Coping Challenge: Regressing into old habits

I have a confession

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.

How I know this?

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“)

What Behavior?

  • Switching alters and then talking or behaving different without awareness
    • Alters taking over are triggered and not present; could be victims still or experiencing flashbacks and speaking from that point of view
    • When this happens, the host personalities cannot take control long enough to implement coping strategies or explain that the “individual” talking is not who the other individual believes she is
    • Not being allowed to tell the person I/we are talking to that he or she is talking to the alters instead of the “usual” host personality
  • Talking about myself too much – something I do as a way to annoy other people and turn them away OR when I am switching without awareness and my alters are talking from their points of view
  • Over-apologizing – saying I am sorry for everything because I (or the alter in charge) feel shame for being myself around her
  • Making connections between ideas and experiences that could be coincidence
  • Thinking people are watching me again
  • Using therapy talk styles to understand what the problem is in conversation with my friend and not explaining in advance that what I am sharing with her is NOT how I will approach family members
  • Feeling insecure in my ability to communicate and be okay in my friend’s house so all of the topics I stored to talk with her about flew out of my mind
  • Not being assertive enough during conversations to ask her to stop interrupting me so I don’t lose my train of thought and start repeating myself
  • Allowing interruptions because the other person or persons assume they know what I am saying, but really don’t, and then moving on out of shame
    • The part of me talking knows what is happening, but can’t get the words right to verbalize with clarity and conciseness and feels unable to assert the self in conversations
    • Leads to anger, frustration, shame, and triggers
    • Leads to varying ways to display that irritation & more switching to find an alter who can verbalize what is happening

The advice & my reflections

  • Stop talking like I just left a therapy session or group session; it can annoy and turn other people way
    • Instead reframe the words into a more conversational style that gets the point across without turning the listener away – especially if it’s someone I care about
    • If I need help, call the hotline for assistance or tell the friend I am speaking with in advance what the conversation is about and why; then check in regularly to make sure we are on the same page
  • Remember that I am safe here and am not a child or a victim anymore.
  • Remember I have options to leave if necessary
  • Remember to practice self care even if that means I leave the room for privacy to do what is necessary
  • Remember we are all flawed and struggling to be polite to each other
  • Remember that my being there is as stressful on them as it is on me – we are all walking on eggshells around each other.
  • Use my grounding tools along with my physical armor – aka outfits & tattoos – to help all of us stay grounded in the present instead of switching and letting my alters use the automatic defenses.
  • When I get interrupted, stop tell the person that I have a point to what I might have repeated before and would like to finish all the way rough.
    • Ask the person not to make assumptions about what I intend to say.  Being interrupted makes me lose my train of thought and repeat myself.
  • Find a polite way to talk to my aunts about potential trips to visit me in my hometown.
  • And make sure I get some alone time.  I forgot what it was like living around them with the TV on all the time and someone always talking or playing on a mobile device.

The Honest Truth

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.

What next?

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

 

 

Recovery: When the secret life is not so secret anymore

Yesterday was difficult.  I had to work hard to concentrate on finishing work and projects for the week while my mind swirled with memories and feelings.

Today was difficult because I talked with my cousin about future plans.  Plans that recalled memories and experiences that were hidden for a long time.  Memories and experiences I would have thought were hallucinations or nightmares or deja vu before I started therapy with a trauma specialist.

Now, I’m trying to reconcile that secret life with my other life, the one I lived in broad daylight, and my current life.  The nerd, the warrior, the woman who is both.  The “good girl”, the “rebel”, the woman who defies labels.  The fighter/the runner.  The raging monster who hurts people/the defender who can’t stand to see herself or others crushed under the pain of being put down all the time.

A good girl doesn’t do drugs, smoke, drink while underage, have sex without a commitment, listen to certain kinds of music, steal, etc.  I don’t and never have stolen anything.  As for the rest, it wasn’t voluntary.  But I did all of those things before I hit puberty.  Does that make me a bad girl?  Or a rebel?  And does choosing not to smoke or use drugs or have sex anymore once I could make my own choices make me a born-again virgin or good girl?  Does being able to fight make me tough?  Does being a pacifist make me a coward?  Does having a temper make me a monster?  Does not having control over my body make me weak?  Am I crazy because I feel so conflicted?

I want my body back.  My body wants me back.  All parts of me want to be physically active again.  We want to be able to fight in the daylight and use our nerd skills in the shadows.  And combine everything to combat the darkness threatening to pull us under.  I want to stop using food to hurt myself.  I want to stop using people to hurt myself.  I want to start exploring my true likes and dislikes.  I want to finish my projects so that my obligations are fulfilled and I can move on.

More than anything else, I want my secret life to shine in the light, unhidden and acknowledged with pride instead of shame.  My parts and I, we did what was necessary to survive.  We accomplished incredible feats together.  And those parts of me deserve the acceptance, respect, honor, compassion, trust, and welcoming that was refused to them before.  What they did kept us alive; taught us skills we needed to get through high school and college; helped us stay on track when the depression and suicidal thoughts tried to get us killed; and cut through the bullshit of family pressure and denial to keep us safe as adults.

And now that I’ve reconciled with one side of my family, the other side is hopeful that I might reconcile with them too.  But the relationships between me and each side of my family is different.  My experiences with them are different.  I am still so mad at some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins that I honestly don’t think I can speak with them again without letting the hurt loose on them.  I forgave those people when I forgave myself years ago.  I understand why they said and did what they said and did back then.  But I don’t want that in my life now either.

And there’s no guarantee that walking back into the fire will  have a different outcome.  That those family members have changed their opinions of me and will treat me differently.  Or that they are trustworthy to keep my secrets.

And that is the origin of my trust issues.  I am suspicious of everyone except the few people who have proven themselves to me.  Letting people in is difficult.  Balancing my need for solitude and privacy with socializing and valuing connections with people gives me a headache too.

So I am conflicted.  I am confused.  I am grieving.  And I feel so much that sometimes I go numb.  And when the dam bursts, my feelings explode.  And there are consequences to that too.

What happens next is anyone’s guess.  Thanks for your patience and for reading my post.

DID Post: Clarification about POV for DID posts in general and the “DID Post: What does my internal system look like” post in particular

It has come to my attention that the tone and perspective of the posts written in the DID Posts category may be mistaken or misunderstood by guests and readers.

Many of the posts about DID are written by one or more alternate personalities who prefer to use a “locked vault” system of writing.  That means I (the one in charge of dealing with the outside world most of the time) am not directly involved in  the creation and editing of all of them.  Nor am I always the one to post the articles, re-read, edit, or check for potential miscommunications in tense, tone, or point of view (POV).  And the authors do not always realize how their words and writing styles could be interpreted by our guests on  the blog; especially the younger ones.

For this, we all want to apologize for any miscommunications or accidental insinuations that came from the post 2 weeks ago entitled: “DID Post: What does my internal system look like“.  This post was written from the perspective of 2 alters between 10 and 12 years old with help from some of the other adults who related better to them.  One alter is female; the other is male.  They want everyone here to know that the post is written from the perspective of how they used the tools our therapist gave them and the process they used to get around, through, and away from many triggers that caused failure, frustration, anger, and grudging acceptance.  The post is not at all about the approach or method that our therapist uses.  In fact, it is the OPPOSITE of her approach in many ways.

The girl alter and the boy alter explain a bit about why they wrote what they did in that post at the end.

This will happen often with DID posts because writing a post about the DID experience is full of conflicting feelings, perceptions, attitudes, thoughts, and reactions.  For many posts, there will be a “process” or “method” type post written from the perspective of the alter or alters sharing their story that focuses less on introspective feelings and thoughts and more on the steps, strategies, and tools involved.  Later on, after the alters have had some down time to reflect on any changes between then and now, they might write about a similar experience with the introspective feelings and thoughts that show more of the therapist’s approach in offering strategies or homework; what their reaction was to that approach; and why they used that process.  We write our posts this way because trying to incorporate process and feelings into the same post gets too messy and complicated – not to mention LONG.

IT IN NO WAY REFLECTS THE THERAPIST’S ATTITUDE, APPROACH TO WORKING WITH CLIENTS, OR POINT OF VIEW ABOUT THERAPEUTIC METHODOLOGIES.

As a reminder, I will say once again that these posts are written from my or my alters’ point of view and perception of how any one or all of us used the tools.  It in no way reflects/assumes/insinuates/intimates the approach, attitude, therapeutic process, feelings, or intentions of any of the therapists written about here unless specifically noted within the article.

GIRL ALTER’S EXPLANATION OF THE POV: I spent too many years having to nag or repeatedly ask questions or do my own investigations to get answers from any female adults.  The answers they gave me were evasions at best and lies at worst.  Any creativity or intelligence/outside-the-box-thinking I showed got everyone in our system punished with verbal attacks, public humiliation, private beatings, bullying or increased sexual duties on top of doing my homework, by brother’s homework, laundry, housekeeping, and covering for my mom when she went into one of her moods.  So yeah, I was angry and upset.  I didn’t want to do the mapping exercise, but I wanted to know the rest of my family.  I tried and failed so many times.  I got lost in the dark.  I got eaten by the monsters.  I got trapped, stuck in mud holes up to my neck, dumped on, and had to relive every single punishment that came from being creative each time I tried to participate in the mapping exercise.  It wasn’t until one of the other alters was passing by and stopped to help me rescue myself from the flashbacks that I understood what the mapping and communication meant to all of us.  So yeah, I was pissed, angry, upset and confused.  I knew there were more like me inside, but I’d never really “met” them; only hear our therapist and didn’t understand why she never talked directly to me before until I met that alter.

BOY ALTER’S EXPLANATION OF THE POV: I hated being trapped in a weak girl’s body.  I was full of anger and resentment and confused about why I couldn’t be in charge all the time.  I was a boy, much stronger than anyone else (not that I believed anyone else existed at the time) and exactly what mom and dad wanted.  They wanted their first born to be a son not a daughter.  It wasn’t a big deal until the body turned 10 years old; that’s when weird things started to happen.  Instead of the penis appearing like it was supposed to according to mom, the body grew breasts and hips.  And our stomach started feeling weird sometimes.  I heard the therapist in session and always liked listening to her; she didn’t judge or push or force programs and lesson plans on me.  She didn’t pretend I was invisible either when I talked to her.  But I was in charge when I was out.  And I didn’t want to give that up.  I was the oldest, strongest, best and wanted everything to stay that way.  The mapping exercise made the monsters come out more often and gave them ore power over me.  I didn’t want or need help from the other imaginary people in here.  Or that is what I thought until I got kidnapped and forced into reliving the secret rituals again.  The alters who came and rescued me made time to teach me how to escape and protect myself first.  That’s when I learned I wasn’t the only one there.  They let me help rescue the others too; we all made it out safely.  And that’s how I became part of the map.  Grudgingly, with a chip on my shoulder.  So yeah, that attitude was all me, not our therapist.