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.

Oct 30, 2008

Scrambled memory

**Extra trigger warning for unhealed survivors**

About ten years ago, I began to remember bits and pieces of my sisters being part of the dissociated world. Apparently it was not okay for me to remember back then. What happened is similar to spinning with words. It's messages flying in all directions inside that create tremendous confusion. It was very distressing. The confusion, for me, went something like this:

If I have internalized parts of my sisters, does that mean my alters go with their memories (my witnessing things that happened to them) or with things that happened to me. I mean was I watching or a part of it? Is it an internalized part of my sister that is being hurt? Whose memories are these? It circled around in many variations until I didn't know who was me and who wasn't.

I discovered that the Peter Pan character names went with one sister and Alice in Wonderland went with another. For what it's worth, I also found Winnie the Pooh and Disney movies deeply entrenched in my system. When my older sister had her first child, as a baby gift, I gave her the complete set of Winnie the Pooh to read to her baby as our father had read to us. Years later I was to find out that I was being molested while he read to me as a very young girl. Apparently I was sending my sister a message with that gift but I have no idea what. Sorry, I think I meandered off topic slightly.

Early in healing I saw my therapist twice a week...more when needed. She got me to a place where my mind was quiet. I told her I wanted to send back the parts that did not belong to me to where they belong. As I told her that, I saw a floating leaf. Tinkerbelle and Peter Pan got "on board" and floated far far away. I think other entities that were assumed unwanted guests were invited to return to their original person safely or choose to go into a healing place where I could not hear their thoughts. I had no problem after that. Did they really go away? I have no idea. But it stopped the scrambling.

Fastforward to yesterday. My mind is still processing the meaning of my memory. Any major memory tends to slowly go through the mind (my perception) making all the connections that had been missing previously. As that happens, I will have "aha" moments rather spontaneously. Of course, each "aha" moment will be an eek or sometimes a gasp. Yesterday I had an OMG! Today, as kind of a post memory component, I began to have similar confusing messages about my little sister as had happened ten years ago. Does that mean everything that I believed happened to Leelee (as one of my alters) really happened to my sister and Leelee internalized it? Or did the perps intentionally create part of me that was my sister to torment internally as well? When I got to the point of my head hurting, I was able to pull back from what was happening and realize I was beginning to "scramble".

By knowing what it was and pulling back, it stopped. I sort of told "it" that it didn't matter who actually was the victim--one received and one witnessed. Both created deep emotional pain and I needed for me to heal. It's possible that since this memory had to be tucked away for so long, the spinning and scrambling just happened to go with it whenever it surfaced--a package deal. I'm so grateful to be able to handle the horror in a more timely manner these days and to have the coping skills to pretty much step out of anything that's happening and be my own analyst.

I'm sharing this in hopes if any of you happen to run into it, you might recognize it as just something that needs to be undone. Any container coping skill is good--put the confusing thoughts in a box until you can see your therapist. You could also work to undo it much the same as spinning. Who is in charge of confusing you? Or do 1, 2, 3 magic. Poof the confusion stops or the ones giving messages are magically placed in a soundproof booth. Your mind will have an amazing solution. Trust that will happen for you.

The puzzle of memory

Anyone with DID who has gotten to the point of processing memories will likely relate to this at least from some perspective. Since it happens differently for everyone, I can only explain my experience. While not all agree with "everything in its own time", I began my healing process already completely trusting my protectors. I've already spoken about my magazine image collages which was an obsessive task for months. I always had the answer in a collage or collages after I had a memory. The first couple years I had no therapist. I'd usually have flashbacks at night and would run downstairs to my "art room" and fly through the collages in my triggered state to find the collage that told the story. I would see the context of my flashbacks and words that accompanied them.

If I didn't have a collage, I would go to my uncollaged images and watch myself frantically put a collage together. In retrospect it was just amazing. Always the right images. And the process of having that activity helped to calm me down after having the flashback or memory. I view a memory as coming through more like a movie whereas flashbacks are very quick images coming at me just long enough to see what was happening. The other aspect to cutting out images from magazines is it is a safe "cutting". I didn't realize that diversion until I was a therapist. I was overwhelmed with the realization at how much I "cut". Thank goodness!

Even though I have collages for all memories I've had, I don't know all of their meaning. And sometimes I'd go for a year or longer before getting another piece of one memory. I first had the Halloween memory 11/1/97 (also my first anniversary memory). And now "the rest of the story" (or at least another major messsage) 11 years later.

I wrote a few posts ago of the key components of that memory. The big yuck came up at the therapist's office. My mind always continues to process for at least several days after such an internal event. I went back to my collages to see if I saw anything new in meaning and I did. Even now, I still gasp when I see validation of what came up mentally. The answer was always there but I was not allowed to know it until now. Additionally, the memory began to help me make sense of part of my internal dynamic.

I have witnessed for myself and others that, once a memory comes up, there will be a kind of internal validation that what came up was true. Even if we don't understand all the details, the major objective of what the perps did comes through. Now that I'm into "advanced memory processing", I can step back and know that whatever I saw could have been real, a staged "trick", or both. At the time a "death" happened, it was internalized as real by the littles. And that's the emotion that needs to heal. That awful terror.

I had a memory earlier in my work about witnessing some trauma with my little sister shortly after her birth. I do have some conscious memory of my mother being pregnant with her. My mother used to tell me I would constantly speak of my unborn sister as "my baby". The Halloween memory was similar in content with my little sister being only 11 months old. (Hmmm...notice how 11 has come up twice now?) In the memory that continued in therapy, after I believed my sister had just been killed, my adult female alter whom I dearly loved during her time out with me, was made to do something awful to what we believed was my sister's little body. The trauma of doing that is what caused my adult alter to shatter.

The adult alter had a name that logically appeared to be connected to my sister. I had often wondered, if that were the case, why was my baby sister internalized as an adult protector? She was also the only protector alter who was extremely wounded. The first little I came to know after amnesia leaked through was Chloe. Chloe was very attached to Leelee. Chloe was the first little to integrate. When she did, Leelee became unconsolable because she no longer had Chloe to care for. She asked if she could go inside to be with her. Leelee moved inside and I watched through images over the next year how Leelee healed to be a beautiful woman.

Leelee's images before her healing showed her as bald and naked. Always suffering. The messages I recently received were that Leelee WAS my baby sister (no hair, a baby, and traumatized). How did she become my "adult" protector? The answer I now understand is she protected me from death on the day she "died" instead of me. I had wanted consciously to hold and protect my little sister at age 3. This memory is from age 4. Organized pedophilia rules don't allow conscious bonding. They want their victims isolated even within family. Subconsciously we were pitted against each other explaining my terror for her and her aggressiveness in real life to both my older sister and me. But inside, we loved each other dearly and that continues.

I don't know if it was intentional that Leelee became an internal wounded protector. I'll never know those kinds of things. But Leelee's shattering was the base for a main split in my system.

Being able to put all that together is somehow comforting now. It is this deep understanding of something inside following a memory that becomes validation of your truth. Leelee had such a tortured voice and spoke with the alphabet. "A" is for ____, "B" is for ____. Usually the words in the blanks were those she heard from the abusers. She went with pictures of alphabets and blocks with letters on them. The image with this post is dedicated to Leelee.

You will find your own validation. It is not necessary to find outside validation. If that happens, great. Just know that your healing from a memory of horror is the proof. Remembering your own horror can resolve PTSD issues that arose with that event in your life. Most people hearing or viewing what we routinely see as memories would be traumatized by such images. It is counterintuitive that survivors would heal from remembering the horror. The rest of the world would likely be upset to see what we see as a memory in a horror movie. Because "no one would EVER do that to a child". Right? Yeah, right.

Oct 29, 2008

A new voice (so to speak)

When I began this blog, its purpose was to provide an easy to follow series of posts to grasp an understanding of DID without being overwhelmed. As I've continued, I've gone past that goal and entered the world of healing from DID. I realize I've shifted the focus from speaking to those who do not know to those who are healing from DID. While therapists and support people are likely to be reading at this level of detail, I'm consciously choosing to shift the voice of the blog to the survivors.

Using my personal knowledge of healing, client work with healing, and shared colleague knowledge, my goal is to provide the basics of various healing techniques. What worked for me won't work for all, but it's a place to start. If anyone follows this blog (by clicking on Subscribe (I am not making my followers public for safety), and you have a question, you can ask me in a comment and provide me with your email to respond. Since I approve comments, I can see your question, get your email and not post it. That's the only safe way I have to be more involved. I can't be a therapist through the blog, but I can clarify something you don't understand. If you have a question that all survivors might benefit from, by all means post for the blog and I will answer there.

If anyone would like to see a particular topic covered, please let me know through the comments, which you can do anonymously. I'm approaching topics as they seem to be important. But, as we all know, it's possible for anything to come up at any time.

The past few posts have had some intensity. Thought you could use a break today.

Oct 28, 2008

Getting to know you

I've mentioned collages or art or cutting out pictures a number times. Some survivors use images very effectively to process memories even though much is not known consciously as to its meaning. It can be enormously helpful when memories surface and/or a new alter surfaces. Alters will choose pictures to identify themselves. It's an exercise in system cooperation as well. Go through magazines and grab any picture where you get a feeling that you must have the image. Don't worry if it doesn't make sense to you...such as an inanimate object or group of images. In going through magazines, alters will grab pictures that go with memories as well. I love that I had a visual identification for all of my alters.

Use unusual magazines like electronics, computer-related, art related. Communication Arts (at $53 a year) is a most valuable resource. I kept subscriptions for my clients to use. Often, entire collages were made of images from that magazine. Individual copies are available in news stores or bookstores, but one issue is probably about $18-$20. If you look through a copy in the store, you will see what I mean. Their photography annual and illustration annual are ripe with strange and bizarre images that go with stuff that can express the experience of having been abused by organized pedophiles. I would justify the cost of an annual subscription as less than the cost of one therapy session.

My hairdresser used to know I was in the waiting room because she could hear me "secretly" tearing photos out of her magazines. When you see a picture you need, you HAVE to have it. lol. You can always make note of the issue and get hold of one at the store. Sometimes libraries and doctors offices have old magazines they are happy to turn over. And don't forget the parenting magazines for baby and child pictures and a few teen magazines for teen alters. Greeting cards are more expensive now, but I found a number of littles on Anne Geddes cards and in the images of children done in black and white with a splash of color. I don't recall the photographer or artist.

Keep in mind that sometimes metaphor is used to portray a memory. So a particular item or animal may appear over and over throughout collages or pictures. When the time comes, your system will let you know the meaning. Everything in its own time. Today I was going through one of my binders of images and a picture of a rabbit is on the cover of one along with other images. These are the words written next to the rabbit which is a beautiful carving in stone:

"In many Native American traditions, the rabbit is a symbol of fear, yet an old story tells that rabbit used to be a great warrior. Use help you conquer your fears. Let the rabbit remind you of where you have been (trapped in your fears) and know that, just like the rabbit, you have a Spiritual warrior hidden within, beneath your fears, waiting to help you claim a passionate new way of being."

Advanced spinning

Please read my earlier post on stopping internal spinning if you have not done so before reading this post. One method that might work is simply asking for the one(s) inside causing the spinning and asking if they can stop so you can speak with them. The reasoning that many alters will accept (sooner or later) is that, at one time, the job of causing the spin was helpful. Now that you are healing, the spinning is not working toward that goal. You can ask the spinner to join the safe place to heal or to agree to stop the spinning and consider the change in jobs (undoing the spinning or simply leaving to heal). If the choice is the latter, you'll still want to stop/dismantle/destroy the elements causing the spinning. My previous post addresses how to undo it if no one answers the question as to who is causing the spin.

There is a more complicated form of spinning. Some spinning, if stopped, is designed to set off another or several spin programs. I had in my collages the alters Dorothy and Toto (an adult female holding a baby). The baby was Toto. I don't give them their names... Underneath their picture were words about cyclones and strong winds and being the strongest force. It meant nothing to me at the time. I was in therapy and had undone a smaller spinning when I suddenly felt as if I were reeling. What an awful feeling. I could see Dorothy. The collage flashed in my head of her holding her baby. Inside she wasn't holding her baby. Since I was barely able to focus, when my therapist heard me holler that she didn't have her baby, she asked if a protector could find Dorothy's baby. That was done and the whirling stopped almost immediately after Dorothy had her baby in her arms. Collaging/artwork/just cutting out photos can help immensely.

For me and for two clients who used collaging, there is a sixth sense. How is it that the answers are there to help before the memory surfaces? My explanation is that there is a guide to the healing process that leads us to find the answers before releasing the memory. I'm sure I would have ended the "cyclone" eventually, but those images helped to make it a very short experience of feeling like I was in the center of a cyclone...or tornado like the Wizard of Oz. Sophisticated pedophiles will use children's story and pervert them to set up these cause and effect internal responses. Notice how I used a field of poppies as the leading image of my most recent video? That was me giving me a clue to my current memory. Consciously, I chose poppies and sunflowers as images of Italy which I find soothing and healing. Yet after creating the video, I realized I had an internal field of poppies that was causing me to be very sleepy in trying to process the current memory. Interesting, eh?

Another thread unraveled.

Oct 27, 2008

Fight, Flight, Freeze, Split, Shatter

The mind/body has three main responses to danger: fight (resist), flight (run away), or freeze (stay still). For a child constantly in fear of being hurt or killed (because of threats) and whose body is being invaded, escaping the mind/body becomes the "flight". Maybe I should say "float".

Those with DID, learned to be out of the body for an alter to bear the abuse. Typically survivor memories include watching their body being hurt from the view of looking down from the ceiling. Because it is the intention for many pedophiles to create dissociative states (alters), the child is deliberately terrified into a state that the child or alter can no longer bear causing another split (or alter to be created).

For some events planned for the child, the abuse or terror is so horrendous as to cause several new alters to be created. I call this shattering. Sometimes a survivor will realize many alters are the same age which might have been caused by such an event. I likely had at least three such events in my life by age 16. Shattering can be from a series of events created around the child to ensure several or many new alters are created. One way to do this is to provide the child with an impossible choice. Faith from the Blooming Lotus blog describes having to make a choice between a sibling and a beloved pet--which one was to die. She then had to witness the killing of her pet. This is horrendous emotional torture.

In the memory coming up for me now, I have gotten previous messages. What I'm getting now is more of that story. It's not done processing yet but I'm fairly certain I had to choose between my life or my sister's life. Obviously they didn't kill my younger sister but they made me believe they did. This happened Halloween of 1956 or '57. My sister was only a year old. I was 4. I'm getting that I shattered then. Because these sophisticated pedophiles know how to create what they want the child to have as an internal world, they used this split to create another confusion that would cause me to constantly be in a state of cognitive dissonance throughout my life, thus helping to maintain the dissociation.

I've had this story before, but, for some reason, I need to know that this was the time and place when the official split was made inside me. The male/female split. Trigger caution from this point on. I want to make sure I get to tell this to the world because I think it goes with survivors from the 50s and 60s. I also believe it is still used for reasons explained below.

Of course I came into the world as a girl. I was born pretty much directly into perp hands. It is my belief that I was always treated as a boy in the dissociated world...from the time I was born. In my conscious world I was the good little girl. In the subconscious world, I was treated as a boy and punished for not conforming to responding as a boy. I have very confusing images and messages about boys and penises. I understand now that was to explain that not all boys had a penis and I was one of them (one of their lies that a child will believe). So I had one world where I was punished for being a girl and another world where I was ostracized if I didn't act as a proper little girl. That tends to wreak havoc on one's mind. It also explains why I changed my name legally twice to a feminized male name. (Changing names is a symptom of DID.)

Tyler (the little boy I write about in Believe the Children) had some of these messages. His perps had not been sucessful in causing him to dissociate, but they were successful in creating much confusion. His little sister was born after I began to work with him to heal from his abuse. At one point he told me that his little sister did not have a penis. I acknowledged that was true. Recalling my own memory, I asked him if he had seen little girls with penises. He said that he did. For me, that's proof this gender confusion is still part of the "tried and true" method of creating a split. I explained to his parents that he knew his sister had no penis but needed reassurance that all little girls did not have a penis. Had I not known of that kind of extreme emotional stress, I wouldn't have thought to ask him the question to find out if that was his belief.

The rule in inducing dissociation is everything to extremes. The child does not need to be physically or sexually abused for a dissociative split to happen. It is known that during a state of heightened fear, susceptibility to suggestions for alternate thinking is heightened. For me, the trauma of believing my sister had been killed because I had chosen my own life over hers was used to shatter my belief system that allowed me to believe I was a boy in that world. Wow, I think I just gave myself the final piece to my own memory puzzle by writing about this today.

The good news is that whatever they did can be undone and healed eventually. I had the first pieces to this memory in late 1997. For some reason it was time for this other chunk to fall into place. I am no longer shattered. The male/female split has healed. The internal confusion about gender was resolved a few years ago. I know survivors who have gotten stuck in the gender confusion. Maybe some reading this blog will not have to go through the craziness of the memories if they realize that it was a desired outcome.

Oct 26, 2008

Stop the spin

Today I am winding down from spinning yesterday. I knew a memory was trying to come through and had been slightly dizzy. Having had sinus issues, I first thought it was my sinus headache. When I realized it might be spinning, my head whirled into action. I made it into bed, layed on my back, and went inside. I've learned how to undo it but it always feels awful when it happens. It's been quite awhile since I've had to undo one. Thought I'd share what I do. If you are still thrown out of sync too much to focus when spinning, you might try self nurturing until you can see or call your therapist. Stay safe and don't drive.

There is always something inside creating the spinning. It could be one thing or many things depending on the memory. And if you find one spinning episode, you can be fairly sure there are others. I once had a client who found an entire amusement park of littles trapped on the rides. Even in that scenario, the steps to undo it work. And there might be an alter or alters in charge of setting off the spinning. Everyone's internal world is different so I can only give very general guidelines.

Go inside and ask helpers to gather together. I always begin in my safe place and ask for help. I don't usually have to do the work but see (as a movie) what is happening. Actually yesterday I saw myself trying to stop the stopping. lol. Funny but not funny. I didn't want to know the answer I was being spun from because I knew it was a yucky Halloween thing. It was a little me and a protector held her so she would be safe. I allowed myself to be held as hug. Then I saw the flashes. The spinning object was also part of the horror.

Early in undoing spinning, it's good to have a protector or brave alter, especially a creative one, look around for what is spinning. It could be as "simple" as an old record player, or merry-go-round, or something more complex like several gyroscopes hidden in the system. Some of the spinning can be so strong as to be disabling to stand up. One of my clients had a group of insiders who always went in search of what needed to be found and would report what was going on.

Once the object is found, whomever is looking needs to check for booby traps that might need to be undone before you turn off the spinning object. They will find what needs to be done. Next, any littles in the vicinity need to be rescued. Personally, I imagine a bright light of protection to seek out all alters who needed to be rescued and bring them to a safe area. A protector might take on this role as well. Remember you can be as creative as you want to undo things. If an alter is found trying to protect the spinning, a protector can remove the alter to a safe place where s/he can heal. Sometimes, a thick glass dome or some impenetrable soundproof enclosure can surround the alter(s) causing the spinning to isolate them until all is undone. This is good for an especially menacing entity.

Now the area is safe to turn off whatever is spinning. Look for an on/off switch, a computer panel, whatever is making it run. Either the finder will turn it off or, failing finding a way to stop it, you can blow it up with internal safety in mind. Yesterday I blew up the thing that was spinning and the room it was in, so it could never be used again. After the object is turned off, destroy it. Early in my healing, I used to have a powerful protector hurl it into outer space. Whatever you can imagine, you can do.

Has the spinning slowed? If so, it worked. If it has been a very strong dizziness, it may take several days to completely dissipate. Small spin programs might stop immediately providing instant relief.

If the spinning has not slowed, ask the littles (who were rescued) if there is another place spinning. They usually know. Or there will be a "knower" in the system who knows the answer or knows who to ask for the answer. Repeat the steps to stop other locations with spinning objects.

One of my strongest spinning incidents included the hidden gyroscopes. I had so many pictures of gyroscopes in my collages but didn't know what they meant until I found them internally. Sometimes your art can help if you know that whatever you find is pictured. There might be clues to stopping it near the image. In my case, after finding the first gyroscope, I was still very dizzy. Tinkerbelle (yes, a tiny fairy alter) volunteered to seek out the other locations and report where they were. She said she was able to hear the whirring sound they made. It took a whole therapy session to undo that one. But it did get undone.

For some, the search party may take several days to find the spinning object. And it may take awhile to figure out how to dismantle it. The greater your creativity, the easier it is. 1, 2, 3 magic is a great tool for undoing things. Next time you are dizzy, try it. It can't hurt. Your system won't let you hurt yourself undoing things. someone will say "Wait!..You need to do "x" first!" If these steps don't work, there may be more complicated things going on. Regardless, it can be undone. Use your internal tools. Don't underestimate what littles or even little mouse alters can do to help.

Oct 25, 2008

A great coping skill

Most people with DID have no problem moving inside which makes guided imagery a great coping skill. I first learned of Belleruth Naparstek through my therapist as a tool for my clients. I acquired a basic collection and listened to each wanting to make sure I knew exactly what was being said and knowing it agreed with my own philosophy. I personally like the imagery for depression. The focus is on relaxing, safety, and good messages. It's not about depression as much as moving away from that place in your mind.

Many of my clients loved the CDs (which are now available as Mp3 downloads). Most fell asleep to them. What I most love about these programs is that it is fine to fall asleep because the subconscious will still hear the good messages. I have the ones I personally use on my iPod. I just got the CD for preparing for surgery because of an upcoming sinus surgery and my total lack of energy to go through another surgery. That's how much I believe Belleruth can help me. (I just learned of the Mp3 availability getting the link for this article!)

The CDs are focused on various issues. Some CDs are very similar. I personally prefer the depression "journey" to the anxiety one. Both accomplish the same goal...relaxation. A great one for later in healing is Healing Trauma (PTSD). It's overload if early in healing. Initially I listened to one CD at least twice a day, with once being at bedtime. If IBS is an issue, it is an excellent CD for anyone with not only IBS, but pain in the pelvic or intestinal area. I used it for healing throughout my surgeries when I had Stage IV endometriosis that impacted the entire pelvic area.

Most CDs are under $20. The Mp3 downloads are about $12. I'm sure you will find your favorites. If you don't know where to start, choose the one for coping with Depression. Then listen to whatever CD you choose. Listen to it when you are sad or depressed. Listen to it just to relax. It's good for your mind and body not to be focused on what needs to heal every minute of the day. The shift into quiet mind is healing without the work, and a much needed skill simply for life.

The CDs are available on as well as healthjourneys. The breathing technique used in the imagery is a good skill to use anytime you need to wind down a notch or two. Am hoping Belleruth's voice becomes as soothing to you as it remains to me.

Oct 23, 2008

The constant battle

I found this video on YouTube this morning. It's extremely well done. It is the struggle I would think anyone living with or healing from DID could identify with. I've been at this place many times to include now. For me it tends to rise to a place of literally "wouldn't I be better off just stopping the fight" when I feel overwhelmed. Or when an identity with these messages surfaces and I feel every bit of it. I'm posting it here not only to validate for survivors but to help those just trying to understand DID that this is our reality more often than not. Even as 99% healed and integrated, there are times I still struggle and am too tired to fight.

Oct 20, 2008

DID etiquette

People WITH DID are not people who ARE DID. They are not their diagnosis. It would be paramount to speaking of a person fighting cancer as "she is cancer". I'm more aware of that language since my therapist training. It's okay for a survivor to say "I am DID" because that's where they are in their healing. The rest of the world should be viewing the person first. DID does not define the person. A survivor has a core personality and all of her is working toward becoming the person she was always meant to be without all the internal conflict. A gentle soul born into the world is going to be gentle soul. And since DID generally begins with abuse as an infant or toddler, that personality never had a chance to blossom. Healing is about that beautiful blooming.

If a person subjected to horrendous abuse was going to become a "bad person", it would have been evident long before amnesia began to leak. If a child or a dissociated self-state of an adult was made to commit an undesirable act, it is not the will of the conscious person and, in fact, is unknown by the conscious person. However, if the dissociated self is arrested in the act of doing something at the command of a perpetrator, the DID is not an excuse. Unfortunately, that would be crazy making to the conscious self who honestly is clueless. Hence, the reason this underworld uses people in dissociated states to do their dirty work. Not only would the dissociated person be prosecuted, that person has no conscious knowledge of who the bad guys really are.

"We are a multiple" is correct. Or "I am a multiple" is correct. I've stated before that many theoretical views of personality reflect people as multiple. Years ago (in the 1970s) there was I'm Okay, You're Okay which presented the personality as Parent, Adult, and Child ego states. Ego state therapy (which is different than I'm Okay, You're Okay)views personality as an internal family. Early in the blog I presented the different roles any individual has in life, shifting from one to the other as needed. All the roles define who you are--not any single role. The difference for people with substantially healthy childhoods is there is no amnesia or repression of trauma influencing behaviors or change in roles.

A very high percentage of people, at least in the US, have anxiety and issues with panic attacks. Anxiety is socially acceptable. People tend to understand panic attacks. "What can I do to help?" "Let's get you to a quieter area." "Sit down here and I'll get you a glass of water." But have a startle scream or other PTSD reaction and it's faking or overly dramatic. I recall being in a large store in my early years of healing. I was in an aisle holding a large poster board which was for a collage. It was almost as big as me. So it was awkward to hold. A man walking down the aisle bumped into poster board from behind. You could have heard the startle scream in every corner of that store. The man sarcastically said, "Well, THAT was an overreaction." Well f*** you! Really. How about "I'm sorry I frightened you. I didn't mean to." That would have sufficed.

The most bizarre aspect of DID is the switching. Rarely do multiples noticeably switch in public unless there is a huge trigger. I try to remind people that the movie Sybil was her whole healing life crammed into two hours so she was always switching. I used to be so offended when someone with DID appeared on television and allowed other selves to come forward like it was entertainment. Yet, in my work as advocate for a client to get her help, it was necessary for "helpers" to see the active child who typically needed the aid. Her being able to come out and meet someone and willingly go back inside to allow the adult to remain in charge was a huge success in her therapy. But it was viewed as a "sideshow" of sorts.

Within the past few days, I had a horrid experience online. Someone asked about the new television show My Own Worst Enemy. I responded as someone with knowledge of DID and commented it was not an accurate depiction except for one personality's realization that another part of him had been "out" and active. The person who asked the question immediately cut off communication. When I posed the question to others who had witnessed the exchange about the fear factor, the response I received was that people believe those of us abused for so long must be offenders! OMG. I never knew that to be an issue.

Dear World, if a person is actively working on healing, they are a very wounded and typically withdrawn person. If the person were an offender, they'd never show up in a therapist's office or be openly speaking of the issues. This is also a huge fear on the part of most women who have had children about having harmed their children in an alter state. While that is a possibility, that would only be true if the child had injuries that the parent did not recall inflicting (in which case the children should not be in the person's care). In my personal experience, the women with children had a very strong mom part...lioness protecting her cubs. Yet the guilt was there just in case.

Knowledge is important to change the worldview of DID and its complexities. Being fearful because someone has been horrifically abused is just fear based on misinformation. A very sad commentary on society if that is the case.

Oct 19, 2008

Handling your feelings (literally)

Unless a survivor has been in therapy for other issues prior to knowing of their own multiplicity, they are unable to identify feelings. And/or they are afraid of their feelings. A survivor may know sad, scared, alone, angry...likely to the extremes: rage, terror, isolation, depths of despair. Many who go to therapy are unfamiliar with identifying feelings. Regardless of reason, this was my most successful technique in helping my clients process feelings. It's an adapted version of a technique described in Beverly James's book, Treating Traumatized Children.

Tools needed are set of colored markers (washable ink so littles can join in) and index cards or any separate pieces of paper about the size of a notecard. My favorite was 8x5" pastel colored index cards, although nothing fancy is needed. When you identify yourself having a feeling, write only one feeling on a card for as many feelings as you have. This is especially good to do after being triggered to help process. Usually people have more than one feeling at a time. Writing one feeling down per card will help separate the feelings for you.

For instance, you wake up from a nightmare and need to do something to wind down. Depending on the content you might write: scared, trapped, dirty, mad. Later you might realize that "dirty" was really embarrassed, humiliated, intimidated all rolled together.

The cards help you to become more aware of when you have a new feeling. If you don't have a name to put with a feeling, you could write the circumstance, such as: was crying but didn't feel sad. At some point you may have a name to go with that description.

Whenever you process a new flashback or trigger, you can see what feelings cards you have that already go with the experience. I kept the feelings cards in a special box and put them away for each client after the session. You can do something similar. It's a metaphor or coping skill for putting your feelings away where they are safe until you need them again.

In the process of doing this, you will become more comfortable in literally handling your feelings and not be so afraid of the word on the card. You might want to bring the cards in to therapy and work with them. Any of these suggested techniques can be modified to best suit your comfort level. Colored pencils or crayons instead of markers...or even something more artistic. Choices choices choices. You have that power now.

Oct 18, 2008

Coping with flashbacks

People with DID need an arsenal of coping skills. Some techniques may work sometimes for some identities and other techniques may be needed for other circumstances. Therapists working with DID need to know an arsenal of coping skills to use and to teach. The technique I used that seemed to be most helpful to my clients (and most helpful to me when I was healing) is called several names and has several variations. One variation is in Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder by Sarah Krakauer. It involves creating a theater or screening room inside.

Decreasing the intensity
Flashbacks are never going to be easy, but there are ways to soften the intensity. The elements that reduce intensity are:
  • Making images that are too close appear farther away
  • Changing images from color to black & white
  • Turning loud sounds down or off
  • Fastforward to move quicky through a very distressing image
This technique gives you an element of control over flashbacks instead of them reeling you out of the universe while it happens. It removes you from the center of the flashback to watching it as if it were a movie. You are the witness...the audience. You are one step removed. That also helps reduce intensity.

Getting started
This is how it would work. First create a theater room (or whatever you want to call it) within your safe place. Place as many rows of seats in the theater as you need to sit back far enough to view it comfortably. You don't want the screen size to overwhelm you. View as many details as you want to make it a secure room for you to watch the flashbacks without others joining you who might be frightened by it. And you want to keep littles out if they are not part of the memory. That could be security guards at the doors or magical locks or security system. You want to set it up so it is there for your use the next time you have a flashback.

You will need one more tool: a handheld projector with all the controls you need. Adjust volume, color to black and white, zoom out and zoom in, fastforward, slow motion, and rewind. Some put other helpful buttons on the projector. Help yourself. Be sure there is also an OFF switch.

I've had clients practice in the theater. Envision a lovely scene. Use the projector to view the screen. Find an object in the scene to view close up and get more detail; slowly zoom out and view it further and further away; focus on a moving object and view it in slow motion and work up to fastforward. Try out all the controls on the lovely non-triggering image.

Using the technique
When a flashback begins, as soon as you can think clearly to move into the movie theater, do so. You might want notes around to remind you or a helper inside to remind you to go there. It's a good idea to have a reassuring protector with you. Any self-state connected to the memory who is ready to join you can do so. Littles should have a big to hold them and should have a comfort object. All are reminded that they are watching something bad from the past. You only have to watch it once then turn it off.

Use all the controls you need to change the perspective from overwhelming to more manageable. If it is too much, turn it OFF. It is good to be able to process what was seen. If you are able to do that internally with a meeting of those who watched it and a protector, great. You may decide to wait until you have a therapy session so you can have your therapist to help you process, if that is an option.

You don't need to understand what it was about. You may not get all the details. Answers will come as you need them. At the end of the flashback, do self care and comforting. You may want to write it down, draw it, collage it, anything to acknowledge the trauma of your insiders.

The theater may also be used by any identity remembering some aspect of your trauma to help them. Since it is not necessary for you to know everything, self-states can have a place to safely process without your knowledge. Again, this is just one technique. I hope it helps.

Oct 17, 2008

Creating internal healing space

One of the remarkable aspects of a multiple is the ability to create or modify their internal world to facilitate healing. Each multiple will have his or her own creation. Only that person can tell you what is there...what is seen, heard, changing, growing, etc. Much of healing revolves around the survivor's ability to work with the internal world.

What I'm offering here are both techniques suggested by others working with DID and/or what was implemented in my own internal world to help. I had about two years before I had a therapist. My healing was guided internally. I researched, read, joined safe online support groups. I realized I had already created quite an intricate safe place where *I* lived with my protectors. It was heavily guarded with security systems and I always had "bodyguard" protectors when I ventured outside (meaning outside of the safe place of my internal world or outside into the real world). Before finding my therapist, I already had an anger room, a very calming zen-like place, and a very large living room where I sometimes met others who were healing and were safe to meet.

An anger room is an internal place for any identity to use as a safe release for anger. As a therapist, I would have survivors create the rules of the safe place. Often the rules would include: no one can hurt themselves intentionally or accidentally, a protector needed to be present for littles or adults with self harm thoughts, lots of pillows and stuffed animals, walls made of something soft. Additions might be to soundproof the internal room so as not to upset others overhearing the words yelled out. No limit on words yelled or ability to scream. I would ask if the survivor might like a peaceful room connected to the anger room to go and curl up and cry or just to rest after the anger release. Many chose that option.

It was by working with others, I realized internal safety always had to be insured. One person created the anger room and threw glass into trash cans to hear the sound. Then she told me the glass had cut her leg. (The alter was experiencing being hurt internally.) From that point on it was glass that turned into pixie dust or similar harmless substance so it could never hurt anyone.

Sarah Krakauer's book, Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder, suggests an Anger Rock exercise which worked very well with clients. Her book has healing ideas that either therapists can use or survivors might adapt for themselves.

Because a survivor's safe place might take many forms, either an existing room might be used or a new room added to the structure for the healing purposes. Internal landscapes can also include outdoor settings such as a meadow, mountains, streams, the ocean. Anything soothing is good. Once a new healing place exists, all identities who would like to share in the new place are invited. I always had the survivor implement the rule that only identities who would honor the rule of peaceful cooperation could join. (If needed, a protector could enforce the rule.)

One aspect I found helpful as a new identity came forward who wanted to move into the safe place was he or she (regardless of age) could create their own room. Littles always knew exactly what they wanted. They could have as many toys or comfort objects as desired. Some littles wanted a door but kept open a little. Some wanted the privacy of a locked door (which was allowed as long as it was privacy for safe activities). Very interesting to hear what each created. Once the new self state was in the new room, the host would generally return saying the new one was in the room and okay.

Another important special room is the safe place for littles. A room inside a room without windows and several protectors. Lots of toys and activities. This is where littles could go if they were afraid of anything going on outside of the body and where the host could request the littles go if "adult only" activity were being conducted. That could mean going to work, being mom, engaging in behavior not appropriate for littles, etc.

At another time, I'd like to share how my protectors helped me to diffuse the self-harm, self-destruct alters. That internal room likely saved my life.

Oct 15, 2008

Safe Support for Survivors

Since joining the blogging community on this topic, I have made some very nice friends in the survivor community. Through those friends, I was made aware of several online support groups for those with DID. A link list is provided to the right for those who wish to explore them.

