Halloween. Or as I’ve seen recently, H’ween. That time of year that is so very difficult for so many dissociative trauma survivors. Every dissociative person I know has a long personalized list of time-dates-weekends that feel more difficult and trauma-laden for them than others. The weeks around H’ween are frequently on the list of troubling times. Even if H’ween isn’t an issue for you — keep reading — because you may relate to the need to create more personal safety for yourselves, even if other times of year are the more difficult days for you.
Not everyone has H’ween issues, so that’s good, but… all too many DID systems do struggle with October, especially those with the RA / SRA histories.
The memories from all trauma-heavy weekends can be horrible, and the resulting PTSD seems to last for many many years. Systems get shattered into bunches of inside people, and well, it’s just not fun. The pulls and compulsions gnaw at your brain, and it’s a fight inside. It really is.
What can you do to make your H’ween season a little more manageable this year?
I have a few ideas that might help.
Wherever you are this weekend, make it a physically safe place.
If you are at home, or if you are visiting somewhere else, or if you need to temporarily go to another spot, be somewhere that you can work on managing external safety. By external safety, at this point, I am talking about your literal, physical safety. Be in a house, a building, or physical location where you can lock the doors, block the doors, close the windows-curtains-shades-blinds, and provide whatever physical distance and barriers between you and any abusive anybody. Avoid the first floor, if you can. Stay away from the doors, and windows, and keep your physical self secured away from any outside danger.
Be at a place where you cannot be approached, even by sneaky quiet people, or people signaling you from a slightly further distance. You can be in charge of your own safety, and if you feel you are at any risk, the more you block yourself from that risk, the better. Be at a location where you can increase your ability to fully barricade out the outside world. Removing or lowering potential dangerous literal connections from perpetrator groups is one level of battle to not take for granted. Do what you can to make yourself unavailable, and unreachable.
Be at a location where no one can unexpectedly touch you, stare at you, speak at you, or send you signals through sight or sound. The more you can prevent any outside or external influence from the creep world, the better.
Explain to your insiders that you are committed and dedicated to staying away from all the darkness and mess
Internal communication is crucial here, and it is important to teach and tell yourself and your internal people that you will not be participating in any of the RA / SRA activities or ceremonies this year, this week, this day in time. Of course, if you have an RA history, you will have some inside parts who feel pulled to this, and feel required to go, so this is actually a big task that requires a lot of talking with your insiders. They may fight back, or feel required to go out. However, you do NOT have to go. This might be new information to your insiders, and they may even disagree with you about that, as that “Not going!” message will be opposite to what they were taught by their perpetrator group.
So talk to your people, your insiders — y’all can work on your safety together, as a team. Creatively explore your options and help your inside people see that life can be different now. Let them know they don’t have to be trapped in the worlds of darkness either. Because now, in 2022, (and onwards from here), you have the ability, or can learn the ability, to refuse to participate in dark-world activities that are abusive, hurtful and against your personal or spiritual beliefs.
Working on internal communication, and finding your other insiders, and addressing their differences from you (ie: beliefs, expectations, etc) is a huge topic, and takes a lot of work. Effective, ongoing system work is one of the first steps needed to reach any of your goals. There are many other blog articles that discuss internal communication so please read those if you need more information.
Or you may contact me for further information and assistance.
Get support from people who are on the helping side
Outside support is super helpful, but getting quality outside support can be hard to find. Staying busy with people or activities that are 100% not ritual related would be a great distraction but also helps you stay accountable and not lose time or switch out as unexpectedly. Bring a friend to your place, or if you feel safe or comfortable, go to their place.
Again, finding proper support people is a whole topic in itself. It’s definitely complicated, and sadly, far too many dissociative survivors struggle to get good support.
Here are a few tips for what to watch out for:
* Be careful around other RA / SRA trauma survivors. Be sure that they are on the path towards leaving — or have left — their perpetrator group. If the other people are still fighting their own safety battle, they may not be able to help you with yours. Frankly, it’s not uncommon for network-controlled parts to still be network-controlled, even if the front parts of the system know nothing about this. Don’t listen to just the front speakers. You have to pay attention to the whole system and how the whole of the other person presents themselves.
* If you prefer to get support from other dissociative people, find people who have a totally different history than yours. If they aren’t connected to your type of trauma, or your type of network, they are less likely to be used or able to trigger you into returning to your perp group. Find someone who can understand what it’s like to be split, but doesn’t respond to the same triggers. Or, join a monitored online DID forum such as DDCF — where personal accountability, safe conversations and non-hidden communication are the norm.
* Be around people who have proven to you that they are NOT involved with network activities. (It may take a long while to sort this out, but keep checking this out until you are sure.) There are bunches and bunches of other people out there who aren’t involved in dark organizations. I grew up in this world — the world of people who were NOT involved in hidden darkness. I know they are a real population. Find these folks. They aren’t perfect people, but they won’t take you back to those dark network worlds.
* Use discernment. Just because someone throws scripture verses around in their speech, that doesn’t mean that he or she is a safe person. There are many cult groups who specifically use Bible verses to trigger dissociative survivors and to control their internal mechanisms. Not all “Christian-speaking people” are who they claim to be. It is truly difficult to sort through the genuine people from the liars and fakers, so do your best to not be fooled, or pulled into a trap. Christian lingo and Bible verses used to control a person, to dominate a person, or said to shame a person are big flags that Biblical words are being misused.
* If you tend to lose time and not remember what happens when you are with someone, that is a red flag. Amnesia is common with DID, but it does not have to be a way of life. If you are losing a lot of time when you speak with someone, there is likely a troublesome issue happening. That means, you’ve either purposefully switched to someone so far removed from you, or the information could be blocked from you, or something could easily hidden from you , including being hidden on purpose. Check this situation carefully. Even with a therapist, it’s not a good sign to have big amounts of amnesia for your talks. You need to know what is being said, and/or have a way to get genuine and effective information retrieval.
Do something to distract you and your system from the trauma
During a very difficult weekend, it can be helpful to first, be aware of the difficulties, and have a sense of what that is about, but then to do something else — to purposefully schedule something else — to stay busy and distracted from the pulls towards the dark.
So for example, you could hunker down and stay locked in your house all weekend (as many do), and staying to yourself might feel the safest. If you can keep yourself safe at home, and can manage that, then more power to you! Maintain regular activities, even in your home, so you can be aware of what you and your people have been doing. Post in forums, send out emails, order a pizza, do loads of laundry. Join your online gaming group for a weekend game tournament. Create time stamps that show what you’ve been doing.
However, if you are miserable staying home alone, or unsuccessful with these efforts, then add in additional activities, or plan something to do that can be more of a treat. But be specific, and purposeful. Meandering around without a plan can be a quick launching place for slippery switching to happen and for others to take over. Just causally walking through the park might not be safe enough. Your safety plan needs accountability points in it. Check points. You need to know where you are, and what you’re doing without that fuzzy time loss getting in the way.
Driving around without a specific plan is also a bit of a risk. It’s very easy to switch while driving, so… unless you are paying close attention when you’re in the car, you could end up somewhere else before you know it. If you are feeling pulls and compulsions to unexpected go somewhere, especially somewhere not on your original plan, be very careful about going there. Check deep inside first, and see if anyone is being pulled to drive to a specific meet-up / trigger / history place. You need to have very good communication with your drivers, and do you know all of them?
If you can get yourself involved in something where you are held accountable for your time, that will be best. For example, take an extra shift at work, even if that means overtime. Sign up for a volunteer spot where you know other people will be depending on you (that creates more pressure to actually stay at the event). Assign yourself a very large task at home — clean out an entire closet, or all your kitchen cabinets and drawers. Make a big big mess that has to be cleaned up and organized. You can see if you were home working on it by evidence that your big task was completed, and done well. Or, start a huge arts and craft project that needs time to be done. Pre-calculate how many hours it will take to do your project and use something of this size to help account for your time. Or… take notes on a whole series of podcasts. Your handwritten notes will help vouch for your time.
Remember that you have many layers and groupings in your system
For the most significant long term gains, you need to work with your system of people. Distractions can help you make it through a short time, but to fix the problem, you need to address your dissociative issues.
Most dissociative people are split into layers or groupings of many inside people. You’re not likely a group of a small few — you are more likely have more inside people than you know. One of your biggest tasks in your healing process is to get to your know insiders, and to get to know ALL of your insiders. As many as you can, for as long as it takes. Getting to know your people and building trusting relationships with them are the keys to your ongoing safety.
And especially, if months like October are an issue for you, or if Halloween is a difficult, triggery time for you, or if you are highly sensitive to being touched or looked at, or if you have struggles with self-injury and self-loathing, then I can guess that you’ll have a number of internal folks who have been exposed to some complicated forms of abuse. It may take a long time to sort through your layers of history, but while you are doing that, you will still have those insiders who were created during such difficult events and circumstances. Those parts of you may exist even without your awareness that they are there.
So… the quicker you can get to know all your insiders, the better. Look at your inside worlds. See any dark spots in there? Or any areas that feel scary or unknown to you? Those are the places where you need to go look. Yikes! Yes, I know. BUT, those are the places where the ones who are at most risk may very well be hidden.
To be very honest, one of your biggest dangers over any difficult season is making sure that your very own insiders do not put themselves out there to be available for the perpetrator networks. Do you have a little one who walks out the door at night? Do you have a teenager who gets on the phone and calls in? Do you have an older grouchy part who commands you to do things you don’t want to do? Do you have someone who drives away after getting a funny phone call or a weird text message? Have you watched for patterns for when you are suddenly losing time, and when you find yourself waking up somewhere else? Do you have a pattern of feeling very tired, even though you thought you had a long night of sleep? There are many hints that you can learn to see. Pay attention to as much as you can. Purposefully reducing the amount of dissociation between your parts is essential to your healing and your ongoing safety.
Dissociative people have been split and some of those parts were split off to be loyal to the dark groups. YOUR job is to find those parts of your system and to bring them back to you. None of your insiders have to be loyal to people who do the hurting, or the abuse, or the torture, or the trauma. Teach your people that they too, can leave the darkness and join in with you and your goals for safety, healing, solidarity, and peace. This is a long complicated process, but start today. Reach your people and begin working on their safety.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Start now. There’s no time to waste. You, and all your insiders too, can be safe, even on the difficult weekends.
I know this weekend is a rough one. I’ll be thinking of you.
Take gentle care…
I wish you the very safest of healing journeys.
Copyright © 2008-2022 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation