Giving Time To The Various Parts Of Me
Just over a week ago I escaped to a rural part of England for a short break with my eldest son, he and I live together and it felt like a good idea to have time away. The break was well planned and in a safe place, on a car free woodland site which offers lots of activities which you can take part in, as well as having free wi-fi; something my son stated was a pre-requisite to any holiday.
For me the week was about giving time to my alters; the other parts of me, who I realised often get overlooked and blocked by myself. By blocking them and not giving them time, I’m aware that I am adding to the internal chaos we all face, as they will still seek their time usually when I’m least expecting it. Part of my on going therapy has been to encourage better working with the alters to decrease the amount of unplanned switching that goes on, but try as I might blocking still seems to happen.
So I packed my art things, cartoons and other DVDs into the cases and set off, I felt so determined to make this work that I even set up an out of office message on my email. I was intent on time limiting my access to the internet, wi-fi or not and I made every effort to stick with the plans of limiting my time on social media too. These few days were about me giving time to me, all of me and it was about relaxing, resting and de-stressing.
During the break I had planned a day at the spa just for me, as a way of telling myself I wasn’t being ignored either. I didn’t need to worry about phone calls or food or cleaning or anything really, I just needed to focus on being me the real me. You see its not easy at times to let my little parts have planned time, after all I am very conscious of other people’s opinions and reactions. I even find it hard to sit and let the little parts of me watch cartoons when other people; including my PA’s are around. Art is similar, one of my parts enjoys art greatly but switching off and giving her planned time to come out and take control of this body that we share is hard when others are around.
Each day I started with internal dialogue talking to my alters and planning the day, cartoons followed as I deliberately gave control over to the little parts of me. The intention was to put them first and it helped, communication improved between me and them and I found myself able to just be me. Whether that meant being one of my little alters, a teen or indeed another adult me didn’t really matter what was important was the fact I could be true to myself. Not ashamed of my switching or anxious about who I was or which me had control, and my stress levels actually went down.
My teen had planned time for art, she was able to enjoy expressing herself in a way that doesn’t happen so often at home. I felt less pressure and I didn’t try blocking her as much, on my Spa Day I decided to invite her along and so side by side we went to the spa, yes I have one body but it was definitely occupied by two distinct parts of me at this time. It was probably the best decision I made all week, sat in there internally communicating with this part of me felt groundbreaking. It may sound odd but I really feel like I know this part of me better, I don’t know what causes her pain or the memories she holds from my past, but I do know her far more than before.
On our last day I really didn’t want to leave and I escaped to the pottery painting studio to switch off, my teen alter popped out and took control of this body for a while. I was able to watch her as she enjoyed more time, which made me feel good as well.
Coming home was hard I didn’t want to have to refit back into the busy world, were expectations seem higher and more restrictive. You see whilst I was away I could be the real true me, I could give time to my parts, I communicated with a new alter and that felt good too. I still had uncontrolled switching, times when parts of me take over this body unannounced and times when I dissociated too. But the environment meant I could just accept this and not worry, not feel ashamed as is often the case.
Switching isn’t unusual for my son and he would just deal with whoever was around be that me adult mum or a little who wants to old hands and skip. I realise that the person who struggles most with the switching is in fact me, I’m the person who is far more anxious about this, more conscious and more bothered. Yet in truth this is just who I am and it’s only by being me and by giving time to the various parts of me that I can move forwards. But its not easy admitting to yourself that you have alters; yes I still deny it subconsciously, and it’s not easy admitting I’m different to many people in society. Nor is it easy admitting or accepting there are things I still can’t do that I so wish I could, yes I may have made progress since leaving hospital but sometimes it just doesn’t feel enough.
The first week back in the real world facing day to day life and all it’s challenges has been really tough, I have found myself attempting to block giving time to the alters. I am conscious of switching and I’m conscious of other people’s attitudes and there have been times I have wanted to escape and not return. I have shed many tears and I’ve struggled with sleep, my appetite is poor and it’s been difficult beyond words at times.
But I’m persevering and with support from my family I am attempting to set time aside for the various parts of me, so we have had cartoons and lots of painting, plus sport and other activities. I’ve even found myself listening to music I wouldn’t normally enjoy; some part of me has obviously acquired it. I’m trying to be kind to myself, realise my limits and most of all accept me, accept all the different parts of me.
copyright DID Dispatches 2014