Hey hello –
How are you today?
Thanks for coming back and reading more of the Discussing Dissociation blog. It’s exciting to see the number of site viewers growing each week – I think you all must be spreading the news! I appreciate all of you who have already become regular readers, and thanks for telling your friends.
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about giving- making- creating- providing new and positive experiences for your internal child parts, I want to encourage all the multiples here to expand that idea to include your whole system on an even wider scale. This idea applies to non-multiples too, of course, but since we are “discussing dissociation” here, I’m going to write about these idea within the context of DID / MPD.
I have found that most dissociative trauma survivors have a fair bit of trouble understanding how to be genuinely kind to their inside people. It is very similar to being nice, and kind, and accepting towards outside people, but the effort gets directed to your own insiders instead of outside people.
I could explore the many different reasons for this. Is it because your family treated you so poorly? Were you so hideously neglected that taking care of yourself is truly a skill you have yet to learn? Is it because you truly believe you don’t deserve anything nice? Is it that you are full of self-hatred that you won’t be kind to yourself? Is that you are so angry at anyone (everyone?) that it is easier or essential to take it out on yourself? I don’t know. I’ll leave those questions with you to think about.
For now, I want to focus on what kind things you actually do for your internal system.
- What do you do to be nice to your inside people? What did you do this week?
- What do you do to show the others in your system appreciation and kindness?
- What do you do to encourage them through the hard parts of therapy work?
Think about all the different kinds of things you can do for your people on the inside.
Your internal world — your internal landscape — is totally your own world. It belongs to you and only you and your internal system. You and your insiders control that inner world.
You all can truly make a huge impact by doing nice, kind, gentle, supportive, and comforting things for each other in there on that level. Even if you can’t afford to buy things in the external world, you can do things for free on the inside worlds. Your inner world can be a true haven and a place that is comfortable and “just right”.
When you can see the others inside, and when you listen to them, and pay attention to each other, you will be able to recognize their needs and then do something about it to make their day better. Taking better care of your insiders will have a huge impact on your life, your system work, your healing process, and your external world.
One of the biggest keys to your overall healing depends on how YOU all treat your own system and internal parts.
- Do you support each other inside?
- Do you take the time to be kind to each other inside?
- Do you comfort each other inside?
- What do you do to help each other inside?
- Do you treat each other with respect?
- Are you trustworthy with each other?
For those that are DID, I believe that one of the most significant therapy goals is doing INTERNAL self care.
Look at your others inside — share blankets and stuffies with them. Give them hugs, sit quietly with them. Meet their needs, clean up the messes, give them clean clothes to wear, and a quiet safe place to rest.
If your inside world stays chaotic and unkept, neglected or dangerous, then how on earth are you going to feel safe or ok in the outside world? Start by addressing things in your own world, and let it ripple out from there.
The more folks learn to be there for their own selves, the less they will depend on their therapist, or spouse, or any other outside person to “take care” of them. The more you can take care of your own selves, the less it matters if someone else is busy or away for a few days. The more you take care of your own selves, the more you will feel GOOD about yourself and your ability to handle life.
Here are more questions to think about:
- What is the nicest thing that someone in your system could do for you?
- What are some of the most meaningful things you could do for them?
- How do you show the hurting ones that you have compassion for them?
- How do you show your little ones that you will protect them and keep them safe?
- What kinds of things can you do for your insiders to show them that you will help to take care of them and tend to their needs?
- How does your system respond when you are kind and attentive to them vs. being neglectful and angry towards them?
This is an important topic — your thoughts and/or comments are welcome.
I wish you the best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2020 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
Many parts of my internal system want me to read this article again!!!
It has been so hard for me to get it into my head on how to do this. On how to be kind to my internal system.
I was not raised that way. I was raised in an era when it was: do what I say or I’ll slap you or spank you or whip you so hard that you wish you were dead!
So along with other things that influenced my young life, which I will not talk about here,… Was confusion in my head. I could not understand why I was being hurt so badly by people who are supposed to love me.
I just could not understand!
I have been searching the blog articles for awhile now, and today I found this one, and I am so so so happy! I believe this is so important to my system … my way of paying attention to my inside kids, was to be harsh, critical, demanding and very unkind… just like my mother was to me. That way of treating little ones is so unloving. I want to delve into ways to be kind and treat my insiders like I would like to be treated.
Thank you so much Kathy for this article.
Its been about ten years since I was the front person, and rereading this article makes me happily realize something. Our inside kids used to be SO mean to each other. Well, we all were— me included, I suppose. We used to have these huge brick walls in between each of us, and we yelled at each other s lot— we felt like we were stuck in a prison cell together.
I have been back in charge for about 3 weeks now. There is such a difference between ten years ago and now. I have seen inside kids go out of their way to figure oht how to help their inside friends. ive watched them go without sleep so they can stay up all night long with someone who is lost in flashbacks and body memories even when they’re in pain also. We have been waking up screaming a lot— and kids crying— and I have seen the ones who were not upset go try to help. Even if it feels like they’re barely making a dent, at least its something. Even when some of the kids are so burdened by their own issues,, they still go around trying to figure out
We still don’t know how to do that….we are “stuck”…..We did see a young “part” with a bowl of ice cream one time….but we don’t know where he got it from….it wasn’t from Outside Her – she looks “scared” of him…..whoever did that makes us “nervous”…..you can’t eat ice cream and be on guard at the same time….now we gotta do more work….Rage is watching us….we don’t know what we are “supposed” to do….we don’t know which is “right”…..we don’t know what to do……
We be trying to help Bunny. I dont no why but her be werser rigt now. Her shake so hard. Her have a blanket and pilow and toys. And Blue try to be frenly to her. BUt Bunny be doing bad.
We also got a new girl. We got her close and blanket and pilow and food even tho her dont want to eat rigt now. But we be trying to make her comfrbol. And we be trying hard to look safe and frenly and nice so we dont scare her.
And Blue her love to give flowes so her ben bizy giving flowers to evrebudy.
It be so importent to take care of evrebudy inside. You cant count on outside pepol to help. Grown ups be tricky. So you got to work hard to take care of you inside by your self.
Wow! That would be super cool!
Question…I live in California and I’m hoping to go to Kathy’s Discussing Dissociation Conference this August in Arizona. Anyone else here thinking about going? I’d love to meet some people that i have “talked” with.
Me and my T are hoping to go….we live in CO…would LOVE to meet you if it works out for us!
Ways we’ve been loving and supportive to our insiders: we had had a very difficult day and were at Walmart when “Baby” wanted a baby doll with a suckie…so without question for under $5 she got her sweet baby. Last time we got a manicure Linda-16 chose the polish…many Little paint chips and glitter, looks like confetti…she likes it and that’s super cool, cause she doesn’t like much at all!
Aaahhhhh Linda that is so sweet. My little insider Squirrel LOVES to shop (something that I hate BTW). I take her to the Dollar Store (as in everything costs a dollar). I put five Loonies (Canadian one dollar coin) in one pocket and when she puts something in the cart, she has to take a Loonie out and put it in the other pocket. When there are no loonies left in the one pocket, she knows that it is time to check out. I pay the taxes! 😉 Sometimes she gets to go to the “expensive store” — Michaels — for crafting materials!
How sweet! I Love it💞
This morning we had to go get our drivers license renewed. Since jadie(she is 2) has been really upset this week we let
Her pick out what shirt to wear. So sue picked her favorite eeyore sweatshirt 🙄 so i have a lovely
Photo of 47 yr okld me in an eeyore shirt
!!!! Sorry…I am MUCH older and way behind times…wish I knew what an “eeyore shirt” looked like – but I am GLAD jadie got to wear her shirt!!!!
MissyMing, “Eeyore” is a sweet gray donkey character and a very good friend of all in the Winnie the Pooh story. Quite sweet! (He was always down in the dumps kinda guy”)
Thanks, linda! Man! I AM behind times…..:)
ROTFL … PMP … that is so funny Caden. I love the fact that you let Jadie pick out what you wore and that you followed through with it. That is so precious! Your driver’s license is your constant reminder of the compassionate and cooperative relationship that you have built with (some of) your insiders.
Smiling big time.. love it Caden.
Thank you for this.
I struggle so much for one, I have no ability to visualize, I see nothing ever inside. I close my eyes there is nothing there, just a big black nothing. Two, my parts are very secretive, I switch a lot and no one knows. I say I’m me I’m only me! I only am who I am at that time..
Ha ha… I read this and thought “oh wow that’s just how I feel”…then I realized it was an older post I wrote…yep Linda, I feel the same frustration!
Anyone else that can’t visualize???
We bounce a lot with that….sometimes we easily see….sometimes we can’t see anything at all….we have found that if our Outside life is in “overwhelm” realm and we are struggling to keep our head above water with all that…then we don’t seem to have much space to see Inside….trying to keep from getting into trouble on the Outside seems to take up quite a bit of energy….. although we know that, bottom line, it is the parts who are so afraid of doing something wrong, not obeying, and not knowing what the consequences will be…..so it’s like a circle – Outside “unknowns” trigger the parts and the parts panic about the unknowns……for us anyway….
My outside world is completely chaotic right now…I know that doesn’t help anything.
But I’m never able to visualize-and imagery doesn’t work for me either. So inside safe places or calmness doesn’t work .
We haven’t figured out Inside “safe” places yet either…they just are where they are trying to get through what they are going through…..haven’t figured out how to “help” them yet…..except for “punishments” or “intimidation” – the most we have seen is a group of young ones asking questions about what is going on on the Outside – of course, we have no answers for them because we don’t know either…..so many undercurrents….so many unknowns……we “watch” their world….not really “part” of it yet……
Yes, many unknowns…my parts are very secretive, lots and lots to say in the journaling, but not who is writing. Sometimes I know because of the language used. But we also have a “writer” to help for young parts or when to many parts are talking at once. This was all kept a secret from me til I was nearly 40…I know secrecy is a big thing!
Forgot to say, we DID see some of them hiding behind an Inside rock one time….don’t know how the rock got there…..????!!!!…..we didn’t put it there for them……
Interesting!!! Yes, hiding..we just made a connection re: hiding..as a child we took dolls and hid under bushes to play (feeling safe it creeps me out now thinking about spiders…) and now we stay all covered up in bed (sometimes for days) when things are overwhelming…hiding and cookies are still my go to for feeling better. Still hiding after all these years!
Even now…on the Outside…we cannot bear to sleep without at least a sheet over us – often even our head – …no matter how hot it is…..preferably on our stomach….definitely NOT on our back….feels safer for some reason…..I don’t remember literally hiding as a child….but do remember hoping I was “invisible”….is that the same???
Cookies?! We get it! Although actually we prefer ice cream….had to back off from that because we could out eat hubby in a heartbeat in ice cream and embarrassing because our Outside toes would wiggle when we ate it – people would comment ….and too many pounds arriving – so we had to back off…..so we just eat it on the Inside!
Invisible is the ultimate in hiding! Often in therapy when things were triggered my body would still be in the chair but “I was in the corner under the desk”…
This article posted at the perfect time for me I think. I’ve only been aware of what was “wrong with me”, since December. I have struggled to accept it, but I finally have and understand nothing is wrong with me at all. Everyone is different, this is my “different”. But while I’ve accepted it, I still fight with embracing it. Like another commented, I’ve held a lot of resentment. But I’m working to let that go. It’s not easy. I have very little co-consciousness with my others, and a whole lot of back holes. I know that’s my fault in resisting. I hope to fix that.
Yesterday, for the first time, I made a pointed effort to do something for one of my others. She loves gardens and sunflowers and all things yellow. So I plantes her a section in my yard just hers. Mari’s Garden. It felt strange doing it, and sometimes I thought it was ridiculous. But this morning, sitting and looking out at it, I feel good about it, and I hope she does, too.
Thank you for your work and all you do here. I’ve read a lot and learned quite a bit. Your approach is so loving. I have a good therapy team, but while they acknowledge I have “parts”, and “dissociative disorder issues”, they feel it’s more important right now to continue addressing my eating disorder (how this was discovered to begin with), and my trauma therapy. So very little is done with DID specifically. It leaves me questioning and wondering what exactly is real in any of it. But I do find comfort and good information in your blog. So thank you.
That was long, I apologize. It definitely struck a good chord with me.
Thank you again.
I am having grest difficulty with this. It’s hard to deal with the children because I never was a child. At least not in this mind. Don’t know what to do for them because there is so have much turmol going on. There are a destructive few as well. We keep ending up at an old abandoned bridge, sittng on the edge as if jumping is the only logical thing. The self hatred is tremendous. For now, We will keep working through the stuff.
I wanted to jump in here because this is such an important topic and one that I have been grappling with in another way. I would venture to say that most of us did not have compassionate, caring, nurturing and safe childhoods. It leaves us rather empty on that front. But, because we did not know compassion, caring, nurturing and safety first-hand ourselves does not mean that we cannot create this kind of environment for our insiders.
Here are my thoughts on how to do this:
1. Have the courage to see. Our insiders were created because of all of the horrible things that happened to us (and should not have). They stored the knowledge of this trauma and abuse away for us so we did not have to see it (and experience it, deal with it, etc.). Now, to liberate our insiders from this duty that they have taken on, we have to be willing to see. So, that means courage and an open mind, heart and soul that is willing to truly see into even the darkest corners of our internal world.
2. Build communication. We cannot see our truth if we do not know who is holding it. So, we need to find out who is in our internal system, a little of their biography (e.g., when they came into existence, how old they are, do they hold trauma, etc.), how they exist internally (e.g., are they all together, separate, in groups, etc.), who knows who, and so on. Just a getting-to-know-you with our systems and letting them tell us who they are, and what role they play.
3. Offer the basics of existence. By this I mean do not wait to hear what your insiders need. Offer them food, shelter, clothing, blankets, pillows, stuffies, etc. Just all of the things that a child would need. If there are older insiders, you can offer age-appropriate things for them. Anticipate their needs and show them that you care.
4. Build safe places. My little ones have a sunshine tent made from yellow sheets with their blankets, pillows, and stuffies. This is where they can go to feel safe and not have to deal with the outside world. For example, if I am going to see the doctor, I ask them to go to their sunshine tent and stay there until I call for them.
5. Encourage insiders into safety and comfort. Some insiders may be in dark, dangerous, unsafe or uninhabitable places inside. Create safe places for them to come out to. They may be reluctant at first but offer them the option and encourage them to come out. For example, I had an insider who lived in a cold, dark and damp cave. Eventually she came out to a little cabin that two of my boy alters built for her. Actually, one of the boys when and got her and brought her to the new place.
6. Talk with your insiders. I found that the best way to encourage my insiders to talk with me was for me to talk to them. Every day I would tell them that I loved them; that I appreciated all that they had done for me to survive; that I wanted to help them as best as I could; that I wanted to hear what they needed/wanted to tell me; that I might not always understand or agree with them but that I would always listen respectfully to them and try to comprehend what they are telling me; that I wanted to build co-consciousness so that we could live together in mutual cooperation; and that I would always have their best interest in mind even though I might make mistakes along the way.
7. Listen compassionately and creatively. Your insiders are full of information that is going to be hard to hear and some of it may be difficult to understand. Remember it was your child’s mind that interpreted what happened and is now trying to tell you. Be sure to listen openly, non-judgmentally and courageously. You are not going to like a lot of what you will hear and maybe even doubt its accuracy but it is your truth. Do not doubt yourself or your insiders. Be gentle with ALL of you (inside and out).
8. Be consistent. Children (and adults) find safety in consistency. So, that means devoting yourself to all of the points above as best you can.
Some articles on the DD website that I found particularly helpful on this topic (use the search function in the right-hand column of the webpage):
— Developing Internal Communication – Starting with the Basics
— 5 Kinds of Emotional Support Needed by Dissociative Trauma Survivors (but I think that this applies to how we approach our insiders as well)
— 30 Tips for How to Help a Child who is Hurting (this applies to how we approach our insiders as well)
— Kathy’s Video Comment: Making a Calm Place Inside your Dissociative World
We are all here to listen and help in any way that we can Deborah!
what do you think about outside help?
currently, I am helping to take care of a child alter. it looks to me like that child alter will do a lot better if they had more take carers from the outside.
He is an example Of be kind to your internal parts to been a hard day for Baby Mr D (short of devil) is playing and try to help Baby . I couldn’t believe what I was hearing so I had to Record them. They were singing amazing Grace
I wish you all could hear it. I just do not knaow how to post it here
I saw this post and I think it is AWESOME. My T has been challenging me to accept ALL the parts, the good and the “challenging” ones, so to speak. I will send this to her, and I hope this can help us as we “peel back the onion”
This is an area of severe suckage. Who is supposed to do this?
we be in teams now to take care of each other
then we bothr caden less
we try to help
the nisest things we do for ech other is give ech other turns with are therpist.
becuse we all want talk to her.
we be trying to take care of missy
becus her hert bad rit now.
the last 3nites we wake up screming from nitmers. and we did try to help ech other feel betr. becus we say nice things. becus we want ech other to get a good sleep.
it make efrewon hapyer when we try to be nise.
I have been thinking about this a lot the past week.
At work, I am being physically and emptionally sucked dry om a daily basis. I can barely think by the time I get home. But then I have a whole system full of little ones to take care of. Im worn out. Today I got home from work at 4:30, put my pajamas on, ate some pizza and chocolate chip cookies, and took at 2 hour nap.
Im trying to think of a different way we can organize things inside to make it easier for the smaller kids to help each other inside but I havent come up with any good ideas yet. Quite a few of the inside kids are having a really rough time, and they dont want each others help. They either want me, or our therapist. And neither of us is really being here for them right now. I need to figure out how to get them to help each other better.
We ech gots a litol house in side now
Ech be a box
We do ech live in a box by arself
We cant be arond ech other rite now we got to stay seprit
Caden say if we cant play nise then dont play at all
Her say stay away from ech other if that waht it take
We ech gots the lits off
We ech gots the dors shut
We ech gots are own spase and stay away from the others and stay in side
Esept bunny she stil be out side in the grass her cry her wont let enebudy close to her or her screme funny sowns like her hert so we leve her allone
The hiden kids in the woods them go back there to hide
So did jadie
Blue gots sun flors
Blue still leve flors som tims
hi kathy finding your blog has been a life saver. Ive been diagnosed about. Two years and this last six months have been rough withOut my old theraPist mediating the madness. I have a child alter who experienced a lot of trauma. He often cries and cries and is inconsolable. Ive been planning to take Alex to Disney land so he can truly be a kid. Friday is the day. (: i honestly noticed so much progress with him since im finally allowing him to let go and be free.
Now if only i could get the older ones to loosen up. Traveling with alters is never easy. Thanks for your insight. I know this illness is manageable as i continue to gain tools. Keep writing.
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for reading, and I sure do hope you come back and tell us how your day at Disneyland went with your littles! Did Alex enjoy his day out? What was it like for you and your system? That could have been an incredible experience for your peoples…. !!
I do find that doing things to meet specific needs of individual insiders does help in the long run. That’s not quick when there are lots of people with lots of needs, but every step forward helps. It all adds up, and leads toward healing for everyone inside. It sounds like you are doing some great work — keep at it.
I’m glad this blog has been helpful for you. I appreciate you’re letting me know. 🙂
Sending kind thoughts and warm wishes for your healing journey,
Just call me Tina says
Reblogged this on Broken Cisterns Hold No Water and commented:
I have no idea how to do this. I am very skilled at wounding, mocking, and rejecting them 🙁
I still struggle with this- and identifying needs. I just don’t get it.
But on the upside, we’ve not harmed in 2 months. But I wonder about internal landscape feeling like a snowglobe being shaken? I don’t know much about my internal landscape, but the “dizziness” is driving me nuts. Would love commentary.
Sorry, I should be more specific and say that all medical things have been ruled out just in the last 2 months and when I described my “dizziness” as falling or as a snowglobe being tilted upside down and back, he just looked at me funny 🙂 so I have to think it “another one of those trauma things”. The world doesn’t spin- I spin. I’ve stopped yelling at it (which goes with the “be nice” theme), I used to yell Fight it! Come on!! But now I just witness it. Still, any pointers would be great.
It reminds me some of the falling state of the girl from “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden”.
We are learning how to make our internal world more bright and pretty inside, adding colours to rooms so they aren’t so dark and dreary anymore. It gets frustrating though when you think you have “redecorated” a room and when you come back it is all dark and dreary again…….You say to try treat your inner people the same way you would the outside people and I do this-this is including the mean awful ones…..I leave them to be mean and awful to themselves. I won’t stand there anymore and take their cruel things they do, just like I wouldn’t stand there and take someone being cruel and mean to me on the outside. I really like your blog, it is the most helpful I have ever came across thus far.
Kathy Broady says
Reblogged this on Discussing Dissociation and commented:
This is one of the first articles written on .discussing .dissociation — an oldie, but a goodie.
Treating your internal system with kindness! Absolutely essential for healing!
Very basic concept, but often a very difficult skill to learn for trauma survivors.
All too many insiders are treated with internal violence and left in dirty, messy, filthy conditions. That was how the abuse happened — I get that. But please move forward in your healing by giving your insiders a nice place to live internally.
How are you doing with these ideas?
Copyright © 2008-2015 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
Missy ben nicer to me this week
She ben helping me find projecs to do
Her try to help me keep bizzy
Ushally her just boss me arown.
But her dont have yell at me this week hardley at all
Cuz mosly it be just the 2 of us
And she give me projecs to keep me out of the way
That kind of be difrint and nice of her dont it.
Ok try that again: http:/fromhurttohealing.wordpress.com/the-“fairly-good”-mother/
Self care is a very difficult issue for me. My first response is always resentment. Why should I have to take care of me? I had to take care of my mother and my siblings when I was young. Why can’t someone else take care of me for a change?
At one point in my therapy journey my husband told me he didn’t want to be my “dad.” Apparently he was aware of me behaving like a needy kid! Ouch!
There is no way around it. I deserved to be nurtured and loved as a child; I deserved to be kept safe. I have wounded children inside me that will only receive that care I deserved then but didn’t receive if I give it to them now. I don’t do a very good job, but I’m learning. I’m learning to put my inside children into a safe place before I engage in intimacy with my husband. I’m learning what feels safe and what feels caring. But it takes time and effort and I still resent it sometimes.
I wrote a story about self care. It is on my blog posted at the side. It is funny but still has truth in it I think.
It has been very hard work thinking about the questions at the end of this blog. I was afraid it would be weeks to respond but with a little co-operation, we got it down. Being newly diagnosed, I think the nicest thing someone in my system could do for me is maybe to help me to hear and see better in there. its really dark in some areas in there and when I try, I sometimes only see my insiders in boxes in a line. I think they dont want to know me either or just shy. So we could work together. Something meaningful I could do for them is to try to get to understand all of them one at a time and to try to learn how they came to help me instead of me fighting them and denying them. I have only met two of my insiders. I sense the others, the hurting ones and the little ones as mood swings and for them, I mostly let them write if possible and if they want to. I can sit with them on our garden bench and embrace each other and maybe I can learn to “check in” with them. I will really have to work hard at this. Then maybe I can find out how my system will repond when I concentrate more on being co-operative and attentive towards them.
me no guna say eni ding els bowt cherie an me pobli jus keep evrydin quite so cherie not no me still heer. me wuz teld sumdin tunite dat me no see eni ding guud eni mor. no matr how mush me tri tu be guud, an wuz teld awl de time by peple dat it wuz not me fault dat me/cherie had tu du dose dings at de meetins wud make it dat wen we die dat we wud liv furevr in darkness. so me jus guna geve up an dey WIN.
me sori tu hav boterd u all.
me big no car who me tawk tu r tells if asx questuns. me jus no can teld wher we live at fisaly an nutin dat can make us end up in hosital.
me asx questun: wen a litle trys an trys tu be guud an du no bad dings, dat de big stil no wans the litle tu be rownd?
Kathy Broady says
Just be very very very careful. There are too many bad people out here on the internet, and I think it is important that your bigs know more about what kinds of places you are visiting and where you are typing. You are safe with me – I am not a bad people, but I know that anyone can read anything printed on the internet, so it is important to be extra extra careful. And still, I hope your bigs know that you are here, writing at this place.
I will be writing a big long thing about working with child parts very soon, ok? Maybe I can answer a lot of your questions in that post. It is very hard and sad when the bigs don’t want the littles. I think that is a very very sad thing, so I will certainly write something about that.
Thanks for visiting here. I hope you are having a better day –
me big no reed r du enyding eni more dat has tu bu wit hur bein DID
she no evn keep de jurnal eni mor she geted reli mad lass nite at me cuz me wuz owt an me feel de depresiun she wuz havin an me ded wat me use tu duing tu numb dings owt me no sur iffa me cud say wat me ded heer wit owt getin in truble frum sumwun.
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for coming back to read at this blog. I’m not quite sure what you are about to say in your post, but I would really prefer that you make sure your bigs / host of your system know that you are coming here. And please check with them before you post anything personal about what happens in your life. It’s ok to make comments about the blog, but please be careful about what you tell us about your personal life, especially without the permission of your older parts.
Maybe write a note to your bigs about this place? Or send them an email? Or make a sticky note and put it on the computer for them to see? It is very important that your bigs be at least informed of what you are doing out here on the web, for your own protection and safety.
me was wunderin wat an alter can du wen the host/big no longr wans tu du wit eni uf us litles no more sept tu hurt us, she use tu tawk wit us let us culur an du dings but now de onli tim me cud cum owt es if she seepin wit de meds she takes. how cud me get hur tu wike us gen?
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for writing. You have asked a good question, and I think I will add that to my “post about this” list. Lots of people have big parts that have trouble accepting their littles… so I think that is a very good question. I will think about that, and write more about it soon, ok?
I hope your bigs are reading at this blog too.
I hope things get better for you soon. I’m sorry to hear that things are so rough right now.
This posting while thought provoking, is a huge “ouch” subject for us. As mentioned by David, we repeat the patterns of neglect that we observed and were subjected to as a child. To us this means that each of us “do their job” that’s it, that’s their reward, they do their job and keep everything looking “perfect” to the real world.
Our current therapist asked us what we did to reward those parts that do the “positive things” in our life – for example Sophie wrote on our arm in huge letters “HOLD ON” when we were at a very low point. We were stunned at the question, we always considered it was just Sophie’s job to do that sort of thing…
We’ve managed to do small things like create an internal room that is totally white with no shadows, it has huge wool filled bean bags (so they don’t look like beds) and no windows etc. But this was in response to us not being able to sleep – again a sign that we weren’t functioning properly to the real world.
We’ve yet to get the concept of internal kindness for kindness sake…
Yet we’ll spoil our cat or other people for no reason other than we like them…
Thank you for continuing with these postings Kathy…
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for your post. I can see hints that tell me that you’re getting it.. slowly but surely…. Keep at it, and you’ll catch on more and more to these ideas. You’ve got some good skills in place, and now it’s a matter of doing what you know with a little more complexity. Yes, saying thank you to Sophie and rewarding her was a great idea! Do that with everyone… coz I’m sure, everyone is contributing somehow.
Another strength: you can already see your internal worlds, and you can already create safe rooms / places in response to the things that you need. That’s excellent. Now besides just the basics in that safe sleeping room, add things like nice blankets, stuffed animals for the kids, a nice carpet for the floor, maybe some toys or books for everyone, some soft easy-listening music in the background, a plant or something pretty to look at, some snacks and nibblies the kids can have at night, etc. If you are still stuck on ideas, ask the other people that go in that room what kinds of things they like. If they don’t know off-hand, ask them to look online or in a home decor magazine, and to pick out a few things they like.
The point being… you are creating an internal world that belongs only to you. As easily as you added white beanbags (great idea!), you can add anything else that the people in your system might want. Fixing internal rooms is free! You can incorporate anything that feels right to you.
And, if no one wants anything, and refuses to explore this thought, that is a whole new area of therapy for you to look at. Ask them why they can’t have more? What would happen if they did? What makes them believe they are not allowed more than the limited things they have? How do the items they pick correlate with from your past? Your insiders may be able to help answer some of the questions you don’t have answered for yourself. Explore this… it can lead to some good therapy material.
Keep up the good work —
I am no help on the anger questions. But as for why DID? I don’t have the answer of course, but I have heard a few theories. One idea is a child’s creativity. DID is an extremely creative and imaginative coping strategy, so it can only be employed by highly creative children (I have also heard arguments for higher intelligence as well as creativity). If that theory is right, the thing in you that made it possible is actually a good thing 🙂
Another theory I heard was that it might be a biological thing. A gene perhaps or a certain wiring in the brain that allows us to split when others cannot. Never seen anyone claiming to know what it actually is that allows this, but, if it is something biological its no more our fault than having a certain hair color.
