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
December 22, 2010
Okay, okay, okay!
I’ve gotten lots of requests for updated puppy pictures, so here we go.
Here’s one little guy that we’ve been calling Diesel. (For those of you that don’t know this, we have a “cologne/perfume” theme to the names of the puppies, but Diesel? What a weird name for a cologne, but apparently, it is. I mean really, who wants to smell like diesel gas? lol. Maybe I’d have to be a guy to understand that one…..) Anyway, Diesel puppy was the next-to-the-youngest born, and was one of the smallest at that time. But not for long. He is now the biggest puppy of the bunch, and is a real sweetie! He is a lovely black brindle (also called reverse brindle or dark brindle) with a white spot on his chest.
Our next puppy is…. little Vera.
Vera — named after the Vera Wang perfume — has a little white V on her tummy, thus earning her a “V” fragrance name. Vera is a little Olde English Bulldogge puppy with a super soft brown and black coat. She has a tiny white streak on her nose and cute white toes on all four feet. She is a fiesty little girl, and is learning how to growl and bark with all the ferociousness that a three week old puppy can muster. Vera is one of my personal favorites – if it’s possible to have a favorite when every puppy is so beautiful!
Here is Vera sleeping alongside two of her sisters.
What a pretty little pile of puppies!
Sleepy time for the puppies!
I hope that all the little child insiders that have been feeling scared or upset this week can enjoy looking at these puppies. I hope the little puppies can bring even a tiny smile to your face.
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
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