Bargaining With Alters

I can’t quite believe it but it’s been two months since I have self-harmed in anyway shape or form. That’s a record for me in three years. It is largely due to good therapy by my psychiatrist and psychotherapist and some clever techniques they have put into place to bargain with my alters.

My psychotherapist asked each alter to tell her something that they would like. Something nice that they would like bought for them, or that they would do or someone they might like to see.

For example the four-year-old said she wanted an Awards Book for pretty stamps and stickers to go in. The eight-year-old wanted a canvas and paints so she could do a new painting. The thirteen-year-old wanted to go to the beach and take the dog for a walk.

So it proved to my psychotherapist that the alters were open to negotiation. She wondered if the older ones, the ones responsible for the self-harm and suicidality could be bargained with so she asked to talk to the seventeen-year-old, the major alter who self-harms, what would she like if she could stop self-harming. What was the thing that she most wanted in the world? She answered that she wanted a bike and to go riding with “the man” (my husband) in the forest.

So the psychotherapist said there was a way she could get the bike by saving money for it. For every day that she didn’t self-harm she would get $2.00 adding up to $20 every ten days. Then on the tenth day she would get a bonus $20 meaning she would have $40. Then another ten days of $2.00 and she would get a bonus of $30 and so on. The bonus would increase by ten dollars every ten days making the task achievable and saving the bike possible and not an impossible task. Using $2.00 put a daily focus on the aim.

The seventeen-year-old said she needed time to think about it and would tell the therapist at the next session and promised not to self-harm in between.

At the next session, I switched to the seventeen-year-old and said that I agreed to the new plan as I really wanted the bike. I made her promise that she would uphold her side of the bargain too. She, of course, said yes but that I had to make sure no self-harm took place or the deal was off and I would not get the bike.

Well it’s worked to date. I have had ample opportunities to self-harm, have access to blades but have not self-harmed due to the bargain the seventeen-year-old struck with the ingenious psychotherapist.

She bargains from week to week with Eileen the other self-harmer, my Mother alter. She is very dangerous and couldn’t be persuaded to admit to wanting anything. She bargains on the pride of her word. The therapist calls her out each week and gets her to promise not to act on suicidality or self-harm until the next time they meet. She gives her word reluctantly but sticks to the bargain. She is full of pride and honours her word.

It has been a terrific two months. I have published my book and there has been no incidents. I have joined a CrossFit Gym so am getting fit and finally starting to lose the weight I put on due to the medications I have been on. I go with a neighbour so it gives my husband a break and a chance to do his own thing which I’m thrilled about. It’s some independence for both of us.

So some light at the end of the tunnel through some creative therapy. Who would have thought?

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