Many dissociative trauma survivors struggle with how to tend to their child parts, and how to create a safe environment for those inside parts.
For lots of DID survivors, it can feel quite difficult and challenging to know how to gently and tenderly care for their injured or upset child parts, especially when their own experience of childhood was anything but gentle or tender. This task feels overwhelming, uncomfortable, confusing. Maybe even frightening.
Do you wonder how to take care of your little insiders?
Do you wonder why you might need to take care of your little ones?
This complex topic was raised in the comment sections of one of the articles here on Discussing Dissociation. To see more, check out this blog, Being Kind to Your Internal System.
One of the faithful, long-term readers here at Discussing Dissociation, ME+WE, wrote some very helpful ideas in response to this discussion. Click here to see her original comment written on the article, Being Kind to Your Internal System.
Because I really liked the way these guidelines were written and organized by ME+WE, I decided to post her helpful words of wisdom in a blog post for everyone to see.
Here are the excellent ideas for accomplishing DID system work, as written by ME+WE:
I would venture to say that most of us did not have compassionate, caring, nurturing and safe childhoods. It leaves us rather empty on that front. But, because we did not know compassion, caring, nurturing and safety first-hand ourselves does not mean that we cannot create this kind of environment for our insiders.
Here are my thoughts on how to do this:
1. Have the courage to see.
Our insiders were created because of all of the horrible things that happened to us (and should not have). They stored the knowledge of this trauma and abuse away for us so we did not have to see it (and experience it, deal with it, etc.). Now, to liberate our insiders from this duty that they have taken on, we have to be willing to see. So, that means courage and an open mind, heart and soul that is willing to truly see into even the darkest corners of our internal world.
2. Build communication.
We cannot see our truth if we do not know who is holding it. So, we need to find out who is in our internal system, a little of their biography (e.g., when they came into existence, how old they are, do they hold trauma, etc.), how they exist internally (e.g., are they all together, separate, in groups, etc.), who knows who, and so on. Just a getting-to-know-you with our systems and letting them tell us who they are, and what role they play.
3. Offer the basics of existence.
By this I mean do not wait to hear what your insiders need. Offer them food, shelter, clothing, blankets, pillows, stuffies, etc. Just all of the things that a child would need. If there are older insiders, you can offer age-appropriate things for them. Anticipate their needs and show them that you care.
4. Build safe places.
My little ones have a sunshine tent made from yellow sheets with their blankets, pillows, and stuffies. This is where they can go to feel safe and not have to deal with the outside world. For example, if I am going to see the doctor, I ask them to go to their sunshine tent and stay there until I call for them.
5. Encourage insiders into safety and comfort.
Some insiders may be in dark, dangerous, unsafe or uninhabitable places inside. Create safe places for them to come out to. They may be reluctant at first but offer them the option and encourage them to come out. For example, I had an insider who lived in a cold, dark and damp cave. Eventually she came out to a little cabin that two of my boy alters built for her. Actually, one of the boys when and got her and brought her to the new place.
6. Talk with your insiders.
I found that the best way to encourage my insiders to talk with me was for me to talk to them. Every day I would tell them that I loved them; that I appreciated all that they had done for me to survive; that I wanted to help them as best as I could; that I wanted to hear what they needed/wanted to tell me; that I might not always understand or agree with them but that I would always listen respectfully to them and try to comprehend what they are telling me; that I wanted to build co-consciousness so that we could live together in mutual cooperation; and that I would always have their best interest in mind even though I might make mistakes along the way.
7. Listen compassionately and creatively.
Your insiders are full of information that is going to be hard to hear and some of it may be difficult to understand. Remember it was your child’s mind that interpreted what happened and is now trying to tell you. Be sure to listen openly, non-judgmentally and courageously. You are not going to like a lot of what you will hear and maybe even doubt its accuracy but it is your truth. Do not doubt yourself or your insiders. Be gentle with ALL of you (inside and out).
8. Be consistent.
Children (and adults) find safety in consistency. So, that means devoting yourself to all of the points above as best you can.
Some articles on the DD website that I found particularly helpful on this topic (use the search function in the right-hand column of the webpage):
5 Kinds of Emotional Support Needed by Dissociative Trauma Survivors (but I think that this applies to how we approach our insiders as well)
30 Tips for How to Help a Child who is Hurting (this applies to how we approach our insiders as well)
Wow, thanks for sharing all that, ME+WE. That’s a lot of great advice, and I really appreciate your willingness to share your own personal experiences with reaching your insiders. Of course, everyone’s situation is unique, but it offers a certain amount of comfort and reassurance knowing that someone else was able to make positive strides in tending to their little ones.
For you who are reading this list today, here are some Dissoci-ACTION Questions:
Are you able to do any of these tasks with your insiders?
Do you know how to help your little ones?
What would you add to the list of what has been presented here today?
What helpful tips can you share with the other readers of this blog?
All your collective, helpful ideas are most definitely appreciated! Learning from each other, from others who are genuinely working on their own healing journey, is one of the best ways to feel encouraged, and on target.
Hopefully you feel inspired by ME+WE’s courage, and will find ways to help your own little ones.
Oh, and a quick reminder for you. A safe OUTSIDE Environment for your DID system, including your little parts can be found at the Discussing Dissociation Community Forum.
At the Forum, your system parts, old and young, are welcome to participate, talk, play, and communicate in a protected, private environment created especially for them.
You can practice your internal communication skills in your own designated writing areas, or you can ask questions to the other dissociative trauma survivors also learning how to improve life for their internal systems. Peer support is a wonderful thing, and DID survivors can learn lots from each other!
For more information about our DID Community Forum, click HERE.
Take gentle care, and be kind to your people!
I wish you the best in your healing journey.
Copyright © 2008-2019 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation