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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Keys to Integration

A day of chaos. It isn't the first, not the beginning, but the culmination of a few weeks of inexplicable turmoil. Even now, trying to describe what’s been going on is sending me reeling around in several directions.
Where to start...?

Often, I've written about things after the fact. It’s quite different to be in the middle of it and try to blog. By giving you the retrospect view, I believe there is one fact that has not been obvious – and that important piece of information is this:

When I am beginning to integrate a part of me, I am unaware that it’s happening.

 So, for the last few weeks, what was I aware of?

• A general sense of unease that was growing each day.
• Blocks of missing time that were increasing in length and number almost daily.
• An increase in the amount of support I needed from outside of myself.
• Overreacting to situations.
• Being completely aware I was overreacting but unable to stop it.
• A growing sense of panic.
• A sense of impending doom.
• Emotions that had nothing to do with what was actually happening in my life.

So, how do I define integration?
  1. I accept the concept of the “inner child.” There is a part of me that was formed in childhood that stays with me, forever.
  2. I accept the concept that my current situation can sometimes trigger emotions about a similar situation from the past,. This can cause me to overreact or react in ways that I might not if I were able to be completely rational about the current situation. I believe this happens to everyone – not just people with emotional issues. Someone complains that you made a mistake and a forgotten event from your childhood is triggered somewhere in your subconscious. You don't even remember the teacher who wrote a bad grade on your paper and how you felt you didn't deserve it, but the unresolved feelings come up in a similar situation. The anger and frustration from the old situation makes you react strongly to the situation of the present.
  3. "Compartmentalized memories" is concept I accept. To some degree, everyone pushes some things into a side pocket of their brain (like the forgotten school paper I spoke of above.)
When you put your keys down because you are distracted by something else, and then can’t find them later, where did the memory go? You eventually track them down, and then think, "oh, yeah, the phone rang right when I came in the door." You answered the phone, unconsciously put your keys down, and you know you did it but you have actually setting them down.
Where did the memory go?
If you forget someone’s birthday, even though you know the date and meant to send a card, that is another form of a “compartmentalized memory?” You obviously have the knowledge somewhere… but it wasn't available at the time you needed it.
And in accepting the three premises above, it seems to me a good way of  understanding dissociative disorders. From my own, personal experiences, I could never doubt the reality of DID because its real and present in my life, but seeing a logical explanation helps me understand it on another level, and maybe it will help you understand as well.

So, the last few weeks have sucked and it only dawned on me yesterday that all the chaos is because I've been bringing home another fragment of my inner child. "She" is "me" and always will be... and now I have access to more of those hidden pieces of my past.


  1. I do not know integration is happening until the very end.

    I feel I have been trying to integrate all my life I just never had the chance or knew how. The post traumatic stress was what kept us apart. As I process the trauma we integrate. That simple and that complex.

    I never had any question if I was multiple. For me I found out not everyone else was not.

    For me it is that the memory is not in my consciousness. It was not just the traumatic memories large blocks of time were missing.

    Although it takes energy and time adult integrations are relatively easy. I remember an office I had or some such thing and over time it comes into my current consciousness. It used to shock me I got used to it.

    I work very hard at not using an adult solution to a inner child feeling. Today I had the feeling there was nothing I could do, that it was hopeless. I stayed with it and knew that feeling was valid. At the time it was hopeless. Once I accepted that feeling as a child's and valid then the feeling changed.

    I am currently experiencing integration in a new way in that I know it is going to happen and pretty much what has to be done to make it happen. Each integration is different as there are different reasons we are separate.

    This integration is about all of us that were when we were 3. We know it is going to take a long time and be very hard work.

    Bring home is a good description. I was on one of my mini fugues in the middle of the night in a snow storm headed back to the town where I lived when most of the trauma happened this time of year. I was told "We do not live here." I as an adult changed that to "We don't live here anymore." I messed up I was being told that "We do not live here." I know now three years later that they live where I was when I was three.

  2. Thank you Michael, for that glimpse into what it is like for you. The word "integration" resonated with me immediately when I came across it a couple years ago. I was kind of afraid to use it for awhile because I had not seen it applied to what I was going through. I haven't come across a word that describes it better, to date, so that is the word I use.

    I was very surprised to get flack for using that word at a DID online support group. A lot of people were very upset at the concept of integration... so whatever that word meant to them, it was not the comforting thing it meant to me.

  3. Also, your referance to misconstruing what the "child" was telling you - I've had that experience as well. It's hard to listen, sometimes.

  4. I use growing together sometimes. Sometimes it is melding.

    I do not understand the angst about integration. That's OK. It is what is right for us.

  5. I believe the disagreement with the concept of integration was partly that they felt that if these "child parts" or other parts of self were "integrated" then the other part would no longer exist. They felt that trying to "integrate" was the same as killing parts of self, or like denying that the parts were real.

    To me, it was just the opposite.

    There was a long debate about just that at another website.

  6. A very thought-provoking post. I have no doubt I behave in relationships today based on my past, which is why I'm in Al-Anon.

    I also can't remember most of a whole year of my life when I was a teenager. I'm still waiting for "more to be revealed" as we say in Al-Anon. For me, working the steps has helped a lot to come to terms with my past. But it's like peeling an onion. There's always another layer.

    I wanted to thank you for commenting on my blog about my question. What you said came out just fine. I appreciate your thoughtfulness, the fact that you slept on it before you answered. That was very generous, as was sharing your thoughts. I thank you.

  7. kathy, I'm glad to see you back, still reading. I'm enjoying your blog, too. I'm in CoDA, which I think is very similar to Al-anon. I'm still going through the steps for the first time... but I am finding it all very helpful, as well.

  8. I would not even think about killing off any parts. All parts are of equal importance and value. There are no bad or evil parts, I am a multiple not to be like my abusers. That is my core.

    We integrate, we are not integrated by someone else, that would be impossible and a waste of time.

    Nothing is lost and so much is gained for us.

    Some things are different. We now get cold which we did not before. We do not suffer in the heat like we did before.

    I used to see in gray scale sometimes either a optic nerve thing or a partial regression to before I could see in color. I do not know if I ever will again. I do know I can see values much better. Good for painting and golf.

    I ski in gray scale if I get out this year I will check it out.

  9. hi shen~ thank you for describing what integration means to you. i've heard that some people feel threatened by the term, and my impression is that it is like you said, because people feel like that part won't exist anymore, or that it's a threat or invalidation of life as they've always known it.

    as you know i do not have DID, but it has always made sense to me and i have never had a problem believing in the dissociative experiences of others.

    i think the problem has been that so many people think that their view of the world is all there is, so if you do not dissociate, you might have trouble accepting that other people do. but to me, we each have our own experiences of reality, just because they are not all the same does not mean any one way isn't real.

    i'm so glad you've found such a positive experience in integration. that sounds very healing.

    wishing you well!

  10. Thank you, Katie,

    Yes, it is a very positive, healing experience for me. It is hard work - don't get me wrong - and it sucks when you're in the middle of it! Even so, it is worth it. Because I've gone through this before, I am finding myself more able to be optomistic as I go through it this time. I am still trying to work some of this out (which is why I still haven't posted about "tuesday",) but I am remembering how good I felt when I "came together" in the past and that is inspiring me to push forward without quite as much angst as I have in the past.

  11. HI SHEN-

    You are really doing some wonderful personal journey work. I SO love my inner child - "Annie". We have been integrated for over 20 years. And to think I had her buried. I understand your process well as I have taken such a journey. You are very brave.

    Love to you

  12. Thank you for your support and encouragement, Gail. When it gets tough, it's good to know others have passed this way and survived.

  13. Hi Shen, Sorry I am getting to this post so late. I see it does overlap the recent post I made.

    My feeling is that our experience is our own, and nobody has the right to tell us it cannot be true.

    That said, there is some comfort in trying to understand these experiences as entities... because otherwise treaters would not know how to develop methods of working with DID people that work.

    I tend to think of the way you describe integration as what others call co-consciousness or co-presence. The concept of integration has traditionally meant a final type of merging of two or more parts. I generally don't like the words co-consciouness or co-presence, so generally use the more common words of collaboration and communication and sharing. These seem much more approachable to me.

    I am glad you found some answers to what you've been experiencing the past few weeks.


  14. What a brave soul you are to be able to share your journey with the world...I'm sure in your sharing you are helping so many people unbottle what's going on and let many people know that they are not alone. Kudos to you. Also, you seem to have come a long way..that's wonderful. Here's to a safe journey from here on...peace, light and love, CordieB.

  15. Thank you Paul.

    Cordie, thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.

  16. hi shen, just checking in to say hi and hope things are going well with you~

    sending kind thoughts your way :)

  17. Thanks for thinking of me, Katie. I'm finding it harder than expected to write about this while i'm in the middle of it.

    I may have to jump to something else for a while...

  18. hi shen~ i'm glad you're ok. and i understand having a hard time writing about something while in it. there have been times i had to take a break from writing or blogging, give myself space to process and feel less vulnerable.

    wishing you the best~

  19. "It seems that there are a lot of people who do believe in these three concepts, and yet still can’t make the leap from “inner child” and “reactions to past experiences” and “compartmentalized memories” to a full blown dissociative disorder."

    I love this! I wonder if maybe this will help one of our alters who still, after 20 years, doesn't accept the DID.

    We've done some integrations, thought for a while we'd gone the distance, but it fell apart (for good reason, actually). What you said about "...most of the time I am in a range somewhere between feeling like one person and co-consciousness." is SO familiar!

    And fwiw, in the integrations we've done, we have NOT "lost" anyone. Not like the death of a friend. More like we got so close we couldn't tell where one ended and the other began anymore. It was a feeling of love and total acceptance. And some of those idiosyncrasies that made those alters stand out could still be seen in the integrated self. They're not gone. They're whole.

    So glad to have found your blog!

  20. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Inner Family. I'm glad if you found something of value in this post!


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Co Creation

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Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.