To discuss trauma or not?

Over the years I have encountered many therapists, I have seen people of varying levels of expertise and the way they work has been very different. Most of those who I saw in the past had a keen focus on the trauma itself, desperately wanting me to regurgitate the events of my childhood. But is that the best approach for recovery, does it help to go over and over the bad things that happened.

 

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Due to my dissociation I have many gaps in my memory of my childhood, my brain has been good at protecting me and locked many horrors away. I have found over the years those memories spilling out into the here and now, snap shots of trauma which often haven’t been the full details of an incident. The memories have often been just enough to give me a clear idea of the event, what happened without all the terrifying finer details. Sometimes they have been drip fed to me, so a snippet of the event one day and then a week later another piece of the event. Weeks pass and eventually the whole horror of an abusive event has been revealed. Other times the memories come flooding back in an instant, with a flashback or body memory overwhelming me and sending me into a bit of a frenzy.

 

There are times when I really can’t cope with what I’ve remembered, it becomes too overwhelming, too consuming, and yet I have learnt to process in a better way too. So I can say I can’t deal with this particular trauma memory now I need to wait till therapy to think about this in any detail, it’s my way of protecting me. I can now accept sometimes that I’m not at risk right now, but it’s not easy and any trauma memory holds feelings of terror and pain.

 

Trauma and abuse have been a significant part of my life, it started when I was small and continued for years, in fact all through my childhood. I can’t name all my abusers but I can at times see their faces, I can tell you much of what happened because my memory has now revealed many of the horrors I endured. But I still have gaps in time and I still have periods of abuse were I only have part of the memory.

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In therapy for much of the early years of treatment, the professionals who treated me wanted me to share that trauma with them. They felt that me and in turn my alters revealing the past trauma was important to recovery. I would be encouraged to share the past, to regurgitate the horrors in all their gory detail, often through tears and great pain. Yet I never had the ability to process those memories, I never felt attached to them.

 

For much of my early years of treatment I felt irritated at the thought these people wanted me to share my inner most secrets. I recall one therapist and I falling out over the fact she would push for more graphic detail, when I felt it wasn’t needed. I didn’t feel able to share my secrets and I knew I didn’t have them all, my memory had stored them well away, locked out of even my reach.

 

 

One would push for information which I didn’t have, causing me to dissociate in session and thus losing time. She would expect me to spill the beans as she put it, yet I didn’t know what the fragments I had meant and I just wanted to understand. Throughout this time I wanted to know what had happened in my past, why I lost time and why I would dissociate. It just led to more and more confusion and concern, which at the time didn’t help me or my recovery.

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One therapist insisted on naming my parts and seemed to want to give them identities, I felt that my alters were totally different people and their memories were not mine but theirs. I now realise of course my alters are parts of me and the memories they carry are mine, locked away from me to ensure my safety and sanity at the time. I also now understand we all dissociate every single one of us, you and me, when we drive a familiar route and suddenly realise we are further on than we thought – that’s dissociation.

 

Of course I dissociated in a bit more of an extreme way, I switched off as a child to avoid the horrors of my abuse and it probably kept me alive. I know now that my alters are just parts of me, not separate people as such but fragmented parts of me, they formed when I dissociated as a child. Unlike most people who grow up in a seamless way, my 5 year old me wasn’t able to become 6 year old me she stayed locked inside of me – held by the terror of that time. Hence why I have lots of parts, lots of different bits of me who today are my alters, they carry memories of my past that I didn’t know. They need time, nurture, parenting if you like and they have skills and talents which I so value today, but until recently didn’t realise I had. Some have a function, like my protector whose job was to carry the frustration of not being able to protect myself as a child. I couldn’t protect me back then, but today she ensures we are safe and protected especially when threats similar to the past come to the fore.

 

So the idea of giving them separate lives and detailed identities wasn’t in reality so helpful, the memories they hold are my memories. I need to process those memories as my own not someone else’s. But do I really need to regurgitate my past in all its gory detail, do I need to try and reassemble each trauma memory in order to recover from my abuse.

 

My current therapy does involve trauma work, but not in all its minute detail, the aim isn’t to regurgitate the past as such, it’s to process the emotions that are attached to those memories. I don’t need to divulge every moment of a trauma event, but I do need to explore how that trauma impacts in my today. So I am having to process the emotions that go alongside the trauma itself, but I don’t have to start going through incidents in the way I was forced to years ago.

 

Processing trauma is an integral part of therapy but how that’s done can vary greatly from one professional to another, I know for me the key hasn’t been to regurgitate the past, it’s been to process the emotions that go alongside the trauma, those emotions that co-exist with the trauma. Emotions matter more than the actual trauma itself and learning to understand that and deal with them is so important on the road to recovery. I do not see myself ever regurgitating the past trauma again, it will be discussed in a more generalised way. Instead I will be focusing upon the feelings and how it impacts me now, rather than trying to remember every little detail of my past.

 

 

Copyright DID dispatches 2015

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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