Tag Archives: memories

Terror: another layer of memory


I am placing a TRIGGER WARNING here. While there are no details of a specific memory, there is talk of strong emotion/sensation relating to abuse. Only read if you are feeling safe and able to. Thanks.

If you’ve been reading our blog, then you know we have been having many symbolic dreams lately. It seems a layer of memory(ies) is trying to break through. I dreamt that I was a very small child lying on a bed curled up in the fetal position sleeping. I felt this impending terror. I KNEW something was coming and then whatever it was – this invisible force – pulled me off the bed and downwards. I woke crying out, terrified. I feel like it is connected to a memory and it doesn’t surprise me that the person who took me from the bed was invisible. I am sure it means that the system knows we are not ready for that much information at once. Thing is, I have several memories where I have the knowledge of what happened but nothing else, and in none of those was I taken from the bed. This kinda scares me even though I have always known there was more that I hadn’t retained the knowledge of.

I have the recent and then the recurring dreams where terror is the main element. The terror is, to no surprise, connected to the beds and also to certain rooms in buildings or houses. In the recurring dreams of the house that was “haunted”, I was terrified to go to certain parts of the house, in particularly one entire floor. In part, I believe that the dreams are symbolic of how I relate to the memories. Like how I would try to make myself climb the stairs to the “haunted floor”, terror would build the higher I would climb until I would be so terrified that I would turn and run back downstairs. I also, obviously, recognize the terror as a layer of memory that is very real and was experienced at one time in my life on a daily basis.

Another possibility that I am aware of is that the house in the recurring dream may be a part of our internal world. Maybe a house where memories are stored. This is something that I am not positive of, but it feels quite possible.

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The BASK Model of Dissociation


Memories can come in layers as I am coming to learn all too well. I used to think that as the alters felt I was ready, they would share the memories in chunks or events as many as was needed for me to fully recover. Now, I’m seeing it’s not nearly that simple. I always knew that we were fragmented to the degree that the emotions were separated into different alters. What I didn’t realize fully was that emotions from each event can be stored in certain alters. As well as body sensations that come forward in the form of body memories that we get all too often and don’t know what they are connected to. In my most recent session with T, we were reminded of the BASK model of dissociation. BASK stands for Behavior, Affect, Sensation, and Knowledge. So, memories can be dissociated into those categories:

  • Behavior: the actions that occurred/what happened
  • Affect: The emotions associated with the event
  • Sensation: the sensations that the body feels/body memories
  • Knowledge: the meaning

I have some memories that are of the Behavior/Actions. I can rattle them off to my T one by one as if it were me talking about someone else. I guess, in many ways it is someone else. Then, I have been having sensation/body memories for years. Those suck because you FEEL the things that the body felt during a particular memory, but you have no freaking idea what happened. I have had the Affect part of it, too, as in my emotions have always been like a roller coaster ride. I would cry at the drop of a hat, or get angry – much more angry than whatever the current event called for, and fear – so much fear about everything. All the feelings are coming from parts of my system that were created to hold them. And lately, terror has begun to surface on a more real level for me. I will blog about another recent dream I had tomorrow. Until then, stay tuned. . . .

Emotions & DID


The whole emotion thing has been a difficult one for me/us. When I did talk with my Aunt M about my childhood and what things she observed, she told me some interesting stuff that further validated the dissociative child that I was. She said that I would cry at the little things like stuff that didn’t matter. Yet, when something big happened that would have anyone upset and in tears, I would zone out and not show any emotion. It made sense because it was not safe to show any emotion around things that REALLY mattered. I didn’t dare show any signs to anyone that there was anything wrong with my life or family. I was told many times that no one is to know what happens behind closed doors or else very bad things would happen. I believed them because. after all, bad things were already happening and I could not imagine what worse things were in store should anyone find out. I know now that those were desperate lies told by my perpetrators to keep me in silence. It also reinforced my dissociative behavior.

Having DID, everything is compartmentalized. The most frustrating thing for me as well as the best thing is the fact that the emotions are so compartmentalized. Some alters are created for that very reason – to hold specific emotion that was deemed unsafe. I have one insider whose name is RAGE. When it is written on paper, it is in red, all capital letters: RAGE. Almost none of us can handle anger and most definitely none of us can handle the whole rage emotion. It was not okay to be angry as a child. For one, when the perps were angry, very bad things happened. For another, the adults in our life did not find anger an acceptable emotion for us to have. Add to that, the feeling that we did not feel worthy of being treated well by the family and therefore did not feel justified in the least to feel angry about anything that was being done to me. I still struggle with this today. This is also why I have trouble feeling most things when dealing with the childhood and what was done to me. I don’t feel comfortable feeling sad or angry as I never felt worthy enough to expect any kind of treatment other than being treated as a rag doll – one to be used and thrown away until the next time. I know on some level that I was worthy of love and acceptance just as much as anyone else would be, but it is difficult to believe wholly due to my upbringing. It was the adults in my life that were wrong, not me, for I was only a child. I can say the words, but believing them with my whole being is a long way off.

Towards the beginning of my DID recovery journey, I learned that the different parts of the system have different thresholds for emotion, pain, etc. This made a lot of sense to me as I related it to my system. I have many parts, myself included, that do not express anger. If something happens to cause us to feel anger, those parts switch inside and someone else takes over who is able to handle that emotion. Kristy is one of those parts who can handle anger. She has red hair and green eyes and is an age slider from 17 to 19 years old. I guess in the mind of the child who created her, redheads are allowed to have tempers and feel anger. Typical, due to the stereotype of redheads, huh? Still, even Kristy has her limit on the whole anger thing. When the anger gets to be too much, Kristy switches inside and her twin K comes out. She can express much stronger anger than Kristy feels ok with. Then, even K has her limits and if it does cross into rage, then RAGE comes out.

You may notice in my blog entries about tough topics that there is an emotional distancing in my writing. This is because we naturally distance from unsafe emotions. It’s our natural defense mechanism, I suppose. The whole emotion thing connected to a trauma will also have to come in layers for us. It is yet another piece of our healing puzzle.






Layers of Memories


New information is still surfacing since the big trigger a few weeks ago.  In therapy last Tuesday, we talked about our apprehension about the next Group session and being in the same room with one of the group therapists (that we have transference issues with). We told our T that we are unable to stand being in the same room with the aunt that this therapist is reminding us of. T asked us how it made us feel being in the same room with the aunt…. I thought about it…imagined being in the same room with that woman. Jagged vibrations, uncomfortable shaking just beneath the skin…..the feeling that you get when you hear fingernails scraping down a chalkboard. That feeling. Then, as we explored it a little more, an image came to mind of a girl in our system that I didn’t know was there, but then again I did know she was there.

Memories are weird like that for those of us with DID. It can be quite inconvenient at times. It’s not just if an amnesiac alter is out that I don’t remember something. I could have a memory one minute of something I experienced and then someone inside snatches it away from me if the need arises.  I recognized that I had this particular insider many years ago when I was looking at photos from my childhood (potentially a horrifically triggering experience – I lost 4+ hours looking at those photos. I “came-to” and found the photos spread all around me on the living room floor with no memory of the hours prior or actually looking at most of them). Anyway, I saw a photo of “me” and there was something about the picture that frightened me. I didn’t fully know what it was as it was mostly a feeling with no specifics attached. However, there was this look in the girl’s eyes. The look is difficult to describe….not exactly “haunted”, but you could tell by the look in her eyes that she has been through something horrific. This is the girl that we realized in our last therapy session is actually a part of our system. So, I kind of knew it way back when, but it didn’t sink in as I’m sure I was not ready to deal with that information.

So, now I know that this girl is connected to that aunt (and probably uncle) and also is connected to the bed/table memory. Information about the past coming to us in layers. It is fascinating how DID and recovery works. So, this next week and a half, we are focusing on having internal dialogue to try to learn whatever we can about this girl….whatever the system feels I am ready for, that is. Going to just listen and notice as our therapist often encourages us to do.






