May 13, 2012
Mother’s Day 2012.
It’s Mother’s Day.
A difficult topic.
A difficult day.
Often a day of loss and grieving.
A day that many dissociative survivors don’t want to think about.
If only…. If only, if only…..
I’ve been thinking about these things all week, knowing I would / should write something about mothers. Hmmmmm…. I wasn’t sure which angle to talk about….
Then I thought about something that has been happening around here each day.
I’ve been watching some birds again. For several weeks now, I’ve been able to see a very dedicated momma lark and a equally dedicated daddy lark tenderly care for their little three baby birds. This little bird family has sparked great interest, curiosity, and hours of entertainment.
This little fearthery family tucked their home deep within some very leafy trees across the street from me. I just had to go over there to see if I could find it! Their nest, not at all visible unless you meander directly under their tree with the grouping of many of trees, was cleverly built where it stayed the most protected from the cold blowing winds, where it would stay dry during the drenching rain storms, and where it would stay shaded from the heat of the day. I was impressed! The little babies, while having to brave the uncomfortable changes in weather, were clearly as protected as little birdie babies could be. Well done, momma bird!
To my delight, I have been able to see and admire their very busy lives. All day long, the parent birds have been flying all over the neighborhood, searching for food to bring back to their babies. All day long, the baby birds have been running around in the grass, chasing their parents around, looking for tasty treats to eat. And when I say all day long, I literally mean, all day long. From sun up to sun down, someone in this little lark family was searching for food for the babies.
And noisy! These young babies are loud little sqawkers! I was just sure all that racket was coming from a big ol’ crow, or some other big bird, but when I paid closer attention, to my complete surprise, that noise was coming from those little baby birds. My goodness! Noisy little flappers! They are the loudest larks I’ve ever heard!
For the longest time, the baby birds just ran around like little speedy zingers in the grass – ding ding ding ding zing zing zing – running really fast, but just running. Last week, I saw them actually fly up towards their favorite trees. That was exciting. The babies could fly!
I could still see the momma and the daddy bird fly back and forth, searching for food for their babies, delivering it back to them. Once I realized the lark parents were feeding a family, I started leaving more food out for them. I love my maggies, of course, but now I tried, in particular, to be sure the Larks had food to take to their babies any time they happened to show up on my front door.
These birds were smart. If I tossed out a piece of cheese to the momma, she would immediately pick it up, grab it in her beak however she could, fly across the street to the babies, and disperse it to her little ones from there. Then she would fly right back to my side of the street – to the exact same spot where she got her cheese – and wait there for me to toss another one down. And the routine continued. It seems like hundreds of hunks of cheese have been flown over my street. Along with bits of bread, little tiny pieces of meat, and whatever seeds she selected from the bird seed pile. Clever momma!
Feeding these babies has been a lot of work! Their momma has been so dedicated to them. She hasn’t rested one little bit.
Then another milestone happened. This past week, the little baby birds were actually allowed to fly across the street too! Momma and Daddy Lark have been trying to show the babies where to find their own food, Instead of feeding them beak to beak, they have been encouraging the babies to pick the food up from the ground themselves.
You would think this would be an obvious thing for the babies to figure out. But no. Not at all. Those three silly baby birds still run around behind their momma just squawking and screeching, wanting their momma to beak-feed them. Bless her heart. She’s showing them how to pick up their food. She knows they need to learn these skills for their survival. They can’t live on home-delivery forever!
On top of that, Momma Lark had to show her babies how to find their food, how to keep their food, and how to eat it safely away from the other birds that would fight them for that same exact bite of food.
I have to admit, my maggies have not been very nice to these little baby larks! My maggies are just sure they are the most important birds around here, and they are the only ones deserving of food from this house. They have not been very keen on sharing, that’s for sure! I have to make sure the maggies have plenty of food too (and they do, believe me!). The timing of feeding the little lark babies is becoming a fine art.
And those huge crows! They are the worst. They’ll steal food from anyone, even chasing and terrorizing the small birds in the air, following them around and around through the trees until they steal the food right from their beaks, or until the smaller birds drop the food for the crows to pick up. Those mean crows. I don’t like them very much.
Momma Lark has a lot to teach her little ones. It’s been tense, and scary on several occasions. Those little babies were clearly going to have to learn how to fight for their own survival. After several days of these “how to safely pick up your own food with your own beak” lessons, I think maybe, just maybe, a few of them are starting to catch on. Slowly.
Momma Lark must be exhausted by now!
Her work isn’t yet done with these young larks, but she’s well on her way. It’s been truly impressive to see.
The phrase “ A mother’s work is never done” came to mind.
And again, I had to think of my own mother. And the many years of “momma work” she has whole-heartedly given to me, including this year as well. I’ll save the details of that story for another time, but I do have to mention her with my deepest respect. The same goes for my momma-in-law. She’s been an absolute gem to me (and my family) for years and years. These two women have dedicatedly worked from their hearts for their families as hard as any Momma Lark ever has. They are incredible women. Beautiful souls. Tough as nails, but gentle as feathers. I can and do learn a lot from them.
I wish all mothers were as dedicated and hard-working as the Momma Lark I have been watching. The world would truly be a better place if we all had that kind of nurturing and protection throughout our lives.
Ever heard the phrase “as happy as a lark”? Maybe this is why.
To the Momma Larks of the world – I thank you.
Copyright © 2008-2012 Kathy Broady and Discussing Dissociation
January 29, 2012
*** This is a difficult post and it is meant for your older parts. Please note — it could be triggering to many within your system. Please check this article with your internal leaders before letting your littles or sensitive ones read any further. Thanks, Kathy. ***
Recently, I witnessed a fight between some wild animals that was particularly upsetting to see. There is no need to go into great detail about the actual situation. I can speak about it in sweeping statements and you will get more than enough picture of the situation from there.
The long and the short of it was that a rather large group of critters (yes, they were birds) were picking on one particular bird to the point that it appeared that it could be a fatal situation for the one very unfortunate bird. Talk about outnumbered! It was just really really not ok to hear or see. It was particularly disturbing and very upsetting.
At first I wondered about what to do – somewhat fearing for my own safety if I got involved – but I really was not comfortable not interrupting the attack in some way, somehow. I hesitated for a brief while, knowing that Mother Nature and wild animals do what they do and wondering if maybe I should just respect that. But I could hear it and I could see it, and I just couldn’t not do anything. It was just too upsetting to not act somehow.
So I darted across the street, running in the direction of the mob of birds. I didn’t know what I would do when I got there, I just knew I had to do something.
Lucky for me, my running at them was more than enough to disturb the birds and interrupt their horrible attack. All the birds, including the one being picked on, flew away and left the area in a big hurry.
I mean really, thank goodness.
I was so relieved that the ordeal was at least over for that moment. I knew the group of birds could attack the injured bird again, another time, and in another place, but I was so very thankful that it had at least been stopped at that time. I could at least hope that I had stopped it completely.
There was no way of me knowing how injured the victim bird was since he flew off and away when everyone else did. I can only hope that I interfered quickly enough that he didn’t get very badly hurt.
I’ve been watching for an injured bird, but I haven’t seen one. I don’t know if that is good news or not. And I don’t know what injured birds do when they are hurt, so I don’t know if I would see one or not. I don’t know whether to be relieved, or whether to worry more. I just don’t have the answers to this situation.
But boy, oh boy, was this an emotional situation for me. I found the whole experience to be incredibly upsetting. I was tearful. I was afraid. I was worried. I was brave. I had all kinds of emotions going on throughout the whole day.
And again, the parallels of this situation to the lives of dissociative trauma survivors are many and layered.
First of all, I think that nearly every DID survivor that I have spoken to has told me of horrific situations where they were the one targeted victim being attacked by a group of perpetrators. Even if there was only one main perpetrator, there were other people around, watching and / or supporting the perpetrator and not helping the person being hurt.
This is just soooooo not ok.
It is just so wrong for groups of anyone to gang up against one person, purposefully hurting them, doing terrible things to them.
It can be just as wrong for anyone to witness such crimes and to not step in and help the person(s) being hurt. Granted, this is very much a gray area since there are a number of complicated factors involved when it comes to interrupting and stopping violence. At this point, my comments are directed specifically towards those who really could have the ability to stop or interfere with the abuse, and simply choose not to.
