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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.

Dec 14, 2008

Diffusing harm alters

This is a technique my system already developed for me. I haven't seen it written as a technique anywhere. Will share trying to translate from both survivor/therapist perspective. I firmly believe this safe way of acting out harm programming saved my life...likely more than once. To engage in this technique, you must have acquired several coping skills and be comfortable with them. One is the ability to watch from the screening room a/k/a projection room.

Secondly, you must have protectors or caretaker alters who are strong and say they have the ability to do this. You can ask after you get all the details. If you don't have strong protectors, you can place protectors inside of you for this purpose. I tended to internalize television or movie characters who were strong and safe (to me). Some actors look kinda scary. I chose protectors who could handle me as a little...hugs were safe and telling me something was not okay was heeded (sorta). Loving discipline. But also able to handle adult who came out swinging or wanting to engage in harmful activities to self or others. You can use superheroes too.

Hopefully you have a main protector who will work with you on doing this because modifications might be needed for this to work in your system. My first cue to using what I called "The Halfway House" was feeling an urgency to SI or run away or go away or acquire something harmful. The purpose of the halfway house is to watch an alter act out his or her "programming" (trained job) in a safe manner.

I started out with the setting being my safe place. But I watched as a movie and "placed" the alter in the setting. Sometimes I didn't know which alter was causing the compulsions but she would show up when I did this technique. For me, I almost always had adult or little females, but occasionally had a young male alter.

These were the rules for the halfway house:
Only one alter in the halfway house at a time.
All necessary internal resources are available.
No matter what the alter does, s/he will be saved/rescued/live.
Once saved, the alter remains in protective care somewhere in the system where s/he can heal because she will have seen what was supposed to have happened to her/the body.

This may be triggering to some because of unhealed messages of SI. And if you are able to make this resource available, SI alters are welcome to come forward and ask to use it. Other times you may have to use it to be safe because you *know* something bad is supposed to happen.

This is a movie. You watch it as an adult which means littles are in a safe place unless there are littles who go with the alter to be in the halfway house. (By the way, you can call this place whatever you like.) I used to have an army of protectors initially...about eight because I could outsmart (at least temporarily) whatever safety measures were in place. I haven't used the halfway house in a very long time, thank goodness, although I used it briefly when Ellie was feeling so sad, wondering why she felt she needed to die and if she had a "plan".

In my internal world, I lived in a lovely mansion :-) My room had it's own bathroom which was always a source of concern for protectors. Because you know the kind of trouble we can get into in there! A protector was always assigned to keep guard over the bedroom and *me*. I was/am a different kind of child/adult as the inner adult. Thank goodness I've stopped acting out all that sh*t.

Whatever your set up is, have a separate contained room as part of the main safe place to begin with the halfway house. All protectors assigned to the halfway house will have their strategy which you don't need to know. You just need to watch to make sure you have time to follow through...when you are ready to go to bed at night, go inside and watch. Or take time for a nap but do this exercise instead. What you learn about the alter's ultimate objective may be upsetting to you so self care coping skills are also essential.

Ready? Let the protectors give you the "go ahead". You go into the movie screening room and sit back and watch as one of you takes up residence in the halfway house. Will give you an example. The movie starts and I can hear water running. A protector checks on the occupant and sees she is taking a shower which looks innocent enough. She confesses to wanting to cut so protector makes sure no razors are in shower area or in bathroom/bedroom at all. Alter becomes frustrated, angry, enraged and begins to scream and pound fists on glass shower wall. Protectors coaching her through anger but want her out of the glass enclosure to continue (safe anger). Sudden loud crashing of glass as alter throws herself through the glass landing on the floor cut and bleeding.

Immediate 911 call and protectors tending to her. She is fine at (internal) hospital. You and your system now know what was supposed to have happened--cut self any way possible with major damage. Now alter's messages can be healed. The lies about her having to die can be addressed.

Sometimes I've watched the alter sneak out of the house and take off in a car to go somewhere isolated. Magic works for the halfway house. For instance, if alter goes to jump off building, you can have Superman get to her. Or instantly there is fire department below who can catch her. Whatever you see happening, she will rescued and live. That's the rule.

A few internal techniques. Protectors knew how to anticipate escapist behaviors. GPS on car to track whereabouts. Cell phone with GPS if she finds GPS on car. There's always a one upmanship in strategy.

Feel free to ask questions. Have never attempted to put this into writing before. It should work for all as long as you have the strength and coping skills noted in the beginning. If not, and you are in therapy, maybe your therapist can help you through a similar scenario during a session. Wishing all of you a safe December.


Anonymous said...

Very amazing and useful information, Grace. When I had an SI problem, it was not for the purpose of inflicting harm, but only to control my state of consciousness. Still, it was harmful and I must admit that I was in too disorganized a state to have been able to put together any way to help myself like you did. Amazingly, all I needed was to have compassion for myself to put an end to the problem. I didn't have that, though. I was very lucky because my therapist had compassion for me when I did not. He conveyed this to me and I was able to feel it inside as my own because of him. I have it to keep forever now. It's mine. He gave it to me and no one can take it, not even he could if he wanted to. Any way that a person can find to treat themselves safely and with respect is good. It's nice when people can talk about the ways this can happen. What a good post, Grace. It is very generous of you to share this with others.

E. H.

Grace said...

With DID, there are many ways to approach an issue. Even well known techniques often have to be adapted to the individual. Sometimes techniques don't work at all for some people. Thank heavens for therapists who know how to work with situations from a place of compassion and sometimes creativity.

Vague said...

hmm.... interesting. actually is very similar to how.... hmm, to find words.... when we break some rules and/or hit some programming, we often see the consequences of it played out inside... well, those of us not directly involved *see* it, whereas someone inside that *is* directly involved is... involved, as tho it's happening to them in 3D... very real and scary... we have had so much.... how to say gently... punishment... played out ... we don't like it. n though it's similar in the way that most of us *see* it, there's no sense of control or safety. :(

Grace said...

Maybe you can make a few modifications so that you do feel in control and know there is a safe outcome??

Vague said...

we haven't learned how to modify anything yet

we have very little system control or understanding

we have no rooms or houses or toys or anything inside that we know of


Grace said...

Hi Vague,
Here is the link to the post on this blog for the first step in creating an internal safe place. Some can do it on their own. Do you have a therapist who can help you? This is worth a try regardless:

Vague said...

sorry, that link doesn't work...

is it this one?

Grace said...

Sorry, yes, that is the correct article. I had converted it into a tiny url. But maybe I did something wrong.