Even though I was diagnosed with Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified about three years ago, and then a year later was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, I’ve noticed that I have a harder time connecting to my parts or alters than a lot of people that I know or see who also have Dissociative Disorders, and when I do connect, it is not in a typical way. I’ve wondered why this is. Does it have something to do with the fact that I am or was poly-fragmented? Or could it be because I just have too many parts/alters? Or, am I just so dissociated right now due to having repressed memories that I can’t connect to myself as well as usual?
My main conclusion is that all of these things affect my ability to communicate with my parts/alters. I also think that this is just the way that my system works. I know that I do connect to my parts mainly through observation of myself and my thoughts and through thought processes with them. A lot of the time, it feels like there is a constant conversation in my head.
I don’t think that I fully realized, though, how fragmented I am until last night, but that only came with what feels like an integration. It seems as though I was able to accept my trauma with parts of myself (my main parts/host/core) that either weren’t aware of it, didn’t seem like it was real, or felt like the trauma had happened to someone else, even though I knew about and felt emotions regarding the trauma. This means that along with accepting this trauma, I must also have accepted or integrated some parts that I felt were different people than I am. What I realized in terms of my trauma was that this part of my life (the past trauma) will always be a part of my life and will always affect me in certain ways. Even though this sounds obvious, for me I don’t think that I had accepted the abuse enough to fully accept this truth until last night. Up until then it felt like there was some sort of cut-off between the time that I went through trauma and the last few years, almost as if I had literally lived two lives. But, last night these two lives seemed to come together. And, in doing so, I am able to recognize and understand how fragmented I have been the last few years when I felt like my trauma was mine yet not and that I had lived multiple lives.
Today it feels like the trauma had happened to me. I didn’t fully recognize this before, and it felt up until yesterday that the trauma that I knew about, or even felt emotions over, had happened to someone else even though rationally I knew that it happened to me. I believe that feeling that the trauma happened to someone else is an aspect of my dissociative disorder. This is due to how dissociative disorders can form.
One way that dissociative disorders can form is that when a child endures severe abuse, sometimes he or she will create (unconsciously or consciously) an alternate identity or part that holds the trauma. This allows the main part of themselves to go on and live their life despite the abuse, whereas another part deals with or holds onto memories of the trauma that the child is experiencing as well as the emotions that go with it. This way, the child can function despite what is happening to him or her, and this also protects the child from having to deal with abuse that no child is able to deal with. The child may or may not be aware of these other parts and may have some to no awareness of the trauma that he or she has endured. As the child gets older, he or she might create more identities that hold certain purposes or tasks that help them survive or keeps them from knowing about the trauma that he or she went through. This allows the child as an adult to function. By the time that the child is an adult, he or she may have a complex system of identities that helps them to cope with life and with the trauma that he or she went through, while likely staying in denial about the trauma.
Eventually the adult may or may not learn about some or all of the trauma that they went through. Most of the time, in order to do so the adult likely will discover that he or she has alternate identities if or when they start working on trauma if the trauma is held on a separate identity than the host. Sometimes, too, adults with dissociative disorders become aware of their other identities without becoming aware of their trauma.
So, it makes sense that it felt like my trauma had happened to someone else, even though I knew about it and felt emotions around it. This is likely because I have or had parts that were trauma holders that I didn’t know about for most of my life. At some point, those parts decided to make themselves known and shared my trauma with me. But, despite learning about the trauma, I didn’t fully recognize that it didn’t feel like mine until last night. I also didn’t recognize how fragmented I had been and likely am. Likely this is because I was so fragmented that I was not able to connect with what was really going on within me.
This is one of the challenges I believe of having a dissociative disorder, which is that you know that you have it but may not fully be able to recognize it’s effects on you simply because of the nature of fragmentation itself. It’s a really weird way to live, and is I think indescribable to those who have not experienced it. Having a disconnect through fragmentation really can cause havoc on one’s life (at least that’s what I found for myself). For me, this disconnect worsened for some time when parts that I wasn’t aware of starting showing themselves, because I wasn’t able to recognize them as part of myself. Over time, I am learning to accept these parts and to recognize that they are part of me. And, I am learning to feel comfortable with myself all over again.
I don’t know what caused the integration of trauma and parts that I experienced last night, but I am glad that it happened. It feels to me that one of the important parts of finding stability within myself and my system is that I must be in a safe and secure place in my life and feel that I am in order for my parts and alters to fully feel comfortable enough to integrate, show themselves, and for me to accept my trauma. It seems as though once I started to distance myself from places like AA, and from abusive people in my life, that the pieces slowly started to fall into place.
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