Archive for April 10th, 2008

Seashore (c) Lynda BernhardtWhile many people who are diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) view the disorder as a curse, it is really a gift. DID is a superpower that enabled me to survive extreme and ongoing trauma from a very young age. Without this superpower, I have no idea how I would have survived such extreme torture. DID enabled me to be tortured by night and be a compliant straight A student by day. Without DID, I do not believe I would have been able to manage this.

DID is an amazing superpower than only becomes dysfunctional when the abuse stops. If soldiers could learn how to fragment and compartmentalize themselves as prisoners of war, I have no doubt that the army would include this skill as part of basic training. Imagine a soldier being able to “lock away” national security secrets into an alter part that are inaccessible to their torturers. The person who could teach this skill could become a millionaire.

I do not believe that this superpower is accessible to people after the age of six. I have yet to meet a person with DID whose abuse started after age six. I believe that DID is a gift from God that enables a young child to survive severe trauma.

So, when viewed from this perspective, letting going of this superpower can be hard. I had the illusion of never being alone throughout my entire life. Giving up DID meant accepting that I was alone. There was no army of kids standing up to my abusers. There was only me, a little girl alone, being tortured by people who were four times her size.

I grieved having to let go of some of my alter parts that had been my companions for most of my life. I was not even aware that they were alter parts. I would soothe myself to sleep at night by running “stories” through my head, and I thoroughly enjoyed those stories. I did not realize that the “characters” were alter parts until they were gone after integration. Of course, they were not “gone” because they are a part of me. However, I continue to grieve their loss and have yet to figure out a good replacement to falling asleep at night.

To this day, I have the ability to split off new (or old) alter parts whenever I want. I have to choose consciously not to do so because splitting them off is second nature. Being whole comes at the cost of losing my superpower.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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