What makes it difficult for trauma survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorder to know the truth?
How easy is it to trick someone with DID with a lie?
When are survivors lying to themselves?
When does dissociation block out information to know the difference?
When does pain, especially emotional pain, become the deciding factor in what survivors believe, regardless of truth?
When does the viciousness of perpetrators demand and create particular beliefs and realities?
Is dissociation built on lying to yourself?
I recently saw a situation where a DID survivor could not accept the truth. Despite the facts that pointed to the obvious, the dissociative survivor was determined to believe what her closest confidants had said. She trusted these loved ones completely, but these were the very people who were completely invested in hiding the secret from her. Accepting the truth would have been far too painful, and she fought that reality with all the strength and vigor that she had. She was angry. She threw out rationalizations. She projected blame onto others. She railed back through time, pulling out circumstantial evidence that could support her beliefs. She argued like a court room lawyer. She completely protected her position with every psychological defense available to her.
And she believed the lie.
Because to not believe the lie would have been utterly and completely devastating for her.
So she couldn’t let herself go there.
Not even for a moment.
She absolutely, without question, had to deny the truth and hear only what she could stand to hear. She had to stay true to her preferred beliefs and rationalizations. She couldn’t risk losing everything by believing the conflicting information. The cost of believing the truth was too high. To believe the truth would have hurt too much, so it was necessary for her to completely refute the truth.
At first I wondered how this survivor could be so staunchly set in her beliefs, even in the face of clear and direct evidence of the contrary. I marveled at the intensity of her denial, and felt a deep sadness for her. I was amazed at how completely sold she was on the lie – she would have fought to the death to defend that as truth.
But then I understood.
Believing the truth would have been enormously painful for her.
She would have had to believe that her loved ones betrayed her – that they hurt her beyond comprehension.
How could she believe that?
It would have cost her too much. To accept the betrayal would have meant she was alone. It would have completely broken her heart. It would have meant her loved ones abused her. It would have meant that her trust and faith in them was shattered. It would have created an emotional pain so huge that her body would have felt seared to the core. It would have left her feeling broken on more levels than words can say.
She would have wanted to die before accepting that truth as a reality.
Yet the truth was so obvious that it seemed undeniable, so it was mind boggling to see the intensity of the denial that could prevent her from seeing the truth standing right before her eyes.
And then I realized I was seeing something stronger than denial.
I was seeing the beginning of a dissociative split.
Dissociation — complete dissociation — is an emotional protection strategy that totally and completely removes painful realities from the mind and body of the survivor.
When the pain of accepting a trauma is too huge, dissociative people split. They get rid of the excruciatingly painful information by dissociating it. They don’t accept it as happening to them, and they make it be gone.
They completely refute the truth even as it is happening to them, and they completely separate that painful reality from themselves, blocking it off, locking it away, keeping it as far from themselves as possible. Thick dissociative walls keep that horrendous information away from them. It protects them from feeling that unbearable pain.
If they don’t want to believe they were being sexually abused, or physically abused, or spiritually abused, or emotionally abused, or ritually abused, they use that same intensity to tell themselves it wasn’t happening to them. It doesn’t belong to them. It was happening to someone else – anyone else – just not to them.
They weren’t betrayed by their loved ones. They weren’t hurt and destroyed by their loved ones. That just didn’t happen. Not to them. And if it happened to somebody else, they didn’t want to know about it. Not now, not ever. That bad news had to be totally and completely separated from themselves. It had to belong to someone who was not them. It could NOT be happening to them.
And so they protect themselves from the heart-wrenching truth.
They need to believe the lie. They want to believe the lie. The lie feels better than the truth.
Believing the lie that “it didn’t happen” is the very foundation of dissociation.
As understandable as it may be, every time you split, you believed the lie that it wasn’t happening to you.
It still hurts. It hurts a lot.
And yet, finding the courage to face the truth in the present is as necessary for your healing as dissociating the truth away once was necessary for your survival.
And maybe, also, for your safety. Or even for the safety of your children and other family members.
To make the very very very best decisions for yourself and your people, you need to know the most information possible, including the information that you have dissociated away into other people and places. Even if it’s scary to know.
If you completely lost your ability to dissociate, what would your life look like?
I understand it’s painful —- even so, it’s your life, and you need to know.
And of course, I wish you the best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2022 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
this is where we are at right now
@me+we the kids think they got bit by snakes too. it wasn’t snakes
Its a fine line between wanting to see truth and knowing you will completely devastated and have no one to help you through it. Maybe its safer to stay dissociated, so you can survive the next 50 years. I dont k ow which way to go. I really dont,
Hi Hazel and MissyMing,
The only lies that we live with are the ones taught to us by our abusers. The problem is, we do not always see those messages as lies because they became so interwoven with our survival and how we viewed ourselves and our situations. The abnormal, horrific reality of our abuse was presented to us as normal to us and we believed that, as much as a factor of our survival as it was because we were little and did not know better. We are old enough to know better now but so much of that truth is locked behind dissociative walls and in the hearts and minds of our little ones who still believe the lies.
So, we are torn. On the one hand the truth just keeps seeping out of us and it becomes impossible to ignore its presence. But then what we are seeing, feeling and experiencing is so horrible that it is impossible for our minds to grasp that such hanous crimes could have been perpetrated against us. As the dissociative walls that have protected us begin to crumble, we wrap ourselves up in the safety of denial and we push our truth away.
We tell ourselves – “it did not happen because there is no proof.” Well friends, the existence of our insiders is all of the proof that we need that horrible things happened to us when we were little. Insiders do not magically appear for now reason at all. They area part of our lives because there is truth in the existence of bad things in our past. It may not be exactly as it is told/shown to us by our insiders. We have to remember that we are seeing these truths through the eyes and interpretations of a child. But, the core truth is there. Our little ones carried it for us all of these years. Now, we have to be as courageous as they have been and accept these truths so that our little ones can find peace – so we can find peace.
Thanks Me+We….but that seems to be one of my main problems…. “It may not be exactly as it is told/shown to us by our insiders”……My “head” understands that – but it seems to be an “express route” into denial for me…..that it is a “child’s perspective” and so it must be all distorted and “wrong”…..i.e – that “we” turned a “molehill into Mt. Everest”……that “we” just THOUGHT it was “bad” – but it really WASN’T……like a child terrified there is a “boogeyman” under the bed when there really isn’t one there…..which opens the door to massive confusion again……By then, the part about “Insiders don’t magically appear for no reason at all” just bounces off us…..
It all seems to be a vicious circle that we can’t find our way out of….maybe we just THINK we are messed up when we really aren’t….maybe “we” don’t belong HERE either…..”we” don’t know where we belong……
I am going to say this a little bluntly and please understand that I do so because I truly care about you and I want to help …
STOP overthinking what your insiders are telling you is your truth.
The adult mind is a powerful instrument of understanding but it can also be a shield for us to hide behind in denial.
It does not matter if all of the facts, images and stories told by our insiders are accurate to the minute detail of the reality of what happened to us.
No one has perfect memory. What does your gut tell you? What do you feel in your body when these truths are told to you? What emotions are triggered? What actions, words, visualizations of others trigger you? That is your gage for what is true emotional response born out of abuse.
It does not matter if things transpired exactly like your little ones remember.
You are using adult rationalizations to run away from the truth that they are telling you the best way that they can. Stop running and turn around and start seeing and believing them. The sooner you start believing in what they are trying to tell you, the more pieces of the puzzle will be revealed. Then some of the pieces that did not seem to fit may come into better understanding.
Okay … blunt example … my little ones kept talking about the boy’s snakes and how they hurt them and spit poison at them and caused bad scaring on their arms. Do I disbelieve them because I know that this cannot be factually correct? Do I dismiss this information as being some fabrication of their little minds and, therefore, nothing happened? No. I know that the snakes are the boy’s penises. I know that it was not poison that came out of them. I do not have scars from this but my little ones see scars. The scars are real to them just as the little ones are real to me.
It is time to stop running. The truth is there in the fact that you have insiders to tell you these stories in the first place. Stop disbelieving what they are trying to tell you and help you heal from.
Okay … a bit of tough love MissyMing. I hope that you know that I say all of this from my heart and my genuine compassion and caring for you.
our main front person saw a Skype video of the body switching. it was a hard thing for her to see. she never comes in to our world. she has her own place just outside of ours. i think she would still be lock up in her space if our nephew did die. she had kept herself in her world for almost a month. with little contact from anybody. she did email with the therapist once or twice. Baby, Jessie, and Sissy all did a great job handling the everyday stuff.
denial is something she can no longer be in. Yes she was aware of us and talked with us. yet on some level she was still un-excepting of us. the Skype video even though its thrown her down to a deep hole, is a useful tool.
she was meant to believe that she was the birth one. about 6 months ago she found out she wasn’t. she thought she came to terms with that until the video.
so if you all are unsure about who yours are watch the body switching in a stressful moment . if that doesn’t work I do not know what will
It feels like Inside is some big “fairy tale” story that we catch glimpses of….that there is NO way anything like that could have happened because it is too weird and we have no memory, no proof, etc. When we are “Inside” – it feels MORE “real” than “Outside”….when we are “Outside” – it feels MORE “real” than Inside (Inside is Twilight Zone-y)….we don’t know which one is the “real” us….Inside? OR Outside?…….Soooooo…we get the “don’t know who ‘I’ am” part ……Also the feeling like there is “poison” Inside….that “we” are contaminated and evil although we don’t understand why…but are sure that everybody else sees it but nobody will tell us……the confusion is horrible…..
This post could be describing us. Except we don’t have proof/evidence. But we do know that our therapist does think something happened, and so did the one before that and the one before that. And our partner and everyone else who knows. But we can’t get there… sometimes we are aware that some parts say they “remember” and sometimes there is an everyday part that want to believe even if she can’t quite get there. But the doubts are always bigger, and if we get too close or say too much they drown out everything and leave us shaking. We feel fear and guilt and shame because we think we have created this massive, elaborate lie that stretches back more than a decade, convincing people (therapists, hospitals, our partner) that unspeakable things happened to us by pretending we don’t believe it but secretly making sure that we exhibit every possible symptom.
Sometimes the parts who want to move forward scream and cry because they are trapped behind that wall of denial and they would do anything to get to whatever it is and rip it out. It feels like poison.
If we accepted it that we would be overwhelmed, destroyed, crushed. Just like this post says. We believe that we would die, that all the air would disappear and we wouldn’t be able to breathe.
But in the end I don’t know who “I” am, and I can’t figure out who is right and who is lying. I don’t know where to go next when I feel like I don’t even exist and we can barely even speak because we are so overwhelmed and conflicted all the time. We need to break it down into steps so we can only see the smallest thing in front of us and not the whole huge enormous task of healing but I don’t know what the first step is and I don’t know how to make it small enough to manage. I don’t know how to help the parts maintain a sense of connection to T and feel less alone so they can regain some sense of an anchor, even if it is just the smallest one. So we can figure out the first step and how to take it.
Maybe that is what I am going through now…..I see “flashes” of parts and them “experiencing” stuff….but it makes NO sense to my “brain”…….there is NO memory……when Objective tries to put the Inside stuff and Outside “brain” together it is like the “wrong” ends of magnets trying to come together….they push away from each other until my “brain” just shuts down and I go “disconnected and numb”……….how weird is that!
Re-reading this, it reminds me of our Missy She is so set her in beliefs about certain things that despite every-mounting evidence contrary to her beliefs, she absolutely CANNOT see the truth. She cannot face it. And if someone starts to get too close to her with the trith, Missy splits into 2 different younger versions of herself. I think it helps her escape the truth when her mind gets too close to it. Seeing truth would be so devastating to her and I wonder if she knows that. She already feels really alone and has lost so much already. I wonder if she switches and lies and acts up just to make sure that she doesnt ever have to face a reality that would be too hard for her.
Thank you for this. I (painfully…) appreciated reading this.
Gut-wrenchingly accurate. Still going on. And now will come something bad.
This article reminds me of a whole bunch of kids i know..
Well now… I totally shouldn’t have read this tonight. My chest is about to explode dammit.
“And everytime I started getting near the truth my suicidal thoughts would increase, as I thought I HAD to die, rather than be found out”.
I have just read this discussion and it seems like you didn’t get a response. I want you to know that your sharing really spoke to me. I am not DID either and I am currently struggling with the whole truth and lies thing. I have clear memories of some of my abuse and I don’t doubt it. But my earliest (possible) abuse, involving another person, only comes up in my writing as a “once upon a time…” story. I cannot even write it as if it happened, let alone speak it. Yet I have had “memories” in my body, in sounds, and smells. But it all seems hazy and I am not convinced it is real at all. Right now I am really fighting with myself about continuing therapy because I feel as if I have lied to my therapist about this, and to myself. It is difficult not to fall into the pattern of punishing myself, but so far I haven’t. I hope you have been doing ok since June.
Kathy Broady says
It sounds like you are doing some hard work in processing some really difficult memory stuff. Body memories just don’t happen to folks who haven’t had to dissociate trauma info. Same goes with flashbacks, sounds, smells, etc. Your body has physically contained that information for a reason, and people who haven’t had that kind of trauma can’t “create” physical body memories like that.
You may very well need time and more therapy work and more journalling to get closer to your memories, but keep at it. Processing all that stuff in your own time, as you can manage it, is important. There’s no time limit, and no rush, and you can take it one step at a time, bit by bit. Once upon a time, you separated yourself from whatever happened , but as you build the courage to sit with it again, you’ll be able to own more of it as yours.
You can do it…
Wounded Genius says
Hi Kathy, I don’t know if it’s a separate post but I’d love to hear your thoughts on so-called “magical thinking”
This post bothering me lots.
WHY a person got to know stuff to heal?
I may never know.
In fact I honestly beleive i will never know anything of substance.
Garbled images/words/thots. Illogical, childish.
No facts, no reality.
Does that mean I can’t heal 🙁 ?
AM i somehow so demented I don’t even know I am just a big chicken liar?
The options suck, or maybe I have no options.
I’m just so tired.
I don’t think I exist anyways.
I am but a piece of invisisible crap.
I need to stop reading this.
Thank you for posting this. It was exactly what I needed to hear right now. I’m a survivor of sexual abuse, but it was only a year that I realized it was abuse. Before then I would hear about sexual abuse and talk about it and read about it in classes (I’m a counseling major), and I would have NEVER identified it with myself or myself as EVER being sexually abused. And then one day while talking to a friend they told me that a story I told them about my childhood sounded “not right” and like abuse. I thought that over for awhile and it just kind of hit me. I’ve been really struggling with the fact that I didn’t see it as abuse until a year ago and it’s been making me doubt myself and making me think that maybe I’m making it into “too big a deal”. I felt crazy. I felt like you either knew you were abused or you didn’t. You just don’t realize one day years later that it was abuse. But my counselor this week told me that that’s the way many survivors have experiences like that.
It’s just so hard not to believe the lie sometimes, or to be sure that it is a lie. My family protect themselves and the abuser. They would NEVER accept what’s going on as abuse. I was only able to accept it after 3 years of being away from home (hundreds of miles away). When I go home to visit it’s so hard not to get sucked back into believing the lie or questioning if it really is a lie. There might not even be an answer to this question, but how do you know for sure it is a lie? How do you know that you aren’t really just the crazy one?
okay. still feeling like i said too much. but that’s just me and my issues. thank you.
