September 11, 2012
This beautiful story was sent to me via email. I didn’t write this story, but I thought it was so heart-warming that I would pass it along to the rest of you. I hope you like it as much as I do.
In 2003, police in Warwickshire , England , opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. The dog had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished, and had quite clearly been abused.
In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a female greyhound, to the Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, which is run by a man named Geoff Grewcock, and known as a haven for animals abandoned, orphaned, or otherwise in need.
Geoff and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved. They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.
Jasmine, however, had other ideas. No one quite remembers how it came about, but Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It would not matter if it were a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or, any other lost or hurting animal. Jasmine would just peer into the box or cage and, when and where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.
Geoff relates one of the early incidents. “We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the centre, and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them.”
“But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits. She takes all the stress out of them, and it helps them to not only feel close to her, but to settle into their new surroundings.. She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs, and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose.”
Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary’s resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, fifteen chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and fifteen rabbits – and one roe deer fawn. Tiny Bramble, eleven weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field. Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm, and then went into the full foster-mum role. Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the roe deer with affection, and makes sure nothing is matted.
“They are inseparable,” says Geoff. “Bramble walks between her legs, and they keep kissing each other. They walk together round the sanctuary. It’s a real treat to see them.”
Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life. When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely. She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse.
Pictured from the left are: “Toby”, a stray Lakeland dog; “Bramble”, orphaned roe deer; “Buster”, a stray Jack Russell; a dumped rabbit; “Sky”, an injured barn owl; and “Jasmine”, with a mother’s heart doing best what a caring mother would do…and such is the order of God’s Creation.
And, just in case you wondered, Snopes.com, ( found at: http://www.snopes.com/photos/animals/jasmine.asp )
has verified the truth of this wonderful story and the reality of these photographs which accompany the story.
So you can pass this story on, and maybe make someone else’s day to be just a little brighter!
I think the world needs more Jasmine’s!
Doesn’t she have just the most beautiful spirit?
We people have so much to learn …
I hope you enjoyed this story.
January 23, 2011
In case you were wondering why I haven’t made more posts recently, maybe these pictures will answer some of your questions….
It appears that little Miss Vera has other ideas about laptops!
I guess Miss Vera thinks laptops are comfortable!
We’ll see if she let’s me have time to type on it this week!
December 6, 2010
Hello to all the Readers of the Discussing Dissociation Blog –
Earlier this year, I set a personal goal of inviting at least 100,000 readers to this blog in the calendar year of 2010.
Thanks to each of you, the Discussing Dissociation Blog has surpassed that goal!!
I deeply appreciate each of you that have participated in this blog.
I appreciate the colors your have brought to this blog, and the depth you have added.
I appreciate the honesty and tenderness that each of you have shown in your comments.
I appreciate that you have openly shared your experiences in such a way that others can relate to what you’ve been through, and feel comforted in knowing that they are not alone.
I appreciate your kindness to me.
I appreciate your gentleness and support to each other.
I appreciate the courage that you have each shown in taking such a stand against the violence and ugliness in the world. You are each making the world a better place, and that is so very important.
I hope that you continue to find helpful information, a supportive environment, and encouraging motivation for your healing journey each time that you sit here in this place.
I’m glad you’re here!
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
October 15, 2010
Self-injury is a problem all too common for trauma survivors with dissociative identity disorder (DID / MPD) or borderline personality disorder (BPD). For that matter, self-injury (SI) is an issue for other populations of people as well. This discussion will focus more on the effects of trauma and abuse and how self-injury can be addressed effectively. However, because self-injury is actually a very complicated topic, this particular blog article will reach only a few of those layers.
In my years of working as a trauma therapist, I have noticed that many DID survivors self-injure when they are in emotional pain. They are hurting, their heart feels broken, they feel betrayed or abandoned, or they feel incredibly sad (but can’t cry). Turning to various forms of self-injury and self-harm sometimes helps to temporarily relieve their emotional pain. (Trauma survivors also self-injure when they believe they need to be punished, or when they are extremely anxious, or when they are feeling strong compulsions or hearing internal instructions, etc.)
One of the reasons self-injury works is because the brain cannot distinguish between a self-caused physical injury and any other type of physical injury and upon recognizing a body injury, the brain releases all the necessarily chemicals and hormones. Dopamine, serotonin, and neural structures are significant in this process. I’ll refer all the complicated medical explanations to others more qualified, but the point being is that the act of self-harm creates a reaction in the brain that allows the hurting person to feel a little more calm and numb.
In other words, when self-injuring, survivors are trying to feel better. They know they are in emotional distress, they recognize the emotional pain, and they know they are hurting. And they want to feel better, or at least to feel differently.
Self-injury can be a quick fix for these intense feelings. In that sense, self-injury is not a lot different from having a few shots of whiskey, or a shot of heroine, or a plateful of doughnuts, or a pound of chocolate. Many addictive behaviors are centered around finding a way to feel better when hurting.
Typically speaking, this has been a life-long issue. From even their youngest days, most dissociative trauma survivors were neglected or ignored when they were hurting. They were not comforted, and their pain was not acknowledged. Even as very young children, they were left alone with their pain and injuries. All too often, they were not properly tended to, they were not cared for, they were not hugged, they were not given medical aid. They were hurt – physically and emotionally – and they were left on their own to manage.
In my opinion, this lack of comfort and the years of neglect are some of the biggest crimes committed against young children. Neglect is as significant in causing harmful life-long effects as any direct trauma.
So, when working with trauma survivors who experienced significant pain and next-to-no comfort, a critical and crucial part of their healing process is to teach how to accept and create healthy and positive comfort.
Children who are injured in healthier environments are very much comforted by their mothers or fathers or other caregivers. Their hurts are recognized and acknowledged appropriately. These children are given hugs and gentle affectionate kisses. They get band-aids — sometimes they get the fancy special band-aids with Snoopy or Spiderman or pretty flowers on them! They are checked on repeatedly, they are allowed to sit close to their caregiver, they are given other little treats (such as stickers, or the chance to watch their favorite cartoon), etc. These injured children learn that positive forms of comfort can help them feel better.
Since traumatized dissociative survivors were typically not taught these ways of receiving comfort, this becomes an important treatment goal in their healing process. They need to know their wounds can be tended, that their hurts matter, that someone hears them, and that they can be treated gently during times of pain.
Tending to the hurts and the wounds often has to be modeled to dissociative trauma survivors. In many situations, this will be completely new experience for them, and the process of having their hurts be important, can be a profound experience.
As trauma survivors start to experience genuine comfort and caring from others (this may start first in the therapeutic office setting), these survivors will eventually learn to copy these same kinds of behaviors and apply them towards themselves and their other insiders.
Emotional pain is no different, and in some ways, addressing and comforting emotional hurts is even more important.
Teaching trauma survivors to sit with their emotions and to increase their ability to endure intense emotions is an essential part of the healing process. In early stages of therapy, most DID survivors can barely touch their feelings. In the later stages of the healing process, DID survivors can sit with their feelings, no matter how intense they feel them, and not turn to anything destructive or harmful.
In order to sit with those feelings, survivors need to learn what to do during those moments. They need to know and understand that they matter and that bringing more harm and pain to their selves and their bodies is not the answer. Learning how to comfort themselves – how to self-soothe, instead of self-injure – is a significant process in their healing.
Self-soothing means that the person is doing something that brings comfort in a helpful, positive way. Feeling better can become about comfort instead of numbing. Survivors can learn that they are worth being comforted, instead of being feeling unvalued and ignored.
Each time trauma survivors are comforted in their pain, instead of ignored or injured more because of their pain, they are experiencing a corrective emotional experience. Correcting the neglect by experiencing proper comfort, including self-soothing comforts, is incredibly significant in the healing process.
Comfort actually works much better than numbing, especially in the long run. Comfort allows for pain to heal. Numbing (or self-injury) means that the pain is just postponed until it comes back again.
Ways to Self-Soothe Include:
Self-soothing is unique to each person, just as any other preference is unique to each person. There are dozens and dozens of healthy options — explore a variety of different options to see what works best for you. Some ideas to try include:
- Listening to music that matches your mood – if you are feeling sad, listen to music that will help you express that sadness.
- Sing to yourself (even if this means making up your own songs, or singing sounds), or play musical instruments as a way of expressing your feelings.
- Wrap yourself up in your favorite comfy clothes or in a warm blanket and snuggle up somewhere safe, quiet, and protected.
- Hold or hug a pet, a stuffie, or a pillow.
- Sit close to someone safe. Lean against their shoulder, or find some way to have physical contact that is in no way sexualized or dangerous.
- Sip on your favorite tea, or any other gentle beverage, and treat yourself to a few simple snacks that are not heavy, but are tasty and nutritious.
- Rock in a rocking chair, or sit in a swing, and let the movement relax and calm you.
- Walk slowly or sit quietly in areas of nature that are beautiful and inspirational.
- Make your room, or your home feel particularly cozy – have nice smelling candles, or soft lighting, or bring out your favorite treasures to look at, sit by a calming fireplace (not for injury purposes! But yes, sitting by a warm fireplace can be very beautiful and calming). If you need to clean up an area first, that is ok, because it is important to be in an area that you can feel calm and quieted.
- Take a warm shower or a warm bath, using very nice smelling soaps and body washes. Dry off with your favorite most soft towels. The more you can make this a “spa-like” experience, the better.
- Bring in fresh flowers, or fresh greenery, or pretty leaves. Looking at something beautiful from nature, even while you are indoors, can be calming and soothing.
- Allow yourself to cry, uninterrupted, when the feelings come. Crying really is allowed, it really is ok, and it is a natural expression for pain. Use soft tissues, and don’t punish yourself for having real human emotions. Give yourself permission to feel, permission to heal, and permission to respond naturally to your pain. The more you can express your emotions in natural ways, the healthier you are.
Trauma survivors — you really can help yourself to feel better without bringing more pain and injury to yourself. The key is to surround yourself with lots of nice, positive moments that help you feel better through the course of the day. Practice self-soothing every single day, especially on painful days. It will get easier, even when if it doesn’t feel easy or natural to you at first. You can learn this, and when you do, it will make a huge difference in your life.
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
February 15, 2010
The healing process for survivors of abuse and neglect is very difficult. While it is a rewarding journey, it is a painfully difficult process.
Trauma survivors with dissociative identity disorder typically have lots of child parts in their systems. Sometimes these child parts may seem to outnumber the adults!
Working with the kids is an important part of the healing process. Inside kids often know a lot about your internal system, family dynamics, and trauma memories.
But these inside kids, while very much connected to the rest of your adult self, also have real kid needs. They need to be cared for, kept safe (inside and out), allowed to have healthy daily provisions, given support, comfort, and compassion. These are the parts of you that were frozen in time when your needs were not properly meet during your actual childhood. They are the parts of you that just could not go on any further in life, and had to stay stuck where they were, back in that time. They are often the parts that lived through the horrors that you are remembering.
If you ask me, child parts are little heroes. If you think that working on your trauma issues is hard as an adult — with a therapist and all the current-day resources available to you — imagine how hard it was to be a little child living that trauma, completely on your own, with no help at all. Your little kids have had a rough go of it. It really is important for you to do what you can to soothe their wounds and heal their hurts.
One thing that helps child parts to move forward and to not stay stuck is to meet some of their unmet needs. Between years of abuse and neglect, and many incidents of trauma, your child parts will have oodles of experiences of not having their needs met appropriately. The sooner you and your system can treat your child parts in healthy ways, the sooner they will heal. Having corrective emotional experiences will allow your child parts to experience the positive things that were missing in their development.
If your child parts are not in a place where they can emotionally flourish, it will be important for you to help them reach a place where they can experience creative happy living.
Reading good children’s stories with your child parts are as helpful for your inner kids as they are for outside children.
The book, “I Knew You Could” by Craig Dorfman is a wonderful children’s story about encouragement, support, positive self-belief, and healthy determination. The story is about a little train that goes through different areas of life, questioning his train-abilities and wondering if he can make it through the various stops in life.
I am not a professional storyteller by any means, but through the years of working with DID / MPD clients, I have been asked by many a child part to read a story. It seemed to me that maybe other child parts out there in the world would also enjoy having a positive, encouraging story read to them.
Please use this story as a way to encourage yourself and comfort your inner kids. Your healing journey is difficult — filled with lots of stops and bumps along the way — but you have already survived the worst of it. You can heal from here, and create a much better life for yourself and your insiders.
When you hear “I Knew You Could”, what are your favorite lines in the story?
Which phrases fit your life right now?
What does this story mean to you?
And whatever difficult things are happening in your life… keep working at it!
You can do it.
I know you can!
Kathy Broady LCSW
November 28, 2009
It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in the US, and besides the wonderful traditional family meal and pleasant times with my kids, this time frame reminds me of something else.
Discussing Dissociation has been up and visible for nearly one year now. Yep, in a few days, it will be a year already!
Wow. Where has the time gone??!!!
There is truth to the saying that time flies, or is it because time flies when you’re having fun … or maybe I’m just getting older, lol.
Anyway, I’m being silly, but I do want to say today how much I appreciate all of you that have been readers here at this blog. The number of faithful, returning readers has been utterly amazing to me. If you look back through all the pages, you’ll see well over a thousand excellent comments from a wide variety of the readers. Wow! The input you all have made in this blog has brought it to life and given it a life-filled energy that I certainly couldn’t create on my own.
For the way each and every one of you have contributed to the positive, educational nature of this blog, I sincerely thank you. I truly appreciate your involvement, your thoughts, your comments, your questions. You’ve helped to make this little site a safe, comfortable community for dissociative trauma survivors. I think it’s a job well done, and once again, I do sincerely thank you for your part in this process. Writing a blog wouldn’t be nearly so fun without hearing comments from the readers! You all rock!
Many of you have questioned why I started this blog in the first place. The original reason is not as mysterious or worrisome as some of you may have thought. It’s a widely stated and highly recommended common practice for therapists to use blogs for marketing purposes. Marketing experts recommend to write what you know about, and to respond to the comments you receive. Blogs get quickly listed in search engines, and they are an easy, economical way for your target audience to get to know you, and to see what you do, and to become more familiar with the work that you do. It’s a simple as that. Check the blogosphere for blogs by therapists. You’ll see that most therapists write about their fields of work the same as I do.
I just happen to know about a very specialized topic – dissociative identity disorder. And my readers are a very distinct but wonderful population – dissociative trauma survivors or trauma therapists. (There aren’t very many of us out here — it’s no wonder that we are congregating together!) And yes, practically all of my blog articles have been very specific to DID, not that the topics couldn’t also apply to other populations, but the point of this blog is to “discuss dissociation” so I do tailor my articles to being about dissociative disorders, and the DID population. There’s no mystery there, lol. I think I’ve said that pretty upfront.
But something much bigger has been happening besides my having found a very effective marketing tool.
With all the positive sharing and support that has been created here, this blog has provided a deep sense of hope and healing for so many people. Having that absolute knowing that others are progressing along their healing journey as well, many survivors don’t have to feel so very alone. You might learn things from my articles, but you can also learn from each other, the same as I learn from you as well. It’s a wonderful circle of positive, helpful information, and that in itself is priceless.
Building a sense of safety, knowing you are not alone in your struggles, and learning from others who have been there too provide emotional foundations that so very crucial to healing and can augment your therapeutic process. Please remember, this blog is in no means a substitute for actual therapy, but it does provide a lot of educational support for survivors working on their own healing, or for therapists learning about working DID / MPD.
Again, you all have immensely helped to create that healing, informative atmosphere, and I am grateful for that.
We have to create and protect places of healing.
Even survivor-led blogs such as the truly incredible BTC blog have become targets for destruction by the “hazing / flaming / insaniacs” of the world. Do we really want the haters and gossipers to take over and ruin all the places of healing and support? How sad is this?!!
I know that you know there are predators and perpetrators out there in the world. For some of you, your abuse stopped years ago. For some of you, you are still smack dab in the middle of fighting your abusers. Some of you are being hassled and manipulated by internet predators (whether you know it or not), and some of you are safely away from any direct attack from anyone. No matter where you are in your life, there are abusers and predators out there in the world, (including those wolves in sheep’s clothing hiding within the dissociative population itself), so the importance of having safe retreats amongst all the danger and destruction is more important than you might realize.
Those of you that feel the loss of BTC’s blog can understand what I’m talking about. It’s a real shame that abusive people continue to ruin the good places and run off the good people. I think that is a tragedy. But it happens.
- Are you one that sits back quietly, doing nothing even though you see others destroying places of support?
- Do you believe the lies and negative gossip spread about helpers and healers?
- Are you so angry from your own abuse that you are willing to take that out on people who have helped you?
Surely the survivor population can see through the manipulations of abusers. You are adults now – you can start seeing through the tricks that are being played out there. Please remember to think for yourself the next time you hear some negative hogwash about someone who has dared to be a helper / healer. You can take a stand against that.
Complacency only allows abuse to continue.
Trauma survivors, I encourage you to ban together in protection of your valued and positive healing resources.
So many of you grew up without any safety or comfort or support. You learned to pull deep within yourself or to block out the world entirely. You survived it alone.
But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.
Most of you are still learning about how important and helpful it is to have places of safe connection, genuine relationship, and gentle bonding. It may be scary to be around people, but building a positive, healing, trustworthy community is a way of overcoming the need to be isolated in order to avoid abuse.
Again, I challenge you to protect your places of healing. Protect those that are your helpers. Stand firm around your leaders that fight against abuse.
Don’t fall into the trap of complacency or destructive participation.
Your healing resources are depending on that.
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
February 28, 2009
This week, the readers here have posted a wide variety of reactions to the idea that being multiple could have benefits. If you haven’t yet read all the comments on that blog, please do so. They are very interesting.
When people have DID/MPD, they have experienced life as a multiple since their childhood. It is their norm – basically the only way of life they know. Multiples typically have not experienced life any other way other than being multiple, even if they didn’t realize they were as split as they are. Sure, one or two of the host personalities may not have a strong personal connection to what it’s like to be multiple, and many of them can deny the existence of the internal others to some degree, but the internal system as a whole would have been there for nearly your whole life.
And frankly, many DID’ers that are newly diagnosed just haven’t realized how much they have been switching their whole lives long. But just because they haven’t recognized their dissociative abilities doesn’t mean that they haven’t been living their life as a very active multiple, switching, possibly losing time, and putting amnesiac walls around anything that is too uncomfortable for them.
So what if you are dissociative and you really really detest being a multiple personality? What if you can’t stand being DID/MPD, and you hate it, and you despise it, and you make sure that everyone in your system knows it, and that everyone in your treatment support team knows it too?
- How does that affect how your internal system views you?
- Will they feel loved and accepted?
- Will you feel good about yourself?
For sake of argument here, let’s be sure to separate the fact of being dissociative as being very different from being traumatized and abused. I will clearly and adamantly acknowledge that no young child likes the trauma and abuse that happens as the first step in the process of creating various alter personalities. I am not proposing that the road to becoming DID is a pleasant one. It clearly is not. The very idea of being forced to become a multiple is horrifically tragic in itself. Any trauma, abuse, neglect, violence, horror, pain, that you’ve gone through is too high a price for anyone to pay.
Often the fact of being multiple becomes inextricably entangled with the fact of having been abused. The multiplicity comes to represent all the pain and fear and wrongness of the abuse, and rejection of the multiplicity is part and parcel of rejecting the reality of the painful past that caused it.
But how do those feelings of adamant rejection affect your healing?
One of the ways to treat and understand multiplicity is to join in, to some degree, with the idea that the alter personalities are their own individual people. Of course they are all connected to the same one person, but you can balance that out with also seeing each of the insiders as their own unique person. How would an outside person feel if they were treated the same way your insiders are being treated?
If your internal parts know that you hate the fact that you are multiple, might they begin to internalize that feeling as if you hate them? I would think so.
How would you feel if you were repeatedly told that you were disliked and unwanted and despised? Remember, your insiders don’t have to be told these things in actual words. They are connected to you, and they will know how you genuinely feel about them, whether or not you make a point of telling them. They will be able to feel how much you don’t like them. You will not be able to hide this fact from them.
