March 6, 2010
Here is the next picture in the series about DID artwork.
Even the title of this painting indicates dissociative identity disorder (DID / MPD).
Masks are a common metaphor used by the dissociative survivor. In this picture, where are the masks? What are the masks covering? What does the “real” person, or the rest of the person look like? Where are the others in the system? Are they hiding behind the mask too? If there was no mask, what would we see?
The dual nature of the picture is strong and complex.
I’ve purposefully picked this picture to follow the blog previous picture, as a further example of the left vs. right split within many dissociative trauma survivors.
The most obvious element in this picture about dissociative disorders is how the person is divided into at least two distinctly different people. The left side of the face is different from the right side of the face. It might be that this person feels divided down the center into two different parts, or two different systems with different internal worlds. This visible division is an important issue to discuss with the artist.
The hairstyle, while similar, is not the same on each side. Besides the color difference, notice how the red side is curlier, wilder, appears to be longer, and comes closer to the front. The red hair covers more of the face, specifically blocking the right cheek, part of the right eye and the right edge of the mouth. System-wise, who wears the red hair, versus who owns the yellow? In the places where the colors are little mixed, what does that indicate?
The red hair seems a little more unruly or wild than the blond. Are the ones on the red side more angry? Do they feel more intensely? Do they feel more out of control? Are they in more pain? Yet, the red hair side is the one that covers more of the face, so does that side have more to hide? Do they have more secrets? Or does this side control what is or isn’t said?
When you look at this person, which side do you notice first? To me, the red-hair side seems to be more prominent. The colors are brighter, and the hair is bigger, and it is more forward than the yellow side. What is that about? Are these red system parts more visible than the other parts? Which side is more active than the other?
The yellow is still strong. What does it mean? How does it feel differently than the red?
Does the light red / pinkish-colored hair on the top of the head have any significance? It is a blending / mix of the blond and red? Does that color represent a unique system group? Are these parts that bridge the red and blond in some ways? Can they communicate with both sides? Who can do that?
Notice the two different eye colors, along with the two differently angled eyebrows. The blue eye is noticeably darker and heavier in appearance than the green eye. What do the two different colors represent? Who looks out the green eye, and who looks out the blue eye?
These eyes have the appearance of black eyes. Are these eyes indicators of having been beaten up? Has this person experienced a lot of physical violence? Have there been other kinds of violence? What violence has she seen?
There are big white spots in the center of both eyes. They may look like normal reflection spots, but examine that further. What do they indicate? In some ways, these spots make the person look dissociated, or staring, or in a trance-state. How does this relate to the artist-survivor? How often do they switch? How often do they feel ungrounded?
If you look closely, the eyes have color on the right edge, and the white is more on the left side of the pupil area. What does this indicate? Does the person see half of what happens, and dissociate the other half of what happens? Do some parts remember what they see, while others white it out? Who knows, versus who doesn’t know? Explore these ideas.
There is a blank emptiness to the eyes, and in some ways, the eyes show sadness. What is this about? What emotion do you see connected to the eyes? What feelings does the survivor have?
The nose, while drawn like a normal nose, has the shadow on the same side as the darker eye and the darker hair. Is this shadow simply artistic? Possibly so, but it is worth including in as an element of the discussion of the left side vs. right side differences.
Look at the mouth. A significant portion of the mouth is covered and hidden, indicating there may be secrets being kept. The lips appear to be pretty tightly closed – maybe even tense – indicating silence, or just not talking, and little appearance of feeling comfortable with speaking. What is this mouth not allowed to say? Why is the hair covering that side of the mouth? What does that side of the DID system know about that they aren’t talking about?
Notice the subtle line drawn horizontally across the base of the neck. What is the purpose of that line? Is it the neckline of a shirt? Is it an indication of being choked or other neck-related trauma? Is it another indicator of how the head get dissociated away from the body? So many DID trauma survivors separate their heads from their bodies, or feel disconnected from their bodies, to this line could be an indicator of that. Explore that more, in case it is.
