Many dissociative trauma survivors have issues with time.
Sometimes the past sneaks up into the present. Sometimes the present disappears. Sometimes there are two time zones (or more) occurring at the same time. Sometimes there are huge gaps in time. Sometimes time stands still.
It can be confusing to say the least.
- Have you ever had a flashback from some year gone by overwhelm your current day?
- Have you ever been overwhelmed by such huge feelings that for them to make any sense, they must have roots in something much deeper than your current-day conflict?
- Have you ever woken up in the current day and wondered where you were?
- Have you ever lost hours of time, with no awareness of what happened, and no explanation of what you have been doing?
Losing time can be very difficult.
Many folks with DID get understandably upset when this happens — struggling with the after effects of their behavior, left confused, bewildered, possibly angry, waking to their plans being destroyed, their relationships damaged, their money spent, their body feeling weird, their day interrupted.
Most singletons cannot even begin to fathom what life would be like with so many missing gaps in time.
There is a huge sense of loss of control when there is lost time. Is the amnesia that is covering that lost time still important? Is it covering up some huge secret that the host of the system cannot know about? Or is it just an old habit – an old familiar way of life, and nothing to worry about? Either way, the not-knowing, and the apparent “not being allowed to know” what happened in one’s own life can understandably be very upsetting for many people.
Sometimes the effects of lost time are minimal, barely noticeable — maybe a small bruise, or scratch that came from nowhere, or a change of clothes, or maybe you’re simply sitting in a different place than you last were.
Lots of people with dissociative disorders are so used to losing time that they don’t even notice it anymore. Switching and the coming and going are so normal for them, and the covering for a “bad memory” are just natural parts of the day. In fact, it can be so natural, that many people with DID/MPD are firmly convinced that they don’t lose any time at all. However, a close examination of that belief can usually prove otherwise, but that is not an uncommon initial assumption.
Sometimes lost time cause a lot of anxiety and panic, and sometimes the effects are quite devastating. The host of the system may have no awareness that one of the insiders participated in a sexual activity the night before, but the host might be able to feel body pain and stiffness, and just not have an explanation for that. The daytime alters may not have realized that “the body” is now pregnant, and they may not absolutely no idea who the father is. Or the host of the system may have no idea how the car got wrecked. The dayside people can see the damage done to the car, but might not have any awareness of what happened. Or maybe they have absolutely no idea why their spouse and children are so angry with them. Maybe they don’t remember being involved in a knockdown drag-out argument last night where the spouse and the children were repeatedly insulted, ridiculed, and denigrated.
Sometimes something good has happened – ie: where another part has had the courage to do something that you hadn’t been able to manage. The house may suddenly look cleaner and more organized, or the kids have been helped with their homework. “Good news” isn’t as frequently blocked from awareness, but it can certainly happen. And sometimes, inside system parts can purposefully block the awareness of someone else inside so they can give them a nice surprise. Insider parts can buy nice prezzies for each other, keeping the others unaware of what they are getting for Christmas or Hanukkah, for example.
However, for dissociative trauma survivors, the original foundational reasons for losing time were long ago based on avoiding or escaping the direct involvement in something terrible. While blocking out the awareness of events during their original occurrence was incredibly helpful at that initial traumatic point in time, as the person’s safety increases, and as their dissociative walls decrease, those hidden chunks of lost time often re-surface later in the form of PTSD, flashbacks, body memories, etc.
As repeated patterns of managing traumatic incidents become set and solidified within the dissociative splits, the amnesia between those alters and others inside just simply stay in place. In those original traumatic moments, those insiders were created with dissociative walls firmly intact, purposefully preventing the other system parts from knowing what happened.
That same “missing time” protection stays in place until the dissociative person begins to address why it was necessary for them to have that chunk of time hidden from their life in the first place.
Think about the most recent incident or two where you lost time. Part of the healing process is getting more connected with those periods of lost time. Don’t just comfortably sail past the fact that you don’t know what happened in the middle of the afternoon, or that you have no earthly idea where you were last night. Work at that.
These missing gaps of time are pieces of your life that hold valuable information. I can promise you, your body didn’t just cease to exist while you were dissociatively “away” on a mental vacation. Something was happening with some of your parts, and someone was doing something. You might not been out and involved in life during that period of time, but I can guarantee that someone in your system knows exactly what was happening. They were there instead of you.
The terms “missing time” or “lost time” are actually misnomers.
The time didn’t get lost.
The time is not gone.
The person dissociated away from time — someone else in your system was out instead of you. If you don’t know what happened, then you dissociated away and you have not yet talked to your internal system about who was out instead of you. By talking to the others in your dissociative system, you can find out exactly what happened in that “lost time”.
The question is whether or not you would like to know what happened while you were away.
- Do you want to remember what happened in those missing gaps of time in your childhood?
- Do you want to know what happened in those missing gaps of time last week?
- Are you willing to ask your insiders to tell you about their time in the body and their time out in the world?
Becoming less dissociative, less DID/MPD, more integrated, more whole means knowing about ALL the missing gaps of time – the good news, and the not so good news.
If you cannot integrate what happened in your own life, you certainly cannot integrate with your other alters inside.
If you cannot sit with the emotions and feelings that you had during the difficult times in your life, you certainly cannot integrate with the inside parts that contain those feelings.
Overcoming the amnesia and time loss means that you must communicate actively with the others in your system. Yep, we’re back to system communication once again. Talk to your internal people – they can tell you exactly what happened while you were away.
Work hard to figure out what has happened in your life. Be willing to remember what happened in those missing chunks of time. Don’t comfortably skip over the details that you conveniently dissociated away – go back and really work at learning what happened in your own life.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and your internal system after you notice some missing time:
What happened? Do you have any guess or sense whatsoever of what happened? What was happening right before you lost time and what is the first thing you noticed when you got back, grounded and connected to the current day?
How did you feel? How did you feel emotionally before you left? How do you emotionally feel now?
How does the body feel now? What is different from before?
What did you do to recover the information in the time that went “missing”? What clues did you find to help fill in the gaps for you? Look around the house or your car. Does anything look different?
Did you know who in your system was “out” while you were not out? Who can you ask internally? Who saw what? Even if your insiders did not see what happened in the outside world, did they notice any internal movement? What changes and interactions were happening within the inside world while you were away? Did anyone see anyone else “walk by”?
If you get a sense of who was out, can you talk to that part of yourself without losing time? Have you been able to work more with the others in your system to lesson the likelihood of this happening again??
If someone else in your system was caught in a memory or a flashback, do you want to know about it? Are you willing to hear their story about their trauma? Are you willing to sit with them and deal with their pain?
Are you brave enough to know what happened while you were away?
Are you genuinely serious enough about your healing to want to know what happened while you were away?
Are you ready to claim all the different aspects of what has happened in your life?
You can get back all the information that was allegedly lost during that missing time.
You can truly know what happened.
I wish you the best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
At this point, I really want to own those feelings and emotions and the memory of what happened. It goes without saying that deep down I am still scared of finding out and having to deal with it but now, I am way more scared of not experiencing life to its fullest.
I was able to cry a couple of weeks ago for the first time after about 10 years of trying. We started having moments where 4 or 5 of us are “together” and it feels so calm and serene. Yes, not everything is this way but if I choose to run away from the uncomfortable, I run away from the comfortable as well. I end up in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do and no one to talk to cause I’ve been running for too long.
Unfortunately, we can’t just say, “dear dissociative walls, could you please, you know, disappear?” and it is a constant struggle of push and pull in regards to “I want to know” and “I am scared”. But the whole “unplugging” from life was there in order to keep us safe and help us make it to the other side. Well, we made it. And we are really proud of ourselves. But now, we need to find a way to plug back in.
We totally get the “push and pull” of needing to know but still too scared to know….still struggle with denial quite a bit – still don’t know if the flashes are our imagination….glad you have made such progress! You are an encouragement to us!!
This might be a “dumb” question…but suddenly seeing “snapshot” images of a known event without remembering any “video” portion of it…is that an indicator of “losing time”….or am I just simply only remembering a segment of the event. Try as I might…I can’t get any “video” segment……Example – I know I felt very disconnected all through high school – didn’t fit in anywhere…..I will catch a snapshot of “me” standing in a hallway….or seeing a “snapshot” of a teacher’s face….or a “snapshot” of sitting at a desk…..but there is no “video” portion…..no “movement”……no actual “interaction” with anyone else……..Is that “losing time” or is it just me simply not remembering the “movement” part. I did well in school….was always on the honor roll even though I felt “disconnected” from everybody…..so I must have studied a lot……Did I “lose time” or am I just simply not “remembering”….???
Even currently at work I find that segments of time went WAY FASTER in completing a task than it should have…..like why did it take me 45 mins to do something that should have only taken me 15 minutes? (Keeps me on pins and needles for the sake of my job – even though I am told I do “good work” – which leaves me feeling confused because I NEVER feel like I did “good work”)…..I “know” I stayed busy (I have trouble even taking breaks because of panic about not getting all my work done)…..but why did it take so long?…..Did I just zone out and go into “slow motion mode”? or…Did I slip into Obsessive Compulsive mode with the task to make sure I did it “good enough” so I don’t get into trouble?…….I don’t know….it boggles my brain and stirs up panic because if my boss asks me “Why did it take you so long to do that?” – I have no answer – because I don’t know……..It leaves me feeling very “scattered”………
Also, another angle of it…..I get “snapshot” flashes of scenes that my brain doesn’t remember anything about – so it makes no sense to me and I keep thinking I am “making stuff up”…….It is so weird….the stuff you ought to remember – you don’t remember……the stuff you don’t remember is what you “see”……..How backwards is that??!!
You are absolutely right. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to DID (or one box fits all). We are all individuals with unique histories, ways of being and distinctive systems. We are not cookie-cutter copies of one another. So, that means that our systems all operate in different ways.
As I understand it, you DO NOT have to loose time to be diagnosed DID … and some folks don’t loose time. I did some research on this when I was first diagnosed because I did not feel that I lost time so did not feel that I could be DID. My T reassured me that there are a list of diagnostic features of DID and that she was trained to spot those out for me (i.e., so I did not have to go trying to diagnose myself).
I just want to add one little wrinkle here MultipleMe. When I started to look back on my life and significant events in my life that I should remember (i.e., like my wedding, saying good bye to my old T, graduation, etc.) I did not remember many details of those events – sometimes not any at all. My husband filled in the blanks for me when I finally trusted him to help me (and for me to say that I did not remember). Then I started to notice how I had learned not to pay attention to memory loss – I just thought that I did not have a good memory or there was nothing to remember.
Now, I am not saying that this is the case for you MultipleMe. Please let me emphasize/reassure you once more that I understand that you can be DID without memory loss. So, you do not have to go looking for memory loss where none exists to be DID. I am just suggesting that, I have now learned never to say “never”. I have found DID to be like a huge grab bag of surprises. You just never know what you are going to pull out of that bag every time that you reach in.
So, my gut tells me to put assumptions and expectations aside and just be open to hearing, learning and being with your system. After five years in my current therapy, I feel that I have learned an enormous amount but I know that I have a whole lifetime of stuff yet to know.
This is a journey of infinite small steps. Focus on the now, try not to be tripped up by your yesterdays and let your tomorrows unfold as they are meant to be.
That’s very interesting. Thank you for your response. I guess I just don’t feel like I lose time because I’m not losing days or weeks at a time. I’m almost jealous of those that do, which is weird. I guess that’s because I don’t want to doubt what is or isn’t true. I want to be able to say, that I am definitely DID. I know I have parts because I am co-conscious with some of them. I know there was trauma of some sort, because I know from what my parts and my T have told me over the years. But I just have a hard time with the losing time part of it all.
Maybe I’ll feel differently after some time. I don’t know. It’s all so confusing.
LOL … I must admit that I giggled to myself when I read … “I’m not losing days or weeks at a time. I’m almost jealous of those that do…” You do not know how jealous that I am when you say … “I know I have parts because I am co-conscious with some of them.” So, you want to loose time and I want co-consciousness. ☺
I was not acutely aware of loosing days and weeks of time at first. Actually, I still am not. But, when I analyze my past ,I see how that was the case through significant points/events of my life. But, since I do not remember what was happening or who was out, I cannot remember the lost time. Not sure if that makes sense or not – rather like, how do I know that I lost time when I do not remember the lost time?
Now, since you say, “I know there was trauma of some sort, because I know from what my parts and my T have told me over the years.” suggests to me that BINGO there is big evidence of lost time. You cannot remember … that time is lost. That time is held by your parts.
Now, in the here and now, I do not have long spells of dissociation anymore … well, a few days here and there on occasion through a big crisis. Mostly my lost time is small, like coming back an hour later from an activity that I cannot remember doing or even a few minutes of being “lost in thought”. Sometimes this is just your singleton-variety dissociation and sometimes it is a switch. Hard to know often if my insiders do not tell me what has happened. Oh ya … that’s because I am still working on that co-consciousness stuff … hahaha!
Just keep workin’ it!
Wow thanks Me+We, that really helped. I just don’t want to be mistaken, like misunderstanding what losing time is all about. I mean I drift off in thought because a part is talking, but that doesn’t happen too often. I think this will just be a sticking point with me, because I don’t seem to lose time during the day. Oh well, who knows? Thank you for your input!
KenKen to MultipleMe says
For me, sometimes (like in T) I will be there, I know I was there the whole time, I know (usually) who was out and talking. I can hear. But when we get up and walk out of there and the other people go further back inside, the info they were talking about goes with them and I cannot remember what was said. Freaks me out every time. I don’t count that as losing time, but it messes with my head just like when I do actually lose time. I don’t lose days or weeks or even hours, anymore for us when I lose time it’s minutes or seconds. Can’t tell for the most part, but sometimes even those missing seconds make a huge impact. Freaks me out.
Wow that would totally freak us out too. I just don’t know if and when we experience that exactly. I mean, I don’t notice it happening at all, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I think I’ll just have to come to terms with that and leave it at that. Is it a good thing you don’t lose as much time now? It seems it would be a good sign of progress. I also hope that there is communication on some level that lets you know what happened or why you lost time. Sorry it freaks you out! Like I said, it would freak me out too.
Thanks for initiating this discussion MultipleMe and for your response here KenKen. I “think” that I am aware of what is happening when one of my insiders are out in therapy but when I switch back — POOF — it is gone. At best I have small snippets of what was said. Then maybe my insiders will let me know a bit more. Actually, it can go either way – I can get more information with time or it all fades away. My T has to remind me about what happened. Of course, even if she tells me what happened at the end of the session, my mind does not seem to be able to absorb it. I do not think that this is lost time but in a way I guess that it is. In the end, I guess that it does not matter. What is important is building more and more communication and co-consciousness so eventually there will be no lost time just living in harmony and shared memory.
Let me see if I can explain losing time. Everybody dissociates. You can dissociate when doing dishes or taken a shower. It’s when you mind goes to a different place instead. The next thing you realize you’re shutting off the shower You need to ask yourself did I even wash my butt. Even DID people do this.
Dissociative identity disorder with time loss is much more Intense . For instants. But a whole week has gone by and you have no idea where the time went to. That people are telling you that you’ve done this or done that. You don’t have any memory of it. You do know that you ate because you’re not hungry ,you know that you slept because you’re not tired, and you know that you’re showered because you don’t smell.
So to me this is Time loss I lost a whole week and have no idea what happened
I can’t imagine losing a whole week, or even a day or less than that! Thank you for your explanation. Maybe I do lose time and I just don’t realize it. Maybe I’m in denial that I lose time. I guess I feel that dissociating and losing time are two separate things, and maybe that’s where I’m wrong. You’ve given me some interesting things to think about. I hope you can find out what happened during that week!
Kathy Broady MSW says
I wanted to wait and see what a few other DID folks said before I stuck my nose back in the conversation. Sometimes you gotta hear from the real experts first, hey?!
I do think time loss can sometimes be glaringly obvious, and at other times, very very sneaky and elusive and invisible. One of the original points of splitting into different selves in the first place is to hold information / actions / feelings away from the others, so in that sense, DID is based on hiding, secrecy, not knowing, not telling.
So your not knowing about time loss can mean a few different things:
1. As people progress thru’ their healing, the time loss will be less. And less. And less. As it should be….
2. Your insiders might be working very hard at NOT letting you know when they are out — so… they may still be hiding their activity, hiding their appearances, hiding their behaviors, etc. You’ll need to do lots more internal communication to know if that is the case.
3. Your insiders may slip in and out in brief moments, so that giant gaps aren’t obvious.
4. You may be doing things internally, not really aware of time passing, while the others are out doing things. This happens lots more than people realize, because your slipping inside, or your slipping into daydreams, or your getting absorbed into a tv show might make you more oblivious to what others in your system are doing.
5. You might be more aware at the time, but unable to pull back the info later, so… in that sense, you might not think you are losing time, but you might not be able to account for the time the next day. So in losing the recall, that becomes a different version of losing information.
This is quite a complicated topic, especially if your insiders are still hiding info from you, so … I really encourage you to work more in your therapy about this. Be sure to check with your insiders — ASK them if you see everything, or if you are getting blocked from time to time. ASK them if they are hiding information or activities from you. See if you get any additional information about what’s happening from the others who are in there and also watching.
Hope that helps!
Great question, and please keep exploring!
Thanks for your response. What I hear you saying is…I need to work harder at internal communication to find out if I’m losing time or not. I guess I just wonder what it means that my parts are hiding from me. I didn’t know this could happen. I bet that just means I haven’t met some parts yet, right? I will ask these questions of my parts, thanks!
You’re the best!
I think that Kathy did an excellent job describing the complexities of memory loss. Sure did help me reexamine my issues with memory loss, retrieving memories and staying in the present with the new memories being created.
I would like to respond to your statement – “What I hear you saying is…I need to work harder at internal communication to find out if I’m losing time or not. I guess I just wonder what it means that my parts are hiding from me. I didn’t know this could happen.”
I think that what Kathy is saying that it is important for you (and us all) to keep working away at building communication with your insiders and encouraging them to tell their stories (i.e., offer you all of the information that they have been holding back from you all of these years to help you survive). From my experience, the whole story does not come out in one session or in one big, coherent statement. It took years for my inside folks to tell me their stories and still new things are unfolding. And, I am always learning new things as I build co-consciousness with them and a shared experience of what is happening in my life in the here and now. I also did not meet all of my folks at once. They came out over the course of four years. I think that I have met everyone but I always keep the door open just in case.
In other words, stay open to what your insiders have to offer you. Do not assume that you know everything that they have to tell. Do not assume that you have met everyone yet (ask your insiders if they know of others). For me, the issue is not so much loosing time but building understanding, mutual respect, and co-conscious cooperation.
Just my thoughts friend.
Okay, lets be honest…not all DID people lose time…or maybe listing time is different for others? I don’t think I lose time so what does this mean for me? I guess I just feel like I don’t fit into the box of DID. I definitely have parts though, so there’s that. I don’t know, just my thoughts. It gets us confused whenever we read about losing time cuz the DID people I know in real life don’t lose time.
This still happens all the time, but it doesnt really bother us any more. we are used to it.
Mabey it be a secrit an that wy caden dont no
So we dont get in mor trobol
But rely i dont no wy mical and misy dos them things
And it did be jadie hoo put the sizors in the frut drawr
I really would like to know what happens when we lose time. It would be helpful. Most of the insiders are not exactly forthcoming with information. Some of course are willing to tell me anything- like wendy telling me she has read five chapter books since Friday or telling me that Jadie got into something. It would help me a lot to know, for instance, what others tell our therapist and what goes on in those conversations. It would help me to know why did someone hide the scissors in the fruit drawer?/ how come tons of people got deleted off my phone/ why are some of my clothes in the trash can?!/ WHY and who tore up bunches of paper of ours/ why EXACTLY is my account overdrawn when the other day i had a bunch of money???/who deleted THREE HUNDRED pictures off my phone and why?
What i would really love to know is how come some of them know what each other is doing, and some of us arent aware of a thing? What makes the difference? And for those who are able to block everyone out when theyre around (like jadie, missy, michael,mae, etc)– how do we get past those barriers they put up? Is there a trick to it?
I am finding a lot of stuff going missing again and being deleted. its very frustrating as no one seems to know who is doing it.
The stuff that disappears is so random
And we had a weird flashback today. not of anything bad. Just odd. Apparently years ago before i moved her I worked in a nursing home. Or volunteered there. Remembered today being introduced to people and the head nurse telling me i would need to get a couple shots before i could start.
But none of us remembers filling out an application or doing actual work or why we might have wanted to be there. No one remembers ANYTHING about it.
I would love to know. Or even WHO it was that got a job there.
But this, like so many other things,seems to have to remain a mystery.
i dont know when i wrote this, but i still have not found out the answer! my mom remembers us working or volunteering at a nursing home but we have exactly ONE flash of a memory of it and its not even clear. Its so weird to have parts of our life still thar we have no idea what happened. Especially so strange when we know we have so many memories of early childhood, being an infant… but we would have been about 22-24 years old the year of this nursing home thing, and cant remember a single bit of it.
What about switching in your sleep? Anyone else notice that? Let me give my example. The phone rang. They asked for ‘my host name’ of which I said there was no one here by that name & hung up. It was an appointment reminder so they called back. This time someone else answered & said they would give her the message. Well I have NO memory of any of this happening! None! So I show up at my appt at the wrong time but correct day. Ugh! The entire staff had a good laugh over me & I was humiliated! Later the professional asked me privately if I was abusing medication or if I was multiple. I was so public ally humiliated I cried right there on the spot & wanted to disappear. I can’t figure out who, what, why this happened & am wondering what else I do in my sleep … The answer so far is just not to sleep & that isn’t working. Any helpful thoughts out there?
Lost & Humiliated
This has always been one of the most frustrating things.
It was GREAT in high school and college– getting A’s on exams we didn’t remember ever studying for (because Missy and Caroline did all that for us, and we didn’t know it). Or even at work– paperwork magically getting done because Caroline did stacks of it at a time when she was there.
The rest of the time it is frustrating as all get out.
People (including husband) think we have the worst memory in the world, because we always are saying “Oh, I forgot”– to try to cover up the fact that we just lost time and don’t want to say so.
“Oh, I forgot you told me that.” (except you didn’t tell me, you told the 5 year old)
“Oh, I must have forgotten the appointment was yesterday.” (I didn’t, I just wasn’t HERE for the past week so I couldn’t GO.
“Must have forgotten you got new curtains.” (Haven’t been around for 6 months… when DID you get new curtains?)
Do we WANT to remember everything yet? No. Maybe never. Ignorance is bliss, right? Old T totally freaked some of us out once by teeling us something Mae told her about abuse, right before we left for camp, and mae told her something bad that happened at camp once. But T insisted “I think you can handle it.” We told her ‘No, we CANT”, but T insisted. So told us anyway. Naturally, it was something we didn’t expect to hear, and we went into a total meltdown right before leaving for camp, and T was of course unavailable for any help. Wish we’d never heard what Mae said. 🙁 Sometimes, we just don’t want to remember.
I’m not brave enough. jo
you said “Yes, of course you will survive…. Can I ask — when did the actual trauma happen?? I’m guessing it happened long ago, and if that is true, then you’ve already survived the actual danger part. You may very intensely remember feeling the life-threatening fear of it, but if it is not happening today, then those emotions are part of the memory itself, and not part of your current day reality. I am guessing that you are years and years older than you were when you were a child facing the horrors of that time, but if you are trapped in a current-day abuse situation, then let me know, because my response will be entirely different.”
i guess it’s the way it comes across sometimes when i tell someone i’m scared of _____ happening, and feel i might not be safe…. and they say, oh, you will be fine…. and i say, can i *know* that, for sure? they’ll say, of course you will!!! but i don’t know that! …i can’t!
if i come too close to a hidden truth and it kicks off suicide programming, i just may not ‘survive’… there is no ‘*of course* you’ll survive’…. there is no way to be sure… if i am afraid of going out and getting kidnapped, there is no ‘of course’ i won’t… [unless one *knows*100% that there is no longer abuse happening]…. and if one heavily suspects it *is* continuing? how *would* your response to a comment like ljane5’s (especially the part, “if i find out, will i survive?”) be different if there *is* highly suspected continuing abuse happening? would you still answer with an across-the-board, “Yes, of course you will survive”…?
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for clarifying the quote that you were asking about. I have written a million words or more on this blog, and just hadn’t found the phrase you first questioning, but now I’m all caught up and I realize what you are asking about now, so thanks for the help!
Yes, I still would say that no one will die by remembering what happened to them years ago. If they lived through trauma at the time, and remembering it now will not be fatal. Ljane5 was talking about remembering, and that is still my answer in terms of remembering.
However, you are bringing up an important but additional aspect to the discussion — suicide programming.
Acting upon suicidal programming is a very different thing than remembering the trauma. While suicide programming might be attached to memory retrieval for some people, it is certainly not the same thing. These are two very different things.
Remembering your trauma won’t kill you. Acting on suicidal programming could. Hopefully, the person will have some solid therapeutic help in order to prevent that, but yes, suicidal programming can lead to some dangerous and unpredictable situations.
Suicide programming is a complicated thing, and it can be attached in a variety of ways, to a variety of different situations. Although I have never lost any of my individual clients to suicide, there are clearly far too many tragic suicides in our world each day. How many of them are related directly to suicide programming is impossible to say, but probably too many are.
I think a critical part of the work in therapy is building a foundation of self-protection and confidence in your ability to protect yourself. While someone early in the healing process may not have much confidence in their ability to ensure their safety, that ability to have greater assurance for self-protection should absolutely increase over time.
And in a situation where there is current day abuse, then I’d clearly have to explore that whole situation a whole lot more before giving any specific answers. I know that “remembering abuse” is NOT an automatic death risk in all ongoing abuse situations, but each perpetrator group is unique to themselves.
In the end, I actually do not think that “remembering abuse” is the actual threat to current-day perps. They might prefer people to not remember, but the real threat to the perps is whether or not they will be exposed to legal authorities and slammed into jail for their crimes. Survivors can remember their trauma and not disclose the names of their perps to authorities and that often helps to increase current day safety.
Also, if you are experiencing this much out-of-control suicide programming in response to memory work, then please STOP doing memory work until after you have addressed your programming issues more effectively. If you read back thru my blog about memory work, I strongly encourage memory work to not happen until a person can safely handle it.
can u explain what you said about seeing another ‘walk past’, i think is how u put it, pleez?
and, how would your response differ if there is a strong suspicion of current – albeit consciously unknown – abuse?
Kathy Broady says
A multiple I work with has used that phrase describing a process of watching their internal system — they explained it to me as a thing they can do sometimes while trying to see who is “sneaking out” from the internal world and being the ones that were presenting in the external world.
It is when one part can see another part on the inside world “walk past” the others inside, going towards the front to be the person that was being out front and presenting in the body. Ummmmm. How else to say this… If you think of the inside world as having a three dimensional depth to it, and internal insiders / internal people being tucked away in their rooms and spaces, and whenever someone has a turn presenting out front (being the alter that is visible to the outside world at that time — switching to them, being the person presenting, etc.) then they walk past the other areas where the other insiders are, and they go all the way out front to present in the body —- being the one that is talking, seeing, moving the body, etc.
Does that make sense? Let me know if you don’t understand what I’m trying to say there. Think of a house, and people walking to the front door to present to the outside world, and other people in the other rooms of the house seeing that person walking to the front door. Only put the house in the internal world / internal landscape of a multiple — THAT’s what I’m talking about. 🙂
I’m not totally sure I understand what you are asking me with your second question. Are you asking me if I would say something different about people becoming aware of missing chunks of time if there was a strong suspicion of current, ongoing abuse?
The short answer to that is, in my opinion, if people are being abused in the current day, they absolutely need to learn more about it so they can figure out what to do to stop it. If you aren’t aware of the abuse, you won’t be able to do anything to prevent it from happening. Not knowing means you don’t have to know about it, I guess, but it means you are not safe. And it means that some parts in your system are being abused, and that is not ok.
Working to stop current day abuse is extremely important, and in my opinion, it is crucial to know at least something about what is happening during those missing chunks of time. There’s not a quick answer here, but yes, do work at learning what is happening when you are not aware of it. This is a very complicated topic….. There is a ton more to say about that.
Is that what you were asking?
Thanks for the comment.
I am afraid if I read it more of it will happen (of the missing bits of time) in now present.
I am also curiously Not curious about linking up some of these dots, I can see what the web of associations that so many things have evidently been for many years and are pointing towards and just Not wanting to go there. I realize someone has a story they are trying to tell, and is it possible to comfort this inside without having to specifically go There? because I just really cannot right now.
How to comfort distressed insides which are interfereing with today functioning, while not having to Actually Go There for right now – is my question.
Make sure we know where you are going to put the continuation of this discussion in SF – Many Thanks
I made myself read it, but I found it hard to do. There is real resistance to it, which is odd given that we are mostly coconscious now.
Kathy Broady says
Dollswise and Gobbies,
Thanks for your posts.
I’m going to bring this topic up in SurvivorForum so we can discuss this question there as well in case either of you need a more private environment to explore your thoughts and feelings.
And for a blog response, is there anything else you can add here?
I am wondering – is there anyone other than me that just cant quite bring themselves to actually read this post yet? I am curiously uncurious at points, which just is curious…
Interesting Kathy, is it best not to know the exact detail ie of specific abuse? If for example everyone is aware that “it” (ie something) happened and yet no one wants to talk about it *in detail* and say the words and actually consciously recall the lost time- why is it still a good idea?
I often struggle with wanting to be more present, wanting to be more grounded. i often choose not to, much to my therapists disdain. i don’t like to hurt or be in pain, no one does. i hate when i switch, or when i loose time. i hate that i have huge chunks missing from my life, but i think right now i hate the pain more. it hurts so so so much.
my therapist insists like you that in the end it will be worth it. i always say not if im dead. why does it have to hurt so much?
and how do we be brave?
No, I don’t think I am brave enough to know what happened while I was away. But I can’t go on with life the way it is, so I guess I have no choice but to face it. The question is: If I find out, will I survive? What makes me go away? Pain.
Kathy Broady says
Yes, of course you will survive.
Can I ask — when did the actual trauma happen?? I’m guessing it happened long ago, and if that is true, then you’ve already survived the actual danger part. You may very intensely remember feeling the life-threatening fear of it, but if it is not happening today, then those emotions are part of the memory itself, and not part of your current day reality. I am guessing that you are years and years older than you were when you were a child facing the horrors of that time, but if you are trapped in a current-day abuse situation, then let me know, because my response will be entirely different.
Yes, it will be painful to remember what happened, even tho’ it is years later, but you lived thru’ whatever happened then, so I am very sure you will live thru’ it as you put the pieces together now.
My understanding is the healing is worth it. Even if it means facing the pain, the comfort and peace that you can feel afterwards, can make it worth facing the hard stuff.
Be brave, ljane5, be brave.
It’s scary what if I can’t handle truth. I would not of started dissociation if I was strong enough to handle
As I was writing the previous comment, it occurred to me you might want more insight into our lives (it appears to be the purpose behind many of your blog’s questions).
I began a blog when I realized finding other people like me was wonderful. My daughter suggested I begin with entries that would explain the differences between multiples and others, mostly because singletons think so linear – such as losing car keys, for instance. You might lose your keys and then in a few minutes you have found them. No problem. For a multiple, searching for ones car keys can end with discovering more than we were looking for.
If you want, check it out. http://shadesofivory.blogspot.com/
Why does healing mean losing the ability to disassociate? In an early post, you said there were good things about it; I couldn’t say it in my comment to you then, but the only good thing is the disassociation. I get to check out and let someone else to the stuff I don’t like to do. I get to take a nap. I have someone who can stand tall against the hatefulness of my own mother, who blames me for what happened and she doesn’t even know what happened!
Those lost chunks of time from my childhood are tightly bound within the child who guards them. Getting to them is easy only from a singleton’s point of view (my T being one of them).
Want to know the most painful aspect of being a multiple? Knowing that my T knows more about me, than I know. My alters have shared most everything with him – not with me. He won’t share, I still don’t know it all…