How would you feel, if day after day after day, the people that you lived with refused to speak to you? Or to acknowledge you? Or to care about you? Would you feel cooperative? Would you want to be friendly and helpful? At what point would you lose your patience and tolerance? How might you act when that happened?
In this context, if you have Dissociative Identity Disorder, and you also firmly believe that multiplicity in itself is a horrible way of life, that strong pervasive belief will negatively affect your treatment progress and your healing. How could it not? Your insiders are aching for acceptance and kindness and comfort no less than you are – and constant rejection can and will make them continue to act out in resentment and anger and desperation. Nobody else’s acceptance will ever mean as much to them as the acceptance of their own group – their own self – and if that is perpetually withheld from them, then both they and you will be at a self-created stalemate in your healing.
Because the flip side of treating your insiders like individual people is remembering that they are the same person as you.
If you are repeatedly telling yourself that you hate the way you are, what does that do for your self-image and self worth?
If you believe that the way you are is not ok, not good enough, not right, not acceptable, not normal, then you are reinforcing a lot of negative beliefs of yourself – and it is a short road from having a low self-esteem to have a ton of self-hatred.
- What if hating your multiplicity is a version of hating yourself?
- What if accepting your multiplicity is a version of accepting yourself?
Multiplicity is simply what it is – the fact of having more than one personality / “person” in your head. In my opinion, it does not have to be a bad thing. The trauma and the abuse were devastatingly bad – absolutely. The dissociative walls can really cause problems in the current day, even if they were initially helpful. The PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other emotional fallout can be debilitating at times.
But the multiplicity – just the multiplicity… does it have to be bad to share your life with others?
Again I ask….
Is accepting your multiplicity “as is” a version of accepting yourself?
Kathy Broady LCSW
January 23, 2009
As I am writing my longer post about working with child parts, I want to encourage you to think about this topic as well. Read the following questions, and be honest with yourself – think about them. Journal about them, and make these questions the topics of discussion in your internal meetings. Try the acronym exercises if you need a starting place.
- What are your beliefs about child parts? Who are they? What are they? Why do you have child parts?
- What are your healing and therapy goals for working with your child parts?
- Do you want your child parts to grow older? Or are you happy to incorporate them into your life at whatever age they are?
- Would you feel better if your child parts grew up? What would you lose if they got older? What would you gain?
- Do you remember the same things the child parts remember? If not, do you believe them? Why or why not? Do you understand why they might have different memories than you?
- Do you know how to comfort, soothe, and protect your child parts in safe and healthy ways? List out viable options. Examine various barriers causing complications and troubles for you.
- Can you sit near your child parts without hurting them, and without having any unhealthy or destructive internal struggles? If not, do you know what gets in the way of this happening or how to address the issues? If so, are you able to hold their hand or let them sit with you in a safe and comforting way?
- Do any of your child parts bring joy, laughter, and smiles to your life? How so?
- Do any of your child parts carry your pain? Your emotions? Your trauma memories? If so, what are you doing to address those issues?
- Are you actively involved in aggressively protecting your child parts from anyone inside or outside that will hurt them? Why or why not? What are you doing that is effective? Where do you need help?
Working with child parts is a complicated and critical part of the therapy for trauma survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorders. Your approach to your kids, your values and your beliefs about the kids will affect how you do your work with them.
Is your approach effective?
If you were the child, would you want to interact with you?
Kathy Broady LCSW
January 19, 2009
Trauma survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorder can see an internal world. Step back, turn around an look inside – it will be there.
What happens if you have looked inside and all you see is a lot of darkness, or desolation, and not so many people with welcome arms?
First of all, think about what internal darkness means to you as an individual. There are a variety of options. For example:
- It could have metaphorical meaning – what does darkness mean to you?
- It could represent how your life history feels emotionally to you.
- It could represent how barren, empty, starved, and deprived you feel in terms of getting your basic human needs met.
- It could represent the lack of emotional connection between you and your insiders at the moment.
- It could mean that you are feeling too scared to know.
- It could represent the way you were told or instructed to make your internal worlds look (ie: some survivors have had abusers that controlled what to make and create on the inside).
- It could mean denial – that you really don’t want to know what is happening in your internal worlds.
- It could be a cover or a façade or a front area that blocks off the rest of the internal worlds.
- It could mean that some little ones hid in the dark and therefore their internal world is also dark. Those parts of you might feel safer and more hidden in the dark, and they might like it that way.
- It could mean that some of your parts were put into a deprivation sort of situation where their trauma itself kept them locked in a dark space. They may not know anything but darkness, so their internal areas will be representative of what they lived through.
- It could mean that there are others deeper within your system making your world dark on purpose.
There is no one answer to explain why you see what you see. The goal of your therapy work is for you to understand your internal worlds as they apply to you, the individual.
Desolation very often represents neglect. Think about what land or households look like when they are ignored for years. Would the grass be green and trimmed? Would there be any grass at all? Would the buildings be in good condition? Would the area be clean and well-kept? Would it look like a tornado has spun through it?
Has your internal system been neglected? If you were to picture the way their feelings of neglect would look, what would it look like?
When you look at your insiders, do they look similar to neglected or abused children? Do they have clean, fitted clothing? Stylish haircuts? Plenty of food and water? What do you see in their eyes? What can you feel from their souls?
Think about the actual devastation caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and floods. The damage and destruction is enormous – totally overwhelming, requiring years of rebuilding and repair. Personal tragedies, loss, neglect, and chronic severe trauma have a similar effect on survivors’ emotional lives. With DID survivors, when there is no one around to help clean up the mess after the years of severe trauma occurs, or to offer comfort and consolation or ongoing protection, their internal worlds can become as chaotic and destroyed as a hurricane site.
Without ongoing care and attention, your internal worlds can become similar to such landscapes.
But remember – these internal worlds belong to you. You can make changes in them, and as you incorporate more positive steps, your internal system will feel better. Think about it: if you lived in there, would you feel better sitting for days in a deserted, dark, barren, rocky desert? Or would you feel better sitting in a comfortable warm house, full of basic necessities, surrounded by a grassy field with pretty flowers and shade trees?
When you see that your internal world needs some attention in order to make it comfortable, start where you can. Some starting places are:
- Build a new area, totally separate from the desolate area, and create it as a safe place, that is very pleasing to the eye, and comfortable in every way you can think of. Invite the members of your system to come there. You can make community rules such as, in this living space, no one is allowed to hurt anyone else, everyone gets to their own possessions, and everyone gets their own private living space, etc.
- Take a corner of the dark and desolate area. Try making it a more pleasant living space by making necessary changes. Invite others to visit, and to talk about the kinds of things they’d like to see in your internal worlds.
- Specifically make an effort to speak to the others that you see inside. If you don’t see anyone, leave written messages in visible places. Come back and check to see if you’ve gotten any response from anyone.
- Leave packets of food, drinks, soap, clothing, and other basics that would come in handy for others that are in need. Watch to see if anyone inside is willing to claim these items.
- Listen closely. Do you hear others? Where is the sound coming from? Walk in that general direction. As you get closer, call out and introduce yourself as a friend that is approaching.
- As much as possible, be sure to also nurture yourself in your outside world the same as you are doing in your internal world. For example, if you see that your inner children are starving, give them something to eat. And if you are hungry and starving on the outside, nurture yourself by getting something healthy to eat as well.
- Speak to the ones you see. Approach them gently. Find a way to reach them without scaring them more. Pay close attention, and match what each person needs – it will vary from person to person. Treat them as kindly as you would treat an outside person that looked scared or hurting. Comfort them, and do what needs to be done to help them feel safe.
- Ask the insiders what they need or want to feel safe and protected. You might see things on your own, but get their opinion as well. They will know more about who / what they are afraid of, and listening to what they need will help you to be more precise and accurate in terms of giving to them.
One of the most critical points to remember is this. No matter what you do, do not leave the barren dark areas of your internal worlds neglected and without care or attention. Don’t turn your back on your insiders that need your time and nurturing. Give all your insiders the safety, protection, and caring that they have so desperately needed. Help each of them to heal by giving them the things they (and you) have been missing in their life. It’s ok for you to take the time you need to figure out how to do that but please don’t be guilty of neglecting your own system.
Kathy Broady LCSW