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Archive for the ‘Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)’ Category

On my blog entry entitled Getting Triggered versus Having a Prejudice, a reader posted the following comment:

I have a question tho.. “Does having DID render any and all of your opinions null and void and not of any notable value with the people who know of your condition because they know that another alternate version of yourself is more than likely to have different opinion on the subject??” This is my experience, since being diagnosed nothing I say has any worth to those that know i have DID.. Classic prejudice or truth ?? ~ bambooswaysinwind

This attitude is NOT “truth” and is completely unsupportive. It would also say this dynamic is indicative of people’s lack of understanding of dissociative identity disorder (DID). Even worse, this attitude could hinder your healing process because it is a continuation of invalidating you as a person, which was likely a “normal” part of your abusive childhood. My other concern is that people in your life are manipulating you, waiting for the version of yourself that they want to surface, which is about them, not you.

My own personal experience is that each and every part of myself was and is “me.” I did not claim the “good” or “easy” parts as “me” and reject the “bad” or “difficult” parts as “not me” – all parts are me, and who I am runs much deeper than the sum total of the parts. To reject two of my parts because of apparent conflict is a double rejection of “me,” which is not OK in my relationships.

As an example, before I began the healing process, one of my parts signed a petition against abortion, and then a few months later, another one of my parts signed a petition for abortion. Having two parts with opposite views expressed my internal conflict over a controversial issue. Singletons are familiar with having conflicted feelings or beliefs, only they don’t have the ability to split apart to remove the conflict.

To this day, I remain conflicted about the topic of abortion, although I now have the ability to pick a side. I am more against abortion than for it because, as an adoptive mother, I know what a loss my son’s abortion would have been. He was an unplanned pregnancy and could have been aborted but was not, and I am immensely grateful that my son’s birthmother did not exercise her legal right to abort him.

Nevertheless, a part of myself remains sympathetic to the option of abortion. As a child born into an abusive home, the last thing I want is to force people who don’t want to be parents to raise children and potentially harm them. Also, as a parent of a child with special needs who can be very difficult to parent at times, I know how hard being a good parent can be even when you really want to do it – forcing people to do this hard work when they don’t want to doesn’t seem like a good idea for either the parent or the child.

As someone who is mostly integrated and operates mostly from a singleton perspective, I still experience this conflict over my views on abortion. The big difference is that I feel the conflict whereas when I had DID, I was able to remove the internal conflict by splitting these views into two separate parts. The views I had separated into two parts still exist, only I now have the ability to pick a side, and my love for my son outweighs my empathy for those in a crisis pregnancy situation. (I would strongly urge those dealing with a crisis pregnancy to consider the option of adoption but do recognize how emotionally painful this choice is.)

Living with conflicting emotions is part of the human condition, but it wasn’t safe for us as abused children, so we split off the conflict. Part of healing from DID is learning how to live with internal conflict. Both of your views are still YOU and should be respected, not disregarded. Unless those who are disregarding parts of you are multiples and/or have DID, they know what internal conflict feels like, and they should not judge you for experiencing this very normal part of being human.

Image credit: Hekatekris

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Yesterday, I blogged about dissociative identity disorder (DID) introject, or persecutor,  alter parts. Today, I will share the process that I used to heal my persecutor alter parts. This method may or may not work for you, but it was very effective for me. In order to be willing to try it, you need to open your mind to the possibility that your persecutor parts are actually “good” because they are a part of you. I first did this as a leap of faith based upon what I had read in Chrystine Oksana’s Safe Passage to Healing.

I would begin by telling the part thank you for the role that s/he served in helping me survive the abuse: I could not have survived without that part. I would then tell the part that the body is no longer being abused and has not been for many years. I am now living in an adult body. Then, I would look at my hands and feet so the persecutor part would be able to see that my body is an adult’s body rather than a child’s.

I would tell the persecutor part that s/he has every reason to be angry, but s/he is taking out the anger on the wrong person. I am not the one who caused the abuse or who the part is really mad at. However, I invite the persecutor alter part to take out that anger directly onto whoever harmed him or her.

