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Archive for the ‘Aftereffects’ Category

On my blog entry entitled Getting Triggered versus Having a Prejudice, a reader posted the following comment:

I have a question tho.. “Does having DID render any and all of your opinions null and void and not of any notable value with the people who know of your condition because they know that another alternate version of yourself is more than likely to have different opinion on the subject??” This is my experience, since being diagnosed nothing I say has any worth to those that know i have DID.. Classic prejudice or truth ?? ~ bambooswaysinwind

This attitude is NOT “truth” and is completely unsupportive. It would also say this dynamic is indicative of people’s lack of understanding of dissociative identity disorder (DID). Even worse, this attitude could hinder your healing process because it is a continuation of invalidating you as a person, which was likely a “normal” part of your abusive childhood. My other concern is that people in your life are manipulating you, waiting for the version of yourself that they want to surface, which is about them, not you.

My own personal experience is that each and every part of myself was and is “me.” I did not claim the “good” or “easy” parts as “me” and reject the “bad” or “difficult” parts as “not me” – all parts are me, and who I am runs much deeper than the sum total of the parts. To reject two of my parts because of apparent conflict is a double rejection of “me,” which is not OK in my relationships.

As an example, before I began the healing process, one of my parts signed a petition against abortion, and then a few months later, another one of my parts signed a petition for abortion. Having two parts with opposite views expressed my internal conflict over a controversial issue. Singletons are familiar with having conflicted feelings or beliefs, only they don’t have the ability to split apart to remove the conflict.

To this day, I remain conflicted about the topic of abortion, although I now have the ability to pick a side. I am more against abortion than for it because, as an adoptive mother, I know what a loss my son’s abortion would have been. He was an unplanned pregnancy and could have been aborted but was not, and I am immensely grateful that my son’s birthmother did not exercise her legal right to abort him.

Nevertheless, a part of myself remains sympathetic to the option of abortion. As a child born into an abusive home, the last thing I want is to force people who don’t want to be parents to raise children and potentially harm them. Also, as a parent of a child with special needs who can be very difficult to parent at times, I know how hard being a good parent can be even when you really want to do it – forcing people to do this hard work when they don’t want to doesn’t seem like a good idea for either the parent or the child.

As someone who is mostly integrated and operates mostly from a singleton perspective, I still experience this conflict over my views on abortion. The big difference is that I feel the conflict whereas when I had DID, I was able to remove the internal conflict by splitting these views into two separate parts. The views I had separated into two parts still exist, only I now have the ability to pick a side, and my love for my son outweighs my empathy for those in a crisis pregnancy situation. (I would strongly urge those dealing with a crisis pregnancy to consider the option of adoption but do recognize how emotionally painful this choice is.)

Living with conflicting emotions is part of the human condition, but it wasn’t safe for us as abused children, so we split off the conflict. Part of healing from DID is learning how to live with internal conflict. Both of your views are still YOU and should be respected, not disregarded. Unless those who are disregarding parts of you are multiples and/or have DID, they know what internal conflict feels like, and they should not judge you for experiencing this very normal part of being human.

Image credit: Hekatekris

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Diversity (c) MicrosoftOn my blog entry entitled Faith Allen’s Story – Ritual Abuse, a reader posted the following comment:

well, I guess people who don’t fit your idea of normative gender based on their assigned sex shouldn’t bother getting help from your site. wouldn’t want to trigger you by, y’know, existing. cool. any other groups you have categorical problems with? ~ well then

I responded to this comment as follows:

Hi, well then.

I am assuming you are referring to this comment:

“To this day, transsexuals or anyone who does not display an obvious gender trigger me because, without being able to tell the gender of the person beneath the robe, I had no indication of which form of sexual abuse was coming.”

I do not have any “problems” interacting with people online who are transgender nor with any other “categories” of people. This is a trigger issue for me visually, such as when watching some of the scenes in the movie “Cabaret.” Even when I am triggered, I do not blame the other person or judge the other person for being transgender.

I just saw the movie “Rent” and was initially triggered by one character who cross-dressed. She wound up becoming my favorite character in the movie, but I did have to work through some grounding techniques first. Again, I did not think badly about the character — I was just cognizant of feeling triggered and needing to ground myself.

I can understand why someone might believe that my sensitivity to triggers might meant that I am prejudiced against that group of people or that I might be unwilling to be supportive, but that is not true in my case. I am able to separate out my triggers, which is about me, from other people’s needs and situations, which is about them. :0)

This is an important enough issue that I want to make sure I address it directly for all readers through a blog entry. I can understand how anyone who is in the minority for any reason, whether through race, gender, religion, culture, etc., can be sensitive to any comment that can appear to be critical of being part of a minority group. I freely admit that I am sensitive to comments made about child abuse survivors, such as the inaccurate but widely-held societal belief that all abused children will grow up to be child abusers themselves.

Because I am sensitive to this issue, I recognize that I might presume prejudice in the other person that does not exist. Some people are simply uneducated on a topic, such as this inaccurate comment about child abuse survivors, but truly are not going to judge me because I am a child abuse survivor. I find that most people are simply uninformed and are open to learning the truth – that only a small number of abused children grow up to abuse children.

I have numerous triggers based upon what I experienced as a child. This does not meant that I have numerous prejudices based on my triggers, and I believe this dynamic applies to numerous child abuse survivors who are healing from abuse. As an example, a woman who was repeatedly raped by men but never by women might have many triggers surrounding men without being prejudiced toward all men or rejecting all men outright.

Another one of my triggers is cowboys because one of my abusers was a horseman who dressed in cowboy garb, from the cowboy hat to the leather belt, boots, and spurs. I do not hate all cowboys, nor am I unwilling to be supportive of cowboys on my blog, despite the fact that seeing a cowboy can be triggering to me. I recognize that I am triggered and why, and I take responsibility for grounding myself. I do not categorically hate or reject all cowboys, nor do I avoid visiting places where a cowboy show might be offered for my child to watch.

I apologize to anyone who might have felt rejected by that statement and any other statement anywhere on this blog that might have made you feel like you are not welcome here. Anyone who is healing from child abuse is welcome and supported regardless of any trigger sensitivities that I or other readers might have. I take full responsibility for grounding myself whenever I am triggered, and I do not require readers to pretend to be anything they aren’t in order to receive support here.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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On my blog entry entitled Noticing the Progress I Have Made, a reader posted the following comment:

Today I got very very triggered and despite my conscious knowledge to the contrary, my subconscious mi d was convinced that my life was in danger, obviously it was not but I couldn’t rationalise this to myself at all. All my normal coping strategies were gone and I had to stay in this situation for nearly an hour. It’s been a long time since I have felt so stressed and afraid, I can’t even talk about it without feeling sick and anxious. I HAVE to be in fairly frequent contact with the person who triggered me (unintentionally) and I am very nervous about this as my brain has made a strong connection between them and danger. I’m really worried about how I’ll cope, and that experience of getting triggered was so much stronger than previous times it frightened me a lot! Hard to know what to do to “fix” this as usuals don’t seem to be working. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! ~ Sophie

This is an old comment but one that is relevant to many people. It sounds like Sophie was triggered by a person who wasn’t intending to trigger her but, nevertheless, caused a severe reaction in her. I have had this happen myself.

I was at the grocery store a few years ago, and a woman was pushing a young (maybe two years old) child in a shopping cart. The second I saw the child, I became triggered and feared I would vomit in the store. I had to get away from that child IMMEDIATELY to avoid a panic attack so severe that I couldn’t hide it in public.

A couple of years later, I ran into the same child at the public library and had the same reaction. (I have no idea why.) This time, I was with a friend, and I asked her if she noticed anything strange or different about the child. She looked surprised by my question and said he just looked a normal child to her. To this day, I have no idea why I reacted so strongly to this child, but I hope he moved away so I don’t run into him again!

The first step is to acknowledge that for some reason, this person triggers you. Don’t beat yourself up for this – it is what it is. Ideally, you wouldn’t have to interact with this person (just as I don’t have to interact with that child). When you have a choice, choose not to interact with someone who triggers you like this.

If contact is inevitable, don’t just assume that there is something “wrong” with you. Consider the possibility that you are getting triggered for a reason. I got triggered by an eye doctor and assumed it was just me since I was new to therapy. I saw him again a couple of years later (when I was emotionally stronger), and I went in prepared and with an open mind. I got the same triggered feeling. He was inappropriate but subtle, doing things holding his cheek against mine when he examined my eye. (I have seen numerous eye doctors, and none of them physically touched me during an eye examination.) I wasn’t overreacting – I was picking up on vibes from that doctor. I switched doctors after that visit.

If you are certain that you are not picking up on any “vibes” and that you are being triggered but are safe around this person, take steps to mitigate your reactions. Another option is to remove yourself from this person, such as by switching jobs or moving. There is not one person on the planet that you MUST interact with. You do have options.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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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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I have been very triggered for the past couple of days, and I think I have finally figured out why. Without going into the details, I read someone’s story about an online abuser purposely triggering someone’s minor alter parts with dissociative identity disorder (DID) to exploit them. This has triggered me about my own experiences (in person, not online).

I have written about my experiences before, which you can read here. I guess I still have more to process about those incidents.

At the time I recovered those memories (I believe it was back-to-back but not at the same time), I was horrified that I had lost time as an adult. It was one thing to recognize that I had memory holes as a child, but as an adult? That was particularly disturbing.

I think reading someone else’s somewhat similar story has triggered me because I have another layer of horror to process – the awareness that I was a walking victim until I integrated my host personality and stopped losing time. Until that happened, I was vulnerable to anyone with knowledge of ritual abuse. I haven’t recovered specifically what trigger word or action the guy at the party used to call out and exploit one of my minor alter parts, but I do know that this person knew about an emotional “button” I had installed in my head that I was completely unaware of. That’s disturbing on so many levels.

A part of me fears how many other times someone “pressed the button” and exploited me as an adult. Another part knows that whether it never happened again or happened 100 more times, I am still **me**, and I am OK. No matter what anyone else did to me and no matter what age I was, I am still the same person today and still have the same value. So, I don’t think that is what is specifically triggering me.

I don’t know. I had very disturbing dreams the first night and took enough Xanax last night to be sure I slept soundly enough not to dream. I have that floaty feeling in my face and a headache, which is what I used to get when different internal parts were triggered. I had a very tough time getting through work yesterday, and I took today off to rest, but I am still feeling off. I want to cry, and my head is killing me.

I know I will be OK, and I am relieved to know that through integration, I have taken back my power so someone cannot just “press my button” and exploit me today. However, the idea that I was that vulnerable for 35 years of my life is really triggering me right now.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I believe it was in Geneen Roth’s book, Women Food and God, where I first learned that our bodies have a physical reaction to our emotions. I have spent most of my life staying dissociated from my body, so I have had to learn basic things that come naturally to most people, such as what hunger feels like. I truly could not tell the difference between physical hunger and the need to “stuff down” my emotions, which was part of the reason for the binge eating disorder.

I am making progress through baby steps in reconnecting with my body, but I am still very new to identifying what my body feels like physically when I experience different emotions. The only emotion I am very good at recognizing is shame. Being able to identity my body’s physical reaction to shame has been immensely helpful in eradicating shame from my spirit. I flat refuse to buy into shame.

For me, shame feels like I have a small fire burning on the topmost layer of my skin. It kind of feels like a sunburn, especially on my face and arms. Whenever I feel this bodily sensation, I know that I am struggling with shame, and I have learned how to process this emotion quickly. In the case of shame, I process it by “pouring it out” – I refuse to give any energy whatsoever to shame because I don’t deserve it.

If I feel the sunburn sensation, I tell myself that I am experiencing shame, and I refuse to fuel it. I love and accept myself exactly as I am, so I have no need for shame in my life. If I have done something wrong (guilt), I will take responsibility for it and make amends, but I will do so without buying into shame. I have done nothing to deserve experiencing that emotion.

After I tell myself these things, I do a visualization to remove the shame. I breathe in deeply, envisioning lots of positive energy and love. I will then breathe out slowly, pushing the shame out with the breath. I direct the shame out through my right side – I have no idea why. This visualization came to me one day and worked, so I haven’t questioned it. Whatever emotion I want to purge always leaves through my right side.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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