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 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.


Anonymous said...

Reading this helped make sense of something my therapist apparently has been trying. She said something about creating "rooms" and some "organizer part" getting various other "parts" into appropriate "safe places". Seems like a great idea, but is this something that can really happen as fast as she can say it? She seemed to think that's all she had to do was describe it and BOOM it would be. I was really trying to follow her but ended up just feeling dizzy, confused and frustrated. Am I just slow? :(

Grace said...

No, you aren't slow. It does sound like your therapist has the right idea but is not doing it in a way you can easily grasp to have the transformations happen in your mind. It's also possible that something inside is preventing you from establishing a safe place (because you described the dizziness).

Several guided imagery books have scripts for creating a safe internal place. Maybe your t can find one with clear language for you. You create the internal space in response to very general guidance. Today's post speaks of guided imagery CDs. Belleruth Naparstek has a lovely Safe Place one for the main safe place environment. The rooms can be added later...and after internal resistance is addressed.

One other consideration is some people are not visual--do not see as clearly inside as others. A way around that is to draw or cut pictures out of home magazines and create your safe place that way with whatever external environment is soothing to you. Hope this helps!