************************************Denial covers the pain of the past * A blanket over the world * Lift a corner * Don't be afraid * Your life awaits you*************************************

Sunday, February 14, 2010

DID and the Fifth Step

My sponsor doesn't really understand what DID is. I have explained it to her, to some degree, but I don't know if I want to give her the "Sybil" or "Three Faces of Eve" connection. That is so far from reality that even though it is something people can relate to, it is highly distasteful to me to be associated with those fabrications. I would rather she see me as me and not as a reflection of a character from a movie or book.

When I did my fifth step, I wrote out twenty pages of resentments. As we went over it, at a certain point she said,
You were the only one who stood up to your father. You were the one who would not agree with him when everyone else did. You saw through him. He didn't like that. He needed to feel powerful and your ability to see reality as it was and fight for that was threatening to him.
He tried to break you for your entire childhood - tried to make you conform to what he wanted you to be.
But he didn't break you.
You won!
What a profound moment! Awesome! She sees how much he deserves this anger...
but... wait. I'm supposed to let it go. Isn't that the whole point?

A little later, she answered that question. "Hanging on to this is giving him power."
And then, "What is keeping you from letting it go?"

The most interesting thing happened when she asked this. I knew the answer! It came to me in a moment of clarity like I rarely experience. I felt many parts of me coming together inside, as if in conference, and then the most adult part of me and many of the child parts acted out a kind of pantomime.

This is what I saw:

I am about four years old. I am holding an experience in my hands. It is more than a memory; it is the entire experience - the things that happened and all of my physical and emotional reactions. Every nuance of the experience is there.

I close one small hand around the experience, not allowing any of it to escape. In the other hand I am holding an open zip-lock bag. I put the experience in the bag and quickly close it up. A refrigerator comes into focus behind me. I turn around and place the baggy in the freezer and shut the door. Then I turn back to look at the adult me with a sense of purpose on my small face.

Now, I am the adult. The four-year-old opens the freezer, takes the plastic bag out, and hands it to me.

The adult is now holding the plastic bag. The four year old steps back, waiting.
This scenario is duplicated - not repeated because it is happening simultaneously - again and again. There is a two-year-old, a seven-year-old, an eight-year-old, a nine-year-old, at least two twelve-year-olds and others as well. They are all reaching into the freezer and they are each giving me - the adult - a plastic bag containing something significant.

And that's why I haven't wanted to let them go.

These old experiences, wrapped in plastic, are gifts! They have been held safe and complete all this time, waiting for the moment when these little ones can hand them to an adult who knows what to do with them. They are like sacred offerings.... Here, I've had this all this time. Take it. Fix it. Make us whole.

Now, my sponsor is looking at me. She's waiting for me to respond, but I've been lost in my own head. I hit the "rewind button" in my mind, and remember what she asked.
What is it that is keeping you from letting this go?
I try to explain it to her, but how can I really? I tell her about the baggies and the freezer and the way these felt like gifts. She furrows her brow and says, "I never had a dissociative disorder and I'm not a therapist. I don't really understand it. That is something you have to work out with your counselor."
I tell her I am working on it.
She nods, and then sits back, thinking. After a few moments, she says that in her own life, when she used her "experience strength and hope" to help others, it helped to heal the old wounds.

Inside, the children who e held these experiences safe all this time seem to step forward again.

Yes! Do you hear that? These are gifts! They are sacred offerings given to you! You can't just throw them away. They have power. They have strength. Use them!

I had a rare moment of clarity at that point. I felt entirely sure that this was the answer. Somehow, the things that happened to me were important, there was a reason, there was some purpose to all of it and opening those bags was giving me power. That's why I couldn't simply throw them away. I need them.

For what?
I'm not exactly clear on that yet.
However, it felt like a spiritual opening came with that revelation. That is a post for another day.


  1. how beautiful and meaningful~

    freezer bags are interesting as a metaphor. they keep things "fresh" (like a vivid memory with powerful emotions might feel), and they store food (transforming your traumas into something good for yo like you say here - like nourishment?) and the freezer as an emotional storage space seems meaningful. when faced with something painful we might freeze or numb or go cold to protect ourselves, and now you're processing everything, it's like a huge thawing out.

    am i overanalyzing? i just thought that all seemed so meaningful.

    i was always confused by people telling me to "let things go" - i always thought in response, let it go where? what does it even mean to let it go?

    i think for me personally, what i'm starting to think this past year, and this fits with what you are thinking it seems. is that for me, letting things go isn't a matter of letting it go like a balloon let go into the sky and it floats away forever, gone, forgotten.

    it's more a matter of taking the painful memories and the feelings surrounding them, and transforming my emotions in response to the memories into something better for me. transforming the energy of resentment into something new. i don't forget what happened in my life. but i don't want to let it control me in a bad way either, compelling me to live in fear for example. i'm still working on what this all means and i'm not even sure if this is relevant to you or not. but what you wrote strongly reminded me of this, so i thought i would share in case it does relate here to you as well~

  2. What an insightful post. I am so glad that you have this sponsor that can ask you these questions to make you think about the "why's". Sometimes in t, I get the question and never have time to think about it. It sounds like you have a wonderful balance between your sponsor and t.

