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 28, 2010

October Surprise

Once again synchronicity has led me to an answer...a body memory mystery I recall having since my 20s. However, in my 20s, I was completely dissociative in that insiders were trained to keep me from noticing too much of anything.

I believe I've shared about my body memory of cigarette burns in my genital area which I've tried to resolve many times in therapy because of the pain. The burns came up first as a slightly sore bump and rapidly spread from bump into the form of many tiny bumps with fiery burning for 24-48 hours.

Several years ago I became aware that prior to cigarette burns appearing, my right groin and down into my right upper thigh become sore. If men are reading this, excuse the body references. Initially it would feel like undies were too tight and I'd tug at the elastic that hit the groin area on the right. Or I assumed my jeans were cutting into me. Possibly in my 30s but definitely by my 40s, I stopped wearing jeans believing they were causing the problem. Apparently I dissociated any blisters or burning.

After memories began in my mid-40s, I was very aware of the blisters but didn't connect them to cigarette burns until later in my healing. I came to know it as a short-lived painful time. I knew the burns were a part of very early abuse...something that would traumatize a baby who only knew sounds and sensations.

The burns have become quite infrequent. Am not recalling the last time but possibly once in the past year. Last night I was tugging at my undies thinking not all the detergent had washed out in the laundry (a common first thought). By bed time, I was commando and even my numbing cream for my painful surgery scars didn't work.

Back up to yesterday when I participated in a discussion on Copperstrings about communicating with body parts in pain or bothersome. Ask it would it would like to say. This was a very effective technique when I was a therapist. People would blurt out the most amazing answers where they suddenly understood what their specific pain related to. I don't recall ever having done that for myself. I have a part (wisdom of the body) who I've come to rely on to tell me. But this groin pain is such a mystery.

Logically I imagined the upper thigh and groin pain was someone who held my leg tightly while another burned with a cigarette likely repeating "messages" that would become part of the belief system they were building for me.

One more piece of the puzzle is my discovery of a butterfly shape seared into my labia. It was not a tattoo. It was branding with a branding iron. Possibly my left leg was immobilized while someone pulled my right leg roughly to the side wide enough to allow for the branding.

In conjunction with the groin pain that arose last night, my right jaw bone (joint?) has been very sore. Pressure to keep me silent during the branding?

This morning I woke up with a very wide area of my right inner thigh too sore to touch. Am sure the date plays a role because I have terrifying memory of my first Halloween. I would have been 11 months old. While placing special cream on the sore area earlier, I recalled what I wrote yesterday and asked my thigh what it wanted to say. "Get that iron away from me!"

The long sought after answer. At 11 months of age, that butterfly was made a part of my being. A symbol to others I was officially part of the government program. Perhaps the cigarette burns were reminders of that pain and additions to the message that I belonged to them.

So many puzzle pieces here. Many years of questions and painful days. Am praying this one time this traditionally precursor pain to the blisters is all I need to know. I have my answer to when and how that tattoo came to be placed on me.

Validation is a bitch.

Oct 18, 2010

The Experts on DID have not had DID

When I first began to read about DID, rather voraciously, I read The Family Inside followed by Beyond Integration, both by the same authors. In other books I read, "integration" appeared to be the end of DID. The person becomes singular with one mind, one self. That may be the case with some. All victims with DID have had horrific childhoods. The variable is the intensity and consistency of the abuse once the child's mind fragments, in my perspective.

When I integrated in Nov 2002, I thought that was it. But it wasn't. It gave me a new stronger self to deal with the next level of healing...deeper trauma. The integration itself was a rather spectacular internal event. No doubt in my mind that is what had happened.

I was a year into grad school when the first integration happened which probably helped me absorb much more of my classes. (I graduated with a 4.0 gpa.) In November 2003, a month prior to my graduation, I experienced a second integration. I did feel stronger, more confident, ready to be a therapist and began that career full time in January 2004.

I had very few new issues and only saw my therapist once a month, mostly to process client issues I was not releasing as effectively as I needed to. I recall not being able to "go inside". I believed it was made necessary for me to stay "out" to keep me from returning to that place of dissociation inside. I had friends and a social life. I was happy.

I've discussed this before here and/or on Facebook, but also had a new insight into the events. In 2007 I encountered several scary body issues along with a female "specialist" who I believed was the best person at the time. She performed three surgeries on me, all of which caused harm to my body, although that was not known until after the third surgery and getting myself into the hands of highly qualified specialists.

After two more surgeries to fix the first surgeon's mistakes and to get me back to health and physical therapy which thankfully allowed me not to have a third corrective surgery, I was a physical and emotional mess. I realized in retrospect that my mind viewed the medical experience as trauma and placed "distance" between me and my feelings until much later. I had PTSD to the first surgeon's name (heard on radio and seen/heard on television and billboards).

That new trauma created several littles but also opened me up to old traumas that had newly surfaced. Work that needed to be done for ongoing healing but was okay to put on hold while I was a therapist. For nearly a year I had hoped I would return to work. Finally I realized I could not return because of the fragility of my own emotional state.

This blog which began as therapist me educating others about DID has now transitioned into knowledge learned becoming and being a therapist along with another phase of my healing journey from DID. For the past year or so, I've been going through what I knew was "fusion" from my insiders but I'm not done yet.

Some books on DID speak of a fusion process in addition to integration while other books use the terms interchangeably. On Facebook, I've been part of discussions by many with trauma backgrounds including DID. I need that again as one still healing. Those on the far side of healing (beyond integration?) believe it may be a lifelong process of always having some vestiges of the abuse. None of us really knows.

Even when I felt healed as a therapist, I could still hear my inner wisdom and sometimes protectors when I was in fearful situations. But all people have ego states...different states of being at different times. It felt normal to me. Now I know there are at least a few left who apparently are trying to merge so that *I* am part of the healed being.

Whatever you think might happen to be healed or whatever term you use for it I believe is individual. I don't think it's fair to label an ending when few have reached a point of having no more issues. Recently several readers of this blog expressed shock that I claimed to be integrated but was still dealing with DID. That is the case for me and the experts don't always know the answers, especially if they haven't been through it themselves. I can see where some may have claimed clients were healed after integration. Perhaps they didn't have a client who experienced a new trauma post integration.

This blog is my sharing so others can connect or not. My goal is only that some are helped by my knowledge and healing which goes along with struggling. I am not the competent trauma therapist at the moment. I could be a competent trainer of therapists who would like to work with dissociation. That would not engage the emotions as a client going through the same issues as me would. Part of being a good therapist is knowing my limitations.

Thanks to those who have been taking this journey with me.

Oct 17, 2010

Healing Body Work

Often I see or *hear* a cringe when I mention various work I've had over the years that I believe have been an integral part of my overall healing. One of my recommended resources is The Body Remembers which explains how the body stores trauma memories just as the mind does.

More and more somatic (body) therapies are being used to help heal trauma including PTSD in war veterans. I had the privilege of attending a workshop by Pat Ogden who is one of the leaders in the field.  She coaches the client to move the body (on their own) to release where the body feels locked or tight or sore.

Peter A. Levine's book Waking the Tiger addresses the need for humans to "shake off" (engage the body in releasing trauma) much the way animals do in the wild to survive.

Ogden and Levine's methods are client initiated and do not involve touching on the part of the therapist except possibly as a target or to provide resistance for pushing.

Where the greatest resistance seems to be is in massage...another person touching the body. I know through my own massage therapist there are techniques such an Indian Head Massage where the client is fully clothed and sits in a chair. It could be a gentle way to become familiar with the healing benefits of massage.

I don't know why I had no aversion to massage. I used to have some relaxation massage before known trauma. Perhaps that is why. Throughout healing, I've had Reiki, a bit of acupuncture, deep tissue work, hot stone massage, cranial sacral massage, and today I was introduced to a technique called cupping.

I learned of cranial sacral through another survivor in the late 90s. The masseuse must have special training. It sounds like it is only the head but it encompasses the whole body. Cranial sacral fluid flows throughout the body and the therapist feels for blockages and uses a light touch around those areas for release. I always felt better afterwards but it didn't have the feel of the deep tissue or hot rock which I like...a harder touch that feels like it's really getting to the tight muscles.

It's been a long time since I've had so many knots in my head and neck and upper back, which I thought related solely to my two week cold. Internally I sensed there might be tension and should have some work done. I just needed from shoulders up worked on but I love the warmed massage table. A masseuse will work with your comfort level so you just need to communicate where you are uncomfortable with touches and/or be able to ask the person to stop if something feels uncomfortable.

The cupping was a gentle suction sensation created by cups (adapted to area of body being worked on) attached to a machine. Very comfortable. It released tension through suction instead of compression.

You can also do your own body work to some extent, especially hand and foot massage. Those appendages carry nerves to every area of the body. So if you work out a hard knot between your toes, for example, it may well be alleviating a headache. Charts are online if you want to know what is what. I just tend to feel around and massage sore spots.

I also have a massager that can reach behind me to get behind my shoulders and slightly under shoulder blades where tension can hide for a long time. A Shiatsu pillow is my favorite for lower or mid back pain.

I encourage all the listen to their bodies. For those with DID, you probably know that alters can "live" in different parts of the body. I used to have parts sometimes heal as they were released from the knot they were in. If you haven't tried body work as a healing modality, maybe it's worth looking into.

Oct 7, 2010

My Depression Reality

I was born depressed. Kids weren't seen as having depression in the 50s and 60s. But I had the "I wish I would die cuz I'm so tired" thought at least since high school. Some of this I've shared before but feel the need to write again now. As an adult, before I knew I had DID, I had tried numerous antidepressants, none of which I could tolerate. Post DID diagnosis I know my total was at least 20 antidepressants that weren't tolerable so I healed as far as grad school and into full-time therapist without antidepressants. I had been taking Klonipin to help me sleep for quite a few years and still am.

Early 2005 I came to realize how down I was when my friends kept asking if I was excited about my trip to Italy in May and realized I really wasn't. I wanted to be. Then in February I woke up one day in tears and couldn't stop crying. Emergency call to my therapist. I had to be able to work. I couldn't let depression stop me from my career. By then Cymbalta was on the market and made to address both depression and PTSD. It worked. The tears stopped the next day. By April I was genuinely happy and felt I no longer had the default "I want to die" message. Life was wonderful.

I'd been on only a very small dosage of Cymbalta that changed my life. And all was well until a year after all the pelvic surgeries and hospitalizations. My depression had increased beyond where I could function. Cymbalta was bumped to where it made a difference...30 mg to 120 mg (max dose). Was feeling better...not crying every day.

When my body issues had impacted so much of my being, I fell even further. Since then it has been a battle to find an adjunct happy pill. I was feeling better on Wellbutrin but developed a tremor from it. Am now working on another and it is just not making a difference.

I know all the coping skills for depression but I get to a "why bother" point and really just wish I'd magically die quietly overnight or magically no longer need a drug induced state of well being. This is long term effects of trauma. Every day of my life.

I had most of 2005 and 2006 as a happy person. Not just "not depressed" but at a level I never imagined because I'd never experienced it before. I want to be that person again for me and for BB. He doesn't deserve a lump for a partner. I have my sense of humor even when I'm depressed which is a sort of coping skill.

Recent efforts to be heard as an advocate in changing strategies to target pedophiles has also begun to feel futile. Do I still have a life if I'm not making a difference in the world? Not sure where that message comes from but it's been around for a long time too.

An expert on helping others with their depression and giving up on my own. There has to be a middle ground. Where's my Soylent Green peaceful death?

Oct 6, 2010

From Collage to Clarity

In many of my early handmade collages, I had images of people on bicycles with walkie talkies. Sometimes people on bicycles surrounded the alter in the collage. I never "got" it.

Possibly earlier in this blog, when I was still a full-time therapist, I posted about my bicycle experience. One of my RA/MC clients came with her own perps surrounding my office minutes before her appointment time. She would tell me about being followed and the man on the bicycle. Initially I believed it was paranoia which is justified for those with DID going to a therapist where they might tell the truth or discover their truth along with abuser identities.

One day I decided to meet her on the walk outside the office a few minutes before appointment time. The bicycle nearly ran me down and I came to know the vehicles that followed her. They were also there when she left and followed her route. I took pictures. Her bicycle man also became my bicycle stalker. Armed with cell phone (updated technology from when I was younger), this biker would manage to fly out of side streets just as I was rounding a corner on my way to work.

There were times when he flew across the road in front of me when I just went out for lunch or a spontaneous errand. They always knew where I was so it had to be a joint effort. When I tried to report harrassment by a man on a bicycle I became extremely aware of the police reaction. Just cycling by at "coincidental" times was not a crime. I was told macing the guy as he whizzed by was not allowed.

Fastforward several years when I am no longer a therapist and rarely go anywhere except to doctor appointments. It's been awhile but I was followed yesterday from near my home to the therapist's office (at least a 1/2 hour drive) by someone in a truck. But it began from the roads near my townhome with a bicycle person talking on his cell who did target my car.

I pretended to ignore all but it is nerve wracking. I've been more vocal online. It's a message they still monitor my activities. In spite of having made the decision to live my life in spite of them, it's a lot of emotional play to keep it together.

The reason for this sharing is that, throughout my pre-therapist life, I was never aware of being followed. Guess most of my surroundings were always foggy. But my alters saw and made it very clear in the collages. The abusers did it before cell phone technology and they are still doing it now. Because who is going to believe, in this day and age, a stalker would use a bicycle? It's because it's unbelievable and everything "they" do is intentionally unbelievable. They live in that invisible world.

Oct 4, 2010

That moment of gritty reality

Yesterday I attended an online interview to hear Darlene Ouimet, author of Emerging from Broken, speak of her healing from DID. Listening to her brought up several key moments in my healing life. Darlene spoke of digging down to the bottom of the crud that had built up over the years and beginning anew with a smooth, supportive surface. I liked the analogy, but it also snapped me back to my moment of dreadful reality.

Coming out of an invisible shield of amnesia leaves one feeling lost. Believing one has been a multiple is part of the same timing, or was for me. OMG I'm a multiple; OMG I've had amnesia for most of my life! I came to grips with being a multiple rather quickly and had support to learn some immediate coping skills.

Memories went quickly from f*ther abuse to f*ther in a graveyard with others. Research about ritual abuse led to information on government abuse. I had no memories yet but had also completed probably 100 collages by then showing much government imagery.  Just curious. Joined a list sharing internet info about government programs. One day I opened an email that described an "arm" of MK-Ultra that explained every collage and memory I'd had to date.

That was my moment. A sickening dread that what I hoped could not possibly be true was true. Even if there was some propaganda in what I read, the main details went with me. Complete devastation, collapsed to the ground, sobbing that I had no idea who I was or what life I had lived. The realization that my conscious memory was only a tiny part of my entire life.

In addition, a tsunami of fear swept over me taking me to edge of paranoia that someone was going to kill me because I was remembering.

Many have come forward in the last decade and here we are holding each other's hands because few others dare look at the facts behind our reality. I've come to grips with that more or less. I'm here. I'm considerably healed. I feel blessed to have had the help from good therapists and friends and a safe new family to overcome what happened to me.

Thank you, Darlene. We made it. We survived. We won by surviving. We will have to be our own cheering section until others join in our knowledge of government corruption. Oh how I wished Barack Obama would become president and not be snowed by insiders. That maybe it would stop. There's still hope, I guess.