When the tears won’t come 

 

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This week I had a tough therapy session focused on processing some baggage from my past, yet despite trying to face up to the difficulties of my past the tears were not that evident. Now I did get a little emotional, but the full force of the anguish evoked by the grieving process as I recalled memories from the past just didn’t come through. I really felt the tears were just on the edge and so as I left my session I did expect them to start flowing, but they didn’t come.

I had a couple of jobs I needed to do and well tears at that time would have been an inconvenience and a little awkward. I think I was trying to stem the tide and so focused on the tasks in hand and blocked any emotions, by the time I was nearly home still no tears had come. I felt awful I was deeply saddened by the mis-mash of feelings whizzing around inside, feelings of sadness, hurt and a deep anguish that was wrenching at my heart. Yet for whatever reason when I had time the tears still didn’t come and so at home with a PA in place I couldn’t just hide and let go.

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At home instead I tried to keep busy, I tried to push on and well I couldn’t cry in front of my new PA after all what would she think. I longed for her to leave, I longed for time to grieve and oh did I want to grieve. In fact I knew that grieving was exactly what I needed to do, you see remembering the horrors of the past, knowing it’s true, yet again seals in my mind that I can’t deny I was abused. I so wish my abuse hadn’t happened and I so wish I could deny that it did, but the more I recall the more I realise I can no longer pretend this didn’t happen to me.

I spent the majority of the day trying to carry on, being stoical if you like and putting on a brave face, yet inside there was a deep hurting that so needed to be expressed. When I was alone I truly thought the tears would flow and yet they didn’t come, I talked internally, I tried hard to reassure all of me that we could grieve and it was ok to do so, yet tears remained absent. It wasn’t like I didn’t need to cry in fact I felt as if they were just there on the edge waiting to flow at any second, except they didn’t flow, they didn’t come.

That night I went to bed early snuggled up under my pillow fort, my hope was the tears would come finally and at last they’d flow, but in the end I fell asleep and still I hadn’t cried.  The days since then have taken a similar path I have felt like they are just there on the edge but then they disappear. I have let out the odd few tears, just a few seconds here and there but not enough to really let go of the feelings deep within. The feelings of anguish and grief that so need to burst forth seem to be having trouble being expressed, it’s often as if the dam is about to burst and I think I will cry uncontrollably, that it then simply dissipates away.

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Last night I thought it’s coming, at last I can rid myself of the desperate anguish trapped inside, but somehow I stopped those tears once again. When I feel like it’s ok to cry something happens and I need to stop myself, be it a phone call or a person walking into the room. I know I need to cry, I know part of me is worried about doing that and I know they are scared they have upset me. I’ve tried to reassure them and myself that crying is actually ok, that crying is an acceptable and appropriate response to have. Yet somehow the message isn’t getting through loudly enough and so I’m grieving in silence and I’m grieving without tears.

I know I need to grieve, it hurts to think this abuse happened to me, to know it wasn’t my fault and that I did all I could to stay safe. I know for a long time I used to think this wasn’t me, the abuse it happened to an alter not me. You see I truly felt no emotion, I had so limited a recall of that time, that in my mind the abuse didn’t happen to me. But as the amnesic barriers come down the emotions of that time are making themselves known to me, and now I realise that this, this abuse it happened to me. To come to terms with that is so hard, it’s so hard to grasp and so hard to take in fully after all I’d so rather it wasn’t the case.

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Accepting the past isn’t easy, accepting I can challenge those ingrained beliefs that crying isn’t something I’m allowed to do is equally as hard. Yet I know I need to do both and I know I so need to cry, to grieve, to let go of the emotions of the past and the anguish it evokes. But knowing and doing are two very different things and right now it seems doing is something I’m finding difficulty with.

Now I know at some point the tears will come, probably when I’m least expecting them and most likely at an inconvenient time. Yet I know they will flow it’s just right now that seems an impossibility  and so I’m left trying to find a way forward that allows me to accept and deal with these feelings inside. I’m left trying to accept that I need to not block my feelings or my tears anymore because when I do I end up in this predicament, when I so wish I could cry but the tears won’t come.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

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Sharing time and activities with my alters

Taking myself on a day out with my alters is anything but dull after all it’s a bit like a big family outing. Obviously there are challenges but those tend to be based around ensuring I allocate time for various alters and accept its ok to lose time and switch a lot.  Generally its accepting that I have to play the juggling game that comes as part of life with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

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Yesterday I planned to visit a woodland were I hoped to see bluebells, these are one of my favourite flowers as they remind me of one of the few positive memories from my past. I knew I was likely to switch alters and I also realised that there is absolutely no way I can give each part of me individual time. I planned instead to give time to various groups of alters so little me’s, teens/adolescent parts and then adult me’s as this seemed easier. It takes a great deal of preparation and lots of internal dialogue to make such a day possible and I have to be extremely conscious of everyone’s needs.

On arrival at the nature reserve I visited the information centre, were little me’s looked at the children’s activities on offer, they find such things interesting alongside of course the play area close by. Now at my age I don’t think It would look good if I suddenly tried to go on a swing whilst actual young children waited, so I have to try and explain this to those inside. We have an agreement that if it’s quiet we can go on them but if it’s busy its best we don’t. They seem to accept this but I do wish at times we had adult only play areas equipped with swings and slides etc.

As we ventured for a stroll into the woods my little me’s we’re excited at the thought of seeing bluebells and possibly deers which we had been told might be sighted. All the time I was communicating with my alters discussing what we were doing and seeing, I’m learning its vital I notice every change in my feelings as often this is a way of noticing who is around inside of me. It is a mix of one way communication and two way dialogue and it varies from alter to alter. Also I  sensed the switching from one alter to another that was happening during this time.

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There was great excitement as we saw the first bluebells, and lots of interest from many parts of me at that point. My teens and adolescents parts were more interested in the noises we heard, so the different birdsong and the noise of the rain and wind as it touched the leaves on the trees. It felt more intense with them and more detailed and my adolescent teen who enjoys talking with me as we enjoy the countryside near my home was keen to talk here too. I sat for a rest and she and I were able to talk, though we were soon aware of little me’s excitably watching a bird feeding close by. I had to try and play that juggling act of pleasing them all whilst balancing needs and that isn’t so easy.

As the bird flew on its way my adolescent was soon able to carry on having our chat, it was interesting to hear her enjoying this time. My teen who doesn’t talk was soon squeezing my arm, her sign to let me know she is around and we were then able to communicate via Ideomotor signalling. The sense I get from the emotions they bring forward is that they enjoy time to just be and time to be heard and that makes adult me feel better too,

I then took time for me, to stop the noise in my head and the thinking that rages on inside of me that often feels a bit like an out of control speeding car. So I tried to practice the techniques my psychologist has previously mentioned relating to mindfulness, though as I am still learning its not always so easy.  However sitting in the quietness of a fairly empty woodland with the birds playing their natures very own musical symphony it felt truly relaxing. I found it quite easy to focus in on the noises which surrounded me and was surprised by the variety of sounds. Time past quite swiftly and my mind settled down as did the various parts within, they didn’t go away but we’re just accepting that I needed time too.

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As we strolled back to the main centre and time for a drink the noise inside grew, I now faced the battle within as to which part of me would choose the cake we were going to eat. The little parts won and were soon trying to decide which of the yummy treats on offer we could have. It ended up with a gooey vanilla slice which tasted delicious and certainly filled a hole. Part of me who is worried about weight found this hard, but we did enjoy it despite the vast calories it contained. The Ducks that played outside the cafe window attracted little parts attention and they were soon very distracted by them.

As we made our way towards the exit I felt happy but exhausted, its hard ensuring all of me enjoys time together. I think it’s the fact I’m trying to get everyone who lives inside of me to co-operate and to start working as a team. It isn’t easy but I do enjoy the time we get and I enjoy knowing parts of me get to experience things they haven’t done so before.  Most of all it’s good to know that despite having Dissociative Identity Disorder I can live my life even if it’s more complex and challenging than your average persons.

Though our day went well it came at a cost and I lost time soon after we left as other parts of me took control of this body we share. I didn’t lose time for long, about an hour or so and I realised it was most probably because I was so tired. Today I have needed to rest and recuperate and I’ve started the day giving time to other parts of me, I will get time but I need to ensure all of me has time too.

But I can feel happy about yesterday because I know through our hard work and perseverance a lot of me managed to enjoy a spectacle of nature, that ‘carpet of blue’ as the flowers filled the woodland floor. It’s a sight I was glad I witnessed and the birdsong chorus we enjoyed, well that was the icing on the cake. Juggling demands and alters can and does have rewards it makes life easier in the long run and for that reason I will keep on trying to enjoy activities with all of me.

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Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Learning more about one of my little me’s

Understanding how to parent myself better

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This week I’ve been thinking about the differences between some of my alters and what the characteristics they have tell me about my past. I am always conscious that my alters are parts of me, just these parts are fragmented from adult me by the nature of dissociation. I am learning as I continue to utilise internal dialogue more and more about these parts of myself and at times it makes me realise just what my life was like in the past. For whilst I still have amnesia of some parts of my life I am slowly realising what it was like back then through the character traits and emotions carried by my alters.

I have one little alter  who is probably aged around 5 or 6 she initially seemed quite upfront, forward, chatty and cheeky. I used to think she was super confident as she would speak loudly compared to the other parts and she let me know when she was around. There were times when she would find sharing cartoon time difficult and she would appear to be more precocious than other parts.  But these were my initial thoughts build over a few months of internal dialogue and sometimes being co-aware or as I call it side by side. Times when I would find myself watching as she was in control of this body we share, times when I didn’t lose time but didn’t have control either.

Then as time progressed and internal dialogue continued I began to notice little repetitive issues that I could see were part of her character. For instance if I made a mistake she’d tell me I was silly, pointing out the things I did wrong seemed to be a regular occurrence. I would then point out this wasn’t nice or that she was being cheeky and suddenly I could feel her fear, but this wasn’t normal fear.

Her fear was palpable it was so strong and I would feel like I was trembling inside, she would start  to apologise but in an over the top way. She became timid, so willing to please and seemed desperate to know I wasn’t cross. She’d often be filling my head with noise, begging forgiveness for being a naughty girl and saying she didn’t mean to be naughty. Of course I’d do all I could to reassure her, tell her she wasn’t in any trouble and that reassurance would have to be repeated many times. She was then often quiet and withdrawn and I’d not sense her around for quite a while afterwards.

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She would often be bothered if I was upset again displaying fearfulness and if I didn’t sense my teen part for a few days she would ask me to check she was okay. She gradually seemed happier with sharing time and activities and toys, always checking though that she wasn’t being bad afterwards. It was as if she needed to know that she wasn’t getting things wrong as that seemed to really concern her. If she thought other people in the external world were upset or angry with us that would really bother her too.

As time progressed I began to realise that her precociousness is just her being a typical little girl and I also realised her fear was genuine terror filled fear and its origin stems from our past. I now find myself offering reassurance to her at regular intervals, letting her know things are safe and okay. I try hard to encourage this part of me, trying to build up confidence and personal skills, such as her assertiveness and sharing skills. She is slowly learning to help me cook; she can make brilliant toast, she is learning she can share safely and that its okay to show feelings. Hence when I’m upset or another part is thats not a danger, it’s just us expressing our emotions.

I learnt this week in psychology that her negativity is deep within and it’s something I struggle with too, in fact I often put myself down. I have a low self worth so it’s no wonder she is saying similar things, she is repeating the behaviours she observes in me.  As my psychologist said yesterday its time I practice what I preach, I need to stop making disparaging remarks about myself if I want her too.

I also need to think of better ways to respond to her instead of creating increased anxiety and fear, I need to think of better ways to parent myself. In the future when she puts me down or says a disparaging remark its important how I respond. The same applies to when she is cheeky and perhaps a little too forward because if I create fear in her I’m not parenting myself well. So currently I’m trying to learn to respond differently to her but it is a steep learning curve for me and so I expect this will be a case of not always getting it right. This morning when she puts us down I stopped myself from saying ‘that wasn’t nice’ and instead said ‘ why do you think that’ as conversation ensued it became clear she things she’s silly and stupid too. I spent time reassuring her she isn’t and pointing out her good qualities.

My little me is frightened little girl who is confused and unsure about the world around her, that can only stem from our past. My job now is to counteract those negatives and build up all of me to be collectively the person we had the potential to be, had we been given the right parenting and care. I can’t change the past but I can change me going forward, so I guess it’s time I did practice what I preach to my alters and stop putting myself down too.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

 

 

 

Alters names

People often ask me how do I name my alters; the various parts of me, do I choose their names or do they. I know in the beginning names seemed to just come but in an odd way, mostly I had no idea I was switching but others would tell me I had and that they’d spoken to x or y. As therapy began a few years ago every time a new alter would appear there seemed to be a pressure from my then Therapist to name the parts. So it wasn’t uncommon for me to go to a session talk about events, about a certain memory or situation and then be challenged to name the part whose memory it was. This at the time didn’t seem wrong or too unhelpful, but then as the number of parts grew and names seemed to add to the complexity of the situation.

I had some alters who named themselves, often randomly and without warning I find they’d give me a name of their choice, but many didn’t and so they were given names by me. But then I stopped naming them, I think it was a culmination of events that brought me to the point were I stopped giving alters names, one of which was the breakdown in my therapy at that time. I no longer felt able to trust what had been apparently brought up in my sessions, I felt an unease and I wasn’t moving forwards.

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When I began the process of internal dialogue shortly after starting with my psychologist last year I had a whole wealth of feelings that stemmed from different parts. I would know certain alters were around by the feelings I had, so my teen overwhelmed me but I didn’t know her name. Internal dialogue gave me an opportunity to understand the parts better and to work at getting to know them. I recall the discussion my psychologist and I had about names, I said I didn’t understand why the parts didn’t talk to me, didn’t listen or respond. I made reference to their names and he asked me whose names are they, yours or theirs.

I realised quite soon that the alters wouldn’t respond to me when I called them by the name I had given them, simply because it wasn’t their name. I realised how frustrating I have felt when people have referred to me by the wrong name and I wondered if the alters felt the same way. Then began a whole new turning point for us, I stopped trying to control these alters with names I chose and instead listened to them.

Now I’m not the most patient person in the world, so I still kind of expected them to give me the name instantaneously, which of course they don’t. I have parts who when I’ve communicated have simply said their name, but then I’ve had parts who haven’t told me. Instead of naming them I wait these days and if needs be I keep on waiting until they are ready to share with me their name. Now some have no name, but many I know do they just haven’t felt able to share yet. It is in truth a great deal to do with trust, trust between them and me.

A few weeks ago I had encountered a young alter, who had begun to communicate and I asked if she had a name. In my head suddenly came a name but instead of accepting it I tried to amend it. The name given was a name from my past, of another child I once knew and as a result I didn’t want a part called that, well that’s what I thought at the time. I responded to the part with a slight variation on the name I had first heard, but then she just went quiet. Perplexed I wondered if I was trying to name her and if so was this so wrong, so in my next session I explained things and said how do I know for certain if it is X or Y . I was told to be patient and told to use post it notes with the names written on so she could tell me.

The past month or so those post it notes have been stuck in my lounge, the names with different variants of spelling visible for all to see. The post it notes gradually disappeared and so there was  just two left, hard as it was I knew I had to keep hanging on waiting for the time when she was ready to tell me. I kept talking to her whenever I sensed her around, but I didn’t put any pressure on her to come up with her name. It was and still is important for the parts of me to feel safe, to trust me implicitly and to feel comfortable talking to me.

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Yesterday I was in town looking at furniture in the shop I suddenly realised I was competing for control, as this little part of me was transfixed by a rag doll on a display stand. I used the opportunity for dialogue and I made every effort to try and share time, this is never easy especially when you are out in the big wide world. However my little me was clearly vulnerable, the world to her was frightening. She so wanted a dolly and she so wanted to talk to me too, I made an agreement about the dolly and I told her she deserved one, that she was an important part of me. As she appeared to gain in confidence, she said she didn’t mind if I wanted her to be called Y she could do that. I realised she was trying to please so I responded with the phrase ‘I want you to be called by the name you choose’. Then she shouted out loudly the name X, I had heard all those weeks ago but tried to ignore. This is her name, the one she has chosen and It is a name that I know I will grow to like, in fact I already do and yes it does reflect her personality.

I’ve learnt over time that for me at least names are important, I really don’t want my parts to have no names ,they deserve to have names and yet I want them to be their names. I want the alters to have the chance to identify themselves, to name themselves and not have my choices forced upon them. So currently there are parts who I had previously given names to who now have renamed themselves, parts who currently don’t feel able to share their name and parts who have told me their name. The reality for us now is that names come from them not me, and I am continuing to exercise patience when I need to. My little part yesterday finally trusted me, she now has a name and she is continuing to communicate with me. You could say my patience has finally paid off.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

 

Its not easy being me 

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Sometimes it’s not easy having DIssociative Identity Disorder, or being a survivor of child abuse and there are times when you just wish life was different, that it was somehow that little bit easier to deal with. I have been trying to collate data from my old medical records in recent weeks and that has involved trawling through case notes one page at a time. Reading some of the information about myself has not been easy, especially when it relates back to the time I was most unwell.

As part of this work I came across some old psychological assessments and they both perplexed and upset me, there in stark print was the assumptions of one clinically qualified person. I felt annoyed when I first read the document, was I really as bonkers as the report seemed to imply and if so why. I took the report to my psychology session today in the hope of gaining a better perspective and in truth I gained from doing so.

I found out that much of what had been written about me was accurate, the tests used are good tests to analyse someone psychologically and most of all its a fairly accurate assumption of me, my traits, my personality and my deficits. The tests were not designed to describe positive characteristics like kind or caring, instead they are meant to identify those things I find difficult, being avoidant or overly compliant for example. Talking it over in my session I felt tearful, but like I often do I batted away the tears and carried on in my non emotional manner. Except this time it hurt for me to do that and I was much more conscious of doing this, this act of blocking feelings, this act of suppressing my tears.

I had a logical reason to block things, I’d gone with a list of issues I wanted to discuss and I felt I needed to get through the list, not get sidetracked by emotions. But as I travelled home my tears began to flow, I couldn’t stop them in fact it felt like I was never going to stop crying, but of course I did eventually. I realised that I wasn’t crying because I am someone who is overly compliant or a person who has clearly got a plethora of psychological traits that are negative, I was crying with grief. Grief at what an impact the past has had upon me, you see I can sit and read this report and understand why I do the various things it states I am more likely to do, than your average person.

I am overly compliant for example because I lived in fear as a child and I learnt it was safest to comply with the demands of my abusers. I’m someone who has a low view of herself because for years I was told daily what a pathetic child I was. I fear people thinking I’m bad or no good because as a child I was told the fact I got hurt was because I was bad. These traits are basically the psychological legacy of being abused, neglected and hurt.

Yet I also knew the tears related to my fear that I’m bonkers, and I began to think why am I fearful about this, then it kind of all made sense. You see as a child when I was first referred to psychological therapies I was terrified, the fear then was as a result of being told it was because I was mad, which was all my fault and if I didn’t improve they’d lock me away. Mad people get locked away was a mantra I learnt so much as a young adolescent. My brothers had previously seen psychological services and I was informed it would make me be just like them, except my brother was an abuser, he was the last person I wanted to be like. So confused I remained terrified of the child psychologist for years and in my adulthood when things did get worse, I ended up hospitalised and I was demonised by some staff who I encountered. Staff who failed to understand me, or the reasons I was unwell. These negative messages had a big impact upon me which was aided by the negative put downs of my mother and brother who still had contact with me at that time.

My fear I guess is that if I’m bonkers, or more to the point if people think I’m bonkers will I get locked away, will I become like my brother the person I fought desperately to not be like. So the tears I cried today were tears of grief at the fact I do have a number of personality traits as a result of the damage inflicted upon me as a child. Plus I worry that I will be viewed in a way that isn’t fair or true, and that people will not understand but instead judge and berate me as happened in the past. But most of all the past infiltrated my present when the fear of being just like my abusers filled me with dread.

I know it was wrong today to stifle those tears of mine, I should have let them flow inside the therapy room where I could work on resolving issues. Instead by blocking them I now face them at home and the fears that I held for a thousand days or more come flooding back.

I’m trying hard to tell myself it’s ok to grieve, it’s ok to have these traits because many people do and it’s not my fault. I’m trying hard to remind myself that I’m not bonkers just because I have some issues, I’m not mad or bad, just me. These traits don’t make me like my abusers, in fact I’m anything but like them and I succeeded in breaking the cycle of abuse that often infiltrates families generation after generation. I broke those chains I didn’t become an abuser, I chose to walk the right path.

It’s often a painful journey trying to work through the damage that has been left, my traits including having a Borderline personality disorder are part of that damage. I know I need to talk through the feelings I encountered today, to talk through the reasons I think they came to the fore and my fear of being a bit bonkers or skewed in some way. I also know I need to face the grieving that I have to do in time, my childhood wasn’t perfect it’s left a painful and difficult legacy. I’m determined to find my way forward to overcome as many of these traits and difficulties as I can, to break free from them in time. But today if you see me crying please understand, it’s not easy being me sometimes.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Returning to my roots

Things often catch you unaware and yesterday was no exception, I travelled along a road I have been on many many times before and yet it caused a shiver to run down my spine as the past collided with the present. Something had changed, something so simple and yet so significant that it’s impact upon me was huge. Building work has exposed a dwelling I once lived in and that building holds a place in my life which I’d rather had never happened.

This weekend as memories flooded back and I felt that shiver run down my spine, I knew instantly what it was about and yet I felt helpless to deal with it. I think it hit me hard because I really wasn’t  expecting the emotions I had encountered and I wasn’t aware the building work was going on. It was also a surprise because I’ve recently dealt with this particular building in therapy and yet I realise now there’s clearly more to confront about the time I lived there.

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You see I returned to my roots at the weekend this is not an unusual thing for me to do, I try and visit quite often as I have both friends and relatives still living in the area. People I choose to visit and stay in touch with, and who in general know about my past, my childhood and the abuse. But this area is also were some of my abusers reside and as you can imagine I do not wish to meet these people at all. It’s odd to go back knowing there is always a master plan in place in case we meet those we’d rather not, an escape route and plan of action if you like.

I restrict were we go, choose routes carefully and plan ahead always and I limit going alone, in fact I tend to rarely go there on my own. I avoid the area near my abusers homes and places where I think they might go, that does restrict us but my priority is and always will be safety. I also avoid driving past any of the homes I have been abused in, I might get close at times but never past. Part of my thinking has been that these houses hold memories and therefore triggers, so avoiding is clearly the most sensible option. So when I passed along the road close to a house, it was a surprise to see it far more exposed and visible than I expected.

That shiver I spoke of earlier ran deep and instantly memories came flooding by, but most of all came a ache of deep anguish. Anguish and hurt the result of the events of the time I lived there, of the abuse I endured and of what that house means for me. My mind instantly remembered a little girl sitting on a wall posing for the camera, a sibling by my side and also an abuser.

 

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I calmed my thoughts as best I could, tried to reassure internally and tell myself we were safe and ok, but I could feel the tears welling up inside me. You see I have many memories of my childhood abuse now, but this house holds a specific point in all of them. It’s a house that exists in a small northern city at the corner of a two terraced streets, and to all who pass by it seems so unassuming, so normal. But to me it’s anything but normal, it means so much to me, I can still visually walk around that house, see the faces of the people of that time.

You might think well why go there, why visit, but it’s simple if I ran away from all the houses I have lived, all the places I was abused I let the past win, I want to be free of my past, well at least the heavy painful burden it holds over me so I can’t hide forever. I can take precautions and safety measure which is what I already do but I can’t stop going there, it isn’t something I’m willing to do.

But passing this house was tough it wasn’t easy at all, in fact it has caused a whole host of emotions to race through me in the last 36 hours.

The house we saw, holds a pivotal point in my childhood, its not full of loving memories instead it’s hurt and pain I recall there.  You see it is in this house that I have my first full memory of being abused as a child, that moment when I guess I stopped being an adorable, loved little girl and became an object to be used. Now I know I can’t be certain other abuse didn’t happen before then, but I just don’t recall it and I can’t be certain I was loved prior to that date either. In fact if I’m honest it’s most likely I wasn’t loved or adorable in the way I hope but I was innocent, and to me it was that innocence that was robbed from me in that place.

 

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Moving forward from this point will be a toughie, I need to reassure the other parts of me and let everyone know we are safe. I need to ensure that I don’t let the past take over or let it ruin my present either, instead I need to deal with my emotions and the feelings evoked by this latest encounter with these memories. Most of all though I need to find a way of moving forward so that I can learn to pass along that road again and nor dissolve in the way I did. I guess it’s a case of accepting it’s just a house, bricks and mortar, walls and windows, the memories it holds live in my head not in the fabric of the building. I can choose how I let those memories affect me, whether I let them control me or not. I guess that’s part of the ongoing trauma work I’m doing, so this past weekends event will need to be processed and dealt with at some point.

If I have learnt one thing this weekend it’s that just because I think I’ve dealt with something that doesn’t mean all of me agree. That’s just another part of living with Dissociative Identity Disorder that I’m slowly uncovering, another part that surprises me and confuses me all at the same time. No one said this was a easy journey to make and I guess I learning that but having DID is a part of who I am, and my job now is to learn to live as a multiple more effectively.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Body Memory

Trigger warning please exercise self care when reading this post.

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This morning I woke and instantly felt fear, it’s not a pleasant feeling at all but then neither was the fact parts of my body felt numb. Numb in a way that reminds me of times long ago when I was being abused, numb in areas that I don’t want to feel numb. My body was basically talking to me about the past, about the abuse that was inflicted upon us years ago.

When I have flashbacks or body memories I feel myself spiral into that moment of terror that is so hard to escape from. Today I initially thought here comes the whole darn memory, and unable to move I had to wait, wait for the feelings to continue to build. It’s as if I am there in that time, it’s happening all over again and here I am in 2015 unable to stop my body fully recount being raped.

I can’t tell you how old I was when the incident occurred because it could be the memory of any number of events that span an age range that well covers too many years. I know I’m a child, I know it haunts me and my body to this day and I know I’d rather not experience these moments today. But they are a way of my body telling me what happened when I dissociated away back in the distant past when the original abuse took place. It’s also a way for my alters; parts of me, to share with me the horrors they endured.

The numbness meant I couldn’t actually move, my legs and other parts of me didn’t want to respond to the messages from my brain today, instead they were recounting messages and signals from the past. I lay there desperately telling myself I was safe, it was 2015 and I was secure in my own home and yet the numbness and feelings continued. I endured the various feelings that followed, desperate to stay in the here and now and yet trapped in the terror that builds in my mind. I kept trying to focus amidst all of the sensations and feelings, telling myself that it wasn’t for real, it wasn’t happening now. But if I’m honest it felt like it was happening, my body felt like it was hurting and I was powerless to stop those feelings.

Eventually the feelings stop, as suddenly as they start and it wasn’t as bad as some memories after all I didn’t feel the worst bit. I felt enough to know what was being remembered but my body and the part of me it relates to saved me from the worst, I’m thankful for that. But my legs still felt unable to move I was so traumatised I guess it takes a while to settle back and regain control.

I did regain control of this body of mine and I was off the sofa where I’m sleeping as soon as I could. I wanted to just move away from the moment, to be free of it, to no longer be trapped in that horror. Of course I didn’t at that point know whose memory the body had recounted and so began the gentle questions and reassurance to my alters. The first thing I did though was clean myself, I always feel dirty after a body memory like this, so I needed to do that physical act of washing, though in truth I’m not dirty I’m clean. You see I haven’t been raped or abused this morning, it is just a memory, but it’s hard to tell yourself that in the moment.

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I then grabbed a drink of tea, I use that mug of tea as a security blanket so much in my day to day life, in meetings, in therapy, at home.  People who know me well know I drink a lot of tea in a day, I need the physical reassurance of holding a mug of tea, knowing it stands between me and the world like a shield. I so needed that shield this morning.

Then began the fact finding mission in earnest, I asked who was around which parts of me were there, soon a little voice responded. My little me was clear but frightened all the same, she just said ‘bad people hurt me, I don’t like bad people’. How do I answer that, she’s right bad people long ago did hurt her, hurt me, and nothing can change that fact, it happened. But it happened a long time ago, it didn’t happen today and so I had to reassure her that she was safe with me.

I tried to ask if this was her memory, did she remember this and to be fair she can’t tell me and I’m not going to push her. I know that for whatever reason my body recalled that moment today it wants me to know about it and whichever part took that abuse when I dissociated as a child, they want me to know too. Other parts were also around this morning and so in the end I decided not to  push for more information they will tell me when it’s the right time, all I’m to know right now is that it happened and it hurt. Maybe I’m to know they couldn’t move, or that they were terrified, or that my body was numb, felt weighed down and heavy. I’m not fully sure but I know they will tell me when the times right, so all I can do right now is wait.

It may sound strange but I thanked the alter whose memory it was, I thanked that part of me for sharing this information. Because as horrible as it was it is only by sharing information between us, by breaking down amnesic walls will I be able to deal with the trauma of my past.

My little me wanted me to write it down in the journal we keep, so I have done, at her request and then well we sat and did some self care. We watched cartoons, we read a little, we listened to the birds, all the while reassuring us all it was ok now, we are safe the bad people aren’t here anymore. Body memories they come without warning, they sweep in when you least expect and they leave you feeling fragile and vulnerable. The reality is that it’s the past impacting upon life today, in a way you’d much rather it didn’t and yet that’s just part of life after trauma, its part of life with D.I.D.

I wonder how many people out there in the world truly realise the impact abuse has on people like me, decades of turmoil, decades of pain and decades of body memories like I encountered today.