For First Time Visitors

If you are a first time visitor to this blog, I invite you to start from the beginning, especially if you are unfamiliar with the potential emotional impact of long-term child abuse.

Trigger caution to unhealed survivors!

Understanding the Incomprehensible

Children of incest or long-term sexual abuse grow up to be wounded adults with complicated emotional issues. Unfortunately, some symptoms are misinterpreted or often dismissed as "crazy", only serving to maintain a tormented victim status. We, as a society, have the power to change this dynamic. Each of us can make a difference.

Sep 15, 2008

The telling from inside

We all hear voices. I know this because the majority of my clients were not trauma survivors. They had issues. Any therapist who works with DID needs to find a balance of trauma work and less intense work. It was my experience that any client willing to enter the domain of their mind and engage in imagery or do "ego state" work, would likely get to their issues more quickly and heal more quickly. Most people can grasp the parent, adult, child selves. I spoke earlier about mother, daughter, sister, wife roles. So we all have parts. It's normal. It's good.

You might not categorize what you hear inside as "hearing voices" but they are there. When you reach for that second piece of cheesecake, you might hear "You know you're going to have to pay for that" or some other critical message. You might also hear "Go ahead. You deserve it. You haven't treated yourself in awhile." You might categorize that as a thought. Either way, it's a message you "hear".

In the medical and psychiatric community, anyone admitting to voices was likely diagnosed as schizophrenic. While there are some similarities, a main difference is someone with schizophrenia will describe voices outside of the self telling him to do something (from the television, from aliens, from demonic voices).

An objective of therapy is to change the messages to something positive and supportive--not to get rid of the messages.

Anyone with DID is likely to describe her experience using different words. Those of us who have had that moment when the first horrific memory leaks through is beyond description. As depicted in one of the collages, "It sucks". It's like falling into a black hole. "It feels like my head is going to explode". Dizziness may overwhelm the person.

Responses to knowing there are other aspects of the self inside vary from terrified to feelings of reassurance. Many have initially described "a lot of noise" inside. For someone with DID, hearing a voice is good. It means a self state is crossing over into consciousness. Healing can't occur until a trauma becomes conscious. Trauma becomes known to the healing host when it is conveyed by one or more self states who experienced the trauma. The message may come from telling of the trauma, writing the trauma, conveying the trauma internally on a "movie screen" (less intrusive than a flashback), through art (real or metaphorical images), flashbacks (which appear as a "real" moment of trauma happening in the mind) where one or more senses engaged in the original trauma might re-enact images, pain, and/or position of the body as well as the emotions including terror. Flashbacks are intense.

All of my abuse feels like it was told to me by someone else. It has never felt "first person". I've had validation for some important information to know that at least some elements were true. I can never know how much was real or a very well orchestrated environment to make it appear certain things happened. Whatever happened--and something happened or a trauma would not have been stored--needs to heal. The self states who recall a trauma may come together to relay the memory or the host might receive the same memory from several parts at different times on the healing journey. The images shared in this post are two views of the same memory by alters of different ages.

Because of the fear to tell, sometimes drawing or collaging can feel less intimidating to the self states, all of whom were constantly threatened if they ever told. An advantage to art is it provides an outlet for the self states to process memories that the host may never need to know. She just sees images that have no meaning or may come to have meaning further down the healing path. The mind is incredible when it comes to watching how others have the capacity to heal. Several of the excellent survivor blogs I follow present art therapy. It's a wonderful tool. Art is telling in a different way.

This is such a complex topic and the purpose of this blog is to simplify the complex so readers can get a good feeling without all the details. Know that an objective of healing is for the host to embrace that she is multiple and work with her selves, as they become known, to heal. Are there scary insiders? Yes. But they all have the capacity to heal. And often the scariest parts turn out to be a very young scared child "made to be" mean or scary. They are so relieved to be rescued.

It's rare that a healing survivor does not discover protectors. Protectors can be a stabilizing, reassuring voice throughout the healing journey and beyond. Protectors come in various states of being, at various ages, with various jobs. Some might encompass very loving and nurturing traits much needed by littles who have never known safety in the outside world. Some may become internal friends to the healing adult. I often describe the major part of healing as becoming very internal. The survivor may well withdraw from her external world except for therapy and other support or responsibilities such as wife and mother.

On the far side of healing, either the host makes a natural transition back to the outside world or, in my case, protectors push you out because it's no longer healthy to be inside as much. Healing from DID is similar to watching a flower bloom. The host opens one petal at a time and learns how to maintain growth and nurturing and self care to continue blooming. It's an arduous process. Having those internal friends is a blessing. Knowing those selves protected us from the horrors is difficult for most to imagine. It allows for an element of internal trust to guide the healing when the survivor is not knowing who in the external world is trustworthy. It is for those with DID who have been so shattered that they constantly fear what is happening inside in addition to not trusting the outside world that self harm thoughts and attempts are increased and healing becomes extremely challenging.

People with DID grow up being silenced in every possible way. How tragic they awake to a world that continues to silence the truth and treats them so cruelly. Ignorance is not bliss for the world. Please open your minds to all of the voices trying to speak the truth.


Anonymous said...

Hi grace,

Im at a point now in my healing where im trying to work out who in my life is good and who is bad. Because i dont have the use of intuition im trying to trip people by setting them up? Is this the wrong thing to do?
Am i best just keeping people at a distance until instinctively i know whos good and bad? Ive tried that but im impatient! And also, how can i know that a current friendship isnt holding me back in my healing and therefore needs resolving before i reach a point where i can see clearly?


Grace said...

Hi Simon, What you pose is an excellent question with no easy answers. We spent our entire childhood and a good chunk of adulthood wanting to please our parents, wanting their approval, or somehow maintaining the family bond. Some people go the opposite direction to extreme (running away to the streets to get away from family into a life that is also haunted by pedophiles).

When you come from a family where the abuse was perpetrated, it's difficult to tell who is safe until all memories are recovered. If you sense a relationship is unhealthy, at this point in your healing, it's best for your healing if you withdraw. I know that's easier said than done. Over the course of several years of processing, I came to learn it was not just an abusive father connected to other pedophiles, it was relatives on both sides of the family. It's devastating even to say now.

The dynamic of a multigenerational incestuous family is to maintain "normalcy" which is not allowing anyone to heal. You have to make decisions that you believe give you the best chance of healing, if that is your goal.

You can speak to your therapist about this. There is a grieving process in distancing from friends and family. It's healthy isolating but it's still isolating--at a time when you want people who care about you to support you.

The good news is it sounds like you have a strong online family of supporters as well as a good therapist. For many survivors, "family" becomes those you love and trust in your new life as a survivor/thriver rather than victim.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the trouble to answer.

I do have family on my mums side ( the perp), and a family on my dads side ( totally innocent) who are there for me. These people are totally un-connected and in that sense i guess im lucky. I aint close to them but they have took an intrest and have said they are there for me if i need help in anwyay. They also ring once a week or a few weeks to keep updated. So i guess things arent that bad.

Im quite supicious online tbh! You and blooming lotus seem like great people, so i keep my reading and commenting to just your two blogs! Im also aware that women readers could find it un-nerving with a man commenting, and i would stop leaving comments if i was ever aware that it was an issue for anyone!

Its more my so-called friends that are the issue. I was lucky in that the only person who i can identify who abused me was my mum, and shes dead. The rest were people she knew during my childhood.So i have no-1 to confront, or to feel like i have to take revenge out on.

I feel like my friendships are very 1 sided, yet i CANT stop wanting the accpetance that these people give me. ( or dont).

I am going to distnace myself , this way im not making a desicion either way, im kind of leaving it in limbo until ive fully recovered my memories!

Anonymous said...

Just to add : - If im being totally open and honest i guess im scared of realising that i have no true friends and being left with alot of people i have to cut out of my life. :-(

That wont be easy.