Emotional support is definitely needed by dissociative trauma survivors.
So….. what is emotional support?
I often get emails and questions from friends – partners – spouses of dissociative trauma survivors. These loved ones are often unsure about how to best support their partner amidst all the darkness.
These are the partners who care. But they don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to help.
What suggestions and ideas would you give?
Recently, Aaron Golub has given me some great ideas to share here on Discussing Dissociation.
Aaron is long-term advocate for dissociative community.
Aaron is also a dissociative survivor.
In Aaron’s words:
“We were support friends and advocates for more than 18 years long before we knew we were DID. We know what it’s like to love someone who is suffering and feeling helpless when they are in pain. While trauma based multiplicity is a complex subject here are a few simple lessons we’ve learned along the way”
Now, I’ve never met Aaron.
I don’t know where he lives. I don’t know where he comes from. I don’t know what he looks like. I really know nothing at all about Aaron or his system.
However, I have to assume that Aaron knows a fair bit about healing. I can tell by the ideas shared with me that not only does he know what is needed by dissociative survivors, he also knows how to offer emotional support, caring, and kindness.
According to Aaron Golub, to offer effective emotional support for dissociative trauma survivors, the support person should consider these five principles:
Is most important when befriending with someone with DID. This means keeping your promises, admitting your mistakes and doing what you say you’re going to do.
There are many books on multiplicity readily available on Amazon in addition to hundreds of DID sites and advocacy resources available via the internet. While we’re all different, the more you read the better understanding you’ll develop.
3) Open Mindedness
We’re all unique in our adaptation to extreme trauma. Reading Sybil, Rabbit, or other popular books on multiplicity may be helpful but many multiples are nothing like them. It’s unfortunate that the most successful multiple is often unknown. [Referring to Herschel Walker.]
We may never fully know what our friend successfully endured but expressing a genuine love and concern will go a long way. We’ll also need to develop compassion for ourselves when hearing of very disturbing aspects of the abuse they survived.
5) Having a sense of humor – fun
This is a big part of my healing. We all need to laugh more, experience more joy and happiness. It’s actually healing on a spiritual/psychological level to experience genuine happiness and joy as a part of our recovery.
Thanks, Aaron, for sharing that. I absolutely agree with you.
I’ll share some of my thoughts on these topics as well.
Why is Consistency Important?
Consistency is important because it offers a sense of safety, of stability, of clarity, of knowing what to expected.
Dissociative trauma survivors have had years of chaos, conflict, and being pulled to extremes. All too often, their family members were already black or white, this or that, flip-flopping without notice between one demand to the very opposite demand.
Part of the very need to split in the first place is due to having to balance extreme and opposite demands at the same time.
The child survivor learned to switch themselves as well. They had to flip flop back and forth to match whatever inconsistent and extreme behavior or presentation was needed at the time of their trauma.
- How do children live with a parent who is both their provider / care-taker and their violent abuser / perpetrator?
- How do children deal with a parent who is saying “I love you” while physically hurting them?
- How do children manage with an alcoholic parent who is a slobbering, slurring, dysfunctional, emotional mess who at the same time, expects and demands perfection and complete emotional containment from the children living in distress?
- How do children deal with parents who have one set of rules and expectations for daytime, and a completely opposite set of rules and expectations for night time?
Having consistency – keeping your word, staying the same, being who you say you will be, following up with your promises – allows the survivor to know what to expect, and lets them see you as the same you over the spans of time.
Consistency also allows you to help build a solid foundation. It takes away the scary wobbly bits and gives your DID person solid footing. Consistency feels much safer, and much easier to manage. It is much more predictable, much more reliable, and therefore, far more trustworthy.
Why is Learning Important?
Learning is important because there is genuinely a whole lot to learn.
Plus, a lot of damage can occur by well-meaning people who have little knowledge about how to manage dissociation properly.
- Do not insist that a dissociative trauma survivor integrates tomorrow, especially when they just met their system yesterday.
- Do not call a dissociative insider a “demon”.
- Do not try to “pray away” the insiders from existence.
- When an insider finally gathers the courage to speak with you, do not ignore them or refuse to speak to them because they are not “the real person”.
To support dissociative folks adequately, you will need to learn what Dissociative Identity Disorder looks like. You will need to learn what is normal and typical for DID, and you will need to know what to expect. Knowing the path helps everyone, and reduces unneeded blame and painful misunderstandings.
Don’t expect your DID friend to be able to put all the complexities into words. They are still figuring it out themselves, and there is no need to re-invent the wheel. There are already plenty of good and helpful resources available, so jump on in and learn. For that matter, start here. There are hundreds of articles about Dissociative Identity Disorder here, and thousands of comments. If you read every page and every comment on this blog, you will have gained a LOT of valuable insight into DID.
I dare say, that if your loved one became ill with myeloproliferative neoplasms, you would do a little research and study to figure out what that was, and how to help it.
You wouldn’t expect your loved one to explain to you all the details about myeloproliferative neoplasms. You would naturally get information from the experts, and from other survivors of the disease who knew more about it.
Dissociation and DID is no different.
Learn about it. KNOW what to expect. The more informed you are, the better prepared you are, the better support you can be, and the less chaos, stress, and conflict there will be for everyone.
Why is Open-Mindedness Important?
DID survivors had to face the most extreme circumstances in their lives when they had the fewest resources or assistance. With no help and no guidance, they had to find the strength and ingenuity to live through the unthinkable, the unfathomable, the most mind-bogging of situations.
DID survivors had to open their minds and get incredibly creative just to manage every horrifying minute-by-minute.
And they did it. They survived. They stayed sane. They stayed alive.
They used an open mind. Their creativity, strength, and internal resources are absolutely incredible.
They created the internal system they needed to get through their trauma.
They didn’t create “extras” for no reason.
They didn’t create a full system just because it was fun to split apart.
They created their system based on who they needed to survive the trauma and atrocities they were facing at the time.
Whoever is in the system is who was needed at the time. Don’t judge your DID person for having such a wide variety of inner people — they needed every single one of them. Congratulate your DID person for being so amazingly strong, capable, resourceful, and able to get through all that they had to face.
Aaron is right in saying that all dissociative trauma survivors are not the same as who you read about in Sybil, or who you see portrayed in the movies.
Get to know YOUR DID person as who they are, unique to themselves. Understand they survived a crazy mix of cruelties that were again, unique to their own life. Other folks may have survived similar atrocities, but your DID person will have had their own life, their own family, their own perpetrators, their own story.
Their system was built around their own unique experiences, and won’t be the same as anyone else.
Why is Compassion Important?
Compassion and comfort are two giant elements of what was desperately missing from the trauma experiences which led to the need for splitting in the first place.
Typically, for most dissociative trauma survivors, there was no help. They were alone in their pain. There was no guidance. No way out. No assistance. No protection. No rescuer.
And then, even after managing to live through the violence, there was no comfort. No reassurance. No support. No gentleness. No correcting the wrongs.
Dissociative survivors had to survive both the trauma alone, and the aftermath of the trauma alone.
Ouch, then double ouch.
Offering compassion and comfort is one of the most healing experiences a DID survivor can have. Having the opportunity to have someone share the pain, and sit with them, listen to them, understand them, and still feel positively towards them is an incredible experience of healing.
Not blaming your DID person for what their abusers did to them is also a critical learning part for the supporting person. Your DID person learned how to live with abusers and perpetrators. Their behavior, thoughts, and feelings are directly connected with what they learned while needing to comply with, endure, and tolerate excessive violence and abuse.
Your DID person CAN learn how to live with non-abusive people, and this requires a whole new set of skills.
Do remember, this is a learning process for the survivor as well, and your patience and understanding will help you both reach the goal of having a good, healthy relationship together.
Why is Having Fun and Good-Humor Important?
When your life has been filled to the brim and beyond with pain, torture, trauma, and heartbreak, having FUN is an incredible breath of fresh air.
Having the opportunity to enjoy life, to be silly, to let loose, to giggle, and feel free is incredible.
After all, these are some of the best feelings in life, and don’t we ALL feel good after we have a good laugh!
Another advantage to having a genuinely good time filled with fun is that it helps to accentuate the difference between you, the support person and them, the perpetrators. Yes, you will have to keep proving you are different, and what better way to go about that than having positive experiences together.
Building your bond of friendship – a heartfelt connection – can only be increased in strength by having fun together.
Go play! Swim at the beach. Play checkers. Dance to fun music. Watch funny shows on TV. Explore on adventure walks. Cook silly foods. Snack on new treats. Look for new experiences that are fun and can teach your DID person that there are good things that happen in life.
Your DID person is a beautiful person — this is why you care for them in the first place. Find ways to understand what has happened for them, so that your relationship can grow.
And thank you for walking alongside them as they heal their hurts, and for helping to make a difference our world. Thank you for joining in with the team of helpers, and for working to overcome the hurters.
As a support person, you can and will absolutely make all the difference in the world to your DID person.
If you have any thoughts or questions, be sure to post them in the Comment section. It would be great to hear from you too.
An additional DID Support Resource
Even with a fantastic personal support friend or partner or spouse, many DID survivors will also need quality peer support from those who are sitting in the same boat.
I am happy to remind you that the Discussing Dissociation Community Support Forum is available for dissociative trauma survivors willing to offer friendly peer support to each other.
DID peer support should also include these same values — consistency, learning, open-mindedness, compassion, and sense of humor.
Our group of Community Forum Members are able to demonstrate those qualities, and the Forum is open, available, reachable, all day, every day. Yes, any day of the year, any time of day, you can get gentle support, friendship, and safe comradery related to dissociative issues when you participate in the Discussing Dissociation Community Forum.
If you are interested in learning more about both giving and receiving support for DID survivors, click HERE for more information.
The healing process for dissociative trauma survivors is long, painful, difficult, and complicated. You do not have to travel that road by yourself. I encourage to both get, and give, as much helpful support as you can along the way.
As always, I wish you the very best on your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2022 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
We were thrown into a situation the other day…a team of 2 came to help and “I” had to be in charge of them for 4 days – lining them up with work ….(only “2” – but it felt “overwhelming” to us)…..Although I felt very “disconnected” the whole time and the “pressure” caused our voice to shut down on the 3rd day – somehow we kept doing what we were “supposed to do” – writing out instructions….Those 2 gave a GOOD report to Boss about my “leadership” skills (??? Didn’t they see me unable to talk on Day 3????)….Boss told me several times how TOTALLY surprised he was at such a good report – he thought there would be problems……NOW he thinks I am “all fixed” and should be able to do whatever….(Problem is – I was disconnected and can’t figure out what I did to get a “good report”….I was emotionally exhausted after the 4 days….)
What do you do when a “part” steps up to help you do what you are too overwhelmed to do – and then you are expected to always “BE like that”????? I feel “bouncy” a lot….HOW do you maintain “stability” in such a part and have it function “smoothly” WHENEVER you need it to…..???? Why can’t THAT “part” ALWAYS be “me”?……But, for some reason, THAT thought causes a LOT of Inside chaos…..I don’t even know who “me” is anymore…….
This is probably not the “spot” to ask that question….but I don’t know where it would be right now…..
I know….I know…..I am TRYING to get the “parts” to have “new” jobs….but that is like putting the cart before the horse when I am still learning to acknowledge that they even “exist” and WHO they even are…..The not “knowing” WHY they are even there still scares me…..Flashes and “waves” hit with no “brain” understanding – creating even more confusion….When there is more on-going triggering we “see” a “wheel (circle?) within a larger wheel (circle?)” – the inside wheel spinning in one direction and the outer ring of the other one spinning in the opposite direction….the conflict causing our “Inside brain” to “collapse”….It even overwhelms our “Outside brain”……..What does someone do with THAT?!!!….What does it even MEAN?…..We wish we had answers….
One time Boss said something about us getting a “Life Coach”….but from what we have heard it seems to focus on “behavior modification” and by-passes what would be “acknowledgement of and respect for parts” – which feels critical for us…….We are afraid to try to go in that direction – afraid of even more Internal havoc due to “not being seen or heard”……and then we would just be considered “obstinate and un-cooperative” ….Somehow or another – we feel like we have ended up in some weird “no-man’s land”….not knowing where we would fit in…It also “feels” like there would be a large measure of “shame” attached to needing a “Life Coach” at 65……I MUST have been functioning well enough to get THIS far!?…….
Have I tried to find a “part” who can do ALL the Outside work and block everybody else off? Yeah – that is how we have managed to still be here after 4 1/2 years…but there is so much triggering and bubbling going on now that Outside Her is getting worn out…Inside “pressure” can get pretty bad sometimes…
Do Life Coaches understand aspects of dissociation and PTSD?…..If anybody has ever worked with a Life Coach and can give me a better perspective of them than what I currently have – PLEASE let me know……making myself “vulnerable” to someone who only has a “surface” focus can be really hard on us…..
I have reached out to various people throughout my job….they start out “compassionate or empathetic” and then we watch them put up walls…..I guess they are afraid we will expect them to “fix” us, or we will be too “needy”, or they don’t want to get “involved” in our problems, etc…..but then they say we “imagine” stuff, too…..so we don’t know WHAT is going on…..We just know that they don’t feel “safe” to us anymore…..But maybe we are “wrong” in THAT, too…..Who knows……
Sorry….once again…..for spewing all this….It is part of our blunt processing – seeing where we are at…..T is away on vacation and unreachable……We don’t want to completely collapse while she is away…..we have to prove to ourselves we can find a way through “life” without her – but, we HAVE to get this out somewhere….writing it to just “ourself” doesn’t work for us…..this blog is the only really “safe” place we know – a place where there is someone – somewhere – who “understands” us…
This is the 4th of July – Freedom Day……we hope one day we will get to “feel” it……..
Not sure just WHAT kind of support it is that we need….bottomed out at work again yesterday…. sigh….We had been suddenly temporarily transferred to work in a different school with different people which REALLY threw us “off-balance” and sent parts into hyper-vigilance mode….We have explained before that some of our “stuff” has “autistic-type” tendencies (I guess that would be an “acceptable” term – definitely NOT “parts”) – but they keep forgetting…..Sudden change in routine and schedule throws us….leaves us feeling really scattered and overwhelmed and if Outsiders aren’t careful, they can completely overwhelm us with their “expectations and demands” (which THEY think are totally reasonable)…. And we end up snowballing bad…which, of course, they don’t understand why we are acting so “weird”….Change requires varying amounts of time to get “everybody” Inside at least somewhere on the same page with it…SUDDEN change can wreak havoc Inside……
Our boss told us one time that we would probably be in the category of “disabled” and that would help “protect” us in our job….(but the “parts” really HATE that word….they are NOT “disabled” – they do their jobs extremely well)…..Soooo…if we are so “protected” – why do we feel SO alone and vulnerable at work….Why do we not feel “understood”….Why do we feel so ASHAMED of struggling through a trigger episode and have no way to explain anything….Because we know that in spite of the “Disability Act” – we feel like it would just put a bulls-eye on us for potential dismissal because we can’t “sufficiently perform our job duties”…..(Just one of a multitude of internal conflicts….).
Boss told us one time that because of our “disability” he had in mind a “support team” for us….I have yet to see it after several years….the one person he suggested for it he also said would probably not work for us because she had a strong personality and would not put up with “BS”….we said, “No, thanks – not her….she would put us in the “BS” category”……He laughed, didn’t push it, and has suggested no one else – even though we have asked him several times….We have tried at times to find our own “person”….but the eventual “looks” on their faces scared us away….So, I guess we have a “team” somewhere – but they are still invisible to us…..
I am not officially “disabled”….I would not qualify for “disability income”……I just have sporatic episodes of intense PTSD triggers that cause me trouble with funtioning…..I HAVE to work or we will lose everything we have….and hubby would NOT be happy with me with that…..
How unjust it feels….I work in a school district that promotes “Trauma Informed” schools…But it is ALL geared to kids – NOT employees…..Teachers are being trained for signs of it in kids and have set up “Safe Place” boxes and areas for kids who are struggling….yet I am standing right there and no one “sees” me…..I broke down one day and told the principal in my school of my PTSD because I was afraid he would hear “grapevine” stories about me and get the wrong info….I tried to make him aware of the level of my “problem” by saying, “You know that “Safe Place” box set up for (student’s name)? Sometimes when I am cleaning, I wish I could crawl in there for a little bit to see what “safe” feels like”……The look on his face had me reassuring him that I was NOT a potential “danger” to any of the kids…(the kids are the same age range as those in my old “flashes”)…I talked to one of the kids’ counselors a tiny bit one time and borrowed a kids’s book to read….Another one patted me on the shoulder after my 3 sentence vulnerable spiel…that was the last of both directions….I am VERY aware that I cannot infringe upon their time or resources because theyr are there for the kids – NOT the employees….
If I needed help, I needed to go to HR or Employee Assistance through insurance….problem is – I am afraid of HR and Employee Assistance is far too “off-site”, short-term, and “shallow”….I needed someone I could SEE……At work, I feel like I am a “thirst-ravaged” desert traveller who helps provide water for others but am not allowed any for myself…and no one sees that I am “collapsing” from thirst….thirst to be “seen”, to be “heard”, to be “understood”…..
I believe that businesses with large numbers of employees should have a department that is separate from HR….that could “stand beside” and be a support to people like me who HAVE to keep working because they don’t qualify for Disability Income – but DO struggle with “mental health” situations….a department of people who aren’t “afraid” of us, who understand the “ins and outs” of PTSD episodes….If I am in a an episode, being aware of even ONE person who might understand what is happening to me helps lessen the fear that comes with feeling “out of control” and extremely “vulnerable”……There is a roving Counselor who will travel between schools to help out a “bottoming out kid”…..where is the one for employees?…….If I am SUPPOSED to have it “all-together” because we have an “adult” body – then I have failed in that as well…….
Maybe I am just a BIG “dreamer”……
The picture of the eggs with the faces is actually something us Pilgrim People came up with many years ago. We had never seen anything like that before and a couple years after it was posted on my forum, pictures of those eggs started appearing everywhere. It started with using plastic Easter eggs, and drawing a face on them of varying emotions. And then inside the egg, we put slips of paper with ideas of how to appropriately handle that feeling. Like for the angry face, one of the ideas was to “throw raw eggs at a tree.”…. which Egg Projectile Therapy became a big thing on the internet also (which we invented as well). Good memories, seeing that photo. We were quite creative back in the day.
Sigh….confusion…..one person finally responded – but said she was NOT upset….apologized for any “confusion or misunderstanding”…..so WHY did THAT throw me into confusion?……Why do i keep having flashes of the “waves” coming from her – the “look” on her face….her eyes….???…..Was I totally wrong in what I “thought” I sensed from her?…What I “saw”?….. Was it all just the past superimposed on the present again?…..
Insiders are on edge – watching to see which way I will go….If I say that what I “saw” was TRUE – then I am basically calling that lady a “liar” – NOT GOOD…….If I say that I “saw” WRONG and agree with her that she was NOT upset – then Insiders will be in upheaval and Rage will glare at me (for starters)……
How do I know which one is “right”? If I shut down and ignore “triggers” – then I am turning a deaf ear to the parts….NOT good….but if I agree with the parts – it causes more conflict in my Outside life…..
There MUST be a way through this maze….guess that is why it is called “The Twilight Zone”…….
Give it time, the more support you have, the quicker you’ll heal.
Thank you Aaron…..I am here at 2:00 AM – I woke up with a panic attack about having to meet with Boss today for evaluation…..parts are in chaos – running – at least here I can’t see people “mad” at me – IF anybody is….. 🙂 ….hopefully not – because I think a lot of us here are in the same type of boat……as sad as that is…….
You should do something fun afterwards, reward yourself. Best of luck with the evaluation.
Thanks Aaron! According to his words I am a “great” employee…but his actions indicate otherwise…..I bottomed out bad a couple days ago from so much turmoil and triggerings these last weeks….my T put in a several day “medical leave” request to him to give her more time to help me stabilize…. early the next morning he texted me wanting to know “what I wanted” so I could get back to work right away…(he previously told me I should be “done” with my “stuff” by now – if I am not – then I am to “act” like it) ….
I have TONS of vacation and sick hours due me – but he wants me back right away…..but it is NOT my problem that he approved too many other people their week long vacations at the same time…..he can somehow ignore an official medical leave request and pressure me to get back to get him out of the jam he created…..go figure….unless I am hospitalized – he knows I will “submit” and “obey”….
Something fun? I DID plant a few little strawberry plants – teeny berries are actually forming! And I have a totally “brown” thumb!…Yay! – we will get to eat 10 strawberries if they keep surviving! 🙂
That’s great to hear! Your boss sounds like an asshole. We need supportive people around us to heal more quickly. Demanding, insensitive people only make life more difficult. I hope you find a work environment were you’re appreciated.
Glad the gardening worked out. There’s actually a bacteria in soil that that acts as a mood stabilizer and helps the body to produce endorphins.
Watering my few little plants DOES help! Seeing something still grow when I really don’t know what I am doing gives me hope that things will work out on my end as well!… 🙂 In the recent times of processing and talking to my sister a lot – we are pretty sure some puzzle pieces are coming together…at least enough to understand maybe why the work situations are SO, SO triggering for me…..Now I am trying to work on having a “dividing line” in place so when the work triggers hit I won’t be battling so much fear coming from the past…Dreams and “flashes” sure do help in times like this….. 🙂 Thanks, Aaron!
I found that choosing things when I don’t have to that are slightly stressful helps managing triggers.
I’ve been teaching yoga for a while and it’s helpful with managing body memories. Even putting dishes away when I don’t want too and doing chores gives me more strength when I’m triggered.
Yeah – that is how it is at work….when triggered we push through with keeping on working…..we have a river of flashes of running out the door, SI helping out, driving til we run out of gas and then sitting there til we die, and on and on….but our body keeps working…..really makes us feel like we are trying to live in two worlds at once…..both are so intense we don’t know which one is the “real” one……
But a lot of the source of the triggering may be solved now…..we just got notice that our boss is moving us to a building where we will be working completely alone….NO co-worker triggering us….
We are trying to settle down some chaos with that….some parts are OK with it….some are panicking – not sure WHY he is doing that….Because he is trying to “help” us?….or does he think we have so many “mental issues” he is tired of it all and is putting us off to ourself?…..We are TRYING to go with him “helping” us…..but too many parts have been “burned” big time by him – so they just aren’t sure if they can trust him and be “safe” around him……
We will get there….a bit scary working in an old building by yourself late at night….we seem to be super-sensitive to some stuff….We will have to work on that one…….
I have been trying to find a spot to say this….guess people “hearing” you would be under “compassion”…..I went all Twilight Zoney at work….a groups of Insiders suddenly stepped up to help me out of a jam…..I was being peppered with questions about a job situation that I didn’t know how to answer….they were crucial questions that required sensitive answers that would keep me out of trouble…..
I went disconnected and Twilight Zoney – Insiders were giving me their answers – but I didn’t know which one was “right”….I was being grilled by Outside questions that were coming way too fast for me…. I don’t know what came out of my mouth – but it must have been all wrong……
People are mad at me….I have tried to reach out to several to find out what happened….what did “I” say?….but they refuse to respond…..I can not get any answers and they are definitely not “safe” enough for me to try to explain what was happening on my end……The day before (ALL DAY) I was fighting triggers and flashbacks….bad enough that my mouth – my voice – shut down and I had to write answers to questions at work….The next day I “sounded” better – but they had no idea of the “disconnect” I was still in……
It used to be that if I was struggling – my whole body showed it (shaking, lock up, etc) and people left me alone to recover…..but now my body keeps moving….I keep working…..but the Inside level of turmoil is still intense. The only thing that is obvious is that my “voice” sometimes locks up and it is very hard for me to focus on Outside stuff….to remember what it is I am to do next……people don’t remember that I still have times of intense struggle even if my body isn’t literally showing it…..THAT type of progress sure doesn’t feel like “progress”……It puts me in a worse bind…..
Again….I have no “voice”…..I am not being “heard”……I have no direction to turn for help……no one will listen to me….Am feeling extremely vulnerable….unsafe…..don’t know what is going to happen next…..it is part of a particular “flashback”……ALL of it is VERY triggering for me…….
The Insider group is standing there blinking at me – they don’t know what they did “wrong” – their questions have questions……Rage is livid that it is happening again and no one will hear me……SI is stirring – trying to step up to help……parts are wanting to run……But I am stuck in the middle of it all…..which direction is right?…..which one do I pick?…….
And no one sees my agony…..they are too busy being mad at me…they are sick of my “problems”….. tomorrow I will have to walk into the middle of a storm with no protection…..All this may have cost me my job….
No voice….No one to hear me….it is a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE feeling……
Clancey Jane says
I have an iPad and have all sorts of games, books, and art apps for my insiders…. I let them pick out which app might appeal to someone. If someone likes it we keep it and when we grow tired of it we find something else.
Before my iPad I would go to the library and get huge National Geographic books they liked just to look at the pictures. (Any book really)
Hope that helps
Camille Werner says
One of our younger peeps (about 10 or 11) asked what the point of play is. The youngest of our four (biological) children are 14 and 11 and they both still play. They play alone and they play with other kids. So our insiders have been watching this. But I was struck by the question. Aside from scientific reasons for play (learning how to get along with others, importance of using our imagination, building skills) and the idea that we play just because that’s what kids do…I couldn’t come up with a good answer. She doesn’t think playing is “fun” mostly because she doesn’t understand the point of it. She is too afraid to be in the body much, but when she is, she doesn’t think doing the things our kids do, is something she’d want to do. But we haven’t figured out many things she would enjoy. Part of that is all the fear she still experiences. So we’re working on it. She did pop out at the zoo one time when there was no one else around and got to pet and feed the goats. But that’s been about the only thing.
I guess this isn’t really a question, just an observation. As important play and fun are for kids and adults alike, it’s important to figure out how to “teach” play to insiders who never experienced it.
I am so different. I don’t want to accept that I have DID. I don’t want to get to know my parts… I don’t want to know anything new about us. I’m frustrated by it all. I want to numb out!
My name is Jessie and I’m only 10. Iam a so called DID part. Let me tell you something about DID is for discovering individuals deep-within, Don’t inject doubt, and Determined internal individuals. When I’m feeling like I can’t take the way I feel I read this sort.
My many colored days by Dr. Seuss
Some days are yellow. Some days or blue. On different days and different too.
You’d be surprised how many ways I change a different color days.
On bright red days how good it feels to be a horse and kicking my heels!
On other days I’m other things. On bright blue days I flat my wings.
Some days of course, feel sort of brown. Then I feel slow and low low down.
Then comes a yellow day. And, weeeeee Iam a busy, buzzy bee.
Gray day… . Everything is gray. I watch. But nothing moves today.
Then all the sudden I am a circus Seal! I’m right orange day that’s how I feel.
Green days. Deep deep in the sea. Cool and quiet fish. That is me.
I am purple days I’m sad. I grown. I drive my tail. I walk alone.
When my days are happy pink it’s great to Jan and just nothing.
Then comes my black days. Mad and loud. I howl. I growl ar every cloud.
Then comes a mixed up day. And where! I don’t know who or what I am
But it all turns out all right you see. And I go back to being… Me
that be 1 of are fafrit books. my many colord days. it got such good pisrs
we even did a art projic on it wons
I could feel a sigh of recognition flow through our community here reading your posting. You are unique (that is for sure) and then there are some core feelings that we all (or most of us it would seem) share. Jessie has offered a brilliant response. I am printing that one out for myself (a big shout out and thank you Jessie).
So, I am assuming that things have not been going smoothly in your life Linda to have sought some understanding of what is happening and why – leading to a diagnosis of DID. Frankly, a diagnosis of DID is not an easy one to accept. It brings a huge amount of painful baggage and work along with it. We certainly seem to deal mostly with that aspect of our multiple lives here on the DD website. But, there are big positives as well Linda although that may be really hard to see right now.
No one here is going to tell you that you “have” to accept your DID diagnosis. What we will tell you is that, it will make life harder and easier at the same time. The harder is learning who your system is and why they are there. That takes time, energy, and a whole lot of work. The easier comes with time as you start to understand why you are the way that you are can begin to build co-consciousness and cooperation with your insiders. That makes life a whole lot easier and manageable. Then you can start to heal and that feels infinitely better than holding on to the pain of trauma.
If I may make a suggestion, maybe right now you can just do a little more reading about DID so you can may get more comfortable with your diagnosis. Some Kathy articles that may help at this point to get you started (if you have not already discovered them):
Progress Made while Reading about DID at Discussing Dissociation
10 Steps for Doing Healing Work with Your DID System
Internal Communication is Critical
Building DID Emotional Support and Inspiration
Examples of Successful Progress in the DID Healing Process
10 Benefits of Being Multiple
Compassion is an utterly terrifying concept. It means acknowledging there is a reason compassion is needed. It means someone knows where the bruises are and later on they might beat those places up even more. Or use the information to cause more damage. Compassion is complex and risky.
Hi Wren. Yes, compassion is a terrifying concept on so many different levels. For me it is about feeling that I deserve compassion in the first place. The messages have been about tearing me down, not building me up. So, I sometimes wonder just what compassion feels like. And then when I am shown compassion, I find it so very hard to take in and accept. Compassion can also feel like you are needing to be vulnerable (i.e., opening up to others so that they can understand the depth of your need for compassion). WOW … that is terrifying. We have to be super careful about who we open up to because not everyone is safe. This is especially true when we are first getting to know our DID selves and starting to heal and build our resources. That really is a “proceed with caution” activity. That is why this forum is so important. You can be safe here. This is a good place to practice both being open and vulnerable as well as learning to take in compassion. Finally, for me it is also about finding compassion for myself. I cannot blame everyone else for beating me up because I am really good at beating myself up too. I can really get trapped into feelings of shame, humiliation, worthlessness, stupidity, self-blame, etc. WOW, I can really be hard on myself sometimes and some of my alters are very good at the participatory sport of kicking ME+WE when we are down and vulnerable … well, you know what I mean I am sure. So, I really have to work on being kind and compassionate to myself and my alters. Not an easy task sometimes. But, I believe that this old dog still has a lot of tricks she can learn.
Great post Kathy and Aaron (by proxy). Bang on. Education is key but make sure that the sources of information are trustworthy and accurate. That is why this portal to information and discussion is so VITAL. Because we can trust that what we are reading here. There is a LOT of BAD information out there. Be careful.
Building trust (which was destroyed for all of us at a young age) is so key here. That comes with education through mutual learning (understanding the basic parameters of DID while understanding that everyone’s system is unique), consistency (knowing that we can count of our supporters even when we are in our darkest places), open mindedness (not shutting the door on any of our insiders), compassion (even when we have a hard time taking that in because most of us have not known compassion, at least, of a healthy kind) and fun (oh yes fun). These are principles for us DID folks as well as our supporters.
I would like to add boundaries. We need clear boundaries. It is hard when you have had your boundaries so viciously violated to even know that you are entitled to boundaries. But we have to learn about boundaries that do not shut others out but rather keep all of us safe. Boundaries are good when they are not walls but clear lines in the sand that state where we are, what we need/want from others and what is and is not acceptable to us. It is important to set these boundaries in an open, honest discussion with our supporters. And, remember that this is a three way dialogue where our supporters should voice their boundaries with us, we establish our boundaries with them and we establish our boundaries with our insiders as well.
Boundaries are important as are our personal choices for what we feel is best for ourselves. I wanted to share some general guidelines for what I’ve found personally helpful without making this determination for others.
Aaron Golub says
Thanks for posting the guidelines I wrote when I newly discovered I had DID. I love your commentary and supportive insights. There’s a tremendous amount of support within the DID Community and I want others to know that. It’s simply a matter of learning to organize through developing self trust.
I’d share my Facebook page so that I’ll be less of a mystery to you and your readers. I’m an admin on several DID groups and I come from a background of ritual abuse. https://www.facebook.com/aaron.golub.7 feel free to add me and share this publicly if you feel it may be helpful. 🙂
Keep up the great work!
About to travel halfway around the world to visit my son and his family and this post really speaks to me. When I first told him about my DID diagnosis and what it was like, “He declared, what like on TV, the United State of Tara” But he has now accepted me and recognises why I appeared to be inconsistent, incongruent at times when he was growing up. I hope to think it’s brought us even closer but will suggest he reads this post when I visit, as we have never really talked about my condition.And these points are very helpful.
i just want to be noticed,
to be acknowledged.
to not be ignored.
i know its mostly my fault. i havent had any sort of relationship with the outside in almost two years. i dont know id i ever will again. i will never trust anyone again. but sometimes, it would be so nice, if someone would just notice us. like we wanted back then. like wonder, why is that girl always have tears in her eyes during yoga? why does that person never talk? how come that little girl hides all the time?
but those things are my fault.
but still.. it would be so nice to not feel so alone. sometimes. it would be nice to not have to look at the outside world through a thick piece of glass, and feel like a part of it again. sometimes.
im not making sense. i need to shut up, and stop wishing for things i dont deserve.
i wish we had support at our house.
we get so lonely. that man we love with he dont care. he supposed to know all about DID. he even worked in a DId unit. but he doesnt like us.
They all sound such nice things. It makes us so sad. Our T is the best person we know, but only I can talk to her. My others do not feel welcome. there are a consistent few who often come to the session. There’s a book in the waiting room they like, and some would like to just sit with her a bit, but as soon as she comes to get me they freeze and I can feel them retreating as we go up the stairs. There’s only a few sessions left before we have to stop, and there is so much left – memories and triggers and pain everywhere. I don’t know what to do, it is so so hard to trust that by the time we do and everyone is at least in the same chapter the time is ran out or I have been labelled as a bad patient who doesn’t want to get better. Thinking about nice things hurts way too much. Easier to think we deserve what we get and get what we deserve. People go through much worse than we did – we shouldn’t be ‘we’ at all. When I tried to say, got put on antipsychotics and told the voices aren’t real, youre academically capable you should know better so what’s your problem? People don’t believe – about any of it, the reasons why or the consequences. We have nowhere to be and I am constantly ashamed.
All the Jill People says
Acceptance is important. It may fall into the a category above. Been recently hurt because someone did not accept that we are we.
When people just see one body, they treat us like that. Sometimes things get communicated in our system sometimes not. We need things repeated at times so that that part can understand. It isn’t that we are forgetful. It’s only because someone inside didn’t understand.
People get so short with us. We need lots of understanding and acceptance that we are where we are in that moment.
In our multiple issues we can be a good asset to others. Please understand that people have difficult days. We have them on multiple levels.
Accept that the moment will pass. Be sure to address what is going on now. We need you to know that if we are having a difficult time, we need your support.
Ask a lot of questions. We would rather you ask than assume.
Thanks so much for this article! As someone with DID I agree that these qualities make such a huge difference. I think I will use this as a checklist when considering whether to tell someone about our system or not. I think these qualities are also good to further develop in myself personally so that I can be a good system mate to our others and a good friends to outside people.
Thanks for sharing❤️
This post brings up a lot of stuff for us… Our most stable people in our life were our T before she gave us 1 weeks notice and abruptly left…it has destroyed us for 4 years. We are only now picking up the pieces, we loved her, saw her every week sometimes 2x a week, she understood us, let us explore ourselves, taught us stuff, and actually legitimately cared about each and every one of us. She did all of those things with us esp the learning part as she was only freshly graduated when we started seeing her. She put the time and effort in and even proved herself worthy to the most traumatized, angry hardened alters. We achieved more in the 2 yrs with her than with any of our other previous quacks of shrinks or psychologists. We still miss her to this day and of course the little’s struggle with the concept of consistency now as a result of her leaving. She said she wasn’t going anywhere only a week before she left, so naturally, now when people say things like that, we tend not to believe them.
Our husband is our rock now. Always has been, but is even moreso now we are totally alone without a T. He is our best friend in the entire universe and we thank the universe everyday of our life that he’s ours. He does each and every one of those 5 things in the list and more. We wouldn’t be here without him and he’s a funny guy which is just icing on the cake.
I really liked this post because it reminds us of what we have in him and in our friends too. Some, not all of them are very supportive and some have a lot of learning to do. They still think we will hurt their babies and are going to kill them in their sleep… (it hurt a lot when she said that- our best friend of 17 yrs)
But we are grateful to understand the things we need to look for in new people we accept into our life. We aren’t going to just accept anyone anymore. Especially other DIDians and survivors whom we have come to learn to be extremely cautious around.
We need these 5 things to survive and there’s no shame in being sure certain people are capable of giving those things. If they aren’t there’s nothing lost, we just send them on their way with love and kindness.
Great post, i really got a lot out of this one. Thanks.
A psychiatrist told us and we needed an exorcism to cure us – we were all demons.
Kathy Broady MSW says
That psychiatrist was not accurate about that, Lynn. Y’all are not demons. Obviously that particular person hasn’t yet done enough study in the areas of trauma and dissociation.
Discard that, and move on to someone more qualified.
We told our psychologist once we are very unstable (lots of swiching and lost time) but consistent (same pictures, same confusion same things believed) but it seems singletons are very inconsistent which only increases our confusion and fear. We use humour to sometimes tell cause afraid of being dismissed. You list 5 ways, still waiting for 1 – dont want to be greedy.
Wish our present psychologist would read some of these blogs (especially since we talk about them) but she wont
Great article! Humor is my favorite part…AND a huge reason why I get along with the mini-mes!
We have not had much consistency from people or circumstances in our life, so for us, consistency is probably the #1 most important thing to us. We need people do what they say and say what they mean and be who they seem. So important.
The next important one to us is compassion. We have had little of that as well. Its so important to us to feel like someone actually cares. To be forgotten about, or pushed off, or ignored, s really hard on us. We just need caring people around who can be patient and helpful.
We got called “demon posessed” by an ex best friend. She called Mae a demon. MAE, of all people. We decided we didnt need to be friends with her after that. Even now, we see her on facebook, but we will never trust her or tell her anything private again.
So yah, please dont say we have demons. Especially when youre talking about one of our little, traumatized kids inside.
And, we really like to be called by our own names. We wish we could trust more people to tell them who we are, instead of getting called by a name that we dont really relate to. It would be so nice for people to recognize all of us for who we are, and get to know each of us as people, and use our names.
Thanks for sharing❤️