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Archive for June, 2012

Winding PlantOn my blog entry entitled Shame: What it Feels Like and How to Get Rid of it, a reader posted the following comment:

Can you talk more about the connection between emotions and body? i, too am learning to name emotions. i feel them in my body so strongly, but am struggling with naming and then making that connection. can you keep talking about this part of your healing? ~ Aggiemonday

Michael posted a good response to that comment that I recommend you read. Remember that you need to find what works for you and that it may differ from what works for me. The big picture is the same, though – we are all doing what we need to do along our journey toward a destination of self-love and acceptance.

I wish I was farther along in my progress in this area so I could be more helpful. Shame is the only emotion that I definitely know I am feeling based upon what my body feels. When I get that sunburn feeling in my skin, especially along my arms, I know that I am feel shame, and I know what works for me to process it. I choose not to feed it and, instead, do a visual to pour it out of my body. Other readers responded that they deal with shame differently, so be sure to check out other strategies if mine does not work for you.

The only other emotion I am pretty good at identifying is fear. Ironically, I frequently fail to notice one of the classic bodily responses to fear – an increased heart rate. I lived so much of my life with my heart pounding that I truly do not notice it unless I think to look for it. As an example, I will spend 30 minutes unable to fall asleep before I notice that my heart is racing.

The bodily feeling I notice to identify fear is a sensation in my thighs that I cannot quite describe. My muscles tense up, and I “feel fear” in my thighs. While fear can affect other parts of my body, such as a clenched stomach, the bodily signal I first notice is always in my thighs. When I feel fear, I do deep breathing to slow my heart rate and calm myself back down.

I wish I could be more helpful, but I am still too out-of-tune with the rest of my emotions to describe their physical manifestations. This is something that I am working on. I first learned that our bodies have a physical response to whatever emotion we are experiencing in Geneen Roth’s book, Women Food and God. (“God” represents spirituality in this book – it is not religious in nature.) Perhaps her book will be helpful to you in working through this aspect of healing. I need to read through those chapters again as well.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Yesterday, I blogged about dissociative identity disorder (DID) introject, or persecutor,  alter parts. Today, I will share the process that I used to heal my persecutor alter parts. This method may or may not work for you, but it was very effective for me. In order to be willing to try it, you need to open your mind to the possibility that your persecutor parts are actually “good” because they are a part of you. I first did this as a leap of faith based upon what I had read in Chrystine Oksana’s Safe Passage to Healing.

I would begin by telling the part thank you for the role that s/he served in helping me survive the abuse: I could not have survived without that part. I would then tell the part that the body is no longer being abused and has not been for many years. I am now living in an adult body. Then, I would look at my hands and feet so the persecutor part would be able to see that my body is an adult’s body rather than a child’s.

I would tell the persecutor part that s/he has every reason to be angry, but s/he is taking out the anger on the wrong person. I am not the one who caused the abuse or who the part is really mad at. However, I invite the persecutor alter part to take out that anger directly onto whoever harmed him or her.

I would pull out a mental rolodex and flip through it, viewing the faces of different abusers. (Sadly, it’s a pretty full rolodex.) As soon as the right abuser’s face came into focus, the persecutor alter part would attack that person with a fury through visualization. I let the visualization get as graphic as I needed it to get.

The first time I did this, I was sickened by just how graphic the visualization got. My first persecutor part had to keep bringing the abuser to life again to have another opportunity to kill the abuser, and the attack in my visualization was very graphic and sadistic. I questioned whether this was healthy for me but decided to trust that I was experiencing this because my persecutor alter part needed it to heal.

The visualization would go on for five to 15 minutes – as long as the part needed. After it ended, I would tell the alter part that I loved him or her and invite the part into a safe room over my heart. It’s a room that can only be opened from the inside and is warm and cozy with treasured items from childhood. The persecutor part would enter the room and typically integrate fairly quickly. Once the persecutor part had expended its anger and knew that its services were no longer required, it was ready to melt back into the core and feel loved rather than hated.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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On my blog entry entitled Feeling Off , a reader posted the following comment:

why do some parts (2 in particular very scared of). .want to and do harm other parts within. Rape. Beat. I see this. I hear it. Someone said it sounds as if they are introject parts. Could you do blog on this? How do i change this within? It is terrifying. ~ Malanie

I have not heard the term introject parts before for people with dissociative identity disorder (DID), but I understand the concept. In the book Safe Passage to Healing, Chrystine Oksana labels these parts as persecutor parts, so I have always used her terminology for this. I have written on this topic before, which you can read here. Be sure to read the excerpt provided in that blog entry from Safe Passage to Healing so you know that this isn’t only my opinion.

I, too, had persecutor parts, and they were terrifying. They seemed to interfere with my healing process, and it was all internalized. Really, how do you explain that one alter part is “beating up” another alter part? If you have experienced this, it makes perfect sense, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to someone who does not know what it is like to have alter parts.

Safe Passage to Healing helped me with this, and I strongly recommend this book to anyone who endured ritual abuse and/or has alter parts. (The book specifically addresses DID, but I would be very interested to hear from those who are multiple without DID as to whether this resource is helpful.) While I was frightened of my persecutor parts, I chose to believe that each alter part is a part of me, which means that every part is “good,” no matter how frightening. In the beginning, this belief was based on sheer faith, relying on Chrystine Oksana to know what she was talking about because I really did not have any other resources specifically on persecutor parts to guide me through this.

If I came from a place of seeing all persecutor parts as “good,” no matter how badly they were acting, I could apply the same principles that I had been using for healing my other parts. Tomorrow, I will share the approach that worked best for me.

Image credit: Amazon.com

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The weekend away was exactly what I needed. I had been triggered on top of triggered for so long that I had just about forgotten what it felt like NOT to be triggered. I know that I used to live my life like that, but I don’t anymore, and being triggered is not my “natural state.” Sadly, when it keeps happening like that, it’s easy to fall back into that unhealthy place because being constantly triggered can seem “normal” again.

This trip away has driven home just how important it is for me to meet my own needs and take good care of myself. Getting some physical distance from my day-to-day life helped as did removing some of my responsibilities. However, I don’t think either is what grounded me. I did a lot more exercising (walking) and spending time at the beach, which has always been a grounding force. Instead of trying to get X, Y, and Z done, I read a book and chit-chatted with my sister for hours.

Not being triggered is my natural state just as being triggered used to be what felt “normal,” so I didn’t fully appreciate when I had moved from one back to the other. I noticed it in the little things, such as no longer needing to do different obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) actions to relieve my anxiety. (I no longer had a lot of anxiety to process.) I was also able to sleep each night without needing to take a Xanax.

When I return home, I need to figure out a way to get back to this level of balance. I like to work, but I also need to take time to self-nurture. The good news is that I do know what it is like to live a more balanced lifestyle as well as what tools I need to use to get there. I just need to do what works for me, and that is going to be easier with hub back at work and child in summer camp now that school has ended.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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SunriseI met with my therapist yesterday and feel much better about everything going on in my life. By the time I walked into my therapist’s office, I knew what I needed to do, but I needed his professional opinion to validate that I wasn’t a complete jerk.

What I **wanted** to be able to do was send a simple card to communicate that I care and am thinking about my ex-friend without opening the door to further contact. I don’t think this will be possible in this situation, just as it was not possible either with momster or an ex-friend from high school. In all three cases, the relationship must be on the other person’s terms, which doesn’t leave room for me to define what I want the relationship to be like. Since all three of these people have only given me two choices – my way or the highway – I choose the highway.

My therapist pointed out that I am not “doing nothing.” I made sure the school counselor knew about the situation (she already did from the daughter), and I have prayed. Those are two constructive things that I have done for my ex-friend, and this enabled me to stay true to my own values even when she has painted our relationship into a corner that does not leave me the freedom to send a simple card.

This discussion only took about half of the session, so we talked about the last few months. I have felt so off-balance for all of the reasons that I have already blogged about. My therapist pointed out that so much of my life has been in flux for the past couple of months, which is causing me to feel destabilized. The word destabilized really resonated with me. I haven’t had the alone time to use most of my grounding tools since hub has been home for the past couple of months (he returned to work yesterday), which is likely part of why I have been feeling so out of sorts for so long.

My sister and I are taking a trip together, along with our children, to the beach for several days. We are keeping our return open-ended because we both very much need the break. Trips to the beach typically help ground me, so I am hoping to return focused.

One issue I haven’t blogged about is that I haven’t received any classes to teach for my part-time job in six weeks with no end in sight. I also work a second part-time job that helps with the cash flow, but it’s not as rewarding. I am thinking that perhaps now is the perfect time to start writing the book that I keep thinking about writing “someday.”

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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PhotobucketOn Monday, I found out that my ex-friend does, in fact, have cancer. I have been too upset to blog. My therapist couldn’t fit me in until this morning. I am counting down the hours to talk all of this through with him.

It’s fine to post your thoughts or advice, but I won’t be reading any of the comments until after my therapy appointment. I’ll blog about that for tomorrow if I am feeling up to it. I am too emotionally raw for advice yet, especially since different people will have different thoughts.

One advantage of having dissociative identity disorder was that I rarely dealt with conflict. As an example, I had one part that was pro-abortion and one part that was anti-abortion, and I actually signed two opposing petitions on the topic without feeling any conflict about it. Living as an integrated person means living with conflict, and I am quite conflicted over what (if anything) to do.

My specific information is (obviously) limited. The information I do have sounds consistent with symptoms I observed in her when we were still hanging out, and she has been wearing bandages from the biopsy over the body part involved.

It is a slow-growing cancer that is rarely fatal because it is typically caught before it spreads due to its slow-growing nature and physical location. I hear she will have surgery, which is consistent with the information I read about this form of cancer online. Assuming it has not spread, the information I read online is that she probably won’t need either radiation or chemo. There is a different treatment for this form of cancer that is less invasive. So, it sounds like if you have to have cancer, this is the form to have.

I want to send her a card of support. I very much care that she is facing cancer, and it breaks my heart that she has such a small support system (unless she dramatically changed since August). She rarely lets anyone in and then drives them off before they can “abandon” her. Unless everything is on her terms, she has no place for you in her life, and I (and the limited others) could no longer live that way.

I don’t want resume the friendship because it was toxic for me. Sick or not, she needs me to stay emotionally unhealthy for our friendship to work, and I am unwilling to do this. I don’t want a gesture of caring to be received as an invitation back into my life.

The help she mostly would need (if I were to re-enter her life) would be childcare (as a single mother), and that was the catalyst to the friendship ending – my son breaking away from the relationship with her daughter. That relationship was very bad for him, and he resents that she now attends his school where he cannot get away from her. Logistically, I am not in a position to help in the area in which she would need the most help.

And, finally, I have no idea how contact from me (no matter how well-intentioned) might be received. The few times our paths have crossed, she has ignored my existence. The last thing I want to do is open an emotional wound for her while she is facing cancer.

These are the issues I will be talking through in therapy this morning. I do think I need to stay out of her life, but it’s so hard to do because I do care.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I talked with an offline friend on Friday who has been along for the ride for several years. She knew instantly that something was “wrong” when she sent me an email about something fun and I didn’t respond. (Yep, she knows me well!)

We got together on Friday afternoon, and I filled her in on what had triggered me. She said she doesn’t think it was only that, and after hearing her theory, I think she is right. She thinks my issue runs deeper – that it’s all about feeling out of control – and that this has been simmering for a couple of months.

Hub has been home on a leave of absence from work for two months (he returns to work this week). Since I work from home, my schedule has been all out of whack (which is one reason I have been so spotty about blogging over the last couple of months). My son’s asthma, which the doctor had hoped he had finally outgrown, flared up on March. I had an endoscopy a couple of weeks ago, where I was put under light sedation (I don’t remember large parts of the rest of the day). All three of these situations have caused so much of my life to feel out of control, and despite how hard I have been working at letting go, it’s still hard.

For me to feel comfortable in letting go, I need to ground myself. I have several tools I use to ground myself, but I have had limited access to all of them over this period. It’s hard to do yoga (deep breathing) when my sinuses and esophagus have stomach acid “burns” in them. It is also hard to have the privacy to do yoga and meditation with hub underfoot. I haven’t been able to stick to my schedule with constant interruptions by hub and multiple doctors’ appointments for my son and me.

On top of that, my illnesses combined with more energy needing to be poured into hub and child have interfered with my connectedness with Sunday School, Bible Study, and spending time with my girlfriends. I am making less money because I cannot do as much work with so many disruptions to my work schedule, so I cannot afford to get a massage or Reiki session (nor do I have the time). I also feel nurtured by blogging, but that’s had to go on the backburner because of all of these other issues.

I am hopeful that hub’s return to work this week will help. My son and I are also taking a trip to the beach with my sister and nephews. I have extended the trip to six days so I have time to unwind with fewer responsibilities.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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