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.
Below is a summary of Downing’s reasons for integration:
- Relationship to Myself – Integration is a statement of self-love, providing access to a full range of feelings.
- Relationship to Others – Integration resulted in Downing being able to be consistently available to her loved ones.
- Relationship to Life – Integration enables a person to be fully present in life with a full range of coping skills to deal with life.
- Relationship to Death – Integration enabled Downing to reach of a place of accepting her life history and eventual death.
- Children with DID naturally move toward integration – Downing addresses this point later in the article, but I think it fits here. According to Downing, children with DID naturally move toward integration once they are placed in a safe environment, and no debating about whether to stay dissociative or integrate takes place as part of children’s therapy. ~ Understanding Integration
While Downing and I both chose integration, our reasons were somewhat different. One of my reasons for choosing integration was as an “up yours” to my abusers. I was angry that my abusers caused me to split inside to survive their abuse, and I wanted what they had taken from me back – a unified sense of self. I was unwilling to rest until I was a “me” again, in part, to prove that I was stronger than my abusers and that my ability to heal myself had more power than their ability to break me.
I also very much liked the concept I shared in my last blog entry about integration being the ultimate statement of self-love. By claiming each and every part as “me” and “mine,” including those parts’ feelings, emotions, memories, and experiences, I was reclaiming myself. I was making both an internal and external statement (or proclamation!) that I loved and accepted every single part of myself – that there were no “throwaway” parts or parts that were not “good enough” to be me. I loved each part of myself for the same reason I love my child – because he (and they) are mine.
Just like with my child, I wasn’t always happy with the feelings or behaviors of particular parts, and I certainly wasn’t thrilled with many of the memories I had to claim as “mine” to integrate. However, my choice to love and accept each part as “me” wasn’t something to be “earned,” just as my child cannot “earn” my love. My love for my child, and for all of myself, is simply because they are mine … period.
Finally, I wanted to know what it was like to be a “normal” person, although many people assure me that I will never really be “normal.” I might not be “normal,” but I have experienced life as a multiple and as a “singleton,” and I much prefer having full access to myself.
Releasing the splits and integrating had an added benefit that I don’t hear people talk about much. To me, integrating a part feels like getting to put my arms down after having to hold them up over my head for a very long time. Staying split takes an enormous amount of energy that has been freed up to be used in other ways.
Photo credit: Hekatekris