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Posts Tagged ‘conflicting emotions’

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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Safe Passage to HealingToday’s topic will likely be most meaningful for people with dissociative identity disorder (DID) or other forms of being a multiple, but I hope it is helpful even without that diagnosis. I’d like to talk about how to process the same memory from different perspectives.

As an example, I recovered a memory of my mother sexually abusing me. My first pass at this memory was what happened in a linear fashion. It started with what I was doing right before the abuse, went through the event, and then continued through my reaction to what had happened. I viewed most of this from an out-of-body perspective. I later recovered memories of this same event from different perspectives. One memory held my anger, and another held the sensory stuff (smells, taste, etc.).

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with this. I didn’t understand why this one memory was coming to me in pieces like that. I have since learned that children with DID (or other forms of being a multiple or dissociative disorders) split apart what they cannot handle at one time. That one event was simply too much for my two-year-old brain to process, so the one memory broke off into pieces.

In the book Safe Passage to Healing, Chrystine Oksana calls the process of putting all of the pieces back together “associating” the memories. I wrote about that topic here. Healing the one event might involve several passes and connecting back the different pieces.

Where it gets trickier is when you have/had conflicting feelings about what happened. For example, my father (the “good” parent) was coerced into abusing my sister while I watched. (It was part of ritual abuse. He was blindfolded and drugged.) A part of myself loved him and saw him as my “savior” because he stopped my mother from sexually abusing me once he found out about it. This part was in direct conflict with another part that was angry and hated him for abusing my sister. The adult me sees that he was a victim of evil people, which is reinforced by the fact that he never took a sip of alcohol again after that night for the rest of his life. The challenge is finding a way to honor all of those feelings, even the ones that directly conflict with each other.

Experience conflicting feelings is something that is foreign to many people with DID. It certainly was for me. If I felt conflict, I simply split it into two parts – problem solved. Healing and melding back into one core part has been challenging because I have had to learn to deal with conflicting feelings.

Friends without DID have assured me that everyone feels conflicted about something and that it is part of the human experience. It’s a new experience for me, though. Just knowing it is normal helps.

Image credit: Amazon.com

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Here’s a new one for you – Have any of you experienced a form of “switching” after healing from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)? I think that is what I have been doing, and it is really strange.

Let me explain what I mean. Read Nansie’s comment, which I quoted in this blog entry. Now, imagine that “carousel of emotions” taking place but from a “singleton” perspective. That is what has been going on with me, and it is bizarre.

When I was badly triggered as a multiple, different parts would come out and switch repeatedly as the multiple system tried to figure out how best to respond to the threat. I described one such scenario in this blog entry when I was in conflict over choosing to trust a friend. I was in such conflict that it felt like a carousel was spinning in my head as one part after another came out to try to restore order.

This is how I have been feeling since the recent incident that upset me. (Don’t worry about this lasting for a week and a half. I am writing ahead because I am going out town soon. I sure hope what I am writing about today will not still apply when this publishes!)

Over the course of several days, I have felt shock, anger, and sadness, decided to leave the relationship and decided to stay, decided to play mental games and decided to be indifferent, felt such deep despair that suicide seemed appealing, felt completely okay, felt like binge eating (after losing 14 lbs and being “on the wagon” for months), etc. It feels like I am constantly “switching,” but most of these emotions are no longer “parts.” I feel like there is a dial in my head that releases various emotions, and a toddler has gotten a hold of that dial. I makes me feel like I am losing my mind!

When I was a multiple, eventually one of these parts would drive my reaction. If it was the angry part, I might leave. If it was the sad part, I might sink into a depression but take no action. However, there is no one “part” to take over any longer. It is only me, a (mostly) singleton being hit by one powerful emotion after another, and I cannot seem to make a decision about which way to go because my emotions keep shifting in powerful ways.

Have any of you experienced this? Do you have any advice? If I am still feeling this way after my trip, I will make an appointment with my therapist.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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