Hal Pepinsky, firstname.lastname@example.org, pepinsky.blogspot.com
August 15, 2010
I too am thoroughly enjoying statgroup. I’ll post and forward this message to statgroup. Statgroup is a mixed group of survivors of extreme ritual child abuse and their associates. For those who don’t know me, I retired last year after teaching criminal justice at Indiana University in Bloomington for a third of a century. As far as I know, I am the only professor anywhere to have included more than one survivor of ritual abuse/mind control in a single class. Googling my name has tended to be led to my writings on ritual abuse torture. I was privileged to be included in Neil Brick’s SMART conference from its inception until my retirement.
Here I resonate with therapist Kathy Dowling’s survival skill of setting boundaries on her relations with survivors. By 1996 when my classes were already filled with accounts of intergenerational, essentially satanic ritual torture and murder, and when I had stumbled upon two long-time active ritual torture sites near my home, when I was so scared for my family that I was having paranoid psychotic episodes, I signed on for over a decade’s therapy with someone who’s boundaries were firm (I never tried to call her personal number; she gave me 100 percent unconditional attention while I was with her in sessions that ended on the hour). Linda Alis taught me I was first and foremost entitled to cut myself a break, and to share vulnerability. Out of town guests to classes routinely spent an extra night at my place. I would be left with intensity of understanding what my survivor and advocate guests unfolded to me and my students. My schedule was such that I almost always had a free day next morning to hug and thank a guest, and spend the rest of the day alone to regain my own bearings and write guest and students what new I had learned in class. Time and again, I would start my sessions with Linda with, “It’s been intense…” Linda taught me respect for my boundaries, and for all the knowledge my encounters in the worlds of ra/mc survivors had given me. So I didn’t burn out and I brought in my guests with gusto right up to my retirement in December 2009. Time and again, my guests drew me out as Linda did. I have told guests including those on this list personally how much I feel they understood and validated me, while colleagues especially regarded my stories about ritual abuse and mind control to be professionally bankrupt.
When Linda agreed to become my therapist, she promised me that as I became able to express my own emotional vulnerability, events would always trigger unpleasant reactions, including body memories, that I would more readily process that emotion and let go, knowing that I was now in a place different from where the alarm that sounded when I had been mistreated in the past. For me now, that’s as good as social security in fact ever gets.
To me, a nice part about recognizing and respecting my own boundaries first and foremost is that my boundaries become negotiable. If someone volunteers personal information to me that makes me uncomfortable, I can say so and see where we go from there. Most of all, if I need time to myself, I take it. I find that this enables me to feel calm and attentive (and students with me) to hearing stories so gruesome I would never have imagined them twenty years ago. Without time and attention to our own ups and downs, we have no room to hear what ra/mc survivors are telling us happened to them. Ra/mc survivors’ stories are too much to hear insofar as we cannot entertain discourse on our own personal senses of violated boundaries in everyday life. (Anyone who knows the work of Harold Garfinkel on everyday life will appreciate my thanks to Harold for having persuaded me to go to graduate school in sociology, which conversation Harold has long since forgotten.)
Empathy and compassion for others entails empathy and compassion for oneself. Empathy and compassion for oneself entails establishing boundaries on what on is willing to give of oneself—how, when, where and what one is prepared to share of one’s own life in any conversation. I am more firmly convinced than ever that I need to identify and defend my own personal boundaries, and to respect y’alls’ in return. Thanks Kathy, for your defense of boundaries. And to all on this list who might want to be in touch, I have lots of time, email or call anytime. That’s one boundary life currently allows me to relax Love and peace--hal