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
September 9, 2009
To those of you that have been having a very difficult day today – please know that you can fight that.
You don’t have to do anything dangerous.
You don’t have to hurt yourself.
You don’t have to do anything harmful to yourself.
You don’t have to go to places where you get hurt.
You don’t have to go to places where your insiders get hurt.
You don’t have to go to places where someone else wants you to hurt.
You don’t have to give yourself to something that is dark and harmful.
You don’t have to go where you get stripped naked.
Find someone safe. There really are safe people out there.
Stay by them. Stay with them. Stay near them.
Learn about protecting yourself, and your insiders.
You can be safe from all that hurt, you really can.
I wanted you to know that there are kind helping people that understand why you are having such a difficult time today.
You are not alone in your struggle today.
I’m not going to explain much out here on this public blog – I know that far too many of you will already know what I mean.
But yes, you can get help and support and understanding…
From gentle people who will not strip you naked.
You can be who you want to be.
You can be who you decide that you are.
You don’t have to be who they say that you are.
You can be who you say you are.
Kathy Broady LCSW
June 28, 2009
Trauma survivors know all about perpetrators. Dissociative trauma survivors know all about sadistic perpetrators. Dissociative trauma survivors with a background in ritual abuse, or mind control, or sex slavery organizations know all about truly evil perpetrators.
Those of us in the world who were not directly exposed to such darkness have a hard time grasping its depth. It seems surreal to us. Unfathomable. While many therapists may truly believe “in their heads” that abuse and evil exist in this world, having that head knowledge is still a far cry from truly knowing and experiencing yourself as the target of evil.
I’ve been working almost exclusively with dissociative trauma survivors for over 20 years, and I have listened to and believed what my clients have told me. I know the politically correct answer is to say that I can neither confirm nor deny the abuse of others, but let’s face it. Either trauma therapists believe their clients were genuinely abused or they need to get out of the field and go work somewhere else.
But do therapists really know what evil is? I dare to say, no, most do not.
They have head knowledge, but most mental health therapists have not experienced evil. They haven’t been the target of a predator. They haven’t had their soul ravaged or clawed into. They haven’t had their body destroyed or ripped apart. Of course, there are some wounded healers that have truly been able to rise above their own traumas and actually do have a genuine sense of how deeply evil can wound, but these are a rare find.
(But be careful, there are far too many wounded who should spend more time on their own healing before jumping into the helping profession. If you happen to find a therapist that truly has done their own healing, then you are very fortunate – that person will be able to help you. But please watch out for the professionals who are still mid-process. They can cause a lot more harm than they might mean to cause.)
Despite my sheltered upbringing, in the past few years, I have been getting a deeper grasp on how cold and evil people can be. I’ve had a closer look at the destructive handiwork of predators. Initially it took me off-guard, because I really believed in the goodness of people. I was raised to trust, to forgive, to love, and to see the best in others, and I do that easily.
So being targeted by the calculated coldness of predators has been quite an eye-opening experience. I still shake my head in surprise, completely amazed at how vicious people can be. The lies, the twists, the deception – the depths to which people will sink when they have no conscience to guide them – it’s totally mind boggling to someone raised by a family who truly believed in goodness.
How does someone protect themselves from blatant attacks by a predator trying to destroy them? When someone is trying to rip at your very core, how do you stay safe and solid within yourself?
First, know that they don’t know you. They know what they want you to be, but they don’t know who you truly are apart from them. As a result, they don’t speak the truth about you, or about anyone. They speak through the tools of their trade. They tells lies, they create deception, because these are the things they know. They know darkness, and they know cold, calculated, purposeful destruction of people. Yes, they purposefully work to destroy good people. But they are not you. And they are not me.
You don’t have to listen to them. You don’t have to believe them. You don’t have to be who or what they say you are. You don’t have to do what they say to do or think what they tell you to think. They are flat wrong in their words, their actions, and their motives. Learn who you truly are, apart from their lies and their manipulations and their tricks. Learn to think for yourself, neither in obedience to them nor in reaction to them, and that will help you to separate yourself from them.
And believe in your true self. Your life, your beliefs, your heart, and your soul belong to what you are willing to fight for and to what you stand for when there is nobody but you yourself telling you where to stand. You don’t have to give any of yourself away to the dark, cold emptiness of a predator. If you know and connect to your true self, that alone can be a protection against any predatory attack on your self. Knowing who you truly are is an armor against the lies and tricks intended to destroy you or hurt you by telling you who and what you are.
And learn how to compassionately love. Hold onto that gentle love you feel, and never let it go. Evil does not love. If you can genuinely love and care for others, you are not one of them. Stand solid in the knowledge of your own goodness, your spiritual faith, your strengths, and your ability to think and to feel and to love. Let that repel the evil away from you.
Separate yourself from them. Know who you are apart from them.
And stay far away from them. The best protection you can have is not to give them the opportunity to say or do anything to you. Protect yourself. If you know that somebody is a predator or a perpetrator, stay away from them.
Because you are not them. And they are not you.
You do not belong to them, no matter how much they come after you.
You do not belong to them, no matter what they did to you or what they said to you or what they made you do.
Stay true to yourself, and be who you are. Be who you truly are. And let the power of compassionate love overcome any darkness that tries to change you.
If you forget, remember the beauty and simplicity in an opening quote from the movie, “The Notebook”:
“I am no one special – just a common man, with common thoughts. I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me, and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect, I’ve succeeded as gloriously as anyone who has ever lived.
I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and for me, that is always good enough.“
Kathy Broady LCSW
May 9, 2009
For dissociative trauma survivors, Mother’s Day is often a painful time.
For survivors with dissociative identity disorder, mother issues are usually complex and difficult to sort out. Momma-trauma comes in a variety of forms.
For some survivors, their mothers were simply not there to protect them from the violent abuse of the father or other sadistic family members. These mothers were away at work, or away at the hospital, or too ill to tend properly to their children, or divorced from the fathers and living in separate homes, etc. Many of these mothers love their kids dearly, but still were unable to protect their children from trauma and abuse. Most of these mothers are not to blame for the abuse – many of them are absolutely horrified and deeply furious to find out, years later, how much abuse their children went through, and their feelings of guilt and shame are huge and overwhelming. None the less, their inability to protect their children creates mixed feelings for those children.
For some survivors, their mothers were too blind or too lost in their own denial to be willing and able to protect their children from abuse. These mothers do have some responsibility for their role in not protecting their children. These are the mothers that were in the home, and could have been instrumental and helpful for the protection of their children, but out of their own fear, denial or dissociation, refused to look, and refused to protect. These mothers let their own fear be bigger than their willingness to protect their children. These mothers may not have been directly used as accomplices, but their fears and unwillingness to protect would have most certainly been taken advantage of by the abusers.
For other survivors, their mothers were the abusers. These mothers were absolutely in the room at the time of the abuse, they caused physical pain, they did inappropriate sexual touch, and they played mind games on their children. These mothers are every bit as much a perpetrator as any other criminal.
So every year when Mother’s Day rolls around, it is difficult for survivors who grew up with mothers like that. It hurts. It’s confusing. The pain of what was longed for, but never given pierces the heart. The agony of wishing the mother had been willing to do something helpful grows cold out of the slow but torturous and accurate realization that the mother adamantly preferred apathy or self-protection over her children’s safety and welfare.
The heart-wrenching pain caused by an unattentive or abusing mother carries on for decades. The wounds do not heal quickly or easily. The hurt is felt for years and years.
It’s not right for mothers to cause such harm to their children. Those mothers are a disgrace. They are criminal. They are not “mothers”.
- Real mothers are good mothers that firmly protect their children from abuse, as much as that is humanly possible.
- Real mothers are good mothers who fight to get quality help and genuine safety for their children when someone else hurts their children.
- Real mothers are good mothers who do not complacently overlook or ignore the needs of their children.
- Real mothers are good mothers that put the needs of their young children over their own.
- Real mothers are good mothers that tend to the daily needs of their young children, and adjust with the various changes needed as their children get older.
- Real mothers are good mothers that work hard at being loyal, caring, kind, compassionate, loving, and giving to their children, forever and for always.
What kind of mother are you to your children?
If you are a trauma survivor…
- What kind of mother did you have?
- What affect has your mother had on your life?
- How did your mother fight to protect you?
- How did your mother contribute to your abuse?
- What thoughts and feelings do you have now, all these years later?
- What do you wish you could say to your mother, but couldn’t / wouldn’t say to her in real life?
Mothers and Mother’s Day.
So painful for so many people…..
Kathy Broady LCSW
March 4, 2009
The 2009 Crimes Against Women Conference in Dallas Texas this week has been quite interesting. I’ve picked out some “make you think” quotes from the conference to share with you all:
Over four million women are victims of a violent crime each year in the United States.
Female homicide victims are more than twice as likely to have been killed by husbands or boyfriends than male victims are to have been killed by wives or girlfriends.
Three women and one man are killed everyday in the USA from domestic violence.
One out of three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
From Casey Gwinn:
The most dangerous men in the world do not leave marks. The most experienced batterers are the ones that don’t leave marks, even with sexual abuse.
From Jim Tanner:
Sex Offenses are generally the SAME
- Secretive – they are done privately
- Abusive – there is denigration of the victim
- Manipulative – the offender exercises control
- Emotionless – the offender has no empathy
90% of the time, the victims know the offender.
From Jim Savage and Kristen Howell:
Women are more likely to be injured from domestic violence than by car wrecks, muggings, and rapes combined.
Help women stay safe from the most likely attacker: her partner.
The very skills that allowed a woman to survive the relationship are different than the skills needed to leave the relationship. …Help her develop a different skill set. She’s got the fortitude, we simply must equip her with a different skill set to move her through the stages of change.
Help her to understand the game – passive capitulation is key to survival, but it is a killer to her soul.
Women can protect themselves by not looking like an easy target. In a letter written shortly before his escape from the Glenwood Springs jail, Ted Bundy said, “I have known people who… radiate vulnerability. Their facial expressions say, “I am afraid of you.” These people invite abuse… By expecting to be hurt, do they subtly encourage it?”
Kathy Broady LCSW
January 26, 2009
Here is a quote from my article “Overcoming Instability Issues and Unsuccessful Memory Work,” posted on January 3, 2009.
“If you cannot speak, in your normal voice, discussing your trauma memories from the safety of the here-and-now while still connected in the present, then don’t even try to address your memories. It is too soon.”
It has come to my attention that I need to expand on these statements.
A. Your Normal Voice
To clarify, speaking “in your normal voice” does not mean to be devoid of all emotion. A dissociated, numb, detached voice is not your “normal voice”. A “normal voice” can and does have plenty of emotion — otherwise, we would all sound like robots.
Pick a safe topic (one not about trauma), but a topic about which you have passionate opinions. For example, what was your opinion about Bush vs. Obama? Did you have a strong preference for which man you wanted to have as the next President? How much emotion was in your voice when you expressed your opinions about the election?
Or, think of your favorite funny movie – one that really makes you laugh and leaves you feeling good for the rest of the day. When you talk about that comedy show, reliving the funny plots to your friend, do you have emotion in your voice?
In each of these situations, most people will have a relatively strong emotional connection to the topic, but they will be able to use their “normal voice” and incorporate a healthy amount of emotion in their speech.
Reaching up to (but not beyond) this level of emotional intensity is my recommendation for early stages of trauma work.
B. Emotional Intensity
I do not recommend that the first steps and stages of addressing memories and trauma be experienced in the extremes of emotional states. To go from blocked, dissociated, amnesiac non-awareness of traumatic material to full-fledged, full-voiced screams and cries is far too big of a jump. That’s a black vs. white approach, and neither extreme is going to be helpful for you.
Of course there are times when more extreme and intense emotion needs to be expressed – that is absolutely true. However, I do not think it is in any survivor’s best interest to start at that level of emotional intensity. Expression of that kind of emotional intensity happens way further down the line in treatment chronology. If you jump there too soon, there will be problems.
Why?? Because of the backlash. If you have no awareness of certain traumas for years of time, and then, within a short amount of time, you get flooded with a tidal wave of emotional information about that trauma, you can bet that there will be struggles with self-injury, self-mutilation, and physical pain as a backlash response to the sudden and excessive emotional pain of remembering.
The strength of your dissociative walls – the years of not knowing about certain traumatic information, emotion, and physical feelings – clearly and without question indicates that there is, and will be for an extended period of time, system conflict about that memory information surfacing.
While some parts will be very relieved at the chance to talk about their trauma, you will also have some insiders upset and angry that the memory surfaced in the first place. Some insiders could be so upset if memories surface or are talked about that they might threaten punishment or harm, or they might forego threats and simply act on their own beliefs and their own feelings. You will have some insiders re-living the physical pain, and others trying to deny the whole shebang. With all the opposing responses going on within your system, you won’t be able to sit with the emotional intensity for very long. An internal war will follow. That’s not very healing. That’s quite traumatizing.
It is much better and safer to approach emotional intensity in graduated steps — to build your tolerance and emotional endurance, and to make sure that there is no internal backlash. While some parts of you might want to scream and shout, there may very likely be someone else inside who will believe that kind of behavior should be punished.
If you don’t have sufficient system cooperation to be expressing such intense emotion, and to maintain your safety in the days following, then it is not safe for you to be pushing for that level of intensity.
C. The Here and Now
When doing trauma work, it is absolutely critical to have a solid connection to the present day, the here and now. All too many dissociated insiders actually think / feel / believe they are still living in the time frame that they are most connected to. Just because you – the adult host — know it is 2009, does NOT mean that your inside parts have that solid awareness. They are more familiar with other time zones. They may fully believe they are still there, in those times, living in those places, near those perpetrators, etc. They will be frightened of ongoing abuse, and will react accordingly.
Check that thoroughly. If for any reason, your insiders still think they are in that traumatic time frame, they will still be too afraid to address the issues in the most effective ways. They will still believe their perpetrators can hear them, or can see them, or will be showing up again at any moment. (Working with internal introjects of external perpetrators is a huge issue, but will be addressed in at a different time.)
As you show the current time frame to your insiders and prove to them that they are living in a new time frame (2009), and that they are living in your current house, that the perpetrators they fear are far far away, you are giving your memory-holding parts the ability to get grounded back to the current day once they begin memory work. This grounding to the current time frame is critical for them to know they are safe.
D. Current Safety
ALL parts must know they are safe enough to talk about their trauma, but this is especially true for child parts. They have to know that it is ok, and that the perpetrator isn’t going to show up and hurt them for talking. They also have to know that the other insiders will not punish them for talking about their memories.
Before starting any memory work with young parts be sure to address the following issues with them:
- Are they still connected to now – 2009? Show this, prove this, in any way that they can.
- Can they still see the room that you are physically in?
- Can they see that you live in this house now?
- Can they see that the house looks different? Can they see how the yard, garage, grounds, barns, etc look different from when the places where you grew up?
- When they are talking about the scary things that you remember, can they come back to being right there, in the current-day place where you are – the place that is far, far away from where those mean people live?
- Can they see your therapist’s office? Do they see the couch there? The pictures / decorations that are there? Do they know that your therapist’s office is also a very very very long way away from where those bad people are?
Reassure all child parts that you can and will keep them safe, both inside and out. If you cannot promise that you will be able to keep them safe from mean insiders and outside perpetrators, then address those issues first, before attempting to make the hurting parts talk about trauma.
Everyone needs solid reassurance about safety BEFORE talking about their trauma.
Kathy Broady LCSW
January 24, 2009
Child parts come in all shapes and sizes – small, tall, skinny, short, chunky, pristine, messy, filthy, princess-like, raggedy, male, female, quiet, noisy, screaming, crying, silent, confused, dazed, sleepy, busy, playful, happy, sad, angry, fearful, bouncing, babyish, stiff, awkward, hurting, numb.
As different as they are, they all have similar qualities. They are typically some of the oldest, most knowledgeable members of your system.
But as the youngest parts, how can they be the oldest?
Let me explain.
For example, if you split off a 5-year-old child part when you (and the body) were a literal age 5, and you are now age 35, that child part has been around for 30 years. Even though that little one might not have aged during that time, they may very well have seen or participated in many of your life’s events over the past 30 years. Being around for 30 years means they are one of your oldest parts. They could contain 30 years worth of memories, information, emotions, relationships, etc.
Child-aged parts do not have to be split off when the body was young, but many of them were. They will be very much aware of many of your life’s events. They will remember who many of the people are, and they will know who else from your system was involved in activities of the time. They lived through all the various years, so their ability to know and remember can be impressive.
Child parts will also, of course, retain much of the trauma information from your early years of life. People are at their most natural dissociative ability when under age 7 – the same years when they are also the most physically vulnerable, small, and defenseless. For young children, almost every single person in the whole wide world is bigger, stronger, and smarter than they are. Children are at the mercy of the adults around them, and when those adults are sadistic – cruel – vicious, children have to find a way to cope. Being physically unable to defend themselves, and typically not given the option to literally leave abusive environments, children can “leave” in their minds, even if they can’t leave with their feet.
During the crisis moments of the actual trauma, dissociative splitting is incredibly helpful. Going far away inside when you cannot go far away outside at least gives most of the person a fighting chance to be in a place to be as far away from the trauma as possible.
But it is sad, massively sad. These child parts were split off because there was no other help for them. There was no other way out for them. There was no other safety for them. There was no other protection, no other escape for their pain, and all too often, there was no other comfort for their heartbreak and emotional conflict.
The very first time you see your child parts, they may very well be locked into the same state where they were split off. They may still be trapped in that “time zone” of the original trauma, and they may or may not know that years of time have gone by. They may present with the same injuries, messiness, blood, and gore that they experienced at the time of their trauma. Or they may manifest in metaphorical pictures of what they felt like during their trauma, or in the aftermath. Most of a dissociative survivor’s internal kid parts were split off to deal with trauma-based situations, so unless you had a happy childhood, don’t expect to find bunches of happy child parts.
Because these little young ones are the foundation of your multiplicity, it is very important for the older leaders and hosts of the system to understand that so much of your healing revolves around meeting the needs of these children frozen in time.
Each time a little part of you had to split off and stay stuck in that their trauma, a piece of you – the overall person – was unable to grow up in a healthy, safe, productive manner. And honestly, until their young needs are met in a safe manner, the inner kids will stay there, exactly as their abusers left them.
The good news is that as you meet the needs of these child parts, they will naturally progress on their own.
Many mental health professionals use age progression techniques to “make the kids grow up quickly.” I have a different perspective on that. First of all, I do not think that snapping the fingers and magically saying (or hypnotically suggesting) that kids parts grow older means that the kids can actually get older. I am sure they will try their darndest to do that. But I doubt that they will be able to maintain that kind of suggested aging.
In my opinion, the child parts are frozen in these young ages for a reason. They were not safe enough to move forward in life, and their entire development was arrested on the spot. Pay attention to that. Listen to them. Look at their appearance. Have empathy for their emotional state. All this information means something. They are telling you exactly where they were, what was happening, and why they are stuck there.
If a real child, in the outside world, was standing in front of you, and looked like that, what would you do for that child?
How would you help an outside child to overcome a current-day trauma?
Use those same exact skills to help your inner children.
As you tend to all their unmet needs, and give your child parts the healthy, positive, comforting response they needed at the time of their splitting, they will be allowed to move forward from the place they were stuck. If they need safety, protect them from whatever they are afraid of. If they need food, feed them. If they need a drink, give them something safe to drink. If they need a chance to play, let them have fun. If they need to learn and develop their intellect, let them try new things and develop more skills. Figure out what they have been lacking for genuine growth and development, and give it to them.
Create positive, healing experiences for your child parts. As you give them what they were missing in the first place, they will automatically, naturally grow older. They won’t stay “stuck” as they are once their needs are being met. They will progress. They will learn. They will expand their vocabulary. They will find new skills and develop greater mastery.
This creates natural age progression. Your internal child parts can mature the same as any outside child would. It is a much more realistic way of helping your inner kids to grow up. It is real. Genuine. It’s not going to fall apart at the first hint of stress.
Magical answers are unrealistic. If you want your child parts to progress into healthier parts of you, then let them experience life in such a way that they can naturally grow up on their own.
However, growing up and maturing doesn’t automatically mean your child parts will get older!!
More about that and ideas about how, where, when to do all this will be presented in future writings.
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
December 15, 2008
I am busily working on some new posts in response to the excellent comments made by the readers here. You have been asking good questions and making thought-provoking points. I’m looking forward to responding to as many of these comments as I can. Thank you for your active participation – it is really exciting to see so many folks showing up around here already!!!
In the meantime, since all of you are frequently online, and clearly many of you are dissociative trauma survivors, I want to encourage you to read some very well written articles about internet safety and internet predators:
- Internet Predators: They Really Are Everywhere
- Internet Predators: One Way They Work
- Internet Predators and Child Alters: 10 Ideas to Keep Them Safe
These excellent articles are all available on Rocking Complacency, http://rockingcomplacency.wordpress.com. For that matter, this entire blog is good. If you are up to reading through the whole thing, I certainly recommend it!
The whole subject of internet predators is highly troubling and deeply disturbing. They work relentlessly to discredit the helpers, to prey on the vulnerable, to manipulate the gullible, to control the unsuspecting, and to deceive the needy while greedily feeding their own dark agendas. Dissociative trauma survivors are particularly at risk for getting used and hurt in these ways.
Solid prevention information / education can be enormously useful. It can help you prevent some serious harm, and can give you tips on how to better protect your system.
During my years of working with DIDer’s online, I have become aware of too many situations where naïve trusting DID survivors were led down the garden path by someone they trusted, only to find out, painfully too late, that their “friend” was an internet predator. It seems that warning people that are caught in the midst of this process falls on deaf ears – they get hooked and tangled in their predator’s web before they even realize it. They can’t see it happening, and all too often, they’ve been well-coached ahead of time on how to respond when an outsider catches wind of the dangers they are in.
By recommending the above-mentioned articles, my hopes are that many of you will become more aware of the danger signs ahead of time. If you recognize a predator’s tricks and ploys as they happen, you will have a greater chance of removing yourself and your system from their grasp, and staying safe.
Kathy Broady LCSW