Processing the emotions of my past

Processing the emotions of my past

Please note some people may find this blog difficult, please exercise self care. 

Life’s been a bit tough this past week, tough because I’m in the process of trying to understand my past and the anguish that seems to come from the legacy of my abuse. I’ve found myself crying with real pain, but this is not physical pain, no it’s deep within and it consumes all of me. It’s a pain like no other, a pain of deep scars and ingrained thoughts knocked into me years ago. This hurt is the dawning realisation and acceptance that the abuse I recall actually happened to me.
You see it is often easier to just acknowledge the memory, to think it through but not get emotionally involved, to remember but not accept these events happened to me. Yet once you start acknowledging these memories, the hurt and anguish that goes with them it hurts so much more. Acknowledging the emotions that co-exist alongside the actual memory itself is far far harder and I’m slowly realising that this hurt is something I have to go through if I want to recover.
For years I’ve had memories, fragments of time that suddenly appeared into my subconscious taking over my mind and plaguing me with horror. I’ve been inflicted with flashbacks and body memories which do so easily catapult me back in time, to when the events were actually happening. But for years I lived under the premise of these events happened to this alter or that alter, I never thought about the emotional impact that I as a child felt when the events were actually happening to this body of mine.
I’ve tried hard the past year to accept these events, this abuse well it happened to me I may have dissociated during the actual event but I was still there. I may have shut the memories, the pain and hurt away but I can’t deny this didn’t happen to me. I can’t deny I was scared, I was afraid or that I felt anger or guilt because back then I did. I can’t deny any longer that I as a child suffered horrendously, that I felt terrified, that I wished I could stop them because I did. Looking back now I realise that I boxed my emotions from this time away, I wasn’t allowed to feel, to express an opinion I had to just lie there and endure, that was my role.
But today decades later I can feel, I can express the pain and anguish of those times and the inner child in me needs to do that. I need to be able to let go of the hurt, the fears and the anger locked deep within. You see parts of me have carried these feelings and these memories for so long and now it’s right that we express them, it’s time for them and me to let go of our emotions, to feel.
So this past week I’ve found myself crying, consumed with anguish and hurt because for the first time in my life I’m feeling the hurt from decades ago, I’m actually allowing it to have an outlet, to stop it from being locked in. I’m giving the emotional hurt from that time an opportunity to be expressed, the feelings I have well they are those carried by me as a child when the abuse was a daily event.
Today I maybe an adult, but deep within lies the emotional scars of a child who has endured so much and yet thankfully survived. Those scars need to break free and the emotions contained within need processing, they need processing by me. I’m slowly realising that it’s ok to grieve, to feel, to cry, in fact it’s ok to be angry, to feel fear and a thousand other feelings I’ve carried over the years. I do feel dirty, I feel used, I feel rejection and I feel angry, I’m angry that this happened to me. I’m angry these people felt they had a right to abuse me when they had none.
I’m slowly coming to realise just how much this impacted upon me, not just the physical scars but the emotional too. You see being unable to express emotions over the years has taken a real toll on me. I’m scared of anger, I’m uncomfortable when I cry or feel overwhelmed and I find my emotional reactions to events quite alarming at times, because emotions feel alien to me.
I know that feeling and processing those emotions, my emotions is a huge part of my healing journey. It’s so critical to feel and to understand why I think and feel the way I do about many things. To acknowledge my grief, my hurt and to accept that these feelings are ok, they are safe and I’m ok to express them. So right now I’m accepting I need to take care of me, that I need to let my tears flow and that its safe. I used to think they’d overwhelm me and never stop but I know now that if I needed to stop crying to answer the phone or deal with an emergency I could stop them. I know that if they consume me and it becomes too much I can take a break from the pain they hold, I can say that’s enough for now I’ll feel some more tomorrow.
I know that this hurt and pain will take time to pass, indeed processing the emotions from the past will take sometime. But I know it’s better to start processing than leave them unworked through and full of their deadly sting which they hold. In time processing will lessen that sting and it will mean these memories and the emotional baggage they contain will not be able to come bite me again, they will not have the same hold over me.
Right now I’m slowly learning to manage my emotions, I’m coming to terms with the past and all the scars it contains. I’m taking time out in order to allow those emotions to be safely expressed and I’m ensuring all the parts of me have time too. Time to cry, to laugh, to shout and to feel but most of all to have time to heal, for that’s what this journey is all about. So I’ve structured my diary to give me some space, some free time and I’m ensuring I have space to think, to communicate internally and to work through these emotions, this legacy from my past one teeny tiny step at a time.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

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The Blame Game

I’m really not too sure why it happens, I really wish I knew what it was that causes me to take the blame for things going wrong in my life. Yet it seems from early years I learnt to blame myself for the difficulties I encountered and it appears to have continued ever since. As a child I used to think people hurt me because I was bad, I’d disappointed them and it was all my fault. As an adult when I was losing time and struggling to keep my life on track I would feel a sense of shame at not coping, I’d blame myself and there would be lots of self critical words being spoken. In hospital it soon became the norm to be blamed for my behaviour, my reactions to situations and my self harm, people encouraged and proactively assisted me to keep on blaming myself.

Blame played a big part in my life, prior to being diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder I had a range of ill judged diagnoses, none of which turned out to be accurate. Yet in those years preceding the correct diagnosis the blame game continued, I was labelled and judged as a nuisance, dysfunctional, attention seeking and emotionally unstable. It appeared that the medical professionals were saying that I was to blame for my mental health problems, it was my fault I was losing time, my fault I was depressed, anxious, forgetful and confused. The healthcare professionals played the blame game with me for a number of years and sadly I wasn’t in any position to stop it.

 

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Today with an accurate diagnosis there still exists a blame culture, many professionals don’t accept the diagnosis of D.I.D, they are sceptical about it. I’m aware of at least one psychiatrist who stated the fact I knew so much about D.I.D; which he didn’t believe in anyway, was indicative of me having a disorganised sense of self. In his opinion I was to blame for my carrying a teddy, for losing time and for changing personae. Of course I know it is he who was misguided and not me, but yet again medical staff placed blame were none was due, blame upon me.

This week in therapy I was undertaking some trauma work, it’s tough at times but I know it’s important too. As I spoke my psychologist made me stop and think, he made me reflect upon the words I was using because I was being self critical and negative. As I spoke of my past out poured the words ‘why didn’t I tell someone’ and ‘why didn’t I stop him’. Words such as ‘I let him’, ‘I never stopped him’, spewed forth as I continued to berate myself yet I wasn’t just berating me. In this case I was blaming the younger part of me who years ago took the abuse, of course at that time I had dissociated and so in reality I was blaming my poor alter.

My psychologist made me stop, made me think and I guess rationalise just how much I was blaming myself, and blaming my alters. He reminded it was a common theme in our work and that I do judge myself and my alters quite harshly. I couldn’t disagree with him because I knew he was right, I do judged them. I view my past and the memories of that time including the abuse I suffered through my adult eyes, I assume that I should have told someone, I should have hit out, screamed, shouted and fought to stop the abusers. Yet when I think of who I was at that time, a vulnerable frightened little girl who was being controlled through fear and betrayed by certain adults I ought to have been able to trust, I see things in a different light.

In truth at that time young me knew if I told I’d be in trouble, that no one would believe me, child abuse wasn’t talked about in my day it wasn’t recognised. The most safety advice I had received as a child was not to play with matches, and the green cross code. Younger me knew from experience that the aggression and violence that I had previously encountered would increase if I tried to fight back or stand up to my abusers. I had realised that it certainly wasn’t a safe option to object, or to tell, no in truth my alters did the best they could at the time. My alters, my younger me’s they took my pain and suffering so that I might survive to live another day.

