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Posts Tagged ‘DID’

I am not quite sure if what I am going through is a break**through** or a break**down**. All I know is that it is very intense.

Thank you to those of you who posted responses to Annie. Annie needed to be heard – badly.

I apologize for posting out of order. I actually wrote yesterday’s blog first but then needed immediate feedback for Annie’s stuff. I am feeling less out of control and like this makes some sort of weird sense. I think I am integrating a “large” alter part that endured some of the worst abuse (the splinters, etc.) as well as some of my deepest unmet needs.

I felt like I was losing my mind. The adult part of myself understood why my friends were not available when I called. Two of them were at work. One was at the gym. Another was at the doctor’s office. I don’t know where the hell the other three were, but they weren’t answering their phones. They are all stay-at-home moms with their kids home for the summer, so I am sure they were tending to them. I also knew that my therapist never, ever answers his cell phone. Protocol is to leave a message and then he calls you back.

It doesn’t matter how much I knew all of this logically. When I was so badly triggered and couldn’t reach anyone, I wanted to stamp my feet like a child, and I was sooooo friggin’ angry at all of them. That part of myself did not remotely care why nobody was around to take care of her/me … only that I was, once again, having to face it all alone, even when I had done everything “right.”

All adult responsibilities were completely overwhelming. My kid wound up not taking a shower that night because I simply could not “parent,” and hub is too wrapped up in his own depression issues to parent at all. The next day, it took me hours to work up the energy to go to the grocery store. When the store was out of the cut of meat I needed for dinner, I almost cried and felt like having a full-fledged tantrum. The adult part of me thought quickly and redirected the child part of myself to another dish.

I have dealt with alter parts my entire life and have been “whole” enough to stop losing time for years, but I don’t recall ever feeling as out of control as I have with this alter part/wounded inner child part. I feel immobilized – like someone is asking an eight-year-old child to pay the bills, cook the dinner, and take care of an “older child” by herself.

Is this a breakthrough or a breakdown? I am not quite sure which yet. At least I am not crying nonstop anymore.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Fire (c) Rosanne MooneyOn my blog entry entitled Freemasons and Child Abuse, a reader posted the following comment:

I’m glad you posted this, Faith. I think that ritual abuse survivors can help each other alot by untangling their feelings about being abused by very organised, hierarchical groups of psychopaths. By whatever name they go. In my experience, this is the element of our issues with which classic child abuse therapists may have the most difficulty when you present it to them. They probably could do with the sort of skills that are used by therapists for those who have survived torture in war camps, or a sophisticated hostage situation, because the experience of being at the hands of the cult abusers is more like one of those experiences.

I agree with Michael that the occult practices of abuse have been handed down for generations, and also that it’s necessary not to accord them more power by believing them to be all-powerful, even if they do get away with such a lot of heinous crimes. ~ A x

I couldn’t have said that better myself. I just want to build on what A x already said.

The best analogy I have for explaining the difference between “regular” child abuse and ritual abuse is that “regular” child abuse is to street crime as ritual abuse is to organized crime. This does not, in any way, mitigate the trauma of “regular” child abuse. Just as being raped at knifepoint by someone who jumps at the opportunity is extremely traumatizing to the victim, all child abuse is traumatizing and needs healing.

I don’t want anyone walking away from this blog entry feeling invalidated because they were “only” abused once or twice by a neighbor. Even “only” one time is too many and traumatizing to a child.

That being said, those of us who have endured ritual abuse have issues to deal with that are not typically experienced by people who did not endure that form of abuse. As Michael and A x have both pointed out, ritual abuse is inflicted by “experts” who have been honing their skills in traumatizing children for generations. The goal is not an orgasm (versus many of the sexual abusers who “work alone”) — the goal is to dominate the child’s will. The lone sexual abuser treats the child’s body like an object to be used and then discarded. The ritual abuser seeks to break the child’s will and inflicts much more trauma than necessary to ensure the child’s silence.

Ritual abuse is systematic, not a crime of opportunity. “Regular” child abusers work alone and hope not to get caught. Ritual abusers are organized, abusing children in groups. “Regular” child abusers torture the child enough to scare him or her into silence. Ritual abusers go much, much farther than this. According to Chrystine Oksana’s Safe Passage to Healing, many ritual abusers purposely traumatize the child to point to creating alter parts (developing dissociative identity disorder – DID) so they can control different alter parts.

“Regular” child abuse only involves enough mind games to ensure the child’s silence. Ritual abusers take mind games to a whole new level. Mine instilled a phobia in me that tied into seeing my dog slaughtered and threatening my sister’s life. Ritual abusers often “program” the child to self-destruct rather than tell, which is why I managed to move through many stressful life events (father’s sudden death, infertility, adoption process, a year of recovered memories of mother-daughter sexual abuse) without ever self-injuring and then, as soon as the first ritual abuse surfaced, I couldn’t stop banging my head.

Ritual abuse is its own animal, and too few mental health professionals understand it. I strongly recommend Chrystine Oksana’s Safe Passage to Healing for anyone who has been ritually abused as well as any mental health professional who is working with someone who was ritually abused.

Photo credit: Rosanne Mooney

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On my blog entry entitled We are the Ones Who Heal Ourselves, a reader posted the following comment:

I met a girl [alter part] last night. She told me she lives in a peach colored room that the others built for her to keep her safe because they love her. There is no door in the room and the windows are very small so no outsiders can crawl through and hurt her. I don’t know who she is exactly, or how old, but she is very young. She said the others hid her because we would all die if she died. I have a vague recollection of the building of this room. I know it has white carpet and lots of soft and fluffy white bedding and that no one can get in. Except I think I remember going there before. I’m confused. I’m too afraid to tell anyone or post this on my own blog, so I will leave it here because I think you might understand. ~ Anon

I understand much better than Anon could possibly realize. I, too, have my own version of a safe room, and I think visualizing such as safe place can be amazingly healing for child abuse survivors whether they have alter parts or not.

Here is what my “safe room” is like. It has no windows at all so nobody can crawl in. The room only has one door that has a doorknob on the inside only, so if an alter part wants to go to the room, he or she can close the door from the inside, and nobody (not even I) can open the door from the outside.

Inside the room is a canopy bed that changes colors at will. When I was in elementary school (during the worst of the abuse), my best friend had a beautiful pale yellow canopy bed. I really wanted one myself, but my parents said that it would just collect dust. When an alter part enters the room, the canopy bed is that shade of yellow but can change colors at will.

Beside the bed is a toy chest filled with any toy the alter part wants. Next to the toy chest is the one toy that I always wanted as a little girl but that my parents never bought me, no matter how many times I pleaded for it. If you were a kid during the mid- to late-1970’s, you will likely remember the Fisher Price toy castle that was all the rage during that time. It folded open and had the members of the royal family inside. There was a drawbridge and a plank at the top that a toy person could fall through and wind up in the dungeon. Just about every kid I knew had one, and I would always gravitate to that toy on play dates even when my friends were sick of the toy.

Most importantly, the room is cozy warm and located right inside of my heart. My alter parts were “frozen” during the abuse, and as they “thaw out,” they tend to linger in my stomach (causing me to binge eat) or my thighs (which is where I hold my fear). If an alter part is not ready to integrate, I invite him or her into this safe room, and my heart is big enough to hold one safe room for each alter part. The alter part chooses when to open the door up and integrate.

Photo credit: Fast-autos.net

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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.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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On my blog entry entitled DID: Is “Losing Time” a “Bad” Thing?, a reader posted the following comment:

Faith said: “Whether your host personality is “out” or not, you are always going to behave consistently with who you are.”

I must respectfully disagree with this statement. Here’s why . . . About ten years ago, back when I was just beginning to have flashbacks and slowly figuring out that I had DID, I made the startling discovery that I was dating five separate men at the same time. Four of them were online, and the fifth lived in my hometown. Of the four that were online, I later learned that I’d participated in cybersex with three of them.

I was horrified. The whole situation goes against the essence of my being; it crosses everything that I believe in, morally, ethically, and spiritually. It couldn’t be farther from who I am.

Each man was being dated by a different alter, but while I remained blissfully ignorant, they were aware of each other’s actions. They knew that I would find such behavior unacceptable and insulting to my beliefs, and they chose to indulge in it anyway. I am still ashamed of what they did and have found it hard to forgive them, but I am working on it.

Forgive me for disagreeing with you, Faith, but this is what happened to me. ~ Midge

I have included this long quote in its entirety because of its importance in following along in my response.

It is important to distinguish between what is consistent with “you” versus your host personality. For most people with DID, the host personality is an “innocent” alter part that has been shielded from all (or most) of the abuse. The whole point of having a host personality is to protect the child and enable the child to interact with the world as if she truly was that innocent (and often naïve) child.

You are not your host personality. Your host personality is just one tiny part of who you are, and your host personality is likely to take issue with lots of behaviors by alter parts, such expressing anger, sexuality, etc. … anything that is inconsistent with the morals and values of the host personality. Just because an alter’s behavior is inconsistent with what the host personality might do does not make that behavior inconsistent with what you might do.

Stay with me here…

I had a self-destructive alter part that had a strong need to slash my wrists and “watch the lifeblood flow out of me” when triggered. Committing suicide in this fashion goes completely against the grain of any part of me. Nevertheless, my cult abusers manipulated this part of myself to believe that self-destruction in this manner was the only way to save my little sister (who would be killed if I ever remembered or told about the ritual abuse), and sacrificing myself to save her is completely consistent with who I am. So, at a surface level, it might appear that this alter part taking over and trying to slash my wrists with a knife would be inconsistent with who I am, but the motivation behind why I would do this is completely consistent. If I believed that I could spare my sister’s life (or my son’s life) by killing myself, I absolutely would do it.

Let’s circle back to Midge’s alter parts. The fact that each alter part dated a different man makes me suspect that different needs were being met by each man. Midge’s host personality’s objection does not seem to be toward dating at all but in the fact that five different men were dated at the same time. Keep in mind that these are five separate parts whose needs were not being met, and these five separate parts were only dating one man each. Dating one man who meets your needs does not sound like it goes against your character, which makes each part consistent with who you are.

I strongly suggest telling each part that you are sorry for not meeting their needs and for being so angry with them for trying to find ways to meet those needs. I would also invite them to share their needs with you so you can help them meet those needs yourself rather than having to go outside to other men to do so.

I will address the cybersex issue tomorrow because this blog entry has gotten way too long.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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My blog entries last week on losing time generated a lot of discussion, so I thought I would revisit the topic from another angle. You can read last week’s blog entries here and here.

In the comments, we talked a little bit about whether losing time was a “bad” thing, and I would like to elaborate further here. From the perspective of the host personality (the part that most people with dissociative identity disorder–DID view as “me”), losing time is terrifying. You have memory holes that feel like you “blacked out,” and you have absolutely no idea what your body was doing while you were “out.”

I experienced this terror myself when I viewed myself from the perspective of the host personality. I was terrified that I could be harming my then-three-year-old child while I lost time and would have no idea that I was doing it. I told my therapist that if I recovered any memories of harming my child, I would commit suicide immediately to protect him from me. My therapist assured me that I would never do this to my child, even when I lost time, because to do so would run contrary to who I am. He helped me to see that I would be behave consistently with who I am because, regardless of which part is “out,” I am always “me.”

The way to push past the terror is to recognize that all of your parts are you. Whether your host personality is “out” or not, you are always going to behave consistently with who you are. That is not to say that you won’t do anything that might upset the host personality because each alter part is experiencing one view of yourself in a “pure” version – pure anger, pure terror, etc. Each of these parts needs healing, and in order for healing to happen, they need to come out. The sooner you embrace each part as “you,” the sooner you can stop losing time and keep your host personality present when these other parts come out. Once you no longer have a need for the host personality, the part will integrate back into your core, you will stop losing time, and you will technically stop having a diagnosis of DID since you no longer meet that criterion in the diagnosis.

I have heard people lament losing time during therapy sessions, and I always tell them that they got their money’s worth out of the session whether they remember it or not. By enabling another part to come out, that part of yourself is receiving the therapy it needs. Those parts are typically much more wounded than the host personality is, so you can experience immense healing even after “losing” an entire therapy session from the perspective of the host.

My therapist’s advice was to stop fighting these others parts of myself. Instead, invite them out and start a “dialogue” with them. The more communication you have going among your parts, the closer you are to ceasing losing time forever!

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my About Faith Allen page, a reader posted the following comment:

hi, just discovered your site- congratulations on your integration- we have a daughter who has been suffering for over 17 years, many treatments, many drs., many hospitalizations- not much progress- currently in crisis- looking for help again- who and what helped you? would you mind sharing this info? we would go anywhere just to find person/persons/hospitals. etc. who could be of help
thanks!

The most important element in healing is choosing to heal. Until a person decides that he or she is willing to do anything to heal, you can invest in all the resources in the world, and it is not going to make much of a difference. Choosing to heal is hard work. You have to relive painful memories, and you have to accept that these horrible things happened to me. Until a person reaches this place, resources are going to be of limited value.

If your daughter is sick to death of being in this awful place and is ready to begin the hard work of healing, I have several resources for her:

Books

The two “must reads” for a survivor of severe child abuse are Safe Passage to Healing (book about healing from ritual abuse and understanding Dissociative Identity Disorder -DID) and the Survivor to Thriver Manual (walks you through the healing process in a non-triggering way). Another great resource is The Courage to Heal.

Online Resources

Isurvive is a message board for survivors of all forms of child abuse. The Survivors of Ritualized Abuse forum is for those who suffered the most severe forms of trauma. It is also the place to talk about DID-related issues. The Sidran Institute is another great resource, offering lots of helpful articles on healing from severe child abuse.

Therapy

It is crucial that your daughter work with a qualified therapist with experience in working with survivors of severe child abuse. In my experience, the therapist does not have to be a DID specialist as long as he “gets” what alters parts are and their function. Healing from DID is too difficult to do alone. I strongly advise working closely with an educated therapist.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Somebody found my blog by Googling the question, “How do you know you have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)”? I think this is a great topic to cover, although it is not so easy to answer.

From a clinical standpoint, you have to meet the criteria outlined here. However, that is for diagnosing DID from an outward perspective, not an inward one, so I, personally, find this definition to be limited.

For me, the first red flag was feeling my face change. For a couple of years before coming to terms with having DID, I would feel my face change as I was lying in my bed at night trying to fall asleep. It felt like somebody was “stepping into my face.” My facial features felt more angular and simply did not “fit.”

Also, whenever I felt someone “step into my face,” I felt as if “I” was being pushed back from my face. It is hard to explain the feeling. It is like a thin layer of cold fog was separating me from my face. I could still see out of my own eyes, but I felt very disconnected from my face.

My second red flag was experiencing “loud thoughts” that did not originate from “me.” This is not the same thing as “hearing voices.” For example, I would be having sex with my husband, and I would suddenly have the thought, “If you keep your eyes closed, they all feel the same.” However, “I” was not thinking this at all.

My third red flag was when I stayed co-present while another alter part took over. This happened when my mother/abuser told me that she had gone into my then-two-year-old son’s bedroom during the night. This is not something that would have bothered “me,” but it triggered an alter part, who took over. I was along for the ride as my body picked up my child, slammed the door, and asked him repeatedly if “that crazy woman” had hurt him. My mind became flooded with deep pain and terror, and my body wept. However, “I” was simply observing all of this from a corner of my head, thinking WTF??

My fourth red flag was the realization that I had numerous holes in my memory. I had always prided myself in having a good memory because I had a few very vivid memories from a young age. However, when I actually sat down and tried to recall basic events, such as Christmas morning, I found no memories at all. In fact, I could not even recall any Christmas memories with either parent through age 23. That is clearly not normal.

My final red flag was acknowledging that my moods could change rapidly when I became upset. I used to joke that I had the world’s longest fuse. I would let other people walk all over me most of the time. However, occasionally, out of nowhere, I would become very assertive, but I had no idea where this strength came from. Once I recognized that I had DID, I realized that this was an alter part taking over.

It is not easy to recognize DID in yourself. However, when you are ready to begin healing, the amnestic barrier will begin to melt, and you will start to notice red flags.

If you suspect that you have DID, don’t panic. People with DID are intelligent, extremely strong and resourceful, and caring. You are going to be okay. You can heal from DID, just as I have.

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Photo Credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I am currently in training for a new job. It is a part-time position that I can do from home on my computer. It is very flexible, which works out nicely with my schedule. So far, training is going well.

However (and you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you?), the training requires me to use my real name. That is unbelievably difficult for me. I have been active online for years, and I have always gone by “Faith.” That name feels like the “online me.” I have to remember not to refer to myself as Faith in this online training.

And here is the kicker about why I am having such a hard time in using my real name – It is the same name as my mother/abuser. That really stinks, doesn’t it?

My mother’s name is “Faye,” and she named me “Faye Anne.” My parents called me “Annie” until I was seven years old. Annie is who I identify with as the original child. When I was seven, Annie went to sleep. I woke up one morning and did not know who I was. Everyone kept calling me Annie, but that name did not fit. I hated Annie.

So, I insisted upon being called by my first name, which happens to be the same name as my mother/abuser. I don’t think I knew this when I made that decision, or at least that part of myself (my host personality) did not.

So, now I have the instructor and my fellow students-in-training calling me by my mother’s name. That has been triggering. But I really don’t know how to tell them to call me Faith when that is not any part of my legal name.

I guess I will figure out a way to ride this out. It just really stinks. At least my sister was not named after our mother-abuser.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry Survey for Child Abuse Survivors with More Than One Diagnosis, a reader posted the following question:

I have been officially diagnosed with D.I.D. Currently we are integrating, sometimes at an alarming rate. There is a question though…how can we integrate with the core when the core has been sleeping and protected for many years? The core is pre-verbal and while we feel her presence, her breathing, her innocence…she does not stir, she is very hidden and protected. – Holly

You can still integrate even in this situation. Full integration is going to take some time and patience, but you can do it.

I think that you have confused the core with the original child. They are not necessarily the same thing.

The best analogy I can think of is this … To assume that the original child is the core is to see fragmenting like a banana. The sleeping original child is like the banana itself, and the alter parts are the peels. Until the banana wakes up and integrates, there is no core to work with.

I see fragmentation and integration differently. My analogy is like an iced-over pond. There is only one pond, but it has frozen, and the ice has broken off into chunks. One chunk holds anger, another holds terror, and another holds the feelings of the original child. However, the one chunk of ice that holds the original child’s feelings, even if it is huge, is not the pond. All parts collectively make up the pond.

The healing process is like shining the warmth of the sun onto the pond and melting the chunks of ice back into one lake. The core is not the one big chunk of ice that holds the feelings of the original child. Instead, the core is the part of the pond that has been melted through self-love back into the pond. The core might or might not contain the feelings of the original child, but the core is still just as much a part of your spirit as that original child block of ice is.

As long as you are shining the warmth of self-love onto your parts, you are melting the ice. All will merge back into one pond, which is where they have always belonged. It does not matter if the original child block of ice melts first or last. In fact, it might be easier for you to absorb the feelings of the original child once the rest of the pond is more fluid.

I remember when my original child woke up. I never felt so “in my body” as I did in that moment. It was a powerful experience. You will experience this, too. Just keep loving yourself.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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