I am working through a series on integration from dissociative identity disorder (DID), which begins here. I am using Rachel Downing’s article, Understanding Integration , as a starting point and then building upon what she says with my own experiences.
Downing defines integration as follows:
At the most basic level, integration simply means acceptance/ownership of all thoughts, feelings, fears, beliefs, experiences and memories (often labeled as personalities) as me/mine. It means giving up the split(s) that says something is “not me.” Integration is more than about personalities. It is about full acceptance of all dissociated aspects of oneself. ~ Understanding Integration
When I first read this definition of integration, it reinforced my desire to integrate from DID. I loved the thought of finding a way to accept all of my thoughts, feelings, and experiences as “mine” even though they did not feel that way at the time. I saw the choice of accepting all of these aspects of myself as “me” or “mine” to be a very deep statement of self-love – that even those parts of myself that I abhorred (such as parts that I viewed as “bad” or harmful) were worthy of love and acceptance.
I fully agree with Downing’s observation here:
Integration occurs when I accept a dissociated personality, part, or aspect of myself and bring it into normal awareness. It is not about getting rid of or killing off a part of myself. When I maintain the split and say it is “not me,” I am implicitly rejecting that part of myself. Essentially, integration is fully embracing each and every part/aspect of myself …With DID, when I deny/reject a part of myself that wants to cut/hurt me, I can’t control that part of myself. When I incorporate that part of myself I gain control and choices. ~ Understanding Integration
When I “met” the first alter part I became aware of — “Irate,” I didn’t want her to “go away.” However, because I wanted to integrate and be whole, I feared this was part of the process. I was surprised to discover that integrating Irate meant that I had 24/7 access to her in a different way. Instead of interacting with the world without the ability to express anger and needing Irate to come out “defend” me, Irate became an ever-present part of me. Since she integrated, I have the ability to feel anger and choose whether or not to act upon it or how to express it. This was something I had been unable to experience before Irate integrated.
By integrating Irate, I did not “kill her off.” Instead, I freed her to experience life from more than just the perspective of someone who is angry. I did not have to choose between never feeling angry or feeling “pure” anger. Once Irate integrated, I could experience the emotion of anger against the backdrop of all of my other emotions, which has been a much richer way to experience the world and enables me to balance out my anger with my other emotions.
Photo credit: Hekatekris