Kathy Broady says
I think your original comment in this thread was very fitting to the topic at hand. I don’t think it is inappropriate or triggering in any kind of bad way. There’s no need to apologize! It’s totally ok!!! However, if there is something that you are particularly uncomfortable with, please contact me individually, and if I need to edit out something for privacy, I can. But as far as general appropriateness goes, your comment is very good. Thanks for posting it.
ya, kinda a bummer we can;t edit here. Cuz my post is confusing, sorry.
I for one was not triggered at all by what you wrote, I was referring to the blog post, cuz it makes me weird to think of what she wrote cuz I like to be rational….and maybe I am not?? and it bothers me and so I get bothered.
But noboddy elses post bother me, sorry if I make people confused cuz this while thing bothering me.
I trying not to think but had to say cuz I don’t want noboddy to feel bad cuz everything is fine, just don’t want to think is all.
hlhshorty is oompaa just a different account it’s all us. we screwed up and post under that name and we didn’t want to, but we couldn’t take it away. but we did want to say sorry if we triggered in our post above. really didn’t mean to. we didn’t mean to go in that much detail and we sincerely apologize.
Ummmm hlhshorty…..I haven’t seen you say anything here….
So I not so sure wassup?
So anyways…Hi 🙂
i said too much didn’t i. i’m sorry. i screwed up.
Its very irrational
especially if on some level you sense there is some irrationality going on
but can’t make the mind respond
but mostly I don’t care
THATS why today my T kept saying certain things…
my head spins.
maybe you should MT this.
i’m struggling with this one. i’m getting memories from a particular one inside, but they don’t feel like my memories. i mean i know with all my heart that i was molested by my cousin. no doubt about that. i have those memories even though i didn’t have them totally when i was growing up. but i don’t feel like that was a lie. i know this to be true and i remember details surrounding the events. these new memories are vague and just don’t feel true, but why would they come up? i mean i recall unappropriate things being said when i was older by this person, but not when i was little little. granted i don’t have much memory at all of being little. i just can’t wrap my head around these ‘memories’. they just feel like a lie. one big lie!
It was in the acceptance of the harsh realities where my recovery and my wholeness, was born. I was extremely afraid also, the truth can be devastating, but it also set me free.
I think my mother was just as broken as I was, however when I stopped letting that be the excuse I used to accept her continued devaluing treatment of me,(even as an adult) I began to grow stronger. I thought the pain would swallow me whole too, but it never did. It was bad but never as bad as I thought it would be.
On the flip side of that same coin, I never thought I would be this whole. I only wanted to be okay, just “not crazy” you know? But I kept going, kept striving to move forward kept pushing through the fear, dealing with and facing each new hurdle that comes with recovery (with the help of a gifted therapist) and one day I knew I was getting healthy, and I kept going. I never thought life would (or could) be this good.
I am grateful to the people on this blog who are willing to share themselves in this way.
P.S. I kept this quote close to me for years: “The pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding”. Kahill Gibran
I hate to be the naysayer here, but I didn’t find this post to be that accurate.
I don’t understand what this means:
“I was seeing the beginning of a dissociative split.”
I don’t know that splits happen in adulthood. I rather think they don’t.
I want to take a more normalized approach here. For me, this post is remarkably victim oriented. It’s about not taking responsibility, not standing up, and decidedly not about surviving.
Also, I would argue that the inability to face reality and deny is not a symptom specific to dissociatives, but extremely common to many. To imply that this is some special reaction is not accurate at all.
Kathy Broady says
Hi Paul —
Sorry for my late reply — but your comment is important and I want to make sure to say something in response to you.
Unfortunately — new splits really can happen in adulthood. They can happen when people continue to be abused into adulthood, and anyone that is fortunate to not need to split as an adult has simply not been abused enough as an adult to need to do that. But some people are abused well into their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s+. Once people know how to split from childhood abuse, they can and will create new splits whenever they need to.
The words in my article, “the beginning of a dissociative split” were really just referring to the mindset that is necessary at the beginning of a split — feeling such intense pain and conflict that there is a need to separate from reality. As things begin to feel too overwhelming for the dissociative person, the system decides if there is someone able to handle it or not, and either they switch to that part, or… create a new one, if necessary.
And I actually understand what you are saying about this post being victim-oriented. I think many people automatically read this article as how it was when they were child victims – when they needed to split because it was too impossible to manage life otherwise. Children are victims, so… in that sense, it’s very understandable….
And the truth is, in the situation I described in the article — if one assumes the person to be an adult — then yes, it was a very “victim” position to take. To be an adult, and to not be willing to hear the truth (when there are a whole wide variety of options available), and purposefully choosing to dissociate reality is staying in a victim mindset.
I also agree with you that the inability to face reality is not just specific to dissociative people. However, since this blog is “Discussing Dissociation”, I tend to keep my articles focused on those people that use dissociation, most often for those with DID. I leave all those other people out there to be blogged on by someone else. 🙂
Thanks for your comment –
“every morning that i wake…i look back at yesterday…and i’m okay.”
its all i have to hang on to at the moment
Believing the truth would have been enormously painful for her. She would have had to believe that her loved ones betrayed her – that they hurt her beyond comprehension. How could she believe that? ………She would have wanted to die before accepting that truth as a reality.
I’m starting to think that perhaps I’ve believed a lie all of my life – for this very reason. And everytime I started getting near the truth my suicidal thoughts would increase, as I thought I HAD to die, rather than be found out. I don’t have DID, but I can relate to a lot of the same issues. I don’t know if it dissociation, and I’ve never heard of anyone doing this, but for me, it appears like I put everything that happened into a dream/daydream (would happen just before I went to sleep). It’s like the dream was a reflection, albeit distorted reflection of what actually happened. That in order to stay living at home with the people who were doing it, and in order to keep up the happy family facade where I cared for everyone else from a very young age (the memories that have resurfaced are of stuff happening between 5 and 7, but the dream occurred between 8 and 11- and I’ve always remembered that), I had to do something with the memories and feelings and so I put them into a dream. The dream has all the detail, the sensations, the feelings. But I was in control of it. It was me directing what would happen. And it was a mixture of being looked after and cared about and wanted (all things I didn’t experience in real life) but also bad things happening. But it wasn’t acutally happening to me- I was making it up.
I have spent my whole life thinking and feeling like I am bad. Very bad. I mean what kind of 8 year old has such dreams? And chooses to have that kind of dream? I have always felt that I am the one who did bad things, who was evil. And yet as memories have resurfaced, and I start to look at my whole life through a different lens, it is like all pieces of a puzzle. But I still don’t want to believe it. I don’t want to believe I am bad, I am evil. But I also don’t want to believe that it wasn’t “just a dream”, and that stuff happened, as well as the stuff that I remember. Oh and I still tell myself the memories can’t be true – because I am an evil person who makes stuff up so I must have made this up too.
(((((safe hugs if you want them)))))
You should be proud of all the hard work you have done/are doing. And you made perfect sense
“And yet, finding the courage to face the truth in the present is as necessary for your healing as dissociating the truth away once was necessary for your survival.”
This is so powerful, i have been in the biggest fight for my life these past couple of months. dealing with my memories which aren’t my memories but someone elses memories, but they are really mine. it is scary and painful, pain i have never experienced until now. i find myself crying and laid out on the floor in too much emotional pain to move. when did all this bad stuff happen to me? where was i? and why? why did this happen to me? As i am finding the courage to face the truth in the present so that i can heal i find that it is stuff i really would of preferred to keep locked in the past, stuff i really don’t want to know about. stuff i would much rather keep separated from myself and my memories. accepting the truth of my horrible childhood means that no one loved me, no one cared about me, and thats a harsh reality that i am facing now. and i am very much afraid. afraid the pain will swallow me whole, and i feel like a coward very often because i am too afraid to i’ll fall.
i hope atleast some of this made since, ive taken an extra dose of my prn…
This is pretty much what Colin Ross refers to as “attachment to the perpetrator”? Is that right? And that whole “locus of control shift”? Or am I mixing this up? Those concepts are difficult to grasp at best and very, very real issues. I worked on some of that (barely put my toes in, though) while at Timberlawn recently.
Kathy Broady says
I’m not sure that this article was quite about either of those things, well, maybe the very beginning tips of those things… but hey — you were here in Dallas and didn’t come by to see me?! 🙂
My office is located in the north part of Dallas – If anyone is here in the area, be sure to stop by and say hi!
Another hit the nail on the head, right where I was already at post. Lies are so big for us. The huge lie, that it didn’t happen to us. Smaller lies, making some memories “less bad”. Other lies to cover up things, or make us more or less appealing, all kinds of things. We lie all the time, often without even noticing till afterwards, because it is so much out of habit. It makes it really hard to untangle the truth from the lies, and it has gotten us in trouble more than once.
Thanks for the explanation and the validation.
On a side note, I have realized that I don’t feel like words like “hurt” and “pain” even begin to cover it. They get used so much for such small things… but then I don’t know what bigger words there are. Just a random observation on myself.
Thank you! Your work is an inspiration to me as I work with others! My recovery journey has been and continues to be amazing and my life passion is to carry the message that recovery from DID, chronic depression and all forms of abuse is completely possible. I’m excited to get up in the morning and I live a full life!
I wanted to add to the above comments the following: I know it was important for me to believe that the abuse happened, more then to have it proven or to prove who it was who devalued or violated me. It doesn’t matter anymore if others don’t believe, I believe. My healing started when I was validated, when someone believed me and told me that what happened to me was not my fault, that it was wrong and that I didn’t do anything to deserve it. I’m not sure of some of my memories and since my mother always told me that I must be mistaken, (which is the same as if she said I was a liar) I believed that too. I didn’t trust myself,or my memory, by the time I was an adult I thought I was crazy. I know today that as a child I couldn’t make up those kinds of stories. Children have no context or frame of reference to do so.
Thanks so much for the work you do Kathy, you are making a difference!
Yes, you could be right.
I hope, tho, that every time you hear someone deny sexual abuse, or other abuse they are really believing a lie. It is those fallacies that poke and stuff us into categories.
Because we dissociate, doesn’t mean we are not aware of truth. Sometimes, the person being accused, is not the perp. How do you distinguish the difference when no one else was there to prove or refute anything?
Kathy, This post is one of the most accurate accounts of the way dissociation works and of how I have come to understand it; the lies that I believed, the lies that had to be exposed, reviewed and replaced with truth before I could stop disconnecting from myself and from any given situation that I perceived as frightening or threatening. It was terrifying during my recovery years, to realize that my family had not protected me and that the child within me still believed that I would be all alone if I walked away from them. To a child, alone means death and I had to realize that also, all the while being reassured by my self and my therapist, that I was no longer that defenseless child.
The degree of my own disconnect came back to me as I read this article and I recalled how I “left my body”, which was so necessary for me when I got scared. This was my complete dissociation. I could talk about some of the abuse I had suffered as though I were talking about someone else; totally disconnected from the story. Emotionless, as though it were nothing significant.
But I am so very glad that I faced the truth and found the healing and wholeness that I live in today.
Thanks Kathy, for writing this fantastic account.
Kathy Broady says
Thank you for your so very honest comment to this article. I am glad that it had such an intense, powerful effect for you – that’s great to hear. I’m not dissociative myself, but after my 20+ years of working with dissociative trauma survivors, and listening really closely, and paying attention to the little details, I think I’ve gotten a pretty good understanding of what it’s like. But, its still very good to get validating comments like yours.
It sounds like you have done an incredible amount of healing work in your past – no wonder you can be such a strong, supportive help to other survivors. Impressive!
It’s an honor to know you — thanks so much for your inspirational comment–