Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dream: An*l Abuse

(For: needles, anal penetration) 

Yesterday I was having problems with mild anal pain accompanied by a fair amount of bleeding whenever I used the restroom.  This is not atypical and happens periodically (every 3-8 months) due to anal fissures, which is really embarrassing to write about, but is important back story to my dream.  I'm not sure if they are caused by body memories or scar tissue or perhaps the cause is completely organic (although I tend to think otherwise), whatever the reason using the toilet has always been a problem for me for many reasons for as long as I can remember.

So yesterday while I was having these problems, I was having body memories of being bent over something - probably a bed, but I'm not sure.  I did not immediately connect it to the anal pain/bleeding, because as a young child I would fairly frequently bend over things during self harming, so I assumed this was a desire of one of the parts to self harm and tried to keep my mind off of it. 

Well, last night before going to bed I sent a message to my parts, telling them that I was proud of them and that I loved them and that they could share with me any memories that they felt compelled to share and I would help them carry the burden of the memories.  I have been trying to do this as often as possible recently.  And so this is what my dream was last night: 

I was a child and I was reclined on some sort of medical table.  It wasn't soft like a bed and it didn't have any paper on it like an exam table.  It was hard and bent at such an angle that I was somewhat propped up, but largely reclined.  I'm not sure if my arms and legs were restrained, but they were unnaturally flat against the table.  In the dream I sort of "woke up" in this state and looked to my side where there were several syringes lying at my right side beside my arm. 

I started to panic a little, but I made no noise, it was more of an internal sense of dread and fear.  There were two men in the room wearing white suits, almost like bio-hazard or laboratory suits.  One was on the opposite side of the room as me facing away from me and messing with things on a medical counter where there was a computer and some other things.  He did nothing throughout the dream and seemed largely uninterested.  The other man was at my side.  He picked up a syringe and I was screaming inside for him not to stick it in me, but I did nothing or couldn't do anything to stop him.  He stuck it in and it stung. 

It was not a syringe with a body and a plunger, it just had a small cylindrical piece of plastic on the end.  I'm not sure if something else was attached to it later or how it worked, but it stung badly and he left it in for what felt like a couple of minutes. 

Then he grabbed me from the table and pushed against my back, forcing me across the room.  He forced me to bend over something, which I think may have been a bed although maybe not.  I couldn't see it in my dream, but I pictured it as looking like the end of my parent's bed during my childhood when it had a metal bar across the end of it.  Perhaps this is because a younger part assumed it was the bed based on how it felt against my stomach, I'm not sure. 

He then inserted what I think was his finger (again, may just be my assumption and not actually what it was) into my rear end.  I was very disturbed and scared.  After a moment he reached a bit farther and stroked the back part of my vagina very gently and slowly.

From this point on the dream gets fuzzy.  There were more injections that took place and I think at some point there was another child in the room.

While I doubt this is a play-by-play of a real memory, it felt very real to me.  I believe that at least parts of it are true memories/feelings/sensations. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dream: My Hand

(For: knives, violence)

I have a recurring dream where my hand gets either stabbed or sliced.  The pain is just terrible and searing.  When I wake up I can still feel it.

Earlier this week I had a dream that I was climbing some stairs and a woman was mad at me.  She threw a knife and it stabbed through my hand and into the railing.  I grabbed the knife and rocked it back and forth to loosen it out of the wood so that I could pull it out.  I can still feel what it felt like.  

Usually it is a knife in these dreams.  Once it was a triangle shaped rounded blade (like a guitar pick) that a man said was ceremonial and the cut happened after I tried to save some children that he was keeping captive for a ritual.

Is the recurrent nature of this dream symbolic or literal?  I guess I won't know until my memories return. 

Does anyone out there with DID or DDNOS have similar recurring dreams?  What are your thoughts about them?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rough Times

I feel like I do alright for a while, but eventually without fail I fall back into a terrible depressed frustration.  Lack of control is scary for me, this is why I needed my protective parts as a child, they could fight for me and keep control when I was unable to.  Now, I struggle to admit the lack of control that I have because of them.  I don't want to throw my hands up and blame everything on "them" as if I'm just trying to throw out all responsibility, but at the same time, I really don't always control what's going on with me.

A part comes out and settles into my brain with this depression, self hate, and negativity, so I become harsher, angrier, more insulting towards myself and more frustrated.  Then I feel guilty for being around my boyfriend and subjecting him to my negativity.  "It's not my fault" doesn't seem like a very good excuse when I'm lurking inside myself somewhere.  When I can fight for control against the other part and force my thoughts and opinions out in place of their's, but it's tiring.  And sometimes I can't tell the difference between myself and another part.  I might think I'm in control when I'm not or I might think I'm not in control when I am.

I've been looking for dissociative disorder therapists in my area, but they are all too expensive.  My insurance is through my parents and the one time I brought up therapy, my mother didn't speak to me for months.  I'll have to wait until my boyfriend graduates this year and then perhaps we'll have enough money for me to see someone. 

In the meantime, I have a deep longing to be understood.  To talk to someone besides him, because I don't want to chip away at his sanity or ramble endlessly about all of my own issues.  I'm not being a fantastic partner right now, which sinks me back deeper into my low feelings.  I need some professional advice right now.  Am I going to be able to fight my way out of this or should I just relax and try to enjoy what I can from life?

Oh the joys of a deeply damaged mind...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dream: Schools and Orphanages

I had some bizarre dreams earlier this week.  The first one started in a house somewhere.  A man appeared and he was huge.  He was wearing a plaid shirt and he had really long arms and huge hands, as if I was the size of a toddler.  He picked me up and put me in this white room.  It was a very big room and the ceiling floors and walls were all bright white, almost like they were made out of light.

Inside the room there were lots of people standing around.  Some people were making a play for entertainment, other people were just talking.  The man would speak periodically over the intercom and talk to the people in the room.

I decided to escape and I found a door at the side of the room.  I went through it and I was in a stairwell.  The floor was gray and green checkerboard, like the floor of a school.  I climbed the stairs and found a group of school girls in uniform walking down a hallway.  They didn't notice me, but I heard them talking.  It was their teacher's last night.  She was going to go away forever because she was going to be killed.  The girls seemed kind of sad and worried.

I went downstairs and there was a girl who was standing at a piano doing something at the bottom of the stairwell.  I laid down flat against the stairs and hoped that she wouldn't be able to see me.  While my eyes were squeezed shut, I felt her slam a knife against my throat and threaten to kill me.  I was terrified, but I got away.

Later in the week...

I had a dream I was a child and with a bunch of children in a daycare or school.  There was not enough food and they were all trying to share what they had.  They were alone and they were locked in the room. 


I had a dream that I was in an orphanage with a bunch of other kids.  I decided to escape so I grabbed a bundle of cloth (I'm assuming clothes, but maybe blankets) and ran out the door.  As I took off down the street I was stopped by a man dressed in black with a big gun.  He pointed it at me and said he was going to shoot me if I didn't go back.  Then someone from the orphanage was behind me and they took me back.

So, why so many dreams about schools and orphanages?  This has been a recurring theme lately.  Very strange. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Losing My Mind

Lately I have felt like I'm just losing my mind.  The parts are all thinking different thing and they keep coming out and just wrecking things.  I know it's not their fault.  I know they're just trying to protect me and do their job, but they just keep coming out and saying things that make my boyfriend mad or they come around and make me feel like crap about myself.

The protective parts are all fighting old battles.  They come out and insist that my boyfriend is doing things wrong or that he doesn't care about me.  These are things that "I" know are not true and are old feelings that I had at the beginning of our relationship, about two and a half years ago.  So why are the parts still stuck there?  Why are they still picking at him and analyzing him and causing so much harm?

My boyfriend thinks that I don't trust him, that he has to walk on egg shells around me, that he never knows how I'm going to react and I hate that.  I hate it so much.  I hate causing so much shit without meaning to.  I think I'm doing the right thing, I think I'm making a valid point and then all the sudden I realize that it was stupid and pointless and I was fighting for nothing.  I was upset over nothing.  I put me and him through hell over nothing.

What do I do about this?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The System

I'm going to try to give an overview of what I know about my system.  I know there are a ton of things that I don't know and probably a whole lot of parts that I haven't met yet, but I'd like to make a note of what I know now so that I can gauge my progress as it occurs.

For the vast majority of the time, my parts are co-conscious with me, which means I share or absorb their thoughts and emotions.  There have only been a handful of times where I have lost time.  This means that what I know about the parts are what I have assessed through a sort of osmosis when they are around.  This means they don't have names or exact ages that I am currently aware of.

The Happy Part - approximately 3-6 years old

She is happy, outgoing, enthusiastic, loud, carefree, and innocently attention seeking.  She sometimes gets bored and lonely.  She likes playing games, talking to people, and cute things.  She is heavily protected by the other parts.

The Timid Part - approximately 9 years old

This is one of two or three parts that I am only newly aware of.  She has really just started coming out and was around most of yesterday.  So far she seems shy, but willing to talk and pleasant.  Not as excitedly happy as the happy part, but definitely a positive personality.  She does get hurt, but will just sort of hang her head and look sad.  She's not a fighter.

The Crying Part - approximately 1-3 years old

I think this part is pre-verbal.  The only thing I sense from her is that she is crying all the time.  Most of the time she is the only part that will cry externally.  Her sobs, internally and externally, are like a baby's - big open mouth, sucking in air and not breathing for a period of time.  She cries silently.

The Sad Part - approximately 6-9 years old

This part is very sad and self-blaming.  She thinks she is bad and that everything is her fault.  She tries to be good, but feels that she can never manage it because of the other parts.  I'm not sure that she ever becomes external, but I can almost always feel her at the frontal interior.

The Defender - age unknown

This part's mission is to defend me.  She comes out to fight and reason whenever necessary.  She believes that by convincing people to agree, she is saving the body from punishment - this concept comes from an understanding that mistakes equal punishment, so if you convince someone you didn't make a mistake (even if you did), you won't get punished.

The Eraser - age unknown

The eraser is the part that comes to the front and takes memories and painful experiences to the back where I don't have to experience or remember them.  There is a logic to this and she will leave me information that is vital to my functioning, but will take enough that I don't feel endangered.

The Punk - approximately 11 years old

This is another part that has only recently been "discovered".  She is hilarious with a dark sense of humor and sharp wit.  She's confident and views abuse as a sort of badge of honor that makes her tough.  She can talk about abuse/traumas because she doesn't feel emotionally connected to them.  She seems to know that certain things happened, but without actual memories.

The Angry Part - age unknown

This part holds all of the rage and is extremely difficult to deal with.  She wants to break things, hurt people, and yell.  She thinks bad people deserve to be hurt.  She's sort of bouncing off the walls with rage inside my mind much of the time.  She will come out to defend the other parts.

The Snoop - age unknown

This part looks for clues and tries to figure out what people are up to and what they are thinking.  She is always on the look out for people betraying her or lying.  She is doing this to help and defend the other parts.

The Loner - age unknown

This part is pleasant and productive when on her own, but she loathes being around people.  She will bite your head off if you look at her funny.  She is the most irritable and usually has very little or no reason to be.  She's very hard to control, extremely judgmental and is good at making everyone miserable.  She comes out to prove that I don't need anyone.

That's all the parts I'm really aware of right now, although I know there are more.  I've been shocked with how quickly I have been able to identify them.  In two months I've gone from not knowing any, to discovering nine parts!  Hopefully I'll be able to get everyone communicating and functioning as I continue to work through issues and heal.

Dealing with a Crisis

At the beginning of the week during which I made these drawings, I had a fight with my boyfriend.  The parts have a very hard time dealing with conflict, both because their own conflicting viewpoints lead to a ton of issues with inconsistency and because once there is a conflict they don't know how to end it or move on. 

I explained in a previous post about the parts being around at the same time and the problems it can create.  Well, this holds true after an argument as well.  On the first day most of the parts were around and pretty unhappy.  A couple of days later the happy part sort of checked out.  She didn't want to be around anymore because things were too chaotic or maybe the other parts pushed her away to protect her, I'm not sure. 

Four days from the argument, the sad part, crying part, and empty part were the only ones around.  I think this is because they were the only ones who didn't totally go into hiding.  The sad part usually stays around through tough times, perhaps that is her "job" - to take the pain, hurt, and blame of things gone wrong.  Although this seems to be the job of the eraser part as well, but without the feelings of blame - the eraser part usually knows it wasn't her fault.

Luckily, I made it through this crisis.  Hopefully another argument doesn't happen for a while, because helping all the parts process what went on is a nightmare.  They each need to be reassured individually and even though they might all be listening inside, they will each come out and ask questions that concern them and look for answers and comfort. 

The Snoop

The part of me that I call "the snoop" was created purely to acquire information and to interrogate people.  The snoop tries to solve problems by looking for the answers through nosiness, questioning, and research.  She has what I would call a "watch list" of words that she looks out for, because they are things that bother or scare the other parts.  These words change as the concerns of the parts change. Whenever anything on her watch list comes up in conversation, she comes out to interrogate and investigate.  She is very serious about spying. 

The first time I remember the snoop appearing was when we went on vacation to an amusement park when I was six.  I had an intense phobia of fireworks, I absolutely loathed them.  I asked my parents if one of the shows we were going to would have fireworks.  They swore and swore that there weren't going to be any. 

Well, there were fireworks.  There was a whole firework show and it scared the crap out of me.  I was absolutely furious!  When we returned home from vacation I found the brochure that had the show descriptions and ticket information.  Right below the name of the show was a description that said it included fireworks.  They had lied to me.

I was so upset.  I felt like I had been terribly betrayed and while this didn't particulary surprise me (I'm sure far worse betrayals had already transpired), I was disturbed by the lie, but pleased with having the power to find things out on my own.  I'm not sure if this was the origination of the snoop part or if she was already around prior to this memory, but either way it's a good example of what the snoop does. 

I know the snoop is around when I find myself reading over people's shoulders, going through notebooks and calendars, listening at doors, eavesdropping on phone conversations, etc.  She has a deep fear of people talking about her or making decisions about her life without her knowledge.  Because of this, she has incredibly sharp hearing and excellent interrogation skills. 

While I know that this part is just trying to keep me safe, it is often an exhausting part to have around.  It works nearly constantly and will not stop digging for information until thoroughly satisfied, which may never happen.  This part also upsets people because if I'm caught snooping around or interrogating people it becomes clear that I have a lot of distrust.

Memories and Guilt *Trigger Warning*

(For: self harm, abuse)

This is one of the hardest pieces of art for me to share because I have so much shame surrounding my childhood.  There are parts of me that are furious that I wasn't helped, that the grown-ups didn't do their job, but there are also parts who blame me, who think I was just a weird kid, that I did bad things, that everything was my fault.  Self harm during childhood is a reality that I have had a very hard time accepting.  Perhaps it is extremely rare or perhaps simply taboo, but I feel so alone in my struggle to accept what I did to myself as a child.  Do a search for child self harm and all you'll find are sites about teenagers, citing that self harm can start as early as twelve or thirteen.  Twelve or thirteen?  I estimate the onset of my self harm at about five to six years old.  Am I really alone in this? Am I horribly abnormal?

Once I was finally able to speak up and tell my boyfriend about the self harm I had inflicted upon myself as a child, I was able to truly realize what had been done to me, how much the adults in my life had failed.   Regardless of whether or not it's a "normal" response to trauma, I am beginning to accept that it was not my fault.

I have now been able to talk about the self harm, although it still bothers me and the sad part is so deeply shamed that I couldn't put the really bad stuff in the drawing, because she was too scared of what people would think of her. 

As a child, self harm was a way of life for me.  Nearly all of my memories before the age of twelve are of self harming.  I created a world for myself where I could be in control, where I was in charge of my own body and the pain that was inflicted was of my own choosing.

This drawing is about more than just self harm, it's an overall impression of how I see my childhood from my earliest memories until age nine.  The knives are not because I cut myself.  In some ways I've always been ashamed of my more creative forms of self harm.  Cutting seems mostly socially acceptable, the things I did to myself...I'm not sure that anyone could ever truly understand.  But anyway, the knives are because I had an enormous phobia of sharp objects.  I explore this more in my drawing about not being able to sleep. 

The thought bubbles with the "Bad Man" in them, represent how I fantasized during self harm.  I still do not know who this bad man was or if it was even one person.  It may very well have been an amalgam of all the negativity I had experienced in the world.  Someday I might know, but right now I don't have the memories to explain who he is. 

As a very young child I used to play-act torture scenarios, so I used to hang upside down on the stairs or cling to the top of the slide and not let go for long periods of time.  Much of the torture had to do with inducing extreme levels of fatigue - holding my arms up or straight out at my sides until they were sore, pretending to be tied up until my limbs were horribly uncomfortable. 

I used to hit myself with belts and rulers until my skin was raw and streaked with red.  I obsessively masturbated by rubbing my genitals against poles, slides, or basically anything I could wrap my legs around and I pretended that someone was making me do it.  That they were watching and making me have the good feeling to control me, because it was a strong sensation that they could force me to experience.

The ways I found to harm myself were largely undetectable and nearly infinite.  I dumped scorching water on myself and followed it with ice water.  I put soap in my private parts to make them burn - I no longer remember where I came up with this idea. 
As difficult as it is to say and read about these things, I need to let it out to let myself be free of it.  To show the parts who are ashamed that it wasn't our fault.  That I was doing the best that I could to survive.  Self harm did not change who I was or who I am.  It doesn't make me bad or disgusting or wrong or ruined.  I was just a little child.  It wasn't my fault.

Internal Conflict

One of the most difficult things for me to deal with is internal conflict.  When more than one part is around at one time, my ability to think and make appropriate decisions is significantly weakened.  This is because each part has its own ideas about how things should be run, how we should behave, and how other people should treat us.

This creates situations where my external behavior is contradictory or erratic.  Obviously this happens whether or not I have parts out at the same time - when you have parts, you're going to seem a little frustrating and spontaneous.  Having more than one part out at one time just intensifies this, because the parts are either fighting for control or one has control and one or more are inside reacting negatively to the external one's behavior.

I guess the best way to explain this is to say that I have an internal and external frontal area.  The external frontal is the part that is most in control, the part who is currently speaking and moving the body.  The internal frontal parts are those who are "around" (as in, I can feel their thoughts and emotions), but they do not have control over the body and what is being said.  Often, the external and internal frontal parts will switch places back and forth and back and forth, trying to say what they need to say and obtain what they need to obtain (usually emotional or physical comfort).

The above drawing is one of the most common conflicts between my parts.  The angry part and the sad part tend to always come around at the same time and they seem to be a match made in a special sort of dissociative hell.  The angry part likes to hurt people.  She thinks that if people hurt you than you should hurt them back.  The sad part thinks that everything is her fault and that she is bad.

So in a situation when both parts are around at the same time, I get highly conflicting internal messages.

The Angry Part                                                       The Sad Part

"I hate you!"                                                            "Please love me!"
"You're wrong!"                                                      "Everything is my fault!"
"I'm gonna hurt your feelings too!"                        "I'm sorry!"
"You're bad!"                                                          "I'm bad!"
"Leave me alone!"                                                  "Please comfort me!" 

These contradictory messages are a nightmare when trying to prove a point or participate in a disagreement.  It creates a situation where I eventually no longer know who is right or wrong, who was behaving appropriately and who was inappropriate.  When I reach this point I am faced with the decision to either continue to argue my point or to drop it and blame myself for the conflict.  Most of the time I don't know which of these decisions is best, because I really don't know who is at fault.

This scenario is not helped at all by the fact that I do not have healthy concepts of boundaries and appropriate behavior.  I'll get into more of that later.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Parts Drawing Themselves

Usually when I sit down to draw "I" am the one that is upfront.  This means that I draw the way the parts feel to me.  They do not draw themselves.  This is mostly due to their inability to take total control of the body.

With this piece of artwork I tried to draw the parts at the top as I see them and then below as they see themselves.  I still facilitated the drawing, but the way they see themselves has more to do with the way they are feeling internally.

The angry part feels chaotic, so draws herself as a blob of scribbles.  The sad part feels pressured and alone, so she draws herself crying and with arrows pushing down on her.  The hiding part draws herself hiding in a blanket.  And the happy part just wrote down how she feels internally.

I think this can give an extra layer of insight into how parts are feeling, but it's pretty challenging to do unless I have a day with a lot of connection to the other parts.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dream: Needles, a Skeleton, and a Morgue

I had this dream on October 28th.

(For: violence) 

I was a child in the dream.   I was struggling against two or three people who were holding me down on a table.  I was naked and they had their hands on my arms, legs, and the back of my head.  They were trying to force me to lay down on my stomach, but I kept twisting from side to side. 

Someone stuck a long needle into my back.  In the dream I thought it had been stuck into my spine, but the positioning was more on the side of the spine rather than on top of it.  After the first needle was pulled out, another one was inserted below where the first one had been. 


There was a man sitting on a mattress or maybe just some blankets on the floor.  His thumbs were bleeding.  I think he had cut them on purpose, but I'm not completely sure.  Tons of blood was coming out of his thumbs.  The blood was just draining out of his body and spraying all over him and the blankets.  I screamed at him to stop the bleeding, to put pressure on the wound, to stop all the blood, but he wouldn't.  He just kept bleeding.  I thought he was doing it on purpose. 


I was walking around in the woods barefoot with my boyfriend and some other people.  All the sudden I saw this little skeleton running around.  It was the size of a small child.  I tried to point it out to my boyfriend, but he wouldn't look at it, because he was preoccupied.  When I told him what I had seen he said that it must have just been a spider and I was being silly. 


Me and my boyfriend were at some strange building that had a sort of concrete patio that wrapped around the entire top of the building and had patio walls that were so high that they were at my eye level.  There was an entrance into the lower part of the building from this patio area and someone told us to go down there and take some water. 

So we brought the water down into this basement type area (even though the patio was at the top of the building, the door that went straight down lead to the basement).  When we were down there we figured out that it was an old morgue.  We heard some voices coming from an adjacent room, but the morgue was supposed to be abandoned.  My boyfriend said he wanted to check it out, but I said not to.  He did anyway, but got too scared and came back.  We went upstairs and a woman started showing me fabric samples because she was going to make something.

The Deep Sadness

This drawing shows all the ways I feel sad inside.  While each figure does not represent a specific alter or part, they all represent feelings that are inside of me most of the time.  These feelings are deep, both because of their magnitude and because of their repression.

It's impossible for me to just feel sad.  To just cry and let it all out.  Instead, my feelings stay buried inside with other parts, bubbling to the surface and then nosediving back into the depths of my mind.

Feeling sad is scary, so they end up pushed aside and buried away.  Drawing the way I feel has provided a little bit of a release from the pain, but it's definitely going to be a long journey.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Scared to Sleep

(For: implied sexual abuse)

The above drawing is of one of my few childhood memories.  This is my only memory under age 12 that I can place myself into on an emotional level. There are a few memories where I remember how I felt, but I can't feel it myself. 

Whenever I think of this memory it gives me a great deal of anxiety.  My heart starts pounding, my breathing quickens, it's a very scary experience.  This memory takes place in the house I lived in from a little before my 2nd birthday until just after my 9th.  I have no idea what age I was in the memory.

I remember feeling someone sit down at the end of my bed.  My heart started beating and I pulled the blankets tight under my chin and pretended to be asleep.  I was petrified.  I was afraid if I moved my toes would touch whoever was sitting there and then they'd realize I was awake.  I tried to just fall asleep, to just not exist, to disappear and I succeeded.  But was I really asleep?  I don't think so.

The drawing above shows how a part of me went to sleep and a part of me stayed awake.  The part that stayed awake is either the eraser part or one of the parts from the back that I don't know yet.  Why would someone have been sitting on the end of my bed in the pitch dark, scaring me nearly to death, for no reason?  I think abuse or a fear of abuse is the logical assumption.

I can't remember exactly why I feared sleeping so much, but it was a source of obsessive nervousness.  I would look around my room dozens of times before closing my eyes, looking out for intruders or monsters or bad guys.  Right before I fell asleep I would have to check again, to make sure it was still safe.  I would scan my room another dozen times and lay back down.

(For: knives, violence)

As a child, I associated my bed with knives.  I believed that I would get stabbed while in bed, that someone would stab me from under the mattress, from above, or from behind.  I would be so scared of this that I would only sleep in one position, on one side of the bed, and I would never move, because there was only one way to sleep that was safe.

Even as an adult knives are still my number one fear.  They trigger me into a state of anxiety and panic unless I am in total control.  When someone is using a knife I either leave the room or keep my distance and watch them intently for any signs of hostile behavior.

I'm afraid of being cut by a knife and of someone else cutting themselves with a knife.  Mentions, descriptions, and movies containing torture are also huge triggers that I do my best to steer clear of.  If it's non-deliberate harm I do okay.  I can treat accidental cuts for myself and for others.  It's the deliberate use of knives for violence that scares me in the deepest way imaginable.

Dealing with Hurt Parts

One of the most difficult things to deal with when you have parts or alters is the pain that accompanies the ones that have never experienced any joy, happiness, or goodness.  These parts are so sad, so full of pain and suffering, that it feels like nothing could ever make them heal. 

Right now I am approaching these sad and broken parts by allowing them to come out and express themselves.  I hope that time will give them the ability to grieve their lost childhood and to overcome the pain that has been their reality. 

I drew the picture above, starting with the happy part.  She likes drawing pictures of herself, so while she was out I/we drew her.  The drawing made the sad part feel even sadder.  There was a jealousy and frustration coming from her that was heartbreaking.  There's really nothing as strange and confusing as two conflicting feelings coming up at one time, because the parts that are at the front had drastically different life experiences. 

The sad parts are rarely brave enough to come out.  Most of the time they stay hidden.  I have a very difficult time crying or feeling truly sad and I think it's because all my true emotions are broken into parts that are too scared to come all the way forward.

I just hope that the sad part is able to find happiness someday.  I can feel her inside of me nearly all the time, her sadness wrapping itself around all the parts and darkening every part of me.  But I don't resent her for this, I just feel saddened.  I want her to find the happiness she deserved as a child.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Cycle of the Parts

This was the first really complicated piece of art therapy that I managed to complete.  It's a map of how some of my parts work.  If you haven't already done so, for the sake of clarity you may want to go back and read my posts about the sad one, angry one, the empty part, and the happy part. 

This diagram really helped me clear up who was doing what and why.  The name of my boyfriend is blurred, but that is who the diagram is primarily about.  This system of alters has been around for a long time.  As far back as I can remember (which is only age 12) all of these parts were present and participating in this system, which is set off by insecurities and feelings of being lonely, unloved, unwanted, etc.  It takes surprisingly little to set this cycle into motion sometimes.

It starts with the happy part getting her feelings hurt.  This is something that is very easy to do as this part is extremely sensitive (thus why the other parts keep her hidden so much of the time).  Once this part gets sad (note that the happy part feeling sad is not the same as the sad part), the angry part comes out to defend her. 

If the argument is bad enough, the empty part decides that it's best if I don't remember and takes the argument into the back where it fades away.  If it's not bad enough, the sad part comes out and blames herself for the hurt feelings or the hurt feelings she perceives even if my boyfriend endlessly reassures her that this is not so.

This diagram is a little confusing, but what it primarily shows is that a cycle or loop starts forming until the happy part feels loved and secure.  If the parts believe that the happy part is hurt than the empty part takes the eperience away and then the happy part can come back out again, realizing that my boyfriend still loves me sometimes, but not always, brings the sad and guilty part back out.  If my boyfriend doesn't reinforce that he still loves me and everything is fine than the happy part gets upset and the mad part comes back again. 

This is a very exhausting cycle that takes a lot out of all of us.  Luckily, it is not something that happens to this extent very frequently.  The angry part rarely makes it completely out.  What this part wants to say and what actually gets said is usually heavily filtered by the logical defender part or the suspicious and questioning part that I often call "snoop" (I haven't written about either of those parts yet).  This allows me to very rarely raise my voice or handle a situation rudely. 

Another interesting thing about this system is the recovery time.  More severe arguments are actually easier to recover from because the empty one comes out and takes the majority of the experience to the back.  This is probably also why I have a handful of memories of more minor abuses/traumas, but no memories of the "major" ones.

A lot of my work has been with this system.  With acknowledging when this group of parts are cycling through and understanding their motivation so that I can address their needs without hurting myself or my boyfriend.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Front and the Back

This is a depiction of how I felt on one particular day, but I think it illustrates the front and the back feeling I have in my brain really well.  The confused part is in this one and like I explained previously, I'm not sure if this is truly a "part" or maybe two or more parts or maybe all the parts, trying to make sense of everything.  The verdict is still out on this one, right now I just can't figure it out.

The scared one may also not be a true part, but rather an emotional state of some of the parts.  It is definitely not the state of all of them, but I couldn't quite tell where the feeling was coming from.  As you can see from the drawing, this part or emotion wants to be blind and deaf to the abuse and anxiety.  It's sort of a "La, la, la, I can't hear you" kind of attitude to avoid the bad stuff.

The front and back are labeled on this one.  I look at it as the front and back of my brain, but you could also look at it like a big mask.  The parts and emotions near the front are the ones looking through the mask and the stuff in the back are too far away to be thought about or remembered.

I'm not aware of it, but there must also be some sort of retreat in the back where parts can go when they don't feel safe, based on the fact that there are definitely some parts back there that I'm not fully aware of and other parts have to be going somewhere when they're not "out".

Dream: A Former Therapist

(For: sexual abuse)

I had this dream on the 26th: 

I was a child in the dream and I was in a room that was mostly empty except for a leather couch.  There were other people around outside of the room, both kids and adults.  A man came into the room and asked if he could talk to me.  I said that he could and he started asking me gentle questions about myself.  I thought he was trying to make me feel better, because I felt sad and abused in the dream, but I felt a little awkward about him being there.

I asked him if he was a therapist and he said he used to be.  Somehow my legs ended up over one of his knees so that I was mostly sitting on his lap.  After a few moments of talking I realized that he had his hands on my panties and his fingers were just barely touching my genital area.  I grabbed two of his fingers in my fist and pulled them to the side.  He didn't resist, so I started wondering if he had done it on purpose or not. I thought that maybe I was just being paranoid.

The Happy Part

The happy part is like a radiant 3-8 year old child.  When she is around I am bright eyed and energetic.  This picture was something I made while she was "out" about all the things that she likes. The name of my boyfriend is blurred out, but that is who she likes spending time with.  The happy part seems to be brought out by a lot of things, including caffeine, jungle gyms, animals, praise/attention, toys, movies with children, etc.  I'm not sure what it is about caffeine that brings her out, maybe because it's like a treat? If I drink a soda, she comes out and starts bouncing off the walls.

The happy part is not always happy, but she is by far the most genuinely happy of all the parts I am aware of and she rarely feels negative emotions.  This is largely due to the trio I explained in the previous post.  They will usually step up to protect her if she starts to feel sad or unloved. I'll explain more about this in another post.

The happy part's biggest concern is being unloved or neglected.  If she perceives any threat whatsoever she quickly disappears and other parts (usually the angry part) take over.  I would equate this with how a very small child needs their parents to praise and love them unconditionally and if the picture they drew doesn't go on the refrigerator, they are crushed.  Her issues usually are no more than hurt feelings, whereas the other parts have much deeper and darker pains.

I think she exists to ask for the attention, love, and praise that I never got as a child.  My father was silent and almost entirely absent in my life and my mother was extremely critical and quick to chastise me over any little error.  She was also volatile.  I had no way of knowing what would make her mad and sometimes what bothered her contradicted things that had bothered her the month, week, or even day before.

I think the happy part was set aside with all the good parts of childhood.  She's brave, affectionate, outgoing, and giggly, which were things I never was as a child.

The Experience Eraser - The Empty One

I already explained in a previous post about the sad one and the angry one.  The empty one (who I sometimes call invisible or the eraser) is a sort of blank part that absorbs pain and negative experiences.  The empty part doesn't necessary experience the bad things, but rather takes them away into the back of my mind where the other parts don't have to think about or worry about them.  The empty one sort of wipes the slate clean.

I do not call this part the empty one because she is devoid of emotion, but rather because she embodies the greatest feelings of defeat and exhaustion I can possibly imagine.  It's a feeling of being abused to the point that nothing matters anymore, that you'd rather just go away and feel nothing.  Unfortunately, it's not possible to feel nothing and the empty one is the one who got (and still gets) all the pain.  This part is so destroyed that it doesn't even matter to her if she takes all the pain and sadness and abuse.  It's just her job. 

I can remember what the empty one takes away, but not in extensive clarity.  If the empty one takes it than what remains is just a few snippets of memory, like a mental pictures of what happened.  I might remember that an argument happened, but I will struggle to recall what it was about and probably won't remember anything specific that was said or done.

I believe there is a sort of filtering that occurs so that I get the pieces of information that are vital.  If something bad happens and it needs to be addressed later, I will have enough information to do so.  For example, if there is an argument that needs to be picked up at a later date, I will know the subject matter and the other person's argument, although no memories of what was actually said.  If there's a car accident, I will remember factually what happened, but probably won't be able to see it or describe it in detail.  This creates the illusion of a lack of emotion about certain events because the "me" that re-engages with a situation is not the "me" that experienced it initially.  I just got the information from another part.

Some things that go to the back can be recalled if I am prompted to do so.  Usually the recall is very delayed and the person doing the prompting has to be very determined to get me to remember.  There are some things that go to the back of my mind and never come back.  I'm not sure what all is back there, but sometimes there is minor bleed through, like strange thoughts, images, or reactions.  Sometimes I read old journals or diaries and have no recollection of the negative experiences that are described.  These things I know were taken to "the back" - the part of my brain/memories that I can't access.  This is where all the memories of my abuse reside.

The empty part exists as a sort of trio with the sad and angry parts.  The angry one usually comes first, then the sad one, and finally the empty one.  Sometimes the sad and angry one come simultaneously or very close together.  The empty one rarely, if ever, comes out unless the sad one has been out.  Perhaps the empty one is a type of protector?  Maybe the angry one is too?

Dream: A Man Called Johnny

I had this dream on the 22nd:

I was a child and I was in some house or apartment with some adults that were not my parents.  There was a youngish man there who said his name was Johnny, but he went by another name too that I can’t remember.  I really liked him.  I thought he was really cool.  I was a kid and I looked up to him.  I thought he was super nice to me.  He had long tannish brown hair that was cut off under the chin and some facial hair.

The other adults sort of made fun of me for liking him, because they thought he wasn’t a very good person, like manipulative maybe, I’m not sure.  He had a book collection that had some kind of porn or naked people in it.  I saw the covers, but he didn’t show them to me. 

He wasn’t always around.  He was gone for a while, but he would come back at other times.  He brought me a present at some point and I think, but I’m not sure, that it was some kind of food item.  We watched movies together and sat on a couch most of the time.


I was somewhere and all the sudden this little hole popped out of this dirt wall.  The dirt just sort of popped out very strangely.  I looked into the hole and for a long time I didn’t see anything there and then I realized that there was a weird long worm curled up in the hole.


This picture sums up the confusion that I feel pretty well.  I'm not sure if there is a part that is the confusion or if the confusion is actually two or more parts fighting to be heard at the same time.  The questioning about goodness and badness usually comes from "the sad part", but perhaps there is another part that is sad and confused?

Regardless, the emotions expressed in this drawing are with me a lot.  I have trouble addressing these questions and knowing for sure how I feel about myself and who I am.   I know that I don't do bad things and yet I frequently find myself questioning whether or not I'm "bad".

Perfectionism is another huge issue for me and all of the parts, especially for the parts that are more protective.  I'll get more into this at a later time, but the protective parts try to shelter the sensitive parts from having their feelings hurt or being bullied because they said or did something "wrong", which can be as simple as tripping on the stairs or using the wrong word in a sentence.  There are protective parts who do this more negatively by causing self blame, doubt, and humiliation when it isn't necessary.

Dream: Time Traveling to Childhood

I had this dream on the 18th:

Me and my boyfriend were in my childhood home and I went upstairs and my sister was an infant, lying in just a diaper in her crib.  She was sleeping and I rubbed her back.  She rolled over and looked up at me, smiling.  She looked so happy to see me.

I went downstairs and we were doing something when I realised that my parents were pulling into the driveway.  I panicked, realising that we had gone back in time and that they wouldn’t understand who we were and we would get in trouble.  I ran to all the windows and tried to figure out if we could fit through, but they were all too small.  Eventually I could see my parents at the front door and I called to my boyfriend to get over to where I was and we pushed past them and ran towards our car in the driveway.

My dad grabbed me and held me down.  When he saw my face somehow he realized that it was me from the future.  He looked confused for a moment and then said, “I’d like to think you came back to take measurements, because you were so happy”.

(For: sexual abuse)


I was a child in the dream.  I was lying on my back in the kitchen of my childhood home.  I was covered with a blanket, but I wasn’t in a bed.  I might have been on the counter.  A woman (maybe my mom) turned out the light and left me there.

A man entered the room and climbed on top of me.  He lowered himself over my face and used his hand to stuff his testicles into my mouth.  I was scared and couldn’t breath.  I was thrashing as much as I could.  I think something must have hurt me, because even though I don’t remember feeling any pain I was groaning and crying.

Writing this dream down is so embarrassing.  I don't want to dream these things. 


I was explaining to my boyfriend that I had a whole group of cousins growing up and one of them had a bat that he’d always hit me with and I spent a lot of time hiding from him in my childhood.  We were in my childhood kitchen when I was explaining this.  He said he knew this because I had already told him and had just forgotten.

I actually don't have any cousins like this in real life.

The Angry Part and The Sad Part

I drew this picture when the angry part was near the surface.  The angry part is always followed by or comes out alongside the sad part.  The angry part causes a lot of issues and basically suffers from intense misdirected anger.  The black stuff on the angry part's head is not a hat.  It's the pressure that I get in my head when the angry part is close to the surface.  This part almost always comes with an intense headache and the pressured feeling I talked about in the previous post.

The sad part usually comes out after the angry part is finished expressing herself.  The sad part is scared that she won't be loved based on the behavior of the angry part, which is why she apologizes profusely and hopes that she will be cared about anyway.  She tries to sort of make up for the behavior of the angry part.  She also wonders whether or not she is "bad" far more than any of the other parts.

Dream: My Childhood Home Burning Down

I had this dream earlier in the month:

I was walking in my childhood hometown with a whole bunch of people, including my parents and some children.  We were across the street from my childhood home and I saw that the whole front of it had been torn away and was charred.  My bedroom was visible and there was a man in it.  He was crazed and he was shuffling around, threatening to burn down the house.

I ran across the street, because I could see some of my family’s old things in the bedroom.  I climbed a ladder to my bedroom where the front of the house was missing and grabbed a huge stack of long and wide papers, like from a child’s drawing pad.

The man was angry that I had taken the papers, but mostly he was just crazed.  He said he had to burn the house down.  I got the papers out of the house and returned to the group.  All of the papers were little doodles and artworks my sister had made in school when she was very small (my sister is 5.5 years younger than me and has referred to me as her "first mom".  I took care of her when our mother couldn't or wouldn't.) 


The group was across the street at my childhood school and there was a huge statue of a man in the middle of the playground/parking lot.  His jaw opened and he looked angry.  He started pounding his fists on the ground.  The area around the statue had a tiled floor.  One of the tiles flipped with a girl on top of it, pulling her under the ground and killing her.


I was somewhere (maybe in a school) and I went into this little room and there was a huge bathroom with an arctic theme.  Lots of snow and ice were everywhere, but it was made out of concrete like old amusement park decorations.  Everything was open and there were a bunch of girls in there going to the bathroom and showering in front of each other.  They seemed happy, but I thought it was weird and I felt awkward. 

Under Pressure

I started art therapy on my own as a way to communicate with myself and as an emotional release.  My emotional vocabulary leaves a lot to be desired and I find using terms for emotions to be difficult when mine feel much more abstract.

The two drawings above were both attempts at capturing a common sensation that I experience.  It's a pressured feeling that seems to haunt me on a regular basis.  I'm not sure if it originated with a physical sensation, like the feeling of another person's body during sexual abuse, or from an emotional sensation, like feeling pressured to do or be a certain thing.  I still haven't quite figured that out.  The pictures seem to suggest both.

The squiggly lines at the top of both pictures are the feeling of isolation or separation from the rest of my consciousness.  The words are pretty self explinatory.  The first one in particular represents a lot of dissociation.  I believe this is why I have the sensation, but no memory to go along with it.

I'm not sure about the rest of the picture.  I did my best at capturing how I felt, but even down on paper it doesn't make total sense to me.

Dream: The Box of Kittens

(For: killing animals)

I'm including dreams in this blog because I believe that important subconscious information is relayed through dreams, especially for individuals with dissociative disorders who may not be consciously aware of their thoughts, feelings, fears, and memories.  If you don't want to read the posts about dreams, please click on the topics at the side of the page and choose "Art Therapy".

I had this dream sometime early this month:

Me and my boyfriend had a box of white kittens.  Someone was making us kill them.  If we didn’t kill them something bad was going to happen, but I can’t remember what.  We took the box of kittens to the roof of a building and my boyfriend pulled out a knife.

He grabbed one of the kittens and laid it down on the cement roof.  He pushed the knife down and sliced its head off while the other kittens were crawling around innocent and oblivious.  I was so so sad to kill a kitten.  He handed the head to me and I wrapped the neck where it had been cut off in a piece of gauze and sat it on the ground so that the neck was holding up the head.  Then he picked up the next kitten and continued.

I awoke from this dream feeling mournful and like a terrible person.  Why do I dream such terrible things?  Why did the blood and the knife and the life disappearing from the kittens feel so real?



I just wanted to introduce myself and let everyone know what I plan on doing with this blog.

I suffer from a dissociative disorder because I was abused as a child.  I do not know the exact nature of the abuse, but I have suspicions.  The dissociation has caused extreme amnesia.  I have nothing more than snippets from my grade school years, a few more memories of middle school, and still a bit more of high school, but nowhere near what is "normal".  My continuous memory does not start until about two years ago (I'm in college now) and it is still rather weak.

To those who don't have a dissociative disorder or who have one and don't relate, I'll elaborate on what I mean by extreme amnesia.  To outline all the areas I don't remember could fill a novel, so I'll just focus on one area of memory: school.  I have no memory of grade school.  I remember the building and that's about it.  I don't remember my teachers, the classrooms, whether or not I had friends, if I liked school, or what I learned.  I remember factually that I was taken out of school after third grade to home school with my mother, but the three years she taught me are completely blank.  I remember painting a picture, watching a movie, and that's about it.

I do not currently identify as having dissociative identity disorder (DID), because I'm not sure whether or not I fit the criteria, but what I have is definitely some sort of variant of the disorder.  I do know that I dissociated as a child and adult and that I have what I can best describe as self states or perhaps alters with which I have intense communication.  I am always me.  I will always answer to my name.  I'll always know that I live with my boyfriend, where I go to school, where I live, and how old I am, however my perception of the world at certain times is radically different than at others and these self states are both connected and isolated from each other.

I have been fortunate to meet a few other people online who have a dissociative disorder that presents in the same way that mine does.  Not fitting into the typical DID mold has been frustrating and isolating.

My objective in starting this blog is to post my thoughts and my struggles in a way that will allow me to track progress while reaching out to those who might share my feelings or experiences.  I will be posting my drawings, which I've been working on for the past couple months.  They help organize my thoughts and facilitate communication between my various states.  I will also be posting my dreams, which are often frightening, disturbing, and violent.  I will be using trigger warnings for posts with difficult content for abuse and trauma survivors.

I apologize for the length of my introduction.  I look forward to sharing and connecting with all of you!