I would pull out a mental rolodex and flip through it, viewing the faces of different abusers. (Sadly, it’s a pretty full rolodex.) As soon as the right abuser’s face came into focus, the persecutor alter part would attack that person with a fury through visualization. I let the visualization get as graphic as I needed it to get.

The first time I did this, I was sickened by just how graphic the visualization got. My first persecutor part had to keep bringing the abuser to life again to have another opportunity to kill the abuser, and the attack in my visualization was very graphic and sadistic. I questioned whether this was healthy for me but decided to trust that I was experiencing this because my persecutor alter part needed it to heal.

The visualization would go on for five to 15 minutes – as long as the part needed. After it ended, I would tell the alter part that I loved him or her and invite the part into a safe room over my heart. It’s a room that can only be opened from the inside and is warm and cozy with treasured items from childhood. The persecutor part would enter the room and typically integrate fairly quickly. Once the persecutor part had expended its anger and knew that its services were no longer required, it was ready to melt back into the core and feel loved rather than hated.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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On my blog entry entitled Feeling Off , a reader posted the following comment:

why do some parts (2 in particular very scared of). .want to and do harm other parts within. Rape. Beat. I see this. I hear it. Someone said it sounds as if they are introject parts. Could you do blog on this? How do i change this within? It is terrifying. ~ Malanie

I have not heard the term introject parts before for people with dissociative identity disorder (DID), but I understand the concept. In the book Safe Passage to Healing, Chrystine Oksana labels these parts as persecutor parts, so I have always used her terminology for this. I have written on this topic before, which you can read here. Be sure to read the excerpt provided in that blog entry from Safe Passage to Healing so you know that this isn’t only my opinion.

I, too, had persecutor parts, and they were terrifying. They seemed to interfere with my healing process, and it was all internalized. Really, how do you explain that one alter part is “beating up” another alter part? If you have experienced this, it makes perfect sense, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to someone who does not know what it is like to have alter parts.

Safe Passage to Healing helped me with this, and I strongly recommend this book to anyone who endured ritual abuse and/or has alter parts. (The book specifically addresses DID, but I would be very interested to hear from those who are multiple without DID as to whether this resource is helpful.) While I was frightened of my persecutor parts, I chose to believe that each alter part is a part of me, which means that every part is “good,” no matter how frightening. In the beginning, this belief was based on sheer faith, relying on Chrystine Oksana to know what she was talking about because I really did not have any other resources specifically on persecutor parts to guide me through this.

If I came from a place of seeing all persecutor parts as “good,” no matter how badly they were acting, I could apply the same principles that I had been using for healing my other parts. Tomorrow, I will share the approach that worked best for me.

Image credit: Amazon.com

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I have been very triggered for the past couple of days, and I think I have finally figured out why. Without going into the details, I read someone’s story about an online abuser purposely triggering someone’s minor alter parts with dissociative identity disorder (DID) to exploit them. This has triggered me about my own experiences (in person, not online).

I have written about my experiences before, which you can read here. I guess I still have more to process about those incidents.

At the time I recovered those memories (I believe it was back-to-back but not at the same time), I was horrified that I had lost time as an adult. It was one thing to recognize that I had memory holes as a child, but as an adult? That was particularly disturbing.

I think reading someone else’s somewhat similar story has triggered me because I have another layer of horror to process – the awareness that I was a walking victim until I integrated my host personality and stopped losing time. Until that happened, I was vulnerable to anyone with knowledge of ritual abuse. I haven’t recovered specifically what trigger word or action the guy at the party used to call out and exploit one of my minor alter parts, but I do know that this person knew about an emotional “button” I had installed in my head that I was completely unaware of. That’s disturbing on so many levels.

A part of me fears how many other times someone “pressed the button” and exploited me as an adult. Another part knows that whether it never happened again or happened 100 more times, I am still **me**, and I am OK. No matter what anyone else did to me and no matter what age I was, I am still the same person today and still have the same value. So, I don’t think that is what is specifically triggering me.

I don’t know. I had very disturbing dreams the first night and took enough Xanax last night to be sure I slept soundly enough not to dream. I have that floaty feeling in my face and a headache, which is what I used to get when different internal parts were triggered. I had a very tough time getting through work yesterday, and I took today off to rest, but I am still feeling off. I want to cry, and my head is killing me.

I know I will be OK, and I am relieved to know that through integration, I have taken back my power so someone cannot just “press my button” and exploit me today. However, the idea that I was that vulnerable for 35 years of my life is really triggering me right now.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I am working through a series on integration from dissociative identity disorder (DID), which begins here. I am using Rachel Downing’s article, Understanding Integration , as a starting point and then building upon what she says with my own experiences.

Downing talks about the challenges of learning to give up dissociation as a coping mechanism. This has been a challenge for me as well. For most of my life, if something really upset me, I could just dissociate it away and not worry about it anymore. Choosing integration means choosing to feel rather than shoving it all back down inside. For me, it felt like being asked to give up a superpower.

Downing viewed continuing to use dissociation as a coping mechanism as choosing to view the world as a hostile place. I don’t really think of it in those terms. Instead, I view choosing to continue using dissociation to get through my life as choosing to continue rejecting parts of myself, which I no longer want to do. Whatever I am feeling, whether I like it or not, is part of **me**, and I don’t want to reject any part of myself.

I have also learned that there is no way to shut down the “bad” feelings without also shutting down the “good” ones. This is one reason I am drinking less wine and taking less Xanax. Both help shut down the feelings I don’t want to deal with right now, but they also suppress my ability to experience joy and the beauty of being alive. Giving up the good is no longer worth it – I’ll just process the harder emotions. I also remind myself that I can deal with the pain today or stuff it down and then deal with it in spades later. I’d rather just get it over with now.

Downing listed the following changes in helping her give up dissociation:

  1. Stop talking about yourself in the third person.
  2. Allow yourself to experience internal conflict.
  3. Examine your trauma-based beliefs.
  4. Accept negative aspects of yourself.
  5. Realize that nothing is lost.

I never talked about myself in the third person (as a writer, I saw it as grammatically incorrect), but saying that it was **me** in the flashbacks was difficult at first. It took me a long to time wrap my mind around all of these memories actually happening **to me**.

Experiencing internal conflict was a huge change for me. I used to just dissociate away the conflicts, so different parts would hold different points of view. It took a lot of adjusting for me to become comfortable with having conflicted feelings about a topic.

The example of trauma-based beliefs that Downing uses is recognizing that having feelings isn’t “bad.” I had to work through this as well. My entire family was stoic other than my father’s anger. I thought I was so emotional because I would cry, which seemed quite demonstrative when compared to the rest of my family. I now embrace experiencing emotions.

I have already previously talked about accepting the negative aspects of myself, so I won’t cover that again. Bottom line – all parts of me are “good” because they are “me.”

I fully agree with Downing’s words here about nothing being lost through integration:

There is a kind of paradox with integration. One of the fears expressed by individuals with DID who choose not to integrate is that parts of the self will be lost, disappear, or die. The reality is that after integration the parts of the self are actually closer and more real than ever. The dissociative barrier is gone and the aspects of the self are now experienced directly. ~ Understanding Integration

That’s all I wanted to highlight from the article. Thanks for bearing with such a long series!

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I am working through a series on integration from dissociative identity disorder (DID), which begins here. I am using Rachel Downing’s article, Understanding Integration , as a starting point and then building upon what she says with my own experiences.

Downing shares that she had the following concerns about integration:

  1. Would she be able to deal with new trauma memories? She discovered (as did I) that trauma memories will continue to need to be processed even after integration. My experience has been that it is easier to process trauma from an integrated perspective than it was as an alter part because the memory is processed against the backdrop of a whole lifetime of experiences.
  2. Could she integrate hundreds of alter parts? Both she and I were successful in doing so. I did not keep a list of the number of alter parts I had to integrate, but it was definitely in the hundreds. The biggest part was my original child. Faye (the host personality) was a three-dimension part. Other parts were also “big,” such as Wolfie who came out at night to protect me while I slept. Most parts were smaller (personality fragments) that held only one emotion, memory, or part of a traumatizing memory.
  3. Would the extent of the abuse prevent integration? Like me, Downing suffered from ritual abuse, and she feared that perhaps she was too broken to be fixed because of the nature of the abuse. The extent of the abuse did not prevent either of us from integrating.
  4. Was she too old to integrate? Downing feared that being in her mid-forties made her too old to integrate. Thankfully, I didn’t worry about this in my mid-thirties since I had Downing’s experience of succeeding at an older age.

Interestingly, my biggest concern about integration was very different from Downing’s, perhaps because I had her article to allay the fears that she had already written about. My number one concern was who I would be at the end of the process. I was very passive (the world’s doormat) and structured before beginning the healing process. I could not fathom being anything other than what I had always been.

With each integration, I was different. After one integration, I was suddenly much more aware of the possibility of being harmed while walking in the park whereas I was always previously too dissociated for being hypervigilant about my safety in the park. After integrating Irate, I went from never getting angry about anything to popping off if someone was rude to me. In the early stages, it felt like who I was kept shifting, which was disorienting.

I have grown to realize that integration isn’t about becoming a new person but, instead, awakening to who I have always been. As an example, I have always had a backbone, but I dissociated this strength into alter parts because it was not safe for me to express my anger as a child. However, every few months, Irate would have enough and lash out, surprising Faye. I used to joke that I had a very long fuse that only went off about once a year. My reality is that I have always been a strong person – I just had dissociated away that strength. I now have access to that strength 24/7.

My other big concern was simply how to go about integrating. I learned that integration is a natural process, and I didn’t need a “how to” manual to accomplish it. As long as I loved and accepted each part as “me,” integration happened naturally a little at a time.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I am working through a series on integration from dissociative identity disorder (DID), which begins here. I am using Rachel Downing’s article, Understanding Integration , as a starting point and then building upon what she says with my own experiences.

Downing talks about her experiences in integrating various types of alter parts. My experiences were similar, and I was immensely grateful to have this article as my guide. Since I had found so few resources to explain how to integrate various types of alter parts, this article became a wonderful roadmap for how to interact with and heal various parts of myself.

Downing talks about a “cooking girl” alter part who had been spared from the abuse. My “innocent part” was my host personality, Faye. Choosing to integrate Faye into my core was challenging because I had to accept that no part of myself had been spared from the abuse. This was a painful reality that I had to grieve. However, most of myself already knew that the abuse had happened and that I hadn’t been spared, so once Faye was integrated, I actually did not need to spend much time grieving this loss.

Downing next talks about integrating “dangerous personalities,” such as those who are aggressive toward others. I actually struggled more with parts that were dangerous toward myself. I had multiple parts that were self-destructive, such as banging my head through self-injury or fantasizing about suicide.

I believe my experience was consistent with Downing’s that integrating “dangerous” parts was immensely healing. It was easy to love the wounded child parts but not as easy to love the self-persecuting parts that told me that I deserved to suffer. I accepted that every part was me and that, for this reason, all parts were “good.”

I chose to love and accept each part no matter how much it frightened me or how much it lashed out at me. As an example, I had parts that were filled self-loathing (I called them persecutor parts). They would flood my head with messages about how worthless I was. I would tell these parts thank you for the role they served in helping me survive my childhood. I would then tell them that their anger was actually toward my abusers rather than me. I would offer to let them “kill” whichever abuser they wished through visualization. I would scroll through a mental rolodex in my head of various abusers until that part of myself attacked one. I would let the visualizations get as graphic and disturbing as they needed to.

Once a persecutor part was given the freedom to direct its anger at the source and was reassured that I loved and accepted that part, I no longer had a need to keep that part separate, and it would integrate. Because these parts of myself were some of the most wounded, my choice to love and accept them as “me” resulted in amazing healing.

I am going to continue this series next week. I apologize to those who aren’t getting much out of the topic of integration from DID, but I hope that some are finding this series useful. I would have loved to have read something similar when I was trying to figure out how to integrate from DID.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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