Archive for dissociative identity disorder
If you have not already downloaded my complimentary Guide to Getting Unstuck on the Journey to Emotional Healing, please grab a copy of it now! There is a box in the right hand side bar here>>> just fill in your first name (or any name you wish to use) and your primary email address and you will be sent the download link. In this 9 page mini booklet I answer some of the most popular questions that I get here on the Emerging from Broken blog, privately through the contact form and on the Emerging from Broken Facebook Page.
Welcome to the discussion page for the Guide to Getting Unstuck on the Journey to Emotional Healing.
As you may notice when you read the guide, there is a common thread expressed through the most popular questions that I get asked. Behind the questions is the belief that the people who have been authority in our lives are ‘right’. That if the people that have authority in our lives say in words or with actions such as disregard or disrespect, that we don’t deserve better or that we are not worthy, then for some reason their opinion is not questioned as much as it is ‘accepted’.
This is because for most of us it was communicated to us from a very young age that ‘they’ know best and that ‘they’ are right and that ‘they’ are not to be questioned. This belief is linked to the belief that ‘without them’ we may not survive. As an adult I had to work very hard at realizing that I COULD survive; through facing the origins of my belief system and how it was formed I was able to see my own strength; I was able to take my life back and learn to love myself and take care of myself. I learned this by seeing the truth about why I believed that I was ‘less important’ and why I ‘accepted’ that my needs were less valid than the needs of others. Seeing the roots of why I believed this about myself enabled me to see that it was a lie and that I was just as worthy and valid as everyone else on this planet!
People in authority are not always right just because they are in authority. I had not considered that truth when I was a child and growing up because of my dependence on those people. Going against the adults and caregivers in my life threatened my survival and therefore my life. That was true then. Seeing that it was no longer true was a huge part of how I was able to take my life back and overcome the manifestations of trauma, abuse and neglect. (When I refer to the manifestations I am referring to the resulting struggles such as depressions, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative identity disorder, anxiety, eating disorders, low self-esteem and a few other common issues.)
There is another common belief expressed behind these questions; it leaks out through the questions how many of us had never been taught that we have the right to have boundaries and how habitual it is to accept that our feelings are not valid. I was taught that I ‘had’ to accept things the way they were. The funky part of that teaching is that many of the things I learned to accept were truly unacceptable but they were so normalized that I didn’t know they were wrong; in some cases the treatment was even Read More→
Please help me welcome guest blogger Pam Witzemann as she shares about Emotional Neglect. Emotional Neglect is a form of psychological abuse. Pam is a frequent guest blogger here at Emerging from Broken and contributes her voice to the comments in almost every post here on Emerging from Broken. As always please add your thoughts and comments. Darlene Ouimet Founder of Emerging from Broken
The Black Hole of Emotional Neglect by Pam Witzemann
Emotional neglect is largely, invisible. When one is emotionally neglected as a child, it is impossible to understand what is missing because it is impossible to understand what one has never known and can’t see. The emotional neglect of a child, places within them a black hole. It produces an insatiable loneliness that can consume the spirit, body, and soul of a child. As a child, I was a victim of emotional neglect.
My most familiar emotion as a child was loneliness. I was prevaded and often overwhelmed by it; but I also couldn’t name it. At the center of my being, was a darkness that often pulled me under and left me in such a state of depression as to paralyze me. I was filled with a deep longing for someone to notice my pain and help me. This core emptiness followed me into adulthood and ruled over the choices I made. Inside me lived death and I longed for the final consummation of death. In that deep night, I was made blind to happiness, joy, and life itself. I was a dark child who didn’t expect to live Read More→
It was so important for me to believe that my childhood had in fact been difficult. I had been brainwashed that my childhood was wonderful, normal and that I was one of the “privileged” people in the world. I believed that something was wrong with me because I had so many struggles with depressions and emotional issues. I felt guilty that I was so unhappy because I had been convinced that I was so fortunate to have grown up in the family I had. I believed that I had wonderful, hard working parents who did their best for me. I constantly looked to those “less fortunate” in order to beat myself up about how “ungrateful” that I was.
I bought their definition of “normal” hook, line and sinker. No wonder I always felt like I was drowning.
The way that I was raised was not healthy nor was it “normal”. But how was I to know that? It was my normal. It was all I knew. I had no frame of reference for any other way of life. I had to face that although I had been “told” that I was a liar and an exaggerator, I did in fact know the truth about at least some of the things that had happened to me and that those things were wrong. I had to listen to myself. I had to believe myself. I had to validate the pain that being devalued, dismissed and treated as “not quite valid” as a person had an effect on me. A lasting effect. There was damage done. TO ME.
I deserved to heal, but first I had to believe that I had something I needed to heal from. I had to believe myself regardless of the lifelong message that I had Read More→
Several years ago, I excitedly told my Mother over the phone that I was going to write a book about my process of recovery from chronic depression and dissociative identity disorder. She reacted with strange sort of hesitation. She didn’t ask any questions; she didn’t actually acknowledge this information at all. I was used to her acting this way and I was only a bit more then mildly disappointed that she wasn’t interested. I had been noticing in my recovery that she sucked the joy out of everything I was ever excited about. A few days later however, she brought it up as a sort of “by the way” conversation. She said that if she read anything in my book about her that she didn’t like, she would sue me. I was stunned. I was actually speechless I was so stunned. Why did she think it would be about her? I was so confused about her statement, that I couldn’t think straight. I called a friend of mine who is a lawyer and asked her for some legal advice about it.
When I got over my shock about her reaction and her threat, I was able to look at this in a different way. My narcissistic mother didn’t ask me about the contents of the book. She just assumed it would be about her. Why would she assume that? I hadn’t even thought about talking about her in the book yet. Her reaction is what I call a truth leak. Continued….. Read More→
Sometimes I get a comment that is bursting with questions that I just HAVE to talk about in more depth than just a comment back. In my last post “coping methods ~ trying to escape myself” I got one of these comments from Susa.
Susa wrote: “Interesting perspective and I really appreciate reading your experiences with dissociation. I suppose I could refer to switching as escaping myself, but the only problem I have, is what part of me is actually me? Who is really “myself”? I have always spontaneously deferred to a part of me who can more easily handle the specific task at hand, and have never had any control of that process. At this late stage of the life game, I am finally starting to almost be co-present with some parts of me… and yet I, Susa, still struggle with the question of who, or which part is the real me, or the original me? I know that I am not the original birth person, and have only been the CEO since 2006. I suppose the real me would be a sum of my parts, but hard to pinpoint any specific part of me.” Susa ( To read the post and the rest of the discussion read “coping methods ~ trying to escape myself“)
As I read this comment from Susa, several things were going through my mind. One of them was that although I am frequently asked to talk about my experience with dissociative identity disorder, (the multiple personality kind) I rarely do talk about it other than to say that I had it and I recovered from it. I tend to stay away from the subject because there are so many different beliefs about what it is, and how it operates. My opinion is that it was one of the ways that I coped; first with the trauma and then with life, and that in the final analysis, it was no more or less important than any of my other coping methods. All of my coping methods were tangled together to form a huge armoured tank around all my issues, protecting me from the outside world, but in the end also shielding me from the freedom and wholeness that I wanted so badly. All of my coping methods served the same purpose; survival.
Switching was an effective escape; it was a necessary coping method that in the past I had come to understand was about escaping the trauma, pain and or emotions that I was experiencing at any given time. As I grew up I learned to switch at any perceived danger. It became automatic. Anything that was even remotely familiar to the feelings surrounding childhood abuse or trauma, caused me to “switch”, becoming the alter I most needed to be in order to handle the situation. This was necessary as a child. It was not so necessary when I became an adult but I had no way of knowing that. Dissociative Identity and switching alters had become the way that I did life. As an adult, the switching personalities seemed to become more about me becoming whoever someone else wanted me to be, but was still a survival method or coping method due to the fears that I carried with me from childhood into adulthood.
