Friday, February 1, 2013

Emerging Odyssey Part XIX

“I’m leaving.”
“You’ll be back.”
I packed everything in our flat that was of value to me, believing that I would not return to my husband in Russia.
My first fellow passenger on my long flight told me that I should never fear death. He proceeded to share his near-death experience. He was working on a tractor and was crushed by a falling log. He was officially dead on the surgery table for over 15 minutes. He left his body, saw himself on the table and then experienced the most peaceful and indescribable experience in heaven.
I started shaking.
I arrived at my first destination, hoping to visit a dear girlfriend for a few days in Atlanta, Georgia. That night her husband had an acute gall bladder attack and ended up in the hospital. I was compelled to leave the following day. On my way to the airport my taxi driver told me that I should never be afraid because Jesus loves me. When I got to the curb at the airport, my baggage handler told me that Jesus loves me.
When I got on the plane I was shaking and shaking with a sense of foreboding.
My flight attendant started talking with me and asked if I had ever read a book, Celestial Prophecy, the very same book I had just finished reading when I decided that I needed to leave my husband in Russia.
I knew that something was stirring in my life, something spiritual was taking place.
I was terrified !

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Widening Chasm Part XVIII

“Did you remember to buy water?”
After the initial shock of the freezing and unsavory environment of Russia I gradually began to venture outside in trepidation; it’s not every day I see a youth in camis carrying an automatic rifle in my neighborhood.
Exploring the streets for scarce sources of food and water often in a state of discomfort and fear, I was frequently accosted by small Gypsy children begging me for money as drunk old women and men drank from bottles of vodka and urinated behind buildings on the sidewalk corners.
As I struggled to find my footing on the uneven broken sidewalks of downtown Moskva (Moscow) Jonathan, my husband was wholly absorbed in creating an empire. I was soon to learn that the travail on the streets of Moskva was insignificant compared to the internal turmoil churning within my soul.
The unrelentingly heavy gray skies blanketing the city reflected the emerging waves of loneliness pounding over my head, soaking me in anguish; though I journaled my thoughts and exercised daily I could not overcome the feeling of dread and foreboding.
Due to my inner conflict and the nightly noise of the city street, I slept restlessly in our small flat and often walked to the kitchen and looked through the window in the middle of the night to watch prostitutes standing on the corners in miniskirts, high heels and short fur coats climbing into cars in the subzero weather.
In a rare moment of sunlight we visited  an 11th Century monastery with two Russian companions from Jonathan’s office. During our tour I stepped aside and sat down alone on a bench in a secluded garden. A babushka (grandma) approached me and sat at my feet taking my hands in hers. She spoke to me in Russian saying that I was of God and asked me for a blessing. I comprehended what she said though I didn’t understand the language. Smiling, she blessed me and my family and kissed my hands. I gave her the only money I had in my pocket, one ruble; we cried together and she was gone.
Though on occasion I encountered pleasant strangers and shopkeepers, my daily life with Jonathan was emotionally draining for me. Each night when he arrived home I asked how he was doing; his response was always the same, “I’m tired.” This was the extent of his conversation with me. He didn’t ask about my day; he didn’t want to hear anything about my struggles.  I was starving for love, affection and attention; any conversation on his part would have been a comfort to me.
I was discouraged and began to fall into a depression over my loneliness and desperate need for contact.
Then at one of the extravagant office parties I met an American woman who told me that she was involved with a non-profit American organization that helps the half million orphans in Moskva. I attended a meeting with Robin and volunteered to visit one of the orphanages.
The ravages of communism were everywhere. Another layer of onion skins fell off . . . .
I learned that many of the children in the orphanages were institutionalized by their parents at the recommendation of their physicians. If a child were physically challenged in any way they were sent to an orphanage. When I timidly stepped through the doorway of one orphanage I was uncomfortable and reluctant to participate. However, after the children settled down with me I was able to sing along and play games with them.
I eventually found an orphanage for infants. The sweet angels were all lying face up in rows of wooden cribs. I discovered one little baby girl with big blue eyes. She stared up at the ceiling with no expression on her precious face. I bent over her crib and smiled at her; she responded with a tiny glimmer of hope in her beautiful eyes. I held Masha on my lap and sang to her; she hummed along with me. I did not want to leave her. I will always remember with sadness Masha’s stricken facial expression and our mutual tears when I placed her back in her crib. I cried for a week, then wrote a poem about Masha titled, “The Broken-winged Angel”; it was published in local newspaper.
While I was pulled out of my self-imposed isolation by becoming acquainted with a few Russian, American and European women my relationship with Jonathan continued to wane. He was not interested in being with me. I was simply a trophy wife at elaborate dinners with affluent and powerful international business men. The opulence and shallow party talk left me feeling empty and desiring deeper connections.
Jonathan and I often filled the void by attending opera and ballet and going out to dinner nightly. New restaurants from international companies were popping up everywhere in Moscow, teeming with businessmen and prostitutes.
Alcohol and shopping became my faithful companions while traveling to European countries. The more time I spent with Jonathan the worse my loneliness became; he and I weren’t connecting. I kept reaching out and receiving nothing in return except opulent hotels, lavish gifts and elaborate events.
When my anguish was unbearable I would fly home to California and stay for a few months; I began singing regularly in an upscale restaurant and found a new community of musician friends. Spending time with my children and girlfriends and seeking therapy, I felt comforted and experienced solace again.
“Why are you going back to Russia?” my psychologist asked me.
I longed for Jonathan’s presence and would return to Russia again and again, going through the same torturous experience. When we were together he shared very little of his thoughts, dreams or goals; he said that we would amass enough money to do whatever we wanted once we left Russia.
After repeated dreams of Jonathan involving himself in immoral activities, I accused him of having an affair with a female acquaintance of ours. He assured me that I was not thinking rationally; I regressed to using former vices to win him over.
I thought I had recovered from the sexual abuse of my childhood, but being in Russia made me realize that I had a lot more recovery work to do.
As the chasm between us grew I sank deeper into negative thoughts and feelings; I lost my way. I did what Jonathan did; we drank heavily to avoid discussing the obvious. Jonathan made it clear that he did not want to hear about my suffering; he continued to say that I needed to be patient and that we would leave together for California soon. His words became an empty promise as the date was continually postponed.
On my birthday after over two years of anguish I unleashed my pent-up rage and screamed at Jonathan in a hotel in Berlin; it culminated in a physical fight. I cried myself to sleep believing that our marriage was in ruins.
I gave up trying to create intimacy with Jonathan. During my recovery process from childhood sexual abuse I had repeatedly asked him to attend counseling with me; I wanted to help heal our marriage. He repeatedly told me that I was the one who needed help and that he had no need to change.
In retrospect I realize that our entire focus during our 25 year marriage had been on our children. Now that they were all in college and we were living thousands of miles from any family or friends Jonathan was content to focus on his aspiring career; clearly our situation in Russia was not working for me !
Then one day I discovered a book that changed the course of my life . . . 
I awakened to a new realization that no amount of my energy could ever heal our relationship because Jonathan was not willing to acknowledge his part in our dysfunction. He was draining me of everything good and I was allowing him to do so.
At this moment I knew I could no longer live in this agonizing environment; I was destroying my soul. 

I loved Jonathan but could not restore our relationship; with a broken heart I packed up all of my personal belongings and flew home.
The journey home was abundant with enlightening signs . . . .

Quicksand Part XVI

scraping tarmac
intimidating masks
gray, all is gray
shuffling human traffic
dreadful customs
face of my love
bodyguards waiting
swerving racing traffic
noxious fumes
incessant honking
littered streets
soulless faces
climbing uneven stairs
7th floor
dingy flat
sour moldy walls
ravenous intimacy
opened suitcase
Bolshoi ballet
Romeo and Juliet

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Transforming Heart Part XVI

Breaking my nails on the edge of the cliff and spitting out dirt I clumsily climbed out of the dark bottomless pit as my memories were ripped out of my soul. 

I had “tunnel vision.”

I could only focus on my recovery. Everything in my life related to my childhood abuse and my desperate need to heal. Even though I began to function again in my family unit my recovery was my first thought in the morning and last thought at bedtime. Nightly I prayed that I wouldn’t have another nightmare; I wanted to sleep peacefully for a change.
When I ventured outside of my home and tried to share with close friends what I was experiencing I didn’t receive the support I had expected. Instead, I was shocked and hurt by their negative responses. I began to realize that my subject was not welcomed among family or friends including my husband.
Jonathan continued to do what he always did best; work and stay away. Sometimes he listened but didn’t have anything to say in response. At one point he questioned my memories; I immediately did not feel safe around him. Later he told me that his “friend” Sheri went through similar abuses and “she is recovered!” This was a low blow !
My heart was so wounded from betrayal from every side; I cried my heart out to God to heal me !
One day I bought a punching bag, hung it up in my garage and began to pound out my anguish. I screamed against all of the forces of darkness that presented themselves; I saw how they held me and my family captive. I continued my venting until I broke blood vessels in my fingers. I went inside, exhausted. The phone rang a few minutes later; a survivor friend saying that she just had a vision: I was surrounded by thousands of angels fighting a spiritual battle with me !
As I gained confidence that I was worthy of love I began to move away from my self-sabotaging behavior. My heart began to soften toward others suffering and my desires began to shift. Through therapy I found  other survivors and felt supported for the first time. 
I wanted  to experience support and healing in my marriage relationship. Instead, a great chasm began to grow between my husband and me. Even though I tried to ignore it, I sensed that we were separating spiritually. I wanted to be whole and healthy while he wanted to continue his sabotaging behavior.
We were like two alcoholics in a bar; each taking turns getting drunk. I finally sobered up and saw how drunk he really was. He still sat in the bar. I couldn’t convince him to leave the bar so I found more positive things to do for myself and stopped going with him.
I loved him and didn’t want to leave him. So I continued to ignore all the signs.
One morning while watching the news together Jonathan said, “I just saw us in Russia!” 
“Why couldn’t you have said Switzerland?”
I knew then that our life was taking an entirely new direction . . . 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My MOTHER, my LIFE, my ENEMY ! Part XV

RELENTLESS open wounds of rejection and abandonment still bear their mark on my soul causing me doubts, grief and lamentations.
I have been repeatedly inundated with dreams of rejection from my former spouse.  

HE is the representation of my MOTHER.
I have been avoiding facing this important TRUTH in my life.
The need to pull away from the past . . . . moving forward into the unknown . . .
I married my childhood sweetheart, the man of my dreams, my knight, my everything, my SAVIOR.
When I opened the box and all of the TRUTH began pouring out like a fountain that I could not stop even if I tried, it broke through my illusion of being in the perfect relationship.
I know this will sound strange to all of you who have read my history; but it is true. I was completely and utterly blinded by my own theatre, my own drama that I had created to stay SANE !
HE was perfect; I was inferior, deeply flawed. HE gave me audience when I begged. HE gave me gifts, trips, jewels, parties, everything, everything EXCEPT unconditional LOVE.
HE is SHE.
MOTHER, life - giver, SAVIOR, PROTECTOR . . . . JUDGE
SHE gave me life.
SHE bathed me.
SHE prayed over me every night. SHE told me she loved me.
SHE dressed me beautifully every Sunday for Sunday school.
SHE attended all of my performances; at schools, churches, communities . . .
SHE sat in the back and listened to every note I sang, every word I spoke.
SHE sat in the back and listened to every note I played, every single note . . .
ME . . . struggling to live UP to her standard. A STANDARD I could not understand.
WHY didn’t she really LOVE me ???
WHAT had I done by age three to have earned her judgment and disdain for me ? Why did she push me away ? What wouldn’t she cuddle me, support me, look at me ?
I could never do enough to get her attention.
BEST in everything . . . yet none of it was good enough to wipe away my soiled soul !
SHE would not accept me; I was NEVER good enough for HER !
Now I understand.
I was HIS favorite, HIS love, HIS pet.
JEALOUSY . . . . . so ugly, so defiling, so twisted !
My mother was jealous of the attention my father gave me.
He was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 
One day, gifts, parties . . . the next . . . . the unspeakable acts of sexual assault on my body and my soul.
Oh, this twisted, complex and devious scar that wants to keep its roots in me . . . I am tearing it out . . . ripping it out . . . daily begging for healing. The assuaging of my soul into the heavenly realm of wholeness.
I cannot think one continuous thought about this tangled web existing in my innermost being.
WHY is it still dwelling here ???
MOM, demented at age 92 is still here for one very good reason.
I am being taught piece by piece, line upon line, moment by moment to FORGIVE her.
She obviously was not aware of her subconscious thoughts of judgment and jealousy toward me.
To this day, MOM is still simple-minded.
What are her wounds ??? Was she also assaulted as a child ? She will never know; she will never say.
MOM, sweet and simple to all the world . . . except me.
I forgive you mom for not being present to protect me.
I forgive you mom for not keeping me safe.
I forgive you for turning your back on me.
I forgive you for staying with dad and allowing all of us to be repeatedly harmed.
I forgive you for putting on your SUNDAY face and pretending all is well when it isn’t.
I forgive you for not being able to say that I am sweet, and lovely, and intelligent, and gifted, and that you love me just the way I am.
Please, LOVE, fill this deep void of mother-love, with your unconditional, ever-present, all-knowing, all-protecting LOVE.
Fill my deep desire to be LOVED with Your DIVINE LOVE.
FOREVER and ever.
Your faithful daughter 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Priceless Pearl

“Tomorrow is not going to work as other plans have come up.”
The text from my cousin Sue left me numb; then anger swiftly followed.
For the past year we had been planning to get together this week.  Sue wanted the entire family to join us for a reunion. I gently suggested that she either send a flyer, an email or make phone calls to insure that everyone could be with us. I asked if I could help. Sue said that she would take care of everything; we just needed to show up Sunday afternoon.
A few days before the reunion date, she posted on FB that they were coming this week, gave the location and asked that everyone attending bring a side dish.
Only one of my children and her family were able to make it because of short notice and an absence of an invitation by Sue. My brother decided at the last minute not to come; my sister arrived two hours late.
As Sue and I were visiting she asked me if I had taken the week off. I said, “No.”  I was caught off-guard by her question because we had never discussed this possibility as I am a full-time nanny for two of my grandchildren. We made arrangements for a beach day the following morning, establishing a specific time. It was a long morning for me preparing for the day with two little ones underfoot.  When we were within 10 minutes of the bay I received a text saying, “Taking a bike ride; will be back soon.”
Irritated, annoyed.
I arrived with two babies, an umbrella, two beach bags filled with food, clothes, toys, diapers, sunscreen, beach towels and blanket in hand with NO help. We managed to make it to the bayfront. I set up everything and put on their floaties. We played in the fresh, cool water and sand when my cousins finally arrived and hour later. My older cousin Joe and his wife barely said, “Hi.” They spoke of their plans with Sue for an evening ball game, then left. Sue got on her swimsuit and came to the waterfront. We focused on my darling grandkids. The water was perfect so I let go of my irritation with her.
After about 10 minutes, Sue went up to the house for awhile.  When she came back she said that the rest of the family was going over to the ocean. She stayed another 10 minutes, and left again to do something. When Sue came back she mentioned that they were going to barbeque hotdogs for lunch. I said, “Ok.” I had already packed healthy snacks for the babies. When we finally sat down inside their rental after cleaning up, Sue said that she would make sandwiches since everyone else had left for the beach.
She and I made plans to meet the following evening after work with my son, wife and grandkids so that everyone could visit together. After this conversation the kids and I left. 
I felt slightly anxious on the way home and disregarded it.
I awakened early this morning to Sue’s brief text regarding a change in their plans which didn’t include me or my family. I felt angry and didn’t know why.  After I expressed my anger with my husband I began to cry. I said that I felt worthless around my family. Then I recounted that when we were at the reunion not one asked how I was doing. Instead they asked about my brother who wasn’t there. I said. “I don’t know; he doesn’t respond to my calls. They all referred to me as EILEEN though I have told everyone for years that my name is CELESTE.
A heavy weight of heartache and anxiety pressed upon my chest all morning. I kept wanting to resolve the conflict and restore everything to harmony. But a voice inside of me reminded me that her behavior was selfish and disrespectful.
I asked myself, “Why do I feel anxious when I am in conflict with a family member or friend ? Why do I feel compelled to restore peace and harmony ? Why do I overlook offenses and inappropriate behavior ? Why do I always need to make everyone feel okay and not share how I feel when I am offended ?”
Survival !
This reaction kept me alive.
After my dad raped and sodomized me he would force me to clean up all of HIS mess and say that I had to put EVERYTHING back in place or he would KILL me. Dad was a powerful figure in the ritual abuse cult; I believed his word. He was respected by all cult members, including those from our church. Even though painful, torturous and frightening things occurred to me and other innocent victims I felt SAFE as long as I was near him. No matter what they forced me to do, my dad was nearby protecting me from death. I had witnessed too many murders not to believe that my life was in danger.
I was a slave to the whims of evil souls !

No wonder I had such severe anxiety and anger when Sue sent me a text changing plans with my family. I felt disrespected and rejected. My word is important to me and I tend to have high expectations of others that they are the same way. I took her behavior as meaning that I am not valued, not important to her as my cousin.

I am afraid of being rejected because my wounded parts think we may die !

As an adult I know this is a lie. I need to be patient with my wounded parts and continue to journal my memories and feelings surrounding them. 

Contrary to the horrors I experienced at the hands of my father and cult members, I am of great value and worthy of respect. This begins with me. Learning to respect myself is difficult yet possible. I am learning to set boundaries with others and if necessary separate myself from those who continue to violate them in my presence.

I am encouraged that I am finding the hidden wounds and able to courageously face them that they may be examined in the LIGHT and healed.

In the sight of God I am a perfect and priceless pearl.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Emerging from the Darkness Part XIV

“Pastor Ron raped me in front of my friends !”
“He did the same thing to me,” Donna responded.
The same perpetrators were involved for decades in the torturous and terrifying abuses of many of us young victims !
My father participated with the perpetrators from our church in the abusive rituals though he did not attend the church. He had become friends with Ron, the youth minister because we lived directly across the street from the church. My father often flew teenagers from church in his airplane as a reward for winning contests organized by Ron.
As I shared memories in my new ritual abuse therapy group with people from my former church, we were able to corroborate the specifics of our ritual abuse. I soon released my self-doubt that any of my nightmarish memories were created in my imagination.
Desiring to further confirm our ritual abuse horrors, two women, one man and I drove to a town in our county where much of our victimization occurred. Passing through one particular area I suddenly experienced a vivid memory associated with a nauseous odor from hen houses. Regressing to the age of a three year old I crawled onto the backseat floor and shook with fear for several minutes. As we continued to share memories during our drive, we were able to corroborate the perpetrators and the locations involved, though my experiences had occurred twenty years prior to their abuses. We discussed the fact that each of us had chosen individual therapy with Martha, yet none of us was referred by anyone we knew. A Power great than ourselves was working out a Divine plan for our healing !
For the first time in my life I experienced faith in God’s love for me; I began to feel worthy of love. My confidence in myself slowly increased as I continued to apply the therapeutic process, utilizing the tools of individual and group therapy, journaling, prayers, The 12-Step Program, and literature regarding sexual abuse and healing. Catharsis permeated my soul as I embraced the truth about my childhood and began to release the negative thoughts such as shame, guilt and self-loathing I had harbored in my heart. As my nightmares and insomnia decreased I began to function within my family unit, participating in activities and daily life.
A shift subtly took place in my marriage.