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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 blog entry entitled Effects of “Mirroring” Others in Relationships after Child Abuse, a reader posted the following comment:

I read on your blog somewhere once about how you don’t think suicide is a sin or something like that. I’m sorry if this is wrong…i have difficulty with memories that never occurred (yay me! makes thing so much easier ::sarcasm::) Something about how it would be wrong to make someone go through all that…I wanted to thank you for that. ~ Tawny

Tawny is correct. I did say that.

My understanding about suicide being considered a “sin” is that it is a murder (murdering yourself), and you did not get the opportunity to repent of the sin of murder because you (obviously) died. I vehemently disagree with this labeling of suicide as a sin.

Suicide is not murder. People who attempt and/or commit suicide do it to escape very deep emotional pain. The pain and despair run so deep that anything, even suicide, seems preferable to living even one more minute in this deep, dark place. The thought of God condemning a person to hell in this situation makes absolutely no sense to me. I believe that God views this situation with deep compassion, not condemnation.

That being said, I do not “support” suicide. I have struggled with suicidal urges many times in my life. To this day, I will sometimes wrestle with very deep and dark despair. Suicidal thoughts might run through my mind, but I choose to dismiss suicide as an option for one very important reason – I refuse to let my abusers win. I owe it to the little girl inside who fought so hard to survive the abuse to survive the healing.

This is not always easy for me. Those dark clouds will loom over me, and I question whether I will ever feel okay again. If it were possibly to “will” myself to leave my body, I would have done so many times over. However, I will not succumb to the suicidal urges when they strike because I refuse to give up. I absolutely refuse.

The other, very important thing to remember is that the despair does not last. Yes, in the moment, it feels like you will never see the sun again. I experience this myself sometimes. I even scare myself sometimes with just how dark I can feel inside. I try to remind myself to feed the right wolf, but even this does not always work fast enough for me. Sometimes I have to commit to staying on this earth one minute at a time. The thought of committing any longer is simply too overwhelming.

And yet, no matter how dark the despair or how long it lasts, it always passes. It might take days or weeks, but it does pass. Suicide would be a permanent solution to a temporary problem. If you can hold on just a little bit longer, the clouds will part, and the sun will shine again.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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One of the most difficult parts of healing from child abuse is struggling with suicidal urges. As I moved through the child abuse healing process, I would feel suicidal urges from time to time. The pain ran so deep that I was willing to do anything – A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G – to make the pain stop. Even death seemed preferable to continuing one more minute experiencing such a deep level of pain.

Also, my suicidal urges would come with very deep despair. No matter how much progress I had made along my child abuse healing journey, I could not see any of it. It felt as if I was enveloped in a dark cloud, and I could not see past my immediate pain.

If you are in this place, keep holding on. Sometimes that is all you can do when the suicidal urges wash over you. The most important thing to remember is not to act on those suicidal urges. No matter how intense they are in the moment, those feelings will pass.

For those of you who are Harry Potter fans, suicidal urges feel kind of like coming into contact with dementors. They suck all of the hope and joy out of your life, and you are left with the deepest pain that you ever experienced. Also like with dementors, eating chocolate afterward always did wonders for me in recovering from the encounter. :0)

I made a life decision that I would never attempt to take my own life. No matter how bad it got, I would use all of my coping tools to fight back. I refused to end my life in that manner, if for no other reason than to prevent my child abusers from winning. As long as I am still alive and not an abuser myself, I win. If I kill myself because of the pain that they inflicted, then they win.

If you are struggling with suicidal urges, this is a normal part of healing from child abuse. What you are feeling is not about today – you are feeling the echoes of your past. You are releasing the despair that you could not face while you were being abused. You need to pour those painful emotions out of your spirit so you can heal.

Whenever you feel suicidal urges, remove giving into them from your list of possibilities. From there, do whatever you can to ride them out. Rest assured that suicidal urges always end. It might seem like you will be miserable forever, but you won’t. Emotions, even extremely painful ones, always end.

Related Topic:

Aftereffects of Childhood Abuse: Suicidal Urges

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Fire (c) Rosanne MooneyMany people who suffered ritual abuse were “programmed” to self-destruct if they ever revealed their abusers’ secrets. While people who never suffered from ritual abuse might believe this sounds like a bad plot in a science fiction movie, numerous survivors of childhood ritual abuse share the same story.

When somebody’s behavior arises out of programming, that behavior feels compulsive and seems to come out of left field. For example, when I was a teenager, I struggled with deep depression and contemplated suicide. I thought about the various ways to die, and I settled upon swallowing a jar of pills to be my “method of choice.” I fought off and overcame my suicidal urges in high school and never revisited that deep dark place.

In my mid-thirties, I entered into therapy after I began having flashbacks. As the flashbacks moved from “regular” abuse to ritual abuse, I suddenly started having strong urges to slash my wrists with a knife. When these thoughts would come into my head, I would “think” the phrase, “Watch the lifeblood flow out of me.” I came to realize that this was programming. At no point did I ever “choose” the method of suicide through using a knife: This was chosen for me.

I also experienced programming in self-injury, and I later recovered the memory of the programming. As a teenager, my father died suddenly, and my mother began abusing me again. I never self-injured. I endured years of fertility treatments in which I desperately wanted to become pregnant. Despite very heavy emotions, I never self-injured. It never even crossed my mind to do so. I never self-injured as I recovered memories of my mother’s abuse or abuse by several other abusers.

As soon as I started to recover memories of the ritual abuse, I had very strong compulsions to bang my head rhythmically against a brick wall. It wasn’t just any brick wall but a specific one with mortar than was not smoothed out. I resisted the urge to bang my head into walls and forced myself to use a pillow, but I was powerless to stop the compulsions. When they hit, I had a very short window to reach a pillow.

Chrystine Oksana’s book Safe Passage to Healing is a wonderful resource for anyone who has suffered from ritual abuse. In this book, she talks about ritual abuse programming and how to dismantle it. The good news is that, because programming is “foreign,” it is much easier to dismantle than many of the negative feelings that a person develops in reaction to the abuse. One of the biggest hurdles is recognizing the programming for what it is.

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Photo credit: Rosanne Mooney

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(c) Lynda Bernhardt

Suicidal urges are common for abuse survivors. What makes these urges so perplexing is that they are echoes of the past rather than about today, but they feel so ever-present. Even if your life is great today, you might still feel a cloud of despair surrounding you that makes your life feel empty.

Suicidal urges are often misunderstood by the general public. The general public often sees suicide as a final “up yours” to the rest of the world. While this might be the thought process for some, the vast majority of abuse survivors consider suicide as a way out of the pain. They are in such an enormous amount of emotional pain that they are willing to do anything, even die, to make the pain stop. Because suicidal urges are frequently about stopping the pain, they really are a coping mechanism of sorts, albeit an extreme and permanent one.

If you are struggling with suicidal urges, try to remember that all feelings are temporary. Yes, you might be getting waves of very deep emotional pain, but the waves do subside. You will not always feel as dreadfully as you do in this moment. If you can just find a way to get through the moment, then the pain will ease, and you will be relieved that you did not take your own life.

If you are feeling suicidal, talk to someone about it. Go to Isurvive and post about your feelings. Better yet, go into Live Chat and talk to someone about how you are feeling. Lori, the board owner, has a toll-free number that you can call 24 hours a day. Call a friend. Write down your feelings. If you can just get through this moment, the pain will ease.

The more you can lean on more positive coping tools, the better able you will be to manage the pain when the suicidal urges hit. See Positive Coping Tools for Healing from Childhood Abuse for a list of positive coping tools.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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