Is parental alienation an extreme form of the Oedipus complex?

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Mythology and neurosis have a common essence. The myths are a symbolic expression of the unconscious universal dramas. As such, they reveal many secrets into our psyche. Mythology is a projection of the collective unconscious and these archetypes manifest even more strongly when their awareness is limited.

Oedipus and the Sphinx

The Oedipus complex is a concept of psychoanalytic theory from Freud. It is inspired by the Athenian tragedy, Oedipus the King, by Sophocles. Oedipus could not escape his fate of marrying his mother and killing his father. When expressed in a healthy way, the child’s hatred for the opposite-sex parent and unconscious sexual desire for the same-sex parent urge the young adult to leave his parents’ nest to start his own life, and look for a compatible mate to start a family. The son leaves his father’s home that has become too restrictive for his own development, and finds a woman that shares many attributes of his own mother in order to heal his own childhood traumas. The father represents what is being rejected while the mother represents what is desired.

While mothers are just as affected by parental alienation as fathers, for the illustration of this article, I will refer the mother as the alienator, and the father as the targeted parent. There are many ways a case of parental alienation seems to evoke the Oedipus complex literally:

  • When the father is alienated, the son is used as a weapon of war by the mother to psychologically kill the father in the children’s mind
  • After the father has been eliminated from the family structure, the son becomes the new de facto husband of the mother. The son is heavily enmeshed and is asked to fill the void left by the father
  • Oedipus father, king Laius, attracted misfortune to him and his family because of his dark previous deeds against Chrysippus. King Laius is also the one ordering the killing of his own son Oedipus. The targeted parent’s tragedy can always be traced to unresolved traumas of his own past and this is what he needs to heal to change the alienation dynamics. He cannot see himself only as a victim but needs to take responsibility for his part in the alienation
  • Oedipus becomes obsessed in finding the killer of King Laius (before he realized that was him) whom he replaced as the new king because the Oracle said this unsolved murder is responsible for a plague in Thebes. In the same way, the alienated child’s life is plagued by self-hatred as he was forced to reject his father from his life. He does not realize that many of his psychological and intimate problems are directly related to the alienation of his own father.
  • In the Oedipus play, Jocasta eventually commits suicide after realizing the horror of incest by marrying her own son, the killer of her husband. Alienators are often very tormented as they eventually realize the psychological damage they have done to their children out of revenge
  • When Oedipus eventually learns that he is his wife’s son, he enters a fury and wants to cut his mother’s womb with a sword. This symbolizes the rage of the alienated child towards his mother when he finally realizes how he has been manipulated for so many years
  • When Oedipus becomes aware of the tragedy of his fate, he makes himself blind by piercing his eyes with golden pins. The alienated son is also torn by guilt about his own actions, in particular his harsh rejection of his father and his blind enmeshment with his mother. Seeing the truth may be so brutal that he may decide instead to shut down his conscience.
  • Oedipus’s sons Eteocles and Polynices end up fighting for power and killing each other. His daughter Antigone commits suicide. The alienated child carries with him the psychological damage coming from years of alienation. As an adult, he is likely to experience similar unfortunate events in his own family life because of transgenerational trauma
Blind Oedipus in exile with his daughter Antigone

The light of awareness has however the power to lift away the curse of parental alienation. As they mature, the alienated children have the ability to see the truth of their childhood, accept the limitations of their parents and start the process of forgiving them. Then, they will be able to break the cycle of abuse and abandonment to give their own children a life that is not plagued by intimacy issues.

Guru/disciple relationship dynamics and attachment traumas

German translation of this blog by Silke Lira Blumbach

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Young Vaillant with his cat

My mother was raised in the French foster system. My father was a product of the Second World War and only reconnected with his mum when he was 10. As a result, they suffered from severe attachment trauma and shame. She was a discouraged borderline struggling with depression and he was a codependent that lost his ability to feel. Because my father was mostly absent, I was parentified and developed a fusional relationship with my mother. Both my sister and I could not receive in this family environment the emotional nurturing we needed to develop secure attachment. I coped by being the best at school and in general the best boy possible so I became the Golden Child and started building strong codependent tendencies. My sister struggled to cope in this family environment and became the Scapegoat and started developing borderline tendencies. When I was 9, our parents divorced. Mum could not cope anymore with the emotional unavailability of dad, and left overnight leaving both my sister and me behind to live with her new companion. She was clumsy in explaining to us her departure. At that point in my life, my mum was everything. She was a stay-at-home, we spent a lot of time together and I was meant to fill the emotional void my dad had left. We had a fusional relationship. While it is natural for a 9 year old to be dependent upon his mother, my dependency was even more pronounced, as she was so afraid of being alone. To make it worse, when she ran away, I was left with an emotionally unavailable father. My new stepmother was a petulant borderline. As a codependent, my dad needed to appear as the good guy so played sides instead of fighting for inclusion. As a result, she saw us as a clear threat to her relationship to our dad. This led to a second abandonment where my dad gave us away back to my mum and we hardly saw him after that. This second abandonment was very hard on me as I asked my dad to stay with him. Though he was an absent father, I had developed an intense fear around my mum unpredictability so felt safer to stay with him at the time instead of going back to mum. But he just gave me back to mum without even giving to us an explanation. As a result, my child self developed the core belief of being “bad”, in fact “very bad” for parents not wanting to be with me. And shortly after being reunited with mum, both sets of parents had a baby son. This reinforced how bad we had to be that we needed to be replaced. My goal in sharing this story is not to throw my parents under the bus as I have repeated myself many of their mistakes but to share with the readers how attachment traumas are created.

osho tarot card the master

I coped with the deep core belief of being so bad by becoming a hyper-achiever. I had a bright mind and used it to my advantage to bury my core shame of being unlovable so that my achievements could give me the positive attention I was desperately craving for. To cope with my attachment trauma, all my focus turned into the goal of being admitted to Ecole Polytechnique, the most prestigious engineering school of France. To reach that goal, I worked insanely for the 2 years after high school. I would study until 12:30 AM every night and only give myself Saturday afternoon to bike in the Cote d’Azur countryside. As it was a national exam, I was competing with the brightest and most hard-working students in my age category in France. I became interested in the occult as a short cut to become super smart as I felt being the best was the only way I could be loved. Actually many kids today that are fascinated by the Marvel super hero movies and comics feel very powerless and out of control as they feel unlovable in their present state. I ended up not making it to Ecole Polytechnique but to the second best engineering school of France Ecole Centrale Paris, which was an excellent achievement. While I thought reaching my goal would bring me happiness, the opposite happened. I had lost the goal that was distracting me from my misery. I felt distressed and I could not explain why. I did not feel I belonged anywhere. I started drinking heavily and my connection with women was limited to meaningless one-night stands. I started developing a profound disgust to myself. I had read lots of books from Osho Rajneesh (see documentary Wild Wild West on Netflix) and I enjoyed very much his provocative insights, vast knowledge and wisdom. One day, when I felt particularly miserable and was looking for an answer, I drew a card from his tarot deck. It was the Master card, the 79th card in Osho’s tarot deck. I interpreted the meaning of this card that I had to find a master because I felt so stuck. Awakening felt like the answer to my suffering. An occult group in Paris was leaving bookmarks in Osho Rajneesh books. It was called The Fellowship of Friends that proclaimed to be a fourth way school following the teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, two famous Russian mystics. Osho spoke frequently of Gurdjieff in his books. I contacted them and after three prospective meetings, I was determined to join to put an end to my misery and isolation.

Cult leader Robert Earl Burton with his followers

At first, my experience in the cult was exhilarating. I felt an intense sense of belonging, I was given a new meaning for my life, I was surrounded with many smart, mature and wise people, my mind was stimulated by new and fascinating esoteric knowledge, my ego was gratified by feeling among the chosen ones and having a direct connection to God (called Influence C in that group), I was developing deeper connections with people and my life became full of new exciting experiences and adventures. Being in a cult at that time was actually an improvement to my state compared to the powerlessness, isolation, addiction and depression that I had been struggling with. Actually, a lot of people go from substance or sexual addiction to becoming fundamentalist newborn Christians, this is actually an improvement too. There is a reason why the 12-step program is so religious.

Robert Earl Burton, Self-Proclaimed Avatar of the Age

If you want to better understand the type of cult I joined, you may be interested to watch the documentary Holy Hell on Netflix. Both my cult leader Robert Earl Burton and Michel Rostand in Holy Hell are megalomaniac and homosexual predators. They believe they are fully awakened. They are highly manipulative and believe that it is an honor to be used by them. They are very authoritative and exercise full control over the life of their members. Robert’s group the fellowship of friends was a bit larger than Michel’s as it reached over 3,000 members at its prime time. Robert demanded 10% of every member income, sex from any male member he found attractive (most of them being heterosexual and having no interest to have sex with a man) and compliance to his instructions as he saw himself more evolved than Christ himself.

Michel Rostand cult leader in HOLY HELL (2016)

In most cases unfortunately, a guru/disciple relationship is nothing else than a narcissist/co-dependent relationship. It is a dysfunctional relationship where needs are met in ways that are destructive, manipulative and covert. What is the dynamic of this dysfunctional relationship? Because of their attachment traumas, the co-dependents have developed core shame and believe they are bad and as a result, there are unable to see their own light. They have disown their light and their guru has disowned his shadow. The relationship that they are developing with a narcissistic guru will then reflect their unworthiness and they are therefore a perfect match to their cult leader because of their core belief of being bad. The codependents are attracted to the charm, boldness, confidence and domineering personality of the narcissist. The codependents reflexively give up their power; since the narcissist thrives on control and power, there is an intense attraction between them. The narcissist guru find recruits who lack self-worth, confidence and who have low self-esteem — codependents. Through smart manipulation the narcissist leader is able to conceal his lower motives and maintain an unsullied reputation—at least in the beginning. They are often highly intelligent, possess esoteric information that is very attractive to their followers, and are well aware of mind control techniques. Most use the technique of undermining the follower’s sense of self by subtle criticism or exposing personally embarrassing situations to trigger their core shame—all this in the name assisting the person to transcend ego. They establish their superiority over their followers by claiming super powers that cannot be verified. For example, Robert would claim “I have fully developed higher centers”, “I live in a pure state of presence & being”, “I am omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent”. Anyone questioning the claims of the guru is shamed for lacking faith, devotion or is seen as disruptive for the group cohesion. Because co-dependents have such fear of abandonment, they typically err on the safe side by unconditionally siding with the guru’s views with the rest of the followers. Over time, even as the disciples become aware of the guru abuse, they look the other way, as they understand that the cult leader owns the relationships in the group and any opposition would mean ex-communication, which is perceived as the worst possible punishment for people with abandonment traumas. Once we have accepted the cult as our family, we are stuck. There is another important reason why it is so difficult to leave these dangerous cults. We have disowned our relationship to our Creator, God or Source and believed we are dependent on the group and the cult leader to access it. Leaving the group is then associated with cutting our connection to the divine, which is a deeply entrenched fear in humans. We have been controlled for millenniums by the fear of rotting in hell for eternity. When I announced my departure of the cult to Robert in 1996, he warned me that I would lose my connection to “Influence C” (i.e. God). At the end, I only lost my connection to a demon 😉

I had made the Fellowship of Friends my family, I was part of the cult inner circle, I had adopted the cult beliefs and language, I had very little connection with my blood family. So how was I able to leave it when I was only 23 confronting the cult leader Robert Earl Burton on my last day while so many other more mature, smarter and experienced members stayed stuck there for so many years?

  • First, I stayed in contact with a French healer Jacques who I intuitively felt had many more spiritual abilities than my guru who claimed to be God on earth. He helped my deprogramming in smart and subtle ways.
  • I was not completely dependent on the group as I just started a programmer job in Silicon Valley.
  • I rented a room in a house with an individual that had his own teacher Elias De Mohan, a remarkably psychic man that was not cultish. This again challenged Robert’s claim that he was the most conscious being on earth.
  • After attending so many Robert’s events, he looked like a parrot repeating the same thing over and over again so I did not feel I was learning anything new anymore.
  • The cult organization destroyed my relationship with a woman I was deeply in love with and built resentment toward the cult as a result.
  • I understood how wasteful Robert was with money and I did not want him to do this with 10% of my income now that I had a good job.
  • However, I think the biggest factor came from my own attachment trauma. I had lost my family already when I was a kid and knew I could survive it. Or maybe subconsciously, I wanted to re-experience the pain of losing my family again for healing purpose. In any case, my own trauma benefited me in this situation.

Most of my friends in the cult ended up only leaving the cult 13 years later after all the abuse was made public through this public blog.

In summary, here is what the cult member gets from the transaction:

  • The cult member gets his core belief of being unlovable, bad and unworthy validated, replaying childhood attachment trauma. Many co-dependents have learned that they only get loved by being down on themselves and making the other better than they are
  • The cult member gets belonging & connection with like-minded individuals. He gets a new family (with conditional love)
  • The cult members gets to experience the divine and higher part of them that they have disowned through the guru
  • The cult member gets a sense of (false) security through the guru self-confidence, assertiveness, and views on the meaning of life that are simple to understand
  • The cult member gets new goals and activities so that he does not have to face his own inner turmoil and demons anymore. He is given a new direction that prevents him to dwell more on his/her own misery so feels better as a result. Actually, many of these activities allow the individual to develop his creativity far more than what he was doing in the past. The caveat is that the guru is the one benefiting financially for the disciple newfound creativity, not the individual
we are not worthy

These benefits provide enough value to the disciple that they will often surrender their free will, financial resources and even their own body to the leader. Disappointment with the leader, acknowledgement of the abuse will eventually force the follower to re-own his own power and needs, stand on his own feet to live his own life, a more authentic life. At this stage, the follower feels angry, betrayed and intense grief. What was heaven now seems hell. Eventually, they will need to digest this experience in more objective terms for true healing to take place. They feel like a victim but eventually needs to own how their own attachment traumas played a role to be a match to this experience. They will able to take responsibility for joining a cult and forgiving themselves for doing so. Actually, many people are able to create fulfilling and successful lives after a cult experience if they can learn all the lessons that came with it.

Paradoxically, cult leaders hold often even more core shame than their followers. Their shame is so repressed that they can only see it externally through their own disciples. We have to remember that cult leaders and followers, just like narcissists and co-dependents are simply the mirrored repressed aspects of each other. Many cult leaders are hyper achievers to cover up their own sense of inadequacy, and many have developed special abilities to maintain the illusion of personal greatness so that they would never have to face how bad they actually feel about themselves. Actually, both cult leaders and their members are in a state of dysfunctional and unhealthy dependency. The guru deals with his insecurity around that dependency by creating a large narcissistic supply of followers to ensure that his needs would always be met. It is actually harder for the guru to growth and heal as he has completely disowned his shame and buried his vulnerability. Actually, therapists see a lot of codependents but narcissists never come to their office. This is because narcissists can never admit there is something wrong with them while codependents are so good at finding fault within themselves as they have learned to get rewarded and receive love for showing their imperfection to the narcissist. All cult leaders suffered from severe trauma from their childhood that they never healed. Theo Dorpat wrote in his book “Wounded Monster” about the importance of Hitler’s (the most infamous cult leader of all times) childhood trauma to explain his destructive behaviors.

What does the cult leader gets from the transaction?

Cult leader Sathya Sai Baba

It feels alone at the top so actually the cult leader in most case does not get belonging or connection. He feels often alone and disconnected from others. They are unable to develop equal authentic relationships with others as they see the world in a hierarchical way. This is why so many cult leaders, especially if they are men, turn into sex addicts. Sex is the only way they can get the connection they desperately need. In general, the cult leader will get his followers to talk his or her love language whether it is act of service, words of affirmation, gifts, time together or touch to fill the void of their pathological loneliness. The bigger the void, the bigger the need for external adoration. The same pattern can be observed with stars and their fans, or with any narcissistic leader and their subordinates.

The leader gets tremendous energy from their followers and it typically feeds their lower shakras because of lack of purity and integrity: financial security with the first shakra, sexual gratification with the second shakra or power with the third shakra. This energy rarely reached the higher shakras because their character has been perverted: the fourth to experience pure love for their followers through service (ex. burning heart of Christ), the fifth to express it creatively, the sixth to lead with vision and the seventh to stay aligned with the rest of creation.

Ego is nothing else than the illusion of separateness. As the ego gets gratified, the identification with the ego becomes stronger and stronger and the connection with the authentic self weaker and weaker. They become sociopathic then psychopathic as their disorder develops. This means that they are able to cut their own unpleasant feelings through rationalization. As a result, they repress their own emotional pain & suffering which now become externalized in the pain & suffering of their followers that have not completely cut the connection to their heart.

Gurus are often high-functioning psychopath that display superficial charm, a grandiose sense of self, lack of remorse or empathy, lack of introspection, cunning behavior, lying, egocentricity, parasitic lifestyle, and more often than not, sexual exploitation. While their followers admire them, their psychological condition is often worse than the people they abuse. Behind close doors, they are deeply tormented and often resort to diverse addictions to shut the door of their own conscience torturing them. Their mental health is plagued with anti-social disorders, paranoia and self-hatred.

What do they need to heal? A collapse of their universe with people turning against them and keeping them accountable for their own actions. In 1996, during the third year at my cult, I went to Russia. The Soviet block had collapsed and there was a lot of interest for spirituality. I start giving there teaching dinners and running large meetings about the group teaching. The women were beautiful and I was falling in love every day. My success went to my head and I was becoming a mini-guru. The cult leader Robert Burton heard from others that I was taking too much liberty and I was reprimanded and fined at my return to the US. They crushed me and this is the best thing they could have done to downsize my ego that had got too inflated. Of course, the fact that he punished me for actions he would do himself behind people’s back did not sit too well for me and acted as a catalyst for me to leave.

Of course, not all spiritual teachers are narcissist or have dysfunctional parasitic relationship with their followers. What is most important for those seeking spiritual guidance is to keep their critical thinking alive as they approach any spiritual teacher. The questions they must ask ourselves are:

  • Does this teacher walk his/her talk? Does this teacher live by the precepts he/she teaches?
  • Is the teacher respectful of you? Do they automatically assume you are below them?
  • Do they have a grandiose sense of self?
  • Do you feel manipulated in any way by this person?
  • Do they require zealous, unquestioning commitment and subservience to the leader?
  • Is questioning, doubt, and dissent discouraged or even punished?
  • Is the group elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader and members?
  • Does the leadership induce feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members?
  • Do they encourage members to cut ties with family and friends outside the group? Are members encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members?
  • Does the group use subtle maneuvers to make it difficult for you to leave? Do they punish you if you leave? Are you ostracized if you leave the group?
The Last  Supper Restored Da Vinci

Once these question are answered to your satisfaction, this somewhat suspicious stance can be relinquished in order to assimilate the instruction you desire, and to create an open-hearted relationship with your spiritual teacher.

Healing The Un-Healable

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Teal woke me up at dawn this morning. She felt extremely dizzy. I walked her to the bathroom, as she could not do it herself. I re-assured her, held her tight and got one more hour of rest. Still in my arms, I asked her if she was feeling better. She replied that she had not slept and had been doing mental & emotional exercises to counteract the dizziness. I thought she might have BPPD (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), a condition I suffered a couple of years ago. I started to apply the Apley maneuver on her.

Blake walked into the room and wondered what I was doing with her. He has gotten used to non-normality having lived with Teal for thirteen years. He inquired about her condition with genuine care. He had come into the room to go over the last actions on the agenda today for helping Teal make the New-York Times Best Seller list with her new book “The Completion Process”. But she was not in the condition to talk about the plans. By a lucky twist of fate, one of our community members stopped by the house and came up into our bedroom to say hello. As a victim of ritual abuse too, she realized that Teal’s dizziness was most likely not a physical condition as I had suspected but was instead a symptom of a trigger. Some cults use a variety of programs to confuse, disorganize or block the memories so that the victim cannot speak about the abuse or often even remember it.   These programs are called “scrambler programs”. Teal has unraveled several of these programs within herself over the last 10 years. We collectively decided that Teal should do The Completion Process by going into the dizziness instead of trying to take action to make the dizziness go away. But today was Mark’s birthday (Teal’s ex husband and the father of her son). So the community had several birthday activities planned. We made the decision that Teal and I should stay behind to do this important healing work and meet up with them later.

I locked the door to ensure that our process would not be interrupted. Before starting, I asked Teal if anything happened that could have created the dizziness. She remembered she had a small panic attack last night. Before going to sleep, she went to check on Winter (her son). But she could not find him in his bedroom. She went to Blake’s room and other parts of the house and eventually came to me out of breath and full of terror, saying that she could not find Winter anywhere. I went to his room that had been transformed in a fortress over the weekend. After scouring the fort, I found him. He had made his way up on top of the fort and was sleeping in peace out of view. Because of his position and the blanket fortress, it was impossible to see him from the entrance of his bedroom or from inside the fort. Teal could breath again. But the emotional damage had been done. Unfortunately, we went to bed immediately after the incident without working through any of the terror she had felt thinking that he had been abducted.

I started to guide her into the Completion Process. The first step is to get in touch with the body sensations and the feeling that pertains to the trigger, dizziness in her case. She felt her heart being torn. She was frozen and in a state of shock. She started to get the intense smell of dial soap so she dived deeper into this smell, understanding that it was part of the traumatic memory that was linked to the trigger.

Teal, 11 at the time, found herself in the basement of the mortuary where Doc’s friend worked. The man was washing the body of an older woman who was there to be prepared for a funeral with Dial soap. Teal expressed her distress at remembering the absence of bleeding, which she explained is characteristic of corpses. Doc and the mortician had put her into a plastic basin of icy water from her necks to her knees. They had waited for her to stop shivering and then Doc and the mortician spun her in circles to the right until she was so dizzy that she was falling over. Doc and the mortician were programming her so that she would forget what she had seen just hours earlier that day. I asked her to rewind back to see what had happened before she was brought to the mortuary. She saw a hand. It was a child’s hand coming out of a wooden storage crate. The memory started to unfold.

It was 1995. Teal’s mother had wrapped up cold boiled corn in a plastic bag and sent her with Doc on veterinary rounds. Teal’s parents mistakenly considered him a family friend and a mentor for Teal’s unusual extrasensory abilities at the time. He drove Teal to a dairy farm. It was the most dilapidated dairy farm they visited on rounds. The conditions were ghastly. Doc had been called to put a cow to sleep that was infected with listeria. It is a disease that makes cows turn around in circles until they cannot move anymore. Teal stood in the manure, frozen as usual, when a man came out of the farm brick house looking upset and preoccupied. He went over to speak with Doc in private at a distance in the paddock. Doc became visibly upset as well and waved for Teal to come right away.

Doc started driving in a rush with his truck. When Teal asked where they were going, he hit her very hard and angrily on the head with his fist. Her vision went black as a result. She pretended she had been knocked out to avoid further beating. After a while, he pulled into the driveway of a red brick house. Doc was so disconnected and caught up in his own thoughts that he did not acknowledge Teal. He focused his attention on a distressed man coming out of the house. Teal assumed that he had an emergency problem with an animal of some kind and had called Doc for this reason. She recognized the man as a newer cult member. He had attended a ceremony Teal was taken to previously. Doc acted suspicious as he took Teal to the right side of the house to a side entrance. It was as if he did not want the neighbors to notice them.

They went down into a cellar that was loosely attached to the main house. It was full of old rusted farm tools and some storage food. In the right corner of the cellar, there was a rectangular cement pit with a huge wooden shipping crate laid over the top of it. Teal went into shock when she saw the tiny hand of a little girl trying to reach out through the slits of the crate. She was crying and begging to be let out. She would stop for minutes at a time then start crying again and reach out through the slits. The man who owned the house was sweating. He was telling Doc that he wanted to drop her off where he had found her, like nothing happened. He had abducted her in order to be elevated in the cult ranks by offering her in sacrifice for the upcoming September 21st equinox ceremony. He was expected to keep her during that time but the despair and angst of the innocent victim that was probably only 6 had started to shake the little bit of conscience that was left in him. He was panicking and wanted to take it back. He was not yet a full-blown psychopath like Doc that had lost any capacity for feeling. Doc had been sent by the other cult members to survey and “cleanup the mess” this man had created.

Doc explained to the man that he had to keep the little girl until the next ritual or kill her and that he could not bring her back under any circumstances, as it would put him as well as the cult at risk. Their discussion continued for a while and during that time, they were fully oblivious to Teal. Doc became impatient and fed up with the man’s weakness and indecision so he took the matter into his own hands. He charged into the house and took the man with him. Teal had sat down in the cellar and was staring at this little hand in complete terror. She was mentally running through scenarios about letting her out and escaping with her. She was unsure if she could move the crate. Lost in thought, she mentally ran through all the potential consequences of making an escape with the girl.  But Doc interrupted her frantic thinking when he stormed in carrying a huge pot of boiling water. He dumped it onto the little girl through the crate. The little girl was screaming and crying. He reached back to take a second pot of boiling water from the man, and dumped it on her again. Her screams and cries came to a brutal stop. The other man then dumped a third pot of boiling water over the silence of the pit.

Teal was stuck in a state of shock, witnessing the murder of this little girl. Teal had covered her eyes and cried into her palms. She was in fact doing the very same thing in real time as the result of the integration of this memory. It was really hard to watch her cry so hard. It was tempting to pull her out of the memory. But, knowing how this deep resolution work functions, I decided to let her continue with the memory.

Still unconcerned with Teal, the two men pulled the crate up and let it fall to the side. Teal saw a little Caucasian girl with brown hair, drenched and with red and white splotches all over her body because of the burning water. Doc pulled her out and to the side of the house into the daylight. He ordered the man to get him some twine. The man came back with some orange bailing twine, which Doc wrapped around her neck three times as if he was calf roping the girl. He held it tight with enough force to break her neck. He had strangled her to be sure she was dead. Then he covered her in a brown sheet, carried her to the back of his veterinary trailer and shut the door. He said something to the man at a distance. The man seemed ashamed and conflicted but relieved. Doc then grabbed Teal by her arm and led her forcefully to the truck. They drove together to the mortuary where his cult friend was working. Doc took Teal and the corpse of the little girl into the bottom floor of the mortuary where the embalming took place. Teal was numb with shock when she entered and they walked in on the mortician cleaning the corpse of the old lady with Dial soap. When the mortician heard the whole story from Doc, he shook his head in disgrace knowing that he would have to cremate the body of the little girl to cover up the murder so nothing would be traced back to the cult group.

When they were done talking, the two men turned their attention back to Teal. They had decided to try to implant a scrambler program to try to cover up what Teal had experienced and seen that day. They put her into a basin filled with icy water and threatened that if she told anyone what happened, they would end up opening her up like the old lady on the metal table. Doc injected something with a needle into the back of her neck to sedate her.   They spun her in circles to make her so dizzy that her nervous system would shut down. They laid her on the floor and had her repeat to herself over and over again ”I remember nothing, everything is black”. They were creating a scrambler program. Doc stuck her arm with another needle and within a matter of seconds, Teal felt herself dissolve into peaceful darkness. When she opened her eyes again, she felt still very dizzy and sick. Doc had driven her back home to the end of her driveway. He told her that she had passed out at the dairy farm and he brought her home because she was probably sick. When he brought Teal back to her parents, he told them that he thought she was coming down with the flu. Her mom responded “You look pale, Sis!” and told her to go get into bed. Her mom brought her some Canada Dry Ginger Ale to help her feel better. In reality, Teal was in shock and coming out of forced drug sedation.

As Teal was re-experiencing the memory, I followed the Completion Process steps and supported her throughout the horror. I asked her gently to bring her adult perspective to the scene in order to re-create the past. She imagined that the adult self had called the police and fifteen police cars had stormed to the house, saving the little girl from a tragic death. The two men were arrested. For the first time in her life, Teal said she felt reassured to see the police. She imagined her parents being called by the police and being brought to the scene and being told about what had really been going on between Doc and her for the past 5 years. Competent therapists came to take care of Teal, the little girl and her parents. She imagined her parents moving away to a monastery with Teal and her brother to heal. She then imagined that I brought her into her safe haven. We put the transformed memory into a balloon and she popped it with a needle. Using visual techniques, we purified the eleven-year old Teal in the river there. She felt like cutting her hair so that none of this experience would be left in her body. So we brought a wise shaman woman and she created a ritual to complete her purification. Her head was shaved and they let her hair flow downriver. Her traumatized child self refused to merge back with the adult perspective but instead wanted to be held lovingly and to fall asleep that way, surrounded in downy white blankets. Teal then came back to her conscious perspective.

I can see clearly now how the panic of her son missing the previous night and the corn on the cob we bought and boiled to eat the night before had created the perfect trigger storm for Teal. This is what life is like for people who are forced to live life with Complex PTSD.

When we were talking today together in a salt bath that I put her in to diffuse some of the emotional residue, Teal expressed that from her perspective, this little girl was “lucky” to die and not to survive this trauma like she had to. I understood this perspective. I was reminded of a movie that I watched recently. The movie is called “Room”. What makes this movie unique is that it shows the aftermath of trauma. It shows how trauma leaves the victim isolated in their own torment, unable to connect with an external world that cannot see or understand them. I could see how a “reset” would feel much better than years worth of trying to heal what feels un-healable. I gently reminded her that though the last ten percent of healing seem to be the hardest, she has already done ninety percent of the healing. And I reminded her that millions of people are looking to her for the courage to believe that the worst ordeals may be healed and transformed into something beautiful.

While she still feels very vulnerable after coming out of the integration process of this triggered memory, her dizziness is gone and we were able to celebrate Mark’s birthday with the rest of the community in the beautiful city park. Most people could not survive what Teal has survived, much less end up as functional as she is in spite of it all. But some part of me wishes that anyone who doubts her history would be forced to come live with her for a month to see firsthand what she has to grapple with every day in the aftermath of such unspeakable trauma. It is not for the faint of heart. I feel extremely fortunate to share in the life of this extraordinary woman and to share her journey of healing. Every day I am fortunate enough to witness a remarkable soul diving into the darkest aspects of human consciousness and finding her way back home. And leading everyone else back home in the process.

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