I am into my second week in the Clinic in Burwood now and have been attending Group Therapy sessions, Art Therapy and have one-on-one sessions with my psychiatrist and psychologist. It’s been pretty intense going! All my stitches are out and my wounds have healed perfectly thank goodness. No infections this time. As I have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), the alters have been very active and the seventeen-year-old who is responsible for the self-harm has been wanting to cut but for some unknown reason doesn’t when I’m in the Clinic, so it’s a relief to be in a safe place. It provides much needed respite for my husband too which he deserves.
The psychiatrist has been talking to my Mother alter a lot. He calls her Mother Erin. He makes a clear distiction between my real biological Mother who perpetrated so much abuse when I was a child and Mother Erin and has spent a lot of time trying to get me to understand that difference. He says it is crucial that Mother Erin did not do the things to me that my real Mother did. She did hit me, send the men to me, locked me in the room or harm me. I find this very confusing because Mother Erin says she hates me and the other alters and causes a lot of the self-harm. He says that is because she is in pain and is suffering just like they are and needs nurturing and needs to be accepted by the other alters and be a part of the ‘system’. At the moment she is not talking to the other alters. She is all on her own and is isolated so is lashing out.
Why then, “I ask, is she so hell-bent on punishment?”. He replies, “She is misguided. She formed as a part of you when you were four when the abuse started happening as a way of you coping with what was being done to you. She was a defence mechanism, a split, a dissociation in order to deal with what the men were doing. She became a judger of you and what you were doing and continued that throughout your life. She also became your strength and way of coping.” He went on to explain that each alter was caused by a trauma that I experienced as a child and was formed as a dissociation mechanism to help me cope with each trauma. DID is caused as a result of childhood trauma.
He wants Mother Erin to start talking to seventeen year old and open a dialogue between them. The aim is to integrate her into the ‘system’ so she is accepted by the other alters so she no longer feels the need to punish or harm Erin but allows her strength to be used by her personality to become a part of her whole personality. We are aiming for integration of all the alters.
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 am a long way off integration. I have three alters who talk to each other: a four-year-old, an eight-year-old and a fifteen-year-old. All other parts are separate and do not communicate at all. The seventeen-year-old and Mother Erin alters are hell-bent on self-harm. The psychologist has asked me, present day Erin to write to seventeen year old and tell her that she is not to blame for what happened to her or the other children that she saw abused. I do not that I can do that. I’ll certainly try but it’s a big ask. I’m very afraid of her and don’t know how she will react.