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Archive for November 20th, 2008

On my blog entry entitled Unmet Needs after Child Abuse: Age Twelve to Eighteen, a reader posted the following comment:

Though I only remember that time vaguely, I’ve read my journal entries from when I was younger and I know that somewhere around 12-14 years of age I struggled with my identity. I actually wrote in my diary that “I don’t know who I am.” I spent so much time pretending that I was someone else, because I simply didn’t know how to live as myself. Some were TV, or film, or book characters, some were characters I invented myself (and later turned out to be alters). I changed personas constantly, if only inside my head, and by pretending to be someone else I could get through each day. This led to years of internal chaos and depression, because I realized that I had no idea who I really was.

Sometimes I still feel like only a fragment of a person. Like I’m not entirely real. Maybe I’m not. – Midge

I can relate to this comment so deeply. In fact, before I integrated my host personality into my core, I used to be plagued by nightmares that I had doll skin. I would push a pin through my leg and discover that I was as hollow inside as a doll is. I would wake up trembling after those nightmares.

People with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) typically create a “host personality” who has no memory of any of the abuse. The host is created to be the innocent one who can interact with the world as if none of the abuse ever happened because, as far as the host personality is concerned, it didn’t. Having a host personality also gives an abused child the illusion of having a part of herself that was spared the abuse.

Most DID patients who enter into therapy do so from the perspective of the host personality. The host personality becomes terrified as the amnestic barriers begin to melt, bringing some of the memories of abuse into the host personality’s awareness. The host personality comes to realize just how much of her life she has “missed” as she is forced to recognize that huge chunks of her past are missing from her memory bank.

The host personality feels small because it is small compared to the rest of your spirit. Most of your spirit is fully aware of all of the abuses that you suffered. The realization that “you” are merely an alter part is absolutely terrifying for DID patients. It sure was for me.

The good news is that, while the host personality is a part of who you are, she is a very small part of you. Who you are is the sum total of all of your parts and more. When you choose to integrate your host personality back into your core, you stop losing time. (Huge, huge perk!!) You also realize that you survived the abuse and that you are okay. You don’t need to keep a part of yourself separate and pretend like the abuse never happened. You can have full awareness of all that you endured as a child and still be okay – even more than okay.

Becoming aware that you, as the host personality, are just a tiny part of a large spirit is a huge step toward integration and healing. Who you are is so much deeper and richer than you ever imagined.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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