My DID Recovery Puzzle


TRIGGER WARNING: hard talk of triggers and recovery – be safe, my friends.

I am starting to see my recovery in a whole new light. Things are making more sense now. For so many years I was so frustrated and upset that therapy was taking so very long. I just wanted my insiders to tell me what they knew so I could deal with it and move on. I figured they would share whatever memories were necessary to share one at a time or something. It is not the way this has worked. I have often heard the analogy of peeling an onion when talking about therapy for someone with DID, yet I didn’t fully realize what it meant. I mean, I saw the analogy as referring to the parts of my DID system and how uncovering and meeting new parts/alters is like peeling the layers of an onion. What I didn’t see was how the memories also will come in layers.

First, I would get a feeling, something would trigger me and I wouldn’t know why. This goes on for quite some time, maybe even years, then the next clue which was maybe a dream near the triggering event would happen. The dream could have symbolism in it – in my case recently, snakes – add to that the knowledge of the recent trigger as well as noticing  specific insiders and their reactions gives me more information. Add to it, the more severe dissociation I have felt from my body within the last week since the trigger is more validation that something is coming to the surface. Today in therapy, I barely felt the couch underneath me. I told my T that it kind of felt like I was just floating above the couch. It was bazaar.

I should give a little update to what has recently happened so folks know where we are. I had a dream years ago that has always stayed with me. I won’t write of the details here because I don’t want to trigger and also because I don’t think I would be able to write that stuff without breaking down. There was a bed/table with a black cover over it in a room – like a bedroom size room. Needless to say, very bad things happened there. Well, when I went to my group therapy meeting one week ago, one of the therapists had left her energy work table up. It looked just like the bed/table in my dream except thankfully the blanket was blue or purple – not black. I was stunned when I saw it. Many of our system stepped back in shock.

Finally a little one, age six years old, steps out in front and points towards the bed/table and says, “What is that?”.

“What?” replied one of the T’s.

“THAT!” the little girl asked again pointing at it.

She said, “I’m sorry but you’ll have to be more specific.”

The little girl could not bring herself to actually say the word bed or table or anything like that so she said, “That thing with the blanket on it.”

The T responded saying that it was her table for doing energy work with clients and she has an early appointment the next day so she left it up for Group.

I felt some other parts come forward when she said that who then noticed the crystals. These parts are very much into things mystical and were immediately drawn. I was frightened as were many of our insiders and so we shoved internally as hard as we could – pushing them deep inside away from the bed/table and crystals. We could not bear it if they were to go over closer to it to look at the crystals.

I went through the Group session with all parts who were triggered safe inside. I’m not sure if they were still frightened, but I have a feeling that they were. I just had to push them deep down for survival’s sake. I could not freak out over a trigger in Group because, well, what would the other group members think of us? “Besides,” another part says to me, “triggers are everywhere and we deal with them all the time. So this one is in Group, same thing, we deal.” But, it’s not just any trigger. It is something that looked exactly like something in my dream years ago where terrible things happened to us. It would almost be the equivalent of seeing one of my perpetrators again.

We made it home and went on with our week dissociated from the trigger, though it eventually did resurface as the image of it came and stayed in the back of my mind. A few nights later, the dreams started coming.

First night, I was on a large bus with a lot of people on it. We were driving through a war zone. There were bombs going off, machine guns being fired, terrible things happening outside that bus. I just sat there watching, sometimes crying so hard but silent so that no one would hear. Sometimes I sat in the floor so I could be alone. I believe this was me catching a glimpse of what it was like growing up in a DID system. Often the bus analogy is used to describe a person’s system who has DID, everyone rides the bus and take turns in the driver’s seat. I had another dream that same night about a boy who had been a victim of war and was found naked with his privates cut or torn off. I saw him and was horrified and had to turn away. I wonder if he is someone in my system as this is how I have met insiders before. In the dream, I think he was dead.

The next night, I dreamed about snakes – so many snakes everywhere that I went. In the past, I have dreamed that there were snakes on the ground and I would fight them or try to get away from them. I was always standing when I encountered the snakes. This time, not only was I standing when I encountered the snakes, there were times when I was lying down. Once a snake crawled over my body and I screamed internally and stayed as frozen as possible for fear that it might bite. Another part of the dream, I went to sleep on the ground and woke up with snakes underneath my body, I could feel them squirming underneath my back. I connected this part of the dream to a feeling that my body has had for years in the mid-back area – a squirming and feeling like something was coming upon me from behind. It is always accompanied with great terror. A connection between a body memory we’ve had for years but never even fully realized it was a body memory and this new snake dream. A new layer is being peeled back. If you have been in therapy for sexual abuse survival, then I imagine you know what a snake can symbolize in dreams. I have always thought that was what it represented in my dreams.

Last night, I had nightmares again. The only thing I can remember is waking up after seeing an extremely scary face in my dream. The face looked crazy in the eyes and had big teeth. It was right up in my face. I woke with a start and was terrified. I got up to go to the restroom. Now, I have many triggers when it comes to the restroom, one being that I cannot go in the dark and I definitely cannot stand at the sink with the mirror there and wash my hands in the dark. It always gives me the terrorized feeling in my back. Last night, I had the light on, but the sensation and fear were so close. This is all somehow connected. Years ago, I recalled in therapy tonight, I also saw scary faces in my sleep. It was when I was in 3rd grade (around) and had gone to church camp with a friend, it was night-time and I woke crying because I kept seeing the crazy, scary faces and they were laughing at me. The camp counselor talked and prayed with me and I slept with my Bible under my pillow to try to help with the nightmares. Interesting about that camp, I actually remember being very dissociated at the time not knowing the people who I shared the dorm with yet seeming to know them at the same time, getting confused and getting people mixed up, etc. This is one of the few memories I actually have of my childhood. Still, it’s more pieces of the puzzle.

In therapy tonight, I was asked if I got an idea of the age range of who was frightened by the bed/table. I got the idea that it was some older kids and that the little girl was the only one brave enough to come out and ask. Still, she was upset and scared, too. The little girl who asked about the bed/table was six years old, but I also got an internal image tonight of one of my four-year-old little girls. I think she is connected to all this somehow. I am beginning to think that this bed/table dream may have been more than just a dream……

DID recovery is like putting together a puzzle without having the picture to go by. Each piece means something even if I have no idea at the time. It’s so complex and therapy is hard work and exhausting. Still, I am happy to have made the realization that we are making progress in that our memory work comes in layers – one piece, one feeling, one trigger at a time. I guess my system knows it is the only way I can manage the information – in tiny pieces – and that’s okay with me.






System Falling Apart


Life lately has felt like it’s going downhill. Well, I shouldn’t say “life” cuz most all aspects of my life are wonderful. I am married to a wonderful man who loves me and accepts all of my parts and we have so much fun together. I guess I should say that I feel that “I” am going downhill. I don’t know what is wrong with my system or what system-shift or change has been taking place, but lately things have just felt WRONG. You know that song, “I Feel Pretty” from that musical? Well, I have the song in my head, but instead I have the words “I Feel Stupid”. I have always been rather intelligent and within our system we do have varying levels of intelligence, but the past 3 or 4 months it has been gradually getting worse and worse to where I am asking where is anyone in here that is intelligent??? Anyone who can think straight? Anyone who can say something that is true and not confused? 

At work, I have usually felt quite competent and good at my job. I know what my role is and I know what I do and I am good at it. Until this school year…… Now, I question everything. I say something that I believe to be true and one of my coworkers will say something that will contradict it and after thinking it over I realize they are right. What is happening to my system that has worked so well together in the past???? Are we finally doing what I have feared all of these years and finally actually falling apart? 

I find myselves dissociating ALL of the time. Hah. It sounds funny for someone with DID to say that as a complaint cuz isn’t that what we DIDers do, dissociate? I mean, I find myself floating off and then not having any idea who will come and take my place or where I will end up. Maybe this is how many DIDers experience things. I know when I am at my worst functioning place, this is how we get. We have always been a high functioning multiple and have had someone in charge inside on who goes out when and all that. This loss of control is extremely distressing to me/us. When we get off of work and go to drive home…..as soon as I get into my car I feel myself start to drift to who knows where. I pick up my phone and call my husband (this scenerio happens a whole lot) and we talk all the way home. I only live 10 minutes drive at the most from my work so it’s not like under ordinary circumstances this would be a necessary thing. But, as I realized yesterday, the reason I do it is because I need his voice to help me stay grounded, to keep me from floating away and another part come out and I end up at some park or someplace all the way across the city. His voice keeps me grounded and helps me stay focused on the task at hand, to get home. I noticed yesterday as soon as I was home and put the car in park and pulled the keys, a small girl came out and told my husband that we were home now and would be right in. She felt safe, too, cuz we had made it home and came right out as soon as we were home.

So, I guess in this moment of clarity, I’m able to write about what we are struggling with. I have self-harmers looking and waiting for a chance to sneak out and hurt the body. I have inside kids who are expressing the strangest thoughts that are scaring them that I am sure are connected to childhood traumas they endured. Those are the only two things right now that I can think of (as I am at work and no longer alone in the office and folks are talking off and on to me…..switchy).  There is lots of dissociation, working jigsaw puzzles, getting lost in the shapes and colors and designs. That worked for a while until the kids I mentioned a minute ago started seeing triggering things in the puzzles and getting upset (the puzzles themselves are innocent, but in a traumatized child’s mind, they can see anything). So, I’m being choosier about the puzzles we do. We can’t communicate with others very well because we are too floaty, but we have been trying to reach out as best we can cuz I know we need that as much as we are able.

I’m seriously considering going inpatient at Timberlawn in Dallas this summer and doing some intense therapy work. I think maybe my system is trying to tell me it is time. I feel like we need to go, but I’m torn too cuz I’ll be there 3 hours away from my husband who is my safe person and that makes my inside kids and others so upset that they want to cry. Still, it may be the best thing for us….. Unless we can find something here in the city that would be good for us. 

Time of Year sucks


The dreams are getting worse. Typical weird nightmarish dreams that we start to have this time of year. I rarely can remember them when I wake, but I feel scared and uneasy. Last night, I heard my name called from a distance, the body name. I know it was a dream cuz I woke and my husband was lying right next to me asleep.

I’ve tried real hard to make this time of year better for me and in many ways it has. It was during the month of October that James and I started to date. I have tried to change my outlook and do things that make it a more positive time of year for me/us. But, still, the fitful nights and awful nightmares and feelings we get are still around. Ugh 😦

We are going to my sister’s wedding next week. It really super sucks cuz we are flying up there on Oct 31st. The wedding is Nov. 1st. We fly home the next morning. I thought the time of year wouldn’t too badly effect my going up there and experience and all, but talked to the mom the other night and she told me of the many, many people from her side of the family that are coming. Talk about childhood fears all over again. Being around all those same people in the same place is just like when I was a kid (except the worst perp will not be there cuz he’s no longer a part of the family). Our system is freaking out pretty badly over it, but I am trying to keep a positive outlook as much as possible. I am going there for my sister and to see both of my sisters. That is the main and most important thing.

Still, anxiety levels are sky high and the dreams continue to get worse….. As the date gets closer to go, I am getting these urges from inside to change the hair even more drastically than ever before which is extremely drastic and would ruin the hair. It’s not the controlled feeling that it’s time to dye the hair a different color or whatever. This is a frantic, out-of-control, panicked almost feeling to dye the hair all black and cut it really short. Someone inside has even said to shave it all off. Now, I think I understand a little bit better how Britney Spears was feeling when she did that. Trying to stay in control of keeping my hair as it is and not doing anything crazy. There is just such panic and I’m not sure I understand all of the reasons why….well I know I don’t understand all of it.

Just trying to get by. Hopefully it will all be better soon.