Archive for the ‘Alter Parts’ Category

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.

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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.

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On my blog entry entitled Can an Adult Create an Alter Part?, a reader posted the following comment:

But other than to create a helper part or to survive the unbearable, not sure why you’d want to create more parts. Think the only way to really heal is to accept everything that happened and really feel the emotions connected to it, and re-associate all our dissociated parts, either through integration or through developing co-consciousness, making new parts would run contrary to that, I think. ~ Bay

A couple of years ago, I would have agreed with Bay 100% on this topic. However, I have more recently come to recognize that I can, in fact, use alter parts to help meet my needs in a very loving way that does not involve rejecting a part of myself.

I agree with Bay that the parts that have been separate since childhood are separate due to distancing myself from them – from their memories, emotions, etc. So, the foundation of those alter parts is based upon a form of self-rejection, which is ultimately unhealthy for me now that the abuse has ended. I need to love and accept each part as “me.” Loving them back into my core is a very loving and healing thing to do for myself.

However, the good mother alter part I discussed in this blog entry is not created out of self-rejection but out of self-love. There is not one part of myself that rejects her. I love her deeply, and her love for me is very much a reflection of the self-love that I have developed.

To use a metaphor to describe the difference, I see my core as a pond and the alter parts from childhood as pieces of ice that were frozen in time through self-rejection. I need to melt the ice through the warmth of self-love and invite them back into the pond. However, the good mother alter part that I created was not created through “freezing her out.” Instead, she was molded out of the warm water, perhaps like putting the water in a cup temporarily because the temporary separation is healing for me. She feels different, probably because I have never rejected her and she has never rejected me.

I am not sure if I am explaining this well. She just feels different. It’s like I have the gift of creating “forms” temporarily to help meet my own needs in a loving way, and it is very different from the “freezing out” method I used in childhood. The best part is that the good mother and other alter parts created in love are fluid and pour themselves back into the core whenever I don’t need them to be separate. Does that make sense?

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On my blog entry entitled Recovery from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a reader posted the following question:

Can you explain terms like ‘core host personality in more detail? ~ Jolson

I got the term host personality from Chrystine Okasana’s book Safe Passage to Healing. Here is an excerpt from that book (page 115):

Some survivors develop an alter to function more or less steadily in day-to-day life. This self typically has no awareness of the abuse and may be known as the host. The host, too, feels overwhelmed. In the November/December 1992 issue of The Sciences, Dr. Frank W. Putnam writes:

“Typically, the host is depressed, anxious, rigid, frigid, compulsively good, conscience-stricken…and suffers any number of physical symptoms, most often headaches. Host personalities usually feel overwhelmed by life, at the mercy of forces far beyond their control. In many cases a host is either unaware of the alter personalities or, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, strongly denies their existence.”

I was not overly wild about the term “host personality,” but since this is terminology known in some DID circles, I have adopted this label for Faye, who was my host personality.

The term “core” is all my own, and I used it because I have not yet found a label used in DID circles to describe what I mean by this. If anyone is familiar with a commonly used label for what I describe below, please let me know.

My experience is that I had numerous alter personalities and personality fragments (well into the hundreds) who “hid” behind the “mask” of the host personality. However, there was still a continuity within my spirit, which is what I call the core. My “switching” was always seamless with the appropriate alter part coming out at the appropriate time to handle any given situation. I believe my core was the glue that held all of these parts together.

As I began integrating these formerly “frozen” parts (which I define as loving and accepting each part as “me”), they “melted” back into one “body of water” inside. That body of water is what I refer to as my core. My host personality “melted” into this core, my inner child Annie awakened and melted into the core, and numerous other alter parts also “melted” into the core. Today, I feel like the majority of myself is in this core, with numerous formerly separate parts now interwoven and working together as one (like pouring a bucket of salt water back into the ocean). My core is now the part I view as “me.”

I still have alter parts that I need to “melt” through love and acceptance. They hold frozen memories and emotions that I have yet to process. As I heal them, those parts will join the core. If I live long enough to work through it all, then all that will be left inside is one core – nothing is lost, and all parts are now part of one big ocean.

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On my blog entry entitled Integrating from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID): Receiving the Host Personality Into the Core, a reader posted the following comment:

So I guess i did my job pretty good and when it was safe, i let them out… but now what..? the [multiple] system wants to learn to work together to have a good life. what role do i play now that my job is over? is my job really over? where do i go from here? ~ Obs J–host (Jolson)

Let me start by stating that there are two groups of multiples/people with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) who have very different views of integration. One group believes that integration is the natural end result of healing (which is my own, personal view for myself) while the other group defines healing as finding ways for the alter parts to work together without integrating. I think the answer to this question is going to be different depending upon your own philosophy.

I am going to address this question from the perspective of seeing integration as a natural result of healing. I would very much appreciate anyone with a “no integration” philosophy to answer this question in the comments. In case this reader does not seek to integrate, I fear that my answer will not be particularly helpful.

One more disclaimer – Please note that I would never tell another child abuse survivor what is the “right” way to heal for him or her. Integration is right for me, but I respect that other child abuse survivors have found ways to feel “healed” (or “healing”) while continuing to stay a multiple.

My host personality’s name was Faye. I woke up one day at age 7 and did not know who I was, only that I was not Annie. (My birth name was Faye Anne, and everyone called me Annie. Annie was the original child who went to sleep.) Faye chose the name “Faye” because it was my first name, and Faye insisted that everyone call her that.

Faye’s job was to remain very innocent. Faye had no idea about the abuse and could have easily passed a lie detector test about it. She did her job very well. Faye is also the one who was open to receiving alter parts (when I was ready to begin healing) and got into therapy. Once Faye became aware of being raped by men (the memory I buried the deepest), I no longer had a need for Faye to remain separate, and I integrated her.

What Faye felt was intense relief. The days after “learning” about the rapes but before integration were very hard for her. She was inconsolable. However, the moment my core “received” her through love, acceptance, and appreciation, her pain instantly ended. The reason is that the core always knew this truth – it was only Faye who had been kept in the dark. Once Faye could experience the “bigger picture” from the perspective of the core, there was nothing to grieve.

Faye is now a part of my core. The best analogy I have is pouring a bucket of salt water back into the ocean – it was once separate, but it is now back where it belongs as a part of a mighty ocean.

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See my blog entry posted yesterday for the first part of this.

The other part of Midge’s horror seems to be the cybersex, which goes against the values of the host personality. Keep in mind that women have sexual needs that your host personality might not be fulfilling. My host personality was pretty passionless and boring in bed, but I had an alter part named Sassy who held a lot of my sexual passion. I invited her out one time for sex with my husband, and that was easily the most passionate encounter that we ever shared. My host personality could not relate to Sassy’s passion, but Sassy simply held an encapsulated part of my sexuality that I had been repressing.

Again, remember that these three alter parts who had cybersex with their boyfriends were monogamous with their chosen partners, which does sound consistent with who you are. One reason for cybersex could have been an outlet for your passion that is not otherwise being expressed. Another reason (depending upon the direction that the cybersex went) might have been a way to make sense of your sexuality since, as a child, your opportunity to explore your sexuality at your own pace was taken from you. Keep in mind that cybersex is a “safer” way to do this – it is only words on a screen (or possibly a video if you used that technology) rather than actual physical contact.

Rather than judge these parts for not complying with your host personality’s morals, invite these parts out and ask them what needs they have that are not being met. Then, work with them to meet those needs. Perhaps the time is coming to read a book like The Sexual Healing Journey to begin to explore your sexual needs that you have repressed.

Believe me – if I had discovered this about myself, my host personality would have been appalled as well. My host personality truly believed that I was a virgin until my husband, and that fact that we had intercourse three weeks before the wedding night convinced her that I was a complete slut who deserved never to enjoy sex for the rest of my life. (Never mind the fact that we had dated for 2-1/2 YEARS without having sex!)

Rejecting these parts of yourself, being angry with them, and/or hating them is counterproductive. They are a part of you, and they are just trying to get their needs met just as your host personality is. The fact that you still have a host personality tells me that you do not, as of yet, know your full story, so cut your alter parts some slack – they have been dealing their entire lives with painful memories that you (from the host personality’s perspective) have yet to face.

The sooner you reach out to these other parts in love and acceptance, the sooner you will be able to integrate your host personality back into your core. Once you do, you will have a much better understanding of who you are. I was amazed at the depth of my spirit once I integrated my host personality, and certain things about me did change, such as some of my taste in music (and, alas!, much more potty-mouth). You take the good with the bad, but you no longer fear what your body is doing when you are not present. You also experience your emotions, feelings, and memories from the perspective of the whole rather than in encapsulated segments, which helps you make better choices that meet your own needs without bringing you possible harm.

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On my blog entry entitled Faith Allen’s Story – Expulsion Ceremony, a reader posted the following question:

Something I am wondering… most people I have known with DID have an alter part that is the “observer” or “knower”- a part that has been there all along and has kept an awarness of what has happened (about the abuse and about the inner structure of the system)- without experiencing the emotions of it. Did you have such an alter part? And if so, was this part useful to you in helping you know about what had happened, even before you started experiencing your past as memories? ~ Elaine

My multiple system can be described as polyfragmented dissociative identity disorder (DID), so my system was complex. I estimate that I had about 1,000 parts with most of them being personality fragments (one-dimensional parts holding one memory or emotion) and only a handful being true alter personalities (three-dimensional parts that feel much deeper than fragments). There had to be a part that was in charge of which part came out. I call that part a “gatekeeper.”

By the time I became aware of the depth of my multiple system, I suspect that the gatekeeper had already integrated back into the core. Or it is possible that the gatekeeper was the beginning of my core and integrated different parts back into itself. Regardless, I (from the perspective of the host personality) was never aware of the gatekeeper as a separate personality.

My initial interactions (from the host personality perspective) were with Irate, who was an angry protector alter part that was triggered by my mother/abuser. Irate was well aware of my mother’s abuse, but I don’t know if Irate knew about the other abuses.

The best way I can describe my multiple system is with the term “layers.” I had one layer of alter parts that I created to deal with my mother’s sexual abuse. I created a second layer of alter parts to deal with being abused by other adults (mostly women). A third layer dealt with S & L (my most sadistic abusers). Then other layers dealt with the ritual abuse. Alter parts in one layer did not know about alter parts in other layers.

Despite all of this inner fragmentation, I was seamless on the outside. Only one person ever called me on “switching” throughout my entire childhood, and my host personality did not know what she was talking about. So, I had to have a part of myself that served as a gatekeeper.

The most important part to remember is that all of these parts are me, so **I** always knew all of my story. My host personality did not know the entire story, and quite frankly, to this day, I (from the perspective of the core) do not know the entire story. However, parts of myself hold the key, and they are all me. Does that make any sense?

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I went to graduate school after college. I got into my dream school, and my mother offered to pay in full (including living expenses) if I went there and turned down three full scholarships to other schools. That kept me wed to her for another three years. Big mistake.

My sister, who was now 18, was my roommate. My mother told me she was doing “tough love” with my sister and would not pay her half of the living expenses unless she went to school. Meanwhile, she told my sister that she was giving me lots of money to support both of us and that I was keeping it all to myself. It took my sister and me years to unravel the lies of our mother pitting us against each other.

My mother randomly decided not to pay my car insurance as finals were coming up. One week before finals, I received an insurance cancellation notice. I called my mother to ask WTF?? She told me that she was not going to pay it because I was irresponsible. Of course, I had no way to raise a few hundred dollars when I was in the middle of finals and had no job. I felt backed into a corner, and that is when Irate (a protector alter part) came out. That was the first and only time I confronted my mother, even though I (as Faye) had no idea what I was really doing.

I told my mother, “You already f@#$ed me as a child. You are not going to f@#$ me as an adult!!!!” She hung up on me. I called her back in a complete rage, and she hung up again. I have since learned that she got out a gun, loaded it, and almost blew her head off. She wrote about the incident in a self-published “book” she wrote. In her version, I called her up and was “nasty” to her. She says she does not remember why I called or what the argument was over, only that she was suicidal after we hung up.

I married a man I met in graduate school. I suspect a big part of the timing was to get the h@#$ away from my mother. He could protect me from her. My mother slept in the same bed as me on the night before my wedding. Not surprisingly, I was awake all night.



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On my blog entry entitled More Alter Parts, a reader posted the following questions:

Do you think its possible to have like 3 or 4 very reliable everyday alter parts and them some that appear very rarely, more like the fragments you mentioned? … oh and another question: can one (haha) feel like someone else too, like someone one knows or is (too) close to? ~ queen_of_acknowledgement

A member of Isurvive once described dissociative identity disorder (DID) as a “create your own disorder” disorder. What she meant by this is that the way a child splits is only limited by the creativity of the child. I have met people who only split into two parts – an adult and a very needy inner child. I have met others (myself included) with hundreds of parts, most of which are personality fragments holding only one memory or emotion each. After talking with people online with DID and reading many books of people sharing their stories (such as Chrystine Oksana’s excellent book Safe Passage to Healing), I have seen pretty much everything else in between.

So, the short answer is yes – someone could definitely have four main alter parts and then personality fragments that hold most of the trauma memories and emotions. One part might take care of the responsibilities, such as paying bills. Another part might be the social part that enables the person to interact with others successfully. A third part might be the nurturer who does a great job parenting the children. Anyone with DID is limited only by his or her own creativity for building a multiple system.

To answer the second question … An alter part can mirror someone that the child (or adult) feels close to or respects. I feel like I spent most of my life mirroring other people. As a child, I never learned how to be “normal,” so I mirrored the behaviors in other people that made them successful, and that is how I built my own successes. So much of my humor is mirroring funny lines I watched on sitcoms. It feels like “me” because I created parts of myself to mirror what worked for others.

An alter part can also feel like a best friend. I have parts that I choose not to integrate fully because I simply enjoy those parts’ “company.” I know that they don’t cease to exist when they integrate, but I simply want them as separate “friends” (sort of like an adult version of having an “imaginary friend”), and I grieved mightily when I believed that I had to “lose” one of these friends to integration. I have learned how to let the part integrate during the day but then come back out when I need that part to be separate. Perhaps I will one day have to leave the whole soul in one piece, but, for now, keeping some parts separate serves my needs better at this time.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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