When I came face to face with my dissociative identity disorder, I had those same questions. Who is the “real me?; Which one is in charge?; how will I ever know?” Will I ever find out which one of “me” is the original one? And I got really invested in thinking about all of that. So much so that you could say it became yet another escape. The “original me” quest however became very important to me as I began this healing journey.
I found out that all of them were me. Each fragmented self had arrived to protect me or to take the feelings and handle the fears for me. Each one held its own memories and had its own triggers. Each one had the job of protecting me from the memories, pain and trauma so that I could survive. Some alters were male, some were children, one was much older then I was. They took care of me. That was their job. And I had only even had or been glimpses of the original me or the core because the core of me was the sum of all parts.
I had a lot of fears about who I really was and about which alter was going to be the strongest one in the end. I was really afraid of one of them as I had gotten into most of the trouble in my life with her in the front. I tried to shut her down and one time when I was in intensive therapy I dreamed that I tried to kill her. I woke up from that dream with the profound realization that I had tried to kill myself in a dream. Through that dream I realized that I could not ditch one of “them” and that I had projected most of the self hate, blame and shame onto that part of me. My therapist had a less known method of treating dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality disorder) and the method he used was instead of concentrating on which alter had which memories and emotions, we concentrated on the trauma events themselves and we began with the earliest ones that I remembered. I had lots of alters popping out in therapy, and my therapist just let it happen without giving too much attention to the individual alter. It was more like he treated me as though I was only “one” and then I came to realize that all of this trauma actually happened to me and not to the alters whom I believed were separate from me.
Dissociative identity disorder allowed me to separate trauma events and view them as though they happened to someone else. Because more than one alter personality would come out at each trauma event, I was able to detach from the event on many levels. I saw each tiny moment as separate from another moment. That was how I was able to deal with them. But I did the same thing with the lies that I learned. With all the memories fragmented, it may have been easier to cope, but at the same time I accepted the lies, shame and self blame because I separated those memories too. I believed that I must have done something to deserve what happened because I didn’t have one whole memory. So if someone indicated that it was my own fault or that I deserved it or that I was the problem, I remembered that as a single event too.
As I looked at the memories, and started to connect the fragmented pieces, I realized how many false beliefs that I had accepted about myself in the course of my childhood. As I uncovered those lies and exposed the truth (to myself) I began to come together. As I realized how many lies that I had accepted about myself and corrected them, I began to calm down. As I calmed down, I became more comfortable. I felt like I was growing up. In the calming down, I felt like I was coming together. I was able to become conscious of when I had switched and soon I was conscious even before I switched and found ways of talking to myself that enabled me to stay one.
The trauma happened to me. The memories were all mine. Each personality was me and I was restored, by connecting, facing and accepting the truth about the past.
Please share your thoughts. We always have a wonderful discussion in the comments section!
Note: It is important to understand that it was not the recall of the events that restored me. I do not have all my memories, and I still remember only fragments of certain events, but I remembered enough to realize how my belief system had formed and why. The key was in realizing how I had come to believe so many lies about myself, and was not about remembering all the events.
**This is an example of my personal journey. All processes are different. Many people need to dig really deeply into the personality of each alter; I am not discounting other ways of recovery. I am only sharing how it worked for me.
Related Post ~ D.I.D. and the Essence of who I am by Carla Logan
“The best way to keep relationships happy, healthy, and supportive can be summed up in one word: appreciation. What you appreciate, appreciates. When we demonstrate our appreciation for the support we receive from others, it reinforces that behaviour and deepens our connection to them.” Marci Shimoff
This is a beautiful quote. I tried to live my life by these types of quotes in the past, never realizing that they were extremely conflicting for me. Today, this quote works for me in the relationships that I have now but in the past a quote like this actually caused internal, subconscious, harm.
