Communication breakthrough – building trust 

Trust is a key issue for me and it appears to be as important to my alters; the various parts of me. Over the last year I have been slowly trying to build a rapport with a particular part of me, a part who is clearly very fragile and who carries memories of a specific period of my abuse. Initially I spent time communicating using my one way dialogue, I talked and she I hoped listened, then with much uncertainty I began using Ideomotor signals and the dialogue between us began to build.

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Using the ideomotor signals she and I have been able to work together at having fun, so when I first went paddling in the sea I knew she was there. This part of me has tended to get overwhelmed with emotions and she was at the start much more likely to suddenly overwhelm me with tears and sadness. But the more I talked and the more we communicated using ideomotor signals the more these episodes have dissipated.
For the past year that dialogue with me speaking and her communicating using hand signals has progressed, I’ve got better at asking yes and no questions and she has begun to build up a rapport.  A  few weeks ago as I strolled on a beach I felt her around and suddenly realised that the thoughts in my head might well be hers. She was at least trying her very hardest to communicate with me in a different way. I thanked her and though she soon resorted to ideomotor signals I realised this was an important step for her and for me. But yes and no responses whilst great don’t allow much opportunity to mend the damage of the past, to rectify and heal the scars of abuse.
During my time away last week I sensed her presence a lot more and when I took some time to visit a spa and just relax she was right there with me. I felt a chance to allow her yet another opportunity to communicate with me so I acknowledged she was there and I told her that I wanted her to feel safe and trust me. I said her memories were important to me, I wanted to know them when she was ready to share.
There followed dialogue in a rather odd way about the fact she didn’t feel I could cope with the things she holds, I explained that I wanted to and that its vitally important for her and me to work together. I set out some pointers so if for instance I told her that if couldn’t cope with whatever she reveals I will tell her I can’t process that right now. I will acknowledge it though and we will together take it to therapy. Of course I had no idea if this would help her trust me enough after all trust is so hard for me, so hard for her too given my past.

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But as I sat in a relaxing spa room which smelt of fragrant flowers suddenly all that hard work began to pay off, for the first time she communicated verbally with me. Not just a thought not just a hand signal but out loud and clear and audible. I was a little shocked but also so excited and happy because I realise this alter now trusts me enough to start to talk. I now know why she finds talking so difficult, why I think emotions become too overwhelming for her and I know a little of the past she holds.
I don’t know major graphic details and I may never know all the finite detail but that is really not important what matters is that I have a general idea of what happened, how it made us feel back then and how it makes me feel today. The emotional impact is what counts not the graphic detail of abuse, but how she felt, why she felt and how I feel today. It’s about coming to terms with the abuse and the feelings more than the actual detail of what happened.
I am slowly learning a little of what she endured though when I dissociated and went away whilst bad things were happening to me. Strangely I’m not anxious about the possibility of her memories pouring out or that they may overwhelm me, I know I have put things in place to help keep me safe. I know I’m stronger and more able to deal with whatever this alter carries, more importantly whatever she holds has already happened to me long ago. I know this body of mine managed to survive the horrors that she holds so in theory I can survive the memories now.
I realise it may not be so simple or easy, life never really is and yet I know I’m not alone in this journey I walk it with my alters and in particular I walk it with a part who is slowly opening up to me. A part who is slowly building a rapport with me and building up trust too, she is for the first time in her life communicating without fear or repercussions.

