Last night I lost my keys in the office.
It was a silly ordeal – they were hanging right where I last put them – but it took me awhile to remember where that was.
I had a little help finding them, and I am really thankful that Mr. Janitor Man was so very kind. He was patient with me, looking everywhere with me while I retraced my steps of the evening.
We looked under couches, in between cushions, under pillows, through trash bins, in the fridge, in drawers, in cupboards, on shelves.
I knew they had to be there – after all, I had just locked myself IN the building. I hadn’t gone anywhere because I needed my keys in order to unlock the door to get out of the building, so I knew they couldn’t be far.
But where were they?!
It took awhile, but I gradually got closer to the last place I left them, I remembered exactly where they were.
Success!! There they were – right where I left them.
And thank you, Mr. Janitor Man for your patience with me.
In order to find them, I simply had to stop and think about where I was when I last remembered having them, and go from there. My keys were just a few inches from that place.
Today, I had to wonder how my thought processes were the same – or different – from survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID / MPD) who have to search for their lost keys.
A few weeks back, I was on the other side of this equation.
A DID survivor had lost her car keys for several days.
She had looked everywhere. She had the feeling that they were still in the house, and remembered where She had last set them. But the car keys were nowhere to be found.
To help her sort through the lost key issue, She and I had an entirely different process than I did with Mr. Janitor Man.
She had already re-traced her steps best She could. It was clear the keys were not anywhere She thought they should be.
Because of the dissociative issues and system conflict in her life, there were several additional issues to consider:
- Had anyone inside moved the keys after She put them on the table?
- Were the insiders purposefully hiding the keys from her?
- Was this an issue of self-sabotage, system conflict, or simple dissociation?
- If She didn’t remember where the keys were put last, which insider did remember?
- If someone inside remembered, were they going to tell her?
- How long were the insiders going to keep this secret? Did they think that was funny?
- Were the keys sitting right there in plain sight, and was someone within her system purposefully blocking She’s vision?
- Was She simply “not allowed” to see where the keys were?
- Was someone inside hiding the car keys to keep her from driving?
- Why did they not want her to be able to drive?
- Was this a safety issue (to prevent some self-harm options that required a car)?
- Was this a power and control issue (“we can do what we want, and She can’t stop us”)?
- Were the insiders trying to sabotage and ruin She’s plans for the weekend?
- Was this a system punishment of some sort?
- Were the keys genuinely lost, and were all our questions about insider involvement way off track?
It became obvious that She didn’t know where the keys were. There was no use wasting more time asking her to find them on her own.
Asking inside – asking the parts in She’s system – to tell her where they were wasn’t working either. Everyone was quiet inside, and no one was willing to say where the keys were.
The only feeling that She got in response to the questions was that the keys were still in the house. She had noticed She could feel a little rise in tension when She looked in the kitchen. She was guessing the keys were there, but She still had no idea. She had looked everywhere in the kitchen – a few times – and still couldn’t find them.
She asked her insiders again, and again – and still no one would cooperate with a direct answer.
Where should She look in the kitchen? Should She keep looking in the kitchen? Now what?
It was beginning to get clearer that either someone was hiding the keys on purpose from She. It was also becoming clear that others inside were feeling too scared of Key-Hider to tell She where the keys were. The awkward silence was very telling.
We tried directly asking Key-Hider where the keys were.
The only response to that question was a bit cheeky. “If I wanted the keys hidden from her, why would I tell you where they are?”
Oh okay. Got that message loud and clear. So Key-Hider wasn’t going to cooperate.
Hmmmmm. Now what?
I asked She to go stand in the kitchen. Since it appeared that the insiders didn’t feel like they could show She where the keys were – She was clearly not supposed to see the hiding spot – we didn’t go against that rule.
Instead, we respected that rule.
I asked She to close her eyes. I spoke to the insiders through She. They were, of course, listening behind her. As a rule of thumb, when talking to any part of the DID system, expect that there will be others listening in the background, even if the part you are speaking with is not aware of anyone else being near.
I asked She to keep her eyes closed, and to put her hands out to feel around in the kitchen. With DID, one part can be in charge of the most of the body, while someone else can gain control of the hands (or any other part of the body). I reminded She that this was possible, and encouraged her to let someone pass through her to be in charge of the hands.
While She and her insiders were rummaging through kitchen areas, I continued to speak to the inside system. I reminded them that She was not looking, that She could not see anything, and that they would not be breaking the rule of showing She where the keys were located, but I asked them to work together as a team. Together, they were searching the kitchen for the car keys.
One of the things I mentioned to the Insiders was asking them if anyone else saw the Key-Hider hide the keys.
By this time it was clear that Key-Hider wasn’t being supportive of She. Key-Hider was not going to say where the keys were hidden, and Key-Hider was acting more in direct opposition to She. I asked for those who were willing to be kind and helpful to She to think about what they saw from behind the scenes, fully expecting that someone inside could have seen where Key-Hider put the keys. I asked if any of the Helpers saw Key-Hider hide the keys, and if any of the Helpers could help She to find them.
I continued to remind She to keep her eyes closed, and to let the Helpers find the keys through her hands with their hands.
Within about fifty seconds, She giggled. She could hear the keys, and once She was holding the keys, She was allowed to open her eyes.
After being missing for days, the keys were found!
She was thrilled, to say the least.
She mentioned that the most significant things I said were that She herself didn’t have to be told or shown where the keys were and that Key-Hider wasn’t put on the spot with demands for immediate answers or cooperation.
The idea that we could completely obey the rules, respect the opposition, and yet go around the rules by working with the other Insiders made a huge difference. She said she would not have thought about asking her insiders for help, but it made all the difference.
