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Archive for March, 2010

On my blog entry entitled Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID): What is Integration?, a reader posted the following comment:

I am scared to integrate, will I have all the memories and feelings? I am scared of the feelings as the other parts of me have been writing what happened to them, but for the first time they have been writing about there feelings. I see the parts and feel there feelings and it makes me cry, I never feel I am like a robot and I definately don’t cry. I still say it happened to them and not to me. ~ Maureen

One of the biggest hurdles of healing from DID or any other type of dissociative disorder is accepting the reality that these terrible things happened “to me.” I went around and around in my head over this issue. I had separated my host personality (the part I saw as “me”) so completely from the memories of the abuse that I had a very difficult time accepting the reality that it wasn’t “her” who was hurt – it was “me.” It was my body that was harmed, and “her” memories are “my” memories.

The reason for splitting into DID (or other dissociative disorders) in the first place is to “escape” from the abuse. As a young child, I did not have the power to flee from the abuse, but I could (and did) flee in my own head. Until I chose to heal, the abuse seemed so foreign to me. I was stoic and rarely felt anything deeply other than an underlying current of sadness and lots of anxiety. I rarely experienced anger or joy.

You are “them,” and “they” are you. The abuse happened to one person in one body, not to 10 or 50 people “sharing a body.” Having an “army” in your head helped you feel less alone when the abuse was happening, but the reality is that you were one little girl being tortured by your abusers. You did the only thing you could to survive it – you split your consciousness so you could pretend like the abuse never happened to you…but it did.

When you integrate from DID, you accept all of the memories, experiences, flashbacks, and emotions as “mine.” They are already all yours, but you have chosen (for good reason) to keep each part feeling separate inside of yourself. Healing from any form of trauma involves learning how to love and accept each memory and emotion as “mine.” As you do this, you integrate as a natural part of the healing process.

Your natural state is as a whole person who loves and accepts herself as she is. This acceptance includes all of the emotions and pain you have experienced.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled DID: Do Alter Parts Always Have Names?, a reader posted the following comment:

Interesting post, as usual, Faith. I only am not sure about one thing you said. I think this is an open question: Do multiples chose the way in which they split? My guess is that they (we) did not and that it’s a natural psychological response (at least to the young child who does split). ~ Paul

I have to (respectfully) disagree with you, Paul, and I am completely okay with agreeing to disagree. :0) I will explain my opinion on this issue, and you are welcome to draw your own conclusions. I take no offense if I don’t “persuade” you. :0)

I have spoken with numerous multiples online (both with DID as well as DD-NOS diagnoses), and no two are alike. I have also read about many multiples’ experiences (most notably from Chrystine Oksana’s excellent book Safe Passage to Healing), and each multiple’s system is different. Of course, there are many similarities, such as many systems having one or more protector alter parts, but each multiple system is as unique as the child who created it.

Here is a quote from Safe Passage to Healing that captures some of what I am trying to say:

However, once survivors understand the ingenuity of their own system, most develop admiration and respect for it … There’s a saying that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Pushed beyond normal limits, people have discovered extraordinary abilities. These abilities are in evidence by survivors who used their powers of the mind to survive…Regardless of an identity’s name, description, or personality, its main and common purpose is always to protect the child…

Professionals who work with multiples often remark on their high levels of creativity and awareness. In Noetic Sciences Investigations, Tom Hurley echoes and often repeated observation: “Multiples…tend to be highly intelligent, perceptive and sensitive.” ~ Safe Passage to Healing, pp. 107-108

For example, I created a wolf protector alter part because I saw Peter and the Wolf as a child and thought that the wolf was the scariest creature on earth. I know a Caucasian woman who created a big, burly African-American protector alter part because she knew a nice, big African-American man in real life who would make a great bodyguard. I don’t think it is coincidence that I have a wolf protector alter part and hers is a burly African-American man. We both created the toughest protector we could think of to protect us.

Our abusers set the stage for splitting, but only we had the power to do the splitting. You split in your way and I in mine because of our own creative brains.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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On my blog entry entitled DID: Which Part is the “Real Me”?, a reader posted the following questions:

Do alters always have a name? And does the person with it live separate lives?? ~ Mia

The short answer is no – alter parts do not have to have names. Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a “create your own disorder” disorder, which means that the variations of how to “split” are only limited by the creativity of the children doing the “splitting.”

I have seen a wide variety of ways to split. Some people split into only two parts, typically a child part (who holds the unmet needs) and the adult part. In this case, each part is more likely to have a name. Others fragment into polyfragmented DID, where they might have hundreds of alter parts. In this case, there frequently is not a name for each part. My own system was polyfragmented, and most parts did not have names. Many parts were only personality fragments, which means that they were one-dimensional, holding only one memory or emotion.

I have seen fragmentation that is not classified as DID but, instead, as dissociative disorder – not otherwise specified (DD-NOS). I have met a handful of people who fragmented into colors. One woman’s anger was held in the red, her sadness in the blue, etc. When she looked into the brown, she would lose time, so she avoided “going there.”

As for whether each part lives separate lives – Again, it depends upon the multiple system involved. In my case, the answer was no. I had a host personality that was “out” most of the time, and I viewed that part as “me.” I had a wolf alter part that took over at night when I fell asleep (and that part still comes out, but I stay co-present). That part never did anything but “guard me” while I slept. Other parts would come out as needed when I was abused or triggered into adulthood, but they only stayed out until the danger passed. Others, such as the famous people with DID (Sybil, Truddhi Chase, etc.) did have alter parts who would “take over” and lead a separate life.

Again, so much depends upon how the child chose to fragment and how “separate” you keep each part inside of yourself. In my case, there was always a strong “core” that ran the show, even though my host personality was completely unaware of this. The more you reject a part, the more “separate” that part will feel, and this is more likely to result in the leading of different “lives.” However, it can also just result in the “rejected” part popping out at inopportune moments.

This happened me. I had a part called “Irate” who (obviously) held some of my rage. My host personality was a walking doormat, but sometimes Irate would have enough and pop off at the other person. I would be as baffled as the other person was when I suddenly had a strong backbone.

When it comes to DID, pretty much anything goes. Your multiple system was only limited by your creativity as a child.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID): Seeking to “Control” Alter Parts, a reader posted the following comment:

The thing I’m struggling with at the moment, and it’s really upsetting and unsettling me, is – who is the real me? Who is the core/host? Who is me? I know I am the sum of my parts, but when they are all in conflict, it’s so hard to know who I am … Am I the part who observes it all? Who communicates for the rest? I don’t know. I don’t know. ~ Anon

Coming to terms with who you are is a challenge for anyone who is integrating from DID. For most of my life, I thought I was Faye (my host personality). I saw everything from Faye’s perspective, and having other parts was very scary for Faye. However, once I no longer needed to keep Faye separate and melted her back into my core, my self-perspective shifted to the perspective of the core, and I realized that the core was always “me.”

This process can be scary because many people who are healing from DID are seeing the other alter parts from the perspective of the host personality, which, in my experience, was just a tiny sliver of who I was. Who I am ran so much deeper than my shell of a host personality, but I could not see this until after I integrated this part of myself into the core.

There is a core part of yourself calling the shots. For example, even though I saw the world from the perspective of Faye, “forces” inside of myself would “direct” Faye to make decisions that were best for the core. Multiplicity is complex, and a part of yourself must control which alter part is in and which part is out. If you don’t have a solid core, then I would say that the part of yourself in control of the multiple system is the starting point for your core.

The good news is that it all makes sense once the part of yourself that you are experiencing (typically the host personality) integrates into the core. It feels like coming home (to a good home), and so many things simply make sense about your life and yourself. If you are in that scary place of not knowing who you are, I hope you can trust me enough to believe that you are going to be okay. Once you have chosen to accept your truths and no longer need to keep your host personality separate, your host personality will integrate back into the core, and everything will make sense, including who you are. I speak from experience – I did not know who I was until I integrated my host back into the core.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled Animal Rape: Why Is It So Hard to Heal?, a reader posted the following comment:

I was also wondering if you have ever blogged about you and your sister’s relationship. As someone with younger siblings who grew up in an atmosphere of secrets, silence, and shame I am having a very difficult time trying to figure out how to connect with my siblings as adults when we are all at different stages of healing or denial. ~ Cera

I don’t think I have ever blogged specifically on this topic, so I will do so today. :0)

My sister and I have always had a complicated relationship. We are close and yet hold back. We were forced to do things with each other sexually (and never did this without being forced), so our scents trigger each other. We never hug or touch – ever. We endured mostly the same abuses but reacted in polar opposite ways. So, we have the connection that war veterans have after sharing a foxhole together. We will always be connected because nobody on earth other than my sister fully understands what I have been through.

Over the years, we have moved through trusting and not trusting each other, mostly at our mother/abuser’s manipulations. Our m/a has always been threatened by our connection, so she has tried to sever it over the years. For example, when I was in graduate school, m/a bought a townhouse for sis and me to live in. M/a told me that she was teaching sis a life lesson. Since I was a full-time student, m/a would send me enough money to cover my half of the living expenses. However, sis had to pay her own way since she chose not to go to college. Meanwhile, m/a told sis that she sent me plenty of money to cover both of our expenses, but I must have just taken it all for myself. Sis moved out without telling me why, and we didn’t connect again until after she had her baby and I made an effort to get to know him.

As I said, sis and I react in polar opposite ways. I want nothing to do with m/a, but sis believes that no mother should ever be completely cut off from her children, no matter what. Things get complicated when we get our kids together because her children love their grandmother while mine is not allowed to see her. Mine knows that m/a is mentally ill, but sis hasn’t wanted to tell her children this (although it is obvious to anyone who spends any time around her).

Sis and I have done better as we have both focused on healing. While neither of us was in therapy, our relationship was much harder. However, since we have been gone through therapy (and she is still in it), we have grown much closer. We help each other work through the puzzles of the past and assure each other that nothing that happened was either of our fault.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled Got Another Letter from my Mother/Abuser, a reader posted the following question:

How do u guys deal with the fear and powerlessness unwanted contacts evoke? ~ Sameena

I lean on my friends a lot. I have learned from experience not to take any action in the moment because I might regret it later. Instead, I let a friend know that my mother/abuser has contacted me again. I let a friend (or more than one friend) read the letter or listen to the message on the answering machine because my friends can be more objective than I can. I then listen to their advice but don’t act on it in the moment.

As I shared here, I just received another unwanted letter from my mother/abuser telling me of her plans to come to my state over Mother’s Day weekend (oh, the irony!). I did nothing that night except tell friends about it and blog about it. The next day, I bought plane tickets to visit a friend in another state with my son.

I deal with the fear by taking action. My mother/abuser might choose to come to the state, but I can choose to leave the state. This helps alleviate my fear and feelings of powerlessness because I feel empowered to protect myself. She cannot make me stay in the state and wait for her visit.

I guess I no longer feel powerless. Instead, I feel angry – like I am dealing with a stalker boyfriend who takes any tiny shred of kindness and turns it into an invitation for reconciliation. I need to tell my mother/abuser that I will not be in the state, so don’t bother, but I have done nothing yet. Hub has told me that I better get her that message because he sure doesn’t want to see her.

What p#$$es me off is that my mother/abuser is forcing me to go against my own nature to deal with her. My first choice would be to address the truth, but that is likely to cause her to have a psychotic episode, and I don’t want to be responsible for her hurting anyone in that state. My second choice would be to send her the occasional picture and letter to spare her the embarrassment of having to tell people that she is not in contact with her daughter. This is a kindness that she does not deserve but is in keeping with my own character. Clearly she cannot handle that.

So, that leaves me with one more option – telling her to go to h@#$, which goes against my character but might be the only option I have. It makes me angry that she puts me in this position. I don’t want to do that, so right now I am simply doing nothing. I know I will need to address it at some point, but I am choosing not to in this moment.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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If you suffered from child pornography, you might be interested to learn that, in some jurisdictions, there are laws to try to provide restitution for what you have suffered. A friend sent me a link to the following proposed law in Kansas:

Kansas Lawmakers Consider Helping Child-Porn Victims

Kansas victims of child pornography may soon be allowed to sue producers, promoters and users. The Senate Judiciary Committee is held a hearing on Senate Bill 549 on Monday. The bill would allow victims to sue for at least $150,000 in damages, according to The Associated Press. The Kansas attorney general’s office is supporting the concept. Bill sponsor Sen. Derek Schmidt, R-Kan., said he has the votes lined up to pass the proposed legislation. “It’s a very effective way of providing that added tool to get some restitution for the victims, some compensation to shut down operations and all at no taxpayer expense,” he said. ~ Citizenlink.com

From a practical standpoint, I wonder how many adult survivors of child pornography will take advantage of this legislation if it becomes law in Kansas. I can see the parents of children suing as soon as they learn about the victimization. However, for people like me who suffered as children decades ago, is there a statute of limitations? How would I know who to sue or how to go about proving my case? Personally, I would not take advantage of this opportunity unless the same porn ring was still in operation today, and my actions might save another child.

I am glad that this topic is getting some attention, though, and I am grateful for the opportunity for victims of child pornography to choose to sue for restitution.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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