One of the most important elements to working with DID Systems is doing internal system work. Sometimes these techniques and processes are a little hard to explain, but fortunately, I have the permission to show you an example of some real-life, honest-to-goodness internal system work done with a dissociative system.
This person had been feeling very down and discouraged a few days before this. It was also around the lunar eclipse time, so for lots of DID system with night-time parts, or for folks with Ritual Abuse histories, the unusual patterns of the moon often are very intense times, full of memories and triggers.
It was a scary night.
And scary times are often connected with suicidal feelings. Let me explain.
In my experience, DID survivors often feel suicidal around anniversaries of trauma days (or nights).
Also, inside parts — well, anyone in the system — may feel suicidal in the days before a memory surfaces from within, especially if there is a lot of fear connected to the memory.
When remembering memories, suicidal feelings can increase, especially if the survivor was terrified by death-threats made at the time of the trauma, or following the trauma.
Survivors may feel suicidal when they are remembering a memory where in the memory itself, they wanted to die, instead of having to complete the traumatic event when it was happening.
Knowing this dissociative survivor was having a difficult time, we decided to have a chat on the phone. I was hoping to be able to help this person through a terribly difficult night.
Jenny and I had an excellent talk — and I’ll let her tell you more of the story from here:
I want to tell the truth.
It’s gonna be really hard to write but I want to tell you first that all the trigger warnings need to be heard because I don’t know if it will be bad to read it but it could be and I don’t want to hurt anybody.
I want to tell everybody on Discussing Dissociation that we rescued an insider and how we did it. And also to tell you that because we did it we, all of us are gonna be a lot better over time. This one night isn’t gonna make everything better all at once and there’s a lot of worry about what will happen next. We don’t know. But it was good to do this. And maybe Kathy can tell you what she thinks so you know and we know that after some time talking with her the fears of being in trouble will go away.
I am 13 years old and I come from the Dark Side inside our system. I left there a long time ago. I still have the same job as I always did but instead of being a guard for the DS, I am now a guard for the fronts, and everybody inside so we don’t go to bad places and do bad things or get involved with old bad people or new bad people.
I had to be out in Outside World to keep Nox from coming out last night. It was the full moon but it was also a total eclipse and a very scary night for a lot of people inside.
We don’t do those things anymore. We don’t know anyone anywhere in Outside World anymore that does those things.
I try to keep Nox from coming out because he thinks he still has to do his job. He still thinks it’s 1974, and a lot of people inside are afraid of him.
I hid the keys and wallet, and sat on the couch, out in the body, but looking inside and waiting for him to show up. I will fight Nox if I have to. He screams all the time and he’s got power to get past all the fronts. I try to do my best and help.
Kathy wrote and asked if we wanted to talk. B was gonna ignore the message until after last night so she wouldn’t have to hear about any of it. She wanted to write back after the weekend and pretend everything was okay. But, I answered the email and said, “yes please”. I can be brave enough to tell if the fronts are brave enough to let me.
I got to talk to Kathy about a lot of cool stuff first, like how pretty her hair is. It’s pink!
I want my hair to have green in it. I like the way her hair is. And we talked about some other stuff before we started talking about what full moons mean and what we were afraid of for last night.
I told her about Nox. Kathy is good at asking questions and I don’t feel scared of her or afraid to answer so when she started telling me to look inside and find him, I did.
*** trigger warning ***
When I looked inside, I found Nox in a cage. It was hanging from a tree in the dark out in the woods. He was screaming. Naked, bloody, and wild looking. I got very very scared and Kathy helped me come closer to back out here so I didn’t feel so scared.
I stayed out here looking in most the time. I was the one who told about what was happening and being said.
Kathy asked if there was anybody inside willing to go help him. Someone with a nice voice and who won’t scare him. Harmony is our internal good mom. Really good, not upside down and backwards fake good. Harmony is very kind to everybody and takes care of all the children and talks to everybody who wants to talk. Eric came from the DS too. Not too long ago either. He knows a lot about it. He’s not afraid of anything over there. Lawrence and Lora went too.
Kathy said maybe we can make the cage larger so he wasn’t so cramped in there. Then we talked about ways to help him. We got him out of the tree and made the cage larger, but we didn’t want to let him out of it at first. He was really screaming and wild, and everybody was afraid if he got out he’d try to hurt people. We talked about putting soft blue light around him, and then we talked about giving him a room with soft light blue walls and light blue light so his eyes won’t hurt.
So that’s what the others was doing and I was telling Kathy what was happening and we were all trying to come up with other things that would help him feel better.
We talked about music but that was a NO. We talked about stuffed animals but that was a NO too. We put pillows and blankets inside his cage for him. Even though we have a room for him, right now he still feels better in the cage. It’s open and he can get out of it when he wants. We put a bed in the room and a bathroom nearby. We put shelves of books and toys they thought would be good for a boy. He’s got a tv if he ever wants to see it. Then we thought about giving him a gameboy to play with when he was calmed down enough to try it.
Harmony tried to clean him up but he fought her so she stopped trying then. Later she was able to wash him and give him some water and food. He’s got wounds on him but Harmony can’t fix those yet. Kathy said it’s okay for now, they can help with those when he is better enough to let them.
I don’t know how long all that took. I talked with Kathy for a long time but it didn’t seem very long. And it was very very scary at some points of it and everybody felt sick and sad and was crying for him. He’s only 8 or 9. But now he’s in a safe place away from there.
The guys said they are gonna burn down those woods where we found Nox. Kathy said make sure everybody and all the critters are outta there first. I don’t know what they are doing now, I think they are out there searching for others still. But when they know nobody else is out there they are going to destroy the place so he never ever has to go back.
When Harmony thinks Nox is ready to see out here, B is gonna show him Outside World. Outside the windows and around our apartment and let him know that we live here now and all those people from when he was living there are gone. Kathy said it would be a good idea to tell him B is old now and those people live thousands of miles away and are probably “old geezers” and we think most of them are dead by now anyway. It would be good to let him know that.
I think that’s the whole story of last night. I didn’t tell some of it because it would be too bad for me to say and for anybody to hear.
When Nox wants to talk to somebody and tell more of his life he can talk to someone on his own in private. It’s okay I said this much. Nobody inside is making me not. It took a lot of people helping and it helped all of us to have Kathy help us help. It’s good to have an outside safe person to help with this.
Remember what she said her mom taught her; “Help others, help others”. I don’t know if teaching others how to help others is what she meant but that’s what Kathy does. We want to help others too.
That is why I wrote this. To tell you we did it and it didn’t take long and nobody got hurt and everyone is okay and it’s gonna take a long time to heal for Nox but now he has that chance. Getting the kids out of the DS to show them around here and let them learn how to be kids and not be afraid is what all people that have problems like we do need. It can be done because we just did it. And even if it’s scary and sad it is better than leaving them alone to live terror every single day.
Plus, every time we write and tell and be brave it gives us more power and takes away the power of the people in Outside World that hurt all of us so bad.
PS: After sending this to Kathy so you all can read it we will have backlash from it. B said we will live through that too and we can take the power out of that to by doing it anyway then not acting out the demands. But, I do have to ask if it was okay? We don’t want to hurt anyone out there in any way at all.
After the past few weeks of being run down by disappointments and frustrations in our everyday life, (and having a meltdown with suicidal thoughts), I was so worn out. I said I don’t want to live a lie of pretend. I don’t want to live this life anymore and I don’t want to make up another one.
At that time I wasn’t thinking about asking anyone inside how they were or if there was anything “up” that may be causing some of their emotions to leak through to me. But a couple days before the full moon this month, I started sensing/feeling things I attributed to all the crappy disappointment and struggles we have lived through in the past 8 years.
Jenny is right. I didn’t want to know about what was happening inside. I didn’t want to hear about it and I did try to avoid it. After a while of thinking. I was going to avoid listening to it. Jenny answered the email and I went above inside to my private place.
What Jenny said and what the others did, I witnessed. I came out and talked with Kathy after they did all the work inside. I am partially ashamed because I wasn’t involved, but mostly knocked-out impressed with Jenny and Nox and the other adults that went to rescue him.
When I spoke with Kathy, we talked about how hard it is to know these horrendous terrible awful things that happened to our small and helpless children in our past. Kathy said she understood that and it makes sense. I told her I don’t know how anybody can survive themselves after knowing what they were witness to and what they were made to do in those disgusting circumstances. She told me she would feel the same way if it kept happening day after day after day.
But, Nox is now out of there and the memories are now memories and not constant re-enactments.
I still feel sick. I still feel very shaky. I feel distant from it so that helps some. I know Nox will need my help too. And when he’s ready, (and I am more ready), I will be out here willing to show him around.
