Writing as a Method of Avoidance

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Photo by Dzenina Lukac on Pexels.com — A perfect representation of comfort

Guys, I have a problem. A problem that many of us in this system share. A problem that we were slapped in the face with on Tuesday night at our CR step study.

It turns out that we can write about our feelings, our traumas, our insecurities all day long. It is MUCH harder to actually speak about them out loud to a room full of women in a very vulnerable setting. In a setting where we aren’t educating, we are participating. In a setting where we are not deciding what pieces to exclude. We are answering questions as they happen in the workbook and we have to be completely honest in order for the program to work.

Let me tell you, this is intimidating. Far more intimidating than we ever imagined. And it’s clearly necessary because it touches that place inside that we desperately fight to keep dark and out of the way. It requires us to be uncomfortable and vulnerable.

This past Tuesday we shared honestly and openly. We had to share looking at the ceiling, the floor, or a fixed point on a wall because we couldn’t bring ourselves to make eye contact with anyone. We didn’t want to see the looks on anyone’s faces. We could see, out of the corner of our eye, that some people were reacting with what looks like pity. It’s possible that it is our own insecurities projecting these things, however…

…we don’t have this problem writing. When any of us write here or write in a text we are able to disconnect from the emotions behind the writing. We can just tell the story and walk away. We don’t have to see anyone’s reactions. We don’t have to be aware of our own feelings. We just get the words out.

Yesterday we were texting with a friend about how hard it is to open up. She suggested texting her to let her know we need to talk so she can call. We immediately responded with something along the lines of “Nah, text is fine”. She asked us to work up to a phone call and then we realized that was part of it too. We feel resistance when it comes to talking about the hard stuff, you know unless we are using humor to mask the pain of it or try to make it less important.

Talking is important. Opening up is important. And let me be clear here, this isn’t a DID thing. This is a human thing. A lot of people find themselves unable to really open up. I know it’s easy to claim it’s a DID thing because DID is all about keeping things quiet and inside and dealing with things alone, but to my DID friends let me tell you that this is NOT unique to us. We are not the only ones who experience this. This is very typical human behavior. It’s nice to know that. It’s very nice to know we aren’t alone in dealing with these kinds of reactions.

So while we will always continue to write, we will also be sure to work on talking about it in our step study. We will grow in this discomfort, and we will find someone to process with after the fact, if necessary. Many of us understand that after we share, we need to process it out and sometimes we need more than just each other to do that.

 

 

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How Does Isolation Help?

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A better question might be, does it help at all? Honestly, probably not, and yet we do it anyways.

Feeling sad? Shut down. Feeling hurt? Keep quiet. Feeling overwhelmed by chaotic happenings inside? Don’t share THAT. Anything but that.

It used to be that many of us considered it a sign of strength if we were able to keep quiet about it. It also used to be that there weren’t many people willing to listen, try to understand, or even want to hear it.

For many people, when they feel in crisis they pick up the phone and call or text a friend or a crisis line. For many of us with DID, that doesn’t happen. I’d be willing to bet that most of us with DID aren’t going to go far looking for support or help. People stop looking for help when they learned at a young age that help isn’t coming. I’m pretty confident that it’s a combination between a learned behavior and a feature of the disorder. The disorder is about staying quiet, diverting attention, and masking everything.

For anyone who has experienced any kind of trauma, it’s often hard to reach out for help and/or support. Well-meaning people ask that absolutely ridiculous question “How can I help you?” For a lot of us, there’s no answer to that. If we knew, we’d probably have done it ourselves by now in order to keep from being a burden or a bother to anyone. See how that works? I can almost see heads nodding in agreement.

Here’s the thing, when we isolate, we lose the right to be upset that no one’s there for us. Mostly because we aren’t available to anyone. When we isolate we become filled with nasty thoughts about how others are mistreating us and ignoring us. Those thoughts spiral and turn into bigger dark thoughts. We end up lost in the isolation and how it’s someone else’s fault for not reaching out.

When we don’t isolate, when we make the effort to show up somewhere, somehow, suddenly there becomes a few people who want to be there for us. People who notice when we miss something. Who enjoy talking about random things. The bad thoughts get pushed back and it’s harder for them to take hold. The sense of community grows.

Isolation doesn’t help us, it hurts us.

