When you have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID or DID/MPD), and you’re thinking as a multiple personality — thus having a multitude of different thoughts at once time — it can be very difficult to make decisions.
How do survivors with DID ever make up their minds?
How do survivors with DID decide whose opinion to follow?
How do survivors with DID ever decide what is best for them?
How do survivors with DID sort out having a dozen different opinions at once?
It is complicated to think like a multiple.
There are gaps of missing time, non-sequential pieces of information, jumbled feelings and emotions, snippets of conflicting facts, confusion, voices from the past, fears of more punishment, flashbacks, internal arguing, programmed thoughts, insistent introjects, personal insecurities, etc. The chaotic internal workings of a dissociative trauma survivor can make it very difficult to think clearly.
Non-dissociative “singletons” (an affectionate nickname for people who do not have DID) can experience simultaneous mixed feelings, opposing thoughts and conflicting perspectives on specific situations as well. Singletons can write out extensive lists of “pros vs. cons” on any number of situations. Non-dissociative singletons do not experience just one thought or one feeling at a time either. They see the big conflicting picture all at once.
So what makes decision making even more difficult for survivors with DID?
Dissociative trauma survivors functioned through the difficult times of their life by separating their thoughts and feelings into individual compartments and using dissociative, amnesiac walls to keep these compartments separated.
Having mixed emotions and conflicting beliefs at the same time was often too much to manage in the middle of a traumatic event.
Dissociative survivors learned to split the different feelings and the different perspectives into different parts of themselves, blocking one perspective away from the other. It is easier to separate and contain overwhelming conflicting emotions when the two opposing emotions did not have to directly collide with each other.
For example, all children love their parents. But if a young girl has a father who is sexually abusing her, and a mother that is either pretending not to see that or is helping the father to abuse her, then huge conflicting emotions are going to occur. The child will want to please her parents, even in this painful abusive situation. But in order to do that, the child will have to find ways to separate her experience of the parents she loves from the parents who are hurting her.
Dissociating the conflicts into separate parts help this to happen.
- The child can split off a part of herself that is willing to obey her father even to the point of acting like a passive or promiscuous young child that appears to want to be sexual with the father.
- She can split off a part of her that feels the physical pain and injury of the assault.
- She can split off a part of her that contains the intense betrayal by the mother.
- She can split off a part that holds the emotional pain, deep wounding, and heartbreak of the assault.
- She can split off a part that holds the anger and rage at having been assaulted by both of her parents.
- She can split off a part that holds the fear of being violently assaulted by her parents again and again.
- She can split off a part that is the happy little girl who goes to school the next day, blocking out all the pain, acting very connected to her parents, not showing any sign of having been through a horrendous assault the night before.
The person as a whole sees the situation as a whole. But if a dissociative trauma survivor has separated the different feelings and perspectives and kept that information separated locked and blocked behind various dissociative walls, then the survivor is aware of only some of the information at any given point in time. She is not aware of the whole picture, because she has it dissociated parts of it away from herself.
Dissociative people are accustomed to separating the intense conflicting emotions and managing only one or two at a time. This might help in the short-run, but it does not help in the long-run.
So how do dissociative trauma survivors make good decisions if they are used to looking at situations from the constraints of one limited perspective at a time?
What happens when they cannot see the situation as a whole?
How can DID survivors make good decisions if they cannot put the entire picture together at the same time?
(or at least most of the entire picture!)
This is a common problem for survivors with DID.
The part of them that sees and recognizes the dangers cannot always communicate with the happy naïve part who is determined to believe she is safe and unharmed. The ones that believe they are out of harm’s way (and who wouldn’t want to hold tight to that belief?) refuse to connect with the fear, anger, pain of the trauma (because who would want to feel that?!)
The problem is that by not seeing the whole picture at one time, dissociative trauma survivors find themselves tangled into a variety of dangerous situations.
For example, they can bond to dangerous people without recognizing the danger. They see only as much as the current perspective allows them to see, and they don’t even realize that there is trouble looming in the near future. By dissociating the perceptions and experiences that might better recognize the danger, dissociative survivors can put themselves in high-risk situations over and over and over again.
Building the strength, the courage, and the willingness to talk to all the other internal parts in your system is key to getting past the dissociative walls.
You can make decisions from a more complete perspective once you’ve checked in with your whole system.
Face your difficult emotions, confront the truth of your trauma, listen to all of your inner selves, and recognize that other internal parts have valid information. No one can make a good decision based on partial information.
Be willing to look at the whole picture. And listen to what everyone has to say.
As you learn to trust your internal parts to give you the rest of the story, you will be less vulnerable to people who aggressively or suggestively tell you what to think. The more you can trust yourself, the less vulnerable you are to people who would manipulate your thinking by maneuvering behind your dissociative walls.
Predators and perpetrators will have less ammunition to use against you when you can trust your own selves. They will not be able to abuse you as much if you are aware that it is happening.
The less you dissociate time and information, the more you can appropriately handle life’s current day conflicts.
If you truly know the whole story of what happens in your life, both in the past and in the present, then you are less vulnerable to feeling or thinking or believing something just because someone else more aggressive tells you that you do. You can learn to connect to and trust in your own thoughts or feelings or beliefs, and to make your own assessment of a situation based on that.
Look at the whole picture and think for yourself.
I wish you the best in your healing journey. Talk with your inner people and please, please please be safe!
Copyright © 2008-2020 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
Update. As of now 8/3/20. Miss G, (is what we call our T’s wife) has multiple blood clots in her brain. The docs cant figure out how her body is creating more clots, even with the meds they give her to stop that from happening. She is having left-side stroke symptoms and they are looking for holes in her heart, and already did something to find out if her carotid arteries are the cause. IDK. Bad bad bad situation. Our T cannot be by Miss G’s side cuz of Covid. They tested Miss G for it, our T said they will test her again. on top of this most frightening and scary time for them, their air conditioning in the house went out. And, our T is home alone with Miss G’s mother – who is 90. She (Miss L) cant go to the hospital and be with her most precious loved one of 30 years. Miss L (our T) asked us to pick up some groceries for them. I will be there as soon as it’s ready and will take them to her. My hope is their life-long friends and family surround and protect and love and comfort them. I hope Miss L’s BFF comes to stay with her and helps her taking care of Miss G’s mother, who needs daily constant help that is now all on Miss L. But with Covid and all of them being advanced age it makes something they would do in a heartbeat something tragically difficult to navigate. If yous alls who is reading this pray, I ask you to send them some.
We will, KenKen….we will….
I have something going on that is troubling and I dont know where to turn.
My T’s wife had a stroke this morning. She is in the hospital. My T’s family and friends are all there supporting T and wife. I want to support and be there for T, too. But, even though we have a unique therapy relationship that perhaps most others would denounce as unprofessional or something, we are close. Because of my circumstances in life, our closeness is more than what I have ever been used to in a T/client relationship. Close as in I met my T’s wife, been out to their house on several occasions, and just the other day gave T’s wife a birthday present. T and I have gone to a rally together, we go driving places and doing things out in this world here and now, etc. She is ethical and professional…just to get that out of the way.
Right now, my T is hurting, scared, vulnerable, needing support and comfort. I want to be there for her. I panic with that though. I know she has family and close friends who will help decide what to do and how to help, and these people have known T and wife for decades and they will be the best closest support and help. I send virtual hugs and told T I would be thinking of them and hoping for the best. I guess I want to be there for them in any way I can, but know I am not the one who needs to step in, and feel kinda scared I wont do the right thing if I was called upon. I feel so selfish.
T asked me to send hugs. I do. I feel inept. Selfish that I have any feelings about what will happen to us. I needed to get that outta me so it doesn’t get bigger and over run any attempt of us being supportive. Thanks for listening. Any kind of understanding would be so helpful. Am I evil for panicking about the “IDK what to do/say”? I dont want to intrude on T and make anything about me. But I got some big feelings. Are they normal? Or bad?
KenKen…those feelings sound pretty “normal” to me….reminds me of how “lost” most people feel about what to say to people in hospitals, at funerals, etc….You want to be there for them – but how? What is the best way?…..
I am sure your parts also must be in upheaval with this sudden situation and are in Inside conflict as to what is OK and what is not – if change is coming or not….We totally get the “needed to get that outta me so it doesn’t get bigger….” mode….That is what we have to do, too….Get it OUT so we can see just what it is – no matter how awful blunt it is…It also seems like there is some confusion with “boundaries”….We think parts usually have a hard time with that anyway…..we get lost on what boundaries are good and what are not….we tend to function in “extremes” – either not enough or too much – which all interferes with good relationships…..
We think that what is happening now is you seeing where you are at….letting each part figure out what to “feel” about the situation and it can all be slamming you at once – NOT easy to walk through….but we trust that bit by bit it will settle down….parts helping and supporting each other as they can to get through this Inside AND Outside…..
We may not have said anything really helpful for you….just wanted you to know that we hear you and the upheaval of the parts and are here to hear you – even if we are in the same boat you are in – don’t know what to say…we hope that our HEARING you helps…..And we are so sorry to hear about this rough situation your T and her wife are in…our best wishes and prayers for them as well as they walk through this……
KenKen to MissyMing says
Thank you Missy.
We are finding our best way to show love and support. Today we sent couple virtual hugs. She texted tonight with updates and we send her virtual hugs and ask is she ok with us sending soft warm kind sort of memes and gifs. she said that would be sweet. There is calm inside knowing our place is getting clear in where we are needed. T’s heart is breaking and our hearts breaking for her. Terribly horrible what she and wife and whole family going through. I think our relationship has changed. We panicked some about what that means but I said that even if our relationship has changed we gonna be ok. Littles and middles and bigs and everyone else is ok with that. I think we wont lose touch with her. But right now we gotta not lean on her in any way and we gotta figure how to be supportive from our hearts the best we can. And make sure we dont intrude or offer inappropriate stuff. We “listened” to her text and thought she would like kindness and understanding and soft. we tell her we love her we so sorry we send fluffy white dogs hugging a toy gif to her. some softness somewhere in all this hell she going through. hope we doing the right thing. wish we could do more. kinda glad we found this way. figuring it out helps calm it down so we dont make it about us. You helped us so much with your understanding and well said comments. Your reply made me feel like you heard me and understood and helped me feel grounded. We are seeing where we are at right now. It is calming down some. We are doing the best we can do and what is most appropriate for our T. We love her. We trying to take cues from her and we are learning where to be. What a tragedy for her! I love her so much and she is hurting so much. Thank you so much MissyMing. Right now is the first time I let myself cry a little.
Our hearts are with you, KenKen…and your T and her wife…..Sounds like your parts are learning well in where and how to be – and walking together….We know that it is a “step by step” process that can feel like walking a tightrope – but we hear you making it! Getting there! Keep in touch, KenKen….Share as often as you would like – you are teaching us as well…. 🙂
Sorry for venting so much weird confusing stuff….T was out sick and we did not get to see her….even though she offered to do a phone session…..I could not even begin to go in that direction…..I needed facial “feedback”…..weird since “MissyMing” can spew all this online but “I” can’t talk on the phone to T……(ugh…”I” don’t hardly know “who” I am anymore….ugh….)
We think we have messed up at work again….got a bit too “cut and dried” in the Zoom meeting…Boss didn’t know what to do with our comment after he got very condescending with us….we don’t think we were “disrespectful”….just let him know in a subtle way we didn’t appreciate what he was doing…..he seems to get smirky when he sees he has confused and intimidated us…..Rage hates that…..
Now we wonder if he was doing “sarcastic joking” – which Outsiders think is totally OK…..but we don’t like “sarcasm” from people over us….it destroys any sense of a hope of “safety” with them…..it totally confuses us…..But I guess we have now proved – again – that we have “no sense of humor” and have “serious issues”……
We have explained to Boss again and again that we need clear cut instructions on how to do things…also that when we get triggered from PTSD our brain will go blank and we can’t think….Yet he still got smirky and embarrassed us when we couldn’t figure out some math stuff…..
But then – ARE we “too sensitive”??…..confusion, confusion…..How do you take a stand against a condescending attitude when it is in the guise of “just joking”?…..On one side parts are trapped, panicking and terrified of “supposed to submit”….On the other side Rage is snarling…..and “I” am caught in the middle – torn and bouncing……
Sounds quite stressful! I am with you “don’t know who I am”…I feel like I’ve lost me and I don’t know where I went or how to find me… “Am I too sensitive…” I get that too! “Confusion” Yep! MissyMing, I’m with ya ! I hope things calm soon!
Thanks linda! Sometimes daily Outside life feels like making my way through a “mine-field” – my body may be fast working Outside…but Inside is a slow step-by-step…watching….watching…hoping I can make it to the end of my shift – the end of my day – without having to deal with a swirl of triggers…..
I may not be a good “multi-tasker” as far as Outsiders think – but they have NO idea how much of a one I REALLY am!!! 🙂
MissyMing, I definitely understand multi tasking! We do it all the time and yet I’m trying to do mindfulness and really be in the moment…since it’s “the thing” these days…ha! I know we can not do trauma therapy and life together! The last 3 years has been a devastating nightmare for us. I have come to believe the majority of Therapy in the last 3 years has been counter productive and not helpful. I don’t find it “processing” but bringing me down in deeper depression. Which made me feel I’m failing Therapy I don’t even do DID right…I don’t have any more room to get more depressed. I believe I need to get back to work part time and do something I can feel better about. My plan. Get more PT to strengthen my broken wrist (I broke both wrist bones in September) so I can become CPR certified again and get a part time job. I’m a nurse, I probably would do well care or 1.1 pediatric nursing. I’m too old and don’t want to get injured to do hospital nursing anymore. I feel led to do this and hope it helps me re-enter life again. Therapy now for me could be of a supportive direction. Focusing on all the awful of my miserable life has not been productive. I will certainly pay attention to my parts but efforts to get to know them has also not worked. Parts write but maintain secrecy. I am open and accepting of their input but It comes as they’re ready. I hope these changes will prove helpful. I believe we need a change of focus! Thanks for listening 😊
I don’t know if this is “progress” or a “going backwards” direction…..I used to could “see” the parts much more clearly….was much more aware of “individual” perspectives and directions….I was aware of some “feeling” – but could pinpoint it to a particular part and say, “SHE is feeling that” or “HE is thinking that”…..now I am just a mass of swirling “feelings”…….the only part I can clearly “see” right now is a little girl about 5 or so and she just stands there Inside and stares at me…..She doesn’t “say” anything – but I can “feel” her turmoil – confusion, fear, not understanding “why”, not understanding what is going on…..I don’t know what to do with her because I am in the midst of turmoil myself…..
I have been through this phase before – but this time it is more intense…..Before – I could put the feeling with the part….now – I only “remember” the part that the feeling went with – the part is “foggy”….”hazy”…..except for Rage – I see him pretty clear……
NOT FUN – It was much easier when I could put the feeling with the part and be on my way……I don’t like this “feeling” stuff……
It’s “me” again….still battling with conflicting perspectives…..Rage who has always been off to the side “watching” is getting more to the forefront….giving me “bravery” to take stands against stuff – but it is stuff that I end up getting all confused with…..
For some reason, Rage is super-sensitive to anything that looks like I am being head-gamed, manipulated or used…..He has become more out-spoken – which leaves Outsiders just standing there blinking at me because they only see what is on the “surface” in THAT moment…and to them – All is well…..But Rage sees “undercurrents” and patterns that show hidden agendas…..and “he” is stepping up more to confront it…..which leaves me looking like I have serious “issues”…..he is going to get me in trouble……
It is getting more difficult on my job because of a mounting pile of “bad experiences” with a co-worker…..one moment “I” see something so clearly and Rage is so angry about what is happening…..the next moment “I” am disconnected numb and sense that I “saw something” – but now can’t really grasp it…..it feels like whatever I think I “saw” must have been my imagination or something…..yet I know that when i “saw” it – it felt VERY real……
Rage seems protective of me – although he can turn on me if I don’t pay attention to what he is showing me. He will be outspoken – but then I face Internal repercussions for having DARED to speak up and panic will snowball into every direction imaginable. People are clueless as to what is “wrong” with me because they don’t understand the reason for all my “weird” questions as I try to figure out where I am at and what is going on…..All this bouncing between “Inside seeing” and Outside “all is surface well” is HARD……
If that co-worker is suddenly “nice” and gives me a treat – fruit or a drink – I go numb and take it because I will look BAD if I don’t….but there is Internal havoc about taking it….like I have walked into a trap…there is something “hidden” going on and I can’t figure out what it is….that I just gave her “power” over me…..I get too scared to eat or drink it…but don’t know what to do with it…..i.e – I feel what Outsiders would call totally “paranoid”…..I can’t figure out if she is “safe” or NOT “safe”…..”good” or “bad”…….My T keeps telling me people can be BOTH – can be “good” AND “bad”…..which freaks me out because I can’t figure out which way I am supposed to ‘feel”…..do I act like she is “safe”….or act like she is NOT….???….
I think Rage and his outspokenness has messed me up in another area, too…..when I have gotten overwhelmed from the conflict of confusion….SI will usually trigger to give me a way out of the huge mess…..she gives me an “escape” route (even though I work hard to not choose it – there is an “extra” side battle with it that pressures me that I am “supposed” to do it)….But side battle aside – just seeing that escape route helps to lessen the intense Internal pressure caused by the conflict….and even though SI is HARD to walk through and out of – I feel like I can “breathe” a bit…..
But lately when Rage has been outspoken and then the conflict and confusion sets in – I only see SI in the distance bubbling…..she is stirring – but does not make it to the forefront (i.e. – get in my face)……she does not become the “escape” route I need and then I am left alone with trying to figure out how to “fix” what Rage has done……the sense of “abandonment” is horrendous….there is no “breathing room”…….
