Trauma survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorder can see an internal world. Step back, turn around an look inside – it will be there.
What happens if you have looked inside and all you see is a lot of darkness, or desolation, and not so many people with welcome arms?
First of all, think about what internal darkness means to you as an individual. There are a variety of options:
- It could have metaphorical meaning – what does darkness mean to you?
- It could represent how your life history feels emotionally to you.
- It could represent how barren, empty, starved, and deprived you feel in terms of getting your basic human needs met.
- It could represent the lack of emotional connection between you and your insiders at the moment.
- It could mean that you are feeling too scared to know.
- It could represent the way you were told or instructed to make your internal worlds look (ie: some survivors have had abusers that controlled what to make and create on the inside).
- It could mean denial – that you really don’t want to know what is happening in your internal worlds.
- It could be a cover or a façade or a front area that blocks off the rest of the internal worlds.
- It could mean that some little ones hid in the dark and therefore their internal world is also dark. Those parts of you might feel safer and more hidden in the dark, and they might like it that way.
- It could mean that some of your parts were put into a deprivation sort of situation where their trauma itself kept them locked in a dark space. They may not know anything but darkness, so their internal areas will be representative of what they lived through.
- It could mean that there are others deeper within your system making your world dark on purpose.
There is no one answer to explain why you see what you see. The goal of your therapy work is for you to understand your internal worlds as they apply to you, the individual.
Desolation very often represents neglect. Think about what land or households look like when they are ignored for years. Would the grass be green and trimmed? Would there be any grass at all? Would the buildings be in good condition? Would the area be clean and well-kept? Would it look like a tornado has spun through it?
Has your internal system been neglected? If you were to picture the way their feelings of neglect would look, what would it look like?
When you look at your insiders, do they look similar to neglected or abused children? Do they have clean, fitted clothing? Stylish haircuts? Plenty of food and water? What do you see in their eyes? What can you feel from their souls?
Think about the actual devastation caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and floods. The damage and destruction is enormous – totally overwhelming, requiring years of rebuilding and repair. Personal tragedies, loss, neglect, and chronic severe trauma have a similar effect on survivors’ emotional lives. With DID survivors, when there is no one around to help clean up the mess after the years of severe trauma occurs, or to offer comfort and consolation or ongoing protection, their internal worlds can become as chaotic and destroyed as a hurricane site.
Without ongoing care and attention, your internal worlds can become similar to such landscapes.
But remember – these internal worlds belong to you. You can make changes in them, and as you incorporate more positive steps, your internal system will feel better. Think about it: if you lived in there, would you feel better sitting for days in a deserted, dark, barren, rocky desert? Or would you feel better sitting in a comfortable warm house, full of basic necessities, surrounded by a grassy field with pretty flowers and shade trees?
When you see that your internal world needs some attention in order to make it comfortable, start where you can.
Some starting places are:
- Build a new area, totally separate from the desolate area, and create it as a safe place, that is very pleasing to the eye, and comfortable in every way you can think of. Invite the members of your system to come there. You can make community rules such as, in this living space, no one is allowed to hurt anyone else, everyone gets to their own possessions, and everyone gets their own private living space, etc.
- Take a corner of the dark and desolate area. Try making it a more pleasant living space by making necessary changes. Invite others to visit, and to talk about the kinds of things they’d like to see in your internal worlds.
- Specifically make an effort to speak to the others that you see inside. If you don’t see anyone, leave written messages in visible places. Come back and check to see if you’ve gotten any response from anyone.
- Leave packets of food, drinks, soap, clothing, and other basics that would come in handy for others that are in need. Watch to see if anyone inside is willing to claim these items.
- Listen closely. Do you hear others? Where is the sound coming from? Walk in that general direction. As you get closer, call out and introduce yourself as a friend that is approaching.
- As much as possible, be sure to also nurture yourself in your outside world the same as you are doing in your internal world. For example, if you see that your inner children are starving, give them something to eat. And if you are hungry and starving on the outside, nurture yourself by getting something healthy to eat as well.
- Speak to the ones you see. Approach them gently. Find a way to reach them without scaring them more. Pay close attention, and match what each person needs – it will vary from person to person. Treat them as kindly as you would treat an outside person that looked scared or hurting. Comfort them, and do what needs to be done to help them feel safe.
- Ask the insiders what they need or want to feel safe and protected. You might see things on your own, but get their opinion as well. They will know more about who / what they are afraid of, and listening to what they need will help you to be more precise and accurate in terms of giving to them.
The most critical points to remember are these:
No matter what you do, do not leave the barren dark areas of your internal worlds neglected and without care or attention. Don’t turn your back on your insiders that need your time and nurturing. Give all your insiders the safety, protection, and caring that they have so desperately needed. Help each of them to heal by giving them the things they (and you) have been missing in their life.
It’s okay for you to take the time you need to figure out how to do that but please don’t be guilty of neglecting your own system.
I wish you the best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation