April 8, 2012
Hello Everyone –
How are you?
I’ve had another few weeks of extremely limited internet time, but it is Easter weekend, and I wanted to come and say a quick hello to you all.
I am aware that this is a very difficult weekend for many of you…. “Happy Easter” is more of an oxymoron than a reality for all too many of you.
For those of you that relate to that, I want you to know that I am thinking of you, and remembering that you are having struggles. And flashbacks. And body memories. And fights against worlds full of darkness, experiencing that conflict from both inside and out.
Please remember: no matter what you’ve seen in your prior years of life, you don’t have to belong to or stay stuck in any of the dark worlds that you were shown or taken to by those who, at that time, had more power or authority than you. This includes those of you that have been more familiar with worlds of darkness, and have always believed that you belonged there, and only there.
Even if that has been true for years of time, that does not have to stay true.
You don’t have to stay connected to worlds of darkness. You can decide to do something different with your life. They didn’t (and won’t) tell you that you can do something different with your life, but you can. Even if they tell you that you can’t, that is not true. You actually can. Your life belongs to you, and only to you, and you can make decisions different from anything anyone else plans for you.
This time of year can be a time of new beginnings for you.
Easter, to me, is full of new beginnings. Here in the USA, it is Spring – a time for new blossoms, new buds, new leaves, new grass, and baby animals are everywhere.
I know that it takes a whole lot of courage to do completely different things with your life, but doing something new can be the beginning of freedom. It can be something beautiful, and it can be something of your own making. It can be hard to change your life, but it can be wonderful and very much worth the effort it takes.
Instead of feeling trapped and weighed down by darkness, your life can be something you are happy about. You can be genuinely content and happy with the places you are going in your life. You can feel proud and pleased with your life.
If you are willing to do what it takes to make such big changes. Change can be scary, but you can do it. I know you can. Believe in yourself, and know that you are worth the effort.
So I wish you all a Happy Easter today.
If it’s not a Happy Easter just yet, have hope that one day, you too can have a happy day.
Copyright © 2008-2012 Kathy Broady and Discussing Dissociation
October 31, 2010
It’s Halloween weekend again.
This year, I’ve been reminded of the dichotomy our society lives in during times such as Halloween.
There are the many people of the world who are enjoying the weekend. They are having some version of fun, gathering candies, creating pumpkin-flavored foods, and dressing up in costumes as innocent as pretty Little Bo Peep with some Sheep walking along beside her. For many of us here in Dallas, Texas, Halloween weekend this year has been about watching the Texas Rangers Baseball team finally playing a good game in the World Series against the San Francisco Giants. Last night the Rangers won, and there were many joyous celebrations all over the state of Texas. For all of these people, Halloween weekend has been wonderful. It’s been a good time and no one and nothing was hurt (except the pride of the San Francisco Giants!)
But for dissociative trauma survivors with a ritual abuse background, this weekend – and the majority of this month of October – has been anything but fun. It is a time of darkness. It is a time where they were physically and emotionally forced into darkness, forced into worlds of violence, forced into worlds so hidden and evil that the happy candied people clapping and cheering in the baseball stadiums don’t even know the tiniest bit about it.
Ritual abuse and the horrors of ritual abuse have stayed secret from the surface layers of society for a few reasons – none the least being the idea that ritual abuse is so extremely sadistic that it is impossible for most people to fathom or acknowledge its existence. For those not raised in the worlds of hidden ritual abuse, it seems too incredulous to tolerate or believe. It’s too mind-blowing to think that such intense evil, violence, gore, and pain could exist in the real world. It’s even more impossible for them to believe that these horrors could be purposefully devastating the lives of our local children. Understanding that these atrocities can still be happening in the current-day lives of adult dissociative survivors is barely even recognized by trauma specialists in the mental health profession.
Besides, there are powerful dark organizations, most typically connected with the money-making sex slavery industries that help to provide massive cover-up’s for socially-complicated dicey issues such as ritual abuse. The phrase “money is the root of all evil” comes to mind as so much of the extreme abuse of trauma survivors is rooted in groupings of greedy soul-less sociopathic perpetrators making wads of dirty money while completely ignoring or insanely enjoying the suffering they are inflicting on survivors.
Trauma survivors with dissociative identity disorder (DID / MPD) can experience a lifetime of pain and mental torment from the ordeals they suffered through on Halloween. They re-live these horrors year after year after year in their flashbacks, body memories, and internal worlds. They feel the tortures. They hear the screams. They are paralyzed in their terror. Healing feels next to impossible because the pain runs too deep.
