Hello, how are you today? Are you reading from your painful past, or are you here, in a painful present? Does it feel like the here-and-now? Or the way back when? Or is Then the same as Now?
I’ve been thinking about this topic of Past vs Present for awhile now. I know I have written about time distortion, memory recall, flashbacks, body memories, trauma processing and all those things before. (Please have a peek at the List of All Articles page.)
Even so, a few more comments about such a difficult topic is still warranted.
The point is, this stuff just doesn’t seem to go away. It repeats. And repeats. And repeats itself…
So yes, one of the very most painful aspects of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID / MPD), in my opinion, is the way some of the most difficult, heart-breaking and distressing events in life appear to be caught forever in the present. These don’t have to be the most horrific or violent abuses. Sometimes these are the situations that created the most heartache, or came from the deepest losses.
“Put the past in the past” and “Let bygones be bygones”. Easy to say, but for dissociative trauma survivors, how does this happen?
Does it happen? Can it happen?
Or will the past stay stuck tight to Now more often than not?
It is difficult to feel comfort and healing from hurts when the hurts still feels as real today as they did ten or twenty, thirty or forty years ago.
It is difficult to move forward when the pictures of How-It-Was are constantly vivid and present and smacking you in the face over and over again.
Not to mention the nightmares and dreams and flashbacks. Talk about re-living painful scenes! Ouch!
With this happening, the list of “Bad Days” or painful anniversaries grows and grows over time. As each passing year adds its contributions to the “Bad Days” calendar, more and more days of every year are painful rememberings of difficult times.
Time loses meaning. What time is it when time feels the same all the time?
For DID survivors, time stays in the now, and doesn’t necessarily retreat into the past. Instead of life as a single melody line, life feels like a complex chord of notes. There are many times at once.
How complicated is living when you are living in 1968, 1979, 1983, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2013, and 2018 all at the same time!!
How do hurts get healed when time keeps them current?
How do conflicts get resolved when time keeps them current?
How do insiders become connected to Now when they live in Then?
What do you do when life is like this?
How do you manage?
Does it feel like you are moving forward?
Does it matter if you are “moving forward”?
Maybe staying connected to the past is a necessary part of your life.
Maybe that is okay. Maybe your brain just works like this, and you are better at remembering than other people.
I am sorry it hurts so much — I know that part is not okay. The pain can often feel unbearable. And comforting the heartbreak, and tending to the physical wounds (experienced both inside and outside) are crucial parts of the healing journey.
But maybe you are who you are, and all the parts of your mind-body-system are allowed to have their lives, whatever time frame they are in. Let them each have the time they need to process their hurts. They need to remember, and they need you to listen to them, to hear them, to understand them.
I do think the individual selves in your system each need time to talk-draw-feel and heal on their own. As each of your system members do their own healing, the whole of you will hopefully not have to re-live as much over and over.
There is another piece to this process.
It’s not just about learning about the past.
While it is important to hear their stories from the past, yes, it is also helpful and important to get grounded here in the present. And to help those insiders stuck in the past to connect to NOW, to HERE, to TODAY.
It’s a swapping of important information — you learn about then, and they learn about now.
In a sense… you flash BACK to catch up on what you missed. And they need to flash FORWARD to catch up to now, and the information they missed.
That’s what helps connect your system together. It lets everyone know the information and allows you to function better as a whole.
How do you connect your past with your present? What happens for you and your system?
If you have any helpful thoughts, your comments are appreciated.
I wish you much comfort in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2020 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation