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Archive for September 11th, 2009

A reader emailed me the following questions:

I have a question about sad [Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) alter] parts. Obviously there are tons of reasons to be sad but do you think sad parts are more thoughtful than angry or scared parts? How do they operate, why are they created, what do they need to heal?

Each alter part was created to hold the memories and/or emotions that you could not handle as a child. As a child, you felt extremely sad (that’s an understatement) and lots of despair. However, you could not function if you allowed yourself to experience those emotions, so you shoved them away from your conscious mind. Those emotions had to go somewhere, so they split off into alter parts. Each sad alter part is an emotion that you should have experienced as a child but were unable to work through while the abuse was happening.

To heal sad alter parts, you need to choose to experience that deep sadness. That can be a very difficult choice to make because, while you experience the despair, death can seem like a much better alternative. It is best to heal those parts of yourself while you are in therapy or after you have developed good coping strategies through therapy.

My alter parts that held the deepest sadness were unable to cry. One time, I experienced the memory to which the sad alter part was connected, but I could not cry. (This is ironic because I can cry at a sappy commercial.) I finally worked up to a single tear. The amount of relief this part of myself felt was enormous.

I later chose to experience that pain and used a song to do it. I wrote about it here. Once I gave that sad alter part a voice, I sobbed in ways that I didn’t know were survivable. I felt really lousy for a little while, but then I felt much better than I had in a long time. It was a relief to release all of that pain.

I don’t like to “compare” my parts because they are all me. They all served a function and helped me to survive. Labels like “good,” “bad,” or “thoughtful,” as applied to alter parts, are not helpful to me. I view them all as “me,” which means that each part is worth loving.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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