How are trauma survivors supposed to come to terms with the fact that someone they loved and cherished (usually a parent) did the ultimate betrayal by subjecting them to the horrors of sadistic ritualized abuse?
How are trauma survivors supposed to overcome the fact they were forced to learn to hate with such intensity that they turn completely cold and dark from the inside out?
How are trauma survivors supposed to overcome their reality that they were forced to hurt others, even those they loved, and to relish the moment as if it was joyous and full of ecstasy?
How does anyone overcome these experiences and not let them ruin or tarnish or their lives forever?
Is it impossible to unthaw the effects of such hatred?
Is it impossible to heal from such deep soul-wrenching wounds?
It feels that way.
Many, many, many, many days, it feels too impossible to heal. Ask any trauma survivor that. I bet they will tell you, without a doubt, that they have wondered if it was ever possible for them to overcome the depths of pain and agony and torment that they experienced in their lives.
But it is possible.
It is possible because there is such thing as NOT being hated. There are such things as compassion, understanding, gentleness, kindness, forgiveness, and yes, even the ultimate word – genuine love. (I do not mean the creepy distortion of love – I’m referring to the actual genuine, true, God-filled love.)
Because as much as the hatred of violence and abuse of sadistic predators exist, the kindness and gentleness of true compassion and understanding exists as well.
And genuine kindness can trump violence.
After you’ve experienced true hatred, experiencing true kindness is a completely heart-reaching, life-changing, awe-inspiring experience.
Yes, when someone survived a lifetime full of hatred, it takes a LOT of kindness to overcome all that hatred. Occasional kindness helps, but for genuine healing, it takes experiencing a lot of kindness. Unfortunately, for many trauma survivors, the world just has not been that kind.
But don’t give up — there are kind people out here. They may be obliviously cheering in a baseball stadium at the moment, but they are out here, and they exist, and they can show you gentleness, acceptance, warmth, and love.
Years of hate can melt away with a listening ear, with cups of tea, with a soft smile, with a tender relationship, with a quiet conversation, with a safe hug. When someone feels genuinely cared for – even for moments of time – those moments can crack through the cold darkness created by hate and violence. They can allow other moments of warmth and sunshine to take hold, and the healing process can continue, one moment building upon other moments.
It’s not quick. And it’s not easy. The turning-over is gradual, slow, arduous, and painful. But it can happen.
Kindness can trump violence.
My wish is that one day, all trauma survivors could find themselves having moments of pure joy and light-hearted fun, clapping happily in innocent places like baseball stadiums, even if the date is Halloween.
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
February 10, 2010
Lots of trauma survivors with dissociative identity disorder are just starting their healing process. Other dissociative survivors are not new to their healing process, but they might realize that they haven’t yet covered all the basics.
DID therapy can feel huge, daunting, difficult, and overwhelming. There is so much to do and so many areas of work. For a broader overview of the many areas of DID healing, please refer to the article, “50 Treatment Issues for Dissociative Identity Disorder”.
For individuals building the foundation for their work with your dissociative system, here are some of the first things to do.
DID 101 involves:
1. Get to know your system. Build the courage to find and meet your insiders. Remember, they were formed and created to help you – even if it doesn’t feel like it, you are (or can be) on the same team. Who are your inside parts? What jobs do they have? What kinds of things are they able to do? It’s really ok for you to build positive relationships and actual friendships with your insiders. If this feels scary for you, explore those feelings. What makes it hard for you to get to know your insiders? What fears or resentments do you have? Understanding your resistance to these ideas is important.
2. Become more comfortable with your diagnosis. If you don’t understand what dissociative identity disorder (DID /MPD) is, be sure to speak more with your therapist or psychiatrist about what it means to be dissociative. There are lots of books, websites, blogs, articles, conferences, etc that can help to educate you about the basics about DID. Understanding DID will help take out some of the mystery and confusion for you.
3. Build a support system and capable treatment team. It is very helpful if you can surround yourself with a few other people that understand trauma dynamics, preferably at least one or two other people, besides your therapist and doctor that understand that you are working on healing from trauma. These support people don’t have to be experts in DID – if they are just willing to spend some time with you when you need a safe distraction from your healing work, that will be helpful. Please don’t lean on lay-support people for the heavy issues. Leave the complicated treatment issues for your therapist to work with – your support friends are not therapists, so be very careful about not pushing them too far or demanding too much of them.
4. Once you have recognized at least one or two other parts, work on building communication with these parts. Internal communication is one of the very most important factors in DID therapy, and the sooner you can interact cooperatively with your other parts, the better your healing progress will happen. Approximately twenty of the articles in the Discussing Dissociation blog reference tips for building internal communication. This link groups these articles together. Learning how to talk to your other parts is the most important factor in your healing.
5. Connecting with your internal landscape. What can you see inside? Can you see the other insiders? Do you have an internal safe place? Internal visualization work is an important skill as it builds a way to connect with your insiders. Even if you can’t see the others inside, there will likely be someone else who can. Maybe ask if that insider will draw a map of your system for you? The sooner you can see inside, the better. And of course, if you see insiders that are not in positive, healthy, clean living conditions, you and other helpers in your system will need to do something to help them.
6. Working on limiting or preventing self-destructive impulses and self-injurious behaviors. Learning how to address self-harm urges is particularly important for your stabilization and progression in therapy. You have already been hurt enough – adding more hurt may feel like it helps you to cope in the short-term, but using behaviors such as cutting or burning is not any more helpful than using a shot of whiskey or a hit of cocaine. Explore better ways to cope with your intense feelings, develop more grounding skills, build positive containment strategies, and methods to reconnect with the here-and-now. A grouping of articles about preventing self-injury can be found here.
7. Live in a safe place both inside and out. If you live in a violent environment, address this issue as quickly as you are able. If you are continuing to be abused or sexually assaulted in any way, your dissociative walls will stay strong, and your system will have greater trouble trusting you and your treatment team. Of course, when anyone is fearful of abusive repercussions, it is much harder to disclose the real issues. Dangerous environments can include everything from domestic violence, abusive parents, organized perpetrators, to internal system perpetrators and angry introjects. Building more and more current-day safety is vitally important for your overall healing process. If you aren’t safe, make this a priority in your therapy process. Building an internal safe place is also critically important. However, please remember that in order to build an internal safe place, you have to have a genuine belief that safety can happen, at least part of the time. Making an internal safe place for your insiders is much more difficult when you are still concerned about external safety.
8. Start building options for positive self-comfort, self-soothing activities. The therapy process can be so very painful and emotionally difficult. Having a variety of options to do that are comfortable, safe, gentle, soothing, and stabilizing is important. What can you do when you want to have a break from the hard work of therapy? What can you do when you need some quiet space to think – or to not think? When you are hurting, what can you do that will help you to feel better? Soothing your pain in ways that help your healing (vs. using self-destructive options) is an important skill to develop.
9. Create healthy options for expression of feeling and emotion – use art, music, journaling, collage, blogging, forum posting, sculpting, painting, poetry, play therapy, sand tray therapy, scrapbooking, etc. DID therapy involves processing a lot of flashbacks, violent images, intense feelings, overwhelming thoughts, body memories, body pain, etc. Building a repertoire of artistic avenues to describe your feelings and experiences will be very helpful. You might not always have words that you can use so it is important to find non-verbal ways to safely express what you feel.
10. Create your own personal space. In this space, let it be ok for your insiders to come out, to be themselves, to be out in the body, and to exist. Out in the world, and when you are around other people, most of your daily life will be about keeping your insiders tucked in and acting socially inappropriate. But somewhere in your private time, your insiders will need time to surface, to know that it is ok for them to come out. Having the freedom to switch without reprimand is important as each of your insiders will need to do some personalized healing work of their own.
Not 11. Please note: I am specifically not including memory work or skills to do memory work in my top then list of DID 101 skills. The reason for this is that if you are just beginning DID therapy, it can be very destabilizing to focus on heavy-duty memory work. Yes, of course, doing trauma work is an important part of your overall healing process, but in the beginning of this journey, you need to build these basic skills before you begin to put a lot of energy into memory work. It is much safer and more stabilizing to have these foundational therapy skills in place before focusing on the trauma content of DID therapy.
DID therapy is intense, long-term, exhausting, and difficult. But your healing is worth it. As you truly address the painful conflicts, unmet needs, and internal confusion caused by your years of trauma, abuse, and neglect, you will feel better within your own self.
I wish you the very best in your healing journey –
Kathy Broady LCSW
October 23, 2009
There is a young woman who will always be precious to me. I haven’t spoken to her in years, but she forever changed my life.
This date – October 23rd — had specific meaning for her.
And every year on this date, I specifically think of her.
Back in the 80’s…
Annemaria was a 13 yr old wildly aggressive but enormously quiet girl that kept setting fires in the residential treatment center and starting fist fights with grown men. She was a complicated child, and was court-ordered to have an assessment by a psychologist. Fortunately for Annemaria, the psychologist had just attended a presentation about multiple personality disorder (MPD), learning about the symptoms of dissociation and trauma. Annemaria was quickly diagnosed with MPD and due to the variety of extreme acting out behaviors she demonstrated within the custody setting, she was given an unusual opportunity.
It was clear that Annemaria was acting out her child abuse history. She openly admitted to purposefully committing violent crimes so she would be taken out of her abusive home. It was a brilliant plan for finding safety from her offender-parents. Unconcerned about the long list of legal charges against her, she knew she would be safer living in residential treatment centers, and she was glad to be there. No one doubted her abusive past, and a long string of child protection workers advocated for her safety.
As requested, the Court agreed to give Annemaria the longest sentence possible so she could remain in the residential treatment center instead of being forced to go home. They did this for the preventive safety of the people she would be willing to assault in the future, but also for her own current-day safety and protection. The Court also ordered that she be given specialized treatment and intensive therapy.
Since she was so violent towards men, she was to be assigned a female staff member, and this staff member was to devote the vast majority of her time to working individually with Annemaria.
This is when Annemaria changed my life.
I was assigned to be Annemaria’s personal staff member.
I knew about sexual abuse, but I didn’t know a thing about MPD. I had been trained to work with family systems, but I didn’t know anything about internal systems. But I was thoroughly pleased to have been given the assignment of working with Annemaria. I knew it would be fascinating work, and frankly, Annemaria and I already had a little bit of a connection. Afterall, I was the only person in the entire treatment center that she would speak to.
I had two years to work with Annemaria. We did hours and hours of therapy every week, and even more hours of everyday life-skills work. She blossomed in that safe, healing environment but for such a young child, her stories of abuse were more than any of the treatment staff could fathom. Eventually, a non-threatening but strong young man was assigned to assist me during Annemaria’s acting out or heavy-duty memory flashbacks. She bounced a lot of male anger in his direction, but he handled that like a pro. The work was tough, and we leaned on each other a lot. Even so, I developed secondary PTSD, and experienced numerous nightmares after listening to Annemaria’s stories of trauma. I really hadn’t known such horrors existed. Talk about a learning curve… They hadn’t explained ANY of that in grad school!
I had so much to learn. I had no idea anyone could be abused in the ways that Annemarie described in such vivid detail. She was only 13. It had just happened. She had been abused her whole life, but still… it had just happened! Even though she was dissociative, she knew a lot about it.
She and I taught each other about two very different worlds. She taught me about her world, and I taught her about mine. We both ended those two years in a very different place.
I was truly never the same.
I hope that I impacted her life in the same way.
I also wish I could re-do those two years with Annemaria. Now that I have had 20 years experience working with MPD – currently called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) — I would do those first two years very differently. I’ve learned more about self-injury and how to manage those behaviors effectively. I’ve learned about depression, anxiety, PTSD and vicarious traumatization. I’ve learned about flashbacks, amnesia, body memories, and internal system communication. I’ve learned about organized abuse, the sex slave industry, pornography, and ritual abuse. NOW I am properly prepared to address the issues that Annemaria was speaking about.
I just didn’t have a clue.
And how sad was that.
Today is Annemaria’s day.
And today, while I was recording my BlogTalkRadio show on Internal Communication, I thought of Annemaria.
While I felt confident in explaining how so many things work for DID / MPD, I thought of Annemaria.
I just wish I knew then what I know now.
I could accomplish so much more with Annemaria in two years at this point in time than I could have back in the 80’s when I was new to the field. It saddens, me in that respect, because I didn’t give to her then what I could give to her now.
But she changed my life.
In fact, she changed the entire course of my life.
I would not be where I am if it were not for Annemaria.
And for that, I owe her a few years of decent therapy.
Annemaria, if you ever find me again, you’ve got yourself a therapist for as long as you need one!
And thank you, Annemaria.
Kathy Broady LCSW
April 12, 2009
Do you remember the DiscussingDissociation article from December 2008 called “Holidays for DID Trauma Survivors… Making it Nice for the Littles”?
If you have not yet read that article, please check it out. It was written in reference to holidays during the Christmas season, but the points are still very much applicable today on Easter, and during Passover.
We have seen the numerous comments from people about how the Spring time holidays are difficult, painful, emotionally challenging, etc. I have been listening to dissociative trauma survivors for many years, and that is a consistent theme for survivors with DID/MPD.
While you cannot change the past, you can make a few things happen that will help you to feel better in the present.
At some point that works for you — don’t put this off forever! – do the memory work that is connected to the pain you feel about the Easter / Spring time holidays. Find the ones inside that have those horrible memories, listen to what happened to them, look at whatever images they need you to see to understand, address their concerns, and help to move them forward to the here and now.
Remember, as long as your internal parts stay stuck in time, and are internally locked in the past, they will continue to re-live and re-live and re-live those memories.
For survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorder, memory work also includes doing internal system work and making changes in your internal landscapes. Read the January 2009 articles, “Using the Internal Landscape to Increase Internal Communication” and “When It’s Dark and Scary on the Inside…” as guidelines for working with trauma memories.
Also, since many trauma memories are related to or contained by child parts, it is also important to refresh your memory on how to work with child parts. Have a glance back at “Thinking Ahead – Preparation for Working with your Child Parts” and “Understanding the Child Parts in the Dissociative System”.
Working with the child parts that hold the painful trauma memories, and helping them to find ways to reconnect with the here and now, both internally and externally, is crucial in your healing process. If you are still hurting today, and your trauma happened years ago, a great deal of that pain you feel is coming from the child parts that experienced the pain and abuse in real life.
Don’t avoid those little ones just because they are hurting.
That’s not going to help. It’s not going to help you feel better, and it’s certainly not going to help those little ones feel better. It’s not ok to repeat the patterns of neglect and avoidance that you might have seen from your own parental caregivers while growing up.
Be courageous as best you can, and do some kind things to help your child parts to heal.
Find ways to give something positive and fun to your child parts today.
Give them a piece of Easter candy, especially if they have never had the chance to have safe, and yummy “real” and actual candy before.
Let them have a picture of a little duck or a baby chick and spend a few minutes coloring or drawing a pretty spring picture, with fresh grass, safe flowers, colorful blossoms, etc.
Play a few fun games (not hurting games) with Easter eggs or colored toys.
Let them sing some favorite spiritual songs or say some prayers today.
Let them do anything that is fun for them, something that does not get to happen just any day, ie: watching a favorite show on tv, having their favorite snacks, etc.
It doesn’t actually matter what you do with your kid parts as long as you do something nice, memorable, and positive for them, with them.
Give your kids a pleasant, positive memory today. Let something good become part of their life experience. The more you build something positive for their lives, the sooner your negative memories can be less enormous in proportion.
What good times are you going to have today?
Kathy Broady LCSW
April 10, 2009
For many dissociative trauma survivors, various holidays and times of year are more difficult than other days. Some survivors may know they typically have a difficult time at the change of seasons, or when Easter-time comes, for example, but they may not have the memories or internal information to understand why they consistently have a difficult time at that time of year.
- Are you struggling more now that Easter is here?
- Does Good Friday have any specific meaning for you?
- Does Passover have specific meaning for you?
- Do you consistently have trouble with functioning at this time of year?
- Do you remember anything that would make this hard time make sense?
When survivors with DID/MPD are sitting on unprocessed memories and their system is separated by strong dissociative walls, the host of the system may have absolutely no awareness of why certain times of year are more difficult than others. The host might know that there are consistently difficult times. They might have an acute awareness that they “hate this time of year” but they still might not have an answer for “why” certain times of year are more difficult than others. Host alters, fronts of the dissociative system, can be aware of the side effects of having a hard time, but still not have any explanation for what it’s about.
- Do you find yourself switching more than usual?
- Are you missing more time, even in small chunks? What about in big chunks?
- Are you experiencing more headaches, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks?
- Are you seeing flashes of images, or fleeting snippets of pictures that don’t quite make sense?
- Do you feel unsettled or jittery?
- Do you feel confusion and time distortion, as if it is another time than 2009?
- Are you extra sensitive to certain smells, sounds, lights, and movements?
- Is there more noise, commotion, chaos, and activity coming from deep within your system?
- Do you feel not quite like yourself, as if there are others standing nearby to you, affecting you?
- Do you feel more suicidal or more vulnerable to self-injury, self-harm, and self-destruction?
If you are experiencing these type of symptoms, and yet have no answer for why these things are happening, you really can do something to help solve the mystery.
Any guesses for what to do?
Do you want to know why you are having such a difficult time?
My answer to that is to ask inside. Listen to what your insiders are telling you. There will be someone inside your system that knows why this time of year is so difficult. You might have insiders that have been particularly split off to handle situations from this time of year, so if you can find who that is, you will get some answers for what is going on.
Frequently, my interpretation of the above listed symptoms is that the dissociative walls – amnesiac walls — that previously blocked you completely from an awareness of what happened, is now starting to crumble. What was once kept from you, is now starting to seep into your awareness. For whatever reason, the dissociative wall is starting to weaken, and you are getting bits of information passed to you from others deeper within your system. Maybe they want you to know? Maybe they need your help? Maybe they are ready to begin sharing their story with you?
- Are you willing to help the others in your system that have experienced such difficult times?
- Are you going to turn your back on those ones in your system that are hurting and struggling?
- Are you going to continue to deny their existence because their life story is so completely different than yours?
- Are you determined to strengthen your dissociative walls? Or are you willing to lower those dissociative walls?
Understanding your life, your symptoms, your history, your struggles, etc all go back to having good internal communication. As you talk to your inside people, and ask them what THEY know about what is going on, you will get the answers you are looking for.
Someone inside will know why this time of year is difficult.
Someone inside will be able to explain what those flashbacks and picture flashes are about.
Someone inside will know why you are so sensitive to certain smells, sounds, movements, voices, etc.
The majority of the answers for why you are struggling are contained within yourself, within your internal system. Talking to the people in your system that are on the other side of the dissociative wall will give you a ton of answers to what is happening. Whether you are willing to listen to them or not, or believe them or not, is a totally different issue, but if you want to know why you are struggling, you can find out.
Lots of times, it will be because certain insiders are struggling, and their depression, or their fear, or their anxiety, or their panic, or their PTSD flashbacks will be overflowing onto you.
If you are not sure why you are having a hard time at this holiday season, look inside to find the part / parts of you that have direct knowledge of those hard times, and go from there.
You can do it.
If your insiders are brave enough to start telling you about their struggles, be brave enough to listen to them.
Kathy Broady LCSW
March 28, 2009
Ok. So I was all kinds of optimistic and hopeful that the Showtime series, United States of Tara, would be a positive statement for dissociative identity disorder. After all, Showtime interviewed Dr. Richard Kluft, an informed psychiatrist, one of the founding fathers of the treatment of DID/MPD. That was a good sign, wasn’t it?
As a trauma therapist with 20+ years of clinical experience working with multiples, I have to say I’m quite frustrated that Showtime has presented multiplicity in this way.
First of all, the word is dissociation. Pronounced di-soh-see-ay-shun. The word is not disassociation. There is no additional “a” sound in the word. Saying dis-a-soh-see-ay-shun is the wrong pronunciation and a different word altogether.
Secondly, there is not a medication that can remove or prevent or end dissociative identity disorder. Medications can address various symptoms, and can even slow the thinking down, but medication cannot remove multiplicity. The idea of drugging away the parts is particularly offensive to me, and as far as I am concerned, it is totally opposite to genuine treatment. Insiders are there for a reason, and promoting the idea that the inside can be drugged into silence seems abusive to me. This idea is absolutely absurd and smacks of perpetrative behavior.
I understand the idea of “creating additional drama” for the sake of entertainment and to get a viewing audience. Fine.
And I can understand that the visual presentation of the various alters is metaphorical for how switching feels from within. It is true — or can be true — that when insiders surface on the outside, they “feel” like they look on the inside. Insiders are often confused and upset about looking externally very different than they feel internally. They are convinced they are shorter, or wearing different clothes, or have different hair, or are even a different gender, etc. And yes, internal parts are very often adamant about being a very different person from the host personality.
For the Tara show, the insiders get to look as extremely different on the outside as they feel on the inside. However, it’s not typical for DID’ers to actually present so drastically even if they wish they could.
The different presentations of Tara are excessive, but it makes the point, and it helps the viewing audience to catch on to a switch to one part from another. I would have hoped the viewing audience did not have to have that much help in recognizing switching, but maybe they do.
Now to my biggest beef about United States of Tara: the criminal behavior.
I suppose that somewhere out there in the world, there are multiples that beat up teenagers on school property, break in to and vandalize homes of others, urinate on others while sleeping, froth and drool in public, and sexually assault their child’s underage boyfriend. I suppose I cannot say that no multiple in the world would ever do that.
But really?!!! Is this the kind of message that we want the viewing audience to have about DID? Do multiples really present as the criminally insane?
Not to me!
The multiples I have met in the past 20+ years are not out-of-control monsters like this. Their inside parts know that there is a legal body age, and while they typically feel younger than the body age, the insiders have an understanding that they are not actually the same as outside people of that age.
DIDer’s might have flashbacks or a hard time functioning or emotional outbursts, but typically, trauma survivors will have enough self-control to manage their behavior without committing a crime in public.
Showtime crossed the line by making Tara a sex offender.
It is true that many multiples have been tangled up in sexual crimes, but typically, multiples that are in treatment have not chosen the life of a sex offender. All too many trauma survivors were forced to perpetrate as part of their victimization by organized perpetrator groups, or even by violent single abusers, but being forced to hurt others is not anything near the same as purposefully deciding to sexually offend in the day world.
Most multiples are not sexually inappropriate of their own volition.
For the writers of United States of Tara to present multiplicity in this light is cruel and inaccurate.
I’m disappointed, to say the least.
What a slam.
A great big huge insulting ridiculous slam.
I am not impressed.
- What do you think?
- What are your thoughts about the show United States of Tara?
- Are you criminally insane?
- Would you do the behaviors that Tara is doing on this show?
- If you are multiple, what are your feelings about being portrayed in this way?
Kathy Broady LCSW
March 7, 2009
Many dissociative trauma survivors have issues with time.
Sometimes the past sneaks up into the present. Sometimes the present disappears. Sometimes there are two time zones (or more) occurring at the same time. Sometimes there are huge gaps in time. Sometimes time stands still.
It can be confusing to say the least.
- Have you ever had a flashback from some year gone by overwhelm your current day?
- Have you ever been overwhelmed by such huge feelings that for them to make any sense, they must have roots in something much deeper than your current-day conflict?
- Have you ever woken up in the current day and wondered where you were?
- Have you ever lost hours of time, with no awareness of what happened, and no explanation of what you have been doing?
Losing time can be very difficult. Many folks with DID get understandably upset when this happens — struggling with the after effects of their behavior, left confused, bewildered, possibly angry, waking to their plans being destroyed, their relationships damaged, their money spent, their body feeling weird, their day interrupted. Most singletons cannot even begin to fathom what life would be like with so many missing gaps in time.
There is a huge sense of loss of control when there is lost time. Is the amnesia that is covering that lost time still important? Is it covering up some huge secret that the host of the system cannot know about? Or is it just an old habit – an old familiar way of life, and nothing to worry about? Either way, the not-knowing, and the apparent “not being allowed to know” what happened in one’s own life can understandably be very upsetting for many people.
Sometimes the effects of lost time are minimal, barely noticeable — maybe a small bruise, or scratch that came from nowhere, or a change of clothes, or maybe you’re simply sitting in a different place than you last were. Lots of people with dissociative disorders are so used to losing time that they don’t even notice it anymore. Switching and the coming and going are so normal for them, and the covering for a “bad memory” are just natural parts of the day. In fact, it can be so natural, that many people with DID/MPD are firmly convinced that they don’t lose any time at all. However, a close examination of that belief can usually prove otherwise, but that is not an uncommon initial assumption.
Sometimes lost time cause a lot of anxiety and panic, and sometimes the effects are quite devastating. The host of the system may have no awareness that one of the insiders participated in a sexual activity the night before, but the host might be able to feel body pain and stiffness, and just not have an explanation for that. The daytime alters may not have realized that “the body” is now pregnant, and they may not absolutely no idea who the father is. Or the host of the system may have no idea how the car got wrecked. The dayside people can see the damage done to the car, but might not have any awareness of what happened. Or maybe they have absolutely no idea why their spouse and children are so angry with them. Maybe they don’t remember being involved in a knockdown drag-out argument last night where the spouse and the children were repeatedly insulted, ridiculed, and denigrated.
Sometimes something good has happened – ie: where another part has had the courage to do something that you hadn’t been able to manage. The house may suddenly look cleaner and more organized, or the kids have been helped with their homework. “Good news” isn’t as frequently blocked from awareness, but it can certainly happen. And sometimes, inside system parts can purposefully block the awareness of someone else inside so they can give them a nice surprise. Insider parts can buy nice prezzies for each other, keeping the others unaware of what they are getting for Christmas or Hanukkah, for example.
However, for dissociative trauma survivors, the original foundational reasons for losing time were long ago based on avoiding or escaping the direct involvement in something terrible. While blocking out the awareness of events during their original occurrence was incredibly helpful at that initial traumatic point in time, as a person’s safety increases, and as their dissociative walls decrease, those hidden chunks of lost time often re-surface later in the form of PTSD, flashbacks, body memories, etc.
As repeated patterns of managing traumatic incidents become set and solidified within the dissociative splits, the amnesia between those alters and others inside just simply stay in place. In those original traumatic moments, those insiders were created with dissociative walls firmly intact, purposefully preventing the other system parts from knowing what happened. That same “missing time” protection stays in place until the dissociative person begins to address why it was necessary for them to have that chunk of time hidden from their life in the first place.
Think about the most recent incident or two where you lost time. Part of the healing process is getting more connected with those periods of lost time. Don’t just comfortably sail past the fact that you don’t know what happened in the middle of the afternoon, or that you have no earthly idea where you were last night. Work at that.
These missing gaps of time are pieces of your life that hold valuable information. I can promise you, your body didn’t just cease to exist while you were dissociatively “away” on a mental vacation. Something was happening with some of your parts, and someone was doing something. You might not been out and involved in life during that period of time, but I can guarantee that someone in your system knows exactly what was happening. They were there instead of you.
The terms “missing time” or “lost time” are actually misnomers. The time didn’t get lost. The time is not gone. The person dissociated away from time — someone else in your system was out instead of you. If you don’t know what happened, then you dissociated away and you have not yet talked to your internal system about who was out instead of you. By talking to the others in your dissociative system, you can find out exactly what happened in that “lost time”.
The question is whether or not you would like to know what happened while you were away. Do you want to remember what happened in those missing gaps of time in your childhood? Do you want to know what happened in those missing gaps of time last week? Are you willing to ask your insiders to tell you about their time in the body and their time out in the world?
Becoming less dissociative, less DID/MPD, more integrated, more whole means knowing about ALL the missing gaps of time – the good news, and the not so good news. If you cannot integrate what happened in your own life, you certainly cannot integrate with your other alters inside. If you cannot sit with the emotions and feelings that you had during the difficult times in your life, you certainly cannot integrate with the inside parts that contain those feelings.
Overcoming the amnesia and time loss means that you must communicate actively with the others in your system. Yep, we’re back to system communication once again. Talk to your internal people – they can tell you exactly what happened while you were away.
Work hard to figure out what has happened in your life. Be willing to remember what happened in those missing chunks of time. Don’t comfortably skip over the details that you conveniently dissociated away – go back and really work at learning what happened in your own life.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and your internal system after you notice some missing time:
- What happened? Do you have any guess or sense whatsoever of what happened? What was happening right before you lost time and what is the first thing you noticed when you got back, grounded and connected to the current day?
- How did you feel? How did you feel emotionally before you left? How do you emotionally feel now?
- How does the body feel now? What is different from before?
- What did you do to recover the information in the time that went “missing”? What clues did you find to help fill in the gaps for you? Look around the house or your car. Does anything look different?
- Did you know who in your system was “out” while you were not out? Who can you ask internally? Who saw what? Even if your insiders did not see what happened in the outside world, did they notice any internal movement? What changes and interactions were happening within the inside world while you were away? Did anyone see anyone else “walk by”?
- If you get a sense of who was out, can you talk to that part of yourself without losing time? Have you been able to work more with the others in your system to lesson the likelihood of this happening again??
- If someone else in your system was caught in a memory or a flashback, do you want to know about it? Are you willing to hear their story about their trauma? Are you willing to sit with them and deal with their pain?
Are you brave enough to know what happened while you were away?
Are you genuinely serious enough about your healing to want to know what happened while you were away?
Are you ready to claim all the different aspects of what has happened in your life?
You can get back all the information that was allegedly lost during that missing time.
You can truly know what happened.
Kathy Broady LCSW