Safety is a priority for all three groups. I know the administrators of two of the groups (an online relationship). They are healing, sharing, and providing the resource of others providing support to all who would like a safe place to go.

While I have not yet participated in iSurvive, it is highly recommended by several as a place to share and garner support during rough times. They have a stringent screening process before accepting new members which I highly commend.

Hidden Shadows maintains a closeknit group. It is a well monitored site by a compassionate and caring survivor.

Ivory Gardens feels like an oasis of safety and support to enter. Much effort is made to keep it safe. A special area is set aside for littles and there are features to promote discussion such a topic of the week and even fun participation for the bigs.

Understand that in choosing a support group, there is always a chance of someone joining under false pretenses to make life difficult for those trying to heal. That is one element that is closely monitored. Unfortunately, the bad guys holding onto their goal of not allowing survivors to heal, do try to wreak havoc. They target respected support groups and launch propaganda campaigns to the members to make them fearful to continue.

Just be aware that this happens. Membership has to be "cleaned out" occasionally because of some people out there to undermine places of healing. If your moderator has been fair and supportive and keeping you safe, use your best judgment if you begin to receive negative information about the moderator or support group.

In the same vein, if any support group I recommend appears not to be maintaining the safety needed for it's members, I will remove the name from the list. My decision to support these three groups is based on my own knowledge and has not been influenced by anyone else.

I believe such groups can be extremely helpful in healing, especially when a therapist is away at a conference, on vacation, or otherwise absent. And even more importantly, when a survivor is between therapists. I'm so pleased that there are a number of safe choices since I was last in this community about 10 years ago.

Oct 11, 2008

The body remembers too

Body memories are weird, scary, freaky, fascinating and an important aspect of healing. While more and more therapists working with dissociation are aware of the need to work with body memories, most physicians, specialists, physical therapists...okay the whole medical community... are unaware and/or dismiss them. The good news is survivors know they exist. Two good resources to help survivors and therapists are The Body Remembers by Babette Rothschild and Trauma and the Body by Pat Ogden.

If you are not familiar with a body memory, it is when the body holds a piece or pieces of a trauma. Research has proven memory cells exist within the entirety of the body, not just the brain. However, as with all of recovery from DID, there is no simple explanation. What looks like a body memory may also be a fragmented self "living" in a specific area of the body. Or a fragmented self could be causing part of the body to move to convey a message or it could be a true body memory of trauma being released that's been stored since the original memory.

Body memories can be rather dramatic or as subtle as a twitch. The importance is on the survivor understanding that pain and/or movement might be re-enacted. And it is important for the therapist to understand this may happen to help the survivor release the trauma in a safe manner. I have read texts that encourage therapists not to allow body memories in the office.'s not always a choice. Some therapists have the opinion that body memories are intentional drama by the survivor. As if survivors don't have enough to work through, they make things up?

Resolving a body issue can have truly dramatic impact. I had two long-term health/body issues resolve after working through a memory or experiencing a healing event. I'd had allergies since I was a teenager. Early in my memories, while in my mid-40s, I processed a memory having to do with feelings of suffocation as a very young child. I knew as soon as I processed that trauma that I would be free of those allergies in a few months when pollen season began. I was right. No hayfever since then. My nose was trying to expel the trauma through sneezing? It doesn't matter; allergies stopped.

I also had a sore lump on my left breast below my arm pit. It was monitored by mammograms since my late 30s. Before I turned 50, I came to know that a number of alters "lived" in the vicinity of my heart. I felt them integrate after processing a memory. It was actually painful as they passed through the heart muscle but a relief at the same time. The lump in my breast was gone at the time of my next mammogram and hasn't returned.

My question to the medical community is why they don't understand about the impact on the body of child abuse both physically and mentally. Or why don't they check for a history of known child abuse for their patients? And how many survivors are taking drugs for something that needs to be processed psychologically to resolve? I took allergy shots for over 20 years and they only ever seemed to make the allergies worse. This would be where the doctor would say "it's all in your head". If a survivor is aware of his or her DID-ness (?), that is a physical issue that could be targeted in therapy.

I do know this is difficult to grasp even for survivors. Many suffer from multiple physical conditions, many of which can be or must be relieved through medications or surgeries. For survivors going through the healing journey, just as you tune into your internal world, you can learn to tune into your body. Wonder "what else could this be" if your body develops something "out of the blue". Often I would have some strange body twitch or pain begin as I entered my therapy session. I came to know that was where to begin for that day.

Body work is helpful even for those not holding onto trauma memories. I've had clients mention a recent headache or pain somewhere in the body. I'd ask, "If your knee could speak, what would it be saying to you right now?" The strangest answers would come out more like free association which always got to some issue right away. No one can tell you what anything in your body means except you. No one on the outside can translate. As much as survivors hate the phrase, "Ask inside," that is how you will know.

Under the category of possible too much info, I'm going to share a body memory I would not have believed could happen to anyone, let alone me. It was huge validation in an extraordinary way. I think I already spoke of a memory with ants. I also had memories with other creatures to include spiders. About a year after the memory surfaced about being enclosed with ants on me, I woke up with big red blotches all over my body. Since I lived pretty much isolated from the outside world, I knew it had to be a memory. And it itched to the point of pain. Always having my internal guide, I used the internet to research insect bites and found my welts identical to army ant bites. I hadn't made the connection that the ants in my collaged memory were "army ants", but on words taped to the collage it said "an army of ants".

A few weeks after that outbreak, a different type of bite covered my body. I have photos of this stuff but any naysayer would just say I did it intentionally, I'm sure. Like people would choose to have insects bite them all over. Anyway, the second round was fire ants. Very distinctive bite. And another couple weeks of constant itching and flare ups. Finally, I broke out in what appeared to be a bull's eye target. It goes with a spider. I think it's from a black widow which isn't poisonous. But a child can get sick from being bitten so many times. Shortly after I began to publish this blog, the ant bites surfaced just on my left leg, hip and lower back. Nothing on my right side. Leftover reminder of telling? Or possibly still fearful littles remembering what happened when we told at age 5. Definitely bizarre. Definitely validation. The body does remember.

Oct 9, 2008

The reminder object

I moved every few years of my life from the time I was born...military reassignments for the father. When I was 3, we lived in Germany and I was given a Steiff teddybear. I loved that bear. When others played with dolls, I played with the bear. I hated dolls. Throughout our moves, my mother's rule was we could keep "x" stuffed animals and the rest would be given away or tossed out. My bear always made the cut. I was so proud that I still had my bear when I was 44 years old.

When memories surfaced later in the year I was 44, I read that a survivor of organized pedophilia will likely have a toy or object from childhood as a reminder of something--don't tell, call a parent or family member if memory begins, whatever. Suddenly I panicked over my bear. My one "good" memory from childhood, or so I thought. Betrayed again. My bear reminded me I wasn't "real". A bear has no will. It can't see, speak, or hear. The only way it does anything is if someone else makes it do something. I threw my once beloved bear into the trash. A horrid emptiness remained. I quickly went out and bought myself a bear of my choosing to represent healing.

After spending all of my life hating dolls, I fell in love with a "So Truly Real" doll...Baby Grace. She's beautiful and precious. I've collected a few that I cherish as an adult. Transforming old messages.

If you find an object from your past or know what it is after reading this, be gentle with yourself. Focus on replacing it physically with something new or make a complete change. You have choices now. Maybe take the object to your therapist to process what it might mean. Possibly this doesn't happen to all survivors. Apparently it happens to a lot though.

Oct 8, 2008

It's my fault

All survivors with memories of the grade school and younger abuse who have gotten to meanings and messages behind the yuck, will likely get to the message "It was my fault" many times. It doesn't matter what happened in the world, apparently it was our fault. I was told this feeling I was to blame regardless of ability to have been at fault was a narcissistic wound. I don't like the word narcissistic, but it is a kind of self focus to an extreme. It's certainly not about liking oneself or wanting to draw attention to oneself. As children and into adulthood, trauma survivors are generally caught up in self loathing on at least a few levels.

I don't know how this feeling of being responsible for doom was instilled, but on 9/11/2001, I was healing and earning my counseling degree full time from home, which meant I slept in each morning. My husband called to ask if I had turned on television. I hadn't but did. I don't think I moved much that day. I was riveted to the news, stunned, scared, and believing somehow I must have caused the catastrophe to happen. Earlier in my healing, I researched news I'd missed because I had dissociated most newsworthy events from my life. At one point, I became panicked that I had caused the space capsule explosion that killed Virgil Grissom in 1967. The only thing that calmed me down was realizing that in January 1967 I was living in Iran. The family did not move back to the U.S. until late summer that year.

By the time I graduated, I had worked hard to heal that narcissistic wound. In fact, I used that as a guide for trauma clients who were constantly apologetic. I'd explain the narcissistic wound and start out with, "for instance, on 9/11, did you feel that somehow it was your fault?" I was stunned at how many said yes. So, in my experience, trauma that is sufficient to create DID, creates this feeling in survivors of somehow being the reason for all that is wrong with life. It's not a good feeling. I have a mental image of a cartoon character with that ever present dark cloud over his head.

When I say that it the sophisticated abuser's objective to destroy a child's psyche, I mean that from every conceivable angle. All survivors repeat after me: "It was not my fault! It was never my fault."

Oct 5, 2008

When memories begin

When a survivor begins to remember will be individual to that person. Some generalizations are known. An adult who began early life with DID will likely have no idea of the abuse until between ages 35 and 45. It is believed that there is an erosion of the amnestic barrier that goes with age that begins during that period of time. For some, memories may begin after the death of the abuser--when the mind finally deems it safe to remember.

Women who bear children may be triggered by the birth process or when their child becomes the age they were at the time of onset of abuse of a particularly traumatic incident. Along the same lines, any conscious life incident that closely parallels something that has been stored in amnesia, may trigger the first memory. An example might be witnessing a child on a bicycle fall over or be hit by a car. If any childhood trauma involving being thrown from a bicycle or pushed over while on a bicycle, might be sufficiently similar. It doesn't necessarily have to be something traumatic that happens in conscious life--just something with an element of abuse that might be ready to leak through to consciousness.

For me, it was imminent contact with my family. I had avoided visiting them for several years and had dreaded the next visit which was a family event I was expected to attend. As the event approached, I grew more and more apprehensive but knew I had to go. I purchased the airline tickets one day and the next day I had my first memory. I believe my memories stopped me from visiting the family and walking into a dangerous situation with my father.

There is no one reason memories begin. Even if someone is diagnosed as DID, memories will not begin until they are ready to begin. But working with alters and developing grounding, coping skills, and internal cooperation and communication can start with a qualified therapist. The many variables of each survivor healing make it as challenging as it is rewarding to work with survivors of trauma. We need so many more therapists to help our population of survivors. Many areas of the country are in dire need of qualified therapists. When memories begin, the survivor needs professional guidance. That would be part of the greater societal problem created by the propaganda machine who denies the abuse, denies the therapists to work with survivors, and denies the ability to have intensive therapy covered by insurance. It's one big web just lurking out there interwoven into every fabric of our societal being.

Oct 4, 2008

How it works (being aware of the dangers)

Several life shaking concepts surface in conjunctioin with memories leaking through. Being DID is one. Realizing you are DID because someone did horrible things to you for likely at least several years when you were very young is another whammy. My memories began with father abuse. The people in robes didn't come up until later and I knew it was my father and his friends...not demons, although one could argue they were. Then came memories for intentionally perpetrated harm for specific tasks.

Here's the cover within the cover. Memories of being in some kind of "ceremonial" group that are very similar to what was done to create the job(s) to be exploited are very similar. For example, one will be done to a child alter so that emotional hypertrauma shrouds another alter being trained to manipulate men through sexual ploy(s). In this scenario something like being raped by a "demon" might overshadow training for how to drug a "trick" and steal his money. Because it's all about the money. I want my share of whatever I earned. To pay for my years of therapy. To put in my retirement fund so I don't have to worry for having missed over five years of work healing from the harm. For the emotional harm and having my will zapped so decisions were never really my own.

You can see how there is an investment of time and training for each victim, initially in the form of a child with jobs that transition as the child ages into a teen and then into an adult. This explains the manpower to interfere with a healing adult. They try to ensure loyalty to the group along with terror of telling and terror of getting help because one person healing means a loss of money to the group.

What are likely to surface are messages to let someone specific know you are healing or to go to a specific location where someone knows how to reinstate the dissociation, delaying any chance of healing. I did not have the experience my two actively abused clients continue to have. If I was followed to therapy, I didn't see it or remember it, thank goodness. But I did have "I think I'll go away for the weekend and hole up in a hotel to pamper myself." Or, an overwhelming urge to call someone from my past to include a family member. This happens in one child, one pedophile situations as well, if the pedophile knew how to use dissociation.

The best tactic when healing begins is to have a safe person. Someone who can tell you if you are being logical. Don't respond to any "spontaneous" thoughts to take a trip, visit someone, call, email or write someone you don't typically contact. Try to not answer any phone calls. Let them go to the answering machine or voicemail first. Many times, cues for alters to act are given over the phone. Because adults usually have full time jobs, their dissociated "job" would have been done at night.

Remember the unbelievability factor. You go to bed. The phone rings. You might answer the phone but an unhealed dissociated alter could respond to the cue which could be words, a sound (like a tone), both, or something else entirely. All you will remember is having a good night's sleep. *You* will be back in bed before the alarm goes off and be clueless as to any other activity. That's how life has been unless you were able to somehow disconnect through other conscious life events. Regardless, those messages surface when you heal if they were ingrained into your psyche during the trauma years.

Hopefully a survivor will be in therapy and work through these urges to call or visit to help the alters with those jobs to heal. Once the alter heals and no longer responds, the survivor heals from that particular cue. Who knows how many are inside with different jobs and cues. That will be different for each survivor. Just know it can be undone. Being very aware of the thoughts that spontaneously come up and grow into nagging, overwhelming thoughts is helpful.

You may have a few slip ups and might, for instance, send email to people thinking that "so and so should know"; but no harm is done (aside from being freaked out when you realize what you've done). The harm comes when an email is returned with a highly triggering phrase that may not click as a the source of feeling exceptionally sick or being overwhelmed with a desire to vacation in Tahiti or whatever comes up. It's following through on delivering yourself to a person or location that is dangerous. They never came to drag me away. They counted on my ingrained messages to work. They counted on a cued adult alter to drive the body to them.

If in doubt, don't do it. Have someone trustworthy in your life do reality checks for you regarding trips or visits. Even conferences or seminars in your conscious life might be used as opportunities for dissociated jobs or, once healing begins, being drawn back into that world. Having someone accompany you to stay overnight to make sure you don't go wandering out after bedtime and to answer phone calls is strongly recommended. I guess that's as thorough as I can be for this format. Safety first.

Oct 3, 2008

"Waking up"

Sometimes a single pedophile with knowledge of DID can create messages within alters for when the child begins to heal, whether in childhood or much later in adulthood. Those in the early stages of healing need to understand certain messages that might be dangerous.

Here is one of the unbelievability factors of this sophisticated abuse. An alter or even group of alters can hold messages that do not "trigger" or come to consciousness until a certain date or time or event. The big event is beginning to remember. Not only do many messages of fear of being killed come up, often very strong messages of self harm surface. Pedophiles do not want their victims remembering.

If the survivor lives beyond those initial self destruction messages, there may be "back up" messages. Aside from self-destruction, the perp, if still alive, will want to know their former (or possibly still current) victim has begun to remember. When healing becomes known, the survivor may feel overwhelmed with family trying to invalidate memories, malign any therapy, encouraging the adult child to move back home "to heal", etc. The danger in being around family if any family member comes up in abuse memories is to maintain distance until more of the life unremembered reveals itself. Trust your gut if you sense fear about being around anyone who has been in your life until further along in healing.

The complexity of this issue is difficult to address briefly. Suffice it to say, survivors have many obstacles to overcome just to be able to focus on healing from the abuse as opposed to preventing the self from responding to subconscious cues. Cues and triggers can come from inside as well as outside. However, it has been my experience that alters believe their job is to help the host. Somehow the perp will have convinced the alter that the job is helping. A quick example: One alter may hold a very strong message of suicide at the time of remembering. The "logic" would be that the suicide protects the host from even greater harm believed will be inflicted on the host for remembering. Most alters in the system of a person abused by a sophisticated pedophile will have a job. While it may feel differently in early healing, there are no bad alters--only alters with yucky jobs. All have the capacity to heal.

I do not believe all parts of a system are impacted. Some survivors have protectors who do not hold the trauma but know of the trauma and can indeed help from within. Some in the psychological community disagree that any alter can escape the impact of the trauma. I must take exception. My experience was several protectors who "knew/know everything" and were witnesses but not participants in the trauma. Other survivors have had this experience as well. I learned quickly to trust that knowledge to include guiding what I needed to remember and when. For me, that was the foundation of my waking up to my subconscious world. This is an area that is likely different for each individual.

Other kinds of messages need to be reviewed for the safety of survivors especially during early awareness and healing.


Oct 2, 2008

Handling the anger, rage, and depression

An important lesson I learned in my pre-memory therapy was depression can be anger inside out. I was depressed but didn't feel angry. I didn't realize I didn't know anger except as a really scary explosion. So I tended not to allow it out (which really just made it worse). For me, an explosion was screaming and crying and possibly tossing some object I later regretted. Likely most, if not all, female survivors, fear their anger. We learn it's not okay to fight or be angry. We're supposed to be submissive and obey. Male survivors may be taught to be aggressive but may just as easily be taught to be submissive and compliant. There are so many dynamics of abuse and gender of abuser(s). What happens in the person's conscious life could go either way. The "real" person may be a very gentle and caring soul. Remembering does not change that basic nature.

Safe anger is expressing verbally with "I" statements instead of blaming words. I feel angry because... No destruction of property unless planned as part of the safe anger release. No hurting anyone. Punching pillows is always a good suggestion. I personally needed more than that. Getting a punching bag is great for feeling a good sense of resistance and it wears you out faster. Whatever you choose to do will be right for you. Just make it safe. If you've never done this before and are in therapy, it's a good place to plan what you would like to do. Some anger work can be done in the therapist's office.

It's not uncommon for survivors to be so fearful of working with any alter holding rage. The fear is that rage will take over and somehow the survivor will be lost and/or harm will be done to others. While it may not be true for all, I worked with several survivors who were extremely fearful of their rage/anger parts. When "anger" or "rage" comes out to speak to the therapist, that's an excellent sign of wanting to heal. Typically the anger parts don't like their jobs. At the very least, when anger establishes a dialog with the therapist, the part is usually surprised by the welcome and an invitation to return. I've witnessed some amazing healing scenarios of anger within another's system. Those horrid fears of the host did not come to fruition.

Often anger is lonely and sad because the others fear him or her. Acceptance and being heard go a long way. This can also be facilitated by the therapist. Anger/rage is a response to having been hurt. Anger is a protector. Huge energy goes with that part. If that can be viewed as a ball of healing energy temporarily trapped, maybe anger won't seem so powerful. Anger does need a positive safe outlet though.

It's not unusual for expressing anger to peak and turn into a really good cry. Often there is a fear that if a survivor cries, it won't stop. It may feel like a long time, but that is a huge release of tension and anger and hurt that your body needs. Thank anger after the exercise. You may find littles connected to the big scary anger which helps to embrace that part as well. Possibly this won't happen until each survivor, in healing, makes that depression/anger connection.

For people reading who are not survivors, years of abuse at the hands of one or more abusers cannot help but create overwhelming emotions and a painful healing journey.

Oct 1, 2008

Anniversary memories & holidays

When I was first told some memories could occur on the day they originated regardless of how many years ago it was, my response was "bull sh*t". At least that was my position until I had THE most horrid combination of flashbacks and memories on November 1, two months after I began to remember. Initially the date had no meaning to me. When I realized the memory went with Halloween, I went a little nuts realizing I'd just had an anniversary memory.

I've stated before how holidays are not fun for survivors. Sophisticated pedophiles, if they have access to the child on holidays, will make it a day of horror. Halloween and Christmas are the worst once healing begins because of stores starting to put out the elements that go with the holiday far in advance.

Trappings such as masks and costumes (what children typically enjoy about Halloween) if present when trauma was instilled will be a trigger when memories begin. In healing, the objective for survivors is to create new memories.

What happened to us sucked. Children born into that world don't have a chance. Even if the child is rescued in childhood, there are likely to be triggers well into adulthood, especially where relationships and intimacy are concerned. Friends and safe family of survivors need to know that special care might be appropriate regarding some traditions. The best way to find out is to ask the survivor his or her preferences. And survivors can convey their preferences if something feels too uncomfortable in the environment. Self care and safety are key when abuse is tied to days where others are celebratory, especially when the environment is a constant reminder.

Changing the worldview

Not all survivors with DID have been exposed to this particular underworld. Many are, however, and I wanted to share it on this blogsite even if it doesn't fit in with the plan to progress each post into a new layer of understanding DID, the survivors, and the healing process. This message is especially for those with no understanding or even knowledge of dissociation or DID to comprehend the greater sickness of society's pedophiles.