To any dissociative trauma survivor weighing heavy in denial….
SO important for your years of survival….
SO very very crucial for maintaining your education, functionality, employment…
important, so very powerful…
covers up the amnesia
What time loss? Has anyone lost time?
covers up the pain
covers up the horror
covers up the hopelessness….
And yet denial,
as helpful and comforting as it was for so so so so so many years….
it keeps you stuck in those years… not knowing… not changing…
and yet, still at enormous risk for being hurt….
over and over and over again…
And the finding out what is on the other side of the denial…
well, that is so hugely painful…
usually proving exactly why you wanted that denial there in the first place.
And yet, if not knowing means you continue to be hurt, then is denial hurting more than helping?
Or what if not knowing means that you stay caught in a world where you are hurting others, then how is THAT helping you? Or them?
What if keeping your denial and not knowing means you have to stay split and even amnesiac in order to handle the different extremes in your life — where is the real peace of mind?
If you can’t stay present to see what your own self is doing, how is denial helpful?
If something is going on to THAT degree now while you are an adult, you really do need to know about it. Knowing is the first step of doing something about it.
Yes, it might be huge.
If denial has been there from day one… and you happen to be 20-30-40-50 years old… then just how MUCH has happened that you don’t know about? How much have you blocked? And when did you stop blocking whatever needed to be blocked?
- What if you know nothing, due to the denial. That is like knowing 0-1%.
- AND what if you have to learn at least 25% of the information in order to understand an inkling of what all has been going on in your life…
- And what if you have to learn at least 50% of the information to start realizing that you might have some reality connection to it…
- And what if you have to learn 60% of the information in order to make some system headway?
- And what if you have to know 70% before you can take action about it on your own?
- And what if you have to know 80% of the information before you feel like you are making genuine consistent headway?
Do you have any idea how MUCH information that is that has to surface from behind those darn denial walls?
So of course, you get caught and tangled in learning lots, and yet, initially not being able to do much about it. It’s all part of the process… to eventually learn how to do something about it. Just the knowing in and of itself is only one step of the healing process.
And then there is the system work, the sorting out the who’s and why’s your inside parts would be doing such different things from each other. Understanding the who’s and why’s of someone in your system has complete willingness to do something you find abhorrent…. How do you handle THAT?
It’s hard to know WHY that one over there would really really be willing to participate in such horrifying activities…. and NOW what? What do you do with a part that really appears to “like it” over there?
It takes a lot of work to get through denial. And for your life to truly be your own, you have to know everything that happened in your life.
I’m not talking about remembering every minute of time. At the moment, I’m not writing much about sorting through what others do to you….
Right now, I’m thinking more about what you do to you….
I mean … for your life to be yours… you need to know what you and your body and your mind is doing… basically at all times…
and to not ever not know what you did during your day (or night)
How can you ever be safe if you don’t know what you did or didn’t do?
These are some of my rambling thoughts about denial….
What are your thoughts?
Your comments are invited!
I wish you the best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2022 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
I don’t think it’s denial, but lately I’ve found that DID is is affecting my life more than I want to admit or believe that it is. We mostly have no inner communication, just a very little bit in writing.
Lately we’ve had a lot of difficult issues to deal with. Our son passed away on Father’s Day and our daughter just had very invasive surgery for melanoma. 11/1 was the anniversary of our daughters death 14 years ago and 11/8 the birthday of our son who just passed away in June. Lotsa loss and sad. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted. I’m sure that all triggers DID trauma again… it’s really heavy to feel as DID was less invasive and now it’s more active again. We pray a lot🙏💞
I just wanted to extend my sincere condolences to you on your losses and acknowledge the difficult times that you have been experiencing. Just such tough stuff to go through. My heart goes out to you and my sincere caring thoughts. If you are okay with hugs, I sure would like to offer you a bunch of virtual hugs right now!
Thank you for your kindness and caring thoughts! I’m very accepting of Hugs 🤗 Thank You so much…perfect timing as I’m having a difficult morning and you brightened it up a lot!
I think I’ve been doing this way too long! I’m never gonna understand it anyway. I’m just trying to do life the best I can. I have accepted in some areas I will NEVER have healing. I’ve been trying for 51 years to heal some area. Still no healing comes, trying to work on some issues just make it worse… Done trying. Mostly I have some degree of functionality. At times when moments of despair come, I breakdown, cry, journal trying to understand what’s going on. I usually shut down a while then come out of it. Things are far from ideal, but I’m functioning better than a few years ago. I have 2 really big issues that I don’t feel, think, believe will ever heal. That’s painful and hard. But I’m thankful for the progress we’ve made. Denial is a necessary part of self protection and life sometimes…
Denial is one of the few things getting us thru the past few months . Nothing ever happened. It couldnt have. We are obviously crazy to make all that stuff up in the first place.
Oh I hear you NoBody. There are times where I sit happily in denial or need to lock down and deny my insiders just to cope. Well, I did that for 56 years before my first insider popped out in therapy when I was 59 y/o for heavens sake. Then I thought, “why now, I have functioned fine all of these years without knowing so why do I need to go through this now?”
