Tired from the move and unpacking so skipping today. Thanks for understanding.
Tired from the move and unpacking so skipping today. Thanks for understanding.
I learned more about one automatic defense mechanism that needs to be addressed or disabled during my vacation.
Switching and sounding like I am talking about myself all the time when all of us in the system feel anxious and safe with a person or group.
And the accompanying feelings of shame, anxiety, panic, guilt, and loss of reality that comes with it.
Two main challenges have previously gotten in the way of disabling this mechanism:
not being able to share about having Dissociative Identity disorder
Alters unwilling to identify themselves when talking to outsiders.
Lack of awareness when this happens so that I can reflect, process in therapy, and use known coping techniques and strategies to change the behavior.
Frustration when people give advice without understanding that I know what the problem is and amnstruggling with how to resolve it. Behavior modification or change for trauma survivors requires a different approach than for “the average person”.
The first one is less of an issue now that I moved and live in a more open culture.
The second one is not so easy to figure out.
And the third one I try to address carefully, but sometimes fall back to negative strategies that work and avoid future communications.
But at least now I have words to describe to my therapist what challenge I want to work on for the present and near future.
thanks for reading.
Another mobile post…please excuse the poor formatting.
I don’t write a lot of detail about my current family situation often out of respect for their privacy. Some posts will contain coping challenges in general terms or about past experiences. But often the tone and feelings are mixed.
This post comes from the perspective of being safe and loved by my father’s side of the family.
For the last ten days, I have spent a lot of time with my father’s side of the family. Grandmother (100+), 3 aunts (seniors), and one uncle (senior) – they welcomed me into their lives, let me stay with them, spoiled me, and showed me through actions that I am safe and loved here. In return, I tried to be a polite and respectful house guest and show them the same love.
I am not going to lie. The adjustment was rough on all of us. It still is. Most of their time is spent taking care of grandma; it’s stressful and difficult sometimes. Whatever time is left, each one lives her or his own life too.
My biggest fears sort of came true. But others did not. We walked on eggshells around each other and tried to be sensitive to the point of frustrating each other sometimes. Other times, we fell back into old patterns without even realizing it.
Then something amazing happened. Instead of holding grudges or getting angry, we were able to move past it and forgive or let go of the negativity. When I got stressed and anxious into a flashback, they would help me calm down. When one of them felt a certain way, I tried to help them.
And they all tried to get along with each other for my sake. Something I greatly appreciate because of the strain it takes on all of them. For my part, I tried to spend quality time with each relative one-on-one or in groups in the way that suited us both best.
In the past, we all wore masks and stayed “on” around each other. This time, we acted like ourselves. And got along better that way.
Communication is still iffy sometimes. I tend to be more direct and open about my feelings. They are not. Certain things can be said one-on-one, but are taboo in front of each other. I screw that up a lot.
The most important part of this family visit was spending quality time with my grandma. At 101, our time together is limited. Instead of talking or going places, I sat with her and my relatives in her living room and occupied myself with activities while she watched game shows or slept. Sometimes I talked with my relatives. Mostly we did our own thing, and I tried to stay out of their way when they took care of grandma.
So while we struggle sometimes, we are doing okay. My love of silence and solitude come naturally. Best quiet times are when we sit together in the same room doing our own thing. Sometimes we talk; sometimes we don’t. Best active times are when I walked & shopped with different aunts. Or when an aunt taught me how to hem my pants.
So I love my family. And now I know that I am safe with them too. So I will come back to visit when possible. But I will not be staying with them. Seeing me when I have to use certain coping strategies hurts them. And they are not in a place where I can explain what they observe happening.
They accept all of it 100%, but seeing me like that reminds them what their brother/son did to me. And their best coping strategies are denial and silence. So it’s better to limit time with them next visit. At least until we all can come to a place where talking about that stuff doesn’t stress them out.
thanks for reading.
Lots of posts tonight. I’ve been saving them up since most of my time is spent with grandma and other family or hanging with old friends
I and my alters often feel shame about sharing our interests with outside people. We also are not comfortable making small talk, although the adult host personalities are getting better with that in the home state. We also have limited control over the automatic switching between alters who feel compelled to take over and speak without identifying themselves.
We also tend to be so focused on not offending or insulting someone else, that whoever is talking can end up offending & insulting the individual regardless. Or the repeated apologies, I statements, questions to check in on the situation, and projected insecure behavior from all this stems from these fears:
I have consistently been told that I am:
These lessons have been embedded in me since I started talking and then (either consciously or unconsciously) reinforced by life experiences as I grew up. On the negative side, it means verbalizing anything is painful to an almost physical degree. On the positive side, these experiences forced me to become a better listener (when I’m not switching) and a better writer.
But those coping strategies, while effective, did not and do not address the trigger being discussed here. And my issue with switching personalities and sounding self-centered because of all of the talk about myself.
And when I brought this up to my friend, she told me that I could:
Did you read the last bullet? IF I REALLY WANTED TO AND TRIED TO TALK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE
What that friend doesn’t realize is:
And yes, this is a process – one I can’t do alone – that requires asking a counselor from the BARC Hotline, my therapist, or a trusted friend for assistance.
Although I am starting to realize that asking friends (even close, trusted, good friends) for help with this is NOT such a good idea. But lessons learned and all that.
In order for me to verbalize my thoughts, I have to go through the DBT process for expressing my feelings to be able to verbalize what to say to anyone in a conversational tone. So here are the steps:
YES, it’s a long and clunky process, but this coping strategy has helped me improve many conversations and work through the backlash of having such conversations without rehearsal too.
BUT, I can’t use this process EVERY TIME with EVERY conversation I talk to in ANY situation.
I don’t know. We don’t know. It would be different if we lived separate lives. But we are “integrating” into one unified self.
By “integrating”, I mean we are becoming a balanced and unified personality without any alters disappearing.
Yes that defies the conventional meaning of Integration for Dissociative Identity Disorder. But, none of us want any alters to poof out of existence. We’ve lived together for 34 years and want to continue doing so – only now as a merged, single personality to the outside world.
This topic is something for all of us to discuss with our current therapist.
Thanks for reading
My mind set has regressed into old patterns again. I am back to feeling paranoid and unsafe in my own mind sometimes. I am letting my family treat me like I was before and then stewing over it. The stewing is triggering flashbacks and switching. I am feeling less grounded and more like my old self before this blog. A self that had more inner turmoil and less confidence in her/their ability to cope.
A good friend gave me a much needed kick in the ass today as she called me on my behavior and my thought process as verbalized in our conversations for the past 24 hours (for more on that read “Alter Post: feeling conflicted“)
I love and respect my aunts, uncle, and grandmother a lot. I enjoy being here and visiting my friends and co-workers. But I can’t wait to go back home.
Being here is too stressful and triggering. Even though I have access to resources, I still struggle to remember to use them along with everything I’ve learned in the past year. Especially when my alters are in charge.
Right now, many of the alters are struggling with shame for something that happened this weekend. They have some individual processing and coping to deal with and then need to discuss what happened with the rest of the system to share support & brainstorm a strategy for future experiences.
The rest are struggling to find balance and a way to express themselves/cope/feel acknowledged around a group of people who don’t know/struggle to understand them and that they exist. Mental Health issues aside, it’s necessary to utilize more grounding and self-soothing techniques to help us all find our balance instead of splitting off again.
Finally, all 88 of us need to have a discussion about how to explain to friends what is happening, why, and how to address the issue when alters who don’t normally talk to outsiders start taking over and talking over themselves through constant and seamless switching.
thanks for reading