Surviving severe trauma in childhood is an identity that many of us cling to because it gives us something to recognize ourselves by. For so many years we lived in a world where our needs were not recognized nor met by parents who were self-involved and only looked upon us as pawns to meet their own needs.
This mistreatment caused in us a deep-seated rage that has manipulated and harmed us more as adults than anything that was done to us in the past.
In this article, we are going to examine how we need to examine the past and then let it go.
The Pain is Real
The first step in letting go of the past is to acknowledge it was real and so was the pain that you experienced. In no way was what happened to you your fault, the blame lies solely on the shoulders of your parents. Children are not that powerful. You were not that powerful.
The pain you feel now on discovering and acknowledging what happened to you is nothing compared to how it felt when the damage was being done to you. Children are completely defenseless against the varied abuses their parents and caregivers can commit against them.
Since you have DID, we can assume that what happened to you was enormously bad with much fear, intimidation, and perhaps even torture.
How, you may be asking, can you ever leave all that in the past and move on.
Moving on from the Pain
When we have been abused in any fashion in our childhood it leaves us feeling deprived, wounded, and wronged by those who we should have been able to trust and love us. If these wounds are not addressed, they will continue to affect our adult lives and all out relationships.
However, facing these traumatic events alone is not possible. You must have someone else to help guide you through the maze of strong emotions and memories filled with fear that will overtake you as they surface. Please, seek professional help to explore these issues.
Why Can’t You Fix the Past?
At the time childhood wounds occur they are experienced from a child’s perspective. Memories and understandings of abusive events are stored in the brain in that child-like state and since children do not process information like adults, they tend to blame themselves for what happened.
These suppressed memories are painful, and we try hard not to think about them by avoiding them as much as possible. If we think about them at all, we focus on certain parts not seeing the complete picture of what happened. Because of this, we form an incomplete and child-like view of the pain we experienced and any solution to the problem will also be incomplete without the benefit of a mature higher-mind.
A child mind wants to rewrite the story of the past and change the end but that will not and cannot change the past and actually causes more pain as reality comes crashing back in.
Confronting our painful experiences head-on is the only way to gain mastery over what happened to us. This allows us to revisit what happened so that we can reassess it from a mature and objective viewpoint. Confronting the past allows us to gain a complete picture of the trauma we faced as children and the meaning of what happened. Doing so allows us to move on past the futile need to reenact these experiences and allows us to create an internal understanding of who we are today in a more accurate manner.
The Healing Process
Healing from childhood trauma and dissociative identity disorder takes a lot of time, guts, and determination but it can be done. Below are some helpful hints on how to overcome DID and childhood trauma.
Get a Therapist. I cannot stress this enough. Getting a therapist is a vital step toward healing. You cannot do this alone you must have the help of a mental health professional.
Break your silence. Tell someone, starting with your therapist if you have no one else, about what happened to you. Talking to someone else about what happened is powerful because it breaks the strangle hold your abuser had over you by also breaking the rule “don’t tell anyone.” It is incredibly vital to be choosy about who you talk to, however, as not all people are trustworthy. Choose your audience well.
Talk about your shame. Facing your shame is very healing because you can put it where it belongs, on the perpetrator. Facing your shame and giving it back to your abuser will help you embrace you see yourself as the innocent victim you were and hopefully as the strong person you are today.
Grieve over what was not. Grieving your losses is necessary to fully complete the pain caused by you abusers. The losses you have may be a loss of feeling safe, comfort, feeling loved, innocence, a childhood, or a loss of being seen for you. Think about how your life has been impacted by what your perpetrator stole from you and how you have been betrayed and grieve over them. This stage is perhaps the most painful of all of them, but it is vital to your healing.
Be good to yourself. Be compassionate with yourself and do not abuse or neglect your needs. Learn to speak to yourself with kindness and acceptance and do not condemn yourself over things from the past or the present. You do not any longer need to be victim to other’s negative dialogue playing like old tapes in your head. Remind yourself when thoughts of the abuse do come up that it was not our fault and that you were a victim.
Forgive? Forgiveness isn’t for your abuser, rather it is a choice that you will leave your past behind and move forward. Forgiveness removes the anger from your mind and soul allowing you to grow as a person without the burden of anger holding you back. You do not need to express forgiveness to anyone just keep it in your heart for a while then let it go too.
Beyond all the turmoil, pain, sorrow, and healing there is life. I know it does not seem like it now, but it is true. While in the trenches in the war against what happened to you in the past, it can be arduous to see beyond the pain. I assure you that life does exist beyond all the hell you are going through right now.
Beyond the healing process you will feel empowered over your life and in control. You will live a life relatively (not completely, that would be inhuman) free of fear. Your days will no longer be filled with thinking, eating, and drinking abuse and DID issues. Instead, you’ll be planning your future and living a relatively stable existence.
I’m not saying that the future is free of challenges and problems, that would be ridiculous. There will be sickness, you may still dissociate from time to time, but the turmoil and uncertainty of alters who do their own thing will diminish to the point where you are blended together so closely that you can no longer distinguish them any longer.
Do not worry. Your alters are not going to die nor will they lose anything. They will still have all their charm and beauty. That’s because all their charm, beauty, precociousness, and funniness was always yours as you are them and they are you. All those characteristics you love in the alters will become yours and when this time comes both you and they will be happy to blend.
The reason I can write this is because I have been where you are and am beyond healing. Oh, I still have problems in life and still have depression from time to time, but my alters and I have blended, and I feel wonderful. I love all of me and they love me too. I have gained Bianca’s (my 18-year-old) street smarts and she has gained my adult ability to get my needs met. Together my alters and I make a formidable team.
I hope this glimpse into healing has helped. Good luck on your healing journey.
“Silence doesn’t protect me. Silence prevents my recovery. Silence keeps dark secrets hidden. Healing means being a courageous truth seeker. Bringing light to the darkness.” ~ Dana Arcuri
“There is a moment in our healing journey when our denial crumbles; we realize our experience and it’s continued effects on us won’t “just go away”. That’s our breakthrough moment. It’s the sun coming out to warm the seeds of hope so they can grow our personal garden of empowerment.” ~ Jeanne McElvaney