It’s Halloween weekend.
This is a difficult, heavy weekend for a lot of dissociative trauma survivors.
I’ll say right upfront – and please hear this clearly — that it is NOT a difficult or triggery weekend for every DID trauma survivor. To assume that every dissociative survivor has experienced the same kinds of abuse is completely wrong, and I will be the first trauma therapist to say that not everyone has gone through the dark sadistic abuses associated with the days most commonly known as Halloween.
If you can enjoy the fun sides of Halloween – bags of candy, apple-bobbing parties, carving pumpkins, or trick or treating in silly costumes — that is great news for you. Halloween is a non-abusive, non-holiday, safe-on-the-surface level social event for most people. For these folks, it is not intended to be anything more traumatic than seeing the pretense of gross plastic items stocked in the party aisles of a store. For the more courageous and daring, they will spend $20 at the locally created “Haunted House” – something quickly assembled much like a traveling carnival booth.
But for some dissociative trauma survivors, these days surrounding Halloween are very dark, and very scary, and filled with deep historical meaning. There are far too many triggers everywhere, and the hidden, layered symbols feel anything but safe.
For anyone who has experienced the horrors of organized ritual abuse, the days surrounding Halloween are very truly difficult. The nights are worse. The heaviness, the darkness, the pulls toward things not comfortable feels very disturbing and over-powering.
Many survivors feel scattered or disorganized within their system. Or they might feel like the internal dark ones are enveloping or surrounding them. Or they feel pulled to gory pictures, or negative thoughts, or self-injury. Images of gorging on food, or death and violence, or various sexual abuses might flood their mind. These snippets can be indicators of memory flashbacks, or pulls to participate in current day nightmares.
Even if you went there in the past, you don’t have to go there anymore.
Even if your insiders are remembering their past, remembering then is not the same as being there now.
DID survivors with an RA history might not feel like their usual selves during the time around Halloween. They might feel like isolating from their safe support people, and feel more drawn towards their abusers. They might feel pulls to go out, or to go to some unknown somewhere…
However, on days like this, staying home – literally staying indoors and refusing to leave the safety of your home – is often the very best thing you can do. Reassure your insiders that they do not have to participate in anything scary, and that they are allowed to be safe. They do not have to be hurt anymore. They do not have to be handed over to danger.
They can stay home in the safety of your home.
It might be a battle.
If you been ritually abused, it probably will be a battle.
You might have parts in your system who have experienced unspeakable horrors during this week of time. But the more you can protect them from ongoing abuse, and gently comfort them in regards to their past abuse, the better.
The days surrounding Halloween can be some of the most difficult, triggery days of the year.
However, I encourage you to use this time to get to know those parts of your system that have managed this for you. Listen to them, and let them tell you some of their life experiences. They will need the opportunity to heal from their trauma history as well. And yes, it will be very hard for you to hear their life stories, but they have the same right to begin having safety, comforts, healing, and protection just like the rest of you.
Even if you feel afraid – don’t leave your most traumatized parts stuck in their abuse because you are too afraid to work with them.
Even if you feel horrified – don’t turn your back on helping these parts simply because you are horrified about what they had to go through.
Ignoring their pain, or refusing to teach them about the lighter sides of life means that they are left neglected and stuck in the darkness.
That’s not okay.
They need your help, even if that is not how they are first saying it.
Be brave. Allow your whole system to heal and to experience safety. Don’t leave any of your insiders stuck in the darkness. It is not their fault they were abused in the darkness. They are there because they were forced to be there. It’s not their fault they were split off in that dark place. But they originally came from you, so they belong to you. Don’t let the darkness keep those parts, not even one of them. They need you and your help to get them out of that darkness.
They need you to have enough courage and willingness and compassion to allow them the same chance at healing that you are having.
So be kind to your insiders. Be willing to help the ones that have experienced the worst of the worst. Let everyone within your system find freedom – healing – safety – gentleness – acceptance.
Help them find the way out.
I wish you the best in your healing journey. And please…. let ALL the people in your system be safe, comforted, and protected this halloween.
Copyright © 2008-2023 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation