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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.