 

 

****I’m taking part in the Wellbeing Wonders linky with Becca from Beccas Blogs It Out and Emma from Sunshine and Rain.****

Once Upon a Time…

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We clearly haven’t been keeping up with our writing. It’s not that we don’t like it, truthfully we love to write. To come up with an idea and follow it through into text. Some of us sometimes go back and re-read what we’ve written years ago. We see how much we’ve grown and changed since those posts, and we know that in a few years everything we are writing now will look and feel different.

So last week we bought this wall hanging at Goodwill. We LOVE Goodwill. Especially on $.99 days! This particular piece was there one day and we loved it but left it. The next time we went in it was still there, right where we set it down and was 50% off. It came home with us that day. I (Layna) personally love it. It’s now hung right above our computer. A visual reminder that we have much to share and much to learn from ourselves and each other.

Today, I will tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a system of mostly all girls (all girls unless you are counting our Bear, Simon, and our lead male dragon, Dae).  All the girls live in one body and often compete for time and attention, as themselves. They became tired of just being known as one person and by one name. They chose to live openly multiple and decided to educate the people around them about DID. The decided to live instead of survive.

That’s today’s story.

 

Layna

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

(Content Summary for our readers who have trouble with religion as a topic. This post is mainly about religion and how it teaches us forgiveness. This is a big deal for us and while we’d like to share it with everyone, we acknowledge potential triggers.)

 

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Last night’s church service was about forgiveness and caring for others. 

Lately, there’s been a lot going on in our family, in our chosen family, our inside family and our biological family. Most of these going-ons have nothing to do with us personally, we are simply affected due to proximity and, in some cases, name. Some of these things have really pushed some huge emotional buttons within us. Some have brought back memories we didn’t necessarily want back.

As we’ve faced these things, many of us have noticed an increasing struggle with forgiveness. Forgiving others, forgiving ourselves and each other, and being forgiven.  In some of these cases, a few of us had been convinced that they already did that forgiveness thing and had moved on. Emotional reactions state otherwise.

The other night Lyssa and Erica were reading a book before bed.  The book brought up an interesting thought. In the prayer commonly known as The Lord’s Prayer, there’s this verse.

Forgive us our trespasses (debts)

As we forgive those who trespassed against us (debtors)

The word “as” is the focal point of mine*, Erica’s, and Layna’s** thought processes here. It doesn’t say “forgive because I forgave you”, it uses the word “as”. I just read through many versions of this prayer (and the reasons why some denominations won’t use it – I distract easily) and most of them use that same word “as”, even if many of the other words have been modernized or changed.

So why has this caught our interest and taken hold? Because the word “as” changes how the statements are interpreted. People we know and things we have read often use this phrase to teach us to forgive others because we are forgiven.

While I agree with that whole-heartedly, what happens if we read this phrase as “forgive us our trespasses in the same manner as we forgive those who trespass against us”? What does that look like?  For us, it would look a lot like we aren’t going to be fully forgiven anytime soon.  That’s a huge awakening for some of us in the system. We want to be forgiven (and we know God has forgiven us), and we need to work on forgiveness. This thinking about that word “as” has a few of us really processing what it means to forgive fully.

Many of us are odd in the fact that we find it easier to forgive our childhood abuser than we do someone close to us who says something harmful. That makes no sense at all. Hurtful words from someone close to us said in the heat of the moment, should not be harder to forgive than the abusive and toxic actions of a grown man against us as a child that shaped our development and life path. We hold on to the resentment of harsh words. It makes a lot of us hypocrites and we do not do well with hypocrisy in others, so what makes it okay for us? Nothing. We tell ourselves we’ve forgiven only to find ourselves stuck in negative thought patterns that tell us that maybe we have some work to do there. That needs to stop.

What is it about our childhood abuser that all of us can shrug it off and declare him forgiven and move on. The answer to that scares me a little bit. I believe that enough of us have decided that it was our fault so its easier to let it go than deal with that. That isn’t any more healthy than holding on to hurt over something minor.

Layna, Erica, and I want to forgive. We want to forgive like we’ve been forgiven. We want to learn and grow and progress, and to do that we have to forgive. And that’s going to require more action on our parts. This was something we wanted to work on in therapy but not bad enough to commit to a therapist. We can work on this with our support system and each other.

While it may help us to remember and process some things from our past, it doesn’t mean we need to dig it all up and live there again. That’s where the direction of our book went wrong. We don’t need to live in that trauma anymore. It happened. We will deal with it as it becomes necessary, not use it to continue to beat ourselves up with.

