“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness”
~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
What do you think when you see this picture?
How does it relate to you?
I like this picture. I don’t agree with the wording, in its entirety, but I can see value in the message.
First, let’s talk about the picture itself.
- How does this picture represent the inner worlds, and internal systems of someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder?
- Do you see the different people?
- The different ages?
- The different body positions?
- The connections and separations between the various people?
This picture reminds me of the way dissociative systems are often split and separated, especially where anger is concerned.
I see the upper outer layers — the ones that have the front jobs of presenting to society. They seem to be the “real ones” and the parts that interact more frequently with the outside world. However, this picture shows the rest of the story. It shows the lower, more hidden layers that are often less known, but typically still very powerful in terms of system functioning and decision-making.
Or, it could represent a completely different kind of dissociative splitting process. It could be those who dissociated away and floated above the trouble and pain, with a layer of everyday existence horizoned in the middle, with a separate group of insiders stuck down underneath, often unable to surface in the current time frame.
The presence of an opposite, mirror-like reflection of an internal system people is common in DID / MPD. For every insider of one extreme, there is often someone else inside that holds a position that is the polar opposite. This is an important and necessary strategy for managing both ends of extreme situations.
What do you see in this picture?
Can you relate in any way?
And what do you believe about anger?
Anger is such a difficult emotion. It is all too often connected with the horrors of abuse, pain, trauma, fear, and conflict. It’s difficult to be angry, and well-behaved at the same time. Anger often brings out the worst in people.
And yet anger is an important emotion.
Anger knows when you, or others, have been wronged. It knows when something isn’t right. It knows when something should be different.
I don’t know that anger and happiness are opposites as suggested in this picture. I don’t think that the removal of anger means that emotional spot will be replaced by happiness.
Sometimes being angry is important. The appropriate expression of anger can be very healthy. For dissociative systems, it is important to listen to those inside that carry the anger. These insiders have a great deal of information about your history. It might not be easy to hear what they have to say, but their years of experience really should not be denied or forgotten. What they survived counts as much as any other trauma.
Sometimes the internal angry ones copy the external “real life” abusers, making the other insiders repeatedly re-experience trauma and excessive inappropriate discipline, enforcing old rules without understanding that many of these old family rules are not healthy and no longer as necessary or important as they once were. Angry insiders often contain and re-live their memories by inflicting these same dynamics actions over and over and over. Instead of telling their memories, they show them.
When these angry insiders finally feel safe enough to talk honestly about their painful experiences, their anger can become less self-destructive. This change doesn’t come easily, but building relationships and trust with these angry parts is crucial to your overall healing. This is one of the most difficult and challenging components of the healing process. It’s messy. It’s painful. The path is not pretty or lined with flowers. It’s full of bruises and injuries and obscenities. It’s a frustrating process filled with inappropriate, ugly exchanges and intense emotion. And yet, if you don’t reach out to your angry ones, who will?
Since the angry ones are a very real part of your system, if they don’t get included in the healing process, what happens for them? Why should they be left out, and left behind? They need respect and acceptance. Their strengths need to be understood and appreciated.
Their anger may not be replaced by happiness, but they may develop a deeper sense of peace, and contentment, and personal strength. This strength and internal confidence will radiate through all of your system. There is a certain beauty found in their strength.
- What are your angry insiders angry about?
- What are their actions showing you about their history?
- Are you willing to help everyone inside, even the angry ones?
- If not, what are you afraid of?
- Will it cost you more to ignore them than to work with them?
It’s definitely not easy. Important, but not easy.
I wish you all the best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2021 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation