Oh my goodness…..
What were you doing on this day….. ?
Flashing back to several years ago ……
Did you experience the social earthquake today?
The sudden death of Michael Jackson today has caught everyone by surprise.
Will he be more remembered as the King of Pop? Or will he be forever remembered as a suspected and accused child molester?
Everyone will have strong views about it, I’m sure. I can’t even begin to imagine all the controversies that are going to be brought back to the surface.
The death of a famous celebrity icon affects so many people. Early unexpected deaths of the rich and famous create a public stir for months and years to come. Everyone talks about it. Even twitter was overloaded with the breaking news. Anyone that sang and danced along with some of his songs will feel the loss. Every choreographer will feel a sting and sadness. We’ll see new books, new articles, new blog posts. His face will be on magazine covers and newspaper headlines and in every version of media that we have.
In fact, it’s already on the news, online, in twitter, in chatrooms, on the radio, on television, in blogs – the news is everywhere! Everyone is talking about it, and everyone is asking everyone else if they have heard about it.
Even Farrah Fawcett’s death today will be overshadowed by the controversial Jackson’s death.
Thousands and thousands and thousands of people will feel the reverberations of the news. It’s like a social earthquake.
While maybe not as public or as clearly visible, the death of a perpetrator can wreak havoc on a survivor’s life, also for days and months and years to come. For trauma survivors with dissociative identity disorder, all the different parts within the internal system will feel the news with just as much shock.
Sometimes, abuse victims feel safer talking and telling about their trauma after their perpetrator dies. I don’t know if or how that will apply to the children near the Michael Jackson situation, but it is very common with other survivors of sexual abuse.
When survivors feel intimidated by, scared of, threatened by their perpetrators, it is not unusual for those survivors to keep the secrets of their abuse tucked inside them until after their perpetrators pass away.
Survivors may do this purposefully, or their dissociative walls may simply have been strong enough to hold all that information back even without the survivor’s awareness.
Survivors with DID systems will often feel all kinds of internal changes taking place with the death of a major perpetrator. There will be all kinds of internal movement, and shifting. There will be an internal earthquake.
How do survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorder experience this kind of emotional earthquake?
A. Noticeable Decrease in Dissociation
Deaths of perpetrators can make dissociative walls crumble, emphasizing the point that those dissociative walls were there for safety and survival reasons in the first place.
When there is less likelihood of ongoing abuse, the need for dissociative walls is decreased significantly. When the walls come down, the now-unblocked information reconnects back to the parts that initially dissociated it away. Different parts of the system will be learning all kinds of new information, and experiencing new feelings.
B. Memories of abuse, incident after incident, can come crashing through. PTSD flashbacks and other PTSD symptoms will increase.
Why does this happen?
After the fear of dealing with their perpetrator in current day life subsides, and once the survivor feels safer, all kinds of memories can come flooding back. Child parts or even older parts with trauma memories will come to the surface, each wanting, hoping for, needing time to talk about what happened to them. The host of the system may feel overwhelmed by the sudden need of so many trauma-holding parts to have time to talk, and needing time to heal. The pain attached to these parts will be intense.
C. Increased Activity by Internal Introjects
Internal introjects may be kicked into greater action, feeling the need to replace the external perpetrator by taking a more vigorous role in the daily life of the dissociative survivor. Some internal introjects were taught and trained to respond when the external perpetrator was no longer visible. The internal perpetrator introject will try to carry on in the same manner, just to keep the status quo.
D. The Emergence of New Alter Personalities
New alters may finally feel brave enough to step forward and speak about their life story, including trauma memories. They may not have felt comfortable appearing until the perpetrator was dead and gone.
E. Increased Denial
While some parts may be happy and thrilled about the death of the perpetrator, other parts will fight that reality with all their being. These parts with an attachment to the perpetrator will need time to explore and process their feelings, and to explain why they were so connected to the perpetrators. Oftentimes, these are the parts that were treated kindly, and any abuse would have been framed in a more positive connotation. These parts simply will not want to accept or believe that the external perpetrator is dead. They will see the internal introject of the perpetrator and transfer much of their loyalty to this part.
F. Increased Pull for Self-Harm and Suicidal Activity
Many survivors will react to the death of a perpetrator with increased self-harm or suicidal activity. The self-harm could be a physical effort of shoving back all the memories and feelings, to regain control. It could also be an acting out of the trauma memories they are experiencing. Sometimes survivors feel pulled to commit suicide from the need to be with their dead perpetrator. When a survivor is experiencing these symptoms, it is imperative to work through the historical causes and beliefs that are supporting such extreme behaviors.
G. Emotional Relief
While experiencing safety from ongoing abuse of this perpetrator, the healthiest goal is for survivors to feel their sadness, their pain, their fear, their anger, etc. So many feelings get contained away, but once it becomes ok to feel, there is a big release when those feelings can surface. When survivors can truly allow themselves to address their fear, their anger, and grieve the loss of their perpetrator, they will be much further down the road in their emotional recovery.
All these internal events certainly cause emotional earthquakes in the lives of dissociative trauma survivors. All of these issues can be addressed effectively in therapy, and many of these issues can be avoided by preparing ahead of time.
If you haven’t worked on breaking the bonds with your perpetrators until after they die, you will have a harder time after their death. If you have worked on these issues ahead of time, the emotional earthquake won’t be as devastating.
I wish you the best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
My two main abusers have died in the past five years. I went through a whole range of emotions and reactions to their deaths including many of the points that you have made here Kathy. And so did many of my insiders. It was all confused with my other system work so it kind of blurred into all kinds of other stuff.
Then, this past winter, one of my insiders who does not talk much was out in therapy. She was talking about a particular element of abuse and something that had triggered a serious response from her. My T spoke and then said, “he is dead now. He cannot hurt you anymore.”
There were two responses from my insider that made me take note.
1) She did not know that he had died. I assumed that, because I knew and others in my system knew that he had died that everyone knew. Nope, not the case apparently. Then I realized how important it was to ensure that big, important events get communicated to everyone inside as best I can. I realized that I should have gone to the “talking log” where I mediate and go to and speak with them to let them all know what had happened to ensure that they were all hearing me. I know that some DID folks have internal bulletin boards to post important things. I have to set up my work here and not assume what I know is not necessarily common knowledge in my inside world.
2) This little one did not understand what it meant to die. In other words, telling her that the bad uncle had died so she was safe now was as unclear as telling her that the bad uncle had moved to California and could not hurt her anymore. She does not know where death or California is so why would knowing that that is where he is now reassure her? Learning to speak in terms that my little ones understand has been an ongoing learning experience for me. It all comes back to internal communication!
We have all these except the relief. We been feeling like we be in hell the past 2 weeks since out uncle die. New kids popping out, nightmares, more dissociation, more flashbacks and body memories, thinking about self harm all day long. Inside kids being suicidal.. It wasnt so bad until his funeral last week. When everyone was saying all these wonderful things about him on facebook. Did we even know the same person? We were terrified of this “sweet, gentle man.” Absolutely terrified. What if we are just making it all up? What if its our imagination and we are just crazy? We feel like he be haunting us. All day and almost all night for 2 weeks now it just wont stop. We feel like we being punished by God because we dont have a way to talk about any of this. Maybe God be punishing us for making up lies about this man everyone else thinks is so wonderful. This has been torture and it feels like there is no escape.
Not Interested In a Reunion says
The perpetrator died yesterday much to our relief but after reading all the comments above, it sounds like it may be the beginning of much more to come. My mother was still married to and living with him. She forfeited her relationship with me, my daughter (the victim), my daughter’s children, my son, while my 2 siblings maintain contact with her, as well as her siblings, all in denial all these years that anything happened and denying or not believing my daughter. I have really no contact with anyone on my mother’s side except some cousins via Facebook and my sister intermittently. My sister decided she wanted to be the first one to inform us of his death and ‘celebrate’ after primarily dismissing the existence of abuse on my daughter for years. My daughter, now 29, has been in therapy for the past year, has PTSD and for awhile was in therapy twice a week, is now once a week. She is frustrated by the influx of celebration by those that dismissed the allegations prior. I do not know how to help my daughter move forward except to encourage her to continue with therapy. This is not the only person my mother has ‘protected’, so many others should have been put on front street. While having temporary custody of my then 15 year old cousin, she allowed her to go to Sturgis Rally with a 30+ year old man, that same cousin, I caught my mother’s drug dealing cab driver on top of her as she slept and chased him out of the house, she did nothing, she introduced my then 15 year old daughter to a 25 year old “he is a nice guy”, who I ended up having to get a restraining order against and he was later convicted of violating that order twice. She always put her drug connections above our safety. I am at a loss for how to deal with her as I anticipate she will try to come around now that he is ‘gone’. She has claimed to others she was holding out for the life insurance policy she had on her husband. Sickening to say the least. She has continued to send gifts for my grandchildren, they have no idea who she is as we have insisted we will not expose them to her poor judgement.
