Do you get to be your real self?
I’ve been wondering what else I could teach about Dissociative Identity Disorder, using an episode of United States of Tara as the example. Then I remembered the last minute of a show about Buck and his emotional pain.
And I thought more of how very painful and how very real that heartbreak is for Buck.
Throughout this season two, Tara has struggled with the fact that she is in fact multiple – that she does have Dissociative Identity Disorder – that she is switching, or “transitioning” as she calls it – that she has other parts to herself that also want time and attention and a little bit of life space.
In this episode, Tara is upset about having to share her life with her insiders and she has convinced herself that she is the only one in the body who should have a life.
Tara has decided that she “is” the life, and that no one else matters, just her.
Apparently she thinks that she, Tara, is the one and only important self. No one else matters –she is the only one that matters. Tara, Tara, Tara – it’s all about Tara.
No, no, no, Tara. Don’t go there.
The truth is, I’ve heard far too many hosts present with that kind of attitude.
And to the dismay of far too many host personalities, I completely disagree with that concept.
I vote for the system.
Meaning, if I had a vote regarding Tara, I would support Buck.
Buck is as real as Tara.
Buck is every bit as much of a person as Tara is.
Buck has his own thoughts, feelings, experiences, memories, wants, desires, etc. He is as important as Tara is.
Can Tara stake claim as the ONLY part of the system that gets to have time?
Is she really the only one that is important?
I don’t think so.
See – the way I see it – Tara is only a portion of the person.
She is not THE person.
She is part of the whole person, the same as Buck is part of the whole person.
Tara may have the upfront, outwardly social wife and mother role of the person, but she is not the whole person.
Tara is important, there is no denying that. I would never ever say she isn’t important. And she can be considered the leader of the system – I’m all for that idea as well.
But to say she is the only one that matters???
That is taking it too far.
Buck and the others inside are also important. They are as important as Tara. They may have different roles, different abilities, different preferences, different histories, different memories, etc, but they are still part of the person as a whole, and they should get to have part of the life as well.
I’m not saying that I am supporting the idea that Buck has been having an affair outside of the marriage vows. An affair is an affair, and Buck is completely and fully aware of what he has been doing that would be so very hurtful to the husband. He is responsible for the pain he has caused in his family, and like it or not, he is actually already married. Buck has cheated on his husband, and he will have to face the music on that one.
Yes, Buck and Tara have a whopping lot of work to do in order to resolve this conflict but the fact of the matter is, Buck is his own person too.
And part of the current heartbreak for Buck is that Tara has staked a little more claim on how the outward life is managed, and that genuinely leaves Buck not knowing how to be or do what he wants to be or do in his own life right now. No, it really isn’t ok for Buck to go out and have his own affair. Yes, he really is his own person, but his actions still affect those around him. He will need to figure out a way to live happily and fulfilled as himself without hurting others. I don’t know how that will look for Buck, but that is the challenge he is facing right now.
The point I want to emphasize here is that the DID system insiders do count.
They are real, they do exist, they have their own wants and dreams, and they are as important as anyone else. So squashing them out of existence, or refusing to give them time or acknowledgement is not okay.
Cooperation, compromising and sharing are absolutely important – but refusing to let the insiders have their own life-space is bordering on creating a self-centered dictatorship, in my definition.
Buck’s heartbreak about not getting to have the life he wants on his very own is very real. Insiders can and do feel extreme sadness and emotional pain over not being able to have their own bodies, their own separate lives, their own complete freedom of choice. Buck really and truly wanted to have his own girlfriend, and to have his own relationship, and to have his own time in the body. He wants the freedom to be his real self, and to make the choices he would make if he had his very own body.
If it were only that easy….
Sharing a body with 5-10-20-30 or more different insiders is extremely difficult. There seems to never be enough time to do everything everyone wants to do.
It means that sharing the 24-hour day is essential. It means that giving each other time in the body needs to be a coordinated, cooperative, ongoing process.
Finding ways to meet the needs, wants, and preferences of each of the different insiders is really complicated, and it does take a whole lot of work to find acceptable compromises. The key word here, being compromise. Tara can no more take over the life as completely her own any more than Buck can.
They have to find a way to work that out together.
Because they are both real.
And they both exist.
And they both can have a say in how life looks for them.
Because they are both important, and valuable, and necessary.
Buck really is as real as Tara. And if he has to prove that, he can.
So to all the hosts out there – be willing to share the life-space with your insiders. Because far too often, if you refuse to do that, your insiders could make a mutiny type decision like Buck did. And that really never works out very well for anyone.
Value everyone in your system.
Use interpersonal skills layered in cooperation, compromise and teamwork.
Be willing to share.
Treat each other with kindness and generosity.
Accept that there are differences between you and the others and find ways to make it work so that everyone can get some of what they need.
Everyone in your system has the right to be happy.
Their lives matter too.
I wish you and your system the very best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
Tracey wilson says
Hi Kathy I agree everyone is important, I’m just learning to try and make time for everyone. It’s a real balancing act and sometimes very difficult!. I HAVE A BIG QEUSTION TO ASK!?? Do you think our others know what they are and how they came to be? I don’t know if it’s a conversation I should have with them? I would appreciate your take on it. Thankyou
I hope it’s ok but I have a couple of questions. I’m not very far into the healing process, so I still lose time (in an amnesic way) lots but I do know that I have a lot of parts – around 50 of them. The reason I know is because there can be a lot of switching that happens during therapy sessions and sometimes when I am talking with either my husband or a very close, trusted friend. I can give names and ages but that is all I know about many of them.
The thought of communicating with my insiders is scary in the sense that I cannot deny the extent of the abuse but I am grateful to them for ensuring I survived a truly awful childhood. I have been trying to communicate with a few of them. I think it would be too overwhelming to try communicating with all of them at the moment.
I’m sorry, I’m rambling. Anyway, what I wanted to ask. Firstly, how can my insiders be me when they are so different? My husband has said that some like foods that I don’t, for example, and some don’t feel the chronic physical pain I experience. My other question is how do I manage therapy sessions? I see my therapist twice a week but how can the time be balanced between supporting my insiders and myself?
I hope what I’m writing makes some vague sense. It’s late here and I’ve been reading for so long. I really should go to bed, lol. I just want to learn and do what’s right for all of us. I’m just not very sure what that is.
Thank you for this blog and how thought-provoking it is.
I’m struggling with this issue. I didn’t explicitly know about the parts before last year (i think 11 of them at last count) but I can see now that I have always relied on Competent Helen to not only be my front to the world whenever possible but also to make sure no one knows about the depressed overwhelmed me, and to not lose my husband, kids, friends etc. We seem to share hosting although she and I have always wanted her out as often as possible. Sometimes we are blended. The problem is that the others are coming out and communicating now and I’m starting to see how it could be more of a democracy or shared world inside and maybe outside too, but CH feels threatened by this, feels like her mission is being compromised (parts are taking over in front of family and therapist! They are seeing how crazy and messed up we are!) and it seems like she is coming down harder in trying to be in control all the time. I’m starting to see how she kept feeding the idea that I couldn’t do anything when actually I can. And I recently found out she put Fun Helen to sleep over a decade ago and now that FH is trying to come back she keeps squashing her. FH didn’t know that we had a husband and kids! She misses her friends from that time and is sad to have missed a decade. I was always so enthralled by CH before and now I’m a bit scared by her dictatorial power. Another insider told me we are supposed to be three hosts, the three Helens, and I didn’t even know FH existed until a couple weeks ago because CH didn’t want me to know. I’ve let her attitudes towards the others color how I see them but I want to take some of my power back now and let the others have more power too. Also I thought I was co-conscious but I’m realizing that CH was aware of at least some of the parts and even though she was out most of the time she did not seem to share that knowledge with me!
Yes, I was just talking about this in therapy this past week. I know I am guilty of feeling like my opinion matters more than the others. I feel like I should listen to their thoughts and opinions, but ultimately I feel like I should have the final say. I realize this is probably not good, and probably why so many insiders don’t trust me. It is frustrating and hard to balance all this. The T says I need to go to work and take care of the kids. Well, that is mostly me, so there is not a lot of other time for other parts unless we stay up into the middle of the night, which we often do, and is probably not so good for us. I wish I didn’t have this sense of superiority over the others. Maybe if they were more prominent and less mysterious it would be easier. I have a lot of co-consciousness most of the time, but it doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to this subject. I am trying to be a better person to my system, but it is a struggle.
Lots of pepol dont baleve like this
Are 1st tharepist didnt
Her only want to talk to the other girl not to us
Her want the other girl to stay out side and say all are words for us
That didnt even be fare!
Even at the tramma hosbitol them only want to talk to the other girl
Becus them say her the REAL 1
They didnt care we say we be real to
We do be real
We be realer than that other girl
Thanks for this.
shadowlight and co, we like the “house” metaphor, thanks for sharing it.
I have to laugh at myself, because professionally I am a facilitator. I got very interested in group dynamics after being in several “high control” groups as an adult, and went back to school and got an MA in communication.
but my tdoc has been bugging me to have regular, or at least one, group meeting for months, and I keep coming up with excuses. however it is clear to me that if I am not meeting the needs of everybody, trouble, trouble ensues.
I agree with you. Copresence is a valuable option (and sharing IS difficult when opinions inside differ widely). I’m also rather DDNOS than DID, I think (I don’t really like those labels) and I’m trying to find a way to compromise with my insiders. I would prefer copresence very much. I’m glad to hear you seem to manage somehow, although it’s not always that easy.
I want to be able to stay at front myself (often doesn’t last, especially when at home), but I also want my insiders to get what they want and are very much in need of. If only we could share. Now I have the feeling like I’m censoring and directing them constantly out of fear to lose control and the fear that things will happen that I’m not comfortable with.
It makes them sad, they feel ignored and some of them get really angry with me and the situation.
It makes me unhappy too that they don’t get a chance to be who they really are and to show themselves and to be allowed to feel how they feel. They never were allowed to do that. There are stern censors inside too who prohibit an awful lot. It’s an important rule in our system.
I can relate. Although he hasn’t always recognized them as such, my T also believes they are very real and he encourages me to let him meet the hidden ones inside, but I’m scared too, just like you. It makes all of them so very vulnerable.
Thank you for this, Kathy. I try to remember that all the pushing and pulling I feel inside, EVEN when it’s “quiet”, still needs to be addressed in some fashion.
Sometimes, I wish I was able to stay awake longer at night (like some other people we know) so that I’d have more time to spend taking care of the insiders’ needs. We do stay up when the husband is away, though. So at least one weekend a month we get to have “our time”…doing pretty much whatever we want. When he’s home, he likes us to have a bedtime routine and that “orderliness” works for us.
Kathy – yeah, our host TOTALLY freaked when we all informed her that she was an alter — just like us. Still doesn’t always accept it…
OMG Muffled ones, so do we!! I could never explain why our eyes could focus on 4 different things in different perspectives at the same time. Gives a bit of a headache, but they do it!
Even did tonight when swapped out earlier. Glad you mentioned it – I thought I was just weird.
April 10, 2010 at 12:27 pm
ROFL sometimes we share eyeballs. One gets one, and other gets other.
They move same same, but it sure feel weird.
LOL LOL LOL!!!!”
I am always SOOOO impressed with what you have to say! You are right on! Thank you for communicating the truth. We always check in her to see what you have to say.
Again, thanks for telling the blogging world what we want people to know about us.
ang et al
The therapist I see believes they are real. Wants to meet them I think… I am sure he has met some but didn’t know it. It’s scary being that open. *shrug*
It’s easy to react with dictatorship when most of us lived by that regime. It’s much harder to step out of that, especially when insiders do things that don’t make sense to whomever else is living in that body. It’s tough to not be upset and angry.
Dictatorship leads to resentment. Resentment leads to hatred. Hatred leads to a warring chaos. That’s fair to say in any case, DID, or the world.
When every day is a struggle for some of us to just do the work of having a clue about what’s happening in our lives, it’s not a good idea to create more pain inside. If subtleties can create havoc in a system it’s a safe bet that overt stifling will create another level of the same.
wehn you get old you can rite a book kathey. and then big pepol can read it in school. and you can rite down all you know.and put all this in it. and y ou can tell pepoles storys. sept make up pretend names for privisy. and then pepol in collidge can read it. sept dont make it spensiv so lots of pepol can bye it. cos we all want to read it to. then lots of pepol thats theripis will be smart like you.
thats me and tucks idea.
shadowlight and co says
sometimes I wonder how I can even be sure that I am the host… I mean what if I am another alter? what if the host actually is somewhere inside, asleep, orr even dead? To be honest there is no way of knowing… Maybe I have no memory before a certain point because I didn’t exist before that point…
alternatively maybe I think too much lol
Anyway, I think that working together is VERY important. We try to thik of each other as a sort of internal family, with the body being our “house” – as silly as that may sound. and try to make time for everyone and take care of everyones needs. I find that generally if someones needs are ignored or supressed then it causes system wide chaos, and anyway we are all here for a reason and without all of us maybe none of us would have survived this long, so we all deserve some time and treat now and then 🙂
it would be so nice if this article, and actually your entire blog, was required reading for ALL the therapists in the world 🙂
i’m glad you say we’re all real.
Kathy Broady says
LOL, thanks pilgrimchild.
Now…. how on earth do we make that happen? lol 🙂
Sam Ruck says
this is dead on. Exactly what my wife and I were/are discussing just last night and this afternoon. Two of the inside girls have been working at becoming “outside” girls and they were so happy to hear me support that they should have equal rights to a life outside as part of the the “whole” woman. But my wife wants to claim the superior position. My wife just wants me to back off and not talk about it, so I probably will, but I think it just prolongs the healing as her two inside girls really have been good, and cooperative and moving to a greater sharing relationship (I think). Not sure how to help my wife past this. As always I’m the “play” therapist for all my girls (helping them live real life) but none of them usually want to talk things through with me. Hopefully the ladies they do talk with will help her in the correct direction.
ROFL sometimes we share eyeballs. One gets one, and other gets other.
They move same same, but it sure feel weird.
LOL LOL LOL!!!!
It don’t got to be B&W. I don’t watch tara.
But I think there can be alot of copresence. Sharing of life in real time.
More than one part present at SAME time. Both experiencing and sharing the moments. And MORE than 2 only. I can have 3 for sure at same time, working together sometimes.
But I not DID, more like DDNOS if you must call it something.
It hard to share when the there is such disagreement on values etc.
Kathy Broady says
Yes, Ones, co-presence is an important option –
I didn’t go into that topic on this article, but I agree with you that that is a good option to keep in mind.
we are really glad that you say they are all real and all important.
Kathy Broady says
yes, I get asked that question a lot – “are we real?” or “are my insiders real?” and my vote is always a definite YES!