FYI, this post looks different because I am posting from a mobile app
Making Changes in Secret
In the last post, my alters and I shared some of our values and hopes of what type of individual we strive to be. Those hopes and beliefs were shared for the following reasons:
- To remind readers that not everything on this blog will be welcome or liked or read; the topics are chosen with care and how important they have been to our recovery with the hope that some part will help others too
- To reassure guests that this website and blog will remain a safe place for survivors and connections to read, learn, explore, and respond without negative, critical, shaming, or abusive responses. The Blog Rules are enforced so anyone who disagrees or dislikes the content here, please leave and forget this URL
- Anything shared here is for examples and explanation only. We hope that readers and guest understand this and DO NOT COMPARE THEMSELVES OR THEIR CHOICES TO OURS and come up with negative or disparaging or shameful conclusions
- Part of the process is learning to be selective about what we read so our hope is that readers will learn this too and be able to protect themselves from blogs and bloggers whose posts make their instincts tingle
Without explaining this first, the rest of the post might not make sense.
The donors, or parents, gave us a lot of medicine and used different kinds of abuse at the same time to control every aspect of our lives when we lived with them. Room searches took place all the time. The sibling got rewarded for listening to phone conversations and tattling. Every family member, friend, and connection had to go through one of them to get to us and vice versa because no one wanted to talk to us directly. They disliked and hated and looked down on is because of all the stories the donors told them over the years.
Talking about recovery and therapy brought silence and lies and doubt about how it was helping not hurting us. The donors set and sprang traps by putting us in situations designed to cause panic attacks and loss of temper (anger management issues) that reinforced everyone’s negative opinions of us. So talking about changes were not safe to do.
The first therapist had one goal for us: rebuild our foundations to develop a solid sense of self
She gave us homework and puzzles to do in private. Then we discussed the results in session. I did not know it then, but all of the challenges were strategies in CBT. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) challenged my beliefs about myself and the world around me. That is when parts started communicating again. Reminding me and anyone else in charge that this might not work because we aren’t safe.
Got to keep it a secret.
Not having a personality is safer.
Not having an opinion is safer.
Can’t practice at home or at work or the martial arts school or around family. Where to practice?
Do this on the inside and forget about the body and everything going on on the outside?
Practice at the library? Or at school? At work? If any of us believed in organized religion and weren’t afraid of joining groups, church and temple and other religious institutions?
If we had the money, our own apartment?
It was easy to hide the changes in the beginning. All we did was argue and fight and contradict and question ourselves and each other. That is when the therapist had us start making lists – pro/con lists; priority lists; plus/minus lists; word association lists – to help us organize our thoughts. The lists were never written down; a room search or car search would have revealed the secret.
Moving out and living alone gave us the opportunity to practice being ourselves and discovering our values safely. Finding a job that no one in the family had connections in gave me opportunities to be myself around people without any preconceived opinions. I did not have to hide my skills and strengths; and the professionals around me taught me better interpersonal skills by example.
But moving out; getting this job; experiencing the pleasure of being ourselves without punishment made wearing the masks in the rest of our lives frustrating and angry and anxiety-provoking to the point of going back to depression and hopeless feelings.
Part 2 explains why matching the insides and outsides are so important to us. The examples of our goals in Part 1 are meant to be examples of how what is inside each individual can be completely different from what the outside presents to the outside world. We hope the examples of how we managed to experiment and build our foundation in secret her explain why we chose to share certain values and not others at this time.