I’m writing my blog today sitting on a plane, which hopefully will take me safely to Orlando in Florida. Now yes Florida does mean sunshine, golden beaches and Mickey Mouse but more importantly it also means the Healing Together conference organised by An Infinite Mind.
Now in it’s fifth year this conference is a fabulous event and one I am determined to go to if I can, I was first introduced to this event in 2012 and I’ve so far managed to attend twice.
Each time I have been privileged to hear speakers with a wealth of knowledge and experience talk about various aspects of dissociation and dissociative identity disorder. I have also been honoured to meet survivors who like me have D.I.D and their families and I have made many friendships. I have been very inspired by some of those I have met and really feel it has given me much hope of a future living life with dissociative identity disorder.
This year I am attending the conference accompanied by my daughter and together we are speaking on ‘parent and child dynamics and multiplicity’. The talk will include the journey we have taken as a family, what’s worked and what hasn’t and will raise some of the key issues for both survivors; who are parents and family members. As a family we know that we have faced some big dilemmas as a result of my dissociation and there have been times when all of us have made mistakes. Mistakes that disrupted relationships and caused more heartache, mistakes we have learnt from and mistakes which we intend not to make again.
There are challenges for me as mum, how and when I told my children, how I told other family members. There were fears too, would they understand, how would they react and would they reject me. I was shocked by the children’s response, they were relieved to discover why I was always changing my mind, losing awareness and forgetting things. Because despite me not telling them what was happening in my life for years, hiding as best I could the switching they noticed.
My children faced challenges too especially when their mum suddenly became a young alter who announced she couldn’t be their mum, she was too young. They have had to explain to friends that mum might suddenly change, with different voice tone and behaviours. It really hasn’t been easy for them at all and it’s taken us all time to grew and develop coping mechanisms that work.
There have been lots of hard lessons to learn and our talk is about sharing how we have progressed as a family unit and how we manage to have positive relationships. There are some key issues that people need to understand, but the biggest of all is that despite everything I am still a parent. My children tell me I’m a good parent and having D.I.D doesn’t prevent me from giving my children the nurture and love they need. Family life is possible with D.I.D, yes it isn’t easy but with the right things in place and lots of understanding on both sides it can and does work.
The talk is also helpful for professionals who work in this field as it’s helpful for them to understand some of the issues faced by trauma/highly dissociative clients and their families. It’s helpful to grasp how as a parent I feel a failure at times because of my switching and that how my family and friends have reacted to my multiplicity has impacted greatly upon me. One of the key things I have found is that therapists see me for an hour a week, whatever happens there may impact my entire week. The reality is that therapy alongside the trauma, flashbacks and body memories which are part of my life impacts upon me and impact upon family 24/7 to one degree or another.
Alongside presenting at the conference I have the joy to listen to other great speakers, meet old friends and learn some valuable things as well. The conference opens up new avenues and allows those who attend to learn more about D.I.D at the same time as providing me and my daughter opportunities to meet others in similar situations to ourselves. The healing together conference really is an invaluable event and one I thoroughly enjoy attending.
Now as I said at the start of this blog it’s in Orlando, Florida, it must be good I’m travelling a few thousand miles to attend and it attracts others to travel long distances also. Now beside the event itself which is held over the course of a weekend I’m intending to spend a week in Mickey Mouse territory, this is one place where it is acceptable for adults to be children. It’s a space where my little alters can be out and I don’t need to worry, I find this a useful opportunity for all of me.
I will try and keep you posted with how it goes and will be updating my blog as the next ten days progresses. Hopefully there will be lots of fun, laughter and enjoyment alongside virtual therapy courtesy of my very accommodating and helpful psychologist. Till the next blog post Happy Holiday Greeting from sunny Florida.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2015