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Yet here I was blaming them for what happened to us, how unfair of me and how wrong. My psychologist enabled me to think about who was really to blame and slowly I began to understand were that blame lies, it’s with those adults who betrayed me. I’ve no doubt it will continue to take time for me to accept I couldn’t help what happened to me, to accept I wasn’t to blame. This is a work in progress and I have a lot of alters and a lot of me to forgive.

Blame is an inherent part of our culture, of our society and we judge and blame others far too easily, in my case I direct the blame at me, either myself or my alters. I’m learning that this blame is about forgiveness, it’s also about grief. Accepting it wasn’t my fault, that I’m not to blame means acknowledging I was helpless in these situations and that yes I was hurt. It means accepting I was abused and I couldn’t stop it, it means acknowledging that certain people betrayed me. It also means facing up to the harsh reality that I hold feelings of anger towards these abusive individuals and that yes I am angry at them.

It is hard to understand the blame game, to understand I am playing it too and that at times I have blamed my alters. But that is the reality I face right now, these parts of me who have enabled me to survive don’t deserve my blame, my judgement. They deserve a future and a future filled with hope, acceptance and understanding, in turn I deserve that as well. So I’m trying hard this week to end the blame game, to repair the damage done and to work better with my alters. I’m slowly learning to forgive myself and to accept that actually I did ok, I did more than ok. I survived to live another die.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Internal communication, dialogue and chit chat

There are days when it feels like my alters are far more evident, days when I don’t block them and instead listen away to the cacophony of voices filling my head. This past few days it’s really been noisy inside and I feel closer than ever to a few of my alters; the other parts of me. I thought I’d share some of what’s happening at the moment.

Following a few days of low mood and a lack of motivation out popped one of my littles, M was nervous about therapy which was scheduled for Monday. She was around first thing in the morning as we watched cartoons side by side, she was certainly in control but I didn’t lose time instead it was as if I sensed her feelings and watched my body from afar. My analogy of being side by side is that of driving a car, sometimes I am the driver of this body, other times the passenger in the back seat aware of what’s happening but oh so not in control. Being side by side means I’m in the back seat aware of events but not in control.

M is quite nervous and gentle in nature and she was bothered she had upset my therapist from the week before. So despite lots of reassurance and my therapist emailing to say he wasn’t annoyed or cross M was clearly nervous about our scheduled for that evening. When my therapist had to unexpectedly cancel our session it really worried her, she was distressed and all her worries from the week before came rushing back. Yet I knew logically it was just one of those things and well we’d be fine till next week, we have skills we can use now to help us. But M didn’t understand that and so my morning was spent reassuring her and giving her time and attention, I knew communicating with her was helping as we now have two way dialogue and so she was talking back to me. Giving M time really helped settle her worries and that in turn helped me, I gain a better perspective on situations sometimes as a result of trying to explain something to one of my alters.

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Tuesday morning was L’s turn, initially I thought of her as a precocious little alter a bit cheeky and quite confident, but I realise the more I get to know her she’s not like that at all. Yes she appears to be quite confident but deep down she’s nervous and scared, she is fearful at times and worries a lot. She and I enjoyed chatting on Tuesday and as always she asked lots of questions, it’s clear she likes to know what’s going on and I think I can understand why as fear is a big issue for her. Watching cartoons with a little alter like L or M, sensing their excitement and hearing their giggles is an odd feeling to get use to, but it also brings a new joy. For I am learning to have fun, to switch off from the humdrum of day to day life and see the little things in life that really matter. L likes having time and she is getting better at sharing time with me and other alters, she is also one of my alters who likes to cook and so our chat on Tuesday was all about our next adventure in the kitchen and what could we make. We sat and watched a children cookery programme together and that graves us some ideas for our next adventure together.

Of course I don’t just hear one alter everyday, it’s not that easy or straight forward, I can be in dialogue with a number of alters at once, and will hear, feel or sense many of them each day. Yet the constant noise in my head, the rush of emotions and feelings that I encounter seem at times to be just normal now after all this is my life, my life with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I am slowly realising that understanding my condition is helping, it’s helping me to accept who I am. With acceptance of course comes less denial and that’s meant less blocking of the alters, so a little less losing time and a little bit less chaos at the moment.

On Tuesday afternoon I gave up my time, my control of this body and allowed my teen alter to take the reins. For me that means not blocking my alter, getting out the art equipment and just allowing her the chance to be herself. The creative art she accomplished in the space of a couple of hours was wonderful, and I felt so relaxed when I finally came back to the fore. My teen was more settled too and that’s helped with our ongoing work of trying to get to know her better. It was a real achievement today to actually have a dialogue with her, we still use ideomotor signals to converse and yet I am getting better at asking yes/no questions more naturally. Sensing her emotions is less frightening now than it was just a few months ago and the frequency of her overwhelming me has lessened. Some of that’s down to being able to converse with her when I sense her struggling and that calms her down, helping both of us.

 

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I know if you read this blog and haven’t got D.I.D you might think internal dialogue or chit chat is odd, you may well be sceptical of ideomotor signalling, I know I was when we first began using it. But talking internally and starting to get to know the other parts of me is helping, I may not be the best person to explain it, I may not fully understand why it helps but I know it does.

I’m someone who likes to logically rationalise and understand things, but there are times when I realise that all the matters is does something help, does it work. Trying to build a relationship, a rapport with the alters is helping and hopefully it will help me into the future as we progress through trauma work. But all of this takes time, time and effort, I know that it’s not easy and I mess up a lot and it can feel like I’m taking 2 steps forward and then 1 step back every time. It’s hard work and there are days when I wish others could understand what life is really like, the constant juggling of competing demands, the ever changing emotions as my mood speeds from high to low and back again. I can feel low in a morning, overly excited in the afternoon, fly to the land of confusion and mixed emotions at tea time and then be in utter despair by night time. My different parts all have different feelings, different likes, different needs and yet they are all a part of me, so I feel all these different feelings. I’m often asked which alter are you now and my answer often is I don’t know who I am, and that is how it feels some days. But right now my daily aim is not to block the alters out, it’s to accept and understand them, it’s to realise that internal chit chat is actually a good thing, it is ok.

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Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

It’s been a rough week – illness and DID

 

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The past week has been a bit of a nightmare I have had a really bad virus of some kind, so with a whole host of symptoms I have felt really quite unwell. The problem is that means I have just wanted to curl up in a ball and hide, I have had days were I just slept for hours, others were I’ve shivered and felt rough and others were I have had no energy at all.

The impact isn’t just physical however, as being unwell has meant many plans have had to change and that’s upset many of the different parts of me, my alters. My intended trip to the beach with my teen alter didn’t happen and time with the little parts was forgotten as I slept through the cartoon time. It’s not so easy being unwell but it seems even more difficult as someone who is fragmented, someone who has many different parts of me.

Now as I sit and recover I’m trying to rebuild bridges with those alters who have at times felt that I have once again neglected them. It isn’t uncommon for me to be building bridges it’s a skill I’m learning to be quite good at, after all I am forever making comments that I later regret and which upset some part of me. I’m also very good at trying to block the other parts of me at times and then have to re build a rapport with the part who I have just physically and emotionally ignored.

Some of my bridge building I’m told is because like many with Dissociative Identity Disorder I still have moments of denial, denial of the past and denial of the alters. I’m fortunate at times that the other parts of me are very tolerant and very understanding of my mistakes, we would be in a much worse state if they weren’t.

During the past week one of my little parts as been very vocal at reminding me she is around, when I couldn’t talk because I had no voice, she filled my head with her words. She made it clear she didn’t like feeling poorly and she was sick and tired of me coughing and coughing. She’s told me that she wasn’t impressed our daily routine of having time first thing each morning had stopped. It seems being ill was clearly no excuse for ignoring the other parts of me and I soon gathered that she was unhappy.

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Now as I have started to recover despite still having limited energy my little part has at least been happy to watch cartoons again and to be able to have that agreed time each day. Though she’s not too impressed my energy levels are lower than low and so I’m currently running at tortoise pace or slower. Other parts too are around some more prominent than others, I am developing a real bond with those parts of me who I now sense more regularly, my teen who only 7 or 8 months ago I would block and fear for being overwhelmed by her emotions is one such part.

It’s hard to imagine how she use to overwhelm me, take control and leave me a virtual wreck as her emotions, her pain, her anguish would flood me and I’d collapse in floods of tears. Today we communicate and that’s been the result of a lot of hard work,we still rarely communicate with words however, but ideomotor signals are amazing and so helpful. They have been a real breakthrough for me and my teen part and even today I know whilst I still know so little of her anguish, she at least is learning to trust me and I’m learning to not block her.

She has been truly great this last week reassuring me when I have felt down and dejected at feeling so unwell, she seems to know when I need that reassurance far more than other parts.
Despite missing the beach an activity we both enjoy and share, she has forgiven me and is far more able to understand the reasons why, than perhaps the little parts can.

 

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Of course all my parts, my alters are just different fragmented parts of me, fragmented as a result of my past. However I can’t change the past but I can learn to shape the future and even being unwell has been an opportunity to take time to reflect and to work at understanding the alters better. I realise being ill has impacted all of me, parts included and together we are trying slowly to recover on a steady slow path of progress. Each day if we manage one more thing then that’s helpful, I’m having to learn to pace myself far better and accept what I can and can’t do right now.

Most of all I’m learning that I can’t ignore my alters, even when I feel unwell they still need the time and space to be. I guess despite being a nightmare of a week I have still made progress, well progress that matters. For me that’s me and my alters getting to know each other a bit better and learning to work together no matter how ill we might feel.

(The pictures for this blog have been chosen by the little parts of me.)

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Upsetting My Alters -when head and heart collide

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There are times in life when your head and your heart don’t agree, when your conscious thoughts and your subconscious thoughts don’t tally. This week I feel as if my subconscious thoughts have finally burst through and no matter how much I pretend I can no longer hide my true feelings on one issue and sadly it’s caused a lot of upset.

I have always felt in my head at least that I accepted I had Dissociative Identity Disorder, the reasons why and all it entails, but for quite some time now others have disagreed. The main point of contention has been that whilst logically I understand it, consciously accept it my subconscious thoughts are not quite in agreement. I have accepted in part some of what others have said, but I guess I didn’t fully agree, not really anyway.

Yesterday was a turning point, it’s kind of hard to ignore things when you here your subconscious thoughts spewing out at 150 decibels as you scream angrily. It started over something really silly but I realise now looking back it epitomised one of the bug bears for me of having D.I.D . I had an item of clothing that I needed to return to the store, but to do so I needed the receipt, the receipt had been placed in a safe place. Now because I do lose things a lot I had been very careful with it and so I knew or so I thought exactly where it was. But when the time came it wasn’t were I last left it and thus all my hopes of going to the store and returning yesterday were ruined.

This may seem silly after all it’s just a piece of paper, but it summed up so much more for me, I hunted the house high and low, looking for this random piece of paper. I searched and I searched and as time past I got more and more angry, more and more frustrated. In the end I was shouting at the top of my voice and I was stomping around my home like a woman possessed.

You see I it really wasn’t about the receipt at all, all my actions they were because I knew another part of me had probably moved the receipt. Another part me had taken over control of this body we share and moved it from my safe place and that irritated me far more than anything. The receipt epitomised the reality of life with D.I.D, it was a symbol of life were half the time you have no real idea what’s going on. It was a stark reminder if I ever needed one that I share my life with the other parts of me, and that I am not like most people.

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As my frustration grew out spewed words that came with venom and feeling, my subconscious thoughts and feelings bubbling to the surface of my life. I screamed out loud the words “I am f***g sick of others interfering with my life”. This wasn’t aimed at a person, it wasn’t aimed at my PA’s or my son who by now had listened patiently to my ranting for quite some time, no those words were aimed at the alters who share this body, my body….they were aimed at the other parts of me.

The moment the words left my mouth and resonated in my mind I knew the cost, the cost of telling inside what I really felt. Almost immediately I realised that for months I have been kidding myself when I say I have accepted I have D.I.D, because deep down it hurts, deep down I haven’t. The truth is that whilst logically I get Dissociation and I understand why I dissociate and I think I understand the things I need to do to move forward, my heart feels differently.

My heart, my subconscious well it feels angry and frustrated that I’m not ‘normal’, whatever normal is, that I was abused and in order to survive I dissociated and that has left the legacy of D.I.D.
I’m angry that I lose time, I lose control and I forget things, that I see things in different ways to others. You see objects can seem bigger if I’m a younger alter and I can meet people who seem to be strangers and yet they know me, well they know a part of me. My mood is like a constant changing traffic light, as I switch between the different parts of me, my mood reflects the part in control. I’m angry I was betrayed, let down, belittled and hurt by people who had no right to do the things they did to me. I’m angry I have D.I.D and all it means for my life and so losing the receipt summed up so many things, it meant I couldn’t avoid the stark reality of my life, a life with a legacy of dissociation.

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I spent time trying to calm down, I felt tearful and I felt hurt, my teen who carries much of my feelings was sad and I knew I was the cause of her sadness. My head was full of voices as parts desperately sought reassurance, and I felt wounded, wounded by the dawning realisation My head and my heart were not on the same page. I tried to offer comfort, reassuring words and I let my teen express her feelings all the time I was apologising for hurting her. I tried to express my sorrow, why I had said it, that it wasn’t about the alters; my other parts but about the past, about having a legacy which has a cause I’d rather ignore, I’d rather forget but can’t.

Last night my protector part became very vocal, he wasn’t pleased with me at all and he let me know. He was honest and to be fair he listened to me too, all he said was accurate and it needed to be aired after all those words did cause hurt inside. My words scared little parts who felt rejected by me, who thought they were in trouble and they were afraid of my anger. My teen was hurting too and other parts angry and frustrated because for months I have tried to build bridges with my alters and yet deep down I’d said they were interfering in my life.

I’ve spent a number of hours trying to rationalise things myself and then explain to inside, I care deeply about the other parts of me, after all they are me, we are just fragmented because of my past. But whilst I care about them, want to build relationships with them and get to know them better I don’t like the past that created them. I don’t like some of the things that come with having Dissociative Identity disorder including losing things, it feels like a quandary really as if I’m trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Accept but deny all at the same time, accept and like my alters but curse what created them.

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Thankfully my alters are forgiving, and whilst I still have to rebuild my relationship with them that I nearly destroyed yesterday, I am more able to be honest and say how I feel. Today I have had to give massive amounts of reassurance to certain alters, who keep nervously asking ‘do I like them?’ I have to keep reminding them it’s not them I’m angry at, it’s not them I dislike, and I need to keep reminding me that it’s ok to have these feelings.

For the first time I guess my head and heart are in agreement, I now consciously, logically understand the feelings I have locked away for so long about D.I.D. That has to be a positive things going forwards, but it is a shame the cost was so heavy I inflicted upon my alters a tirade of anger that wasn’t fair or just, and yes parts of me still feel rejected, scared and in turmoil as a result. I too now need to accept who I am, accept the implications of living life as a we, of being fragmented and having D.I.D.

As for that receipt, the thing that caused my subconscious to spew forth, well I asked inside if anyone knew where it was, explaining that it was important and I really needed it. In surprisingly it was located and I realised whichever part of me had moved it from my safe spot had done so with all the best intentions in the world, they’d moved it to an even safer place. How can I be angry at that, they were looking out for us and for that I am grateful, though perhaps one day we will be able to agree on a safe spot that all parts of me use, so the chaos encountered yesterday will be a thing of the past.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014