Without realizing it, I was trying to appreciate people who were treating me badly. I didn’t think that I deserved support; I don’t think I even knew what it was so I didn’t see that key part of the quote. Instead, I kept trying to see the positive in abusive people and overlook the negative. That was how I viewed quotes like this one. I thought it meant that I should just ignore the mean stuff. But trying to overlook someone’s ill treatment of me was the same as agreeing with them that I wasn’t really worth being treated properly.
Trying to appreciate a person who devalues you is conflicting; it’s like putting a band-aid on top of a severed limb that requires surgery, stitches, recovery time and then rehabilitation.
I am one of those people who fought against depression all my life. I was bi-polar, likely from a very young age and depressions were connected to my dissociative identity disorder issues. I began seeking solutions in self help programs, seminars and self help books when I was eighteen years old. I started in 12 step meetings when I was eighteen too. And for reasons that I could never understand, no matter how much I tried to work those steps, they too were like a band-aid when I needed surgery.
In the past when I read a quote like this one by Marci Shimoff I tried to focus on appreciating the people in my life that were devaluing me, defining me as not good enough, controlling me and squishing me into the ground. I tried to concentrate on how wonderful they were and thought that if I was more appreciative ~ which in a victim mindset means more compliant and more subservient, that they would finally reciprocate and appreciate me. This was all part of my victim mentality which whispered in the deepest part of my mind and belief system, that if I could just find the magic secret recipe for how to make them LOVE me, that they would stop hurting me and love me.
Today I understand and appreciate quotes like this one. I had to get the victim mentality (that I lived in and survived by) sorted out and set right first though. I had to clean up the old foundation ~ which was rotting and full of gaping life sucking lies and build a new strong and sturdy foundation before quotes like these could serve me. Trying to implement positive thinking quotes in the past added to my already low self esteem. Subconsciously I just jumped to guilt, shame, self blame and failure thoughts.
Having realized my own value and truly embraced it has enabled me to appreciate the people in my life today from a more truthful and equal viewpoint and THAT has deepened the connections. Appreciation is no longer a one way street. Now that I know my own value, it is easier to appreciate others for who they really are too.
Please share your thoughts about one sided appreciation or about how this article resonates with you.
I wanted to know HOW I would recover from emotional abuse; how do I do it? What do I do?
As though knowing HOW would make it possible.
I wanted to know HOW the healing would take place, as though knowing how would make it real or as though knowing how would enable me to make the decision on whether or not I was willing to go through with it.
But the truth is that I didn’t ever get to know how. I didn’t ever get prior knowledge as to where the journey would take me.
I was held back on some aspects because I thought the pain would kill me, but the pain of recovery was never as bad as the pain of living broken. Unfortunately, we don’t know that for sure until we are on the other side of broken.
I thought that if I ventured forward but didn’t succeed, that the pain of another failure would kill me; so I hesitated about moving forward.
I hear this question all the time; “But how does it work? How will I do it?”
I didn’t know, I never knew, and looking back I don’t see how I could have even been told. Because it is different for everyone. Because it is a step by step process that takes time. Because on breakthrough builds on another.
What I remember is that I believed it was possible. That belief came because my therapist told me that there were others that had overcome and recovered from chronic depressions and dissociative behavior. I had not actually met anyone that had overcome, but when I started to trust him, I started to believe him and after I began to believe him and when I had my first little breakthrough, then I believed that I could do recover too. I finally had hope. I finally believed that if someone else could overcome ~ if someone else had recovered from dissociative identity disorder, sexual abuse, and a lifetime of psychological abuse, then maybe I could recover too.
I finally believed that I was worth taking the chance on. I was worth the effort. And I also realized that the reason that I had not considered that I was worth it prior to this was because from a very young age I had been treated as though I was not worth it. As a child I had no choice but to believe that lie.
I dug my heals in and went for it. I just put one foot in front of the other and took my time looking at the reasons that I had been in this state of difficulty and struggle with my mental health for so long. All I had was hope and it turned out that was all I needed. Each little success, each little breakthrough no matter how tiny was what kept me going forward after that. My breakthroughs became my motivation and hope was my foundation.
Blind faith I guess you could say.
I realize today that success is not the end result but rather a collection of accomplishments.
I took someone else’s word for it; that recovery was possible and it ended up being the truth. This is my biggest inspiration for writing this blog. I want to inspire hope as it was inspired in me.
I made the decision to face the pain. I made the decision to go forward but I didn’t know the answer to the HOW question. And in the end, it didn’t matter.
What are your thoughts on the “HOW” question? Please share them with us in the comments.
Exposing Truth ~ One Snapshot at a Time
“It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good.” Thomas Jefferson
I was dissociated. I grew up having dissociative identity disorder which means that I effectively disconnected from myself and from the events that happened to me. That is what dissociative identity disorder is. That was how I protected myself, how I survived, how I coped. In recovery it was extremely important that I eventually connected those events BACK to me. I had to realize that those things really happened and they happened to me.
This isn’t as easy as it might sound. For one thing I didn’t realize when I talked about certain abuse situations, that I didn’t connect them to me. The first time I connected being molested as a child, to myself, I was stunned. Shocked actually. I had had the memory for years. But I didn’t actually relate it to something that happened to me as a person or to me as an individual or to me as someone who was violated. So when I talked about it in therapy this one day, it was just like I was talking about something slightly uncomfortable, like driving in bad weather. Like I was talking about an event that was slightly awkward but not the devaluing and terrifying sexual assault that in truth is what actually took place.
It doesn’t help if you are told constantly while growing up, that you are dramatic, that you talk to hear yourself talk, that you exaggerate. Or if you are told statements like “we don’t talk like that” or “we don’t talk about things like that”. It doesn’t help if you are brainwashed to believe that your memories are wrong. That your memories are false, because the memory is horrifying enough. It doesn’t help if you are told that you deserved it, that you asked for it, and the worst one of all ~ that you liked it. It doesn’t help if when you got older that you have become so sexualized that your body responds to something awful. It is really confusing when you are told it didn’t happen AND you are told you deserved it and to forgive. (If it didn’t happen why are you told you deserved it or to forgive?)
It might be nice to believe that it never really happened. Like witnessing a fatal car accident. Your mind will often try to tell you that it didn’t happen the way that you saw it happen. Your mind will try to figure out all sorts of ways that it might have happened differently and with a different outcome. I could have done this or that differently. I could have stopped it. Your mind will try to protect you from the horror of what you saw. Well my mind tried to protect me too, so it split into different memory banks and separated one memory from another. My parents gladly assisted with this process by not validating me and by convincing me that my dramatic personality was full of shit.
When I finally connected that first event to myself, I was able to connect other events too and accept that these things happened to me. I had to accept more than just that certain abuse happened to me, I had to accept that I was not validated at the same time. I was not heard, I was not protected. And although my parents were not my sexual abusers, they didn’t listen to me, my mother had a violent temper, my father was emotionally unavailable, completely detached and disinterested in me and all of those things are also abusive. I had to realize that. All of this was part of the picture of who I was and what happened to me and how I dealt with it or didn’t deal with it.
If I was to recover, if I was to heal, I had to put myself first for once and really look at this as a whole picture. And I had to realize that I had been abused, mistreated, not valued, heard or protected, and that those things happened to ME, that it was wrong, and that I didn’t deserve it. I also had to realize that I deserve recovery; that I deserve to have a full life. That I deserve to know what love is and to be loved and to know my own value. I had to stop comparing my life and my past to everyone else’s and I had to stop believing that how other people defined me was TRUE. I had to realize at the depth of my entire being, that I WAS NOT who “they” said that I was and that they don’t get to define me anymore.
I fought for my life when I was abused, but I fought even harder to get it back. and THIS truly is “the good fight”.
Written with more love then I ever knew I had or imagined that I could ever feel;
related posts: Mother Daughter Relationship Nightmares
Facing and Speaking the Awful Truth ~from the blog “you can fly with broken wings ~ by Fi MacLeod