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Archive for August, 2009

I understand why my mother grew up to be a child abuser. Her parents abused her, and she did the same to my sister and me. I don’t condone it, and I view her as weak, but I do understand that a person who has been abused might repeat what was done to him or her. I don’t even want to know how many generations of abuse took place that ended with my sister and me. I am glad that we stopped it.

What I find much harder to understand is why my father’s side of the family was prone to marrying abusers. My father could have married just about any woman on the planet, but he chose my mother, who abused my sister and me. Why did he choose her? What was it about her that drew him to her?

I just found out that my uncle (who married my father’s sister) was a child abuser as well. I knew that he was a raging alcoholic and could get mean as a snake when we was drunk, and I suspected that he sometimes got too rough with the kids, but I did not know the extent of his abuse until recently. In this case, none of the abuse was sexual, but he was physically abusive to his wife and children and even came close to killing them one time.

My father and his sister grew up in the same house. Neither of them were abusers, but they both chose to marry abusers. Neither of them liked the abuse, but neither removed their abused children from the abusive spouses. Why not?

There is one other sibling – my uncle. He had multiple affairs before my aunt finally kicked him out of his house. My grandparents (father’s parents) were very judgmental of this woman for dumping their son. My grandparents were also quite upset to learn that, in adulthood, my cousin cut off contact with her mother. They asked, “Who cuts off contact with their own mother?” Of course, they were asking this question of someone else who had done the same thing but did not tell them. I know why I cut off contact. Could my cousin have taken the same action for the same reason? If so, that makes this family 0 for 3 in choosing spouses.

What was it about this family that groomed three children to marry child abusers and not protect their children? (Assuming that my aunt was also a child abuser, my uncle left the kids behind and married another woman with children, so he made no effort to save the children.) Yes, I get that it was a different time and all that malarkey, but the parent-child bond has been the same since the beginning of time. I know how bonded I am to my child, and it would feel natural to kill to protect him. Somebody has to be really messed up in the head to allow another person to inflict harm on his or her child on a regular basis.

Does anyone have a hypothesis about what type of family dynamic breeds spouses of child abusers? To my knowledge, nobody in my father’s family drank when he was a child. My grandfather was strict and was known to hit the children over the head with the humongous family Bible on occasion, but I have never been told about beatings or sexual abuse. However, 0 for 3 is a really bad record. Any ideas?

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Here’s a new one for you – Have any of you experienced a form of “switching” after healing from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)? I think that is what I have been doing, and it is really strange.

Let me explain what I mean. Read Nansie’s comment, which I quoted in this blog entry. Now, imagine that “carousel of emotions” taking place but from a “singleton” perspective. That is what has been going on with me, and it is bizarre.

When I was badly triggered as a multiple, different parts would come out and switch repeatedly as the multiple system tried to figure out how best to respond to the threat. I described one such scenario in this blog entry when I was in conflict over choosing to trust a friend. I was in such conflict that it felt like a carousel was spinning in my head as one part after another came out to try to restore order.

This is how I have been feeling since the recent incident that upset me. (Don’t worry about this lasting for a week and a half. I am writing ahead because I am going out town soon. I sure hope what I am writing about today will not still apply when this publishes!)

Over the course of several days, I have felt shock, anger, and sadness, decided to leave the relationship and decided to stay, decided to play mental games and decided to be indifferent, felt such deep despair that suicide seemed appealing, felt completely okay, felt like binge eating (after losing 14 lbs and being “on the wagon” for months), etc. It feels like I am constantly “switching,” but most of these emotions are no longer “parts.” I feel like there is a dial in my head that releases various emotions, and a toddler has gotten a hold of that dial. I makes me feel like I am losing my mind!

When I was a multiple, eventually one of these parts would drive my reaction. If it was the angry part, I might leave. If it was the sad part, I might sink into a depression but take no action. However, there is no one “part” to take over any longer. It is only me, a (mostly) singleton being hit by one powerful emotion after another, and I cannot seem to make a decision about which way to go because my emotions keep shifting in powerful ways.

Have any of you experienced this? Do you have any advice? If I am still feeling this way after my trip, I will make an appointment with my therapist.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Does anyone else talk very fast whenever you are triggered? I used to talk fast all of the time (before therapy), so I guess I was always triggered and/or always feeling an enormous amount of intensity. I would guess that it takes an enormous amount of intensity to stay split into multiple parts.

My therapist told me that, even if we had met under different circumstances, such as a party, he would know that I had a story to tell based upon my rate of speech. He said that people who talk very fast frequently do so because they want to get the words out before they are silenced. They are people who have a story to tell but have not yet been heard. I was fascinated when he told me that my rate of speech would probably slow down after therapy.

My therapist was correct. When I am not triggered, my speech is much slower than it used to be. However, whenever I am triggered, I start talking very fast again. I have an offline friend who has picked up on this. She will immediately start asking what’s going on with me when I am talking fast. The funny thing is that, about half the time, I am not even aware that I am triggered. However, after my friend inquires, I will notice that I have been feeling the urge to overeat or other symptoms that I am triggered. I sort of have to “step back” and recognize the intensity in myself.

I now recognize this dynamic in others. When I am in a “good place” and talking at a normal pace, I will notice other people whose words are spilling out on top of each other. This is a red flag that they need someone to listen.

I used to talk very fast all the time. Now, when I get triggered, talking so fast wears out my tongue. I will notice that I cannot get certain words out clearly because they are tumbling over one another so fast. No matter how hard I try to slow down, I cannot do it because the intensity inside of myself is driving the speed.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I have not been to a Reiki session in over 18 months. I thought I did not need it any longer because I could pretty much accomplish the same thing for free at home doing yoga and meditation. The problem is that, thanks to having a child who is taking stimulant medication to treat his attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it is difficult for me to have time in the evenings to do yoga and meditate like I used to. As long as my kid is not sleeping and is running around the house like a hyper noisemaker, I am not going to be able to heal myself spiritually using those tools.

As I have written about before, 2009 has not been a kind year to me. I have been through a lot in my life since November 2008. On top of that, I recovered the memory of my first rape and have had to deal with all of the accompanying emotions. This is the reason I finally went back for a Reiki session.

I found that I could only get so far with healing this wounded inner child/part without spiritual healing. I punched pillows, cried previously unshed tears, and comforted the terror. I validated the feelings and memory. I wrote about it on my blog. None of this succeeded in meeting the needs of that wounded part of myself. This inner child feels like a repository for unending unmet needs. No matter how hard I tried, I could not seem to reach, much less heal, this part of myself.

So, I looked up my Reiki lady’s contact information and made an appointment. I forgot how much I enjoyed Reiki sessions – not only the Reiki itself but also talking with this wonderful lady. I feel much better after having a session. I am planning on going back to monthly appointments to help me heal some of my issues spiritually.

My Reiki lady frequently “sees” things as she performs Reiki. My spirit used to be mostly frozen, and I could track my progress as I “thawed.” Both of us could tell that my spirit is fully “unfrozen” now. However, what she saw was that my spirit was “murky waters,” which I believe means that I still have a lot of “unfrozen” emotions to process. Oh, joy! She also saw light penetrating the murkiness and bringing healing. Let’s hope so.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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This morning was not a good one. I decided to move toward indifference in this relationship that is bothering me. I decided to stop connecting emotionally with this person and see what happens. If the person does not even notice, then I have my answer about the health of this relationship.

However, being indifferent is not my strong suit. I wish I could just shut my feelings down, but that never does seem to work. Instead, my emotions kept fluctuating from anger to hopelessness. I became overwhelmed with the feeling of despair, and I struggled with suicidal urges. I actually caught myself thinking that maybe I should not volunteer to lead a Bible study in case I don’t want to continue living much longer. Then it hit me that I must be triggered. Ya think??

What is most disturbing is that, when I am flooded with these emotions, I have such a difficult time determining what is about today and what is about the past. Is this despair a result of what happened this week, or did what happened this week trigger feelings of despair from long ago? (I am guessing it is all about the past. It usually is for me.)

What really scares me is how quickly I can dive deep down into the despair. I started thinking about how alone I am in the world. I don’t have parents to serve as a safety net if I need them. I better be able to take care of myself (which I actually do quite well, thank you very much) because there is nobody who is going to take care of me.

I also circled around the trust issue. This relationship that is bothering me this week broke my trust, and I still don’t handle that well. When one person breaks my trust, I find myself back in that place questioning whether I can ever trust anyone or if everyone is going to betray and then leave me. (Do you see the extremes here? It’s all black & white thinking.)

I found it hysterical that I can be an inspiration to other people when I can be such a friggin’ basket case like I was this morning. I fall just as hard as any of you, and I can fall much harder and faster than many. I guess the difference is that I am relatively okay now (only a few hours later), whereas it used to take me weeks to get back to being okay.

I don’t know when, if ever, I will reach a place of accepting that it is not a “bad” thing to feel pain and that it will pass. To this day, when I am in that dreadful place, I see no way out. I just want to disappear and stop existing altogether. But, I am still here. I guess I still have the rest of my life to figure all of this out. Oh, joy.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled Dealing with Diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a reader posted the following comment:

Hello All! I was recently diagnosed with DID. I keep bouncing back and forth between acceptance and denial. When I leave therapy I don’t remember much about the session but I am different. I can reflect back to that day and see that someone different walked out of his office and then I have flashes of different things I did for the rest of the day but no real detail or feeling is recalled. This happens to me on and off everyday. I believe they call this switching. My dilemma is this…a strong part of me still wants to believe my parents were/are perfect and good and my whole world. Another part of me is afraid that if I acknowledge this a dam will break open and my life will spin out of control. I fear losing control. Also…all of my parts are petrified of being discovered and their secrets getting out. There is a strong voice inside me shouting that “it is imperative that we all live like nothing bad happened”. I am so confused all of the time. Can you guys shed any light or info on this for me…you are all much further ahead than me. Thank you. ~ Nansie

What Nansie describes here is very similar to my experience with DID. You have a bunch of different parts of yourself in conflict, and you don’t know which “voice” to follow.

I went through this with choosing to trust a friend for the first time. I made the decision to tell her, “You are becoming a good friend.” Just the thought of taking this action kicked off what Nansie describes here. I kept switching with my host personality staying co-present. I would be nauseous. Then I would have a panic attack. Next, I would have diarrhea. If I thought to myself, “Maybe I should wait,” all of the symptoms would magically disappear. Then, I would tell myself, “No matter what, I am doing this,” and the carousel of responses would start up again.

Nansie explains the conflict of emotions well, which is really what DID is all about. In order to protect herself and/or someone she loved, she had to give the impression that her parents were great. However, they were hurting her, so she had parts of herself that were angry, parts that were frightened, and parts that were very sad. She could not give those parts a voice, so she split them off and stuffed them inside.

Now that Nansie is in therapy, parts of her want to heal, but other parts do not. The strong voice shouting, “it is imperative that we all live like nothing bad happened,” is a protector alter part that is trying to keep her and/or someone she loves physically safe. The alter parts in conflict are really herself in conflict, feeling so many things at once that are in conflict with one another.

Nansie – My advice is to read Chrystine Oksana’s book, Safe Passage to Healing. This is the best resource I have found to explain DID and the role of alter parts. The book is written for ritual abuse survivors, but the chapters on DID will be helpful even if you did not suffer from ritual abuse.

I would also work through the book with your therapist. I don’t know how vulnerable you are to triggers, but your therapist will have a better idea. Read through the book slowly because you are likely to switch whenever you read something that hits close to home.

I, too, did not always remember what we talked about in therapy. (I started taking a notebook to jot down points that I wanted to remember later.) My therapist assured me that this was normal. I was dissociating when we talked about very painful things. You are viewing yourself from the perspective of the host personality. You are so much deeper and richer than this one sliver whose job it was to believe that you were not being abused. Even if you, from the perspective of the host personality, do not remember the session, the parts of you who are receiving therapy do. Those parts are a part of you. Healing them is healing you. In time, you will integrate into your core, along with these other parts, and it will be much easier to believe your history. In the meantime, send them lots of love, and believe what they tell you. Love and self-acceptance is the key to healing from DID.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On Monday, I shared that I was seeing an important relationship in my life through a different lens. I went through a variety of emotions and am still working through them – shock, anger, etc. I prayed about the situation a lot and decided that I was not going to allow this other person to have so much power over me. Instead, I was going to release those emotions over to G*d and take it from there.

After I made this decision, I saw with clarity how this person has been using an area of our relationship to fuel my insecurities about my Achilles’ heel. That is totally uncool. The good news is that, once I recognized this dynamic for what it was, it healed that Achilles’ heel – How cool is that??

I have one area of my life in which I have felt defective beyond repair. Rather than helping me heal this area, this person has continued to fuel my insecurities in this area as a power play. As long as I continued to feel insecure in this area, it gave this person a “trump card” of sorts in our relationship. Now that I recognize that I am not defective, I am feeling much better about myself. I can’t say the same for this relationship, though.

The truth was that I was not “defective” – I only believed that I was. As long as I believed this about myself, I acted as if I was defective, which played into this other person’s agenda. I am angry that someone that I have loved and who I believed loved me would “play” me like this. I have a long history of having people in my life (mostly family members) who pull my strings to direct me to fulfill their own agendas. I thought I had put a stop to that in all of my relationships (or ended the relationships), but that is apparently not the case.

I am still adjusting to the new lens. I am trying not to overreact while, at the same time, validate my feelings as I adjust to this truth. It’s a challenge, but at least I am feeling empowered even as I hurt.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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