Monthly Archives: November 2015

No tears today!

Well, it’s been two Sunday’s in a row that I haven’t cried!  Maybe I needed to simply tell the world a long time ago, and it would have stopped. The problem is I don’t know what I did or didn’t do to not cry.  It’s the DID roller coaster…I’m always learning.

Honestly, I can count on one hand, for 42 years, how many times I’ve cried.  These last 5 years have been a tear-fest!  Am I the only one this has happened too? It’s like the dam broke and the tears began to flow.  When my part, Cindy, emerged, it was nonstop tears.  She held all the emotions from the trauma/abuse. She has taught me a lot about emotions, but I still don’t handle them well.  Out of the blue, I will start crying, for no reason it seems.

I know that tears are healing, and it’s important to express how I’m feeling.  There is no shame in the tears, but I’ve been told my whole life- “You can’t cry”,  “Stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about”, “Only babies cry”, etc.  This will be something to embrace as I walk this journey with DID.

 

 

Great is Thy Faithfulness…

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

This is the chorus of the great hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” written by Thomas O. Chisholm.  He wrote the poem in 1923 about God’s faithfulness over his lifetime.  The biblical lyrics reference, Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

I don’t know how many times I have sung this hymn, mostly without really thinking about what the lyrics mean.  I’m in awe of the faithfulness of God, just in my own life.  To think, believe, and trust that His mercies are new every single day, He gives me absolutely everything I need, I will not be consumed (destroyed), and His compassion never ends.  Wow!!

Music is something that’s inspiring and can match your moods. I am encouraged by music on a regular basis. It seems to speak in ways I cannot.  Somedays it seems as though lyrics to songs say what I am unable to articulate.  It is a language, with strong feelings, a story and memories.  It transcends all boundaries of communication. It affects your brain in many different ways, and at deep levels.

The playlist on my phone has a wide variety of music.  Sometimes it makes me laugh when I look through the list of songs. Anything from: Show tunes, Children’s, Disney, Christian, Pop, Rock, 80’s, Movie Soundtracks, Rap, Soft Rock, Disco, Dance, Christmas, Comedy and some R&B.

All my sweet parts inside have their favs!  At times, I think it’s what brings us all together as a community (family). Music is a way to unite people together.

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Blessings!

Emotional Hangover

Today was therapy, and I’ll have to say, my therapist is the best!  She came in today to see us.  Everyone likes her, well the older ones fight with her at times, because they don’t like to be told what to do.  Overall, there is mutual respect between them.

We talked mostly about Thanksgiving, not being around family or contacting them.  My sister sent me a text though, and it made my day!  She and I both cried; I miss her and her girls the most!  We had a great day, the 4 of us around the table, delicious food, fun times and new memories.  I am glad my husband and boys are so supportive.  I love them dearly!

After therapy, I decided to go into work for a few hours and catch up on calls and emails.  That is when my emotional hangover began.  Maybe it was thinking about talking to my sister, or thinking that maybe, somehow, perhaps, my parents were sorry for what they had done. It’s wishing and wanting something that you will never have….it brings tears to my eyes every time. These are the days I wish I didn’t have DID, or that my life seemed more normal- whatever that is, right??

One major conversation we are having in therapy is with my 7 year old little girl. She wakes up every night with pain in her legs from her abuse.  I hate body memories, and the pain it causes.  I feel so helpless when the young ones struggle.  Anyway, she told our therapist that she used to have a baby doll, but our mom threw it away.  And all she wants is a doll. Now, that seems like an easy task and I should be able to make that happen.  Unfortunately, there are all kinds of reasons I haven’t been able to get her one.  Maybe my fear of getting the right one, or disappointing her somehow.  I can only remember having that one doll, so I am not sure I can do it.

I realized today, that I don’t go down the doll isle when I’m in a toy department.  I had boys, so there was never a need, and I’ve stayed away from buying my nieces dolls in the past.  I need some courage.  Or maybe I need to somehow push through the tension….

I hate emotions and tears!  It seems like that is all I do-cry!

“I don’t like the memories because the tears come easily, and once again I break my promise to myself for this day.  It’s a constant battle.  A war between remembering and forgetting.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I pray today we can be thankful for the incredible blessings we all have received.  In the midst of our everyday struggles, God continues to bless us abundantly…just because He loves us that much!

The thing I love so much about God, is that He loves us, gives generous blessings, and cares for each one.  It’s not because we have done something to deserve it, it’s not based on conditions-doing right or wrong, being worthy of it…nope.  He simply loves us ALL, no matter what!  And that is what I am mostly thankful for, not just today, but everyday!

We all had a great day together- my husband and 2 sons.  I think we had enough food to feed the neighborhood.  My husband deep fried the turkey, which we had not done in a very long time.  It was perfectly done and delicious.  Our time around the table was special, as we created new memories (even traditions) together.

I did receive a very special surprise that morning.  My sister sent me a text wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving and saying we needed to talk more often.  I began to cry and responded back, agreeing and that she could call me anytime!  Then she cried…

Since telling my family about DID and the abuse (most of it), I’ve been made the black sheep and outcast.  No one wants to admit our lives we not perfect. And if they acknowledged my stuff, they would have to acknowledge their own…obviously they have chosen not too.  So hearing from her was a sweet gift from God!

I have read numerous thankful lists, on blogs, people have written.  I thought about doing my own list, but decided to go a different direction.  I have found the perfect song to express my gratitude and thankfulness for all the people in my life:  family, friends and therapist.  These individuals have walked along side me in my DID journey the past 3 years.  I don’t know where I would be without their prayers, love, support, and encouragement.  God knew I would need these people to guide me as, …”I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:14.

“Kind and Generous” by Natalie Merchant (click the link below)

Kind and Generous

Monday, Monday…

Happy Monday!  Why would I say happy Monday?  Well, as you know, I’ve looked forward to Monday’s.  Since I have been crying every Sunday for months now, it is only appropriate that I celebrate Monday.  However, yesterday (Sunday), I did not shed ONE tear!  No, not one.  It was amazing and I’m working extremely hard to find out why, so that I can repeat the process.

When you have DID, some days are really good and others are really difficult.  We may be triggered by something unexpected, such as a song, smell, saying, a person, almost anything.  That is the frustrating part.  When the past is triggered, I want to run away, numb, isolate, and do just about anything to not feel.  Although, this is a very normal occurrence, I can not let my past dictate my future.  I will not let those who have harmed and abused me win the battle in my mind and body.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches this week, I am finding myself struggling with past memories and feelings.  I have not communicated with my family of origin (FOO) this past year, because some have chosen to not take accountability for their part in the abuse, some refuse to believe it’s true (even with proof), and some don’t want to get involved/pretend it didn’t happen.  It is equally painful not being believed as it is being abused.  Therefore,  I battle the feelings of not being good enough.  Because I am a perfectionist, I want things to be good, not make any mistakes- perfect somehow.  When the negative thoughts, criticism, and judgments take over, I feel wrong, bad, and corrupt. “If we were good enough, then the abuse wouldn’t have happened” and this is the lie we tell ourselves.

I have to believe that we are good enough, and worthy of love and belonging!  On Thanksgiving, I want to be able to celebrate with my husband and sons.  I want to be present, not dissociate when those overwhelming feelings come.  During the holidays, we get bombarded with the media talking about the importance of being together and celebrating as a family.  But when your family is part of your pain, celebration is the last thing on your mind.

Now my family looks a little different. On Thanksgiving, and everyday that I am alive, I will be grateful, thankful and extremely blessed for my husband, sons, therapist, and friends who have walked beside me. These incredible people have supported, cried with and encouraged me along this journey.  They are MY new family!

 

 

Friday Therapy Session

Today started off like most days, up at 5:30am (actually much earlier), made some bad coffee, met my friend at 6am to run 5 miles, and back home to get ready for my 3hr. Friday therapy session.

In the 2 1/2 hours before therapy, I manage to cry for 2hrs., loose time somewhere in there, and head out the door wearing my son’s XXL sweatshirt, leggings, and cowboy boots.  Now, if I were a young, trendy, high school student, planning on hanging out with my friends, I might be dressed appropriately (Maybe).

However, I’m a 47 year old wife and mother of two adult sons…get the picture.  I’m sure my therapist had lots to say, but was kind enough to not bring it to my attention. The important thing is, it all matched. 🙂

In my last post, I shared my struggles to own and feel what my parts were sharing in therapy.  Today we discussed some possible changes, and an idea she wanted to try, that had worked with other clients. I am grateful for my therapist for many reasons, but mostly because she prays for me, my parts, and allows the Holy Spirit to guide our sessions. She is a blessing to “all of us”, and God is using her, her wisdom and discernment to bring about healing.

On Tuesday’s my therapy is an hour and a half, and I have been leaving there very disoriented.  I’ve been having a hard time “coming back” after I’ve switched. Usually, a part takes up most of the time and we are left with 5 minutes to debrief.  That simply does not work for me and I don’t know what to do with the information that was shared.  My therapist hates sending me out the door, but she has clients waiting and a job to do.

Some days I sit in the lobby, but that feels weird, so I end up getting in my car and completely dissociating.  Unfortunately, the end result is me smoking and drinking somewhere.  My teenage parts take over and do things I don’t.  Thankfully my husband tracks my phone, and always knows where to find me, if I don’t respond.  The downside to that is, if I don’t leave the parking lot, it looks like I’m still there.

Anyway, all that to say, we needed a better plan for my parts to share, and me to debrief before I leave her office.  She had the idea of being more structured.  We would ask a part who needed to talk, or one that was struggling to come out in the beginning of our session. Then for me to close myself off from hearing- like behind a closed door with a window, so I can still see.  Then she can hear from and discuss things with each part, bring me back to discuss what was said, and help me process my feelings.

Maybe this isn’t a new idea for those of you with DID, but it was for me and it worked great.  If felt weird to “prepare myself” for the switch and call out a specific part.  I also realize not one treatment plan or approach works the same for everyone, and each of us heal differently.

I am excited to see how this continues, but I’m also prepared for those days when things “just happen”.  It was a small victory today, and we both felt much better afterwards. And I was able to go to work afterwards, so that was another positive step.

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So many thoughts in my head…

Well, these past 3 weeks have been a major struggle with my DID and processing trauma.  I am sad more than normal, cry more than I’d like, and want to isolate more than what is healthy.  I think the worst kind of sadness, is the kind you simply cannot explain.

I have been, what I call, “on the fast track” to healing.  Now, it certainly has it’s ups and downs and this is one of those down times.  I see my therapist twice a week for a total of 4.5 hours.  Yes, that seems like a great deal of time, but some weeks it feels like I was barely there.

I am realizing that my struggle to own what has happened to me is making it hard to move forward.  In the beginning of my therapy, I was not able to hear parts share their stories of trauma and abuse.  That has its pros and cons, but eventually, I needed to hear everything.  We call that co-consciousness in the DID world, being able to hear the parts of me share.  Anyway, I still struggle with that when the abuse is extreme.  I block it, or the part blocks me from hearing it.  Since it has been their job to protect me, they continue doing that even though the abuse is no longer happening.  It’s a long process of a part feeling safe enough to “come out” and talk, share the painful information, hope someone believes them-this time, making sure they understand that this is present day and the abuse is no longer happening.  Whew!  That is a lot for young, little, parts.

Now, I can empathize with each part, feel the hurt, and nurture them better than I used too.  As a mom, former elementary school teacher, and children’s pastor, I have had lots of practice.  But someday’s it feels way to overwhelming to even listen.  It makes me sick inside to think people, a relative, or a boyfriend could do such horrible things. I want to run out of my therapist’s office and never return.  However, it is the only way for all of us to come together, find wholeness, love, comfort and healing.

As far as me taking in the information from each part, processing it all, hurting for them, loving and helping them with the next steps; I am finding it very difficult to see myself in the “story”.  I don’t want to be present with those feelings.

While thinking through why that is, I’ve come up with one of 3 things or even all of them, for that matter:

  1. I am on the fast track, going to quickly through the trauma, and missing out on what I really need hear and process for myself.
  2. When I have felt it, and owned it, I just can’t believe that it could have happened without my knowing- I know, I know, that is why I have DID.  I couldn’t handle it, and had to escape.
  3. When I am able to understand it, and feel it, I become child-like.  Maybe that is normal, but I want to be taken care of like a child would, but I’m actually 47 yrs. old.  I want my mom-but she is emotionally unavailable, doesn’t believe me, can’t love unconditionally, and has never nurtured myself or my siblings.  And my dad was one of my abusers. I have had no contact with them for the past year.

Why is it that every child wants their mom or dad, no matter what they have done to them??  So, when I experience #3, I don’t know where to go to get “taken care of”.

I have an awesome, supportive, loving husband and two adult sons who are always there for me.  Some how that is not the same.  I have a very small circle of female friends (all therapists, can you believe), and a godly, christian therapist, who has been a true gift from God, that is walking me through this journey.  And yet, the child in me longs for something I can never have.

These are my down days, days I don’t trust well, days I want to go into hiding, days I want to run far away, days I feel like I’m going crazy!          But I am a survivor, no longer a victim, and I can find freedom. I need to remember that I never have to apologize for the ways I’ve survived!

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I Hate Sunday’s

I realize this sounds terrible, as a believer and follower of Jesus.  I also realize that Sunday’s and being a Christian doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand.  To most, it’s a day to go to church and worship.  It doesn’t make me a bad person for hating Sunday’s. For me, it is a day of sadness, tears and not wanting to deal with having DID.

Going to church on Sunday mornings, have typically been, my whole life, a requirement.  I either felt like, as a child, I would go to hell if I didn’t go, or as an adult, I needed to be an active servant.  I’m finally realizing I’ve never really learned to “go to church” and just “be”.  This saying I learned years ago, “We are human BEings, not human DOings” has been eye opening this past month.

I am a DOer, I am not ashamed to say it!  I’m a type A personality, ISTJ, or Type 1-Perfectionist on the Enneagram . Things are right or wrong, black or white, up or down, hot or cold, in or out, my way or the highway…you get the point.  However, I have been making great strides towards seeing both sides to things, letting go of perfection, and accepting that things are GOOD enough!  After all, God created each day and it says in Genesis 1:31, “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!”

So, I have been going to church on Saturday nights instead, for the past 5 weeks.  Since being diagnosed with DID, I haven’t been able to go to any type of church without crying.  I don’t know why that is; I guess that could be a great question for my therapist.  It doesn’t make sense why I would cry every Sunday, but I do, and it would be helpful to understand why.

This is my typical ‘Sunday Spiral’, as I have officially named it.  I don’t sleep well, so I’m up very early, start the coffee brewing, do my bible study or work outside in the yard.  Then the tears come at some point, early on, out of nowhere.  As I’m crying, I feel a deep sense of loss and disconnection with the people in my life- either good or bad.  I feel very alone, although, I am surrounded by a great support system who care and love me very much.  My thoughts then turn to questioning whether I have DID or if I’m just crazy, which I know is false (the ‘I’m just crazy’part). I start thinking if I didn’t have DID, I wouldn’t be such a burden on family and friends, have my full time job back, getting my masters degree, not feeling so overwhelmed, losing time, not having flashbacks, painful memories, struggling with my parts and their trauma, I would be visiting my hometown and seeing family and friends…But the truth is, I have DID, and I am on a journey of healing.  It takes a long time, hard work, perseverance, being gentle on myself, hearing painful events, and walking through them each week in therapy.  God gave me a gift (dissociation) to survive the things I have been through, and I can’t let the negative thoughts take over…

But the tears keep flowing!  Then I hit rock bottom, start contemplating canceling all my therapy sessions, not taking my meds, quit letting my parts have “out time” and start telling myself that it is safe to contact my family of origin.  I start thinking they were not at fault and I should get over it.  Now that would be a big fat lie, but this is how my ‘Sunday Spiral’ plays out in my mind.

My parents are some of my abusers. And they couldn’t figure out why I quit communicating with them.  So, I decided to send “the letter” explaining my diagnosis/DID, my abuse, their lack of ownership, belief, and support- it was a total back fire.  My oldest sibling was outraged, told me I made it all up, even after he admitted to the same treatment from our parents, he told me I was going to hell, said he tore up the letter and didn’t want to discuss it ever again.  He added that “everyone” is sick of this, mental illness is not real and I needed to just get over it!  It was shocking to say the least.

By noon, I’m a mess, unable to function, and I want to completely isolate from the world!  Needless to say, unlike most of America, I cannot wait until Monday morning arrives!!

That was a major vent, and probably didn’t make much sense…but somehow it feels good to get it out.

Blessings!

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Thoughts for Today

Good Morning!

As I sit here, in a quiet home (because the boys are all sleeping), watching the fall leaves blow around in my back yard, I am reminded of the changing of seasons…and that I have come to despise the word “season”. However, God created all things for a purpose, even the changing of the seasons. So, why shouldn’t I embrace the word season? Maybe because the word season, means change, something is about to happen, things aren’t going to be the same as before, it feels and looks different…Then I thought, Wow! Perhaps the word “season” isn’t so bad after all.

Summer: It’s a time of warmth, sunshine, growth, and light. Nothing hidden, no secrets, and less darkness. Fall: Things change, we see the beauty in various colors, blessings and a sense of transition into a time of rest. Winter: This is a place of silence, being still, turning inward, and regaining a new focus. Spring: Finding new life, new meaning, a renewal and new beginnings.

I have never really thought about the changing of seasons in this way before, and yet it is necessary. Solomon speaks from his own experience in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven”… Timing is important, and all the experiences that are listed in the those verses are appropriate for each time. Being able to discover, accept, and appreciate God’s timing, His perfect timing, is the secret to peace that only He can give. If we doubt or even resent God’ timing, we are in danger of feeling despair or stepping out ahead of His plan.

In verse 11 it says, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” And in verse 14, “And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it.”

We get a glimpse, through each season of God’s creation. The beauty that we see and experience here on earth is only a small picture of what lies ahead for us in heaven. He wants us to enjoy the things He has given to us, to be happy and do well- it is a gift from Him. But we should never loose sight of who He is and His purpose for us. His plan is perfect, and good. It is not to bring disaster, but hope and a future.

I am slowly learning that in each season, to be kind to myself and not beat myself up for not being able to do what “other people” seem to do. And as I face my past and walk through the painful memories, I need to remember that it does not define me- I am not my past. It is amazing to me, how at a young age, I learned to dissociate in order to survive. Dissociating saved my life. It truly is/was a gift from God. The mind He created in me is amazing, mysterious and wonderful all at the same time.

I have heard and read many times that having DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) is like a blessing and a curse. It was puzzling to me that the people writing such things did not have DID.  I’m not going to speak ill of psychiatrists, therapists, mental health organizations and those working with DID clients, because they are trained in the field of dissociation. They also are the ones who have walked us through this journey, providing care, guidance, acceptance, encouragement and support.  For those reasons, I am truly grateful!

   Soap Box…

However, the word “curse” has a strong meaning that is inappropriate for me, and I would assume others.  As a noun, it is defined as, “the expression of a wish that misfortune, evil, doom, etc., befall aperson, group, etc. And as a verb, “to wish or invoke evil, calamity, injury, or destruction upon.”  

I don’t know about you, but that is the very last thing I want in my life!!  Yes, it is a blessing!  It provided a way for us to survive horrific trauma and abuse.  There is no shame in being DID,  It in fact is a testimony of an individuals courage, strength, creativity, and faith.

A curse?  No way!  There are indeed down sides to having DID, because it is hard, grueling and painful work.  At times you feel like you are crazy- but you’re not!  You wonder if you will be cured of DID, you won’t.  You learn to manage, work with your system and achieve integration and wholeness.  So, believe this about yourself:  You are good, you are important, and you are worthy of love and belonging.  What happened to you was not your fault and it in no way makes you a bad person or cursed!

DID can get in the way of everyday life with the inability to engage in daily activities and that is normal. However, some of us have held highly responsible jobs, contributed to society, and able to function normally with coworkers, neighbors and others.

At times it isn’t possible to work, especially if you are in the early stages of healing and integration with your system/community.  DO NOT be hard on yourself, it is all part of the process.  There may be a time when you can slowly add things back into your life.  Be patient with yourself, ask for what you need, seek progress, not perfection, breathe, and choose healing!

End Soap Box!

So, today I am embracing this new season (although tomorrow may be different, Ha Ha). It is important to realize that healing and integration are a process in the journey.  Trauma work comes in layers, so be careful not to get discouraged and feel like you’re starting over.  You may need to revisit certain events, and that is normal. Keep moving forward, being forthcoming and honest, with yourself and your therapist.

I cannot begin to understand, fathom or know God’s plan for me….but I do know it is GOOD, and so am I.

**I want to be clear that I am choosing integration for myself and all the parts of me. I understand that it is a choice we all make and that okay.  It may not be the goal for everyone, but it is for me.

Integration is a process, as opposed to an actual event, that begins as soon as DID therapy begins. Integration is fully embracing each and every part of myself, while learning and accepting new information.  Parts don’t go away or disappear, they are part of you.  It occurs throughout therapy as dissociated parts of one’s self become known, accepted and integrated into normal awareness. It is a natural process in the recovery from trauma to combine, blend, fuse, or merge parts to create a unified whole.

Dissociative Identity Disorder quilt original ribbon, licnsed for reuse and modification http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/

It Is NOT Your Fault

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No matter how many times you may hear this or see it written, it never seems to be enough!  Somehow we invariably believe the abuse was our fault. We tell ourselves, we should have done something, or maybe if we did this or said that, then it would not have occurred.  This thinking couldn’t be farther from the truth!  When we can see ourselves faultless, then we are one more step closer to the healing.

I’m not saying it is easy, or I have it mastered, but it is essential for the healing process.  Another area that seems to consume me (and I’m sure others) is shame.  Shame can keep us locked up inside for years, if we don’t do something about it.  Yes, we can do something about it, we don’t have to carry it any longer.  It is a choice we must make, difficult, scary, and paralyzing at times, yet vital for healing.

Brene’ Brown, one of my favorite authors, explains shame like this:

“Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging. It’s the most primitive human emotion we all feel—and the one no one wants to talk about. If left to its own devices, shame can destroy lives.”  

“The less you talk about it, the more you’ve got it. Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives:

secrecy, silence, and judgment.”

By keeping quiet, your shame will grow exponentially. It will creep into every corner and crevice of your life.”  

The solution is empathy. When you talk about your shame with a friend who expresses empathy, the painful feeling cannot survive. “Shame depends on me buying into the belief that I’m alone.” 

Here’s the bottom line: “Shame cannot survive being spoken, it cannot survive empathy.”

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive. However, if we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.”

God has created us to be in community with one another.  He wants us to encourage, pray for each other, and bear each other’s burdens. Be friends, kind, compassionate, generous, and serve one another.  When those who are close to me love and accept me, I feel Christ’s love, too. When I confess my struggles, they are quick to forgive.  I am grateful they pray for my brokenness, because it is the healing work of Jesus at work.  When we feel the crushed by our own failures, it is a blessing to have a community surround us with compassion and encouragement. It lightens our loads, strengthens us, and gives us the courage to keep on trying. And that is exactly what God intended.

I pray you have found some family and friends whom you have created a safe place to share your journey with DID, and can receive the love and acceptance they offer.  For me, it was courage to trust just one person.  It was like talking to yourself like you talk to someone you love.  It is worth taking the risk, because it has been life-changing for me.  Be brave, and trust God to bring the right people into your life.

Blessings!