To continue the previous post, here are five more life-lessons I’ve learned from my years working with those with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID/MPD).
By their life example, multiples have shown me:
6. Spiritual Strength even Under Persecution
Most survivors with DID and long-term severe abuse have had various religious / spiritual connotations mixed in with that abuse, creating a version of Spiritual Abuse and a variety of spiritual crises. Every trauma survivor handles these situations in his / her own way, and yet in my experience, most survivors have at least one or two insiders, if not a whole grouping of insiders or even their whole self, that develop a very strong spiritual life despite the trauma and its effects. Maybe these trauma survivors develop a strong spiritual life because of the trauma? My thought is that any survivors that have the personal strength to fight against the vileness perpetrators and horrific abuse have a deep spiritual reason to do so. How they portray that faith in later years of their life varies widely, but the point is still there: persecution and pain can strengthen and deepen spiritual beliefs. What a strong statement of faith!
7. The Ability to Overcome Adversity in Life
Dissociative trauma survivors have faced head-on some of the most difficult challenges in life. They have dealt with overwhelming pain, tragedy, heartbreak, betrayal, abandonment, and isolation. They have encountered some of the darkest trials and tribulations of life, even during their earliest , most vulnerable years. And yet, despite the effects of being attacked and consumed by wickedness, corruption, and depravity, so many of these dissociative survivors have gone on to have incredibly productive, successful lives as gentle, giving, compassionate, caring people. These are inspiring people with thousands of stories of courage and strength. They are true examples of resilience and over-coming the odds!
8. Joy, Happiness, and Fun-filled Laughter
I have been amazed at how many trauma survivors have maintained an incredible sense of humor and an appreciation of fun, good times, laughter, and joy even after being crushed by intense pain and horror so much of their lives. Maybe seeing so much heavy darkness has created a greater appreciation of light-hearted fun? Any which way, it speaks volumes to me that people who have been immersed in pain can and do continue to find humor, fun, and positive excitement in life. Having good times and finding ways to enjoy life have an elevated importance for these folks, and that makes a lot of sense to me. Laughter truly is the best medicine, and trauma survivors that can still laugh (in the good ways!) are genuinely inspirational.
9. The Pure Hearts of Children
Children have a natural joy and wonderment with life. Even though dissociative trauma survivors have had tragic childhoods destroyed by sadistic criminals, these trauma survivors typically split off a part of themselves that totally protected the purity of childhood innocence and beauty. Through dissociation, they were able to keep a part of themselves totally separated from darkness, evil, horror, pain, trauma, and abuse. That is amazing to me. It shows the importance of these childhood feelings and that even the worst viciousness of predators does not take this precious innocence away. This creative, incredible ability to maintain self protection is extraordinary.
10. Loving Others More than Yourself
Trauma survivors were typically forced to put their abusers’ needs ahead of themselves in a harmful, tragic, devastating ways. There is no doubt about the harm that happens to children when their own needs are ignored and neglected. However,many trauma survivors seem to turn this abusive extreme around. In a less abusive context, they maintain the awareness that others are as important as themselves, and they can be extremely compassionate and selfless towards other people. The examples of selfless generosity, giving, and caring can be awe-inspiring and genuine examples of how to love someone else.
In my opinion, trauma survivors that retain the ability to genuinely love and connect with others have risen above the worst effects of the abuse they suffered. Maintaining the ability to bond correctly with animals, and/or people, and/or spiritual powers despite the years of forced darkness and evil is truly amazing and inspirational.
Those of us fortunate enough to experience less trauma and abuse in our lives should take note. Trauma survivors can be incredible role models of what is truly important in life.
- Do you have the depth of character and strength to withstand a war against evil?
- Would you handle persecution and pain with as much grace and strength as DIDer’s do?
- Would you still be a good person even if you spent years of life being controlled by darkness?
I encourage everyone to look deeper than dysfunctional symptoms and mental illness. What can trauma survivors teach you about life?
What can you learn about the power of good over evil?
I see examples of that every single day in the trauma survivors that I know.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
WOW!!! I was feeling very discouraged with me and therapy. I’ve been diagnosed with DID since 1990. I’ve been through so much and even more trauma in the name of “Help”. … I have thought lately maybe it’s being in therapy all these years why I have so much trouble at times. I was going to ask my therapist tomorrow how do I get out. I know I’m way better than I was. From 1990-2000 I was continually suicidal and in severe self harm. I was in and out of hospitals a lot for those 10 years!
I’m thinking so much now that it’s all my own fault! I just don’t handle life good. Again I’m just a defective person.
I’m super depressed, struggling with an eating disorder, recently diagnosed with malnutrition. My therapist and psychiatrist think I should go to an ED program, but I’m really not wanting to go. I think it’s another sign I’m a failure. I’m embarrassed and ashamed and I don’t want to cause trouble for my family. Although if I die that would cause even more trouble for them.
Kathy, after reading your list of 10 lessons… I have a little different outlook. Maybe my trauma affected me more than I admit. Maybe I’m not just a defective person. Maybe as I’ve been told by my therapist and psychiatrist, “it’s what the trauma caused me to believe about myself that’s the trouble “. Including I’m a bad person!
With each of the ten, I could see how much of it fit me. The ones I thought at first didn’t apply to me, actually did after I read your explanation.
Noe I have a little different outlook on my struggles in life . And maybe my difficulties are real and make some sense.
I’ve felt like such a failure to be in therapy for so many years ( feels embarrassing and shameful) . But I am still alive and able to love my family and friends. That in itself is a miracle since I’ve been suicidal since I was 11.
I came here to DD to try to find something to help me end therapy…
But I found something else! Yes I believe God brought me to this writing of yours. Thank you God!
Thank You Kathy!
First of all, thank you for bringing this article to the forefront here. I am always amazed with how my friends here will post and bring me back to an article that I needs to reread. Just feeling a bit down about my own therapeutic work and … here I am reminded once more about how far I have come and what strength there is in community here.
I so hear the discouragement, negative messages, shame and … well, everything that you have said here and everything that you did not have to say because we all know. I have been living with a lot of “what ifs” lately and feeling down about that. I learned about my DID 8 years ago at 59 y/o. I had been in individual and group therapy for 8 years in my 20s and 30s but was not diagnosed. So, a lot of “why now” and “what if” I was diagnosed earlier. I have already had one of my Ts retire last year in this round of therapy. My new T says that she is a long way away from retirement but … I am a log way away from healing (whatever that is) so who knows which will come first!
I live with the constant of … will this ever end?
And then, the self-attacks jump in and I am worthless, a failure, a waste of time, hopeless, shameful … and on and on and on … Every reason why I am responsible for my DID and for not being able to deal with “my” issues.
Hearing Kathy (who I have immeasurable respect for) list all of the things that she has learned from multiple just blows my mind and has my insiders jumping around happy that someone sees and values them. This week in therapy I expressed embarrassment that one of my little ones came out. My T reinforced with me the value of my insiders and the important role that they play in my life and my therapy. Kathy has put that all so beautifully here.
Living with trauma and insiders is darn hard. Doing the work that we need to do to try and understand and heal is even harder. It takes a lifetime to know one’s self and then … even then … there is still more to know. That holds true for multiples and singletons. Our knowing and learning is a whole lot more challenging and layered for sure. But, it is no less doable.
I guess that I want to say that, your process does not have a timeline or an end mark Linda … it just is what it is. As you have said here … you have already come so wonderfully far in your healing process. Don’t doubt yourself now.
You are doing the hard work of life and living Linda. I see you doing such courageous work here at the DD blog website. I want to thank you for sharing that work with us here. I learn so much from my friends here and am in awe and gratitude for this space of sharing (and the forums as well).
Thank you Kathy, Most of these are present here. I was raised as a 7th day Adventist. The religion part really hit hard! I believe that I may be spiritually broken.It’s a very confused part!!I survived Incest, sibling pornography, domestic violence and rape. Now I am trying to survive myself. I appreciate everything that I read!
thank you. your email about free emails for the story pack as usual comes at a time we need it. we have read this before and must admit figured “yeah yeah” cause counsellors have said this but treated us as weak. this time after much work we have read it again and it feels good to say “yup thats us”. it also helps to finally work with someone who believes it too and shows she believes it.
Thank you for the encouraging post. I endured many years of abuse, but I don’t think I could have made it out on the other side without God. During years of abuse, I slept with a tiny Bible under my pillow. I think something about having it with me gave me hope. The abuse continued, but I still searched for God as a grew, trying to understand the reason behind being put on the earth. I looked up at the sky at a teenager, and I just asked, “Why Am I Here?” “What happens when I die” To me the answer of we live, and we die, and the saying “Life’s a B**** and then you Die” just didn’t make sense to me. I figure I’d rather believe in something than nothing. One way gives you hope and other leads you down a path of self destruction. My abuser said “Life’s a B**** and then you die” – the biggest lie of all. Just a note to love more, hate less. You were made for something, and you are special. You are loved. You are safe. You are alive. You made it out. You are strong. You can make something of yourself. You are more than your mental “illness” You are safe. You are alive. You made it out. You are strong….
These are so clear Kathy and so personally helpful. Re the spiritual/god issue. I have always had a spiritual yearning and intuitive connection with something beyond myself. This has been a source of great comfort and experiences of ‘grace’ have helped me stay sane. I do not blame God for abuse, natural disaster world events. Decided and saw long ago that humans with their oir free will make choices and some events, like cyclones are random. We have the Earth, each other, the natural world to enjoy or destroy – I just wish that people were better care takers of all.
P.S. Am now using name HelenR as noticed another Helen posts.
Hi, I just wanted to share some of our host’s thoughts about God since this has been a really difficult thing for us too. http://bunchesoffamily.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/god/
Kathy Broady says
Thank you for sharing your article with us, bunchesoffamily.
That’s a very difficult but important topic.
Keep up the good work!
Thank you for your encouraging words Kathy 🙂
there *are* spiritual paths in which God admits his abuse, and apologizes. I believe that the idea that God is perfect is a projection. I think he is evolving, along with everything else.
it was so deeply validating to hear him explain what happened when he went into denial. so many of us experienced that side of him, but it was too scary and dangerous to confront him with it. after all, he was God!
but there is no way that I could trust him, or embark on my own healing journey, if I didn’t know he was now committed to ending denial on the planet, and bring his Loving Light to ALL the dark places in me. the darkest ones don’t know that he will be there for them if they open up, so it is a challenge. but we work bit by bit, trying to accept them myself, so that he can reach them.
the idea that God is not perfect is so frightening to people that I do not feel comfortable to say more than this, but I am sure you will find what you need, if you ask, and let your feelings guide you.
Sam's the most (too much) righteously bold & creative alter says
Ivory, or may I say dear Ivory?
You wrote “RE: #6: I have religious issues. For me, the abuse amplified the Deity in my belief, and erased any certainty I was important in His eyes. I can’t stop wondering, “Where was He?” I honestly believed that of all the people in my life, He would be the one to save me…”
I’d like to share with you my personal experience with the issue of religion, namely, God (those parts of me who don’t believe in God can still relate because they understand God as “representative of the whole society/community”, therefore everybody).
My personal experience made me want to hear God apologizing to the innocent children who were victimized because He did nothing about it!
And not only He is guilty for not helping at the time, but He is guilty also of not helping now by allowing some lay people to make it harder for survivors to 1. understand what happened to them, 2. to acknowledge, and 3. to get helped for it – because God lets people (like the DreamGuy at Wikipedia) to push their own denial on everybody else, not just on themselves by saying DID is mere pretending and iatrogenic!
I will only go to church when it will be written with large letters above the entrance “I apologize – God”.
Once I conversed with (another) survivor of childhood sexual abuse about the idea that there should be such a church somewhere because survivors do really need such a church, I said to her maybe should it be called “The Church of The_Apologizing_God“?
She said it would be a good thing.
We feel it would be really a good thing because only that way God may be forgiven by the survivors for what He has let to happen to the innocent children!
Or I will tell God “be sure not to allow to happen it again, or you will be fired from your job, and we will find another god who will do his job better!”
She was laughing at my idea but she liked it anyway. So I do. Still. Even more now when you brought it up again, Ivory! Thank you and thank you Kathy for helping it being brought up!
We were surprised to find there are – I couldn’t belive my eyes – professional theologians having similar ideas to the above idea when we stumbled upon a book titled “Facing the Abusing God” (written by rabbi Blumenthal who says we all should bless the act of fighting with God as the only means by which human dignity can be asserted in the aftermath of the holocaust and aftermath of the child sexual abuse, oh, there is even one blog mentioning the book, maybe I should write a blog post about it myself, too – a note to myself 🙂 )
Googling for its title I was surprised to find a couple of (I almost forgot there are other people writing stuff there, not only the DID deniers) Wikipedia articles quoting it, i.e. the protest theology.
However noone else came up with an idea of putting those letters above the entrance of a temple/church/pagoda/whatever – in order for survivors of childhood sexual absuse to be able to forgive God for what he allowed to be done to innocent children.
Maybe it’s time to build an “The_Apologizing_God” church/whatever online for those of us who need it on our path to our – not only bodily/emotional/psychosocial but also spiritual – recovery.
Should I really build such a website? Yes!
Kathy Broady says
Interesting thoughts – thanks for sharing.
I’d like to hear more of your thoughts.
What do you think about people having their own freedom to choose?
What makes God responsible for the bad things that people decided to do?
In The Church of the Apologizing God, what specific things do you wish that God had done for abused children?
Comments from anyone else are also welcome.
I have my own issues with religion and the concept of the omniscient, ubiquitous, omnipotent and loving being that organized religion preaches. Where was s/he when I was four years old? Religious people always give credit to god for all the good things that happen in the world, but then blame humans for all the evil. They promote the non sequitur that god gave us freewill. You cannot have it both ways. It does not follow reason that god is all powerful and is perfect, but created imperfect humans that torture and rape children.
Sorry, but I and my parts missed out on the spiritual thing.
ihave stuff i wish i could say but we don’t feel safe to say it😭
My T often tells me some of these same things, but I’ve never seen them written before. I cried.
RE: #6: I have religious issues. For me, the abuse amplified the Deity in my belief, and erased any certainty I was important in His eyes. I can’t stop wondering, “Where was He?” I honestly believed that of all the people in my life, He would be the one to save me…
Kathy Broady says
Thank you for letting me know that this blog post meant that much to you — it’s always good to hear when my writings have touched someone else on that deep level.
And I understand how difficult it is to sort thru’ the religious / spiritual issues. That’s a big thing and I encourage you to keep addressing those concerns in your therapy and with your spiritual leaders. It is important to find some resolution about those questions, so keep working at it. You need more peace in this area…
Thanks for your post —
today Desi went laser tagging. he loved it. i guess thats what you mean by the pure hearts of children…
Kathy Broady says
It sounds like Desi had a tremendous amount of fun!!! So yes, that kind of joy and happiness and ability to play so freely is exactly what I was referring to in my blog. I’m so glad you had a good time. 🙂
Kathy Broady says
You’re welcome. 🙂
Thanks for the post.