I can’t even come up with enough words to describe how wrong these things are.
I couldn’t tolerate watching a bird being injured. How on earth do perpetrators tolerate watching a person getting hurt, especially a little person?
I just don’t understand that.
Not one tiny bit do I understand that.
*** Please note – in these comments, I am not referring to the situations where someone is forced to perpetrate when they don’t want to. There is a kind of victimization / abuse where dominant perpetrator abusers force others in a less powerful position to do abusive acts to others. I call this situation victimization by perpetration. Most DID survivors have experienced this situation too, and please know, that my comments today are not in reference to those very difficult and equally horrible situations. ***
I am talking about the abuser types that are truly sadistic and hurtful, completely by choice. I’m referring to situations where the perpetrator does not have to hurt anyone, but they simply want to and choose to because they like it and enjoy it.
THAT is what I don’t understand.
What does it take in someone to be truly sadistic? How does this happen? How can those abusive violent people live with themselves? Where is their compassion? Why do they have no compassion or kindness?
I know there are intellectual answers to those questions, but my thoughts are based on more of an emotional and spiritual level.
I just don’t get it.
Copyright © 2008-2012 Kathy Broady and Discussing Dissociation
January 26, 2012
Recently, my magpie visitors set a new record high for the size of the group gathering at my balcony waiting for treats.
At one single point in time, I had 18 pies there surrounding me, all squawking and squawling and calling and cheeping and chirping and whistling and warbling and garbling and gawking and flapping and hopping, each hoping to be the next in line for the little bits of bologna I was handing out to them. Eighteen pies! That’s a lot of birds, and they were making a whopping lot of noise!
There had been a number of rainy days in a row, and while pies surely know how to survive in the roughest of weather, they were all looking very raggedy in their sopping wet feathers. Oh, they were a sad sight, all droopy, and soggy, and drippy. Some of the pies were trying to fluff up more than usual to keep the rain off them. Others couldn’t even muster their feathers up anymore. The days of rain must have worn them out.
I know I wouldn’t want to be living outside in a rainy rainy thunderstorm that lasted for days and days. I don’t know where pies go to sleep and rest, but I can’t imagine it being fun at all. It seems to me that bug-chasing in the rain would be difficult, and sludging through deep puddles of muddy water would be more suited for ducks than for pies.
Yes, my big group of pies were a sad sight. A big soggy, soppy, sad sight.
And they were hungry. Really hungry.
Most of the time, the pies will take turns nicely when it comes to treat time. There are the more aggressive front runners, of course, but for the most part, everyone gets a share, and it’s easy enough to make sure that the treats are spread out rather evenly between everyone.
It’s a totally different story when they are hungry.
And it’s even more challenging when there are 18 hungry birds all at the same time.
The claws come out, literally. The pies will fight each other to be first in line, or to get that specific bite of food that they had their eyes on.
Of course, if they could understand that there was enough food for everyone, and that they didn’t need to fight to get their turn, it could have all happened peacefully. But these so-called wild birds didn’t understand that. They were still fighting out of their natural instincts.
The pretty little gray timid pie stayed in the background. She’s smaller and younger than the others, a newcomer to the group. She’s noticeably different in coloring from all the others, and the rest of the pies dominate her for the most part. She didn’t fight anyone for anything, and she would not have gotten a single bite of bologna had I not specifically made sure to directly give some to her. Even then, I had to take time to convince her that it was ok for her to have it. Then, after all that, I believe a more aggressive bird swooped in grabbing and snatching the pieces that fell to the ground, not even allowing little gray pie to finish her own serving.
Some of the more trusting-of-me pies would run up near to my feet, separating themselves from the crowd, willing to get as close to me as possible to ensure they would get hand-fed away from the others. That was the easiest way to make sure of getting something to munch on.
Some of the pies would charge in fast, demanding first dibs, and then fly away to enjoy their mini-feast in the privacy of some hidden corner of grass somewhere else.
Sometimes two or three pies would squabble over the same bite. These squabbles can become real fights where they are pulling each other’s feathers with their beaks, or digging their claws into the tummies of the other birds, pinning the unfortunate bird on its back. (Yikes! I sure don’t like that!) Sometimes they will click and snap their beaks at each other, making a loud scary noise, clearly meant to intimidate the other pie with a definite “Get back or I’ll poke you!” message. They will repeatedly screech and scream at each other, with their beaks open wide, making very loud protests and declarations of “Mine! Mine! Mine!”.
So much fighting!
It’s not like a tiding of wild birds will ever have to learn to get along with each other on a small balcony in one part of town. As these babies grow up, they will have to spread out into their own areas to live, and I assume, some of the birds I am pampering now will have to scoot on down the road to other areas. In nature, there is a very definite pecking order and lots and lots of space to move to. Maggies will argue and fight to survive, and to fight to claim their territory just like all wild animals have done for thousands of years. Survival of the fittest keeps the species alive and well.
And the tough times in life bring out the fighting responses.
But what about when the fighting occurs within a group that really does have to live together?
What happens when moving on down the road is not a legitimate option?
What about squabbles and fights within a dissociative system? For people with dissociative identity disorder, living with groups of people, and internal fights, and intense conflict is a common state of mind. There are ways to internally separate those that are fighting with each other, at least on a temporary basis, but really, everyone is always there. Until the conflicts are resolved peacefully, the fighting can continue to happen day after day.
That kind of ongoing conflict would be very difficult to live with. It would feel noisy, and stressful, and overwhelming. It could be scary for the more timid parts, and intense for the ones with extreme emotions. All too often, internal conflict leads to self-destructive behaviors.
Can you relate to that?
What do you do when your groups of insiders squabble?
How do you work out the conflicts and disagreements?
Do you know how to find ways to problem-solve by working the problem, instead of fighting each other?
Does your system take turns, sharing time and resources with each other?
Do your insiders help each other more than they hurt each other?
There are always going to be different opinions, and different perspectives, and opposing needs. There are going to be parts inside that are more aggressive than others. There will always be parts that are smaller, younger and quieter. Within the dissociative system, there will very often be many insiders that are still feeling wounded, hurt, distraught – insiders who need extra care, nurturing, and attention.
How do you tend to all the varying needs and wants without squabbling in ways that make the problems worse, instead of better?
Copyright © 2008-2012 Kathy Broady and Discussing Dissociation
January 10, 2012
I do have some short little stories I would like to share that are on the fun side.
Animals have always been very important to me, and for most years of my life, I have had a variety of pets – lots of cats, dogs, horses – and when I was little I had a pet raccoon called Petunia, a pet pig called Snorkie, and a pet calf called Grassyhopper. I would be writing for a very long time if I started through the list of critters that have been my best friends through all the years!
This year I made some brand new critter-buddies — I met a tiding of magpies. (Tiding… hmmm, that’s a very odd word. It reminds me of tidy, and believe me, magpies are not exactly tidy!!!) Magpies – to me – are a group of birds that are now affectionately known as Maggies, or Maggie Babies, or Baby Pies, or simply just “Pie”!!
I’ve not had much to do with birds prior to this year, so meeting and enjoying birds has been a fun, new adventure for me. My maggie babies have been a nice surprise. I didn’t know that birds had as much personality as they do!
Maggies look very similar to each other, and even though I have the incredible experience of having a close personal look at as many as 16 birds surrounding me within arm’s reach at a single time, it’s still hard to tell them apart. However, I have been able to distinguish a few of them from each other. Today, I want to introduce you to one of them – a small little maggie girl named Walks Inside.
Walks Inside distinguished herself by her willingness to walk right inside the balcony door. The other maggies stayed grouped together out on the balcony, singing their greetings from the sunny outdoors, but little Walks Inside preferred to walk right inside the house, having a little peek here and there all by herself. Her trusting nature seemed odd, but I welcomed her friendliness. She liked to eat her treats at least twice a day, she definitely preferred being hand-fed, and I fancied believing that she enjoyed the individual attention she got by visiting me all on her own.
One day, Walks Inside was walking different. Actually, she was limping, or more accurately, she was painfully hopping on one foot, barely walking at all. Somehow, somewhere, she had gotten her delicate left foot tangled and wrapped in loops and loops of fishing line. She clearly had been pulling and tugging and pulling and tugging at the unbreakable line with absolutely no success at freeing herself from its ever tightening hold. From a distance, I watched her peck and pull at the line, clearly confused and struggling.
The amount of looping line around her foot made this a very dangerous and life-threatening situation for little Walks Inside. She could have easily got the loops caught in trees or bushes or on any other jagged, hooking edge. If that happened, she would be stuck there, like a small feathered prisoner, unable to fly away from danger unless she was found and assisted with regaining her freedom.
Once I became aware of this predicament, I watched especially closely for Walks Inside. Many times, everyday I looked to see her. I was worried for her and I wanted to make sure she was still ok.
My friend and I knew that something had to be done before Walks Inside got caught somewhere, or before she lost her foot, and before any other tragic end would come to her beautiful little self. We thought and thought, and finally made a plan.
It took several tries and re-thinking of our process for our plan to work. Since Walks Inside already knew how to make herself at home by walking right inside the house, I purposefully gave her treats to invite her even further and further inside the house. I wanted her to come inside far enough that we could gently shut the door behind her, and then work on plan B – somehow catching her so I could carefully remove the line from her foot.
Walks Inside had been happy to eat treats from my hand in the kitchen, but she really wasn’t so sure about those moving doors! She would quickly hop and fly away when the doors misbehaved to her disliking. Apparently, Walks Inside didn’t have any intentions of being a long-term houseguest!
But we knew we needed to catch her inside if we were going to be able to help her, so we tried again, and again.
Eventually we did it! Once she was inside, she tried to fly out a window, and my friend was able to catch her gently with a towel. We made sure she was sitting comfortably within her towel, and my friend held her in one place while I worked at freeing her little tiny leg from the layers of fishing line.
Little Walks Inside was amazingly calm during all this. I expected she would be fearful, and upset, and that she would try to fly away, but she did not show any of that. She sat calmly, snuggled in her towel, looked right at me, and acted like getting a pedicure (a birdie-cure? Or a pedi-claw?) was an everyday event for a bird.
The fishing line was truly wrapped and knotted and looped and layered all along her left leg. She was getting wounds already, and it was blaringly obvious that little Walks Inside would have never ever be able to tug the line off by herself.
It seemed like forever, but it probably took a solid 10-15 minutes to ever-so-carefully remove all the bits of the clear, nearly invisible fishing line tangled around all the claws of her feet and to pull it out of the wrinkled skin of her tiny little bird legs. Walks Inside was very patient. She seemed to know we were helping her and not bringing her harm.
Finally — success! All the bits of fishing line had dropped to the floor and her foot and leg were totally free and clear of any trouble. As quickly as possible, we took her back out to the balcony so she could fly off on her own and enjoy her newly reclaimed freedom.
I worried that the ordeal may have scared her so much that I wouldn’t see her again, but in less than 15 minutes, she was back on the balcony, saying hello again, happily snatching another treat from my hand. She was still limping with her sore foot, and holding it tucked up close to her tummy, but she was able to ever so gingerly stand on it with the toes of her foot stretched out properly instead of being all caught up in a tangled ball of fishing line.
Again I watched for her, and over the next few days, Walks Inside limped and favored her foot, but she was clearly getting better and better, and healing up well.
Now none of the maggie birds that visit me have a limp. The word of easy pickings for bird treats has apparently spread around the neighborhood and several of my pies have also learned to walk inside the house. It is fun, seeing a little community develop. I actually have quite a few maggie stories that I could share!
But what is the moral of this story for dissociative trauma survivors?
To me, it is a story of courage, and having a willingness to trust. It is a story of a brave little bird who risked letting someone very different from her help her with her wounds. It is a story of appreciation and gratitude because little Walks Inside came back again and again, bringing joy and happiness with each of her visits. It is a story of survival and a willingness to live, even when facing life-threatening situations. It is the story of how a tiny little bird can have such a beautiful impact on people’s lives.
We can learn a lot from maggies!
Copyright © 2008-2012 Kathy Broady and Discussing Dissociation