Re-Parenting, Dissociation and the Desire to EscapeBy
As many of you know, I’ve recovered from dissociative identity disorder and I find it to be a strange feeling to be aware of wanting to dissociate, when for so many years, it was habitual ~ I just did it. Continuing with some of the conversation from the last post, see “Dissociative Identity ~ the solution became the problem” ~ sometimes I still get this overwhelming feeling like I want to get out of my own skin. And sometimes when I get that anxious feeling I actually wish I could dissociate the way that I used to. I have come to realize that this “wish” is about the desire to escape.
When I was a child I HAD to dissociate because I had no other way to cope and coping was not just about dealing with trauma or abuse. It was also the only way to escape the feelings of being nothing and being of no value, the fear of what might happen next, the confusion of not being protected, not being understood and not even being listened to. No one helped me to deal with stuff so I had to do something. I was forced to dissociate and disconnect because I had to. It was an effective coping method for me and eventually it became effective as a way of escaping everything. I would dissociate in all situations. I am not sure what I did a lot of the times when I was dissociative, I lost a lot of time and I have some vague memories of a fantasy life and there were alter personalities, but wherever I was, it was how I dealt with things, it was my coping method and it was my escape.
As an adult I had to learn a new way because that old way was keeping me back in my childhood of unresolved fears and emotional damage.
When I talk about re-parenting myself, I am referring to being there for myself emotionally, the way that no one was there for me when I was a kid. When I feel like running, escaping or using a coping method like eating when I am not hungry in order to deal with (which is actually NOT dealing with) the emotions that are coming up in me it is because I want to escape those feelings, and because I never had help to deal with them ~ I learned to check out ~ in a manner of speaking.
Re-parenting is about being there for me when I want to leave me because of the old familiar feeling that I am alone anyway and I am not safe, so I think I need to escape.
Here is what I wrote in my journal about the anxiety I was experiencing a few days ago because I have been working on taking better care of my physical health;
“I feel discouraged that I have the same old struggle going on in me ~ that I am not really making me a priority again. I don’t “feel” like taking care of myself. I am tired, I don’t want to do treadmill, I don’t want to cut veggies, I don’t want to stay active and be responsible for my physical health and I don’t want to write about it here. I just want to pretend that I’m fine and put off thinking about my health and self care. I want to eat junk food if I feel like it. I will take care of myself… tomorrow.”
Sometimes I just can’t, don’t want to, or I just won’t stay present with myself. And I hate this feeling ~ it feels like failure and that is what makes me want to turn away from myself and my thoughts and ignore it but it is always there. The biggest problem is that I tell myself that I deserve to escape.
I deserve escape? To tell myself that I deserve to escape those feelings is like giving myself permission to self harm. Escape is not the really productive or healthy. This is something that I need to be aware of, almost every minute of the day because of the pain that I cause myself when I do choose escape, and because escape causes more pain in the end and it makes me feel bad about myself, actually separate from myself and be angry with myself; which is what living through abuse taught me to do.
Being aware of dialogue with myself; ~ sometimes I ask myself what is wrong. And in my mind’s eye I see myself shake the question off and forcefully say to myself “just leave me alone ~ haven’t I been through enough? I don’t FEEL like DEALING with this right now”… and when I go a little deeper with those thoughts I hear myself think “I deserve to be able to put it off. I deserve to live in escape and to be able to escape.” What I had to realize is that in escaping, I am separating from myself. I’m doing to myself what was done to me ~I am discounting my needs and my feelings. I am leaving myself ~ emotionally abandoning myself the way that I was emotionally abandoned as a child. It is what I am used to; it is what I was taught to do.
I got stuck there for a long time in adulthood. The answer was logical enough, but I didn’t really see it while I was escaping and dissociating and finding ways to run from the problem. I had to learn how to do something different. I had to learn not to leave myself, to stay present with myself and this is something I strive to do more each day. The more that I am aware of the desire to escape, the easier it is to decide not to escape.
And the truth is that I don’t NEED to escape anymore because I am not in danger anymore. I do not need to disconnect and dissociate by separating from myself, my thoughts and feelings. The leftover fears are not valid anymore. That coping method is no longer necessary for my survival the way that it was when I was a child. I am still in the tweaking and strengthening stages of this part of my self growth, but as I learn to love, value and support myself emotionally, the less I seek any form of escape.
Please share how you relate to or struggle with the concepts of re-parenting, dissociating and the desire to escape.
Still on the journey!
You might also like to read the related guest post by Susan Smith ~ Turning Points and Emotional Healing
Therapist John Wilson from Onine Events presents ~ Emerging From Broken – Interview with Darlene Ouimet on Sunday Nov.03 at 12:00 Noon Pacific, 3:00 pm EST and 1:00 pm mountain time. Please visit the following link in order to reserve your ticket. Click on the first box ~ there is no charge for the live event. Hope to “see” you there. http://emergingfrombroken.eventbrite.com/