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Archive for January, 2010

On my blog entry entitled Dealing with Memories from Preverbal Abuse, a reader asked the following question:

i have been in therapy for one year now. I started having memories of being a baby, I still doubt that these things are real. I also have realized that I too have a baby alter. When the baby comes out, it happens really quick. I get confused as to why this comes out. How am I suppose to know if these memories are infact real and not just my mind making them up because I want answers? ~ Wendy

Dealing with preverbal memories is tough because babies do not have any sort of frame of reference for “holding” the memories. All they know is that they were traumatized without any sort of language or frame of reference to begin to understand the trauma. If you were traumatized before you could speak, recovering those preverbal memories can be scary and feel overwhelming.

My advice is to believe yourself. You are not trying to convince a judge or jury of anything. Nobody is on trial. What possible reason would you have to make this stuff up? People who did not experience preverbal trauma do not have baby alter parts and do not experience overwhelming body memories from the perspective of a baby like you do.

Rather that put a lot of energy into questioning yourself, start nurturing that wounded little baby inside of you. Provide yourself with all that you missed as a baby to the extent that you can. The number one need you had was safety, so do you all you can to help you feel safe. Rock on a rocking chair, or consider purchasing a hammock to rock you as you needed to be rocked as a child.

If you will stop putting energy into doubting yourself and, instead, use that energy to love yourself, what harm will come? If your efforts to love and nurture your wounded inner baby brings relief, that’s all that matters.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Let me begin with a disclaimer – this blog entry is just my own opinion based upon my own observations watching biographies about different actresses. I have no firsthand knowledge of any of their lives, nor am I aware of any of them being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID).

Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, let’s speculate. :0) I have often wondered how many successful actors and actresses (especially actresses) have DID and whether their disorder is actually partially responsible for their successes.

I first thought about this idea based upon my own brief experience with acting. When I was in ninth grade, I was a very shy and withdrawn student, so it was a shock all around when I landed a part in my school’s one-act play that was loosely based upon the movie, Arsenic and Old Lace. I played one of the sweet, but murderous, little old ladies. I was fumbling at rehearsals at first. Then, I showed up at rehearsal one day and was my character, down to the voice tone, accent, and inflection. The cast member who played the other little old lady was in awe and asked me how I did that. I realize in hindsight that I created an alter part to play that role. I had no idea how I did it at the time, but today I realized that I simply “switched.” It was a piece of cake.

Then, several years ago, I saw the Marilyn Monroe biography starring a then-unknown actress named Poppy Montgomery. Admittedly, the movie always claimed to have taken some liberties with the portrayal of Marilyn Monroe, but I was struck by how she seemed to “switch” from one personality to another. I have seen interviews in which people claim that Marilyn Monroe was actually Norma Jean Baker’s most successful “role.” That got me speculating about whether Norma Jean/Marilyn Monroe had DID.

I love to watch biographies and watched quite a few while most of my TV shows were on hiatus over the holidays. I watched a biography on Beyonce Knowles in which she shared that she “becomes Sasha” when she is on stage. Sasha is outgoing and daring while Beyonce is reserved to almost shyness when not on stage.

I then watched one on Mackenzie Phillips. Of course, her traumatizing childhood is well-known and, especially with her recent revelation of the incestuous relationship with her father that she shared in her book, High on Arrival, certainly fits the profile for a traumatizing childhood that could cause a child to develop DID. Many people in her life chose to be interviewed, included her second ex-husband/father of her child. In his interview, he shared a conversation with her that sounds right out of the book of Faith: He said that she said, “This is how I am feeling right now,” and she was bawling her eyes out. He walked toward her to comfort her because she looked so incredibly sad, but she looked up with a completely serene and bubbly face and said, “But this is how other people will see me.” Wow!

Another person from the set of One Day at a Time shared that, while the camera was not on Mackenzie, she would have a glazed over expression. However, when her camera came on, she was “on,” and you would have no idea that her expression had been blank just a moment before.

Is this DID? I don’t know, but I think it is interesting to speculate about.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s hoping that 2010 will be a kinder year. Last year was a very trying one for me.

On my blog entry entitled What is a Body Memory?, a reader posted the following comment:

I have had these ‘fits’ a few times where my body shakes, and it is hard to stop it. it always starts in my right leg, and then my right hand and moves to my body and then my head jerks a few times. I have been working with someone who believes they are body recalls of sexual abuse when I was younger. They only occur when I am talking about my dad. I have no specific memory of sexual abuse, but I know that I do not miss my dad from my life at all. (I haven’t seen him for 5 years). AFterwards I feel really out of my body and rather vulnerable in the world. Sometimes they happen at night. Once or twice it has happened to lesser degree when I have been sexually intimate with a man. And it also happened when I did rebirthing. It happened yesterday when I was in a counselling session with my mum. My mum was denying that dad could ever have done that and my body went into this state again. It really shocked them both. My speech dulls during and after the shaking, It is like I’ve had a stroke and it is really hard to talk properly. I speak really slowly. I want to know if anyone else experiences this?

I am not certain I was abused by my dad, but I am certain that my body is trying to tell me something, and I am certain that I don’t want to see my dad anymore.

I would like to hear of anyone who has experienced similar. I know I am not a nut job. In all other ways I am a relatively normal middle class girl. ~ Leaf

Considering that the body shakes happen in reaction to different triggers, they might very well be body memories. It is also possible that an alter part is being triggered and expressing itself. If so, this is likely the alter part who endured the worst of the trauma. Another possibility is that the body shaking has to do with releasing energy held by your body.

I used to struggle with body shakes, and this happened with regularity throughout my life from when I was in my teens until I was pretty far along in therapy. The body shaking is similar to what you describe. It starts in my thighs and then moves outward until my entire body is shaking. Sometimes my head will shake as well. I had to control my breathing to prevent myself from hyperventilating.

The difference is in the aftermath. For me, I felt really good after one of these episodes. It felt like my body had released a lot of pent-up anxiety. My muscles would relax, and I would actually sleep better afterward.

I posted about this on Isurvive, and one member had an interesting theory. She said that, after a rabbit escapes with its life, it will stop and shake. This is the rabbit’s way of releasing the adrenaline that flooded its body when it was in danger. The shaking is actually a way of bringing the rabbit’s body back into a healthy state again. I have chosen to view my episodes this way. As I said, since working through therapy, I rarely have these episodes any longer.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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