I have not usually dealt with depression….but when SI does not make it to the forefront – I am lost….I have no way out of the intensity of the turmoil and don’t know what to do – every direction has repercussions….and I am swallowed up in depression…..I wish it would trigger into despair because despair walks close to SI….but despair is out of reach as well…..I am trapped in my situation……I have told my T that I don’t want to get on meds….she agrees…..but there MUST be some way to deal with this……
How “weird” I am…..that I long for SI so I can “breathe”……..
KenKen to MissyMing says
You said, “How “weird” I am…that I long for SI so I can “breathe”…
I don’t think that is weird at all. Let me explain.
The abuse cycle becomes an addiction. In my mind, I can see it play out during childhood. The perpetrator(s), the victim(s), the rescuer(s) hit the blow-out moments of abuse, the cycle kicks into the honeymoon period where the house is quiet, the tension starts building and everyone can feel it, then another blow-out moment and the cycle starts again.
For me, this intensity becomes physically ingrained. Maybe we will have different abuses on different days or many abuses at once or some worse than others. All heighten the tension. It almost feels like you can cut through it in the air. When the blow-outs get set off, whenever it is over and I survive, I know it’s over. Even just for now. I feel relief. And I can now sleep.
As I got older, I started to self harm. In part to feel the overwhelming intensity and the crash after. The reset. It’s over now and I have relief. The tension begins to build again and the pattern plays itself out again, and again. Making it an addiction.
I stopped one form of self abuse but picked up another. Although less traumatizing to my body, it became an addiction too. Then another, but less harmful. It seems to me that I needed this relief I had, that I could only get through self harm.
It took me realizing that the moments before I self harmed I wanted the blow-out. The pain and all. I knew when it was over I would be able to breathe.
I dont think it’s weird to think about SI or to want to act out self abuse. We live what we learn. How are we supposed to know how to get to the calm places after tensions building without the blow-up part of it to reset everything? We learned that every day growing up. Nobody taught us as young children or even well into adulthood.
Sounds to me like you are becoming friends with Rage. He is protecting you. And with him at your side, Despair and SI can watch and learn how their jobs were necessary for a long time, but now you are strong enough to listen and stand beside Rage.
I hope Rage is working with your T to find ways to protect all of you in a way that keeps you from panicking about what he says and does.
I hope that was helpful. I think I said the same thing three different times. sorry.
Take Care Of Yous
Thank you KenKen! That makes sense to me. Yeah – there was a LOT of tension at home….didn’t realize that I was trying to find “calm” that way….was talking to hubby about how our childhoods affect our adult lives SO much – we only know what we learned then and in a dysfunctional family – what we learned does NOT work now….we have to learn NEW ways to deal with stuff…..and it is TOUGH……
Rage is scary – but I AM trying to see him more as a protector than someone to be ONLY afraid of…..the fear of losing control can be so intense….Yup! He is giving me a voice whether I want it or not….I tell T what happened and she says, “Your taking a stand! You’re speaking up! And you are maintaining a level of control!” I say, “Yeah! But you don’t see what he is doing Inside…what he is WANTING to do….THAT is scary!”……I hope all the Inside scenarios eventually settle down and I have ONLY the “voice” left…..
Thank you for your understanding and your encouragement KenKen! BTW – you said stuff beautifully!
KenKen and MissyMing this is a great conversation and I appreciate your honesty and insights. I have realized for me “self harm” is actually “self help” I learned at a young age I couldn’t have feelings especially anger, only my dad could have that. So turning my feelings whether anger sadness or fear, on to attacking my own body was a way to secretly have the unacceptable feelings and no one ever knew- so it helped me stay safe with my feelings. We have thrasher, our angry one that will act out in protection of us especially when we are disrespected by someone, especially our husband. Not pretty…and although we are better, we struggle a lot with self harm. It’s so deeply ingrained in parts and who we are.
We get what you are saying, linda – yup! Only “daddy” could blow up….it is interesting the directions “we” take to deal with stuff….it makes sense to “us” – even if it doesn’t to others…..but bottom-line – we find that there must be other and better ways to do it….but trying to “un-learn” stuff is not easy….especially when it was the ONLY way you knew and you felt like it “worked”…..THEN anyway – not so much NOW…….
Yeah, being “patronized”, disrespected, not heard, getting no response – all are “biggies” for me….it leaves me “fighting” for existence, terrified of the consequences of having “no value”….a nothing that is only to be “used”……feeling that you have NO value is rough….problem is – Rage doesn’t show up until AFTER and then is ticked off at me as well as whoever….NOT fun when he turns on me…….
I know that when the Twilight Zones hit – I am in “trouble”…..the lines between the past and present will be all blurred – waves of the past are superimposed on the present and I can’t figure out which “world”, which “dimension” I am in….warnings are going off big time like that robot on the “Lost in Space” show years ago and I am in the “deer in the headlight” mode…..NOT FUN…..
Glad that you have gotten that insight as to WHY you go into self-harm…hope there are parts there who can come up with “other ways” for you to safely have those emotions…..I am still working on some of that, too…..
KenKen to MissyMing says
We hoped all the Inside scenarios settled down too. And the ones with our Rage did. We had so many horrifying internal images and fights and battles and oh man. Yes.
Our Rage talked to our T alone. In his own sessions, without any of us near so he could tell all about how he had to survive, without us involved and trying to shut him up.
When we first had him around he was big and bad and wore a costume and scared us all and did and said very very scary things (inside and outside). About a year of talking with our T, our Rage took off his costume. I caught him in a fall to his knees and he cried. He was small. A Kid.
He is our biggest protector now. He doesn’t scare us. Now he is my friend and plays Empires and Puzzles with me. He stays close to the front and…come to think of it, because he is close to out here with me, I dont feel/sense/see/hear my SI alter needing to do her job. I think maybe she’s really happy about that.
With you working with Rage, not running from him, I think those inside scenarios will be worked out together and become less intrusive. And, bonus that he can stand beside you, out here so you dont feel so alone.
Has Rage or SI or Despair or any other of your insiders ever want to change their titles for names? We had many people that came with titles, like our Rage. After a while, when he knew he was accepted and had a place out in this world, he dropped the title and is now Eric. He had a connection with our last T that talked with him for a year, just him. (we had two sessions a week, one ours, one his.) It gave him a way out into this world where he could talk and learn. And find things he likes to do because his job is a job, it wasn’t all of him. He likes painting too.
I’m glad to hear you are standing beside your Rage.
Take Care Of Yous
Wow KenKen – your Rage and SI sound very similar to mine! I AM finding that as he is more “present” – she stays more in the background….as you said – not “needing to do her job” so much….But it is a SCARY transition…I don’t really have a “balanced” voice yet because of all the Inside scenarios from him – and yet she is not close enough to help me out of the overwhelm…..it kinda leaves me feeling VERY out on a limb with “no protection” that is “acceptable” to Outsiders…..
No – neither one has even considered a name change….guess it’s because I am not real comfortable with having a voice yet…..it takes a lot of Inside
“rage” to make me brave enough to speak up for myself….I get slammed with confusion too easily – that I am WRONG, WRONG, WRONG and then what are the consequences?……..
I know that Rage has come upfront at times with T – I only know “bits and pieces” – but I think it was times when he was especially mad at “me”…..”me” not paying attention to him….he DOES scare me still….I am trying to hear what he says…….
You give me something to aim for, KenKen! Thank you!
MissyMing to KenKen! ….KenKen…we wanted you to know that we had T read your comments to us….she said you did an amazing job of explaining that “cycle” of tension building, the “blow-up” and the relief that you can now breathe again…..She said “light bulbs came on everywhere” for her as she read and she knew of a number of people that she felt would be helped tremendously by what you said…it would help them to understand what was happening to them…..She said for me to let you know!…Thanks, KenKen!!!
KenKen to MissyMing says
Wow! Awesome! Thanks for sharing that with me. Makes me feel good.
Was reading this article and saw that I had posted a comment (don’t know how long ago)……I am STILL working on this…..still don’t have any more of an answer now than I obviously did then…..
Yup – saw Kathy’s comment on being “co-conscious”…..that is what I am at times…..in one sense it is “good” – I have more awareness of what is going on Inside…..I used to could only “feel” the turmoil….now I can “see” and “hear” it…….
In another sense it makes it “rough”….because I “see and hear” “other people”……sometimes as if through a “piece of glass” that disconnects me from the “emotion” they are feeling although I am “objectively aware” of what that emotion is (i.e. – confusion, fear, despair, etc.) and have to “pick” a direction to go with on the Outside…..
Sometimes I catch “glimpses” of actually “feeling the emotion” which makes it much harder to know which way to go – each different feeling is so 100% in itself – which way is the correct way????? The ones that are the hardest are the ones that include glimpses of panic, terror, overwhelm, etc…and I don’t know why they are there…….
Must be crazy….that’s all I know…….
I sense “groups” in discussions….each group with its perspective….each group sees their direction as the WAY to go….what do you do when it is not just a feeling of what they WANT…but a feeling of the decision is CRITICAL….that if the WRONG decision is made on the Outside…then there can be potential unknown consequences that can mean DANGER?……it transfers to what Outsiders see as small things – like what to eat, what to wear, sit down or stand up, stay in a room or leave a room…….Outsiders get exasperated with the indecision over the “simplest things” – but Inside, the decision feels extremely important……
we dont ever be abol to make desichons! that man make fun of us some times like this week. we cant descide on anything. so when he ask us somthing of what we want to eat or want to do then a bunch of us say what we think to him and he think it be the grown up who keep changing her mind. so we have to be good at taking turns becuase we all want diffrent choices. today i wanted pizza for lunch but it did be the girls turn and they picked chiken insted. caden say if we cant all vote for the same thing and make the same choises then the best thing to do is take turns all the time.
Elizabeth Ritzman says
This is such a powerful article, thanks for helping me better understand dissociation and DID.
what can we do about insirs who wont share their story with us? its like they are either in denial themselves, or they are so afraid to tell- even to us. so we dont know what happened. its like we are kept in the dark efen from ourselves.
you are forgetting the other side of the coin though about why it’s so hard for us to make decisions. it’s not always about the lack of information, but it’s often about too much. for us, we have a lot of co-consciousness and there are usually disagreements about what we should eat, when we should sleep, where we should go, who we should or shouldn’t talk to, what clothes to wear, etc etc etc. you talked about having the lack of perspectives which is common but i think it’s more common for us to have TOO MANY perspectives and desires and needs to be able to make decisions properly. 🙂
Kathy Broady says
Excellent point, MysticSynergy! You’re right about that. It can definitely get overwhelming and near impossible to decide what to do when you have a bunch of strong personalities all wanting or needing different things, including opposite things. It’s tough to know what to do then, for sure!
Thanks for your comment. 🙂
I wish you the best in your healing with a good decision-making journey. 🙂
I am glad to come across this post. I have always wondered why I cannot make a single decision. I am always in conflict with myself. Only 16 months ago did I finally figure out why I argue with my ownself! Outside people get so annoyed with me because I cannot decide anything. It is easier to take the world as it comes than to agree on any one decision. I often wonder if indecision is partially to “blame” for rotten things happening to me. I know I was DID first but I think being DID and indecisive creates even more problems.
The comment of alters having alters. In my experience, yes, alters can have alters and that just adds to the confusion and indecisiveness. We have alters who have alters and are completely split down two separate lines.
I never knew what happened during lost time. I did not know who was living my life. I was happy to just escape, as a child, and then it became such a habit that I never learned to deal with any intense emotion or body sensations. I just “left” whenever anything intense was going on – anger, pain, sex, etc.
I have been working through the past trauma for a couple years, now. I have been using a process called DNMS with my therapist for most of that time. Many memories that have surfaced during that time, and we have processed a lot of the emotions around those, as well as around things I always seemed to know. During this process I have had the sensation I described above that Kathy has labeled as “co-consciousness. I never had that happen before therapy.
The “co-consciousness” went on for weeks or months, each time. It was a very difficult time. During that time, I had two separate voices, two sets of emotions, memories, and body sensations running through me together. Gradually, it seemed like the two sort of aligned, or came to an agreement or something.
Even though I still feel like the various memories and thoughts are compartmentalized, and so it is not always possible to get a clear linear picture of my life, I seem to have all of them there, where I can draw upon them, now.
I have called this integration, but maybe there is some other term that would be more correct?
I don’t know.
Thank you, Kathy, for answering my question.
I am still experiencing, recently, some episodes of dissociation. (Especially this week because my therapist is on vacation.) I guess that means there are still more pieces to the puzzle I haven’t placed yet. I have gone through this “integration” process three times, and I hoped that was the end of it. But at least, if these are pre-existing sides of me, there must be an end somewhere out there, eventually.
Shenison, I am confused. Are you saying you integrated before ever communicating?
I have heard of alters having alters but never experienced it myself.
Interesting. I think I am an atypical DIDer, in that I have rarely had any problem making decisions or avoiding unsafe situations and people. I’ve made some stupid relationship investments, but they weren’t noticeably more unsafe than the poor decisions that non-DID people make. This may be attributable to my having a phenomenally functional primary switch, who tends to make decisions for the system, or to my being so unaware of any young parts that experientially, I don’t have them at all.
Communication is a big deal. I don’t know how to consciously “talk” to my alters, tho, I believe sometimes it happens instinctively or automatically.
I’ve learned not to fight them so badly, actually. They seem to know what’s best and they are equipped to handle most things. You are right, it is very confusing and most often difficult trying to “keep up” with where I’m at in conversations, or why I am where I am.
I have a question: Can alters have alters? None of mine do, I’m just asking if you ever came across it.
It just occurred to me that you are describing this as happening even in DID that has not started any kind of integration. That is very profound to think about. So… the mood swings and innability to make decisions (or stick with one), which I think of as “being reactive”, is what you are talking about.
Yes, that is very hard. I would love to hear you expound on that, if that is what you meant.
Kathy Broady says
Yes, I was writing about the decision-making process prior to integration. I think integration takes years and years of time to achieve… (if at all), and along the road of life and healing, there are tons of decisions that have to get made on a regular basis. Multiples have lots of insiders, and typically, they have a variety of insiders with a variety of goals in mind. Without effective team work and internal cooperation, the different parts are going to be pulling the person in all kinds of different ways all at the same time.
To me, what you are describing when you talked about having two lines of thought and feelings at the same time is a thing called co-presence, or even co-consciousness. It’s where two or more parts of the system are sitting together, experiencing each other’s reality in the current time. It is not at all uncommon for some insiders reality to be based on a different time zones (that’s a time distortion issue), so while it may feel a little weird to be both and adult in the here and now AND a child living back in the 70’s for example, that is very possible.
I have a different take on the emergence of the new alters. It doesn’t sound like you are developing them in the here and now — (ie:, I don’t think you are creating new ones here in 2009), but I would guess that you are just getting to know the various alters you created all those years ago when you were a young girl being abused.
For most people with Dissociative Identity Disorder, there is a long, ongoing process of meeting the various alters in their system. It would be massive information overload to meet everyone at once (talk about getting flooded!!!), so for most people, they tend to find-meet-experience “new” alters a little bit at a time. So while the alters have been around for years, hidden behind a dissociative wall, they may feel “new” to you, but they’ve actually been around for a very long time.
And it’s also very very common for mothers of young children to start hearing / experiencing various child-aged alters as they are spending time with their actual children. All the different things about being with the outside kids pulls up (triggers out) the internal kids, and as you described, the inside kids start wanting the same kind of time and attention that you are giving to the external kids.
It sounds like you are doing some good work — keep going! There’s more to do.
It was very interesting to me to read it and think about it like this. I have become accustomed to thinking of these other fragmented thoughts and feelings as people. Yes, they are me… but they are me as a child.
I have experienced exactly what you describe for a period of a few weeks to a few months, during the integration process. Three times now, I have opened up to a new part of myself. Each time I have felt as if there were two lines of thoughts and feelings running through my head, simultaniously.
It was a little like times when I would be out somewhere trying to do something constructive with my own children, when they were toddlers. There was a constant little voice dancing around me, demanding my attention.
As I said, I’ve been through this three times now, and after the third time I really thought that was the end of it. The third one was surrounding memories of my father molesting me when I was very young. Since I couldn’t imagine anything worse than that, I thought that it would be the final piece.
That was back in January, and I didn’t dissociate at all after that, for months (even when I really wished I could because the emotions were so intense and I didn’t know how to deal with them.)
It was a surprise when it happened again, a couple months ago, and a few times since then. I am wondering if this is another, seperate “little girl” or some new trick my brain has developed to get past dealing with the stuff about my father.
Can I do that — continue to develop these (I don’t know why, but I don’t like this word) alters? Because if I do that, there is no end to it… ever. That feels pretty hopeless.
Yeah, this is my life. You described it well. These are the main problems.
I take issue with the main tenet of what you write. People who do not continually use dissociative coping–I refrain from using the term singleton because I find that slightly pejorative and polarizing–can just as easily not see the big picture. People get stuck in relationships they cannot get out of, feel stuck in work, are unable to break free of addictions.
What separates DID folks is the overwhelming emotional dysregulation that comes with the internal conflicts that are so far apart and opposing.
I agree, though, with the goal of increasing communication. This is a very worthy goal. I just don’t agree with how you got there.
Kathy Broady says
Thanks for the comment.
For me – the main tenet of this article is about developing internal communication, especially within emotionally conflictual areas.
The brief mentioning of non-dissociative people is meant mostly in reference to not having lost time, not having amnesiac barriers, not having hidden insiders, not having to separate intense feelings into separate containers, etc. Comparing DIDer’s with non-DIDer’s wasn’t really the main point of the article, or I would have expanded considerably on that idea.
My article is meant to emphasize how dissociation can get in the way of certain things for DID folks. It’s obviously a great coping skill for other areas of life, but it can cause problems in others, ie: decision-making skills.
Non-dissociative people still have their problems, of course! They will have plenty of their own issues getting in the way of good, healthy decision making, but dissociation won’t be one of them.
Anyway – the point of the article is to increase internal communication so there is less dissociation getting in the way of things for people with DID, and on that we both agree, so… all is well. 🙂