Facing the stark reality of understanding the fears of my alters; the other parts of me, is hard at times especially when I realise just how much my past has influenced who I am, who all of me are. I encouraged my alters to express through art their feelings and concerns about beginning trauma work the results were at points difficult to comprehend.
Yes parts of me are anxious at trauma work beginning, they fear my reaction and responses to processing the past. Some are clearly fearful I will respond in negative ways and fall back into self harming or begin to lose control and get angry. But others have more deep seated fears, fear of people from my past and the fear of telling the secrets they were told I assume not to share.
Of course all the alters are parts of me, they are fragments formed as I developed as a child and dissociated to avoid the unimaginable horrors of my childhood. So their concerns are my concerns, their fears my fears, but they are deep seated within me and as such the adult me is far more unlikely to realise how important these issues are.
But of course they are important, I don’t want to fall back in old negative coping behaviours which at one time were my only survival technique. So my desire to not self harm or lose control and become angry is quite high and yet I hadn’t thought just how frightened I really am of returning to those dark days. Where I dare not get out of bed until I’d made the first cut of the day, I couldn’t express my inner pain back then and cutting seemed the only way of letting out some of the excruciating pain I felt. It was a bit like the safety valve on a steam generator, if it didn’t reduce pressure I’d have exploded from within, overwhelmed by the turmoil of flashbacks and memories that seemed to fill my days.
Parts of me of course are anxious about the consequences of self harming, the last time it was a major major problem we ended up being hospitalised, on observation levels we hated and in places I wouldn’t wish to ever return to. I have to say that not only do my alters fear this but it’s somewhere I vowed on my last release never to return to. Those feelings of not wanting to ever go back into that spiral of admissions are immense, such was the impact of that time.
Today of course I know I will be letting out that pain in a controlled and safe manner, I’ll be in the safety of the therapy room and I will be supported. Yet each time I will return home and need to try and utilise new techniques to help me stay safe in the days following each session. By realising the fear held deep within me I can at least think ahead of what those techniques need to be, it’s probably going to be a good idea to have support from a PA on the day following my session.
I need to ensure as well that I keep my diary relatively free on the day after therapy too, to allow me time to do art, to give time to my alters and to just be kind to myself.
The anger I hold deep within too use to explode out every now and again this wasn’t directed at people, usually it meant throwing objects around. Throwing objects allowed me an outlet to release some of the built up pressure deep within. Just venting out some of that pressure meant I could carry on living for the rest of a day, of course I would always feel guilty at losing control and so tears of sorrow always ensued.
Even in my relatively new home there are shoe marks on walls were I have just vented, in what I now realise is an inappropriate manner. But my experiences as a child meant I couldn’t express the anger I felt about what was happening to me, so it got bottled up and left to sit deep within me for years. The inner turmoil I felt as memories came flooding back would often result in shoes or books being thrown, that or the pain would become unbearable and I’d resort to harming.
Yet today I need to find solutions to ensure I don’t leave more black marks on walls, or behave in a way that really is not acceptable. I currently don’t deal well with anger in fact it still gets bottled up, I hate it in fact as my experiences tell me anger is bad. Those experiences are based on being on the receiving end of my mothers rage and anger, or the anger and aggression of others.
Part of trauma work is to process the emotions and feelings of the past, I am going to get angry as a result of accepting what happened to me and rightly so, but I need to do that safely. Not throw objects but punch a pillow or bang on cushions and vent it out in words rather than in actions. Most of this processing will be done in the safety of the therapy room and I’ll have help to keep safe. My therapist has rules about throwing objects and damaging myself, other people or objects with serious consequences if I breach those rules. I know he can de-escalate me before it becomes too much and so I don’t fear breaching his rules as I’m in a contained environment.
Yet I realise I really need to plan ahead so at home I’m going to attempt to make reminder signs for key rooms where I usually escape to, to throw objects, my bedroom is a key room for this. A sign that gives me other options maybe helpful as a prompt so that in the heat of a moment I can stay safe. Giving myself de-escalation techniques of my own will help too, I guess I’m going to need to spot the signs of being overwhelmed by the intensity of a moment and reduce agitation at that point, so I learn to contain myself.
If anger is allowed to fester that’s when it can become an issue, and my current style of anger management is to block it, deny it and let it fester. Well I’m on a steep learning curve right now but I really hope I can adapt and learn to not let my emotions be blocked, denied and ultimately fester to a point were they become a problem.
Understanding theses fears and anxieties before we start trauma work is really helpful, at least I can be proactive instead of reactive which in my world of living with D.I.D is a rarity right now.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2014