On my blog entry entitled Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID): Should I Integrate?, a reader posted the following comment:
For some people, the problem is that some of those chunks of ice contain poison. Better to leave them frozen than to contaminate the entire pond. ~ Ethereal Highway
To understand the metaphor of the “chunk of ice,” please read that blog entry.
I respectfully disagree that we need to keep some parts of ourselves separate forever, and I will explain why in this post. While I respect Ethereal Highway’s right to make this choice (as well as anyone else in this position), my experience has been different.
I, too, feared parts of myself. I did not want the poison contaminating the pond. It seemed better to keep the most painful stuff safely frozen inside of myself. However, this choice left me feeling less than whole.
Instead, I chose to follow the advice of Chrystine Oksana in her fabulous book, Safe Passage to Healing. In my opinion, this book is a “must read” for anyone with DID or alter parts. It is by far the best resource I have found for understanding DID.
Here is what Chrystine Oksana has to say about healing each part:
A common error is to concentrate on healing the cooperative parts. These parts are often already “on board” and well on the road to recovery. By leaving the difficult parts behind, a key part of a survivor may remain anchored in the past and prevent progress beyond a certain point. Some alters hold violent, angry, or destructive aspects of a child’s unassimilated trauma. Because these parts hold extremes of frightening experiences, survivors and therapists alike often try to avoid them. However, it is usually these difficult parts who need healing most. In many cases accepting them restores a great amount of strength and personal power to a survivor. In addition, these apparently uncooperative parts, once healed, often become strong allies in recovery. ~ Safe Passage to Healing, pp. 148-149
This was my own personal experience as well. I had very destructive parts that wanted me to die. I came to realize that they were actually loving me in their own way – they feared that my “telling” would result in my sister being murdered. They would do anything, even commit suicide, to prevent this from happening because her death would break my heart. Yes, these parts were misguided, but their ultimate motivation was love, not hate.
No abuser has the ability to poison you. Abusers can instill programming in you, but you can undo that. Ultimately, every single alter part split off to protect the child. Some were manipulated into believing that protecting you involved harming you or others, but every single part split off out of love. Those parts are the most wounded parts of yourself. Loving them back into the core is amazingly and powerfully healing.
When I would integrate these parts, I would begin by thanking them for all they endured to save the child. I told them that I love them. Many of them would react with hostility. I would tell them that I am not the one who harmed them: Their anger lies squarely on the shoulders of the abusers. I would then run the faces of my abusers through my head until the alter part reacted.
I would give the alter part permission to fight the abuser through a visualization. Those visualizations could get very disturbing and graphic, but I never stopped the alter part. I gave the alter part a safe place and way to express the anger. As the alter part did this, I could feel the release of so much pent-up energy. After the alter part got to fight back, there was no longer a need to stay separate, and that part would integrate into the core.
Even though each of these parts came with deep pain, I could handle the pain because I now experienced the pain against the backdrop of all of my life experiences. The pain was no longer encapsulated in its own place with no other context.
I have experienced deep and profound healing by loving accepting my most wounded and hostile parts. They are all me.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt