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Archive for October 13th, 2008

On my blog entry Forms of Self-Injury: Pulling Your Hair Out, a reader left the following comment:

When I pick [self-injure] I am dissociated to another self that has no access to my usual logical brain functions. It is a separate system which sole function is to relieve tension and not to think. Its been created for the exact purpose TO NOT THINK … I am still desperately trying to access that painful part of self and I want to know how.

This comment addresses an issue that many people with dissociative identity disorder (DID) wrestle with – the self-injuring alter part. I had the same issue, only my self-injuring alter part would make me bang my head.

My self-injuring alter part came about after being forced to make a “Sophie’s Choice” between the life of my sister or my beloved dog. I wrote about the details of what created this alter part in my blog entry Child Abuse: Severe Emotional Abuses I Suffered.

Until I healed this part of myself, I would have no control over the urge to self-injure whenever that part of myself was triggered. My husband and I would be having an argument. He would tell me that I needed to choose between two unacceptable choices, and I would run from the room and start banging my head. There was no thought process involved. That alter part would take over, and I was powerless to stop the head-banging.

However, I realized that I did have some power over the head-banging. I had the power to run into another room before I started. I also had the power to aim my head into a pillow rather than the wall. This helped me to see that I did have some sort of connection to this part of myself, even though it felt foreign.

As for how to access that painful part of yourself – You can reach out to that part of yourself. Tell that part of yourself that you love her. Thank her for the role she played in helping you survive the abuse. Send her lots of love.

The next step is harder. Invite that part of yourself to release the memory that split her off. That memory is (obviously) going to be traumatizing. Just remember that you already survived the abuse – you can survive the memory.

The final piece is the hardest yet – Accept that part of yourself as you. I continue to wrestle with this today. I have many of my memories, but I still have trouble accepting that these horrible things happened to my body because it feels more like it happened to “her” and not “me.” But the truth is that it was my body, and each alter part is a part of me.

As you accept the self-injuring alter part as yourself, you will be able to heal that very wounded part of yourself. As you heal that part of yourself, you will no longer feel the need to self-injure, or at least not as frequently as you do now.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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