very conscientious about applying ownership in my sentiments about any living beings. I know what it is like to be entangled in the vicious dance of ownership, without being given a choice. And now that I am beginning a life without them in it, I don’t want to speak of the abusers in any way that continues to make me feel tethered to them.

This is because I was tethered to them. My owner was the central figure of my life. I was never the central figure of my life. I believe that my owner died about two years ago. Since that time, I still have not taken my place as the center of my own life. I have never known how to. It has never been safe to.

Now that my former owner is gone, that central spot within me is currently being occupied by a tangled, electric cluster of confusion and anguish, regarding the concept of higher power. As I peer more deeply into this cluster, I feel a small child’s sense of utter betrayal. Peering even more deeply inside, I begin to sense that my memories of spirit rest within this tangled cluster.

Many times, my abusers forced me to die, upon which I entered the spirit world, and then these very same, cruel humans revived me to bring me back, and interrogated me about my experiences. For most people, their experience of life would take the path of: existence in the spirit world, then temporary existence as a human, then a return to spirit world. My path, within that schema, was filled with experiences of the reverse: an anguished, seemingly never-ending experience of life; followed by a temporary exit into the world of spirit; and then a return to the same human life. In this way, my abusers played God.

In fact, in every way, they attempted to play God. They tried to control the outcome of their own lives, and their search for pleasure and comfort and the fulfillment of their needs, by controlling their environment fully (which they had the money to do), controlling my life and the lives of other slaves, and in fact, attempting to place their control on the entire planet.

So, I am not surprised that the central image of my former owner has been replaced by this cluster of pain, betrayal, and longing for higher power. I now sit here, reflecting, wondering whether I can take my own place at the center of my life, all the while holding this terrified little cluster in my lap. Its youngness, innocence, and complete terror ring so strongly, that I feel it needs to be cradled.

My life has never been my own. My body has never been my own. In fact, from about the age of ten, I was forced to write and edit formal ownership contracts of myself, and of other slaves, for my owner. These contracts included clauses that indicated what types of violence were allowed to be inflicted on the body and on the mind, the duration of ownership of the slave, and the types of skills the slave could be used for. Any limitations on the amount of harm that could be done to a slave were for the sake of preservation, not at all in the spirit of compassion or empathy. Can you imagine a world that is both so unlimited in its violence toward slaves, especially children, and yet having some intelligence, forethought, and organization? I grew up seeing that people prepared their violence against me ahead of time.

They were thoughtful. They were thorough. They owned me, and controlled me, and this control permeated so deeply that sometimes it felt as though the air molecules around us were also shivering with fright, afraid of moving beyond the confines of the abusers’ wishes.

My owner and many other abusers trained me, and trained my body, to become their slave. Not just a slave, but their slave. They taught me how they wanted me to respond to them, specifically, so that they could feel good. They taught my body how to respond to them.

They not only taught me and my body how to respond to them, they taught me how to respond to life. They placed extensive triggers and programming into my mind, colonizing my internal world, so that almost each experience I could have in everyday life was somehow linked to extreme pain and fear. Most of my abusers were completely psychopathic. They had no grasp of what it felt like to be owned by them, raped by them, or tortured by them. But I saw that doing it made them smile. I began to think I was evil. I began to think I was bad, for deserving so much pain. The worse I felt about myself, the easier it was for them to continue to brainwash me into believing that they own me, and that they always will.

I do not want to be owned. I am afraid to even take ownership of myself. I like to let myself breathe. I try every day to loosen the confines of my mind, and to ease the scrutiny through which I see myself. I don’t want to be owned by their memory, or their energy.

I want to be so free that I will not feel guilty about being free.

I want to feel so free that I do not have to forget my past, either.

Every day, I work on seeing myself, holding myself, and understanding and accepting myself and my life. I try to bring more freedom to the buried and traumatized parts of me inside, so that the we of me can have more freedom on the outside.

My abusers had no empathy, so I was encased in a world that did not allow for emotion, or personal expression. My only expression had to be calculated expression—tuning into what they want, what they need, and the form in which they would like me to give it to them. Essentially, a servant in their homes, I walked around naked, holding myself on a silver platter for them.

Entering the world of recovery, I am having my first experiences of being seen. So far, acclimating to this has been very painful. I wish this weren’t so. I don’t think slaves deserve for pain to be such a constant part of their recovery process, too.

Now that I know what being seen feels like, it’s getting harder and harder to tolerate the old lifelong feeling of not being seen. Its shadows are growing exponentially, because it is finally safe enough for me to see them. To feel them.

Now, when I feel unseen by others in day-to-day life, I feel decades’ worth of terror. I feel this intense fear that people who have no radar, no emotional attunement, are capable of anything. I find it hard to stand up for myself at times, and have to remind myself that the consequences of existing are very different out here. The instinct to stand up for myself has been beaten down from every angle.

To feel safe, I walk around every day trying to assess the rules in the air at any given moment.

However, deeply below all of the control, the rules, the trauma, the electricity that was forced into my body and mind, lies the desire to breathe.

Deeper down and closer to where my unscathed spirit dwells, I feel the longing to be free, and I know that true freedom for one person cannot be an imposition for another person. I know that the freedom my abusers were looking for will never be found along the paths they walk. I wish to walk away from them, even if it is a lonely path much of the time. I wish to be free.

Knowing the feeling of slavery at its core, my wish for all beings is for them to be free.





Copyright © SunlightLives 2020 All Rights Reserved