I am a week out of the Clinic now and I have not self-harmed even once!!! Amazing progress. Going from every second day to three weeks in the Clinic without harming and now a week at home, it’s a real milestone.
It hasn’t been without a struggle. My ‘mother alter’ has been switching but I have been using the strategies they taught me at the Clinic and so far I have been able to resist cutting. It’s come close and she is not happy with me at all. She is still adamant that I need punishing but I am using the negotiating skills taught to me and keeping her at bay. Long may it last. The long-term strategy is that I eventually convince her that I need her strength for good things in my life not punishment and that she can be at peace through integration into the whole ‘system’ with the other alters and not be at war with them.
Three of them now talk to each other which is fantastic and that is giving me added strength. The Four, Eight and Thirteen-year old alters are all on my side and don’t believe in punishment so they give me added strength when it comes to dealing with my ‘mother alter’. Boy, it gets complicated some days.
My beautiful psychotherapist knows how hard the younger alters have been working and she wanted to reward them. She bought a beautiful notebook and two stamps with “Great Job” and “Well Done” written on them and gorgeous colourful stickers for them to use for each time that they come to therapy when Erin hasn’t cut. She wrote the seven days and dates since discharge from the Clinic on a page and I immediately switched to the ‘four year old alter’ and gleefully stamped the page and chose stickers. I was so excited. It felt like my birthday. No one had ever bought me something like that for me before, I gave her a big huge and thank you. I then stayed in that ‘alter’ and told her of the struggle Erin was having with the ‘mother alter’. It offered great insight to my therapist of how the system is working at the moment.
What a stroke of genius to offer a reward system to the younger alters if I don’t cut. Every bit of extra protection is vital. It is only a small gesture but could be a game changer. This real got me thinking about integration and what that would mean for me. I have become so accustomed the the ‘alter’ and the ‘splits’ in my personality that integration is a scary prospect and no one has yet been able to explain it to me to my satisfaction. I understand the alters are a part of me and integration is to represent me as a whole person. Seems simple doesn’t it when you put it that way but it’s not. It’s anything but. The nearest I’ve come to understanding it is this explanation:
At the most basic level, integration simply means acceptance/ownership of all thoughts, feelings, fears, beliefs, experiences and memories (often labeled as personalities) as me/mine. It means giving up the split(s) that says something is “not me.” Integration is more than about personalities. It is about full acceptance of all dissociated aspects of oneself. Integration is a process not an event. It occurs throughout therapy (and outside of therapy) as dissociated aspects of one’s self become known, accepted and integrated into normal awareness. It is a natural process in the recovery from trauma. It brings a kind of peace that comes with fully accepting and loving yourself.
I think this is more in line with my version of integration. I think I can accept this.