So what’s the moral of the story?
- If you are DID, remember that there are many others in your inside world, and some of them will be on your side.
- Even if you feel like others are against you, there will be some that will help you.
- There will be some people in your system that will be hiding from you. They may see and hear you even if you don’t see or hear them.
- Using system communication, talking together, approaching problem-solving as a team will be more effective than you trying to work out issues alone.
- Talk to each other!
- Work together!
Copyright © 2008-2020 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
We ben luzing stuf liek crazy!! The pas fuw days we luze things all over. And we ben luzing stuf even when we dont even have got up or muvd. It make us fel so crazy becus it be weird we cant kep trac of any thing latley. It be like stuf jus disapr out of our hans!
Oh my gosh … what a relatable/thought provoking posting Kathy on so many different levels. Listening, respecting and cooperating with all of our parts can be quite a challenge. You have offered a very interesting example of how to navigate the complexities of life with others. It truly is like living with a group with whom you have to try and cooperate, negotiate and learn to work in harmony with. That is not easy some times but if you go the route of being angry, frustrated and deliberately dismissive of your insiders, you can really make your life miserable.
Last year I lost my wedding ring. I am usually very methodical about where I put things (like my wedding ring). Well, this time I was down at my mother’s house and thought that maybe I went off my usual pattern because I could not find it. I tried asking my insiders if they knew where the ring was but no one would tell me. I just thought that I was sloppy. We were bringing my mom to our house for a visit so I knew that I would have to wait until the following week to resume my search. When I was home, my one little one Squirrel kept telling me to wear my other ring instead (my engagement ring with diamonds). When we were down at my mother’s place we had gone out to dinner with my cousin and Squirrel was fascinated with her diamond rings. I finally put on my engagement ring to show Squirrel that it did not fit. When we got back to my mother’s house, Squirrel showed where she had put my wedding ring and all was okay.
Squirrel is quite willful and impulsive so I have been working with my Body Awareness Guide and Embodiment Coach in teaching her personal space and boundaries — building cooperation with her. Squirrel rushes into situations and that frightens the heck out of me. She has no physical boundaries or understanding of the dangers that are out there. So, we have practiced walking together and establishing physical boundaries. The idea is for me to be co-conscious with her, imaging a situation that is potentially dangerous and then walk towards it in cooperation with her. Since I am the adult, the agreement is that I will choose the physical boundaries for us. We did this with a pleasurable visualization as well. So, this means that she is learning to be with me physically in the body and for me to set the parameters of our physical actions. I practice this in outside situations where she is triggered. It really is a whole lot of recognizing potential triggers, acknowledging her presence, grounding and then taking action in unison with me directing the way. Almost like taking a child’s hand to cross the street.
We have been losing stuff left and right the past few months. We cant keep track of anything anymore. No one ever knows who moved stuff either.
Thanks for your post. I know how it feels to see someone you care about suffer and not be able to help them. There are people who can. Silver Hill Hospital psychiatric hospital has skilled clinicians and physicians trained in administering medication and counseling.
We just found your blog and will definitely be returning. It is so refreshing to hear someone working with those of us with DID, not telling us it’s so rare as to be non-existent and we’re making it up only to get attention.
We had been partially integrated (very few key-losses!) until the parents died within a few years of each other and that allowed many things to surface that were simply unsafe before. The interesting thing is that I think we are actually healthier–treating the body better, more progress at work, less stress–when we are actively multiple rather than trying to integrate.
Even if we have to hunt for keys a little more often.
Those questions to ask are terrific. I’m bringing them to therapy with me. Thank you very much!
Kathy Broady says
That sounds great! I tend to ask a lot of questions – I hope they are helpful. When you show your therapist, please make sure that she (he?) knows the source, so they can check out the other kinds of things you are reading here at Discussing Dissociation if they’d like to.
I appreciate your enthusiasm, and thanks for the kind comment.
I wish you the best, especially on those days where you are searching for your keys! 🙂
Whats gonna work? Teeeaaaam Work!!!
Thank you for the post! 🙂
Kathy Broady says
You’re welcome, identity, and yes, TEAMWORK is really important!
Have a good day, and talk lots to each other! 🙂
Kathy, sorry this is random, I signed up at the board because it says my email is already registered… but I dont know what my username is.. what do I do now? 🙁 lol
por kafy yor life be so complikatid you lost yor keys
we oways lose stuff
mom say we wud los are hed if it dint be atacht
we did find the sissors in the fridje 1 time
we lose books and are notbook and fone and keys and socs and all kinds of stuff
jadie play with stuff somtims
some pepol hide stuff
we find stuff in funny plasis it dont supost to be
next time mabey we shud call you and you talk to efrebody like you talk to She and you help us find are stuff
we got lots of lost stuff in this house
We have that problem a lot too… a lot of my insiders know that when I leave the house I -have- to have my ipod to stay calm and focused… many will hide it from me to keep me from leaving the house So lots of helpers protectors and I have a group that we stay real close to and if it goes missing we have a plan A, B, C, and D lol — One thing I’ve noticed that I’m not sure what else to do about other than give time and work harder at building inside trust is that If I say or ask something I’m easily overlooked whereas if I’m backed up by a “safe person” (someone -who is safe- outside the body that they know and trust) then all of a sudden what may have been a month or two long saga problem.. is intantaneously ‘solved’ lol — It’s as if they need confirmation from someone else that I can be trusted. — But I am learning to be patient with them and respect that if that’s what helps them then that’s what we’ll do… and hopefully over time of consistency they’ll begin to slowly trust me bit by bit. 🙂