Well the answer to that was, despite having a university education, career, long-term partnership, friends, home … the whole trappings off a “successful functioning life” … I always knew that something was not right, off balance. That something would send me into deep depressions, thoughts of self harm and “ending it”, eating and drink issues, panic attacks, inability to cry … and the list goes on. I would tell myself that everyone has these feeling now and then so that was just “normal”. But, deep down I always knew that there was more to it.
Now, it took me a very long time to stop running and to turn around and face the shadows that were always with me. As much as what I began to learn ripped my guts out, it also welcomed in a new freedom from carrying that pain locked in the unknown. Only by looking into those dark corners can you bring light and healing to them. Otherwise, those shadows will haunt your life and make full living impossible.
Well, for me at least, that is what I clung onto those early years of coming out of denial and facing the truth of my life. And, I can honestly say that I am able to live my life more fully, with emotional range (something that was important to me) and with greater peace through understanding. Not perfect by any means but a whole lot better than my life in perpetual triggered darkness.
You have to do what you need to do to get through your days Nobody. Just know that, when you are ready, there is a whole lot of renewed life that can come out of facing the past. You are not crazy or making this up. You are deeply, horribly wounded and those traumas that did that to you are waiting to be seen, understood and, with time and gentle care, healed.
Well, just my take on this for what it is worth.
Kathy’s comment makes a lot of sense to me- “ if I’m making all this up, why would I choose something so crazy and difficult..why not something great and exciting?”
I know stuff happened to me , but it’s not bad enough to cause DID… anyone else think that?
reply to linda from linda…I really don’t know for sure if I have DID…Ive been told I do, but I really am not convinced. I don’t think it’s denial…I really am not convinced that i do…
I agree whole heartedly … why in heck would I choose to make up such a diagnosis, especially since there are so many out there who do not think that DID exists and are very cruel about it. But ya, I was in denial that I had DID for several years. Why would I want to acknowledge that I was DID let alone why I was DID.
The “why I was DID” is what I struggled with the most. I thought that my imagination was on overdrive and that what my few insiders that I knew at the time were telling me was just impossible. Then I thought that it was not”bad enough” what happened to me. In hindsight, I did not know it all but, none-the-less, any time that a child is harmed in whatever way (physically, sexually, emotionally, basic needs, etc.) that is good reason to split off from the reality of life.
I will tell you what really got me hung up at first. My first alters were “born” (that is the word that I use to describe when I know them to have first appeared in my life) was when I was hospitalized at 3 1/2 years old. Two hospitalizations followed. Now, I thought that you had to be physically or sexually abused to become DID. So, I thought that I could not be DID because I did not fit that profile.
I think that often folks fall into that thinking — that I cannot be DID because I was not physically and/or sexually abused. But any severe trauma as a child can lead to a split. That can be neglect, parents dying, living through a natural disaster, etc. I really think that it is important for folks to know that.
Now, I found out that I was sexually abused but I also know that I had alters already when that happened. One new alter was born then. But, once I found that out I fell into the trap of measuring my abuse against that of others. I downplayed my abuse as not being “enough” or “as much” so somehow I was not worthy of having split. I know that that sounds strange maybe but that was how my thinking went. I also think that I was a big element of my denial — I was not abused as badly as these other folks so I am cannot be DID too.
Bottom line … ANY abuse that a child endures is TOO MUCH!
I agree…I go through that..my abuse wasn’t bad enough to qualify,,,so I don’t have DID. Also, my parts don’t show themselves the same as other people that really have DID so that also means I don’t have it.
It makes more sense to me to accept I’m just a bad person that doesn’t know how to live right. Its all my fault I’m messed up…
so, I really don’t know??? Maybe someday I’ll know…
Yes I’m right there with that statement @linda @ kathy
Wow that’s an “in your face moment”
Right Megan! I wish there was a blood test to confirm yes or no! Done!
I wish you well and peace on your journey!
Yes totally blood test would be awesome, yet I fear knowing me ( well I thought I did) a blood test I would still question.
Thankyou. I wish you well too with as much peace as you can get
I am trying to set a plan to reread the blog articles and have chosen a modest goal of one article per week but I just realized that, with over 400 articles here, that will take me almost eight years so I best step up my plan … hahaha! Anyway, I went to the home page and thought that I would start there and what should be front and center … this article! So, I am thinking that the Universe wanted me to take a look at this issue again.
These Kathy quotes sprung out for me:
“If you can’t stay present to see what your own self is doing, how is denial helpful?”
“Right now, I’m thinking more about what you do to you….
I mean … for your life to be yours… you need to know what you and your body and your mind is doing… basically at all times…
and to not ever not know what you did during your day (or night)”
Then, I look down to the comments after writing this part above and I see that I made a posting on 10/21/18 that starts off:
“Oh the wonders of the universe and the magic of our community here. This topic is well-worth revisiting for me and so timely and on point.”
Yup, I am thinking that I am being guided to keep revisiting this topic over and over and over again (I am actually thinking probably most of the topics but this one seems to be shouting at me right now).
Well, in 10/21/18 I said that I was a work in progress and, sure enough, I still am. ARGH!!! But I have made progress. As I said back then, I have been trying to, not just know what happened to me as a child, but to own the feelings. I lived so long in denial that anything that my insiders told me was true. I did not want to accept what they were telling me. So, now I do accept that my insiders exist and that what they are telling me is true but I still struggle with owning the feeling part of that knowledge.
When it comes to experiencing my emotional responses, my insiders are triggered, jump in and react. Honestly, I hide behind them sometimes because I do not want to feel the emotional pain and anger that they hold for me. While I recognize that that is happening, but I deny myself the experience because I do not have the courage to face these emotional colours of me. It is a tug-of-war between knowing what I should be doing and being courageous enough to do it. So, the dissociative walls remain and my insiders have the responses based on what they know and where they have experienced it not necessarily appropriate to the here and now. And where am I? … lost down the rabbit hole missing life.
That does not mean that progress has not been made. This past winter my one insiders came forward to tell me that he had taken all of the little girl’s tears and put them in a castle but that he forgot to put in windows or a door to get them out again. You see, I have never been able to cry. Yes, a sad movie or story or hurt animal will make me cry but I have never shed a tear for what I have experienced in life or what hurts or saddens me in the here and now. Well, he and another insider boy put in a tap in the castle wall so that the tears could be let out and … slowly I have been able to start to cry for me.
Actually, this all happened just in time for me to go through the process of saying good bye to my therapist who retired in May. As painful as that was (saying good bye to her) I was able to experience that loss in the fullness of my emotional self and cry … and cry … and cry. As much as I hated to see her leave my life, I was somehow very grounded experiencing that all and moving on to a new therapist because I had processed my feels about the loss – ME not just my WEs. I shared the feelings and tears wholly with them and was not blocked from the experience. I chose tears over denial and that made for a healing experience of closure.
Wow ME+WE, that’s some good progress! I love reading your process and I think you have made some leaps and bounds recently. Definitely deserving of some celebrating, if you haven’t already.
Denial is so hard for people with DID, because we can’t always fully grasp what happened because we’re so disconnected from our memories. I struggle too with denial, but I’m beginning to learn and I think fully grasp that I need to treat the symptoms, not the facts. Too much black and white thinking in my brain going on for sure!
I’m glad you re-reading Kathy’s articles; I will try to join you on this journey. How are you going about picking which ones to read when? It is a ambitious project, but I know it can be done. 🙂
So, as I have said elsewhere, my T of 7 years and 8 months (yes I counted every day) retired this spring. A big part of the process this winter/spring was taking discussing y journey with her. Just imagine that, when I first started therapy with her, I had no idea that I was multiple … nor did she! So, in that time I can come to know the 12 other parts of me, about them, their role in my life and … the secrets that they have held for me all of these years.
So ya … I have come a long way. It just took me until I was 59 y/o to get this insight though, another 2 years denying that I was multiple and lurking on this website reading all that I could to prove that I was NOT DID. The more that I read and the more that my insiders spoke with my T, those walls of denial just started to crumble until I could not hide from my reality any more.
To be honest, it is darn scary. Denial allowed me to believe that everything was okay … well, at least to tell myself that that was the case. The thing is that I lived such a dark existence so much that I knew that something was wrong but I did not want to admit it. So, like Kathy said in the article above, denial really did not serve me well because it kept me from living fully. You see, a therapist told me a very long time ago that you cannot just cut off some feelings and still have the rest. It is an all or nothing kind of thing. So, cutting off the pain also meant that joy was lost to me as well. It is about getting back the richness of life on all of its dimensions of feeling. That means that I have had to work on some really painful stuff but the reward has been that I can now feel peace, love, joy, etc. in a way that I have never been able to before. Hum … not sure it that makes sense or not.
My big plan for rereading the articles is to start with the ones on the home page, explore ones that others comment on and just let the Universe guide me to what I need. In other words, I have no big plan … hahaha I would be so happy you have you join me dear friend and all. Maybe we can all learn new things together here folks. I am happy to see whatever articles pop up and speak to you all. There is just such depth here on this website and an endless need for me to learn!
My/selves+Me (aka Rosepetals+) says
I (we) would love to do this too. Great idea.
Thank you ME+WE… you are a “gem”…
My/selves+Me (aka Rosepetals+)
PS… really can’t figure out this changing name thing?? *sigh*
Happy to have you on board with this idea dear friend who is struggling with her name. The more that we can spread out and explore on the website, the more that we can learn together.
Say, as for your name, how about you just pick the name that suits you right now. It can be Rosepetals, My/selves+Me or something new. It does not matter who you have been here. I feel like this is a fresh (re)beginning for me! So don’t get yourself tangled up in a name. It is the wonderful, insightful you that we are engaged with here not a name! 😊
I Haven’t been here because I had a stroke.
Has anyone here had one? And how did it mesh with internal work?
And is it okay to ask how Kathy is doing? And Laura?
My/selves+Me ( aka Rosepetals+ ) 🌺
OMGosh My/selves+Me … I am really hearing this right … you had a stroke?! I have been away from here for a few weeks and am stunned to hear this news. Oh my heavens but my heart and heal thing thoughts and prayers are with you! I am sorry that it has taken so long for me to see this and reply.
Okay, so I have not had a stoke myself but family members have from very severe and debilitating to smaller more manageable kind. I am hoping that you fall into the latter case. My father had a series of small strokes and what he experienced was some balance and perceptual problems, a change in emotional state (he would cry and get sad where he used to not to) and some minor speech and critical thinking skills loss. All of this was worked on with an occupational therapist and he was back pretty well to his old self within a few months.
How this plays out with insiders is another question. I am thinking that it would be different for each and every one of them. Since we know that some insiders can have very different physical abilities and disabilities, it would seem possible that some of your insiders may not be effected at all. They may have an emotional reaction to what has happened however. It probably would be good to try and initiate a dialogue with the ones that you have communication with to address their questions and concerns. They may be able to tell others that you do not have communication with.
I sure would like to know what is happening now a few weeks later.
Do you have a support network to help?
Are there any physical/psychological issues that have resulted?
Heck, just how are you doing ?!
As for Kathy and Laura, I cannot speak for them but I think that things are as okay as they can be right now.
Please take gentle care dear friend. I will be thinking about you and looking for responses here.
I’m reading here today searching for a topic to fit me today. I have spent time in denial(diagnosed 30 years I’ve been in and out a lot). I think I’ve broken through denial for good, finally…But it’s really hard for me because my parts remain secretive. Unlike many other DID’ers I have no internal vision of anything, inside me I’m empty blank dark nothing there. I switch I’m different a lot. But no one wants to be identified no name no age, I only know a few personalities that I recognize by behaviors. So all this does cause me to wonder … I know (I think I know) I definitely have DID. I guess we just are different than most others. This is an old blog I’m adding to, but if anyone reads this and can relate or has a similar experience, I’d love to hear!
It’s good to see you here. I can related to your post. I was diagnosed by a therapist back in 1992. After about 2 years, she moved away, and I’ve seen many therapists since. At one time, I was made aware of many names, but not too much actual inside work. I can only speak to my experience, and we are so different, and my long-time therapist told me recently, that I have to figure out how my system works, and what works for me. *sigh* Much easier said than done, right?
But just today I said to myself: am I just doing this play thing in my head. Am I making all this up? So confusing sometimes!
You wrote “I think I’ve broke through denial for good”… and that sounds like good progress.
I am beginning to realize when I switch. For me, I think that is progress. So little steps… in this journey. And JOURNEY it is!!
Again I struggle with believing or trying to understand me/we?
I’ve been in therapy for over 30 years-and I’m still having trouble with life! Why am I still seeing a therapist and. Psychiatrist? When will I stop all this craziness? Why can’t I just be normal? Most people don’t spend 10 solid years in and out of locked psych hospitals actively in self harm and suicidal! Am I crazy? Why would I ruin my life to act like this? Ok so I stay out of the hospital now, mostly don’t self harm, but still live with internal chaos…if not DID, what’s going on? Am I stupid and acting stupid? I am able to work 2 days a week as a nurse. I function well there, my nurse part comes out there. But now today at home I’m all over the place and things I’d planned to do the next couple days are now huge stress points. Like someone else planned them and I don’t want to go anywhere or see anyone… such a confusing life…I’m feeling really sad right now…and I don’t even know why. Internal chaos!
Oh the wonders of the universe and the magic of our community here. This topic is well-worth revisiting for me and so timely and on point. The dissociative walls that have kept ME (the outside person) from feeling the depth of emotions attached to what I have been working on understanding with my insiders are coming down. Denial has kept me safely on the other side of the mirror of life. I am now stepping out in front of that mirror and the vision is both exhilarating and terrifying all at once.
I am 63 years old. My life has been played out in black and white — appearing to be sound, reasonable, and modestly successful. Oh, and whole … that heart-word of profound longing that we multiples use. But, my black and white world was a tissue paper thin shell of humanity ready to be whisked off in a direction not of my choosing every time that the winds of the past blew through it. I had no substance. I had no colour. I was an illusion of wholeness.
I was in denial. In fairness to my outside self, for most of my life, I was in painful ignorance of the full dimension of self that I was and … most importantly … the reason why. When I began to seek an understanding for the barren emptiness of self that I had struggled with all of my life, some of the kaleidoscope of colours of by being began to appear – my insiders. But, my eyes recoiled at the emotional vibrancy of the colours of my inner self … and I ran down the road of denial to escape the intensity of this new vision.
I ran … and ran … and ran. And, despite how far I felt that I had gone, I would turn around and there they were – all of the insider colours of ME. So, I tried covering my eyes so I would not see. But, then what little life I did have was lost to the darkness of denial.
I finally realized that I could not get away from my insiders through denial and other self-medicated and emotional tricks of repudiation because they are always there with me—they are me. Denial is like trying to run away from your own shadow. It is always there. But, in this case, it was my shadow that held all of the colours of whole-being and I was the featureless, blank, two-dimensional presence.
So, I have begun to stop, turn around and see … really see. And, in that seeing, I have come to a knowing on a deep, personal ME-level. Each time that I do, a bit of that wonderful palette of insider colours begins to paint truth, dimension and substance on to ME. And, I am beginning to feel filled up with life. Amazingly, my paper-thin shell of self, once so vulnerable to the slightest breeze of triggering aspect, finds strength, resilience and grounding in the fullness of ME.
I am not whole yet. I am a work in progress. All of the colours of me have not been painted on the canvas of my life in the here and now yet. Some times I do not like the colours added to the picture but, in time, they find their place and blend beautifully into the flow of the never-ending brush strokes of my work with my insiders. Other colours almost instantly add remarkable richness and texture to my life and I am amazed and grateful.
What I am trying to say here friends is that, “we can run, but we can’t hide” from our insiders … our truth. You know this in your hearts, minds and souls. That is why you are here. Denial is the first step in any grieving process. When you are told that you have DID, life as you have known it ceases to exist. But in the death of our old way of thinking comes the opportunity to rebirth our selves … our whole, multidimensional, creative, brilliant, beautiful selves.
Time to open up to your Crayola pack!
Wow, so profound.
Me + We —
I’m an artist — I love your illustration! It really impacts how I look at things. I don’t know how many times I have said, ‘I don’t want it to be true.” “I don’t want to think about it” etc.
Thank you for giving me something to think about
Lizzie & PALS says
I thought this post was going to end up somewhere else, and I was about to start weighing in heavily on what worked for me, but I ended up agreeing!
I have remembered bits of my trauma for the past 20 years. 2017, I was flooded with too much. It ended up being enough to get the gist of what happened in my past and separate from dangerous people. We all came to a consensus that we aren’t going to do more work on the specific traumas. We’ve done enough of that to lead a safe life today.
We absolutely don’t deny our present day comings and goings and am happy to say I have clear memories of every day for several months now through system communication and decision making! We know bad things happened, but we choose to keep our focus now on being together while remaining present and grounded.
It works well. I feel digging up more pain of the past would be a huge setback to how far we have come (trust me, we worked on a lot). I just have ordinary 40 something forgetfulness now. Such a relief to know what’s happening in life!
Lizzie and PALS
Respect to Lizzie and PALS. Being now is embracing what is. You’re clearly not in denial, and you’re doing what works for you. I feel happy for you. 10/21/18
Little a says
You want it to be pretend
Is being scared that you’re making it all up a form of denial?
Kathy Broady MSW says
Quick answer….. My first thought is that those two things are probably VERY connected. If you are scared to know, then it is much easy to deny things and to stay disconnected from the information.
And if you are worried you are making it up, you’re still going to be putting up walls or resistances to hearing the full story.
Ask yourself why you are doubting yourself? Why would you be “making it up”? Were you TOLD you were making it up? And if you were making it up, why wouldn’t you make up something really fun and cool? Why would you choose to “make up” something really traumatic?
And, the info might belong more to some of your other insiders, so … as you get more closely connected to them, they can tell you more, and together, y’all can figure out the truth of what happened.
Keep working at it, and be willing to hear the truth from your whole system!
I think denial is broad sweeping – nothing happened. I think maybe compartmentalizing isn’t denial but separation and containment. Maybe compartmentalizing comes first then the denial avoids knowing that the other is hidden underneath it.
that makes sense in my head but maybe not anywhere else. 🙂
Andrea to Kennedy says
Thank you. That makes sense. I’m not sure which is harder to sustain, but am probably stuck with my arrangement anyway.
I read your other post about what happened when you spoke at your group. I wasn’t sure what I could offer except that there is nothing you could say or share that would make anybody run screaming. 😉
I know it’s hard to say things sometimes, and because you know that you usually don’t (under those circumstances), when you do, it can be mortifying. But, that’s on your end. The others may have just been giving you the space to be you.
Please go there again knowing you undoubtedly gave others the strength to take another step, something you routinely do here.
Kennedy (to Andrea) says
I think you are right. I gotta say it felt mortifying! And yeah, it was probably just me who was freaked and I can see how they wanted the therapist in the room to talk and kinda relieve the tension. And I know, so far anyway, those women are kind. Thank you for saying that cuz it really did help give me a perspective that makes it okay for me to go back and to not obsess! Your response was very helpful. 🙂
Is there a difference between denial and compartmentalizing?
Sorry that I am late out of the gate here. I think that Kennedy has a good take on the difference between “denial” and “compartmentalizing”. This is how I see it for what it is worth.
Denial is all about turning a blind eye to the truth – saying that what is true does not exist. So, for us folks with DID that may mean not listening to and believing what our insiders are saying to us, pretending that it is not true (what they tell us) or maybe they do not exist (our insider do not exist). In my mind, denial is a whole lot of running away from our selves and our truth (i.e., not seeing, believing and accepting what happened to us).
Compartmentalizing is a whole lot different in my mind. The act of compartmentalizing is not about running away from the truth but putting it away somewhere in our subconscious mind because it is just too much to take in. By dissociating and creating insiders, in effect, we compartmentalized the trauma and emotions into alters who hold the truth. We (the hosts) have not run away from the truth. We simply have not been confronted with it yet.
There is no healing in denial. Running away from your truth just gets you exhausted and devoid of life. I am not saying that it is easy (heck, that is what I am dealing with right now) but it is possible and it is essential to healing. Denial does not help you survive – it just simply keeps you perpetually running away from living.
Compartmentalizing, on the other hand, helps to divide up the trauma, emotions and memories into manageable bits. So, your alters have taken all of the bad stuff and stored it away for you. Healing work is about asking your insiders to help you see what they have stored away for you. Now, this does not (should not) be all at once. All of your trauma has been stored away for a reason – because it was just too much to handle at the time. You cannot handle a whole lifetime of trauma all at once. So, you have to go at it a little bit at a time. You may find that you have to use the tool of compartmentalization to help you divide up the trauma into manageable bits in your healing work as well and use it as a technique to take a break from all of your stuff time to time too. That is okay. You are not saying that what is being compartmentalized doesn’t exist, you are just choosing the pace with which you can look at it. So, compartmentalization enabled you to survive and helps you deal with your trauma bit by bit in a manageable fashion.
I hope that this helps Andrea.
Andrea to ME + WE says
Thank you, ME + WE. This also makes a lot of sense.
If you are severely compartmentalized, as I likely am, the net result is the same as denial, as you explain it. I guess it’s just more hopeful in the long run.
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.
My vote is for denial. Its a good survival stretegy when thats all you have.
Clancey Jane says
I’ll am right there with you….
sometimes…. most of the time I don’t have much of a choice to deny what has happened…nobody wants to hear about it…. even in the hospital … for example in art therapy they will say “Shelly … we need to keep your work for your therapy…it’s to much for others in the class” All the time I need to hide. Only “normal trauma” can be dealt with… I feel like we doing have a choice but to deny our stuff… I’m even afraid to write it in my journal… it sucks it more than sucks…. sometimes we send websites to certain ppl.. in the middle of the night so that S. Girl doesn’t know till the morning” lol… I still hear from most of them not to send that kind of stuff bc it’s to scary….. BUT IT DIDNT HAPPEN TO THEM…. I think they just block my emails now …. cause they don’t say nothing anymore. And And…. We have a set amount of time that we can be out…. but we can do some stuff to let the singletons know we are close…so anyhooo we don’t have a choice but to deny a lot of stuff even some of um inside don’t believe us…. so we just throw FB at them.😡 10/22/18
british Ceramic Tile says
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Many days I don’t believe I have a system of insiders. I don’t believe in their existence. And even if they are there, then I don’t believe they have a reason to exist. I have never expierenced severe trauma. My supposed insiders haven’t told anything so far that would have to be kept out of my awareness. It’s like they have nothing to tell really. Which makes me even more suspicious.
It seems I can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s fantasy anymore. Have I lived in a fantasy world most part of my life? The overall picture of my childhood is one of happiness and an average way of living. And even that I’m not sure of. I don’t seem to have many recollections of what life was like in concreto (just a general picture). And then I also rationalize the time-loss away. I dont lose time. I’m imagining things. I’m constructing things along the way. I’m making everything up, even alter parts (especially alter parts).
I was loved. I was cared for. And people shouldn’t believe me (or the voices inside that wrestle themselves to the surface) if something else is claimed.
And the particular part in me that denies (besides me), isn’t much help either, because she admitted at some point that she denies to protect us from the thruth (rubbish! what truth! there isn’t any!) and carefully constructed this. That it is too important not to disturb that. Great help that is! How can I be sure that this isn’t some farfetched fantasy-world I’m living in? This uncertainty is a torture on its own.
I find it odd for us to read this kind of stuff- we’ve *never* had the kind of denial issues most survivors and multiples seem to face. Left home at seventeen, got into foster care, immediately started remembering really- bad abuse by our father and w/in six months ritual abuse. There’ve been- layers and layers over the years, of things coming up- but never the blanket denial that seems so very very common with others. I think maybe it’s because I never *had* the “appearence of a normal life” that a lot of people did. My father was so completely violent and crazy that my “normal life”- really really wasn’t. To the point that when I initially left home and talked about things that were “normal” for me they- were considered abusive or very strange for others.
I sometimes wonder if this same thing- which has done me well in terms of dealing- I don’t know anyone else who remembered RA stuff so quickly, and I remembered mc/torture etc. before I was twenty-five, which I’ve- also really not seen much- has been part of why- I don’t- have a *foundation* of a life. I’m on disability. I never had a *chance* to finish going to college (I’m working on it now)- hell, I was dealing with abreactions and flashbacks my last year of high school! Sometimes I feel like a failure and wonder if it’d be better to be one of the ones who didn’t remember for a decade or two and got to- have a life, when all this started.
But- in my case- it’s been absolutely instrumental that I/we *remember* and work together to *stop* on-going abuse and accessing issues. i think something that’s *magorly* kept our denial down- is internal commitment to one another and to help one another, and internal compassion. When I became host/front- that became even more so, because I personally had memories of ritual abuse and- I REFUSED to leave anyone in our system alone with the memories and abuse they’d had to suffer for all of us. Because that’s just wrong- it’s not acknowledging the service they did for ALL of our survival- and it’s not compassionate. It’s not something I’d do to a stranger- why would I do it to someone who’d saved my life?
Kathy Broady says
That’s an incredible way to say it.
I couldn’t say it better.
And yes, this kind of attitude will very much help your healing process go smooth, and it will save a whole lot of time wasted on squabbling and arguing.
sometimes knowing is just more than too much.
too much shame. too much pain. not enough skill or communication or healing. not enough good to counter the badness of it all.
I didn’t realize we’ve already read this before, but apparently we have.
Reading this today …with all that’s going on in my life at the moment… makes me feel REALLY TIRED, and like I’m up against a blockade. Of course, we made it ourself, and we have to take it down ourself. It seems so complicated, though. Just so much work…lots of work.
Kathy Broady says
Yes, Caroline, that’s an excellent point.
You made that blockade yourself, and yes, of course, you can take it back down.
It does take a lot of work to see thru’ the denial, and to face / address what is on the other side of the blockade, but it leads the way to genuine healing….
Way back when, something happened and the denial blockade was put there in place for a reason … but that was then. The hard part is deciding what to do about it now.
Yep, it takes lots of hard work…
You’re strong and capable and smart and resourceful ….. you can do it… When you’re ready, you can.
I’m not in denial. There’s nothing to be in denial from.
There’s nothing wrong with me or my life
and everything has been just fine.
I don’t have any feelings. I don’t have anything.
OHHH I had not seen Mk’s comment before. I thought we hadnt ever read this article. All of a sudden a lot of what MK says makes a lot more sense. Even things i say make more sense. But even as I write this, more denial goes up in place. It isnt helpful. And I know for a fact MK has TONS of huge feelings she cant deal with. I wonder if that means I do also, and just dont realize it.
Crud. Maybe I am just like her… only not as mean.
I need to think.
I followed this link over from the more recent post about protecting your therapeutic relationship….
well, it got me thinking.
I wonder if denial might be one of the hardest things to over come. If you have lived your life a certain way for years and years, then “wake up” one day to
find that everything that you once believed, is not true.
Maybe this doesnt happen to everyone, but it sure did get me.
I knew about some situations growing up, but was not connected to them. Was proud of the fact that I had not become a product of my environment.
Then my life fell apart….it was like a broken vase, all the pieces were there in
front of me, but what do i do with them now. I have tried to put them back together, all different ways. I can make it look like a vase, it can sit pretty on the shelf but it cant not hold water.
I can pick up enough feelings from inside, ones that I cannot deny exist. They just are not mine, no connection to them. That makes the logic of it all, so hard to believe.
I wake up in this alternate universe, all I believe to be true, isnt. All the things that dont feel real, are.
Trying to get the logical to meet the emotional
Kind of mind blowing.
I like denial.
When I try an look past it alls I can hear is a whole lotta screaming and my head feels funny. Body do too.
I just wanna dissapear.
We dunno bout emotions that are big cuz we allus stay away.
This words you wrote, making me a feel funny bad way funny.
I don’t like it.
Noboddy knows nothing and they aint gonna cuz it gone so no point.
So I dunno.
It weird eh?
I reckon I got brain damage hey, thats why.
I went shopping and it was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO cool!
This is an excellent post….makes you really open your eyes and think about stuff.
Can I just say that as a part whose host is in denial, that it hurts so much and that parts can feel so completely invalidated by this. I know that hosts hurt too and it can be very scary but please dont deny when a part is so willing to help and has strengths that can help everyone. Trying to run the show alone when you desperately want host to stand along side you to do this makes me feel so alone. There is power in numbers, together I really believe that we can put all this pain and hurt to rest, please please take the leap of faith, we did for you in many ways.
If we admit that we’re in denial, then something happened to us. So some of us just think the abuse that has been revealed in assessments, therapy etc is all lies – sort of a denial that there is denial. We tend to intellectualise away anything that we don’t want to deal with.
What is interesting is that some of the trauma bearing ones are the first to say that it is all lies. Some of our trauma occurred on a regular basis and wasn’t severe enough to cause further splits – or maybe the ones who coped with it were already split off? Anyway, these events have always been remembered. But many of us consider these events to be nothing “major” and definitely not worth what has been three years of therapy so far. We need to just “get over it” – a statement that was part of the family dynamic.
We’ve had situations when one of us has recounted an event in great detail, only for it then to be downplayed, ignored, denied or just treated as if it happened to another person – maybe we read it in a book cos we’re “very suggestible” (again part of our denial). But then we see something in a book that describes how survivors of abuse react and there is an immediate understanding of why we do certain actions – or can’t do others. This also happens when we read personal accounts that are in message boards or blogs.
So for us the denial can be incredibly destructive, confusing and adds layers of complexity to the healing. But then, it has also been our pattern of behaviour and thinking for the last 35 odd years. It’s part of our coping mechanism and has probably saved us from acting on self-destructive thoughts.
Kathy Broady says
I often wonder if the “just get over it” approach should be replaced with “dig a little deeper”.
Your system’s approach to downplaying and discounting each other does sound like it must get in the way a lot of your being able to hold onto the progress that you make in being able to talk about the trauma. You’ve done a good job explaining how that works for you — do you have any idea WHY it works that way for you?
Why is it more important to forget or downplay the traumatic events than to accept them as parts of your life and history? Who are you most protecting by doing that? And how would accepting those events as true actually create a problem for you today, in the here and now? (vs, from the past).
I encourage you to approach this whole denial-discounting process via your internal worlds. For example, select a brave part of you who has had told about a trauma event (of mild to moderate intensity) that got pushed down and away. (Don’t start this work with the most severe memories – pick a situation that is a little more easier to manage than others). Find the inside person that told the memory. Let them say their story again, to the others inside, to as many as can listen, and then see who in your internal world can go sit by the ones talking about their trauma. Who can give them a hug? Who can hand them a tissue? Who can just sit with??
When you look at how this happens (or doesn’t) from the perspective of your inner world, you learn a LOT about what is going on. What do you see in there that exists between you and the ones that remember the trauma? What makes the barrier between you and them? What do you feel – sense – hear that creates that barrier? What happens afterwards that makes the teller of the trauma become more distant again? Are there threats from others inside? Where is the sabotage coming from?
It may sound odd, but if you will watch how that whole dynamic plays out in your inner worlds, you will get some clues as to what is happening. Try it — take notes about it, and see if that gives you something more to work with.
This is really thought provoking, timely for us to use with our first-front who thinks denial is a state of being. Thanks.
Denial is a part of the “soul murder” that our perpetrators use to keep us forever in their control. What better way to ‘keep us under the thumb’ then to deny our own head-mates their lives that fill all those “empty spaces” in ones history.
Whether we believe our head-mates are parts or people they share a piece of the history of the body. The BODY is the only linear constant we DIDers have. The body has a right to be safe, it’s our responsibility to finally give it safe passage to a ‘regular life’ where the sky might fall, but is totally out of our control.
I think we forget that we’re not just our minds, that the body has been around for the ride the whole time. It’s been the horse we all rode/ride. It’s given us our survival as well, it withstood the torture, harm, near death and stood back up. It doesn’t have one mind riding but MANY and it deserves some cooperation on how it’s ridden. All the SI or near deaths it suffers because of our denial is just more abuse toward the body. How is that right?
Denial is hard to over come, no one says it’s easy. We were conditioned to deny, some of us from before birth. If just one of us steps off the D-train (dissociation) and takes the hand of another there’s really no going back to the closet our perpetrators thought was locked up tight.
Things happen and those walls go flying up, but someone remembers freedom, once tasted it gnaws the gut. It’s like the Passover service that reminds Jews of their journey out of slavery, not just out of the actual bonds, but the mind set of being a slave. It took 40 years because G-d wanted the Jews to over come their denial and enter the world free from the mind set of a slave. This meant when they built the new temple it would have a foundation of freedom. Recovery is just that, building a new temple with a foundation of freedom.
Denial is the bonds of slavery, heavy and hurtful, hard to throw off but worth doing. Even it takes many many tries to succeed.
Geeez, I’m not usually this much of a cheerleader, as I said this issue hits home. Ravin
Sam's the most (too much) righteously bold & creative alter says
Crazy thesis No.1: ” I am NOT in denial “.
Crazy thesis No.2: ” However my host IS “.
Who is crazy, when and how?
Let me repeat my host’s thoughts written in some other forum >>The first step taken in the first case (“being voices”, not “hearing” them) is *denial*, and the second step is *fantasy* (i.e. fantasising vividly how trauma didn’t happen to me, but to some alternative me, another person within my body).
Kathy Broady says
Hi Sam the most (too much) righteously bold and creative alter 🙂
That’s quite a name!!!!
Thanks for your post. I do very much agree with your point that the host parts of a DID system are typically more in denial than the inside system parts. I don’t think that is really so crazy tho’ -:) It makes sense in its own way, even if it is an issue to address in therapy / healing.
I suppose it’s fair to say that one of the foundational reasons of needing a dissociative system is built on the idea of denial. As you said, it starts by fantasizing vividly that the trauma didn’t happen to me, and believing it happened to somebody else….
Thanks for posting —
I think you know exactly what i need to hear/read. You know where i struggle.
Denial has been a friend and only when walls crumble is there a problem. But it seems the walls can’t be rebuilt. The pressure behind the walls is too great and it pushes and the noise builds to unbearable levels.
i remember a sentence from a song that stuck out to me, “this thing that has kept me alive for so long is now killing me” this is what i think about denial now, as i continue to work issues and attempt recovery in my 50’s.
for so long fear kept me connected to my denial of my past and denial of my dissociation and alters. i did not want to know what really happened. i was not sure i could survive that knowledge.
being a multiple i have alters who have the flip side of this issue. they want to know all that happened to me, nitty gritty details of my horrid past. so…this can generate a lot of stress and anxiety inside my head. and i have someone inside who exposes me to triggers in television shows to try to provoke a reaction that might lead to information. i usually leads to a meltdown and need for dealing with severe anxiety.
however, i and my alts are coming to a place where we want to take care of all of us and do what will help us regain a full life. we are having more healthy days more often and we want to know enough to recover and heal and we want to know ONLY enough to do those things. for me too much knowledge is a dangerous thing and so is too little.
one final comment. my husband denies that i am a multiple, that i have mpd/did. his form of denial is a hurtful and willing denial that adds undue stress and heartache when the person i should be closest to denies the very things that make my life hardest – which tears our relationship apart and hurts me deeply. he is calling me a liar and denying me the comfort his acceptance could bring. his denial has made it take so much longer for me to go through therapy and come to a healing conclusion. and just for the record – both my two children believe that i am a multiple. children are more likely to accept what they experience.