Being DID can really suck sometimes, especially when you see other people who were hurt who seem to be ok. But, other times its actually really great. When your people are getting along, it can be really nice. And, there are worse reactions to the things we went through. Some people end up dying, some end up catatonic in a hospital forever, some waste away their lives denying and hiding and never really living because of it. So hang in there. Remember it could always be worse. You are here, you survived and someday you can thrive.
Hi, Kathy —
Thank you for the additional thoughts. I have a couple of bounce-backs that I’m going to leave here, not because I expect you to answer (you’ve been so generous in responding; I appreciate that, and recognize that it’s an investment of time and thought on your part) but because there might be something you can include in future posts about how to deal with these kinds of blocks in a DID system.
I do realize that being frustrated and angry with my trauma-bearing alters is a form of self-blame, but where I get really stuck with this is … why DID? It’s hard not to feel that there is something wrong with me personally that caused this particular thing to occur. My dad, who was, I think, abused far worse by his parents than I ever was by mine, developed a narcissistic personality disorder instead of a dissociative disorder. From my POV, he seems happy. He’s a total asshat, but if he’s suffering at all, it’s pretty well-concealed. It’s hard not to wish I were a happy narcissist instead of a very unhappy fragmented but comparatively nice person. And I see people who have had what look to me like far worse lives, but who don’t have DID, and who seem to be productive and able to sustain relationships and normal stuff like that. So I wonder what the difference is between them and me, and it’s hard not to think that there is something wrong with me that caused this to happen. I do realize that without the catalyst of other people’s cruelty, it wouldn’t have happened, but since it doesn’t happen to everyone, it’s hard for me not to feel it’s my fault that it happened to me, and that a better or stronger person would have reacted differently.
The other piece that I have terrible trouble with is figuring out how to be angry at my abusers without becoming angry at the whole world and feeling that life itself is inherently unsafe — I was persecuted on more than one occasion, in life-threatening ways, by groups of other children and teenagers; that was my most debilitating source of abuse. Because the “abuse”r was a group of fairly normal people — not a cult, and not adults … just kids at a regular middle-class public school, and then a group of kids at a Catholic high school, and then a group of kids at my college — it’s particularly difficult to figure out how to contextualize the experience. I can get angry with my parents pretty well at this point, and I do assign responsibility to them, and in fact my having done so encouraged my mother to get into therapy as well, which was a wonderful outcome of my learning to express how angry I was at the contribution of my family dysfunction to the situation I’m in now.
So I think my question has to do with how a person who is consistently persecuted for no apparent reason, by regular folks, can be angry with those people without being angry at the whole world. I can’t see being angry at the whole world as being a good thing for my life in general, but I also can’t see how to avoid it if I am assigning responsibility where it belongs. It’s easier just to decide I was (and am) so inherently repulsive and strange that people are drawn to hate me, and that’s my particular form of bad luck.
Thanks again for all the food for thought.
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for the comment. If you were sitting in front of me, and said all that to me, my first thought / response to you would be a series of very gentle soft questions about what’s missing in this picture. Life-threatening abuse at any time is horrific, I agree, and have no questions about how why you would need to fragment over repeated situations such as that. But… at the same time, I’d still be asking you….. are you sure you have the full story here? Have you asked your insiders if they know about other abusive situations (ones they might not have disclosed to you)? Or, have you asked your known Insiders if they are aware of any other Insiders? Has anyone looked behind them? Are there dark “unexplored” areas in your internal world? Have you had any periods of loss time recently? And if you are still experiencing bits of amnesia, do you know who was out when you weren’t? My point being…. don’t assume at this point in time that you have the full story. Dissociative people often have layers of alters, and while you may know everyone in this layer of your system, it is feasibly possible that you have another layer (or 2, or 3…) hidden from your view and from your awareness.
My thought is this. You’ve mentioned your system being small in numbers. That could mean, that you truly needed to split only that many times. BUT, you’ve also mentioned about being in dissociative therapy with an experienced therapist for a less than a couple years. That tells me, you very well might not have reached all the areas of trauma / system work that needs to be done. It is highly common for more insiders to surface gradually through the treatment process. For one, they need to feel safe enough and secure enough to show themselves, and for 2) some of the more surface issues have to be addressed first anyway, and 3) people start where they can and the harder stuff surfaces later in the treatment and not at the beginning, and 4) the hidden ones tend to watch you and your therapist longer to see if they will dare to trust you all with their secrets or not.
I’m not trying to step on your toes here. But that would be my first response with you. I could be wrong, and that’s ok — but I’d be looking further. I’d be willing to bet there is more in there…. somewhere.
I really love the idea of kindness. I think all too often, no matter what our circumstance, we can slip into self attack on many levels. Nourishing our inner world with self kindness is such an important idea! Thanks!
Can we link blogs?
Thanks for this post — lots to consider here, especially for me as I move into what I think of as Stage II of therapy; we’re pretty much all in the room and aware of each other, and now we need to start sharing information. Everyone has made a hasty and dramatic retreat at this prospect, and I think one of the reasons has to do with my consistent thoughtlessness as far as being supportive of the committee members. I just sort of expect them to stand and deliver, as it were.
I think that in my own case, a big roadblock to self-care is the fact that I just get tired of living in this ridiculously complex way, and I want to just, you know, have a normal life that doesn’t involve consulting six or seven or eight or however many different people before we do anything, and/or carefully explaining what we’re doing and why it’s safe, and/or thanking them afterward for allowing someone else to run the body, and/or figuring out how to make sure they’re comfortable. I feel like I’m in charge of a group of special-needs children, and it’s far more responsibility and annoyance than I’m interested in taking on. I still have a high level of resentment toward most of my trauma-bearing alters, which is not, I realize, helpful, and certainly mirrors the authority figures from my childhood who always seemed to wish I’d just shut up and go away.
I have managed to create safe and comfortable internal spaces for those of whom I am currently aware, but I pretty much stopped there, which again mirrors my own childhood, in which I was always fed, clothed, and provided with basic things I wanted, but wasn’t appropriately supported emotionally.
It would probably be a good idea for me to figure out how to redirect my frustration toward a more appropriate outlet than the committee, but I’m damned if I know how to do it.
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for your very honest reply. The internal work is very complicated. It’s not hard, and yes, the inside kids do have a lot of needs that have to be met in order to help them (and you) progress through your healing. And yes, you’ve mentioned something that is particularly important to grasp. It is not the fault of the trauma-bearing alters that they had trauma to bear. In other words, it is not your fault that you were hurt. Maybe I’ll say that again to emphasize the point: It is not your fault, nor the fault of your insiders that you all were abused and hurt and split. You are not to blame. They are not to blame. (You do realize, of course, that blaming your insiders is a form of self-blame, right?!!) And it is also not your fault that you now have a complicated system and a more complicated lifestyle because of the multiplicity.
The “blame” for the affects of the abuse lies on the people that hurt you. Whoever abused you to the point of making you split has a lot to be accountable for. Don’t let them off the hook by blaming your own self for that.
I like your insight, that the care you are giving to your insiders mirrors the same level of care you received as a child. That’s a great start. It’s great that you can see that you’ve gotten stuck at exactly that point. I encourage you to look at how emotional neglect has affected your life, because clearly, it’s had a huge impact on you. Dig, dig, dig right at this point. What happens if you really learn to care for your insiders? What is making it hard to get past this point?
Also, what happens if you get angry at the people who abused you? What are the rules about that? What are the consequences of that? What would be the benefit of that? Explore this whole concept as well, because once you can assign the proper responsibility to the people who did the perpetrating, you will be less likely to blame your own system.
It sounds like you are doing great work. Keep it up!!
Thank you also David for saying what you said and Kathy for your response! I feel very much similar to you, David. After six years into this idea of multiplicity I still find it difficult to connect with my self. It gets downright overwhelming. I have kids of my own and it is hard to manage my issues and care for the family. My house is a mess in reality and in my mind. I made places for my parts, but they don’t want to go there – they have their own worlds and I don’t even know where they are! My others suffered from a ton of abuse, mine was the thorough emotional neglect and denial from my parents. It helps to read how you said it is annoying to put so much work into working inside ourselves. I thought I was just the only one with that feeling!
Thank you also Kathy for relating what David said to emotional neglect. The help you gave David is very helpful to me, too!
I’m loving this series of posts, as I’ve said before.
As I’m dealing with this “solo” (ie without therapist) at the moment this is an amazing resource you are giving to me especially, as well as the wider DID/Dissociative world.
I was wondering…would you consider at some point, posting on how to “look after” or even control (if that’s the right word) some of one’s more destructive parts? I’m sure I’m not the only one out there whose internal system contains a mischief-maker.
Best, as ever
Kathy Broady says
I’m very pleased to hear that this blog is helpful for you — and hopefully, that means it is also helpful for others as well. That’s great news. I’m enjoying doing this blog myself, so… I guess that works! 🙂
And yes, lots of folks have destructive, mischief-maker parts. Oh boy — lots to say there! That’s a good topic. It goes on the list!
Happy new year to you –
Kira Heiler says
I too think that is a very good question/topic. Having an anarchistic and/or destructive part seems common umong Dissociative systems.
That is an important topic indeed. Check out Kathy’s blog article entitled:
“Working with Difficult and Destructive Alters”
(there is a search function in the right-hand column of the DD website just under Kathy’s picture)
You might also want to start a discussion on this topic (and ask questions of the community if you want to) on our space to post on anything:
“Our Normal Complicated Selves”
(there is a link on the DD home page)