 

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Communication plays such a vital role in my journey, in my recovery and communication doesn’t need to be audible or written. Communication can be in a variety of ways and there are different techniques that each of my alters prefer. Lucy one of my littles is shy and nervous but she is giggly at times too, her way of communicating is a far cry from that of my teen alter. Some parts communicate by being a voice in my head audible and clear, whilst others may use drawings, thoughts or feelings.
I know some people with Dissociative Identity Disorder find using a journal helps, it doesn’t work for me but that is ok we all find our owns ways of working with the parts who make up who we are. Right now for me knowing my teen alters finally feels able to communicate verbally with me is a break through, it’s a sign of trust and of progress. It’s a sign that all the effort we have put into dialogue and communication is worth it, yes it’s definitely worth it. Trust isn’t easy it may never be, but I’m aware not only are my alters trusting me more but I’m trusting them too, that’s a breakthrough for all of us, all the different parts of me.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

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Looking Back Life was worth fighting for

My first night in a Mental Health Hospital

The other night as I was settling down for the night I realised that day held a special significance, though not neccessarily in a good way. This day will always remain with me after all the first time I encountered a Mental Helath in-patient unit was a culture shock to my system.

I took to social media pouring out my thoughts as I reflected upon that day, upon my past and it seems apt to share those tweets now in their entirety.



  

 
I realise that 11 years ago I felt life was not worth carrying on with, but looking back I can see that what I needed was the right help, the right support. I guess I had got to a point were I no longer believed that help or support was readily available, my family deserved better than the burden that I really felt I was.

It took a while to get the right diagnosis and the impact of time in psychiatric services wasn’t easy for me or my family. But it came eventually and thankfully I was able to start taking those small tentative steps along the path towards recovery. I am still on that journey, yet I know now that I am stronger, more determined and more focused upon reaching that goal.

That first night wasn’t easy neither were many of the approximately 1400 other nights I spent as an in-patient.  But I can’t regret that night for without it I wouldn’t have recieved my diagnosis or the right help and I doubt I would have made it this far without either of those.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

When physical health and mental health collide – stigma ensues. 

Earlier this week I felt unwell and ended up calling my out of hours doctor, who decided I needed to attend my local emergency room. There followed a bit of a mad panic as the first responder medic arrived who duly began taking down my details and telling me an ambulance was on the way. My daughter ran around trying to get some things together to take with us as the medic began to do basic observations like blood pressure. A short time later the first of three paramedics arrived at our home and they began to do more tests, I live in a remote rural area so the hospital and ambulance station are miles away.

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The paramedic did some heart tracings and sugar levels and things and I tried to stay calm, except deep inside I felt anything but calm. My chest hurt like hell and I was starting to panic a little, all this attention was unsettling and when more paramedics arrived I felt well overwhelmed. Inside I was trying to communicate telling all my alters; the different parts of me, that we were going to be ok. I kept trying to reassure them and explain what was happening and what was likely to happen next.

A few heart tracings later and I was being whisked to the emergency room in an ambulance, the ECG monitor still connected to my heart. I was given medication to help with the symptoms and that in turn helped calm me down thankfully. On my way to hospital I remember telling inside that it was ok we’d probably be home later and all would be well, except I really wasn’t sure what was going to happen. The paramedic was great he asked me about any other health conditions and I’d said I have Dissociative Identity Disorder and he wanted to know more about it, he’d never come across it before.

The hospital staff were at first quite helpful, they did more tests and then we just had to wait for results. But then I noticed a change in attitude, it was odd but after I’d been put in a hospital gown and my arms and their scars were visible it seemed to change things. I’d like to think they were just busy but I realise actually it was more than that, there is and I guess always will be a stigma attached to self harmers and I was a prolific self harmer not that many moons ago.

I was sat alone in the hospital as relatives were not able to stay with the patient, something to do with space apparently. Yet for the little parts of me that meant fear and doubt creeping in, there we  were alone in a busy environment and so much chaos going on around us. There were people being sick, people shouting, people clearly more unwell than me and it wasn’t easy for any of me to be there. I tried to keep reassuring my alters and settling them down, but I was still suffering pain and I felt woozy so it wasn’t ideal at all.

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At one point I felt on the verge of tears, but I daren’t cry for fear of being judged which in hindsight was a bit silly, after all I was already being judged by my scars. I tried to block the emotions pummelling through and at one point I texted my daughter who was sat in a nearby waiting room and said ‘I want to go home’.  I knew the pain was subsiding yet I felt tired even unwell, but I just wanted to feel safe and I didn’t there. Staff didn’t speak to me for quite a long time, in fact I think I sat waiting for the results for over 2 hours with no staff interaction at all. If I’m honest I felt quite abandoned and that was quite hard to deal with. Now I know most adults would find no interaction ok, some would maybe find it hard but they’d cope and yet I was there with chaos going on inside my head and I didn’t feel able to cope. I felt vulnerable, I felt exposed and I felt unsafe it was so hard to just sit there with a hospital gown on, things stuck on me and a cannula in my arm.

When I eventually had a chest X-ray that felt worse, my radiographer was a male staff member and for me that felt too scary. I didn’t have the courage to say I can’t do this, to say I have a trauma history that makes this too hard, so instead I retreated inward and felt as if I was no longer in control of me. Whoever came out did an ok job they kept us safe and they began to deal with the doctor too, when I came back the doctor was asking me more questions about my health history and of course my mental health came up.

I tried to explain I’m in the process of a medication reduction and as such I’m reducing my anti depressant, but of course that gave them something to hang a label on me. The conversation revolved around who was supervising the reduction, was I no longer depressed and why such a gradual reduction. The logistics of reducing meds is a whole other blog, but I tried to explain to the doctor and yet I knew I wasn’t making many inroads into the stigma she clearly held.

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When eventually they said I could go home I was utterly relieved, and so were the other parts of me after all none of us were enjoying this time. My daughter helped me get changed back into my own clothes and that felt a huge relief and then together we left the hospital. On the drive home I sat and talked inside reassuring everyone and thanking them too, for they had been helpful and stayed  as calm as they could. By the time I got home it was the early hours of the morning and I was truly ready for bed, I felt exhausted.

But perhaps because I have alters, because I have D.I.D going to sleep wasn’t a straightforward  option. Little parts of me had missed out on their cartoons and they felt agitated and unsettled by our visit to hospital, the chest pain which had now gone had frightened all of me. I knew trying to sleep wasn’t going to work, I also had at least one part who was steaming mad at the stigma we had encountered. I decided to acknowledge the frustration being felt, I said I understood how it made us feel and I reminded us of just how good we are. I told myself that they had no right to judge me and it was their problem not mine, after all I don’t mind my scars or my mental health history it’s just part of who we are. I can’t help my past but I can help how I let it influence today and as such I can chose to not let the stigma and archaic views of a few medical staff hurt me.

I did settled down eventually to sleep, watching cartoons in bed as I tried to relax and calm down different parts of me. Since then well we have had more tests and more pain, but we are working through it as a team my alters and me. I guess that’s what I’ve learnt this week that if I face situations that freak me out or unsettle me I can deal with them if I do so as a team. A few years ago I would have just dissociated not for a short period but for days, I wouldn’t have coped with the stigma either I’d have reacted to it.

Perhaps the last few days have shown me just how far we have progressed in terms of working collaboratively.  I realise now that I need to accept stigma exists and whilst I don’t like it I can’t change other people’s ignorance. That doesn’t mean I won’t fight to end stigma, of course I will and I’ll continue to challenge where I can attitudes that need changing. Having D.I.D is a challenge especially when you are physically unwell, people don’t understand  it and they don’t want to either. Guess I have to work at educating people about this condition after all that can only help people like me in the future.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Having Dissociative Identity Disorder Doesn’t Mean Life Is Over. 

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Just a few years ago at my lowest point I felt my life was over, I felt as if I would never be any good at contributing to society anymore. I didn’t feel like a great mum or wife or friend in fact I felt worthless and pathetic, I used to think about what my life could have been and how I’d failed. Of course the failure I felt back then was not really justified at all and yet I couldn’t shake of those feelings of worthlessness or of guilt.

I blamed myself for that breakdown point when life became too overwhelming and I could no longer hide the truth of my past. I blamed myself for that point when suddenly people were noticing I wasn’t ok and that I kept losing time and forgetting things. Of course now I know that really I was dissociating and as the wall of amnesia began to leak and my past hit me head on, well it all became too overwhelming.

That led to my self harm and my suicidal attempts, attempts I don’t regret but am glad we’re not successful. You see I don’t regret falling apart for by doing so I learnt what was wrong and I learnt the truth of my past.  I’ve learnt who I really was and the childhood I endured and I understand now just how strong I really am. The self harm and suicide attempts are just moments in my life, visual scars of the past I hid for too long and today they allow me to see how far I’ve come. There markers in the sand that show me where I was and where I am now and that is important.

Before I started that meltdown I had been productive, I held a job that I enjoyed and I contributed to helping others too. I found myself being a person who ran at 100mph, working, running a home, volunteering and being actively involved in community life. I had some physical issues that slowed me down at times and my mental health was never fully ok, yet I still felt I contributed to life and that was important for me.

So when I became really unwell and my mental health deteriorated it wasn’t easy, in fact being hospitalised felt as if my world had come crashing down. Suddenly I couldn’t participate in the things that gave me an identity and a purpose, rather than helping others I became a burden. I couldn’t sustain work and so was made redundant, that didn’t help me especially as it happened whilst I was in hospital. I was hoping to leave hospital pick up my life and carry on like before and then I didn’t have work to return too, I was deemed too mentally unwell or so it felt.

Ever since then I’ve either drifted from one crisis to another, one hospital stay to another, or care package to another. I haven’t really been able to move forwards, well not until about 18 months ago because then life began to change. It’s continued to change at such a pace that at times its felt surreal and I often pinch myself to ensure I’m not dreaming this. 18 months ago I felt desolate and confused and I had full time care, it felt like I just couldn’t understand D.I.D and I never would.

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Fast forward 18 months until today and life is beginning to change again, I now feel far more assured of my skills and of who I am and I have less support. It’s not easy having D.I.D but I now know enough skills to understand that it’s not impossible to live with either, it’s just slightly more complex but that’s ok. Yes I have to do far more than many will do just to ensure I function each day and to ensure that the day goes well, I doubt most people need to give so much time to the things I need to. Mornings are a crucial part of that daily process of stabilising me and that means all of me, including my alters the other parts of me.

I now have a fairly structured approach to my days, well mornings at least and I know that I need to pace myself, take time to do art and other activities. I’m learning each day and I can now deal more successfully with some things that used to send me into disarray, I cope more often than not with body memories and flashbacks these days. That doesn’t mean there aren’t  times when they overwhelm and cause chaos, it’s just it happens less frequently than it used to.  Instead of being an unbearable part of every day it’s once every few days now, for I have the skills to rationalise and cope better with them.

I’m still fragmented and I’m still not there at the end of the journey of recovery, but I’m moving forward and making progress. My attitude to life has changed dramatically and now I’m far more focused on my recovery and on my treatment than ever before. I’m able to have fun, to laugh, to feel and I don’t feel bad about giving myself time, or saying no to people. I’m learning that I’m an ok person and I’ve gained some ability to be more patient and less of a perfectionist. I don’t take things for granted though and know I have to work hard to sustain the progress I’ve made and want to continue to make.

I certainly don’t feel like my life is over or that I can’t contribute to society anymore, I don’t feel like life isn’t worth living in fact far from it. Even when my moods dip and I’m low I know life is still there for the taking, it is worth living and it’s worth fighting for. I’m starting to see and accept that I’m a good parent and a good friend and I’m starting to believe I can once again contribute to society.

Whilst I am getting involved in village life and doing things, I clear in my mind what is most important and that’s my recovery and my treatment they do come first, I’m also clear that any involvement I have is to be non-detrimental to me and that for every meeting I attend or project I’m involved in, there is me time afterwards. Art, fun, feeling, these are key parts of this and my approach to life now is so different from the past, it’s so much more healthy. I realise now healing is possible it’s not however a simple task, it’s an ongoing mission, a daily mission of recovery.

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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

 

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.