Back to Kathy:
What a powerful statement of inside work! Wow!
THANK YOU, Jenny and B, for being so brave in sharing this.
Where to start in my comments in response…..
Here is a list of what this Dissociative System did right:
Jenny was brave enough to talk. She had the courage to address the issues that were happening, and to get help with the hard stuff.
Jenny was able to keep the whole system safe from harm — she was strong and determined to keep the body inside their home, far away from anyone who would hurt them.
Jenny was able to stay outside in the front of the system even when it was difficult, she stayed connected to the here-and-now, she stayed grounded, and she spoke with me while simultaneously looking inside to see what was happening.
Jenny was able to locate the inside person who was feeling the most distress at that time. She knew this person, and could see them internally.
A whole team of insiders was able and willing to help out with the internal situation, allowing Jenny more space to talk with me, in the outside world, staying connected over the phone.
This system responded with 100% kindness, gentleness and compassion to their insider who was obviously feeling distress, lost in a terrifying memory, being extremely noisy, and locked in a scary internal landscape. Despite the obvious difficulties with this situation, this system was not too scared to help him — they immediately went to his aid.
This DID system knew that they could make changes to their internal world, and they were able to immediately make the changes needed, adjusting their internal landscape in ways that were immediately helpful.
This DID system was creative in finding solutions that were helpful for the insider who was in such distress. They were quick to see what wasn’t helpful, and found new ideas that would work, tailoring what they were doing to exactly fit the needs of their insider.
They were able to think ahead — coming up with creative ways to give this little 8-year old boy part exactly what any 8-year old boy might like to have in his room. They weren’t neglecting him, or forcing him to do anything that he wasn’t ready to do. However, they created interesting opportunities for him, once he was ready to explore.
This system started feeling protective of the little one who had been creating problems for them. Instead of seeing him as a “bad guy / trouble maker”, they immediately took on the attitude of helpfulness. They were willing to get little Nox away from the places where he was feeing hurt, and started working to remove the internal locations that were triggering for him.
With gentleness and patience, Harmony began addressing the injured child’s needs and wounds. This process does take time, and Harmony has the patience and kindness needed to allow the little one to feel safe, secure, and tended.
B did a lot more to help the situation than she realizes. She may have had her own frustrations, but she did not get in the way of others in her system getting the help they needed. Besides, chances are, B’s role is more connected to the outside world, and her strengths are there, while others inside can do the internal work.
B still watched, even from the place that is fitting for her. Instead of turning her back or refusing to acknowledge the internal pain, she paid attention from a safe distance, clearly helping to maintain overall system balance.
B was able to help process the emotional aftermath and deeper issues connected to the trauma experienced by her system, and more specifically, with little Nox. These issues are important to manage and resolve as they help release the DID survivor system from long-lasting impacts of trauma.
B has made a clear commitment to provide ongoing help, support, and encouragement for her DID system.
This DID System as a whole has the willingness to help themselves AND to help others. Their courage is impressive, and what a great way to provide encouragement to others!
I hope you’ve found this helpful!
There will be more to this story, as clearly, it takes longer than a few hours to address the needs of a severely abused insider. But what a change, and what a difference in just a few hours — from screaming and being trapped in a horrifying PTSD memory to quietly resting in a safe, comforting environment.
How can that change NOT make a difference in how the whole system feels ?!!?!!
Doing internal system work can truly make a change in your life.
Instead of the little 8-year old being trapped in a state of trauma, still actively in a traumatized state, he was rescued and removed from that scary place, taken to a safe place, and his needs were addressed properly with care and compassion. Consequently, while still scared, he was no longer in an acute state of trauma. Within a few minutes, this little boy was able to calm down, settle down, and start resting.
And then…. that calmness spread throughout the system, because of course, once the highly triggered and distressed insider was able to rest, the whole of the system was able to rest more as well.
Do you know how to help your insiders like this?
Do you have the courage to go into their internal locations and help them get out of their trauma?
Do you have insiders who will help tend to the needs, emotionally, and physically, of your hurting ones?
I hope so. Because EVERY part in your system deserves safety, kindness, and proper care. I strongly encourage you to follow B’s system example…. Be willing to do your inside work!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to write below.
I wish you and ALL your insiders the best in your healing journeys.
Copyright © 2008-2018 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation