Well, once every two months or so I write a piece that lands me in hot water.
Why break tradition?
All I can ask is that you read the entire article top to bottom before you decide to put out a contract on my life. I am not trying to hurt anyone, nor am I speaking from inexperience. I have lived this life just as you have, and my sole reason for writing these things is to help.
I only wish people to find the peace that I, after 27 years of hard, hard, and often dangerous work, have found.
I want to say, healing is possible.
The World of a Victim
Anyone who knows me understands that I feel strongly for others who still live in the darkness of childhood trauma. I suffered a long, long time from the events that occurred when I was little that were entirely out of my control.
I lived in the world of victimization.
I felt strongly that every bad situation I found myself in as an adult was directly related and caused by events that had occurred when I was a kid.
Now, there can be absolutely no doubt but what the horrendous things my abusers did to me were not my fault. Of course not. Children are in no way responsible for the actions of an adult. They cannot cause an adult to lust after them, nor can they stop them from harming themselves.
The problem is that when you grow up a victim, it becomes who you are in adulthood. I know I walked about bemoaning my then present life feeling it was not happy because of what someone else had done to me.
That is True, But…
To a certain extent, this was true. After all, no one will wake up every morning deciding to be miserable. No one would think, “I want to be lonely and afraid all the time.”
Then one fateful day, I entered therapy.
My therapist, who is now retired, had a real mess on her hands. I was totally out of sync with what an adult was supposed to be, and I felt unable to change my life. She realized early on that I needed to be taught the very basics of life, including to take responsibility for my life.
The above doesn’t sound too horrible at first glance. That is until you understand that I live with dissociative identity disorder and have more than 72 alternates. That doesn’t mean I have 72 different people in my mind, that means that parts of my one personality were stuck in what is termed trauma-time.
Debra Wesselmann, MS, LIMHP, on her blog site gives the following definition of trauma-time:
“Trauma-time is a phenomenon that has grabbed and deceived almost every survivor of trauma at one point or another. Traumatic memories are stored differently than normal memories. They are encapsulated.”
She states they are encapsulated, and that is the memories are set apart. As I have said in a previous article, the mechanism that causes this separation involves how the memories are encoded. However, that is not the focus of this piece.
The focus of this piece is the way since we have not only trapped these memories in events of the past but that we tend to relive those things and the emotions that go along them.
We Become Prisoners of Our Pasts
What I’m saying is that we become imprisoned in the past.
That may be an obvious statement to anyone who lives with dissociative identity disorder. We experience daily how our splintered minds can be triggered into reliving a horrible event from three decades before.
Upon being diagnosed with DID, inevitably we not only allow ourselves to be drawn into trauma-time with our alters, but we see our current lives through that lens also.
This lens I speak of is that all our problems are the fault of our former abusers.
I am in no way saying that the disorder and chaos of life as a multiple is our fault. Of course not. We did not cause our minds to splinter and we sure as hell didn’t ask for the torture we underwent to become a dissociated mess.
Here it comes folks, the hot water I mentioned in the first paragraph. Oh well, I’ve been in trouble before with people who have experienced trauma in childhood. We must keep up tradition.
Note the sarcasm? Sigh.
Who Makes Our Decisions Today?
Are the problems we find ourselves experiencing the fault of those who hurt us so horribly in our pasts?
Things like getting into a bad marriage, or getting pregnant at a young age. Things like not finishing college, or working at a job we honestly hate.
Are these things entirely the fault of our pasts? Or are we responsible for the decision we make today?
I think you know my answer.
An Example from My Life
Yes, all humans are heavily influenced by the way they were brought up. Early family life gives us our window into society and how we should behave within it. However, once we reach adulthood, do we not make our own decisions?
I am in recovery from a prescription drug addiction. I was given pills for everything growing up, and I watched my mom pop pills and get high all my young life. Yes, her use of prescription drugs taught me that I can escape from reality if I got high.
Who was the lady who woke up in the dementia wing of a hospital when she had taken too many pills? Had someone held her mouth open and forced her to swallow them?
Wasn’t it me?
The fault was mine. I had and still have the choice of following my upbringing or changing my life for the better.
The Magic Key!
Being responsible for my own actions was a magic key that opened a door to a whole new avenue of thought. This road lead to more freedom that I ever thought existed.
You see, when I allowed myself to blame the trauma from my childhood on my decisions today, I gave up something wonderful!
The reality that I and only I am responsible for my decisions and actions.
What about the alters?
Another valuable lesson that my retired therapist had to teach me was that the alters, all of them, are me. I am them; they are me. Anything that is done in this body is my responsibility.
That meant I could no longer blame my actions when dissociated on an alter, and that meant I couldn’t blame my past.
All the stupid, stupid decisions I have made as an adult are entirely and irrevocably my responsibility.
I Was Pissed Off Too!
I know those words hurt! They hurt me and made me extremely pissed off too!
That is until I began to understand the power that owning your behavior and your decisions brings.
Not only this, but it brings freedom!
I am free to take pride in the right decisions I make and to feel frustrated at the bad ones.
I am open to saying, “Yes, I did that.”
Not only this but I can say that without so without the hedge of blaming it on an alter.
They are me; I am them.
With This Freedom Comes Peace
With this power comes tremendous leaps forward into peace. After I finally, after spending over seven years inpatient, understood this principle I made tremendous strides.
Now I live with my alters well, and we have peace.
Oh, not the entire time. I still do and say things I do not remember etc., but I am not worried because I know all the way through that the buck stops here.
There is tremendous power in knowing and believing that no one, and your past, cannot influence you. You are suddenly free to be the person you were destined to be.
After all, isn’t that what being in therapy is all about? Facing who you are head-on and learning from what you see?
“Learning lessons is a little like reaching maturity. You’re not suddenly more happy, wealthy, or powerful, but you understand the world around you better, and you’re at peace with yourself. Learning life’s lessons is not about making your life perfect, but about seeing life as it was meant to be.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross