Content Warning: There is no graphic violence depicted in this essay, but we do discuss the effects of extreme criminal “holiday” rituals on survivors of trauma-based mind control. We are aware that we have been programmed to disproportionately direct our anger at bystanders rather than primarily directing it at perpetrators, and that this may be an unhealed quality in our writing today. However, we also seek to expose some of the unhealed qualities in the ways in which many people around the world celebrate rituals and move through the workings of our shared global society.
Today we are writing to acknowledge those who are suffering.
All around the world there are survivors of organized abuse who struggle during this time of year, trapped in memories of cruel and brutal rituals. Some survivors acutely feel the inner burden and the anguish that they carry, but they have been programmed to be unable to see the content of their memories. Sadly, this can create an additional layer of pain and distress, leaving some survivors feeling trapped within their own invisible, ongoing suffering.
These survivors may be stuck in bed all day, painfully judging themselves for their inability to move, while being unable to recall and process the extreme trauma that has created their misery and exhaustion, and being unable to bring themselves the compassion and care that they need. All survivors of extreme trauma deserve compassion, caretaking, soothing, understanding, and rehabilitation. There are three additional major components of healing that many organized abuse survivors must go without: acknowledgement, apology, and justice.
I believe that so much programming and self-harm within a survivor would cease, if the perpetrators and bystanders were to acknowledge what happened, apologize, and take responsibility for providing justice. It would probably feel as though the world has finally acknowledged that their victimization was not their fault. They may then realize that their youngest, tiniest, most frightened and terrorized alters can finally stop fueling the continuous internal self-harm that they were taught to believe that they deserve.
I hope that this essay can at least offer some acknowledgement to other survivors and victims. I am still looking for ways in which apology and justice can be provided to victims and survivors, with or without the unwilling components of society, the willful bystanders and the perpetrators.
By definition, a victim cannot be willing or culpable. A crime is a crime because the perpetrator takes an action against the victim’s will, and because the perpetrator takes advantage of the victim’s limited resources.
A child victim may be too young, small, or weak to fight back against a rapist or trafficker. A neglected child may need to inhibit feelings of self-betrayal and welcome abusive treatment over abandonment. A child or an unregistered adult may lack any truly protective individuals with whom to confide or seek refuge. A dissociative adult may be completely unaware of their own forced perpetration, and may lack the knowledge, free will, and outer resources to escape an abusive group.
There are some individuals who identify with having been both a victim and a perpetrator. This is possible too, but it is important to discover whether the feeling of having been a perpetrator stems from a young, innocent, victimized child alter. Over time, survivors who remember both abuse and perpetration can begin to assess whether they had any free will over the harm that they believe themselves to have committed.
In some cases, they may have to encounter the realization that they truly overrode their own conscience without external coercion, and harmed someone else as a result. Freewill perpetrators also deserve compassion, support, and a chance to experience healing, though in my experience they sometimes confuse such an offering with a chance to continue to be abusive.
I have memories of apologizing to children for harming them. From their points of view, the harm had appeared to come from me, from my words, my hands, and the looks of hatred and indifference in my eyes.
In reality, I had been desperately hiding a fully broken heart. In reality, my actions had been planned and enforced by a group.
In apologizing, I also explained that I had never intended to hurt them. I can recall that in that moment, I was young and I felt deeply guilty. I was struggling with an impulse to take full responsibility, for everything. But I knew that an important component of an apology was the entire truth: the children and I were being surveilled, and I knew that if I did not harm them, the consequences would be even more damaging to them.
My guilt felt much more authentic when I acknowledged that its primary components were feelings of powerlessness and limitation, as well as misplaced childhood guilt over having been forced to participate in the harm of others, as well as the guilt of having survived what others did not survive.
I used to believe that I was born into the world of organized crime because that was where I inherently belonged, and I believed that I was inherently bad. I share a system with some alters who still believe this. They ask if they are bad nearly every day.
I later learned that my abusers had privately forced me to adopt these negative beliefs when I was very young, and then with as much brutality, they had forced me to forget that I was ever influenced by them, so that my beliefs would appear to be purely my own.
It is much easier to control someone who is missing important information and missing important skills. So I try not to feel too badly about myself when I remember just how profoundly I had been controlled, and for how long.
The extreme abusers of the world have never acknowledged what they have done, apologized, and taken responsibility. They have never returned all of the money and resources that they unjustly accumulated to the beings whom they enslaved. Many survivors would say that the possibility of this feels extremely unlikely, or impossible.
The best that many of these survivors hope for is survival. They often feel fortunate just to know they are not being reaccessed, revictimized, or tortured in any new way. Many of them harbor wishes to see lost loved ones, as well as hopes for their loved ones’ freedom, but in the meantime all they can do is attempt to stay away from the organized perpetrator group, and seek help and comfort in whatever ways they can.
Some survivors suffer with the knowledge that their perpetrators are carrying out similar rituals and sacrifices on a new generation of innocent beings. Some survivors feel helpless not only to bring healing to their own memories, but also to stop the continuing harm that they know is occurring.
They live with all of this conflict in their inner worlds, and in the outer world they may hardly express it. Many survivors do not feel as though people are listening, because people appear to be too busy, ignorantly celebrating the same holidays that their abusers celebrated so destructively.
To be honest, hearing a holiday song in the midst of all of this anguish can feel like spit in the face. Not only does holiday music reprogram victims of trauma-based mind control all around the world, but it serves as a cheerfully melodic reminder that these millions of crimes have all gone unacknowledged.
This year, my system feels unsure as to how maturely or immaturely we are handling this holiday season. We are at at a personal stage of healing where “how dare they” is being generously applied to the bystanders of the world. Daily. Hourly. How dare they?
How dare they play music that they don’t understand? How dare they participate in holidays about which they know very little, and plaster the world’s enslaved silent pain with consumerism? How dare they believe themselves to be spiritually connected to life and to love at this time of year, yet somehow the sense of spirituality has never taken them far enough to see the entire truth?
I wish that members of society who are fortunate enough to find themselves outside of the dynamic of extreme, organized oppression would spend the day in solidarity with those who remain trapped. Instead, the children in my system imagine them to be hosting a holiday party one floor above life’s basement. Down below, rape, torture, and murder go on their own festive rampage.
There are therapists who compassionately witness survivors’ torturous memories of these ritual dates, and then go on holiday themselves, abandoning their clients’ realities and celebrating the same exact ritual dates, while insulating their families and friends from the entire truth.
I live with the awareness that much of the world’s humans believe these criminals to be nonexistent, or on holiday, or even working during the holidays—diligently protecting or serving their communities, cities, or countries.
I have recently run into the issue of knowing that someone who provides my system with compassionate, healing therapy also voted for one of my perpetrators.
What do I do now?
Ignorance is not as much of an accident as some people claim.
It is no longer okay to allow media-generated political conversation to occur in front of one, once one has been informed that all components of the political arena secretly traffic and abuse children.
It is not okay to take advantage of the fact that one is fortunate enough not to be enslaved, in order to have a safe, happy holiday with friends and family who exchange slave-labor made products, in front of a tree that was chopped down so that it can die slowly in a supposedly loving family home.
Loving energy does not commit harm. It is so easy to contribute to harm on Earth, though, and so difficult to be truly loving. But I have seen love. It enters many ordinary interactions, but not often enough to end slavery.
I have seen love within slavery as well. I was never a part of a safe and loving family or community, but as a small child I tried to send love to other children who were being harmed in rituals. I desperately sent it to them through my fingertips, right before being forced to murder them.
Because of the way that my programmers assaulted me, attacked my health, and deliberately injured and limited my body, my physical balance isn’t very good. I am working on restoring it by noticing the moments that require balance and being gentle about my physical limitations, not pushing past what I can safely do, and by placing much of my focus on being present with the activated programmed alters as well as the distraught alters who used to have good balance. It hurts to have had a good sense of balance, to have had it used by my oppressors to serve their criminal whims, and then to have had it busted down and reconfigured so that I fall down whenever I try to be happy or free. It hurts to be brain injured, sick, sad, and alone.
There is so much disappointment inside of me. There has been so much oppression and subservience. My childhood mouth has been around so many strangers’ genitals. I am so sick of living.
Maybe if I had lived differently, I would not be so sick. But the world still would be sick. Even if I had lived differently, the rest of the planet might have been hurt just the same as it was hurt, as it is being hurt, as it will be hurt. It is painful to witness it happening, to know it is happening, to have no way to do any more to abolish slavery than I am currently doing.
I felt like a burden as a child because nobody wanted me whenever I had any needs. They wanted me to have sex. My body was stretched out and conditioned to accommodate perverts, sadists, and experimenters. I remember being trained to withstand severe physical battery so that violent clients could release their darkness onto me and I could sustain (and feign) profound injury, yet be sold again and again and again all night long.
I am so tired.
Do I really need to smile at every stranger I pass? Do I really need to get in line for all of the polite behavior required over the course of one day, when my thoughts and bones feel like they have all been methodically broken? What is it that I really need to pay for now?
When I think of some friends of mine, other former slaves in recovery, I notice a kindness toward others that I can’t always match anymore (I’m often too physically tired to smile). In these friends’ behaviors I witness a detailed accommodation of others—a profound accommodation that many regular people may not even notice. Sometimes I witness a subservience, a desire to please strangers at the expense of dimming one’s own truth. I have watched so many times as alters in my friends’ systems have attempted to tentatively voice the reality about their former enslavement, their internal torment, and the greater scope of enslavement in the world. Often, other people have not been able to give these tentative voices much attention. This is really too bad, because slave children who survive often have too few wisps of effort left inside, after having their free will tortured out of them.
If they notice that no one cares again, they dim and retreat like a candle that goes out all on its own.
Maybe there are a few sentiments that I can voice on their behalf. The world is in a state of imbalance. Those who have been extraordinarily victimized are often left to take care of their own wounds. Those with brain injuries need to schedule their own appointments. Those who were forced to chop heads off of young babies are forced to chop their own food and cook it every night. Former slaves even have to find a way to pay for recovery support, after working their entire childhoods to fund their own perpetrators. What is it like to take money from a slave? How do you feel? Is it ever the right thing to do?
I feel strange receiving help and support from someone who has never had their money, their home, their bonds to others, their memory, their free will, and their body completely yanked away from them. I feel strange sitting by the lucky and asking for a little of their attention. It feels as though there is an injustice hanging in the air. It feels like it hangs everywhere.
If there is a subset of the population enslaving and torturing another subset of the population, who is responsible? If psychopaths refuse to take responsibility, as is sewn into the definition of their condition, then who is next on the list? Would it be the victims? Or would it be those who have had the fortune of having eyebrows that raise in surprise when the reality of child slavery is voiced?
The recovering former slaves whom I am friends with have such low expectations of this society. We receive so little acknowledgment, hardly any attunement—even by many therapists, doctors, and social workers or case managers. We feel crazy living with internal torture that we are still being expected to carry all alone, in line at the grocery store along with everybody else. Why isn’t there a separate, gentler line for the formerly enslaved? No eye contact required. No speaking required. No forced smiles required. No pretending required. No payment required. No work required. Nothing required. Nothing required. Nothing required.
Many slaves’ greatest wish would be the relief of hearing Nothing is required of you anymore.
You can speak about what has happened to you and what you are really feeling. You don’t have to say I’m fine anymore. Nobody does. It’s not helping anyone, either. The world is wounded, so no one is fine. No one is actually fine.
I truly hope that balance will be restored. I hope that those who have committed crimes and hoarded money, land, and societal control will be stripped of what they’ve stolen. I hope that those who have been trafficked will be untrafficked. I hope society will come together to figure out how this needs to be done, and stop asking us, the formerly enslaved, to help me help you.
This story is written for personalities of any age, though the youngest may need help with some of the vocabulary words. There are some depictions of abuse in the section called Shadows, which can be skipped if needed. Instead, child alters can offer their own examples of what mean shadows might do, by talking, writing, drawing, or therapeutic play. (See the updated Resources page to find some resources for inner children and deprogramming. This story has also been posted to the website’s main menu and can be found here.)
We dedicate this story to all survivors of extreme abuse, slavery, and organized torment of children.
We particularly acknowledge those who were never rescued, and who have needed to tirelessly and repeatedly rescue themselves.
We also dedicate this story to our friend in recovery, who has loved us so much that we have been able to write a healing story such as this one, and whose favorite animal is the otter.
The Little Otter
A Deprogramming Story for Alters of Any Age
Once upon a time, there was a little stream that flowed through a grassy meadow. The stream sparkled and made a beautiful sound, as it moved along its curving, winding, yet steady path. There were flowers growing in the meadow too, and their petals had lots of different shapes and colors. The flowers and the grass loved to grow together and be friends. The sunlight helped the grass grow tall and healthy, and it helped the flowers bloom. The wind blew through them all and made them feel alive.
Birds would fly overhead and feel the sun against their wings. Some of the birds would rest on the trees nearby, where they could take long deep breaths, and feel comfort and wisdom coming from the branches of the trees. The trees felt flexible and strong, and they felt deeply connected to life. Their leaves would rustle and shine, waving hello to everyone, everywhere.
At night the sun would leave, to visit other meadows and other places all over the world, before coming back again.
Stars would fill the dark sky to keep the sleeping meadow company, gently shining down toward every creature and every being, gently watching over everyone, everywhere.
One morning, a young bird woke up after a peaceful sleep. She stretched her wings, creating a mural of feathers in seafoam green and periwinkle. The young bird decided to take flight and explore, feeling safe enough to venture a little farther away from her home than she usually did.
Up she flew, into the sky, moving together with the patterns of the wind and her own deep instincts. Her wings beat up and down, to send her higher into the sky, and then they strengthened and stilled so that she could soar through the air.
She gazed down at the flowers, who were beginning to take in the sunny nourishment of the day. She flew over the stream of clear, cool water. She soared over many trees, greeting the leaves and branches, and greeting other birds as they greeted her.
Looking up, she saw three clouds in the sky. Two of the clouds looked soft, round, and bright. To her, one cloud looked like a little bird with a tiny little beak, and the other cloud looked like a baby otter, with a strong little tail.
She smiled and then looked around at the third cloud. It was far away from the other two, and darker. It sort of looked a little like a baby creature too, but also sharp, almost like an arrow pointing down.
The young bird could feel that something was wrong. She knew that she had to follow that lonely cloud. She sensed that there was someone there who needed help. With great care and focus, she began her trip through the sky, knowing that the blowing winds and her own deep instincts would help her fly all the way there.
As she traveled closer, she noticed that the cloud was making the ground below it a little darker than usual. The trees weren’t as green and full of leaves as many of the other trees in the land. However, they were very, very tall, as though they had gained an unusually high amount of wisdom in their lives. Though some of their branches appeared broken or brittle, the wood that formed these trees was clearly very powerful. It glowed with awareness and strength, and with its own determination to stay deeply connected to life.
The young bird peered down below the branches. She saw that the land was cracked, and there was hardly any grass. The water that ran through the cracked ground wasn’t as bright or as free. But the bird could see that the water was really, really trying to flow.
The air was rather still, and the wind in this area was a little more subdued. It would blow in different directions sometimes, confused, as though it didn’t know which direction it wanted to move in, or how it wanted to express itself.
There weren’t any other birds around. The young bird noticed this, but for whatever reason, she wasn’t frightened. She kept exploring the land, trying to understand it. She kept looking for what the pointy cloud had been pointing to.
As her wings beat up and down, and she flew through the branches and the meadows, she heard an unusual sound. It was like a cry, and like a scream, and like nothing at all.
Immediately, she moved toward that sound, keeping her wings as quiet and as calm as possible. The land suddenly grew even darker as she flew right underneath the pointed part of the dark, heavy cloud.
Down below, past the tree branches and in a small clearing, she saw what was happening. At once it broke her heart, but it also sent her soaring even faster toward the clearing.
She saw a little baby otter, just like the one in the clouds who had such a strong little tail. But this little baby otter was getting hurt. She was trembling and she was frightened. Groups of dark shadows were towering over her, surrounding her in a big circle, and there was no way out. Every shadow was doing terrible things.
The young bird jetted toward the baby otter. As she flew, she witnessed everything that the shadows were doing to her.
One of the shadows was shouting at the baby otter, calling her terrible names, saying mean and humiliating things.
An even darker shadow took the shouting shadow’s hand, and they screamed down at the baby otter together. The darker shadow was yelling with such force, blaming the baby otter for all of the darkness in the whole entire world. It was using its other hand to point down at the baby otter as it yelled. This shadow looked angry and cold; it didn’t care how hurt and terrified the baby otter looked. It didn’t care that the baby otter was shaking and buckling at her knees, taking in all of these painful feelings, taking on all of the blame, all alone, even though she was just a little baby.
The young bird was shocked and horrified. This was too much pain, too much terror, for one little baby otter. Where had all of these shadows come from? Why were they all attacking this baby? The bird kept flying straight toward the little otter, breathing deeply so that she had all of the strength and calm that she would need.
One of the shadows was punching and kicking the baby otter, over and over again. It would pull her fur, slap her face, and step on her tail so she couldn’t get away. It would keep hitting and hitting, making her feel broken and worthless inside.
Another shadow was drowning the little otter in the very same water that she had once loved to play in. It was drowning her over and over again, making her afraid of breathing, and afraid of living.
The young bird began to cry as she flew, and her tears fell down over the trees, onto the leaves and branches, and onto the cracked ground. The young bird so much wanted to hold the baby otter safely within her wings, under all of her seafoam green and periwinkle feathers, nestled in the warmth of her breathing chest and beating heart. The young bird so clearly felt how important it had been for her today, to fly to the dark cloud, and to follow its arrow down to the clearing. On she flew, and as she flew, she noticed that the wind was now helping her. It suddenly knew which direction it needed to blow in.
A tall shadow was standing over the baby otter, touching her in unbearable ways, ways that made her feel like every little cell in her body was going to disconnect, and like her mind was going to break apart. It was touching her private places in so many cruel and painful ways, while telling her that it loved her, and that this was love. The weaker and weaker the little otter felt, the more the shadow would lie to her, and tell her that she liked its touch, and that she liked the feelings.
Then, the shadow would give her away, to be touched by other shadows. Each time the baby otter would be passed around to the next shadow, it felt like a new betrayal. The little otter was feeling like she belonged to more and more shadows, and she was starting to forget who she ever was to begin with, or if she was ever anything at all.
The wind tried to blow gently across the baby otter’s face, to remind her of who she was. She was still being too terrorized to feel it… But, maybe a little tiny part of her did.
Some of the shadows were watching the baby otter’s anguish, and laughing. Other shadows were ignoring her.
Some shadows were there but had turned away. They were choosing to play with and comfort other baby otters instead of rescuing her.
The tormented and desperate baby otter felt so invisible, so unwanted. She had absolutely no idea that the young bird could see her, could see what was happening, and was rushing toward her to rescue her.
The young bird could see how deeply the screaming, the hitting, the bad touches, and the lies were affecting the baby otter. Even from a distance, she could see that the poor baby otter’s eyes were starting to grow very, very dim. They were beginning to look more and more like the dark cloud above them in the sky.
The young bird dove lower and kept her wings pointing toward the little baby otter.
Meanwhile, the shadows kept creating more and more pain, and they never seemed to tire.
Some of the shadows were doing something that they had clearly planned to do, on purpose. They were trapping the little otter, and forcing her to watch horrible things happening to other little creatures.
Even crueler shadows were grabbing her paws, holding them and moving them, and forcing her paws to hurt other little creatures, or even hurt herself.
Some of these shadows would step back and then threaten her, and force her to hurt other creatures by herself, while whispering in her ears, making her believe that she was the one who wanted to do these harmful things.
After the other little creatures were hurt, the little otter would cry. The shadows would stop her, immediately. They would force her never to cry. They would blame her for everything that happened to the other little creatures.
The young bird was crying, though. She had no shadows stopping her, so she could cry freely. And she did. Something about her tears was beginning to slowly change the land. The trees looked a tiny bit brighter, truer. The cracks in the ground were softening.
The young bird was almost there. She was looking for a way in, through all the shadows, to rescue the little otter.
The biggest and darkest shadow of all was very tall, and very wide, and encircled all of the other shadows. This shadow made the baby otter feel all alone, an orphan. No family, no friends, no safety, no relief.
She was trapped within all of these painful shadows, with no one to rescue her, and no one to care. She couldn’t understand why all of the shadows seemed to hate her so much, or ignore her so deeply. She couldn’t understand why the biggest and darkest shadow wanted to wrap her up in this darkness and never ever let her out.
The little otter began to sink to the floor. The shadows began to laugh. Some of them kicked her. Some of them forced her back onto her feet, although she sank down again.
The little baby otter felt something inside of her own chest. It felt like it was the only thing left. It felt like it was the energy that was keeping her eyes open. In her exhaustion, and in her fear that this would go on forever and ever, she noticed a part of herself that was still bright.
The young bird noticed it too. It was like a light. As soon as the young bird saw this light, it was as though a tiny path was forming, one between her and the baby otter. This was a path that no shadow could enter, because its light would make the shadow disappear.
Shadows did not like to disappear, because they were afraid that if they disappeared, they wouldn’t exist.
The young bird was careful. She knew not to hurt anyone. Down she flew, along the baby otter’s path of light. This small path took just the same curving, winding, yet steady path that the stream in the meadow followed. It was almost as though deep inside, this baby otter knew where she truly belonged.
The baby otter had been looking down at her own belly, watching it struggle to take tiny breaths, while trying to endure the neverending attacks from the shadows. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a wing. It was seafoam green and periwinkle. Then there were two wings, and they were landing right beside her. The young bird had found the little otter.
Their eyes connected. The baby otter tried to take in the sight of this wonderful, kind bird, who had flown through all of the shadows to get to her. The baby otter thought that she ought to wonder whether this bird was real or not, and not just another trick played by the shadows. But then she realized that for the first time, she could actually feel how real this other creature was, and how true her presence was, here in this lonely clearing.
The bird looked around, shadows surrounding them, sensing what the baby otter had been going through. She looked at the baby otter again, with deepened understanding in her eyes. Extending her wing out and to the side, she offered the little otter a warm embrace. The otter turned her head toward the extended wing and stared, in stillness, because she never before had been offered real kindness.
She was not sure what to do. The extended wing was blocking her view of some of the shadows. The two of them turned their heads to the other side, where some of the shadows were still visible. The little otter looked scared.
The young bird extended her other wing, just a little, and then a little more. The little otter looked at her again. The connection between the two of them was growing stronger. The light between them was going from chest to chest, pulsing, connecting their heartbeats, and even harmonizing the rhythm of their breathing.
Looking around at the shadows that were still visible, and still causing harm, the little otter suddenly saw them for what they were.
It was hard to explain, especially for such a young otter. She had always thought that those were her own shadows, that the shadows were parts of her—parts that the sunlight would never reach. But now, now it felt like the shadows were not her, and that they never had been. They were the shadows of other creatures, creatures who had really hurt her for a very long time in the same ways that she had felt the shadows hurting her, but who were not there anymore. The creatures who had hurt her were gone now. Only their shadows remained.
Even though the baby otter couldn’t quite remember how she had gotten trapped inside of all of these shadows, and even though she couldn’t remember the exact moment that she had forgotten who she was, and what the shadows really were, the young bird’s wings were blocking enough of the shadows now, so that she could finally begin to understand. The little otter breathed a small sigh of relief.
It felt like two big pieces of her heart were finally coming together. She looked up at the young bird and suddenly burst into tears. She reached her paws out, wanting to be embraced, to be lifted from this place where the shadows had tormented her. She wanted to live somewhere where love grew.
The bird embraced the baby otter, holding her closely. Their hearts beat next to each other, and they breathed in a slow, deep rhythm, together with the trees and the land below them. The baby otter cried and cried. She clung to the young bird, surprising herself with her own needs and desires. Slowly, as she quieted, her eyes closed, and she began to gently rest for the very first time in her life. In the embrace of the young bird, she didn’t even see as the shadows melted away, all around her.
The dark cloud felt so much love for the two young creatures. It knew it could continue to travel through the sky, shedding its own tears of relief over parts of the land who were in need of it.
The sun shone more brightly above them, warming both of them, warming everyone around the clearing, warming everyone, everywhere.
As the tiny otter rested, the young bird gently placed her onto her back, and they began their journey to the meadow.
The moving wings and the rush of air awakened the little otter, bringing out her care and curiosity.
“But if we leave here, who will take care of the land?” she asked the young bird.
“Nature will,” the young bird replied.
Feeling comforted, the little otter rested her head a little more deeply on the young bird’s back, and smiled her first smile.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“To the meadow where I live.”
Then the little otter’s smile fell a little. “What if it’s scary? What if it’s new and it’s scary? I’m scared. I’m scared,” she said.
“I sense that that you have been there, somehow. And that we have even played there together,” the bird said, glancing back at the otter as she flew. This made the little otter’s smile brighten once more.
The young bird told her about the two clouds she had seen that morning, that had looked just like a baby bird and a baby otter, just like the two of them.
Together, they flew with ease, as the young bird showed the otter different parts of the land below. There were mountains, off in the distance, and even a waterfall they could visit. There was a place with a sandy shore, and an ocean so deep and so big that it looked like it went all the way past the horizon. They could visit this shore too, where the water greeted everyone with its salty waves.
The closer they flew toward the meadow, the more other birds they saw. The young bird would greet the others and introduce the baby otter to them. So many kind and smiling creatures, so many green leafy trees. The little otter was awestruck.
Up in the sky, the clouds were still moving. There was one up ahead shaped like a smile. Another one looked like a frown. One sort of looked like an angry face. Another one looked very silly. The little otter was realizing that the sky could show so many shapes, pictures, and feelings, and it didn’t have to hold them in, at all. It would show them all, no matter what they were. And then, after a while, they would change. And it was all okay.
The little otter said, “The sky has lots of feelings.”
“Yes it does,” smiled the bird.
“I wonder if I am allowed to show my feelings now, too. The shadows didn’t let me.”
The bird took a deep breath to let in and feel what the little otter had shared with her.
Then, she replied, “The sky can show its shapes, its pictures, and its feelings, because it is free. Now, you are free too, Little Otter. You are free too.”
Together they traveled to the lovely meadow. The baby otter was a little afraid to land on the ground. She had just gotten used to flying. The young bird sensed this, and she flew down very slowly, reassuring the little otter that nothing sudden would happen as they landed.
Once they were safely on the ground, the otter hid. The only familiar part of this place was the young bird, so she hid behind her wing. The young bird did not mind one bit, and they walked together this way, exploring the land, making their way steadily toward the stream.
Along the way, at first the otter could only see her own feet, because she was hiding in the young bird’s wing. Soon, she started wanting to see more. She would move her paws out to make a little space under the wing, so she could see more of the grass. Soon she even spotted a little flower, and it made her want to stop and peek out to see more.
The two of them stopped together. Trembling, the little otter glanced out from behind the young bird’s wing. She took a look around, seeing short and tall blades of grass, seeing different kinds of flowers, and seeing some trees a little farther away.
The little otter paused to smell the air. Then, she suddenly got up the courage to smell a flower, and she slowly emerged from behind the young bird’s wing and took a few steps toward the flower. It smelled wonderful. The baby otter was sure that this was going to be her favorite smelling flower, because it was the first one she had ever smelled all by herself.
Instead of hiding back inside of the young bird’s wing, the otter held the tip of the bird’s wing with her paw, and the two of them walked together.
Sometimes the little otter would notice that her head was down, and that she was still barely breathing. She would remind herself to look up again, to look all around her, to feel the bird’s wing in her paw, to hear the sounds of the trees and grass in the wind, and to smell the air.
As the two of them walked closer to the stream, the ground started to feel moist under their toes. The sound of the stream was beautiful. The little otter sensed her own excitement, even though she did not know where it was coming from. She had forgotten that otters, like the birds and the wind and the clouds, have instincts too.
By the stream, the little otter started to feel a new feeling, which was making her spring up and down on her toes, and chatter a lot. She felt happy. She felt like an otter.
The young bird walked with her to the edge of the stream. “This stream looks just like the path you sent to me as I flew to your rescue, Little Otter. I am so happy that I found you.” The little otter gazed up at the bird in wonder. She had never heard anyone say such a thing to her.
The little otter cried once more, leaning into the young bird, then looking out at the stream, then leaning into the young bird again. Together, they sat and listened to its movements.
The little otter began to feel more okay. Something inside of her was changing. It was hard to explain, especially for such a young otter. It felt like her body felt safer, more peaceful. And this was making her mind feel safer, too.
She had always been afraid that if she tried to escape, or tried to rest, or tried to get away from the fear and pain of all the shadows, that she would find herself in even more danger. She was afraid that her own eyes and ears wouldn’t always be able to sense what was happening and keep her safe. But it somehow wasn’t true. She was still aware of her surroundings, because her whole entire body could feel where she was and what all of the nature around her was doing. Now that she wasn’t so scared, she could feel what it truly felt like to sit in the meadow, and she could sense everything. She could sense how safe she felt here. The deepest part of her could sense some sort of old familiarity, something in the stream that felt like home.
Her own little toes surprised her, by suddenly inching toward the water. She looked up at the young bird, who smiled at her. Into the water she went, first just with her paws, but then with her whole body. She felt so joyful. She felt very cool, yet warm as well. She felt excited yet clear, calm, and peaceful. She felt as though she were swimming in water that loved her as much as she loved it. She had never felt this way before.
Every night, the young bird helped the little otter fall asleep. All little creatures need sleep. The shadows had kept the little otter’s life dark, yet sleepless, for so very long.
The young bird’s presence and the trickling stream brought soothing comfort, even while most of the meadow still felt new and scary.
The little otter looked up, watching the stars appear after the sun had gone away.
“Little Otter, we see you,” said the stars. The little otter was surprised, but continued to look up at them. “We witnessed what happened to you, little one. You were never fully alone.”
The little otter nodded, watching the stars. Something about them had seemed familiar, too.
“We will always remember what happened, to you and to everyone, everywhere. We will remember for you, and we will always watch over you. We wish you to never feel invisible again.”
Soothed, comforted, the otter watched the stars some more, feeling unsure about why they would ever shine for her.
She looked over at the young bird, sleeping under the faint glow of the starlight. The little otter realized that the stars are a part of nature. They watch and they give light to everyone.
The shadows had tried to block the baby otter from seeing the stars, but that did not mean that they hadn’t been there. She had noticed them twinkling, just a little bit.
Now she could watch the stars every single night, just as they had always been able to see her. And they had lovingly reassured the baby otter that she had been witnessed, and that they will remember everything for her, even though the shadows would have lied and pretended that they had never hurt her.
The little otter closed her eyes, waited, and then opened them again, to see if the stars were still there.
Indeed, they were. They were watching over her, just as they always had, just as they always would.
The young bird and the little otter lived side by side, in the loving meadow. They made other friends, too. They had adventure days, and peaceful days. They had thunderstorm days, and very hot days. They had days when the little otter remembered living in the shadows and cried again. The others in the meadow comforted her, and they all felt so sad that she had been so hurt when she was so young and innocent.
When the little otter got a little older, she began to really feel like this meadow was home. She could go on adventures herself now, when she wanted to. The young bird was so proud of her.
The creatures in the loving meadow would wonder how and why these shadows had attacked such a precious baby otter. Together, they realized there there might be other tiny creatures who are also being attacked by shadows, and who are all alone. Many of the birds and some of quickest land creatures spread the news as wide as they could. A team of loving beings formed, which included some of the animals, the grasses and flowers, the trees, the clouds, and the wind. They would search all across the land, looking for any other lost and tormented beings. No one deserved to be abused. No one deserved to be left behind.
The group of loving beings decided to follow the sun. That way, they knew they would make it all across the world, and then find their way back.
In the night, the stars continued to watch over all of them, everyone everywhere. The stars never looked away. They witnessed both the love and the pain, in honor of all of the living beings. They made sure that no one was lost forever. They made sure that the light never went out completely.
The light shone on the place where the baby otter had been attacked by shadows. Its trees were now the very tallest in the land. Their bark was a deep dark brown, and strong, carrying many branches full of fluttering green leaves. The ground had softened, and grasses grew. A flower was beginning to bloom. Many creatures would pass by this place, sensing its wisdom, and resting there.
One day, the little otter would travel back to that place as well. She would get to see its true nature for the very first time, and it would get to see hers. There would be freedom. There would be sunlight. At night, the young otter and the trees could sit together and listen to the stars tell them all about what had happened to the baby otter, what had created the shadows, and how they had surrounded her, trapped her, and tortured her.
Then the stars would tell of her bravery, of the way that she called out, to the wind, to the clouds above, and to a bird, a strong and daring bird who could make the flight all the way to this clearing. A bird who could sense the place where love was being attacked.
The young otter would breathe in deep peace and relief, sensing her own connection to her mind, her body, and her heart. Sleeping there, the stars would watch over her, until the sun found its way into the morning, and her paws carried her off to new places.
I had written about betrayal several days ago, and in doing so, I seem to have deepened my connection to the memory of betrayal, just by telling it that I sense it is there, and I sense we are not yet together.
I have sat closer with it, and given it more of my time and attention. I have offered it healing energy and life force. I have acknowledged that I cannot feel it; I have asked it what it feels like, and whether it thinks we will survive facing each other. By approaching without intrusion or demand, I seem to have strengthened the trust between my conscious, recovering system, and my unconscious, programmed and traumatized system.
Today, my system awoke in a heavy panic, unable to quell it for over an hour. The dread was deeply pulsing from inside of our belly. When we tried to look inside and ask what is wrong, the conscious headspace looked like it was in a hurricane. Debris was flying around haphazardly. Internal winds were circling the space as well, like a tornado. The circular pattern of the spinning wind in our mind seemed deliberate, and it alerted us to the notion that our headspace may be caught in a program. In fact, later that day, I saw and heard segments of one movie that was used to harm my system and program this inner tornado, and I am sure that many survivors could guess what it was.
Having been awakened mid-sleep by this combination of trauma and programming, we were too weak and exhausted to try to break through it. We looked around at the room, to assure ourselves that in the present moment, we were somewhere relatively safe and familiar. We tried to take deep and slow breaths, although this was painful and difficult, and it did not get easier. We tried to place our hands on our belly and our head. It was all just too uncomfortable, unbearable. So we let go, put on soothing nature sounds, and hoped that we would fall back asleep.
If we could have, we would have tried not to blame ourselves for this experience, and to see it with more compassion. But we did blame ourselves. We believe this is because we have not yet recognized our core betrayal—our childhood enslavement, programming, and relentless immersion in adult cruelty. We often attribute no external responsibility for the many actions that were taken against us, even though this is referred to as organized abuse, and in planning to harm us, it is clear that abusers inherently attribute responsibility to themselves, and the proof is in their plan. Instead, we grant the outer world an automatic pass, and we blame ourselves for how we handled every traumatic instance.
We did eventually fall back asleep, and when we awoke, there was a distinct, compassionate thought in our mind. Anyone who had been put through the life we endured would be struggling with sleep, and with panic, depression, unrelenting pain, and some powerlessness over it all. Anyone who had been put through the life we endured would be struggling to live.
Usually we are not able to let such a thought in, but when we awoke, it was already in us. Some of us think an angel placed it there.
We have not been sleeping well in general. This by itself can be a weakening and debilitating experience. Abusers know this, of course, and they program children who have already been deprived of sleep, as well as food, water, and nurture.
They told me that I would not be so susceptible to their tactics if I were not so innately weak. This statement was a betrayal because it was they who made me weak in the first place. They harmed, deprived, and watched—they monitored my vital signs until they knew my body and mind were most vulnerable to them. Then, they programmed me to fundamentally betray myself.
They programmed my system over the course of many years, and it would be difficult to try to explain it all. But to put it very simply, they made me believe that they were more important, valuable, and precious than I was. And they did this by lying to me—telling me that I caused unforgivable harm when I was born. They told me that my birth had ended the life of the woman who birthed me, and that as a newborn, I had believed that I was more important than she was. They told me that I had a cunning look on my face when I was born.
They made me believe that they are loving and integrous, but that I inherently deserve punishment, so punishment is what they will provide me. They made me believe that if I was not loyal to them, harm would come to me and others.
Then, they made certain personalities inside our system believe that they are our abusers, and that they have the internal job of punishing, influencing, and controlling us, and that any disobedience is a threat to their honor, too. They tried to influence those sections of our system to hate us, to see us as guilty, or to fear us. In recovery, there has been so much damaged trust that has needed to be repaired, just inside of our own inner world. It has been so hard to face and mend this inner separation, and then also extend our awareness outward to the original betrayals of trust that we experienced from our perpetrators.
Today, we worked on bringing greater healing to our system. We had spent much of the day feeling profoundly anxious and hearing incessant programmed thoughts. When trying to relax, we kept feeling as though we were falling.
In speaking with personalities inside who were sending us the incessant programmed thoughts, we learned more about some of our betrayals. We told these personalities that we wondered why they were holding on to a false belief—the belief that a particular ritual (that is causing our current panic) never occurred—and that we have no right to face the loss or the pain of it.
We approached these personalities and offered to listen unconditionally, and to extend them an invitation to enter our internal healing space, and to have relief from their jobs and their pain.
They told us about what happened, and through our communication, I remembered what had happened to me.
I saw myself holding on to a metal pipe. Abusers were telling me to hold onto it, no matter what. If I loosened my grip, I would be electroshocked, through the metal pipe. In exhaustion, I did loose my grip. I did get electroshocked.
As this training went on, a tighter and tighter grip was required in order to avoid punishment. I knew that this experience wouldn’t be over until they had gotten what they wanted, so I kept trying to do the best I could. Gripping the metal pipe, I myself was gripped with ever increasing sadness and loneliness. They were yelling at me, carving mechanisms in my mind that they would later fill with content—content that I should be trained never to let go of. My arms hurt and my hands stung and I was exhausted. I could barely see. The memory ends with me vomiting and being soothed, and being told that I am strong.
Later, certain personalities were hypnotized to believe that the particular false notion—that a certain devastating ritual never occurred—was being placed directly into the pipe. From then on, their job was to hold onto it in desperation, or they would be electroshocked.
Until today. Today these traumatized personalities are free of their training memory, and free of their jobs. I am more free to process the memory of this ritual, which has been causing great internal distress and panic. There is relief, because my attempts at processing my memory felt to them as though their hands were being dangerously pried away from their grip on the metal pipe. Now, through the energy of healing and connection, we have freed ourselves from this double bind.
And we are angry. We are so angry that we were trained to be loyal to so many lies.
These lies make us hate ourselves. If the first message we ever received in this lifetime was a complete lie, we didn’t stand a chance against it. It was the only message we had. No one had ever loved us.
We didn’t know that anyone was being cruel to us, because everyone was being cruel to everyone. Some of us wondered why we felt so badly inside, but we were programmed to conclude that it was because we had committed harm. We had committed harm by being born. The abusers treated it as though it were our first and only free will choice, and due to its nature, we needed to be confined, controlled, forced to repent, or forced to remain in a state of guilt indefinitely.
In recovery I have been told that babies do not choose to be born, or to murder, or even to be conceived. But I can’t get over what I think I did wrong, because if I didn’t do anything wrong, I have no replacement explanation for why nobody loved me.
Only now do I see what I could not see as a child (although some logical child parts managed to come to this conclusion): Some humans can be so cold as to sell children, study torment, and experiment on pain. I wasn’t born to be loved, I was born to be used. Just as every other child slave had been. And that is the betrayal. It is the betrayal that even the logical child parts can know but cannot truly sense yet. It is the betrayal that makes me feel as though I am falling.
I think at first I was too young to understand that anything could be anyone’s fault. I just experienced a long sequence of unnatural pains. Then, when I was born, and I found myself living in a separate body that could be abandoned, approached, and even invaded, I began to witness the difference between cause and effect, and the difference between abuser and abused. My experiences began to form a belief system that now lives around me, invisibly.
Where I was raised, the abusers of babies understand this process. They make sure to warp and twist the abused child’s young belief system. They place traps within it, to ensure that one can never conclude that anything was ever their fault.
To keep that belief system safe, they place another belief system over it, which tells the child that no abuse ever happened in the first place.
To keep that belief system safe, they place another belief system over it, which tells the child what did happen to her or him in childhood (such as neglect, family dysfunction, or mistreatment at school or in the community), to account for the roots of the inner brokenness.
To keep that belief system safe, they place another belief system over it, which tells the child that she or he is not worth healing, and commands the child never to look into any causes of inner suffering.
To keep that belief system safe, abusers may discreetly watch their victim, continue to enslave and reprogram their victim, or release the victim with a programmed addiction or other path to self destruction.
That vicious bundle of belief systems is the only thing that the surviving victim is left with—the only remnant of the child’s deepest bonds and most meaningful life experiences. To keep that complex belief system in tact, abusers condition loyalty. This profound loyalty might seem to the victim to be the most precious foundation to preserve, yet once it is questioned, it becomes the most unrelenting, destructive inner force imaginable.
Abusers make tiny children promise loyalty and sincere love to them. I was once strangled by an abuser when I was very young, while he commanded me to love him, over and over again. He commanded me to love him with all of my heart, or to never breathe again.
Now that I am in recovery, the distance I have from this man can feel painfully dangerous to the small girl who still lives inside, and who has never been released from that traumatic moment. I am barely able to breathe. If I want to breathe, I need to love him. And if I want to live, I need to release this burdened love. Such is the double bind.
Because of the complex setups that my system experienced over time, I am barely able to remember this man enough to release the attachments I have to him. Deep psychic amnesia can make an earnest attempt to be free much more difficult.
A promise to love this man includes so much. It includes a promise to never remember him (which is circumspectly ironic). It includes a promise to always mentally and emotionally separate the times he loved me from the times he punched me. It includes a promise to get sick if I am ever without him, to beat myself up like he did, to spill water all over the floor, and to lie to myself about my very nature and identity. I have promised to never be happy.
When I made that promise, I did not know what happiness was. I had never seen it. I certainly had not seen it in him. He was not happy, he was very sad.
I was not happy, I was blank with terror and subservience. I did not know what I would miss out on one day, if my feet were ever free, and hundreds of other versions of myself quietly invited me to peek out and see the new day.
I think, back in those days, I might have felt the nearest to happiness when I was resting in his arms, or when I was getting beaten close to death.
In his arms I was always wary of something, a surprise attack that could come at any moment. So no, I couldn’t really feel happy then.
Close to death, I was almost too collapsed to be any more hurt. This was my closest relationship with empowerment. My only power was in being filled up, beyond survival, so that no more harm could be done to me. As I got closer and closer to death, parts of me who cared would care less. Parts of me who needed would need less. Parts of me who wanted were already dead, as they had been on the front lines.
The ability to stand up was gone, so there was no need to have any relationship with trying.
Pain could no longer hurt me because pain was all I was. The need for need was gone. The separation between myself and other energy was starting to fade away. I no longer felt compelled to maintain my own sense of identity—to think of myself as separate from anyone else—or, maybe I was no longer able to.
It was too hard to think of a life with loving parents, and of riding a bike to a playground full of friends, while I was dying. Had I known of such experiences, I might have noticed that I was about to die in deprivation of them. I might have sensed the adults’ betrayal of me.
Had I known that I should be allowed to rest gently in a caregiver’s protective arms, without expecting a surprise attack, I might have sensed the betrayal, and the loss.
Because I can recall parts of the programming and the setups that formed my personalities and behaviors, I am consciously aware that psychological betrayal was involved. Yet I still cannot feel it.
I believe I glimpsed it, though, recently. I was thinking about this man, one of many adults who used to hurt me. Other alters in my system had shared mixed feelings about him already. He had been like a teacher. He had been referred to as the love of my life. He had been a child beater. He had been described as someone who falsely promised love in order to control me. He had been referred to as also a slave.
For a moment, I sensed how much attachment and care some of us inside have for this man. And then, I sensed what it was like to experience being punched in the face by him. Brave alters in our system lovingly put those two memories together, for us to feel the impact of this combination.
It felt like a small freefall. It felt like a love becoming a loss. It felt like a hope becoming a betrayal. And then it disappeared.
For those few seconds, we released a tiny piece of the deep inner divide that keeps our programming operating. That is what it took. And we can probably do it again.
I think the reason that we can do it now is that we have experienced some consistent love and support in our life today. Thus, the old sources we had for meeting our needs—the calculatingly cruel adults who raised us and kept us intentionally separated from communities of love—no longer feel as necessary in our life.
In addition, we are learning that they lied to us, about how to receive love. They made us believe that we had to be trained for it, and that we had to be trafficked for it, and that we had to think, act, and even look differently than we truly do. They made us believe that we had to become exactly what they wanted, before any love was even possible for us.
This has not been true. Not only did they sell us and keep the money, but in our recovery life, we have felt the most loved when we have been the most authentic. In our authenticity, we are the most reachable by love.
In our authenticity, we were the most threatening and dangerous for them, for our programmers and perpetrators. This is why they lied.
There was a specific thought that came to stop us from being able to further explore the ways in which this man hurt and betrayed us. It was the notion that he, too, was a slave.
How can I be angry at a slave?
How much of what he did was chosen by him, and how deeply was he trapped?
How much was he trapped by his circumstances, and how much was he trapped by his own fears or perceived limitations?
As a system, we feel that we will discover more about this as we move further through our memories. Perhaps it will also give us some insight into our own experiences of adult trafficking and forced perpetration. Maybe we will find some similarities between ourselves and him. And maybe we will find some differences. Maybe the differences will scare us. Maybe it will scare us to know that we have been raised by someone weak, and that his weakness perpetuated so much harm.
Maybe taking a full look at our earliest role models will truly terrify us, so we have to do it little by little.
We sense that if we realize he had other options, and he did not take them, we will feel betrayed. We will feel that he had valued his own self-preservation above ours, even when he had a body big enough and old enough to maybe help both of us. And maybe this will make us feel unloved, and unlovable.
We were little, and children are truly powerless and vulnerable. We figured this out ourselves by running away, as a small child, and finding that the institutions around us were all too big and too interconnected. We were surrounded, even when we were all alone.
It will get easier to feel the betrayal as we realize that we do not need him, or any of them, anymore. The only reason that we survived is because these perpetrators fed us. They trained us to handle attack (such as by an out-of-control perpetrator), but never to truly protect ourselves.
We are finding other ways of feeding ourselves now, though not without great inner conflict, because we are not sure whether we deserve to be fed.
Some of us want to get rid of all of the betrayals we carry inside, and all of the promises and agreements, all at once. Those of us feel this incredible disgust, that these places populate our inner world and are active. But the betrayals we experienced obliterated our self-worth, and its dust lies everywhere in great density, making it hard to move, hard to see, hard to breathe.
When we take the risk of being vulnerable and authentic, we feel ourselves taking the risk that no perpetrator or adult slave ever took on our behalf. We feel valued by ourselves, and we heal a little bit.
When others find value in us, when others empathize with the horror and sorrow of child trafficking, and when others acknowledge the reality of the global slavery of the small and the vulnerable, it helps to transform some of the thick dust that has settled in us and around the world, and we heal a little bit more.
There is something about lately that makes me want to write an essay that is not about programming, trauma-based mind control, and slavery. As I begin, I am not sure if I can even do this, because all of these realities still exist within me today, and they exist in so many others all around the world.
It feels as though the moment I was free from abuse, my system took an immediate nosedive into feeling everything we had never been allowed to feel before, and remembering everything that we had been forced to forget, and saying as much as we could to whomever was safe enough and willing enough to listen.
There was so much memory baggage inside of us that we had been expected to ignore or keep at bay for so many years, but because these closed compartments held our real feelings and memories, as well as a path to our real selves, we yearned to hold them, no matter how painful their contents might be. We had always been told that we were selfish for wanting to hold our real selves, our children, or a friend’s hand—selfish for wanting to hold a dying animal, an honest conversation, or a secret from a pedophile.
Now we are learning that those are some of the least selfish actions one can take.
We grieved daily for a very long time, and while friends and mentors suggested that we slow down, we could not. There was one interesting day where we made a real effort to slow down, and to relax, and then something accidentally sped us forward into hours of memory processing and recovery. I think our momentum was still too high after what we had been living in and living through.
Now we are discussing soothing for the very first time. There are days when we want to be at peace and to have a break from the oppression and the horror that remains inside of us. We are learning that instead of having to constantly, actively look for everyone we have lost inside of ourselves…thousands of people…we can sometimes choose to be with what is happening in the life we are living right now.
Our life before recovery had been a secret, so we understand why there was a desperation in us to bring it all to the surface. Harboring secrets can make any moment feel like a false moment. Even a moment at the foaming beach, or a moment under a tree, gazing at how the leaves and birds are moving.
Now we are in a place where the search for grief has shifted, and we often choose play, soft music, children’s books, silliness, and a stern refusal to be responsible for all of the problems in our inner world and all of the problems in everyone’s world.
I do feel like we will shift yet again, into some other stage of recovery, but right now we seem only to want to write about how much we appreciate feeling soothed. Feeling the wind, allowing ourselves to drink water, playing with toys, holding stuffed animals, calling a friend when we are sad or scared, listening to music that wishes us peace and comfort, and watching gentle cartoons for tiny children who need to learn the most basic, basic things.
There are so many of us inside who struggle to understand big words and ideas, when a grownup is talking to us. We just hide it, but then our brain hurts later.
We are writing about soothing in case anyone else needs extra permission to have soothing as well. We like it. Even though our programming streams flashbacks in our body and in our mind, all day every day, we have been told that sometimes it is okay to bring our attention to something else.
We didn’t want to abandon any of the children inside. That is why we kept looking for them and looking for them, in and behind and around the programs, and staying with all of their pain. Because of our programming, no amount of soothing or healing brings even temporary relief, so there are times when we need to shift our focus to other places, happy places, foreign as they may be.
With those of us inside who are still programmed, we make every effort not to blame them, and to strive to find the deepest wounds we have, the ones that must be controlling us the most, the ones that have us believing in our own eternal punishability. We try to be with the programmed children as they are, to spend time with them, to help them find release.
But now, feeling more overwhelmed than is possible, we have begun to invite the programming to join us in our activities, instead. It feels terrible to have to tell children—children who have always been forced to work—that they are being asked to move their feet yet again, and to walk over and join us in an internal safe place. And that their new jobs must include some pain, some recognition of the deepest lies and betrayals that we have ever experienced, that have ever been spoken, in fact. Some of the belief systems that we were taught are so old. They are much more shocking than hearing a story wherein long, long ago, people needed to be informed that they should not kill.
One major belief system that was forced upon us is the belief that healing must come with a price. If we play and feel joy and expansion, we must be beaten down just as much. If we catch something, we must drop something. If we heal, we must die.
It can be painful to walk around the world now, noticing that many others do not carry such belief systems at all, and often have never even heard of them.
Right now, some of us have made an internal agreement to stop punishing ourselves temporarily, and to observe whether or not the world punishes us. The results have been striking. We cleaned our home, and nothing else changed. We were vulnerable with someone, and she smiled and reassured us. We have toys to play with, and they do not melt, or get used to abuse us anymore.
So maybe it is about time we stop making ourselves think these things are still always happening.
I would like to be able to have soothing without punishment afterward, because otherwise there is no way I can truly trust in the soothing process. It is hard for me, because I have never been soothed without abuse or tragedy occurring afterward.
For some adults who walk the paths of recovery from enslavement, they are having to learn all the things that babies and toddlers learn, and to do it in grownup bodies, and to do it for the very first time. Some have to do it alone.
I hope all who harbor traumatized inner children will find gentleness and soothing, with no consequences. I also hope that the world steps up, to be able to support those who have been enslaved, and to accept the greater reality of slavery into their lives, the way my system strove to accept our own greater reality, as soon as we were free enough to do so. One way that my system has experienced soothing from others in the external world, has been in small moments of recognition. We hope that every slave will have at least one such moment.
Content Warning: This essay contains graphic depictions of group rape, violence, and torture, as well as descriptions of child loss, shame, and specific programming practices.
I have been in a continuous state of suffering since my inception. While it may be difficult for some people to believe that this is possible—and while there may be members of my system who are designed to interrupt the truth with internal arguments about how and why what I say is not true—it is true.
Today I feel prompted to share one of the ways I have been kept in continuous internal torment, although I will not be able to share it in full detail, because my system’s abuse, torture, suffering, enslavement, and programming are all so interconnected that any full description of one program would become an entire autobiography of myself, my ancestors, and my children.
So, today, the event that prompted the instantaneous and painful internal retelling of my whole life story, was a need to clean my kitchen.
I had been avoiding it, and noticing that I was avoiding it. A mentor of mine told me that it is okay for the step of noticing to be the first step, and even the only step I am able to take, for however long I need to be at that step. This guidance brought such relief that I also want to share it with you.
In general, I had been noticing that if my kitchen is clean, I can stay organized enough to keep it clean each day, until “one day.”
“One day,” after a while of being able to cook and clean without too much apparent suffering, I appear to “forget” to clean something, or I am overcome with a sudden wave of “fatigue” or “laziness.” The need to avoid ten seconds’ worth of cleaning becomes stronger than the need to maintain the experience of a clean kitchen counter in my home. At that moment I can notice that something about this avoidance need feels extreme, but I usually only have the strength to make a decision and then move on.
If I am unable to clean for ten seconds that day, then this begins a cascade, in which every day, a little bit more of a mess gets left behind. Then, as the amount of time needed to clean my kitchen grows larger, I burrow more deeply into the pain of disability.
Then, guess what happens. A person in my system emerges who has obsessive-compulsive disorder. She cannot tolerate messes or disorganization.
And unfortunately, this is a person who is bound and restrained on a table (in my internal world) by white handkerchiefs, so she cannot clean a thing. Her internal state of restraint takes over my system’s corresponding executive functioning. Consciously, we feel tormented, unable to clean, unable to tolerate the mess, unable to move forward, unable to explore the “why” of our feelings or behaviors, and amnesic to their origins. We become ashamed of our seeming lack of self-responsibility, and lack of cleanliness, which then reinforces a lifetime’s worth of built-up shame—shame that prevents us from flourishing, and keeps us from living a life that we love to live.
The White Handkerchiefs
I am the one on the table. Hello.
The white handkerchiefs contain the tears of my young babies, and their tears contain the memories of what was done to them when I was twelve years old. And my hands cannot yet touch these memories, so despite the fact that most handkerchiefs are weaker than leather straps or metal chains, the memories in the tears in the cloth in my mind make it impossible for me to move.
I cannot clean, and I feel tormented by the mess.
If I have enough strength, and if I have enough external support, I can lie down and face my inner table, and face my inner self lying on it.
I can be myself again, at age twelve, and rest in my memory for as long as I need to. I can rest in the spot where they left me, and gave me no time to get away, before yanking another personality out to replace me, and leaving me abandoned, alone, stuck, and—worst of all—left with no memory for the fate of my children. My memory cuts off before the moment when I witnessed my abusers’ choice of what to do with my babies. Not knowing if they lived or if they died, definitely knowing that they cried, I have been lying there on that table alone, in this position, for almost twenty years.
I am programmed to neglect to clean my home (programming makes me feel like cleaning is painful), and to suffer when my home is messy. Therefore, I am constantly suffering.
I think deep down my system has the capacity to keep a clean home in a routine, daily way. In fact, I know we have this ability. But we can’t do it right now, because we dared to free ourselves.
In general, I am programmed to turn on myself, should I ever seek independence from my indoctrination and enslavement. But how could I not try to escape from people who intentionally tried to make me into someone who mindlessly hurts myself and hurts everyone else?
At least this way, maybe there can be some end to someone’s enslavement. At least I can give myself enough space and time in which to try to free myself. I say that because there are so many others whom I wish I could go back for. I always write for everyone, and I always write for them, and I write this paragraph while energetically holding them. The enslaved.
Underneath me there is a lot of shame.
You have read about my friend who cannot clean because she cannot move, and who cannot move because she is tied down by mournful memories that would crack our skull if not treated carefully.
Well, I am someone else. But I am also unable to clean. I cannot clean because I cannot move, and I cannot move because I cannot tolerate the feeling of how dirty I am. I am too dirty to clean. When I move around and clean, I feel my dirtiness moving around within me. The cleaner I make my outsides, the dirtier I feel in my insides.
Sometimes abusers hide things underneath. Here is what lies underneath a floorboard in my brain labeled “Housecleaning.”
I see myself as a small child, with adults’ bodily fluids coming out of me, lying on the edge of a bed with sheets disheveled from a group orgy. I can’t even see the orgy. I am witnessing the aftermath. I feel surprised that I am being allowed to lie there, and I wonder why. I do not usually receive any time to rest or recuperate.
A part of me feels frozen, and I think the abusers are using a part of me who can come out and freeze this experience, to keep me in it for longer, absorbing all of the pain and shock, and the afterward of unsoothed loneliness and stinging wounds.
I can try to look even more deeply underneath, to see what I can find. It is sad that they have tried to hide my memories from me.
When I try to look underneath again, I see men and women raping and hurting me. At first this is all I see, and my body feels thrown around by them, like an ocean storm would batter driftwood.
I feel choked, invaded, sad, surprised at myself for feeling sad, parentless, aimless, and tired. I feel profound discomfort in how much I am being penetrated by adults who know me well enough to enter me in body and in mind.
As I keep looking, another layer of the memory shows up. The men and women are holding cleaning supplies. I see adults spraying me with cleaning spray, brushing my teeth with a sponge, tickling my abdomen with a feather duster, and sticking a toilet brush up my backside. Someone is hammering a nail into my shoulder. The amount of exhaustion I feel is causing my internal defenses to fall, and allowing these memories to embed themselves more deeply. I suddenly see cockroaches crawling on me. A man must have released them from the little plastic container I notice rolling away on the floor.
I am beginning to feel remarkably neutral about everything that is happening, as though time is slowing down. Another part of me is afraid of the roaches, because they are pre-programmed to represent confident or capable fragments of me who are enslaved inside my internal world. The men and women are reacting to the bugs as though they are shocked and aghast at them and at me, and they spray me with harsh liquid to kill the bugs, which makes me believe that the corresponding parts within me have been destroyed.
They scrub my arm up to my neck. The person who scrubs my arm makes a pre-programmed motion around my neck that makes me feel as though I am wearing a noose, holding a bouquet, and in love with him with all my heart. This is a strange time to be feeling devotion.
Another part of me feels a metal cleaning brush being used inside my mouth. It goes in deeply and I gag. This entire time, these adults have been saying mean things to me, calling me names, calling me dirty, reminding me of terrible things I have done (that they made me do), and telling me they are scrubbing me for my own good, but that I will never be clean enough, and no one else will ever love me, or will try to scrub me this way, as lovingly as they are scrubbing me.
Hearing the word “lovingly” suddenly evokes a stored memory of being given false love, which confuses my perception of their abuse. (I could only feel the emotions from the memory at the time of their release. In recovery, I later found that these stemmed from memories of being held, rocked, stroked, swaddled, drugged, and comforted by abusers, which is the closest thing to a loving memory that my system has ever been given.)
Someone is vacuuming the rug while this is happening, seemingly oblivious to the other adults tormenting me. He has made me feel as though my pain is invisible and worthless. The vacuum is loud and the sound hurts me, but I cannot cover my ears because I am already rocking and swaying on all fours, trying to keep upright. They have injected something in me to make me experience sounds even more extremely and more painfully than I would naturally have done.
I begin to look straight ahead, and to make the humming sound of the vacuum. My heart starts to pound. This is when they know I am going away, and a new person is forming within my mind.
I continue to feel all that they are doing to me, yet I also feel like I am holding someone’s hand, someone who is now swaying in the ocean with me, and I am about to lose her—or maybe she is about to lose me.
Our hands break hold, and one of us is washed away.
The next thing I know, I wake up in the middle of a grassy meadow. I am naked and alone, my ears are ringing, and I have never seen this place before.
I am in a precious spot in our internal world. Because it is always the present day in our internal safe place, I can feel that decades have gone by.
I feel stripped and bare, because my memories are in fragments behind me. But as I recall where I have been, and what has been done to me, the story I have told you begins to come together. I begin to feel more whole, and I timidly ask for clothing. A friend appears and brings me some. He is a little boy whom I have forgotten, but I sense that once, long ago, we were the same.
In writing about my life, I have joined some of my memories together, and others are still lost. This is what it means to be polyfragmented. I think I am polyfragmentedfragmentedfragmented. I think I am alive.
I think I am real, but I have been through so much that I am afraid to go through any more.
Cleaning is hard, and it can be hard for lots of people in lots of ways. I used to think that I just “couldn’t get it together” enough to organize my life. This was horribly diminishing, but ironically correct. I couldn’t get my memory fragments together enough, until now, until being given (and giving myself) enough recovery time and a safe enough place to live. And patience.
Cleaning can also be painful if it points out fundamental problems on a larger scale, on an external scale. Cleaning that produces garbage is unnatural (and is an effect of this industrialized planet’s captivity), just as my memory of “being cleaned to produce the feeling of dirtiness” is unnatural.
Usually, when an activity is hard for me, it is because I have been tortured within its context before. This is one of many, many examples of torture-based mind control to produce internal captivity. I would wish other survivors to know this, so that they do not blame themselves for their struggles to survive. I am learning to blame my abusers. It is challenging, because they told me not to blame them.
And they hid their actions from me in my own internal world. And they made me forget. But I don’t actually have to remember, in order to be kind to myself. I can try to be kind to myself anyway. It is hard for me because I haven’t received kindness before. (Even if others in my system have received some kindness, it does not usually transfer over to others inside the system.)
So if you know a survivor of enslavement, I hope you will hold their hand when they are ready to feel their hand held. It might help them to be able to grab the hands of the parts of themselves whom they lost, in their massive traumas, and in their massive escapes.
If you are a survivor of enslavement, then I hope someone will hold your hand, and I hope you won’t have to do it all by yourself. It’s not that I don’t believe in you or I don’t believe that you can do it. It’s just that I’m realizing we did not deserve to get treated so badly, or to be left hurting and all alone.
I am starting to realize how much daily interaction I still have with my abusers, even though on the outside, I appear to live a life in which I only interact with a relatively small group of kind, safe beings.
I interact with friends. I interact with a support system. I interact with the many trees and plants and rocks and bugs I pass by in nature, feeling our lives touch.
Within my psyche, my mind, my spirit, my energy, I still hold every slave. Past, present, future. Including myself. I think of them, wherever they are, wherever I am. On a street, on a train, suffocating in a bed, burning in a fire, acting, forgetting to breathe, deep underground, on a far star, meditating, singing, panicking, or floating in heaven. I don’t feel the need to disconnect from them, ever, though consciously not everything is on my mind.
Consciously, much of what goes on is an internalized critique, inhibition, attack, and punishment of my true nature.
Lately, I have been trying to expose this internal commotion, hoping that the exposure can bring relief to the parts of self who have to perform this role, this awful role, this boring role, this diminishing role, this stupid role, this outdated role, this unnatural role, this stolen role, stolen from the devil itself. If the devil wants my shame and suffering, it will need to lift its own finger and find me.
But I cannot be found, because in the plain sight of love there is too much that protects me from evil, with a gaze unceasing, and an acceptance unchanging. I am glad that love can accept my perpetrators. I am too prone to doing it myself, and the energy gone there has prevented my broken bones from healing.
I need to return to myselves for a while, and let pure limitless energy take on the role that I was expected to take on while in a material form, an inherent and profound contradiction of beingness, a role that cannot be succeeded, just as no loving being can succeed a monster on its lonely throne made of thimbles and twigs.
To any slaves or victims or survivors who might be soothed in knowing that they are not alone, and to any of their allies, I write the following list, detailing just a little of what programming puts me through every single day. I do this in the spirit of honesty and connection, in hopes that all of us can lift off this burden together.
When I try to do something to progress my life forward, a voice says, That won’t work.
When I try to give myself something nurturing, a voice says, You don’t deserve this, or, You are taking this away from someone else.
When I lament internally about how much pain I am in, a voice says, Why do you live? Maybe you should kill yourself and stop complaining.
When I think of ending my life and ending my continuous suffering, a voice says, You can’t die.
When a kind person in my life hugs me, I reexperience memories of physical assault.
When someone takes a caring action on my behalf or on behalf of the slave population, a voice says, She probably can’t be trusted.
When a kind person in my life doesn’t notice or acknowledge a message I’ve sent them, a voice says, I don’t think he cares about me, or, She wants me to stop it, or, They hate my messages.
When I reach out for support to someone in my life, a voice says, You’re overburdening your friends. They will grow sick of you.
When I consider going outside, a voice says, I don’t want to, don’t do it, or, You’re too ugly to be seen. I start to feel sick, tired, or agoraphobic.
When I remember something that happened to me, a voice says, That didn’t happen. Or, sometimes I receive a subtler message, through a gradual process of growing weary, confused, or vaguely tormented throughout the remainder of the day.
When expressing memories, I often reexperience a kick to the head, or the feeling of a strong hand over my mouth, or the sensation of choking. If I try to write the memories down, my hands begin to hurt, and my head starts to feel heavy, as though the energy has thickened and words cannot get through.
When I declare my beliefs about life and society, a voice says, You sound stupid. You sound cold and evil. You’ll be a pariah.
When someone pays me for a job, a voice says, You don’t deserve it. Don’t take the money. Sometimes my hands start to hurt or burn, as though the money is in my hands and is causing my hands to burn. It very much feels like I am doing something wrong. If the work I did was benevolent, I start to reexperience memories of forced perpetration, and the pain of feeling as though I have created a great deal of harm.
When someone ends a call with me while I am still crying, a voice says, They should just go away forever. They want to be with their real friends and family. I should never reach out to them again. I am destined to be alone. There is something bad about me that they can sense and don’t like, and that is why they hang up.
If I continue to feel sad, a voice says, How dare you feel bad that they’ve hung up on you? Who are you?
When someone says something true about my system that had been intentionally hidden, such as “I know some of you have been artists,” I hear a voice say, That’s not true. We are just lying. We made it up. We are pretending. We even fool ourselves. We are so dumb.
When I think of what my life might be like if I continue to pursue healing, a voice says, It’s hopeless. It will always be like this.
A variety of choices can bring out a voice that says, You don’t deserve to ________________.
When I mention someone from my past, such as my husband, a voice says, You never had a husband. You’ll need to apologize to everyone you told about having a husband, once you realize that you never had one. If I insist that I remember my husband, a voice says, He doesn’t love you. He’s forgotten about you. He thinks you’re nothing, and he’s glad you’re gone. Don’t reach into this connection. Don’t remember him. It’ll feel alien to him, and you will be embarrassed.
Whenever strangers around me do something I have difficulty tolerating, a voice says, They don’t care about you and they never will. They want you to hurt. They like ignoring you, and you should be ignored. What makes you think you are so important that someone should change what they do, just for you?
When I try to trust someone in my life today, or to express what I know about myself or the abuser network, I hear a voice say, This is dangerous.
When someone expresses appreciation of me, sometimes I feel badly, and sometimes I just feel nothing.
When I try to tune into the present moment, I feel the bleakness of most of the moments in my past.
While writing this down, I am growing heavier and heavier with fatigue, and it feels like there is a large wad of cotton inside my skull.
A voice is saying, Don’t publish this. It’s stupid. Don’t publish this.
There is so much more that we would say, if we felt fully safe.
Tonight, we are wishing that we could tell you our names, and that we could learn yours. Tonight we are wishing that nobody needed to hide from anybody.
Tonight, we are reexperiencing moments that broke us apart and made us strangers.
Tonight, we are wishing that room was being made for everybody’s peace. And then, only then, we would notice a platform for equality and joy.
We have updated and posted some more artwork that we wish to share on this platform, in the hopes that others can find some needed resonance, or some understanding, or some awareness.
There were also pieces that we did not choose, out of a cautious need for privacy, or out of concern for others’ eyes. We may choose to create a separate section of artwork, for the more graphic depictions of our life. It is strange how violence and evil can be so terrifying when forced into us, but sometimes can be so peacefully released out of us.
While it frightens us each time we attempt to be ourselves now, it is also hard not to take the chances we are being given, having been given none before.
I think about you every day. My heart hurts, and I wonder how much your hearts hurt.
Part of why I work so hard to remember, is so that I can remember you.
I hope that wherever you are, you are safe. I don’t know if anywhere out there is safe enough.
I wish I had been able to protect you. I wish that I myself had grown up in a loving society, where all children are nurtured, and no children are bred for profit and gain, or for sex, or for experimentation, or for war, or for sustenance. Where no children are sacrificed—either through their deaths, or through their long and tormented lives.
In such a society, no one would be forced to birth a child into terrible circumstances, into constant pain, into slavery. No child would be told that their mother doesn’t love them, or doesn’t think they’re good enough, or never wanted them, or wishes they hadn’t been born. No child would be called a slave, or a soldier, or a rape baby.
If someone in such a society chose to give birth, it would have no negative or complex global impact. It would not increase the weight and demand on all of the slaves everywhere: the children, the adults, the animals, the plants, the air, the clouds, the satellites, the galaxies….
In a loving society, there would be no slaves.
The word slavery would only be spoken softly, in compassionate remembrance of worlds such as this one.
If I had grown up in such a society, I would have chosen to give birth to you.
I would have felt everything I truly feel for you, except I would never have had to hide it, or to lie about it, or to use my own hands to cause you pain. If I had grown up in such a society, this is not the love letter that I would be writing to you now.
A Letter from Another Space and Time
I would be older, or you would be younger, and I would be writing of your wonderful birth, and of your life, and of all the love we had freely shared. I would say:
When you were a baby, you loved to…
When you were little, you would laugh at…
When you explored, you’d run back and tell me about…
When you smiled, I smiled. When you laughed, I laughed. When you cried, I sat close.
When you thought, I encouraged. When you felt, I understood. When you needed, I provided. When you wanted, I helped you receive.
When you differed, I accepted.When you strove, I supported. When you fell, I knelt. When you grew, I celebrated you.
You were held. You were fed. Your were hugged. You were nestled. You were given peace and quiet. You were taught. You were told the truth. You were sung to. You were always close to me. You always had a warm home. You were always valued. You were always loved.
I have no family photos. I have only my instincts about what my true life has been. It is hard to write to you without the clearest pictures of you nearby, either in my hand or in my mind. The pictures in my mind are a blur. The more I try to remember you, the more my mind can blur.
Someone wanted me to forget about you. But the truth is I could never forget you. I am still holding your hand, and I will not let it go.
If I had grown up in a loving society, I would always have your pictures with me. They would be in my mind, in my heart, and gently painted on sunlit slabs of stone.
I would look up at the sky and see you in the clouds, and you would look up at the clouds and see endless possibility.
I want to show you only my strength, but I must settle on showing you my truth instead. The truth of my mind is that it is fragmented and traumatized. The details of our lives are a blur right now, because I was affected by what happened to me, and by the injuries that were created in me through others’ violence, selfishness, and fear.
But while the details are a blur, my belief in you remains strong and clear. If you ever feel injured or broken, then please know that I see you.
My wish is that every environment you enter welcomes you as you are, and that no demands are placed on you ever again.
If you would like to close your eyes and be in my arms, then I am already holding you. I will shield you from every false belief and violent action that exists. And if I can’t, then I will sit with you until something is over and something new begins.
I would have held you whenever you needed, and whenever you wanted. I would have cradled you and hummed to you, without a constriction in my throat and a pain in my head—the worry that a criminal is scanning my brain for trace evidence of love.
We have been forced to hide everything true within us, and pretend everything false about us. I wish I could explain why. I wish I could stop any remaining pain.
When I feel alone, I find myself wishing that you don’t. When I feel confused, I find myself wishing that you have clarity and stability. When I feel hopeless, I find myself wishing that you are soaring through the sky.
I am here, and you are where you are. This will not be my last love letter to you. I do not understand why others wanted to hurt us, to confuse us, to separate us.
I am glad our spirits are always together, and that they always know.