The Challenges of Recovering From Extreme Abuse

This weekend’s conference is 2011 Annual Ritual Abuse, Secretive Organizations and Mind Control Conference, August 2011 in Connecticut. Some of our goals are to help stop future occurrences of ritual  abuse, to help survivors of ritual abuse, to name the groups that have participated in alleged illegal  activities and to unite those working to stop ritual abuse. This weekend, you will get to hear a variety of speakers talk about ritual abuse, secretive organizations and mind control from different perspectives, showing the possible connections between them. Thanks.

Please use caution while reading this presentation.  It may be very triggering. All accusations are alleged. The conference is educational and not intended as therapy or treatment.

deJoly has been doing recovery work for 22 yrs. She has spoken publicly about her experiences in a military sex ring, Satanic cult and government experimentation; and is grateful for the serenity and sanity she now experiences.

First and foremost, I want to thank Neil Brick for having the foresight and determination to create this conference 14 years ago… (Applause)   I’d also like to thank you, my audience, for coming to hear what I have to say. It’s important to me to be validated and really heard. Some parts of this talk will be taken from my second book, ALL TOGETHER NOW, A MULTIPLE’S STORY OF HOPE & HEALING.

So. I begin.

The Challenges of Recovering From Extreme Abuse…

In 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated during his final fast for seeking reconciliation between warring factions in India. Eleven US Communists went on trial in NYC. President Truman urged congress to adopt a Civil Rights program and later in 1948 signed Executive Order #9981, directing equality of treatment and opportunity in the armed forces. The World Health Organization was formed by the UN. There was war in Italy and Greece, Israel and Arab countries were fighting, the Soviets were taking over Germany, and China successfully invaded Manchuria, while Czechoslovakia was seized by Soviet Communists. During that same year, the International Court of Justice opened at The Hague, Netherlands. Israel and Ireland both declared independence from Britain. The UN Commission on Human Rights adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In June 1948, The Rhodes conference on the Israeli-Arab war began. Japanese premier Hediko Tojo was sentenced to death by a war crimes tribunal, and the UN approved a convention to discuss Genocide. 1948 was the year Bernard Baruch introduced the term “cold war” to describe the state of the world. And on October 20, 1948…a day that will live in infamy…I was born.

The third of four children, I came into a Marine Corps family, fraught with secrets and terror. Within the first few months of my birth, I was being groomed by my parents and others to participate in these secrets that included alleged sadistic cult activities, a military sex ring, and government experimentation.

My parents met in the Marine Corps in the early 40’s, and while my father went to Korea and China, my mother left the Marines and set about making a home for the family that was on its way.

Father was a fanatically strict disciplinarian in all aspects of our lives. For example, from p. 67 in ALL TOGETHER NOW, I quote:

      “A version of Field Day took place every day at home. After all, both my parents were in the Marines. I could never forget that fact.
“Snap to when you address me!” was his command, as we four kids automatically jumped to attention. Even our three year old bodies knew what “snap to” meant. “Yes, sir” and “No, sir” were the only acceptable responses. There was no question of who was in control in our house. I might as well have been enlisted too.

Small infractions of the rules, whether stated or implied were penalized in ways that far outweighed the “crime.” If my brother missed a pebble or weed in the yard, Father would order him to crawl on his hands and knees to clean the entire yard again. If there was dust on the edge of a book, if there was a water spot on the bathroom chrome, if any lint was left on the carpet, or if just about anything was out of order, we’d have to clean the whole house again.

Our “dressing downs” usually lasted for hours, modeled after the Marine Corps practice of breaking down the young recruit’s spirit in order for the Commanding Officer to have complete control. The CO would then go about reconstructing a new person who could act as an integral part of what they called a “killing machine.” Father paced back and forth in front of us, on the ready with his heavy gold-buckled military belt or his silently swift fiberglass rod. A mistake meant punishment.”

One of his favorite forms of punishment was to draw a dot on the wall with a pencil and make us put our noses on the dot while standing at attention. If we moved or failed to stand there as long as he ordered, we were beaten with a belt or other instrument of mass destruction, and then were forced to repeat the standing…

It became obvious to me early in my life that saying NO to my father was not an option, if I wanted to live. Incidents of permanent physical damage to me and my siblings stand out as evidence to that fact. From infancy through my teens, I endured brutal rapes, beatings, and harsh discipline meant for individuals in the military, not a child of my age or size. My attention was not focused on making friends or doing well in school. Every day, I focused on the probability of being raped…on how I could get away from my father…and on keeping the family secrets.

From an early age, I coped with this life by splitting my consciousness into distinct parts. These parts helped me do well in school, although I had the distinct impression from my parents that I wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.  I had parts that were good at sports, some who spoke eloquently and were socially adept —  while others could put me to sleep in times of danger —  or keep me in a constant state of fear. I even had one who had a photographic memory and could read upside down at a distance!

In March, 1968 I went away to college. I thought I would be free of the influence of my parents in my life. But boy! Was I wrong! On p. 83, I quote:

           My anger grows to a point where one day from my dormitory room, I call an attorney. When he comes to the phone, I’m nervous but direct.

“My father has been molesting me since I was very young,” I say. “Is there anything I can do legally to him? I don’t want him to be able to rape other kids.”

“What do you mean, he’s been molesting you?” the attorney answers. He seems to not understand what I’ve said. I restate my claim.
“I have clear memories of the abuse starting when I was about six. It continued until I was almost nineteen,” I explain.

“He did everything to me from making me touch him to anal rape.”
“Why did you wait until now to call an attorney?” he asks.
“I was afraid.”
“Has he raped you today?”
“No,” I say.
“Well, I’m afraid there isn’t anything you can do now,” he says. “Without evidence of semen inside you, we can’t do a thing to him. It would be your word against his.”

His words fade as I drift off. I know there isn’t anything I can do. I stand in my dorm room with the phone stuck to my ear, not hearing anything else he says. I have been conditioned to believe that my father is all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-powerful. He has won again. The law is on his side in this battle. Besides, the story of what occurred in our house is so bizarre that I don’t think anyone would believe me anyway….

In October 1968, my father contacts me at college to come home to celebrate my twentieth birthday. He picks me up at the dorm.
“Where are you going?” I ask when I see he isn’t driving home. “Have you moved?”
“Yes,” he says nonchalantly. “I’m living here now.”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“We sold the house and your mother and I are divorced now,” he says. “She lives with her sister in Colorado and I live here.”

It is as simple as that for him. What I first assumed was going to be a family gathering, ends up being just Father and me. I am shocked and afraid. But I remember the conversation with the attorney.
The next morning, October 20th , he brutally rapes me, but I act differently.
“Get away from me,” I yell. “You can’t do this to me anymore!”
“You don’t know what you’re saying,” he says calmly. “We haven’t done anything wrong. I’m not married anymore. We can live together now.”
“But you’re my father, you bastard!” I shout.
With that, I grab my clothes and run out the door, dressing myself as I run toward a doctor’s office. It’s about two miles away.
“Stop! Let’s talk about this,” he calls to me from his shiny new maroon Firebird.

Just keep on running. You can make it. Don’t acknowledge him. You have semen in you now. Don’t blow it. Keep going. I say to myself.
When I arrive at the doctor’s office, no one is there. It isn’t yet eight o’clock in the morning. I wedge myself between the storm door and the wooden entry door. Within minutes, the receptionist arrives. I follow her inside. At the same time, my father’s car pulls into the driveway behind her car.
“Please, I need to see the doctor right away!” I beg.
“He isn’t here right now,” she says.
“But I have to see him. It’s an emergency!”
“OK, I don’t expect him for at least a half hour,” she says, “but you can be first when he gets here.”

“Oh, thank you so much,” I say with tears in my eyes.
“You’ll have to fill out these forms…” she says.
At that moment, Father bursts through the doors. He’s raging. I hold onto the counter in front of the receptionist.
“She doesn’t need an appointment,” he snarls. “I’ll take care of her.”
“Yes I do!” I scream as he jerks my arms free from the counter. “It’s an emergency!”
The receptionist looks bewildered.
“Come on,” he grunts, as he wraps his arms around my waist from behind and pulls me to the front doors. “Let go of the chair.”
I throw my arms and legs wide so he can’t move me, catching the door frame as he pulls me through. But he’s stronger and soon has me outside. He drags me toward his car. I break away and run across the street to the grocery store. I find a grocery cart at the front of the store. Everyone can see me here. I wrap my arms around it and plant my feet.

I’m aware that the semen is running down my leg. Maybe there’s still a chance I can make it back to the doctor’s office.
Seconds later, Father walks into the grocery. He approaches me confidently.
“Let’s go,” he says quietly behind clinched teeth.
“No, I’m not going anywhere,” I say.
Father reaches for my arms to pull them off the cart.
“Don’t even try it,” I warn him. “If you touch me, I’ll call for the police and I’ll tell them everything you ever did to me.”
For a brief moment, for the first time in my life, I see a look of fear in his eyes. He knows I’ll do it. But just as quickly as it comes, the fear disappears.
“Consider yourself disowned,” he says. “You’re no longer my daughter. If you see me on the street, don’t acknowledge me because I won’t acknowledge you.”

“That’s fine with me,” I say.
“You’d better get the rest of your things before nine o’clock in the morning,” he warns, “or they will be in the dump.”
“Don’t worry,” I say sternly, “I’ll get them.”
Although I don’t have a memory of calling my college roommate, she comes to pick me up at the grocery. I never make it back to the doctor.
I’m never in my father’s presence again, until his death, but he is present in every moment of my life. He overshadows and poisons my life decisions, my relationships, my self-image and much more….

I was living in Florida, having been married to my fourth husband for a few years, and I felt compelled to tell him what was going on inside me. He was a good man and he deserved to know that I was having trouble controlling my insides…they were beginning to get restless and wanted to talk about what happened to them. I believed that he had control of his insides, and might leave me if he knew I was losing control of mine.

So in the Spring of 1988, I sought out a therapist. Within a few months, she asked me if I thought some time in a hospital dealing with my chronic depression would be something I’d consider. When I said yes, she immediately got on the phone and arranged for me to go to River Oaks Psychiatric Hospital in New Orleans.

From the day I first stepped foot in that hospital, I knew that my life would be different from then on out. As more and more memories came forward into my consciousness, and my alters were allowed to draw what happened to them, I became aware of the sinister truth of my life in my father’s house.

The hospital was a place of refuge. I felt safe there. My insides felt safe there. We trusted the people who were trying to help us, and took full advantage of all the tools they showed me that could help me get through the recovery experience. There were times I was so exhausted by the work I was doing that I literally crawled around on the cold linoleum floor of the hospital, and fell asleep with my face on the floor. Soon it became apparent to the staff and my therapist in the hospital, that I was dealing with extreme abuse and I was in a chronic dissociative state. Memories of cult abuse immediately were revealed through my drawings, a tool I’d used since early teens to express my life.

My resistance to this discovery was short-lived. I couldn’t deny the reality of those memories, since they’d popped into my consciousness throughout my life. I could easily draw 5 or 6 pictures of various extreme abuse and cult scenes I’d been in, without hesitation. I felt them in my body.

As I said earlier, my father was allegedly the leader of a sadistic cult in which I was used as the “Chosen One” to witness and bring power into the crimes these people committed – including murder, kidnapping and rape. Many of my alters were created just to deal with this aspect of my life.

Recalling terrifying details and dealing with my own denial that anything like what my alters were describing could have happened to me, were two of the first challenges I met with in the hospital.

Another aspect of my first hospital stay was their insistence that I attend 12-Step meetings. To say I was resistant is a mild description. I couldn’t figure out why I had to go to these meetings, which I typically assumed were for addicts. Turns out, they are for those affected by the addicts’ behavior too. I fit right in, even though I didn’t say a word at my first meetings.

As I was leaving the hospital, part of my out-patient treatment plan was to do a 60/60 – 60 meetings in 60 days. Now I get a kick out of telling my friends in my 12-Step meetings, that I did my 60 meetings in 21 days!! J Although some people in recovery have said they didn’t get anything out of the 12-Step meetings, I did. I was able to vent, to cry, to get angry and to do a whole lot of healing in those rooms. Today I am grateful that those meetings were part of my initial introduction to recovery from the extreme abuse I experienced as a child.

In another shorter hospital stay, my therapist and I helped one of my alters die. Her name was Ginger. We had a funeral in the hospital room complete with flowers and music and reading passages from the Bible, since those are the things Ginger requested for her ceremony. She left me there in that hospital room, grateful to finally be free. She gracefully took with her the deep feelings of suicide and dark depression.

I don’t know what I expected to happen when I first embarked on my healing journey back in 1988. Perhaps to be able to take credit for my talents, like my art, which were often praised? Perhaps to have some peace of mind ———– (or minds)? Perhaps to find a place that I fit into? Perhaps to tell someone my story and have them get just as angry as I was?

There were many things that brought me to the decision to tell what was going on inside me every day, every minute of the day, at every event, in every conversation… I needed to have some peace… I wanted someone to take all the chaos inside me and dump it in the nearest, deepest water…

I ached to know I wouldn’t be like that forever. I wanted someone to give me hope. Hope that my life,,, what happened to me in my father’s house,,, wasn’t for naught. I wanted to know the reasons someone would act in such a callus, hate-filled, narcissistic way toward his own daughter. I wanted to know why a mother would allow such abandonment and violations. I wanted to name my abusers in a newspaper where they lived. To expose the cult members…I wanted to know all their names, so they couldn’t get away with it anymore. I wanted to tell the truth about the government experimentation I’d endured. I dreamed that all my rapists had venereal disease.  I wanted to spit in their faces. Oh yes, I had fantasies about hurting them. You bet. J

The next challenge was to fight the urge to self-destruct. I had to find a way to hang on, to live through this awful journey. I recognized that I had to use music, another tool, to keep me grounded and alive… I recorded John Denver’s song “I Want to Live” several times on a cassette tape (yes, I’m old…)J And I’d take that tape recorder and ear phones and walk the perimeter of the courtyard at the hospital and sing it all the way…over and over. I believe John Denver saved my life. I only regret never having a chance to tell him so.

During another hospital stay, it became urgent to deal with the fact that I had a split consciousness. Admitting to this was hard because I thought I’d be locked up with no opportunity to get out. I could see other people struggling in life, but no one talked about their alters, so I thought if it was discovered that I couldn’t control mine, like everyone else was apparently doing, I’d be locked up. But my therapist in the hospital assured me that not everyone has alter personalities to deal with life. In fact, she didn’t have anyone but herself to live her life!! I thought of my husband,,,maybe he just didn’t have insides. I was amazed that people could get through life with only one of themselves to navigate. Who got them dressed? Who went to school? Who drove the car?  WOW!

When I was released from River Oaks, my new therapist helped me to get to know that I wasn’t defective for having the system of alters inside me. Over the course of five years working with her, I was able to encourage my alters to trust her and reveal their stories of horrendous abuse within my family. Eventually I learned to trust my alters, and their stories were documented in art, poetry, journals and even speeches I made at Indiana University to the students in Hal Pepinsky’s classes in the Criminal Justice Department for eight years.

Another challenge was to keep from sliding into the well of denial. Keeping a journal … many journals, helped me do this. As my alters would write on these pages, I could feel their pain, see the incidents they wrote about and see the faces of those who tortured them. I was convinced.

So my recovery progressed and subtly I moved into healing and merging my alter personalities (all 52 Plus) into my own self. My life went on, making new discoveries of abuse and healing each wound…dealing with life on life’s terms, working the 12-Steps within a nurturing family of choice, and committing to do whatever it took to heal.

In April of this year, when the Tornadoes ravaged Alabama near where I live, we didn’t get hit, although we lost power for a few days. When we finally came out of our basement, we knew it had been close… that we were in the midst of a tragedy for our county. My partner and I went to a church in a nearby town in Alabama, Ft. Payne, to help cook and feed the rescue workers, the homeless and those without power – like the nursing home. In two days, we cooked and sent out about 5,000 meals! It was an awesome task, and we were exhausted. But we were also grateful that we were able to do it and that we still had a home, food, and clean water.

It turned out that 297 people died in only 6 states in the South in a 24 hour period. 163 tornadoes touched down that day, killing194 in Alabama alone. 68 of those lives were lost in our county with a number of tornadoes touching down. A tornado track 26 miles long and a mile and a half wide, completely removed the top of Sand Mountain in our county. It roared through the small towns along the way, taking huge hunks of land, highways, trees and people.

But the real story involving these tornadoes for me has been one of the challenges of integration, and how it has affected my feelings during these last few months. In the past, I had 52-plus, alter personalities inside me, who could encapsulate the feelings of loss, grief and pain. They would take it and I wouldn’t feel it, or at least not to the depth I’ve felt it recently.

During the time we were feeding the people affected by the tornadoes that hit so many communities in my area, I heard many stories of loss – of both people and things. I saw people crying – wailing for their lost loved ones. Funeral homes listing the dead as quickly as possible. I saw trees that looked like splinters scattered in the wind. I saw metal sheeting, clothing, insulation, and trash flung into those trees which were left standing. I saw foundations laid bare where homes with children or grandparents once stood. It was all I could do to keep my body, mind and spirit from flying apart, reverting to the coping methods I’d used in the past, where an alter personality would quickly move in to take on the various emotions which accompanied the sights and sounds of the surrounding destruction and waste around me. I could feel the earth screaming. I could hear the sobs of grief. I was laid open, raw, and naked to the carnage.

I saw my life flip all around and a deep depression set in on me. For several weeks I couldn’t understand how people at Wal-Mart could be smiling. I couldn’t understand how the sun could be shining, cars moving, dogs barking. I couldn’t understand why the plants in the garden continued to grow. Didn’t they know about all the loss? I didn’t want to even get up or eat or bathe. It was all so surreal.

And I was NOT ALL RIGHT. I couldn’t even conceive of ever being all right again.

Yet here I am. Surviving one day at a time. Trying to bring reason back into my life. Trying to grasp that just because these awful storms tore lives apart, I didn’t need to let mine fall apart. I had a choice and I chose to climb the hill out of the hole of depression in which I huddled.

I realized that one of the biggest challenges for me in my recovery has been to let go of old learnings. To trust that I can let go of beliefs that no longer serve me, and still be ok.

One of those learnings was that keeping secrets was vital to my existence. My abusers taught me that only the weak or incompetent, ask for help.

But – I asked for help. I shared my feelings and my depression in my 12-Step meetings. I talked to my partner and friends about it. I even contacted my former therapist for some enlightenment. I was reaching out in the way I did when I first started my healing journey. This time I had a support group, and I needed every one of them. I needed to be reminded of all the tools I’d learned in my 24 year journey toward healing.

What I realized was that without my other personalities, I was susceptible to the full force of my feelings. I didn’t have any place to stick the emotions I was experiencing. There wasn’t a network inside myself that made me self-sufficient. No Mazey watching over the system. No Butch to be strong in the face of danger. No Defiant Bitch to hold the anger of loss. No Druggie to put me to sleep to keep me from feeling the pain. NO denial of the pain I was feeling. I didn’t want to seem weak to those I sought help from, yet I also knew intuitively that asking for help is a sign of inner strength.

Then I realized that this is what I had wanted when I first approached a therapist for help, I just didn’t know it. J Despite the pain of those weeks, I had wanted to feel the full spectrum of my emotions… Before I began this odyssey, I was sure that I was capable of feeling more emotions than just anger and terror. J Their emergence sneaked up on me over the years. And this is what I want to share with you today.

In the weeks that followed the tornadoes, I carefully examined my journey and my new lessons for life:

          1) I’m powerless over grief and it will NOT kill me.

I learned that grief is painful…again. I was grieving for the earth, for those who lost so much, for myself…again. Grief doesn’t just happen once and you’re over it. Like all the emotions, grief comes and goes like the waves of the ocean. During my recovery journey, I’ve experienced grief for all the losses in my childhood and adulthood, which were caused by my abusers. But this was different…bigger…immense. I was helpless, powerless over this tidal wave. When it hit, I was submerged in a black sea. I became inert. I didn’t recognize it for what it was until I spoke with my former therapist who likened it to grieving for those who experienced the Holocaust… There was so much devastation and loss back then. And these storms had left so much loss in their wake.

So, without a system of alters, I was able to feel the full extent of my grief. And even though it was overwhelming at times, I’m grateful for that.

When I came out of the depths of grief, I decided to contemplate other challenges and changes in my life since my recovery journey began.

            2)  Being honest will not create problems for me; and, I’m allowed to feel joy and sexuality; it’s only natural.

I found a wondrous joy when I realized I was fully present in my relationship with my partner, Rand, whom I’d known for 13 years prior to getting into the relationship two years ago. I came to know the thrill of a first kiss, that which was taken away from me by my abusers. I saw myself flirting and thrilling at the thought of being sexually close, like a teenager with raging hormones. At the age of 60, it was a completely different attitude from that which I experienced in childhood. I came to know how to be fully present while making love, which had been fleeting at best in my past…another result of the abuse. I also came to realize that these loving feelings are sustainable and lasting. They are not fleeting. I’m grateful for all the relationships I’ve been in over the years, too many to recount,J– because they have all taught me something about how to be in this relationship.

            3)  Angry voices do not mean I will be getting hurt; and I have a right to stand up for myself.

I learned that having disagreements doesn’t mean that my partner is going to leave me or hurt me, which were part of the reasons I reluctantly voiced my opinions in the past. I learned that one shoe dropping doesn’t mean the second shoe is going to drop.

             4)  Having a comfortable place to live means I can make messes without fear of being hit or berated.

I learned that the regimental attention to house cleaning that I had endured as a child, complete with White Glove inspection, didn’t have to accompany me as an adult. I have a right to make messes and I don’t have to clean them up right away.J

             5)  I have a right to exist and take up space.

I learned that the thoughts of suicide that I lived with even as a child of 5 years old, didn’t plague my mind anymore. Suicide is no longer on the table as an option, as I deal with life on life’s terms.

             6)  I can be safe in any environment.

I learned I can live a secluded, peaceful life in the woods without fear of harm from hunters or wild animals. The darkness no longer brings fear, nor does the full moon. Although I’m aware that bad things happen in the deep darkness of the woods, thoughts of rape and rituals no longer linger as I gaze at the moon in all its brilliance.

             7)  People will like me if I am honest and up front with them. I AM good enough.

I learned that I can have an intentional life, with intentional conversations and honesty. I’ve learned to ferret out those people in my life who are unable to speak and act honestly and with integrity, and to not feel guilty for excluding certain abusive people from my life. I chose a long time ago to not have any contact with abusive family members. My friends cherish my presence in their lives and I feel connected and good.

            8)  Religion and spirituality can be a sustaining blessing in my life.

I’ve learned that, although I don’t follow a religious path, the spiritual path I walk is good enough for me. And that’s all that counts. Because of the cult rituals and distrust of my environment, for a while, I didn’t have a connection to spirit. I was angry at everyone, including God. I went through all the stages of grief with my spiritual life, and came to a mature relationship with spirit. So, I’m grateful that I can now feel the joy of having that be a part of my life.

            9)  I’m not bad because I make mistakes. Other people make mistakes too, and they aren’t bad just because they make mistakes.

I learned that I have made the best decisions I could have made with the resources and experiences I’ve had. I don’t look back with regret or guilt or shame for the decisions I’ve made in the past. I am a good person even though I’ve made some decisions that had uncomfortable results.

           10)  People care about me. They don’t laugh if I fail at something. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Being weak is not  dangerous.

I learned that people want me to succeed. They aren’t all out to stand in my way or laugh when they see me fall. They reach out, not to hit me, as in childhood, but to help me make it.

To give you an example, coming to this conference was a group effort. I fought my fears of asking for help, and sent an email and letters to my friends and business acquaintances seeking sponsorships. I told them of my dream to make a difference in people’s lives that have been through similar experiences as I’ve been through. I re-introduced them to my recent book, ALL TOGETHER NOW, A MULTPLE’S STORY OF HOPE & HEALING, and I asked them to remember me when any organizations they were involved in needed speakers. The results were phenomenal. I am here because several people cared enough to send me money. I realized that instead of keeping quiet about my desire to get to the SMART conference, I was able to speak up… getting my needs met in ways I couldn’t imagine before.

           11)  I am NOT stupid.

I realized that I can ask for help and it doesn’t mean I’m incompetent or stupid. As I risk doing more things, being creative and innovative, I re-learn that I’m intelligent, not stupid.

           12) I have tools that will help me get through any situation.

I also realized that one of the tools I’d used in my recovery journey, ART, had automatically emerged to help me ground myself. I’m a master quilter, and as I dealt with my grief, I began a new quilt. When I talked with my former therapist, Lurline Aslanian, (who by the way wrote the forward in my book) she asked me if I’d done any art and I said no. But then she asked if I was quilting. And I realized that the quilt I’d started was symbolic of the tornadoes and the damage they had left behind. It has many swirls and curves, unusual for a “normal” quilt. I knew that it would be named “In Memory of the Tornadoes, 2011.” (Show quilt at its current state of completion) Like grief, it will take a while to complete, but it will always serve to remind me of the challenges of my recovery and the gratitude in which I experienced the depth of my new emotions.

To close, I want to add, that, if, in the course of your healing work, you can let go of the things you were taught by your abusers, evaluate things for yourself, and make your own decisions about what is best for you, then you will have the serenity and peace you long for. You may not get all the reasons why things happened the way they did, but you will get enough of the answers to bring relaxation and confidence. It is a journey well worth taking.

I’d like to close with the final paragraph from my book:

“I’m grateful that I made it to the other side of the dark hole; many don’t. Recovery of my being, of my life, of my soul – has been very painful, at times. But I believe in the goodness of mankind, and that by seeking a higher consciousness as individuals, we can change the consciousness of the world. I no longer suffer from the effects of my abuse, but seek every day to reach a higher state of consciousness. In writing this book, my true self emerged as a whole woman with value and self-worth.”