The background behind the face is also divided into two different designs. What do the two different backgrounds represent? One side is purple with small black lines, and the other is black with purple curvy lines. What do these colors and designs represent? Are they indicative of trauma or intense feelings? Ask a variety of questions about these designs. They are telling a story. I don’t know this survivor, but the background indicates that there is good reason to ask this survivor about having experienced shock trauma.
What is the overall emotion and feeling you see when you look at this picture? I see sadness, pain, some anger, a heaviness, and a lot of trauma. This dissociative survivor very likely has a lot of abuse stories yet to talk about.
I wish her the best in her healing journey.
Kathy Broady LCSW
Copyright © 2008-2010 Kathy Broady LCSW and Discussing Dissociation
February 18, 2010
What is it like to live with dissociative identity disorder?
How does it feel to have dissociative identity disorder?
What do you wish others could understand about DID?
Have you found it hard to put the experience of dissociative identity disorder into words?
Sometimes pictures say a thousand words.
Dissociative Identity Disorder can be hard to explain in words, but a visual image can show what is hard to explain otherwise. Have you drawn or created some pictures that show how DID / MPD feels?
If you have a picture — a drawing, a painting, a collage — that represents DID as you relate to it, and if you are willing to share your picture, I would like to show some of those images here in this blog as a way to help describe DID.
What to do:
If you have some appropriate images that you would like to share, please send them to my email address: Info @ AbuseConsultants.com (remove the spaces). If there are words or a story that goes along with your image about dissociation, please include that as well. You can request that your submission be posted with or without an identifying name / title, etc.
Please do not submit any copyrighted material from other sources or any other material that is not your own.
Please do not send the only copy or the original copy of your pictures or artwork to my mailing address. Send scans or photos of the pictures only. Please note: anything that is submitted for consideration in this project will not be returned.
Personal details regarding internal system information or system maps will not be posted, in order to protect individuals and their system from the potential risk of making that information public.
When you are considering which pictures to submit, please remember that you are responsible for determining what you are comfortable sharing and what is too personal for you to share. Please listen to and respect your own feelings in this regard.
Keep in mind that the Discussing Dissociation blog is an online environment, and you are submitting your pictures or images for consideration as part of a public post. Please understand that once a picture is posted on a blog, it is publically visible to anyone in the world with internet and could potentially be copied by anyone that views it. If you choose to submit a picture, you are accepting all responsibility for what happens with your picture as a public item. Kathy Broady / AbuseConsultants.com are not responsible.
The Purpose of this Project
Please know that I will not personally know these artists nor will I be familiar with their systems or how things work for them. In the blog articles, I will ask questions and interpret some DID system issues by the way things were drawn, but not because I am familiar with the people in real life. My guesses might be wrong! I am simply looking at these pictures and presenting some of my thought about how DID can be seen and more deeply understood by paying attention to artwork and drawings.
In a therapeutic setting, I would of course, ask the survivors to explain their art before I began presenting some of my own interpretations. However, for the purposes of this blog, I will present some of my thoughts without having had the opportunity to speak with the artist directly.
The intention is to provide education information for those working with dissociative disorders – to point out possibilities of dissociative issues within artwork – to explore options about system interpretation, etc.
My interpretations may or may not be correct — only the artist will know that. The artists are not required to nor expected to provide the “correct” interpretation of their work to me or to the readers of this blog as their privacy is important.
However, for the purposes of discussing elements of dissociation, I will be speaking openly even without knowing if my comments are accurate or not.
Thank you for your willingness to participate in this project!
I look forward to seeing what DID looks like to you!
Kathy Broady LCSW
December 5, 2009
Multiplicity, the 1996 movie with Michael Keaton, is not specifically about Dissociative Identity Disorder – it is technically about being cloned — but it is a funny, light-hearted comedy that absolutely pertains to DID / MPD.
Have you watched this show?
