Saturday, August 2, 2014

De-Mystifying Your Programming

Many people with alters have been programmed.  That is, they or their alters have been methodically trained to do or be something.  From what I've seen, programming seems universal in people with DID who were subject to ritual abuse, and also fairly common in people whose DID stemmed from domestic abuse.  Programming is different than normal discipline, teaching, or training in that it usually employs a form of torture at a young age to burn a belief or behavior into the core psyche of the person. Though it is very dark, with serious long lasting effects, programming is not nearly as complicated, impressive -or as permanent, as it sounds.  All programming is, is a lie.  A lie that is burned into your subconscious and carried at the very core of who you are.

People who have been programmed, if they are aware of it, often feel that they cannot get out.  They may have alters trained to act against them, harm them if they speak out, report them to their abusers.  Likely they will feel the same amount of fear towards their abuser as when they were a child.  They feel powerless against a seemingly all powerful abuser, who controls even their own mind and willpower.  The alters or people who have been programmed are simply reacting to a very deep lie they believe as truth.  It takes time and patience, but programming is completely reversible.  The lie must be exposed as a lie.  When the alter or person does not believe it, they will not act on it.  Abusers and programmers use extreme fear to keep their victim from questioning the truth and realizing their own autonomy.  In the end, it is all illusion.  

Most abusers are certainly very dangerous to a child, and some still dangerous to an adult.  However all pooled together taking into account their brain, brawn, and overall impact on the world, I don't see them as much bigger than a mouse casting very large shadows on a wall.  They are not strong people, or brave people, and nothing they do is built to truly last, including programming.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Rescue

     Ever since I can remember, I have always fantasized about  being rescued.  Sometimes I fantasize about myself as the rescuer.  But always, to me, the best stories involve a rescue.  Of course, I didn't realize until later in life how much of this stemmed from my serious need and desire to be rescued myself, from a situation so horrible I could not voice it for nearly twenty years -incest.  I'm sharing about this here because I have seen other survivors of abuse, particularly chronic serious abuse they grew up with, share this rescue fantasy, and because people with dissociative disorders generally come from the most severely abusive backgrounds.

     I adored Disney movies when I was little about princesses in some plight or another (usually involving an angry, vindictive, powerful father -go figure).  As I got older I turned into a bookworm devouring books where magic, heroes, and fate saved the heroine from whatever pickle she was in.  The step by step plan for survival according to all these stories, was 1. Heroine finds herself in an awful life situation which she can see no way out of.   2.  By pure chance, and from no effort of her own, a hero walks into her life at just the right moment before complete disaster strikes and saves her from a life of misery and/or death.  Usually the best of these rescue stories also involve romance, but for me that was not necessary.  The one thing I honed in on unconsciously and sought out in every story I could find was A girl who is in a desperate situation and unable to help herself will always be saved by a hero who shows up out of nowhere, miraculously knows she needs help and cares enough about her to risk everything saving her.

     When I grew old enough to start developing crushes I never daydreamed about talking to a boy, holding hands or kissing.  In fact because of my past and home situation I stayed as far away from that as possible.  I did however daydream that whatever boy I fancied might somehow realize I was in trouble and try to save me.  Whenever an adult or teacher noticed me in any way, I fantasized about them somehow finding out my secret and working towards my rescue; calling the police, finding a new place for me to live, being some sort of substitute protective parent.

     The biggest wake up call that motivated me to take drastic steps to save myself was the realization in my early twenties was that NO ONE IS COMING TO RESCUE YOU.  I realized I had been waiting, my whole life, for something that was never going to come.  And while that was incredibly disappointing, it led me to take steps to save myself that no one else could have done, even if they had the knowledge and the means to do it.  I still love a good rescue story, but every little or big step I take for myself is a triumph that makes me feel more competent and proud of myself.  Not to say I can do everything, we all need help sometimes, and recognizing that and accepting it is important also.  But I no longer have the obsession of being rescued because I don't need it.  I am my own best hero.  I think that is one of the strongest signs of transitioning from childhood into adulthood; from being helpless to being capable.  It can take awhile for an adult who has been helpless against victimization to realize that they are now in a position to take action for themselves.  Once they do the action they take for themselves have far more lasting positive effects than action anyone else could have taken for them.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Disbelief: A Common Response to DID

     I get it.  You looked as uneasy and skeptical as I felt when a woman announced that she had been raised in a cult that kept her drugged and impregnated and kidnapped her five children.  "WTF?!"  Someone has just said something so outlandish, so out of your comfort zone that you at first don't know whether to feel concern or disbelief, but at the end of that three second battle disbelief wins.  "I have this thing called Dissociative Identity Disorder, it's basically a big new word for multiple personality disorder.  It's not what it sounds like- well actually it kind of is."  The sudden uncomfortable silence as your mind processes and battles that - "WTF?!"  You gaze at me reprovingly because you are my friend but I have just crossed a major line trying to pass off such a lie.  I am obviously crazy and attention seeking, and you thought I was better than that.


     "I don't believe you."  I don't know how to respond to that so I say nothing, flailing in the silence.  I briefly try to piece together some words, but I have used them all.  "Well at that point there really is nothing you can say" my therapist tells me.  I never hear from you again.


   I Google "Dissociative Identity Disorder" looking for insight, help, and support.  I find instead pages of people debating whether or not my condition exists, or whether I am just attention seeking, or a liar, or delusional.  I questioned the existence of DID too, even after my first unofficial diagnosis- until some of my alters hid half a grand of my loan money.  I definitely know better now but some days I still root for the naysayers.  I'd like to bring them cookies and milk and hide behind their vehement belief in a simple, calm, one personality per person world.  If it shields them from their fear of the existence of multiple personalities why shouldn't it shield me from my fear of it as well?  I'm told this is normal.  "Give your mind a break" my therapist says.


     We have an unexpected mandatory meeting with a financial advisor.  The lady is very nice.  She has long soft dark curly hair, soft curves, soft smile.  She folds her hands in front of her as she explains in an equally soft voice that it's not that they don't trust me, it's just that they don't think giving free account access to a person with multiple personalities is a good idea.  I stare at her stupidly and blink.  That's a good point, and I'm not offended at all.  I'm just taken by surprise at the word alters coming out of her mouth. 


     I'm thinking about getting a dog.  One of my favorite choices is the Boxer.  I've read that they need to have a firm owner, one who lets them know who is the head of the pack.  As I relate this to my sister, she looks over at me with concern on her face; "But not all your alters could do that you know, you'd have to get a dog that works for all them."  I'm a bit mystified that she is bringing up the subject of my alters -wasn't there some unspoken rule that we not talk about that?  I thought it made everyone too uncomfortable, so for the most part I'd stopped mentioning them.  And I'm a bit put out that she's right.  Of course I need to choose a dog that all my alters and I can care for.  I'd just been ignoring that, the way I frequently ignore the whole "DID thing".  I realize that of the people in my life who know about my DID, I am in the decreasing minority who struggles to accept it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Life in Color

     Since starting to integrate my personalities, my life has become brighter, more colorful.  Some of my youngest alters LOVE vibrant colors, and as that molds with who I am, it is reflected in my choices.  I used to gravitate toward dark, somber colors.  My wardrobe was almost strictly black, grey, and army green.  Now it looks like paint cans have been upended over my life.  My walls are a cheery peach and light woods green, that positively glows when the sun hits it in the mid-afternoon.  Our love of light and color also got us to look for a sun-catcher (hard to find in this rainy state), so our room is also frequently full of dancing rainbows.  (My wardrobe varies according to who is out when they get a chance to buy something, but there is now a conspicuous bright red pair of pants peeking out between my blacks and greys.)

     We bought some much needed footwear this year, and it wasn't really until after I got them that I noticed they were incredibly bright and colorful.  I have to say, I am quite happy with this, as it uses fun as a weapon almost against the grueling aspects of a DID life.  We are delighted to look down throughout the day and see our brightly decorated feet peeping back at us.  It is one of our most solid reminders that letting our alters out, and incorporating their likes and dislikes has only been beneficial.  Discovering I had alters and learning to share my life with them was a shock, and at times very hard.  I have always felt they are incredibly admirable and delightful, but I kept myself distant and did and still do struggle with the idea of sharing my "out" time, and my life in general.  We all do.  However as we start to integrate I am still admiring and feel at times privileged, bettered as a person for being able to integrate with them.

       We are on a waiting list for an apartment, and in preparation have bought most of our future kitchen things (and that is pretty much all we were excited to focus on).  It is all boxed up under our bed.  The fantastic array of color this time is very deliberate, now being aware of how powerful color is as a therapy tool in general, but especially for us.  Other people may cringe at the color choices of our kitchen ware but we are, I would say, gleeful.  We spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and we cannot wait to cook using our orange and red stoneware, blue pots, purple bowl, purple blender, yellow cups, and neon green spoons.  We are even (slightly) looking forward to doing the dishes, seeped and surrounded in our color oasis.  We have absolutely proved that color therapy works for us, it is a huge contribution from my alters that I am very happy with.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Backlash of Sexual Abuse Claims

The world needs to be better educated about facts behind sexual abuse claims, especially those who work with it in the legal system.  Concerning that legal system, how sexual abuse claims are treated could use an overhaul. A look at it in an article from the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence;

What Can We Learn from The Accusations Against Woody Allen?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

That Looming Shadow

     Dun, dun dun dun DUUUUUUUN!  And there it goes.  My alters have been quiet for weeks, and I always have mixed reactions from being relieved to being on edge when they go silent like that.  I try to tell myself it's just because I'm doing soooo good, that they don't need to pop up anymore with their problems, we're healing, we're getting better, wahoo!  Which is partly true, I am making progress and so crises happen less often and everything, including alter life, is more manageable.  Or because we're partially integrated, which is also partly true with some.  But when they don't respond to my checking in, or trying to give them a nudge it feels . . . ominous.  Like when you're talking to someone and they go silent and their eyes go wide and they're not looking at you but at something behind you . . . something really big behind you. . . .  For the most part, I ignore the unease that this causes and take advantage of me time getting as much done as I can.  Occasionally I'll have a few moments of doubt; "They're quiet.  Too quiet."  But I just shake it off.   And then one day turn around and there is that big secret, that big memory, that big realization that was just too much to handle before.  "Oh.  OH."  And damn if it doesn't suddenly all make sense.  It's bittersweet, really.  I am making progress.  I'm still making progress.  But it is not as free and easy as I was hoping.