  3. HI-

    Wonderful writing about your healing work. I never understood or agreed with the concept of "letting go". My healing work consisted of hanging on, embracing my truths, surrendering to all my experiences. I tried to escape for year, and I, like so many, went to great lengths to separate myself from myself, when, all the time my freedom was in facing my self, my truths and learning to love myself with all of my past integrated as part of my tapestry of design. It too time, about three years, but it happened - I became whole and there is no need to run from me. All the horrible things that happened I embrace fully because they are all part of me and all of me has value and purpose. I wouldn't be able to write to you today and share my hope if I was still escaping. The gifts are endless in embracing all of ourselves - and tragedy does become triumph. If you consider MADD, all those Mom's certainly do not want to have their reality be true - but it is, and so they took their tragedy and created MADD. Doing so never changes the horror rather it adds another meaning of hope for others. Every time I am able to share about my journey to wholeness my abusive past has purpose and power. And to think, they very things I ran from about myself are some of my greatest sources of strength.

    I hope this helps. And may I also add that in sharing your 4th step it says you only have to tell one other person, maybe your sponsor is not your best choice.

    Love Gail

  4. Thank you for sharing your heart. I have a 15 year old (adopted) son who has DID and we are dealing with it a little every day. He insists he is a "we" and he's "hanging with his peeps".
    Lindsey Petersen

  5. Thank you for commenting on my post and I too will be back to your blog! Thank you!

  6. Wow, that's an amazing. . . can I call it a vision? It's so true, when we're little, we can't handle and process all the abuse. But now, you are ready to open the bags and see what's inside. Carefully, gently sorting through, finding out who you are in the process.

    My personal analogy is packing and unpacking boxes, perhaps because I've moved so many times in the past few years. My 'clutter' is scattered in different locations, in different boxes, in different degrees of orderliness, and I need to go through them one at a time, toss out the trash, find the treasures, keep the useful things. Similarly the experiences of my childhood, the beliefs I was taught, the decisions I made and that were made for me - I'm sorting through and finding the good, the treasured, and the trash. What is no use to me I will throw out, what is useful and good I will put in an accessible drawer, and what is treasured will either go in the special box, or sit out on display - depending.

  7. Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. I just took my first look at your postings. You have some beautiful quotes.

    I am sure that your blog will help others who are healing from abuse. Reading just this one post helped me to solve a worriment I am having at work. Not letting it go is giving someone power over me. I decided to let go of a resentment not because the resentment is not justified but because I do not want this person to wield anymore power over me.


  8. Katie, I like your analysis. It's interesting to think of what all this means on different levels. My mind tends to be pretty concrete,so maybe thats why I see the metaphor as if it is really happening. To me it feels real.

    I think what I'm doing is redefining what it means to "let it go." That's something that has been helpful to me with other words and phrases. In a way it is "letting it go" because maybe it won't have the same affect on me.

    Lily, thank you, yes. I am lucky to have the support system I have. I am extremely grateful.

    Gail, what a wonderful comment, thank you. Accepting all I am and have been - really accepting - that is another of those phrases that has come to mean something different to me over time. It doesn't mean condoning. Thanks for saying it so clearly.

    Lindsey, thanks for stopping by my blog. Your son is very lucky to have you there for support. Speaking in the plural is something I try not to do... but it is sometimes impossible to articulate what is going on inside without it. There is no language for this. I'm sure it's hard for you. As a mother, I know that I just want my kids to be happy. Know that there is help and hope out there. With your support he can come all the way out, and be who he is meant to be. For some, integration is the answer, for others "systems" - but there are ways to live and be happy.

    Gabi, thanks for coming by.

    Beth, great analogy. I may have to find some kind of filing system of my own. For now it feels as if I need to keep it all. thanks for giving me something else to think about.

    Anna, wow.I can't tell you how good it felt to read your comment. Its what I want most... to make all of this worth it, somehow by helping other people find answers and peace, too. Good luck on your journey.

  9. Shen, today I look at the results of my incest experiences as a gift because without the experiences I would not be who I am today---strong, loving, caring, compassionate, a survivor and a thriver. Without the incest, I would be someone else totally.

    I like and love who I am today. That doesn't mean I would choose to do the same things and have the same experiences today. It just means that I took what life and my parents gave me and decided to triump over the incest and my abusers.

    Without those experiences, I wouldn't be blogging about incest and hopefully helping others to grow theough their own issues. I think that most of us who write about abuse do so in the hope of helping others overcome the same situations that we have had.

    I had over 30 years of feeling alone and thinking no one would ever understand what I had been through. I don't want anyone else to experience the fear of being alone in their suffering so I blog about it.

    For me, your freezer bags would be holding the frozen emotions that I never allowed myself to feel as a child. It wasn't safe for me to feel as a child. It took years for me to know what I was feeling and to defrost those emotions.

    Feelings are a gift once you can accept what they are and actually feel them. When you freeze the bad feelings, you also freeze out the joy and happiness. You can't have one without the other. Today none of my emotions are bad. I gladly embrace all of them as they come out. They let me know that I am alive.

    To me, letting go, is reaching a place of acceptance of what was. It is acceptance of me as a whole person. It doesn't mean that I forget what happened or who did what to me. It means acceptance that I can't change the past. I can work through my issues and learn to not let the pain continue to affect my present.

    That doesn't mean that I deny my past. That doesn't work. I know. I tried to deny the past for 10 years. That just gave me headaches and ulcers. Stuffing emotions just makes me physically sick and explosive like a volcano overflowing on to innocent people.

    Letting go isn't about condoning what was done to you. Letting go is taking back your control over your own life. It is about not allowing your abusers to continue to abuse you. It is about having healthy boundaries. Letting go is telling your abusers that they no longer have any control over your life.

  10. Your sponsor may not know anything about DID but she sure knows the right questions to ask.


Please feel free to leave your thoughts in a comment.

Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

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.