Posts Tagged ‘dissociative identity disorder’

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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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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I received a question from a reader about healing from dissociative identity disorder (DID). She is reading a book about healing from DID, and that author recommends naming each alter part and holding “meetings” with the different alter parts to get them to work together. The reader asked if I agreed with this advice.

Before I answer the question, let me take a step back. As somebody over at the Isurvive message board once commented, DID is a “create your own disorder” disorder, so it manifests in different ways in different people. Some people might only have two or three personalities. In that case, each personality might have already named herself, and it would not be that complicated to “hold a meeting” that invites the input of all three.

However, DID can manifest in many different ways. In my situation, I had six layers of alter parts, most of whom were personality fragments but many of whom were full personalities. None of the layers knew about the other layers. I “guesstimate” that I had about 1,000 parts in all. I would have taken me forever to name each part and “hold meetings.” That simply would not have been feasible for me.

I am not saying that the author’s way is the “wrong way;” however, it is not the only way.

Because the traumatized child created the fragmentation, the fragmented adult intuitively knows the best way to heal. The key is figuring out how to listen to your intuition and learning how to trust it again. Severe abuse causes a person to doubt her own intuition. Learning how to hear and heed your intuition is a big part of healing from DID.

For me, naming the alter parts was not helpful. Healing from DID involved loving and accepting each part as “me.” Naming a part made it feel more separate. For example, the first part I “met” was named Irate. I integrated many other parts much more easily than Irate because Irate was my “friend,” and I didn’t want to “lose” her by integrating her. It took courage to follow my intuition and allow her to integrate, where she has become a part of me.

While I never held “formal meetings,” I did invite my alter parts to “come out” and express themselves. Once they expressed their memories and pain, there was no longer a need for them to stay separate, so they would integrate, and I would work through the memories and emotions.

When it comes to healing from DID, trust your own intuition. If another person’s advice sounds appealing at a heart level, then try it. If it does not, then try something else that feels like a better fit.

I know how scary it can sound to blaze your own trail with healing from DID, but try to remember that you blazed your own trail when you fragmented in the way that you did. Only you know the most effective way to put the pieces of the puzzle back together. You hold all of the answers inside of yourself.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Over on my professional blog, I write about how trauma affects children on Trauma Tuesdays and Trauma Thursdays. I write this blog for people whose lives are touched by adoption. Most of the people who read my trauma articles are either foster parents or adoptive parents who are parenting children who have suffered from trauma, such as child abuse. I try to explain the mind of the abused child so that the parents can have a better understanding about why their children act and react the way that they do.

A therapist who has healed from dissociative identity disorder (DID) contacted me about a new blog that she has started called Forbidden Topic. Her blog is so good that I added it to my resources section. Like me, this woman is hoping to break the silence and correct the misperceptions that pervade society about dissociation and DID.

If you struggle with dissociation, including DID, or just want to learn more about it, her blog is a wonderful resource.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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A reader asked me to talk about the challenges after integration from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). As she pointed out in her email, many people who are healing from DID see integration as the end goal, but really integration is only the beginning. Interacting with the world as an integrated person is very different from interacting with the world from the perspective of a “multiple.”

I was in the same place as this reader a couple of years ago. I went looking for resources for people who had successfully integrated from DID, and I could not find many on the market. I think I found three books in all, and I bought two of them. I started reading the one that sounded like the best resource, and it only wound up depressing me. While the woman who wrote the book had succeeded in integrating from DID, she had many limitations on her life. I did not want any limitations. So, I chose to stop reading that book, and I never picked up the other one.

Healing from DID is not the same thing as healing from child abuse, although there is definitely quite a bit of overlap. Healing from child abuse is healing from the underlying trauma: it is turning your emotional wounds into scars. Healing from DID is about changing your internal reaction to the trauma: it involves changing the way you interact with the world.

The woman in the book I read continued to have flashbacks after integration, so it sounds like she healed from the DID faster than the underlying trauma. My experience was different: I dealt with very few flashbacks after integration from DID. I really believe that they are two different processes that are being healed at the same time through self-love.

As for specific challenges – Every single relationship in my life changed after I integrated from DID. I had to learn how to manage frustrating situations instead of just dissociating – that is still a challenge for me. I had to learn to feel pain in the moment instead of just encapsulating the pain and tossing it aside.

Interacting with the world as a “singleton” instead of a “multiple” is very different, and I am still learning how to do it. It comes second nature to me to split off an alter part, but I can also bring that part right back in again when I want to.

This article from the Sidran Institute is the best resource I have found regarding challenges you face after you integrate from DID. I am still in the process of learning to give up dissociation as a coping tool. Even though I am not fragmenting into alter parts, I do continue to dissociate on occasion, which is true of many child abuse survivors, even those without a history of DID.

Dissociation runs on a continuum, so I do not have the expectation of going from polyfragmented DID to completely “normal” overnight. Any progress toward staying whole and present is a step in the right direction.

The reader also asked me to address issues with sex. I will get into that in my next blog entry.

Related Topic:

How to Stay Integrated After Healing Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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A reader asked me how to reach alter parts that are not interested in integrating as part of healing from dissociative identity disorder (DID). This is a very common occurrence when somebody is healing from DID. The alter parts split off from the core for a reason, and they are not always ready to integrate back into the core just because you (from the perspective of the host personality or from the core) want them to.

Also, when an alter part integrates, you must deal with the aftermath. You must face the memories and emotions that the alter part holds. Sometimes a part of yourself knows that you are not yet ready to heal from that particular trauma, so that alter part refuses to integrate.

In the early stages of integration, I had lots of alter parts who were not ready to integrate. I created “rooms” over my heart and invited the alter parts to live there instead. I was “meeting” them as they “thawed” from the “ice” in my spirit that I was “melting” through self-love. I did not want them to go back to being cold.

So, I created a warm and cozy place over my heart. I offered each alter part her own room. The door had a doorknob on the inside only, so the alter part was in complete control over when the door was opened. Inside was a canopy bed (something I wanted as a child but never got) that the alter part could change to any color she wanted. The room also had a toy box that held any toy the alter part wanted. One of the standard toys was a castle that was popular when I was a child. I always wanted one, and all of my friends had it, but my parents never bought it for me.

Most of the time, the alter part would agree to relocate to the room over my heart. Before the alter part entered the room, I would tell the alter part that I loved her and that I appreciated all that she did to help me survive the abuse. Then, the alter part would lock herself inside the room. Later, as I was ready to heal that part of myself, that part would integrate spontaneously.

Also, when I would invite alter parts to integrate into the core, I would tell them that the core would absorb all of the bad feelings. For some alter parts, this was enough to choose to integrate. I would have to deal with the painful emotions, but it was against the backdrop of all of my experiences, which made it much easier to do. This was something that I did much more frequently in the later stages of healing.

Related topics:

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Microscopic view (c) Lynda BernhardtWhen I confronted my abuser, I did not even know that I was doing it. That is probably something that only a person with dissociative identity disorder (DID) can understand.

I had turned down three full scholarships to attend the university that my mother/abuser wanted me to attend. It was a prestigious university that her sibling had been unable to get into, so it mattered to my mother/abuser that I go there. My interest was more in the doors that would open up to me by having a degree from this particular school.

In retrospect, I cannot believe that I turned down a free ride to stay financially dependent upon on my mother/abuser for another three years, but I did. She agreed to “be my scholarship” and pay for all of my bills while I attended this school. However, she reneged right in the middle of finals halfway through my education there.

I started receiving past due notices from my car insurance company. I kept forwarding them to my mother/abuser (as per our arrangement), but she did not pay them. I received an insurance cancellation notice right in the middle of finals.

I called my mother to ask WTF? I cannot remember specifically what she said, but it triggered Irate (my “rage alter”). Irate took over as my host personality sat back in horror and amazement. Irate b@#$%ed that woman up one side and down the other, ending it with saying, “You already f#$%ed me as a child. You are NOT going to f#$% me as an adult!!!!!” My mother/abuser hung up on me.

My host personality was a walking doormat. The “me” that most people knew was extremely passive and had a hard time standing up for herself, even in simple situations. The conversation had to have blown my mother/abuser out of the water.

Years later, my mother/abuser wrote a “book” about her life that included this situation. I put the word “book” in quotes because it was nothing more than a bunch of ramblings by an insane woman. That book is Exhibit A in my accusation against anyone who did nothing to intervene at a mentally ill woman parenting two children.

Anyhow, my mother’s account of that day is as follows: I telephoned her out of the blue and “was nasty to her.” She hung up on me. Then, she got out a gun, loaded it, and sat on the stairs debating whether to blow her head off. Ultimately, she decided not to do it.

That is how I found out about this – through reading her insane book. I have since asked her if she remembers why I “was nasty to her,” and she said, “No.”

Clearly, that moment between us was deeply significant. For the first time, I confronted her for all that she did to me in childhood. After I did, she was hit with the guilt and shame of what she did, which is evidenced by her first reaction being to commit suicide.

Ultimately, we both shoved it all back deep down inside again. I stayed angry at my mother/abuser for months and refused to see her. This was right before Christmas. I refused to come home, as did my sister, who was still angry with our mother/abuser for something she pulled on her over Thanksgiving. That was the first Christmas that my mother/abuser spent alone, probably ever.

By February, our mother/abuser came to visit (she owned the townhouse where my sister and I were living), and she “forced” a reconciliation of sorts. My sister and I reacted by taking complete advantage of this. We ran up her credit card like nobody’s business. Then, we went back to denial of what had transpired between us.

Related Topic:

How to Decide Whether to Confront Abuser After Child Abuse

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Purple plants (c) Lynda BernhardtOftentimes, the alter parts of people with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) find themselves in conflict with one another. While movies like the remake of the movie Sybil give the impression that each alter part must “take a turn” being “out,” that was not my experience. Yes, there were many times that my host personality completely blacked out (such as during incidents of abuse). However, for the most part, my host personality would stay out while another alter part was co-present.

I can remember this happening from a young age. When I was around eight years old, I was sketching a toy horse. I left the room to use the bathroom. When I returned, I was thinking about how I wanted to reposition the horse when I stubbed my toe. I was jumping around in pain. Nevertheless, as I did this, I still reached out and repositioned the horse as I howled with pain. My mother/abuser, who was in the room when this happened, was baffled as to why I cared about the position of the horse when I was clearly in enough pain to be crying. While my host personality did not care about the toy horse, another alter part did, which is why my body did both things.

I have had odd moments like that throughout my life. I (from the perspective of the host personality) would be upset about another person taking advantage of me. From out of nowhere, I would suddenly have the assertiveness to stand up for myself and rectify the situation. Then, I would go back to being a doormat and completely baffled that I had the guts to do what I had just done. This dynamic confused people around me as well.

Another time, a “friend” was pushing my buttons while I was driving a car down the highway. I was 17. My father had recently passed away, and my mother had started raping me again. The last thing I needed was a mind-f@#$, and that is exactly what this person was trying to do.

This triggered an alter part that wanted to scratch her eyes out. However, another part of myself (my host personality??) would not allow that to happen, so it turned on me. I started mauling my own arm and my face as I drove. This also triggered another alter part that let out blood-curdling screams. Needless to say, this “friend” about wet her pants as I was speeding down the highway, screaming at the top of my lungs, and clawing myself until I was pouring blood. I finally pulled myself together, but it was a very intense period (perhaps five minutes) that had to have scared that “friend” to death.

Throughout my life, I would have “urges” to harm myself, such as to crash my car into a barrier while driving down the highway. However, another part of myself would never let me do it. I used to think that I was “crazy.” I now realize that this was a suicidal alter part that needed to be healed.

Even though alter parts can be in conflict, they all have the same interest of protecting the child. Even the suicidal alter parts are trying to “protect” the child in their own way (by permanently ending the abuse). As I learned to love and embrace each part as “me,” I stopped experiencing these kinds of conflicts.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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