Archive for April 7th, 2008

Girl with pail (c) Lynda BernhardtFor the past couple of weeks, I have been talking about dissociative identity disorder (DID) and sharing my own story with healing from the disorder. This week, I am going to focus on the challenges I faced after integrating from DID. I thought that integration was supposed to be the end. While it was the end of fragmentation, it was the beginning of a new way of interacting with the world.

After integration, I had to accept that there was no part of myself that was spared from the abuse. I had spent most of my life telling myself that a part of myself was still “innocent.” That innocence was held in Faye, my host personality. In order to integrate, I had to let go of the illusion of innocence and accept that no part of myself was spared the abuse. That was very hard to do and required grieving to heal.

As I processed this new view of myself, I came to realize that I was placing too much importance on the illusion of innocence. I thought that by keeping a part of myself “innocent,” I could avoid the shame, so losing the innocence would mean that every ounce of myself would feel shameful. As it turned out, I felt much more shame before integration, while I still had an “innocent” part. After integration, I appreciated the challenges of all I had endured and how I had fought to survive. That became much more important than innocence.

No adult is “innocent.” Most adults become sexually active by choice, and that is what society views as “losing innocence.” I am an adult, so why should being “innocent” be a priority in my life? Millions of married couples make love and bring new life into the world. Why is this bad? They are not “guilty” – they are simply adults.

As a child, I desperately wanted to be “innocent” but felt “dirty” because of the abuse. As an integrated adult, I recognize that nothing another person did to me could change my value or worth. I was precious before the abuse started, I was precious during it, and I am precious now. Just because my abusers failed to appreciate my worth did not devalue me, any more than someone’s mistaken belief that real gold is “fool’s gold” can change the value of what he has found. I am precious, and nobody else has the power to take that away from me.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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