We don’t know if anyone is still reading comments on older posts like this one. We hope someone will. We just found out, from a phone call from the outside mom lady, that the perpetrator who first involved us in SRA as a two year old child, when our DID started, has just died. It was the older brother of the mom lady. Our one who is the main outside grown-up told the mom lady that she understands that the mom lady is sad, but that we can’t say that we are sad cuz we aren’t. We, most of us, are glad he’s dead now and he can’t ever hurt other kids or anyone else ever again. We don’t care if that sounds mean. It’s our true feeling right now. Some of our really little inside kids don’t believe yet that he’s really dead, and they are still scared he will find us and hurt us again. But we will keep assuring them that he is really, truly dead forever and can’t ever hurt us or anyone else ever again.
Nicole for all of MyCircleOfLife
Nicole (MyCircleOfLife)….I just saw your post that the “Kids” talked about in the “Abandonment” article…(Weird that we didn’t see it before!??)…..That must have been really hard for you and we totally get the conflict of emotions….chaos among the “littles” is hard to work through…..(like the ones for me who trust too easily and the ones who don’t trust anyone – how do you Outside walk THAT out?!)
I am so sorry your “kids” are still having a hard time….We are glad you are watching out for them and reminding them that they are safe……We are glad that you reached out here – even if we DID miss seeing it….(ugh…sorry again….)
We don’t know what our “trauma” was – our “brain” is still super busy in blocking it off….this is such a LONG journey….”flashes” indicate whatever it was was intense for us…but we can’t put a 100% label to it yet…..so we feel “lost” a lot…..Friday we thought we were going to see what was connected to a very young girl part….but then we suddenly got hit with a HUGE headache and she “disappeared”……as soon as she disappeared the headache went away….so weird….
I don’t know which would be harder…to KNOW what happened?….Or to NOT know? Right now I think it is the NOT knowing that is the hardest….if I KNEW – then pieces would make more “sense” and I wouldn’t feel so “crazy”…..AND I would KNOW that I had survived it – because I am STILL here!!!
So, Nicole….I hope things “settle down” Inside for you….and all your kids can start relaxing some and breathing easier……Keep in touch as you can…..
Good write-up. I absolutely appreciate this site. Thanks!
I wish I’d seen this when first posted. I went completely bonkers when my mother died after a 6 weeks illness. I became suicidal and went into the hospital for a couple of weeks and then out patient and later a day program and it all just got more and more effed up. About 18 months later my T diagnosed me as having DID. 15 years later and we are still dealing it with her abuses and others who harmed me.
What you wrote is the first time I realized exactly wy things went so horribly off the rails when my parental unit-female died – she was not really a mother. I was 39 and my whole life just went crazy. It was completely horrid. If I had had some support I think I would have done so much better with this whole process of working toward healing. She died in 1992 and I have NEVER missed her, only missed the idea of having a mother (whatever that is.
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear that things were so enormously difficult for you when the parental unit died… You must have been so very miserable, and clearly, things were very tough for you for many many years, even long before her death. I understand your detachment from her, and “parental unit” seems to be a common and favorite phrase amongst DID survivors.
I’m glad my article could help you understand more about why those years were so very tumultuous for you … and maybe, hopefully, you’ll be able to give yourself a little more peace of mind by understanding there were a lot of reasons for your upset.
I hope things get better for you from here. It’s really not too late to have a life that you enjoy …
Sending warm thoughts you way,
I read this article and wanted to post my dads name, but unfortunately its also my brothers name…….so not for now.
I find I cannot cope with all the adulation one is hearing about now that MJ is dead, maybe just waaaaaay too familiar to all the adulation my dad received from people who also truly did not know who and what he actually was.
Talent does not excuse moral reprehensibility – I mean Wagner’s music may be great but he was still a sicko, and his music being great does not make up for what he actually was.
Besides, dad didnt have talent for anything but ass kissing, it got him far, I will say that. But what did he take with him? Not Me.
I have too many thoughts about all this to manage any further response yet, but I wanted to thank Betweentheseconds so very much for the bravery in mentioning the arousal.
I am incredibly grateful to you. Thank you.
This post made me really think.
It was the day my mother offhandedly asked me if I remembered an old family friend that unwanted memories disguised as dreams began invading my life. It was – him. She told me that he had died a few days before. We were on our way to visit my dad in the hospital, 65 miles away. I didn’t make a sound for the last 50 of them. Shortly afterward, nightmares took over my life.
A couple of years later, my life exploded. I couldn’t handle the dreams, I began losing time, I couldn’t remember things the way I used to and I no longer knew the sullen person I’d become.
He was the only person I know who knew the other men who used me in a midnight ritual. His death meant I will never know who they are. It’s devastating. One would think I’d be happy he’s dead and it would set me free, but quite the opposite. I feel trapped. There is no one to blame, no one to accuse, and no one to point the anger and frustration at. At the same time – I feel as if I’m always hiding and I don’t know who, exactly, to hide from.
Just wanted to let you know we have the same problem. Not sure how to fix it, but know you are not alone with it.
I’ve been reading your blog, but have never posted before. I can’t believe you wrote about this today. I visited the grave of my grandfather who sexually abused me. This is the 3rd time I have gone to the grave even though he has been dead 20 years. Well I didn’t remember the abuse until 6 years ago. I am DID and parts of me still don’t believe he’s dead. They still see him in the flashbacks. How do you convince them? I mean, one of them wrote him a note at the grave today, but still fears that he is going to come back. I want to drive back and get the note so he doesn’t get mad. It seems so irrational, but I don’t know how to convince everyone that he’s not coming back and that he can’t hurt anyone anymore.
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for finding the courage to post, and I’m glad to hear that you have been reading here at the Discussing Dissociation blog. And it’s good to hear that this post is timely for you (and for however many others.) I’m sorry to hear that your grandfather was so abusive to you, but I’m glad to hear you are now safe from him.
You have very much described a personal example of what I was writing about — the time confusion / time distortion / flashbacks all confuse the issue of whether someone has died or not. Thank you for sharing your personal experience.
To address the confusion, one of the most effective things is to let the parts keep sharing their information with each other. Work very hard at swapping info from the here and now with those that know about the past.
My guess is that the parts that are still experiencing the flashbacks are back in time in a lot of ways, not just in regards to your grandfather. Work on connecting them to the here in now in other areas — let them come out to experience the house where you live, let them connect with the car you drive now, with the people you live with, with the size of the body now, with the size of your shoes now, etc. Compare photographs you might have of yourself from back then vs. the way you look now. Keep explaining to those parts, that while they stayed stuck in time, time has moved on for everyone else, and show that to them in every way you can think of. As they get more and more connected to 2009, and can understand that they are remembering the past in a flashback (vs experiencing the abuse in the here and now) that will give them a sense of distance.
There are two parts to memory work — one is remembering and processing what happened back then, and the other is connecting to the current day, place, time, and learning new things.
Besides fear of his return, is there any other reason why they might be afraid to accept that he has passed away?? Be brutally honest with yourself to look for deeper reasons to their motives. There might be something else there as well.
Good luck in your healing journey, and I hope you keep coming back to the blog!
My dad died my senior year of highschool and i think thats when my DID got so much worst. I couldn’t grieve his death because all eyes were on me. I would be so strong during the day and literally cry myself to sleep at night. I attended his funeral alone, and when i walked up to his casket the church got so silent you could hear a pin drop. I wanted to beat his lifeless somehow now very small body to death, but when i looked in i didn’t see the person who molested me all those years. I saw a shell, i saw this feeble old man who was only a shell of his former self. I looked at his body, and just walked away and sat back down in my seat. everyone kept looking at me waiting for tears, waiting for any emotion, but i was so numb and disconnected i just felt..lost. I couldn’t understand why i had even decided to go. for months, i had night mares about his death and him eating me alive before he died. Even now during the anniversary of his death i got terribly depressed and nearly mute.
My mom, his wife is still alive but in poor health. Part of me wants to go to her and “talk” and resolve things before she dies, and part of me just wants her to be gone already. She did horrible things to me, and now in her old age she is suffering and alone. i can’t explain how i feel about her. All i know is that death is never the end of anything. When someone dies you think that that is the end to an abusive chapter, its not, its only the beginning. Memories and parts come out the wood work, some are sad, angry, relieved that the abuser is gone, and some of us don’t understand why the one person we thought loved us is gone forever. atleast for me it happened like that.
My dad has been dead for 6 years, and i still have memories and pain, i am in therapy but i can’t even barely speak about the abuse and what he did to me. i am in therapy, and for the first time tuesday about my first memory of the abuse. It was terrifying, and i couldn’t possibly do it again…
i loved MJ as a little girl, i loved his music, and his dancing..and how he always seemed to have a good message. i hate that he was a pedophile and a perpetrator, but i felt very sorry for him, though he had millions his life was very pathetic and it seemed to be a very lonely one.
RIP to Farrah Fawcett, though i dont know much about her…
Everything you mentioned… yup. And its not just perps. Any death rocks our system like that.
Bobby Lloyd Walden raped me on August 7th 1979. I was 12. He was arrested, tried and convicted. He spent 28 years in Huntsville Prison. He was released in 2008 and he died in April 2009! I/we have experienced a plethora of feelings about his death: elation, disbelief, relief,shame and really the part that efts me up, arousal. I recieved the last seven yearsvif his incarceration requests for impact letters. I stopped sending them after three years, it seemed that maybe he was getting pleasure from me having to explain how he hurt me. This man has squattedin my brain everyday for almost 30 years, I thought his death would bring about an eviction but it has brought up there bring an empty apartment so to speak and honestly his eviction just opens up the waiting list of b@st@rds I now need to acknowlege in Oder to move headspace out of “the ghetto”
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for posting. It sounds like you have done a lot of work. I hope you wrote what you needed to write, and yes, if you started to get a sense that he was twisting your pain into some sort of sadistic pleasure, I am glad that you stopped writing. Good for you.
Now that he is gone, you may very well feel increased emotion. You can finally relax about him — its been sooo many years, but now he is finally gone. Give yourself as much time as you need to let go of all that he has done to you – emotionally, physically, mentally, etc.
It sounds like this has set off some other elements of emotional pain, so… as you can, let go of all that stuff that has been crowding your brain. Write, cry, scream, rip up things, etc. Do whatever you need to do to express the emotion you’ve been hiding inside.
And then as you let it go, be sure to find new things, better things, to fill up your brain. The world has a lot of better stuff available to you….
Good luck – and thanks for coming here to read and post.
If you had told me that those two celebrities were to die on the same day and which one would I miss more, it would have been the opposite of
how I actually do feel.
Michael Jackson was such a huge icon, when I was younger. I was one of those people who would go way out of my way to see any of his performances. The weirder he got, the less interested I was in him. All the allegations and charges, just added to that.
Farrah Fawcett on the other hand, wasnt anybody that I ever found that appealing. That changed when I watched her special, the one showing her progress/struggle with cancer treatment. It made her human and lovable.
So today, I find that I am shocked but unmoved about Michael Jacksons death and very moved that Farrah died. She was a powerful life force.
To have an someone die that hurt me, that is different. I didnt know what my dad had done, until after his death.
My mom is in poor health, actually she was readmitted to the hospital recently. She is home again (from what I have heard) But her death will be earth shattering.
All those unresolved wantings, needs, that have to go to the grave with her. Ones that logically cant ever be filled, even with her alive. But with her death, it is so final. Then there are those that feel if she dies, then we need too.
Many of the people that were negative influences in my life, are still alive. So it will be interesting to see what happens as their lives come to the end.
I think that this blog article will be bookmarked and remembered, when the time comes for my mom to die. think we will need to look back on this and remember what we are going through, is expected and can be worked through. That helps me, in some strange way