For most dissociative trauma survivors, Halloween is a difficult time.
Halloween is an expansion filled with horrific memories, vivid flashbacks, overwhelming darkness, and uncomforted fear.
Internal systems flip and change, with those typically lodged in the back finding their way to the front, making the usual everyday feel completely different from before. Working with these dark parts is essential for healing. They may frighten you, but they need your patience, understanding, and compassion for having survived the horrors they had no choice but to endure.
Living through the Halloween season with active PTSD and heavy traumatic overtones may be as delicate and sensitive as fighting for one deep breath after another.
For survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorder, and survivors of Ritual Abuse, the pain is real, and the struggles last year after year. Resolving system conflicts and sorting through trauma memories is hard work, and yet needs to be done for internal peace.
It’s important to listen to your inside parts and comfort them after the horrors they’ve seen. All forms of memory processing — talking about it, drawing pictures, writing out feelings, creative expressions, EMDR, renovating the inside world — are important.
What else can you do to make this time easier to manage?
It’s very difficult to change a traumatic time into something liveable, let alone enjoyable.
One element of healing is purposefully making new positive memories that can be connected to painful days. Resolving the trauma gives you room to create something of your own — room to make memories that you can enjoy and moments in life that bring a smile to your insides.
I am not saying to deny your Halloween trauma. Not at all. The healing work and system work is essential.
Keep at it – it’s important, no matter how difficult it is.
I am suggesting that adding an element of fun can help your traumatized insiders move forward from the traumatic places where they are stuck.
Making your inside worlds and outside worlds more liveable is important. It is essential to create new rules, — your very own rules — not carried onward from the past, but your very own personal rules created now, in the present.
Part of your new rules could be that fun can be allowed now.
Most of you have probably been seeing the avalanche of Halloween decorations everywhere. Many of these are scary, upsetting, and triggering. It’s hard to avoid and the gruesome masks and gory pokes at “scary fun” are not so funny.
What can you do as something new?
Find something about the Halloween season that you and your insiders can play with and turn a yucky thing into a Corrective Emotional Experience. That’s where you get to do something new and different, so it has a positive outcome THIS time, instead of the negative outcome you might be used to.
What about pumpkins?
Pumpkins are everywhere at this time of year.
Pumpkins are a common symbol of Halloween and the autumn season but pumpkins haven’t necessary been used as frequently in ritual traumas. I’m sure this isn’t the case for everyone, and the idea of making a pumpkin fun might not be a workable option for all of you.
Hopefully you can take this idea, and instead of using pumpkins, use a different theme.
I’ve done a little searching for pumpkin crafts. Have a look at some of the pumpkins I’ve found.
Look for something that can be fun for your child parts. The goal is to let them enjoy more in life.
We aren’t likely ever able to remove Halloween from happening out there in the world, so attach something you can enjoy to the tie period.
Do you like arts and crafts?
Do you enjoy making something pretty to look at?
Do you want a grown-up design that adds elegance and beauty to your day?
Do you enjoy baking?
What about making pumpkin bread or pumpkin muffins?
Do you want something funny that makes your internal kids smile and giggle?
Do you like polka dots?
Do you have a cat or kitten or puppy?
How about remembering your loved ones in a fun way, and draw their faces on your pumpkins or squashes or any fruit?
How about taking a different “fun thing” and overlaying onto a more sensitive object?
What about making faces that represent your insiders?
How many people in your system would be willing to front up in this idea?
I hope these ideas give you something to consider.
Try making Halloween something less scary this year by focusing on new, creative experiences. Give your kids something to enjoy, instead of a fright, or a trauma.
As you build more positive memories, and as you work hard to change the current day to something positive instead of negative, you can to help everyone in your system to feel safe. Your system people will need to learn what safe feels like — this will be a new experience for them. They are far too used to fear and trauma. A huge part of your healing process is letting them have positive experiences, over and over again. They need repeated new experiences and learning opportunities to become familiar with fun and safety.
Creating these Corrective Emotional Experiences not only gives your insiders positive new memories to enjoy, they also create a further distance in time between when it was bad, to now it can be okay. The further removed your insiders feel from danger, the safer they will feel.
So how about it? Are you gonna break the cycle of repeated abuse memories with something fun, creative, entertaining, and delightful?
I wish you the best in your healing journey, especially with a fun pumpkin.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation