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Archive for March 28th, 2008

Plant (c) Lynda BernhardtIntegration is the way to heal from DID. While many people find ways to live successfully as “multiples” by teaching their alter parts how to “share,” choosing to stay a multiple means choosing to stay separate. Alter parts are created through self-rejection. The only true way to heal is through self-love, and self-love comes from self-acceptance. Accepting each alter part as “me” is the key to healing from DID and integrating back into a “singleton.”

Integration is very hard work, so nobody should judge a person who chooses not to embark upon this difficult journey. Integration means facing once and for all that there was not a legion of “people” standing up to the abusers. There was only me, a helpless little girl who had no power. Integration also means facing that all of these horrible things happened to me. I can no longer live in denial by viewing the memories from the perspective of someone else being harmed. It was my body and my spirit that were harmed. Integration also means losing the illusion that a part of myself was spared from the abuse. No part remained innocent. That is a hard truth to face.

Despite all of the struggles, integration is an amazing experience. After living a lifetime of feeling as if I only occupied a small sliver of my body, I now live in my full body. Integration felt as if I could finally put my arms down after holding them up in the air for 30+ years. Even with the pain of holding all of my own memories, the underlying melancholy that I experienced throughout my life has been replaced with an underlying peace. It feels great to love and accept every single part of myself as “me.”

Integration comes with a price. I now have access to all of the memories from my extremely painful childhood, and that can be hard to face at times. I rejected those memories in the first place because they were so unbelievably painful. However, as I have focused on healing each traumatic event and the accompanying emotions, I remember the experiences in a different way. They no longer carry the punch they once did, and I view them from the perspective of knowing that I survived them.

Learning how to feel multiple emotions at once was a challenge for me. Ambivalence was a new experience for me because I was used to feeling very black and white about things. If I had mixed emotions, then one alter part would hold the black while another held the white. Conflict solved. However, integration has been amazing because I now face my emotions and memories against the backdrop of all of my life experiences. So, if I friend violates my trust, I no longer have the “pure” feeling of devastation and betrayal that I used to have. Instead, I can process the pain against the backdrop of all of my other life experiences, which makes the pain much more bearable.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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