December 21, 2012
It’s Winter Solstice week — time that is often difficult for far too many dissociative trauma survivors. It’s a time where days are short, and nights are long. Far too long. It’s a day where light feels complicated. Fractured. Broken. Dark.
I haven’t forgotten. I know that many of you are hurting and remembering intense hurts right now.
This year, I wanted to write something not as heavy, but still acknowledging the difficulties of this week. As you all know, from my recent comments, I am enjoying a new Ipad and all its options. Today, I’m going to post two pictures that I took myself, with this Ipad, while exploring its funny photo options.
There is much innocence in this pictures. Believe me, if you could see me fumbling around like a country bumpkin with this new fancy technology, you would roll your eyes at my utter rediculousness-ness-ness in the process of taking the photos. For that matter, what they look like are pure coincidence, lol.
But, to my surprise, as pretty as these pictures are, they still remind me of trauma issues related to DID / MPD.
What do you see in these pictures?
What do you like / dislike about these pictures?
Do they relate to your trauma history in any way?
What comforts do you see in these pictures?
What triggers do you see in these pictures?
How do these pictures relate to the Solstice times of your life?
Your thoughts and comments are welcome.
And, more importantly than anything else, I hope that, even little by little, you find deeper healing today. Hold your insiders near to you. Be kind to each other, and ever so gently support yourselves.
December 21, 2010
Well…. it’s December 21, 2010. Although the weather here in Dallas was nearly 80 degrees Fahrenheit today, this is the official first day of winter. It’s the Winter Solstice and on top of that, last night was the lunar eclipse. Did anyone see that? If you can actually enjoy the moon, it was pretty cool to see.
However, late last night while I was standing alone outside, quietly looking at the lunar eclipse, I could appreciate the beauty with my eyes, but my heart was feeling a sadness and heaviness for the other things that were happening in other parts of the world.
Winter Solstice represents a day of darkness that is full of trauma for too many dissociative trauma survivors. The night was far too scary, far too difficult, far too dark, far too long.
Many of you know what I am speaking of and I don’t have to go into the gory details for you to know the pain and anguish you have probably already been feeling all day.
If this kind of history applies to you, I am sorry that you had to experience such horrible atrocities in your lifetime. I can promise you it was not right nor good nor ok that you were required to participate in such darkness.
I wish the world was not so dark.
I wish that evil didn’t have such a hold on so many people.
I wish that kindness and gentleness could win all wars.
I wish those creeps that enjoy inflicting pain would inflict it on themselves, and leave the rest of us alone.
I wish it was just an ordinary night for you, and not a night of darkness.
I am sorry that you were hurt.
I wish they had never ever showed you any of their darkness.
I hope that you find freedom, safety and a lifetime of distance from their darkness.
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW 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
July 4, 2010
For us here in the US, it’s the July 4th holiday weekend. Barbecues, picnics, swimming parties, and fireworks are happening all over the country. Red, white, and blue stars and stripes are visible in every direction. It’s a fun holiday – most people are in festive moods.
The point of the Independence Day holiday is to celebrate freedom. It’s about being free, living in a land that is free, feeling free and all kinds of good stuff like that. Freedoms do exist in all kinds of ways – there’s no doubt about that. Life can be good. Most of us here in America have the freedom to live our lives in ways that we choose for ourselves.
But is everyone free?
People get trapped and stuck in a variety of ways. When this happens, their life feels anything but free. Sometimes the traps are made by the people themselves. Sometimes traps are made by societal views, racial hatred, poverty, language barriers, etc. Sometimes the traps are made by mental illness. Sometimes traps are set by other people, especially in situations involving chronic trauma and abuse. Sometimes traps are made with mind control.
This weekend, while I am enjoying the chance to make decisions for myself, I am thinking about people who are not feeling as free as I am.
1. Trapped within their Compulsive Hoarding
Have you seen any of the recent flurry of television shows about compulsive hoarding? Titles such as “Hoarding: Buried Alive” (shown on the TLC channel) describe exactly how trapped people become when they suffer from compulsive hoarding. Their own home becomes their jail, and far too many compulsive hoarders are stuck in their lifestyle, with no clue how to free themselves from such heaviness.
Hoarders do not feel free. They do not have a sense of freedom in their own homes. They are often laden down with many extreme obsessions, compulsions, anxieties that may not even be rational, but still claim total ownership to their mind and lives.
The more someone hoards, the less space they have to move. Eventually, even the freedom to walk around their own home becomes nonexistent. They become complete prisoners to the items they are hoarding.
2. Trapped with Fears and Phobias
Fears and phobias can imprison a person in a very extreme way. Fears of talking to people, fears of leaving the house, fears of trying new foods, fears of eating in public, fears of riding in cars, fears of the unknown, etc. can all keep a person stuck into a very limited life-space. When people are too frightened to venture out of their status quo, they are stuck and trapped in whatever place they are in. The more fears they have, the more traps they live in. Their living space can get smaller, and smaller, and smaller.
3. Trapped by Obesity and Eating Disorders
People that are obese are trapped within their own bodies. The lack of freedom to move, or walk, or bend, or stretch can feel very entrapping. Eating disorders, including anorexia and bulemia, can also create a prison with the body. When the body becomes the prison, every minute of the day feels trapped. There is no freedom since the prison goes everywhere.
4. Trapped with Ongoing Abuse and Trauma
Unfortunately, there are far too many survivors of trauma and abuse that are still current victims of trauma and abuse. This includes anything from child abuse,
domestic violence, incest, and date rape, to human trafficking, prostitution, sex slavery, cult groups, etc. When people are controlled by other people through violence and pain, they are often too beaten down to see a way out. They are not allowed to see or believe that they can escape from their abuse, and they are typically not given or allowed the resources to leave. Any efforts to leave require an incredible depth of personal strength since the external controls and risks of violence are excessive.
5. Trapped with Mind Control
Mind control is the invisible jail. Dissociative survivors of chronic, severe abuse have elements of mind control that effect every essence of their lives. Survivors of organized or ritual abuse will absolutely have parts within their internal dissociative systems that were purposefully made and created in order to contain elements of mind control and programming. DID survivors with mind control issues will have parts in their systems that have been expertly trained to do tasks that are opposite from what the host personality / day parts are willing to do. Amnesia and dissociative walls (blocking off the sharing of information) can mean that a dissociative survivor can have missing time and minimal (if any) awareness that certain events happened. DID survivors may have no awareness of what is going on in their own lives.
Mind control can dictate what dissociative survivors say, where they go, who they talk with, who they interact with, what they do, what they tolerate, what they feel, what they think, etc. Having internal system parts that are controlled by mind control means that there are certain elements of the life (and certain times of the day or night) that your life is being completely controlled and manipulated by someone else. Other parts of your system will take over the body and they do exactly what they have been told to do by the abusers who are using the mind control tactics. This can be very scary, and the people whose lives are “taken over” by mind control certainly do not feel free.
Creating Freedom within Your Own Life
When you are trapped by any of the above-mentioned areas of life, it will take a lot of hard work to get out of those traps. It is possible. Yes, in every single situation mentioned above it is absolutely possible for the enslaved people to get out of all the traps. But freedom for any of these people does not come easy. It takes a lot of consistent work, typically for years of time.
Do you want real freedom in your life?
Do you want the ability to walk, move, think, decide, and believe for yourself?
Do you want the freedom to be your real, authentic self and have a life completely under your own control?
Freedom is to be your true self is an absolutely wonderful thing.
And yes, that’s an option for you too.
Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
You might have to fight for it, but yes, absolutely, you can have freedom too.
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
June 20, 2010
This weekend is often a difficult weekend for trauma survivors with dissociative identity disorder. First, there is Father’s Day (for those of us living in the USA), and secondly, it’s the Summer Solstice. Anytime the difficult days get stacked on top of each other, it’s going to make for a complicated time.
On days when the issues seem to surface in layers, what do you do to cope?
(**This blog article is about difficult topics so it could be triggering – please pace yourself carefully and keep yourself safe.)
Father’s Day has many of the same emotional complications as was written about on Mother’s Day. The days proceeding are often full of painful memories, heartbreaking loss, fear, conflict, and upset. The vast majority of DID survivors have had abusive fathers, so the idea of celebrating fathers typically stirs up great turmoil.
The first day of summer, like all season changes, has relevance to those who have experienced difference forms of Ritual Abuse (RA). Many of the dark church organizations celebrate the seasonal changes and these so-called “celebrations” are full of trauma, abuse, gross activities, icky messes, scary events, etc. Survivors of these ordeals are often flooded with flashbacks, emotional distress and internal conflict during the times of season changes.
When you put the two of these highly emotional events together, dissociative survivors experience a lot of overwhelm. Some of the difficulties can include PTSD symptoms (nightmares, flashbacks, depersonalization, body memories, difficulties sleeping, irritability, feeling distant from others, etc.) and anxiety symptoms (panic attacks, excessive fears, heightened startle reflex, nausea, trembling, heart palpitations, headaches, obsessions, chest pain, etc), self-destructive thoughts, self-injury behaviors, suicidal ideation (pervasive thoughts about wanting to die), depression, tearfulness, or detached numbing. It’s probably been a miserable weekend for a lot of DID survivors.
Fathers that participate in dark church rituals are often not the kind of fathers that you find written about in Hallmark Cards. These are the kinds of fathers that prefer abusive activities, or that like sadistic pain, or have freaky and perverse sexual interests. They are difficult men who have caused a lot of hurt and pain for a lot of people, especially for their children.
And yet, even so, there are nearly always those parts within the DID system that feel loyalty and a deep bonding with the father figure. These parts are typically parts that have adopted some level of acceptance of the traumatic activities, and have long ago learned to tolerate the abuse or to even define it as anything but abuse.
DID survivors often manage abuse by their fathers by creating a father introject within the internal dissociative system. Father introjects are internal system parts that remember the father so well that they look-feel-sound-act-appear to the others inside as the same as the actual father. An internal introject may do the same kinds of abusive behaviors to the other parts of the system, recreating the same abusive patterns and feelings that the external father did. Since the internal world is so real to DID survivors, it can feel like the father is still there, still controlling things, still making all the decisions, still threatening harm, still causing harm.
And in many ways this can be true.
It can be difficult to separate who the external father is from the internal father introject. They can very much feel like mirror-images of each other, shadow replicas, and the child parts of the system will not be able to tell the difference between them.
But father introjects are NOT the actual father, no matter how much they may claim to be so. Father introjects actually belong to you. They split from you, they came from your mind, and they originated with you. They are actually part of you, and not part of the father. They may have been taught by the father, but they are actually yours.
However, they will be powerful parts of the internal system though so their power and influence is not to be ignored or minimized. It is more important to work with these parts, and reconnect their loyalty to the survivor person instead of to the father figure. This is an absolutely crucial part of the DID therapy process, and if you haven’t yet gained a safe working relationship with your father introject, you will need to do so.
Father Transference Issues
In the therapy process, male therapists will have many of the same kinds of transference issues regarding father issuesj as female therapists have with mother issues. In fact, it is often difficult for some female dissociative survivors to work with male therapists because of the kinds of trauma, abuse, and controls associated with their father. Male therapists often have to address transference issues of being seen as the abuser, controlling male, dominant owner, sexual pervert, etc. So many trauma survivors have issues with men — and even more have issues with their fathers — that it makes being a male therapist for female trauma survivors particularly difficult.
Other female trauma survivors are so used to be led by men or connected to men, especially their father, that they feel more at ease with men and less comfortable with “neglectful, abandoning mothers”. (Female therapists tend to get more of the abandonment transference issues, while male therapists tend to get more of the abuser-male dominance transference issues.) The relationship between survivors and their parents will very often dictate which gender of therapist is a better fit for them.
Typical Father Issues
Father issues are not easy to work through. They often take years of time to sort out, and they are very painful. Many survivors truly feel bonded to their fathers, even if some of their relationship involved sexual activities. Sometimes feeling sexually connected to the father felt better than being emotionally abandoned by the mother. When this is the case, there are numerous emotional complications to process during your healing.
Do you understand the role your father has played in your life?
Do you experience system switching, feelings of fear, or flashbacks when you are in the same room with your father?
What would your father do if you said no to him?
What would your father do if you chose a lifestyle very different from the one he chose for his life?
Are you allowed to live separately from him? Have you been allowed to move away from his neighborhood?
How much control or influence does your father have over you life in the current day?
Are you safe when you are in the same room as your father?
Does your father still abuse you or any of your younger parts? Does he still exert a level of sexual dominance over anyone in your system?
Would you be betraying your father if you refused to let him touch you in sexual ways?
If your father is an abuser, you can get distance and separation from him.
You don’t have to stay bonded to abusers.
You don’t have to stay connected to violent relationships.
You don’t have to be abused to be accepted.
You do not have to be sexual to be accepted.
All men are not abusers.
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
April 3, 2010
This is Easter weekend.
For DID trauma survivors with a ritual abuse (RA) background, this is a very difficult weekend, full of difficult memories, painful emotions, and system conflicts.
*** I’m going to speak of some of the horrors of ritual abuse – here is your trigger warning – for those of you that need one of those. ***
With ritual abuse, anything that represented something positive in the Christian faith would have been turned into something dangerous and harmful in the dark worlds. The good would have been twisted into evil. The light would have been made dark. Distortions, perversions, confusion, pain, violence, and chaos would have been celebrated.
Opposites are taught – white becomes black. The day-world church is very distinctly different and opposite from the night-world church.
Children should never ever be exposed to the level of sadistic violence that occurs in ritualistic ceremonies. It is wrong for this to happen.
Children should never ever be forced to participate in the outrageous activities and horrendous practices of the dark night ritualistic world. It is wrong for this to happen.
If you were forced to participate in sadistic ritualistic activities, my heart goes out to you. You’ve seen some of the worst of the worst that happens in this world. It is not ok that anyone hurt you like that.
If you were ritually abused, you would have been painfully traumatized, emotionally tortured, sexually assaulted, and physically beaten. These are horrible crimes. It was wrong for anyone to do this to you. It was wrong if your parents did this to you. It was wrong if strangers did this to you. It was wrong if friends or neighbors did this to you. It is wrong, criminally wrong, for any and all children to be forced to participate in these kinds of activities in any way, shape, or form.
You did not deserve that kind of treatment. (Don’t believe lies that say otherwise.)
You were not born to live in the darkness. (Don’t believe lies that say otherwise.)
You were not destined to belong to evil. (Don’t believe lies that say otherwise.)
You are not the child of Satan. (Don’t believe lies that say otherwise.)
You do not have to live your life chained to this darkness. (Don’t believe lies that say otherwise.)
It is ok and important to get healing from any kind of ritualistic abuse that has happened in your life. RA is gory and violent, it’s controlling and demanding, it’s hateful and sadistic, but it does not have to define who you are. You do not have to stay connected to anyone or anything that pushes you into that direction.
You can separate from those people, places, organizations, and become your own true, genuine self.
You can make your own decisions for what you believe in, and for what kind of life you want to have. You don’t have to be involved in a RA lifestyle if you don’t want to. You don’t have to go to any more RA gatherings, and you don’t have to be one of them.
Your abusers would have told you otherwise, but now that you are an adult, you can decide for yourself. You can think on your own, and you don’t have to be bullied any more.
You can be your own self, with your own life. You can develop your own values, beliefs, and preferences. You don’t have to like the things you were told to like – you can decide for yourself what it is that you like. You don’t have to want the things you were told to want – you can decide that for yourself as well.
You don’t have to be one of them. You can have a life full of kindness, gentleness, compassion, empathy instead. You don’t have to prefer violence and hatred. You can be different from that.
If you have dissociative identity disorder (DID / MPD), be sure to let the parts who were ritually abused to experience some of the more positive things in your life. They might initially say they aren’t interested (I’m guessing they were taught to say that), but if you encourage them to experience some of the positive things in your life, you can help to bring healing to them too. Don’t leave them stuck in their traumatic history – help them to heal and to have a chance to live in a safe, positive, warm place.
All the parts of you can heal from the atrocities of ritual abuse.
But for that to happen, you will need to be willing to introduce the light of the day-world to those parts that were split off into the world of darkness. Invite them to actively participate in your day-world. Let them have a cup of coffee or your favorite soda. Let them sit outside in the sun. Let them listen to some of your favorite music, or watch television, or walk the dogs in the park. Let the have a turn at your favorite computer game, and to nibble on your favorite treats and munchies. The dark-side parts will need to experience some of what your world is like in order to understand how it can be better for them. Be gentle with them. Slowly show them the things that you like.
It might feel scary to interact with these parts, but keeping them separated from you only keeps them stuck in the darkness they have known. With the help of your therapist, let those parts become more connected to your personal worlds where they can learn about kindness, gentleness, peace of mind, etc. Build up your courage and ability to listen to them. Comfort them from the hurts they have experienced. Help them to get out of those places that have been so violent.
Separate yourself from anyone in the outside world that wants you to stay in the darkness. Firmly reclaim all your insiders as parts of you that belong with you, and not to anyone else. Work very hard to not leave any of your parts left stuck in such violence. Have the courage to pull them all out into a life of safety.
Your whole system can have the life that you want. Don’t let any of them stay stuck in the yuck of the past.
Let them experience the goodness and joy that can be part of Easter.
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
October 31, 2009
It’s Halloween weekend.
This is a difficult, heavy weekend for a lot of dissociative trauma survivors.
I’ll say right upfront – and please hear this clearly — that it is NOT a difficult or triggery weekend for every DID trauma survivor. To assume that every dissociative survivor has experienced the same kinds of abuse is completely wrong, and I will be the first trauma therapist to say that not everyone has gone through the dark sadistic abuses associated with the days most commonly known as Halloween.
If you can enjoy the fun sides of Halloween – bags of candy, apple-bobbing parties, carving pumpkins, or trick or treating in silly costumes — that is great news for you. Halloween is a non-abusive, non-holiday, safe-on-the-surface level social event for most people. For these folks, it is not intended to be anything more traumatic than seeing the pretense of gross plastic items stocked in the party aisles of a store. For the more courageous and daring, they will spend $20 at the locally created “Haunted House” – something quickly assembled much like a traveling carnival booth.
But for some dissociative trauma survivors, these days surrounding Halloween are very dark, and very scary, and filled with deep historical meaning. There are far too many triggers everywhere, and the hidden, layered symbols feel anything but safe.
For anyone who has experienced the horrors of organized ritual abuse, the days surrounding Halloween are very truly difficult. The nights are worse. The heaviness, the darkness, the pulls toward things not comfortable feels very disturbing and over-powering.
Many survivors feel scattered or disorganized within their system. Or they might feel like the internal dark ones are enveloping or surrounding them. Or they feel pulled to gory pictures, or negative thoughts, or self-injury. Images of gorging on food, or death and violence, or various sexual abuses might flood their mind. These snippets can be indicators of memory flashbacks, or pulls to participate in current day nightmares.
Even if you went there in the past, you don’t have to go there anymore.
Even if your insiders are remembering their past, remembering then is not the same as being there now.
DID survivors with an RA history might not feel like their usual selves during the time around Halloween. They might feel like isolating from their safe support people, and feel more drawn towards their abusers. They might feel pulls to go out, or to go to some unknown somewhere…
However, on days like this, staying home – literally staying indoors and refusing to leave the safety of your home – is often the very best thing you can do. Reassure your insiders that they do not have to participate in anything scary, and that they are allowed to be safe. They do not have to be hurt anymore. They do not have to be handed over to danger.
They can stay home in the safety of your home.
It might be a battle.
If you been ritually abused, it probably will be a battle.
You might have parts in your system who have experienced unspeakable horrors during this week of time. But the more you can protect them from ongoing abuse, and gently comfort them in regards to their past abuse, the better.
The days surrounding Halloween can be some of the most difficult, triggery days of the year.
However, I encourage you to use this time to get to know those parts of your system that have managed this for you. Listen to them, and let them tell you some of their life experiences. They will need the opportunity to heal from their trauma history as well. And yes, it will be very hard for you to hear their life stories, but they have the same right to begin having safety, comforts, healing, and protection just like the rest of you.
Even if you feel afraid – don’t leave your most traumatized parts stuck in their abuse because you are too afraid to work with them.
Even if you feel horrified – don’t turn your back on helping these parts simply because you are horrified about what they had to go through.
Ignoring their pain, or refusing to teach them about the lighter sides of life means that they are left neglected and stuck in the darkness.
That’s not ok.
They need your help, even if that is not how they are first saying it.
Be brave. Allow your whole system to heal and to experience safety. Don’t leave any of your insiders stuck in the darkness. It is not their fault they were abused in the darkness. They are there because they were forced to be there. It’s not their fault they were split off in that dark place. But they originally came from you, so they belong to you. Don’t let the darkness keep those parts, not even one of them. They need you and your help to get them out of that darkness.
They need you to have enough courage and willingness and compassion to allow them the same chance at healing that you are having.
So be kind to your insiders. Be willing to help the ones that have experienced the worst of the worst. Let everyone within your system find freedom – healing – safety – gentleness – acceptance.
Help them find the way out.
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
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