Keaton’s character has a lot in common with DID. As you watch the movie, you can see the following similarities happen in this sequence:
- Putting his fax machine (electronic equipment) on the blitz easily
- Creating split, after split, after split, with each different self assigned to work in different areas of his life
- Feeling that life is overwhelming and he can’t get it all done
- Participation in scientific experiment (ok, so this is supposed to be a fun post, so I won’t delve into that)
- Having an unusual, complicated sense of time, especially once he has more than one self
- Fighting between the parts over “who’s me” – “I’m the main one – No, I am!” The different selves squabble over who is the leader of the body-life, e
- As the different parts have different experiences, they contain different memories and different feelings. While they all started from the same place, they develop unique lives.
- The different parts argue with each other – take opposite opinions, have different goals, different priorities. They each make significant decisions that effect the whole of the body-life.
- At first, the idea of having split lives works really well. It helps to get more things accomplished effectively.
- Experiencing “memory loss” – the parts are not aware of what the other parts are doing, and they have to suddenly cover for the activities of the other parts
- Gradually realizing they need to coordinate and talk about whose doing what to keep things running smoothly
- People out in the world can notice the difference between the different parts, despite their best efforts to not let this be seen
- Sometimes its hard to tell the difference between the parts – sometimes the differences are more than obvious
- Once the original person starts splitting, the easier it is to split again, and again, and again. Eventually, the parts begin to split as well.
- “Not me” – it was one of the others – passing responsibility and blame to someone else in the system
- Bickering and fighting occurs between the parts — they even get jealous of each other
- As there is more and more unawareness of what the others are saying or doing, the reality of being multiple affects his life more significantly
- As the different ones experience new activities for the very first time, the newness of the event is an exciting unexpected experience for each of them.
- The “host” of the system realizes that he has handed his life out to so many others, and at some point, he misses his life, and wants to get back involved. While being away so much has its perks, he realizes he is missing out by not being involved.
- Consequences start happening when the parts do not know what the other parts know, when one part can’t cover for another, and the information gaps start becoming more and more obvious.
- There are hurt feelings between the parts when they think outside people like one of the other parts better than them
- When they finally work together on a project, they can accomplish a lot, really quickly
- When insecurities arise between the parts, they have to remember “You are me, I am you” – they have to remember they are really the same person, even though they experience life as different people
That’s pretty good for Hollywood!
How many of these events can you relate to?
Have these kinds of complications happened in your life as a multiple?
Have you experienced these feelings in your life as a multiple?
This movie is a nice change from the usual dark, unflattering versions of multiplicity portrayed in the media. It’s not a perfect display of life as a dissociative survivor, but it shows a lot of humor about the difficulties in developing system cooperation and internal system communication.
If only real life as a multiple was this fun…!
For some light-hearted entertainment that you might relate to as a multiple (or as someone who lives with a multiple), I recommend watching this show.
Kathy Broady LCSW
July 14, 2009
When you have dissociative identity disorder (DID/MPD), and you’re thinking as a multiple personality — thus having a multitude of different thoughts at once time — it can be very difficult to make decisions.
How do survivors with DID ever make up their minds?
How do survivors with DID decide whose opinion to follow?
How do survivors with DID ever decide what is best for them?
How do survivors with DID sort out having a dozen different opinions at once?
It is complicated to think like a multiple.
There are gaps of missing time, non-sequential pieces of information, jumbled feelings and emotions, snippets of conflicting facts, confusion, voices from the past, fears of more punishment, flashbacks, internal arguing, programmed thoughts, insistent introjects, personal insecurities, etc. The chaotic internal workings of a dissociative trauma survivor can make it very difficult to think clearly.
Non-dissociative “singletons” (people who do not have multiple personality disorder) can experience simultaneous mixed feelings, opposing thoughts and conflicting perspectives on specific situations as well. Singletons can write out extensive lists of “pros vs. cons” on any number of situations. Non-dissociative singletons do not experience just one thought or one feeling at a time either. They see the big conflicting picture all at once.
So what makes decision making even more difficult for survivors with DID?
All too often, dissociative trauma survivors functioned through the difficult times of their life by separating their thoughts and feelings into individual compartments and using dissociative, amnesiac walls to keep these compartments separated. Having mixed emotions and conflicting beliefs at the same time was often too much to manage in the middle of a traumatic event. Dissociative survivors learned to split the different feelings and the different perspectives into different parts of themselves, blocking one perspective away from the other. It is easier to separate and contain overwhelming conflicting emotions when the two opposing emotions did not have to directly collide with each other.
For example, all children love their parents. But if a young girl has a father who is sexually abusing her, and a mother that is either pretending not to see that or is helping the father to abuse her, then huge conflicting emotions are going to occur. The child will want to please her parents, even in this painful abusive situation. But in order to do that, the child will have to find ways to separate her experience of the parents she loves from the parents who are hurting her. Dissociating the conflicts into separate parts help this to happen.
- The child can split off a part of herself that is willing to obey her father even to the point of acting like a passive or promiscuous young child that appears to want to be sexual with the father.
- She can split off a part of her that feels the physical pain and injury of the assault.
- She can split off a part of her that contains the intense betrayal by the mother.
- She can split off a part that holds the emotional pain, deep wounding, and heartbreak of the assault.
- She can split off a part that holds the anger and rage at having been assaulted by both of her parents.
- She can split off a part that holds the fear of being violently assaulted by her parents again and again.
- She can split off a part that is the happy little girl who goes to school the next day, blocking out all the pain, acting very connected to her parents, not showing any sign of having been through a horrendous assault the night before.
The person as a whole sees the situation as a whole. But if a dissociative trauma survivor has separated the different feelings and perspectives and kept that information separated locked and blocked behind various dissociative walls, then the survivor is aware of only some of the information at any given point in time. She is not aware of the whole picture, because she has it dissociated parts of it away from herself.
Dissociative people are accustomed to separating the intense conflicting emotions and managing only one or two at a time. This might help in the short-run, but it does not help in the long-run.
So how do dissociative trauma survivors make good decisions if they are used to looking at situations from the constraints of one limited perspective at a time? What happens when they cannot see the situation as a whole? How can they make a good decision if they cannot put the entire picture together at the same time?
This is a common problem for survivors with DID. The part of them that sees and recognizes the dangers cannot always communicate with the happy naïve part who is determined to believe she is safe and unharmed. The ones that believe they are out of harm’s way (and who wouldn’t want to hold tight to that belief?) refuse to connect with the fear, anger, pain of the trauma (because who would want to feel that?!)
The problem is that by not seeing the whole picture at one time, dissociative trauma survivors find themselves tangled into a variety of dangerous situations. For example, they can bond to dangerous people without recognizing the danger. They see only as much as the current perspective allows them to see, and they don’t even realize that there is trouble looming in the near future. By dissociating the perceptions and experiences that might better recognize the danger, dissociative survivors can put themselves in high-risk situations over and over and over again.
Building the strength, the courage, and the willingness to talk to all the other internal parts in your system is key to getting past the dissociative walls and being able to make decisions from a more complete perspective. Face your difficult emotions, confront the truth of your trauma, listen to all of your inner selves, and recognize that other internal parts have valid information. No one can make a good decision based on partial information. Be willing to look at the whole picture.
As you learn to trust your internal parts to give you the rest of the story, you will be less vulnerable to people who aggressively or suggestively tell you what to think. The more you can trust yourself, the less vulnerable you are to people who would manipulate your thinking by maneuvering behind your dissociative walls. Predators and perpetrators will have less ammunition to use against you when you can trust your own selves. They will not be able to abuse you as much if you are aware that it is happening. The less you dissociate time and information, the more you can appropriately handle life’s current day conflicts.
If you truly know the whole story of what happens in your life, both in the past and in the present, then you are less vulnerable to feeling or thinking or believing something just because someone else more aggressive tells you that you do. You can learn to connect to and trust in your own thoughts or feelings or beliefs, and to make your own assessment of a situation based on that.
Look at the whole picture and think for yourself.
Kathy Broady LCSW
June 11, 2009
I hope everyone has already recorded his or her score for the DES before reading this follow-up blog.
If you haven’t yet taken the DES, please do so before reading any further.
To explain the scoring of the DES, I’m going to quote some material from Dr. Colin Ross’s book “Dissociative Identity Disorder”. This information can also be found online at http://www.rossinst.com/dissociative_experiences_scale.html . Dr. Ross also provides a lengthy discussion about dissociation in the general population, charts, graphs, and comparative information with the DDIS, SCID-D, SCL-90, and MCMI.
The Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) is a 28-item self-report instrument that can be completed in 10 minutes, and scored in less than 5 minutes. It is easy to understand, and the questions are framed in a normative way that does not stigmatize the respondent for positive responses. A typical DES question is, “Some people have the experience of finding new things among their belongings that they do not remember buying. Mark the line to show what percentage of the time this happens to you.” The respondent then slashes the line, which is anchored at 0% on the left and 100% on the right, to show how often he or she has this experience. The DES contains a variety of dissociative experiences, many of which are normal experiences.
The DES has very good validity and reliability, and good overall psychometric properties, as reviewed by its original developers (Carlson, 1994; Carlson & Armstrong, 1994; Carlson & Putnam, 1993; Carlson et al., 1993). It has excellent construct validity, which means it is internally consistent and hangs together well, as reflected in highly significant Spearman correlations of all items with the overall DES score. The scale is derived from extensive clinical experience with an understanding of DID. In the initial studies during its development and in all subsequent studies, the DES has discriminated DID from other diagnostic groups and controls at high levels of significance, based on either group mean or group median scores. In most samples, the mean and median DES scores for DID subjects are within 5 points of each other.
…The higher the DES score, the more likely it is that the person has DID. In a sample of 1,051 clinical subjects, however, only 17% of those scoring above 30 on the DES actually had DID (Carlson et al., 1993). The DES is not a diagnostic instrument. It is a screening instrument. High scores on the DES do not prove that a person has a dissociative disorder, they only suggest that clinical assessment for dissociation is warranted. This is how we report DES scores in our consults, as within or not within the range for DID, and as consistent or not consistent with the clinical and DDIS diagnosis of DID. DID subjects sometimes have low scores, so a low score does not rule out DID. In fact, given that in most studies the average DES score for a DID patient is in the 40s, and the standard deviation about 20, roughly about 15% of clinically diagnosed DID patients score below 20 on the DES…..
The DES is the only dissociative instrument that has been subjected to a number of replication studies by independent investigators. We found in our original replication (Ross, Norton, & Anderson, 1988) that it discriminated DID from other groups very well, with scores similar to those found by Bernstein and Putnam (1986), and this pattern has persisted in all subsequent research….
The DES can predict who will not, and who may have a dissociative disorder with high accuracy. As well, the DES taps into the dissociative component of general psychopathology… The DES is not just picking out a dissociative anomaly that is unconnected to anything else.
Because of the properties of the DES, and its extensive research base, It is the best self-report instrument for measuring dissociation available….
In other words, most trauma survivors that are clinically diagnosed with DID score in the 40’s on the DES, but survivors with DID can certainly score lower than 20 and higher than 69. Scores over 30 will indicate a high likelihood of the person having dissociative identity disorder.
Basically, the higher the score, the more likely the person has DID. The DES is not an official diagnostic tool, but it can certainly help to screen for people with dissociative disorders.
In my personal opinion, for dissociative people, the DES score will be somewhat dependent on who in the system takes the test. The parts that have more denial and dissociation from the rest of the system will likely score lower than others in the system that are more aware of the others inside. Also, I would guess that the DES score might vary with the different stages of therapy and treatment.
In any which way, the DES can be very helpful in your therapy process, and I strongly encourage you to discuss your scores in detail with your therapist. Various questions may have specific personal importance for you and can provide good foundational material for processing the ways your dissociation affects your life. The DES can give you an excellent starting place for talking about how life is for you as a dissociative person.
It can be helpful to take repeated DES tests over the course of your treatment, so you can record the changes over time. Hopefully, your dissociative scores will decrease as you progress through your therapy process.
- Which questions do you most relate to?
- If you have scored higher than 60% on any question, does your therapist understand that this experience is so common for you?
- Did you hear or sense internal arguing about how to answer any of the questions?
- Were you surprised to see any of the questions?
- Which questions asked you about dissociative experiences that you have not yet told other people that you experience?
- Do you find the DES to be upsetting? Comforting? Frightening? Confusing? …..? (fill in the blank)
Kathy Broady LCSW
June 10, 2009
How dissociative are you?
Do you wonder if you have a dissociative disorder?
Do you wonder if you are more dissociative than average?
You can take a simple 28-question self-reporting questionnaire to get a sense of how dissociative you are. It will take about 10-15 minutes to read through the questions.
The Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) was developed by Eve Bernstein Carlson, Ph.D. and Frank W. Putnam, M.D.
The Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) can be found at:
Answer each question, selecting how often that experience happens to you. Pick any number between 0 and 100. Of course, 0 represents none of the time, and 100 represents all of the time.
There is no right or wrong answer – it is more about the reality of how often these experiences happen for you. Try to be as accurate and honest with yourself as possible.
To score the DES, add up the individual scores of each of the 28 questions to get a total score. Divide this total score by 28 to get the average score.
(I’ll discuss the meaning of the scores in my next post.)
- When you were answering these questions, what were you thinking? What were you feeling?
- Are you worried about being highly dissociative?
- Are you upset about being dissociative?
- Are you relieved to finally find something that explains how life is for you?
Kathy Broady LCSW
May 23, 2009
Multiplicity has made it into the Soap Opera world.
On the soap opera, “One Life to Live”, the character named Jessica Buchanan has Dissociative Identity Disorder. In earlier episodes, Jessica spent a fair bit of time in an inpatient hospital unit addressing her trauma, her grief, etc. According to Jessica, she resolved her difficult emotional issues and dealt with her internal system conflicts so sufficiently that she was able to integrate. Her small internal system agreed that it was time for them to tuck back inside, and even though the viewing audience knew that Jessica had at least one more huge unresolved traumatic secret, Jess went about enjoying her life as if she was completely healed.
For what appeared to be months of time, Jessica looked and acted as if she was integrated. Bess and Tess were nowhere to be found – she was only Jess. She felt like she was completely integrated. She believed it. Her family believed it. Her best friends believed it.
Did you believe it?
Anyone that knows anything about real multiplicity and dissociation should not have believed it.
Why was it inevitable that Jessica’s alleged integration would fail?
Because she had unresolved trauma, and she was still holding a secret from herself. This wasn’t a small secret – it was a huge secret involving the death of a child and criminal behavior.
Jess was still unaware of what Bess did. Tess knew a portion of the story, but not the whole thing. Both Tess and Bess knew they hadn’t told Jess. Jess didn’t know that she didn’t know.
Frankly, Jess-Tess-Bess are still a big mess. But it’s a soap opera, so I wouldn’t expect anything less.
The point is this. When the parts of the system hold important, traumatic, and/or emotionally distressful information from each other, and from the host personality, there is no way that a genuine integration can occur. Holding this kind of secret from yourself means that you are keeping dissociative barriers and amnesiac walls.
Maintaining dissociative walls is not possible in real integration. The very definition of integration means there are no more dissociative walls holding back secret information.
So of course, for Jessica, Bess and Tess would return. They couldn’t not return. If they could have kept anything and everything totally controlled and not let any kind of trigger or reminder occur, they might have been able to stay hidden inside, but that is unrealistic. Unresolved, unprocessed trauma is much more likely to get triggered repeatedly until those memories are resolved.
In your healing journey, there will be trauma issues to sort out and address, but remember, until the whole of your system is aware of what happened to everyone else, you will still have dissociative walls. As long as you have dissociative walls, you cannot be considered integrated.
Questions to think about:
- If you could talk to Jessica, what would you say to her? What would you recommend to her?
- Do you relate to Jessica’s desire to be integrated, and yet still not want to know what has happened in your past?
- Have you heard the stories and life experiences of every one of your internal parts?
- Have your insiders listened to the stories and life experiences of each other?
- Are you refusing to listen to certain parts? Why or why not?
- While there are obviously important reasons to pace your healing work, are you intending to listen to every memory that your insiders remember and need to talk about?
- Would you prefer to continue to “not know”? If so, how do you define what is necessary for your healing?
Kathy Broady LCSW
April 12, 2009
Do you remember the DiscussingDissociation article from December 2008 called “Holidays for DID Trauma Survivors… Making it Nice for the Littles”?
If you have not yet read that article, please check it out. It was written in reference to holidays during the Christmas season, but the points are still very much applicable today on Easter, and during Passover.
We have seen the numerous comments from people about how the Spring time holidays are difficult, painful, emotionally challenging, etc. I have been listening to dissociative trauma survivors for many years, and that is a consistent theme for survivors with DID/MPD.
While you cannot change the past, you can make a few things happen that will help you to feel better in the present.
At some point that works for you — don’t put this off forever! – do the memory work that is connected to the pain you feel about the Easter / Spring time holidays. Find the ones inside that have those horrible memories, listen to what happened to them, look at whatever images they need you to see to understand, address their concerns, and help to move them forward to the here and now.
Remember, as long as your internal parts stay stuck in time, and are internally locked in the past, they will continue to re-live and re-live and re-live those memories.
For survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorder, memory work also includes doing internal system work and making changes in your internal landscapes. Read the January 2009 articles, “Using the Internal Landscape to Increase Internal Communication” and “When It’s Dark and Scary on the Inside…” as guidelines for working with trauma memories.
Also, since many trauma memories are related to or contained by child parts, it is also important to refresh your memory on how to work with child parts. Have a glance back at “Thinking Ahead – Preparation for Working with your Child Parts” and “Understanding the Child Parts in the Dissociative System”.
Working with the child parts that hold the painful trauma memories, and helping them to find ways to reconnect with the here and now, both internally and externally, is crucial in your healing process. If you are still hurting today, and your trauma happened years ago, a great deal of that pain you feel is coming from the child parts that experienced the pain and abuse in real life.
Don’t avoid those little ones just because they are hurting.
That’s not going to help. It’s not going to help you feel better, and it’s certainly not going to help those little ones feel better. It’s not ok to repeat the patterns of neglect and avoidance that you might have seen from your own parental caregivers while growing up.
Be courageous as best you can, and do some kind things to help your child parts to heal.
Find ways to give something positive and fun to your child parts today.
Give them a piece of Easter candy, especially if they have never had the chance to have safe, and yummy “real” and actual candy before.
Let them have a picture of a little duck or a baby chick and spend a few minutes coloring or drawing a pretty spring picture, with fresh grass, safe flowers, colorful blossoms, etc.
Play a few fun games (not hurting games) with Easter eggs or colored toys.
Let them sing some favorite spiritual songs or say some prayers today.
Let them do anything that is fun for them, something that does not get to happen just any day, ie: watching a favorite show on tv, having their favorite snacks, etc.
It doesn’t actually matter what you do with your kid parts as long as you do something nice, memorable, and positive for them, with them.
Give your kids a pleasant, positive memory today. Let something good become part of their life experience. The more you build something positive for their lives, the sooner your negative memories can be less enormous in proportion.
What good times are you going to have today?
Kathy Broady LCSW