Maybe our struggle with forgiveness is because we have to forgive ourselves and each other before we understand true forgiveness?

 

 

 

 

*We are not educated at all in religion. We’ve read a lot, experienced a lot, studied some, but have never had any formal instruction. These thoughts are all simply mine, Layna’s and Erica’s**. They are more food for thought for us than any kind of instruction at all. Ever.

**(Side note: I am trying to get away from just saying a general “we” when not all of us may experience, believe, etc the same. I’m really trying to reserve the general “we” for things that are absolutely system-wide. I will fail at times, but it’s a work in progress.)

How to Make Fear Work for Us

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Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Fear is a real jerk sometimes. It buddies up real close with anxiety and together the two of them get in the way of really experiencing life. Fear stops us in our tracks and causes us to re-evaluate whether something is worth the risk. It allows us to believe the negative self-talk and the negative and unkind words of people around us. We get stuck on words like fat, lazy, over-emotional, stupid, etc. We get pulled in by the necessity of meeting the expectations of others, many times others who couldn’t live up to the same expectations they set (that could be us, each other, family, friends, teachers, etc). The fear of failing to live up to those expectations can be, and often is, paralyzing. We are doomed before we ever start.

There’s got to be a way around this fear. As a system who has lived in fear of some form for well, 37 years, we can tell you that this is a real pain in the ass problem. We know we aren’t alone there. It’s a common human problem. The fear wins.

Lately, if you’ve noticed, we’ve been reflecting on our life. Specifically how we’ve grown and changed in the last 3 years.  We are still fat…. but not AS fat. We are still lazy… but not ALL the time. We are still prone to predicting failure before we even begin… but we often begin anyways.

Do you see what we’ve been seeing? There are still those stinging words, but there’s progress behind them. Fear is losing, somehow. We’ve been active in Zumba for over 3 months. We fought through the fear of going to something new and found something we love and can be consistent with. We are going to CR consistently and participating on a helpful level. Learning to work the slides and helping to greet people as they come in. Fear almost kept us from that too.

Hitting publish on every post we write is an act against fear. What if people don’t like it? Don’t read it? Say mean things?

Who cares? For real. If we’re writing for ourselves then what does it ultimately matter. Other people are going to have expectations and opinions on how every single one of us lives our life. Let them. Listen to them and see what you can take from the expectations… and then move away from trying to please everyone else.

Let fear go. Don’t feed it anymore. Acknowledge the fear and then do the thing anyway. If we fail, we’ve learned how not to do it. Maybe, just maybe, we also learn that failing isn’t the end of the world.

Inner Excavation: Learn to Thrive?

Inner Excavation is a book we found at Goodwill. Have I mentioned that Goodwill is our most favorite place to shop?

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No? Well, now you know, haha.

The book is pretty awesome. It’s all about exploring yourself through photography, writing, crafting, and mindfulness. Some of us have been following some of the exercises in the book and it’s been fun. I thought I’d take some time to share. There’s a lot of chaos inside this morning and too many different post ideas. It seems like the perfect time to share what we’ve been seeing on our walks. Part of one the photography exercises was to take pictures of what’s happening right now (or right then, as is in this case).

Walking around our neighborhood kind of seems mundane, but we noticed the other day that we’ve been missing a lot by being so focused on just walking. We haven’t been enjoying some really awesome things. The pictures I’m going to share now are just the beginning of recording our experiences visually.

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For whatever reason, Erica is drawn to trees. She loves everything about big, strong, and tall trees that have withstood the world. Storms, drought, and humans didn’t get the best of them. Looking at these pictures I see life. Strong life. I want to be strong like the trees Erica values so much. I want to grow as the trees did (and are doing). A lot of us want to experience life. Be involved, like the roots of these huge trees. Dig down and build relationships with God, with others, with each other. We want to learn about people and societies. We want to understand the intricacies of the world.

We want to thrive.

Counting Every Blessing

pexels-photo-459846.jpegToday is the anniversary of us joining our adoptive family. We packed up the body’s children, our dog, and we went into hiding from the abusive husband. Well, semi-hiding. That’s a long story but it’s the 3 year anniversary.

The kids call it our Extraction Day (Naked and Afraid reference). It certainly felt like an extraction. We left all we knew behind to pursue a safer (where J couldn’t find us) home and a place to try again at life. We didn’t know exactly how to do any of this. And at the time we firmly believed that while God was a loving being, He didn’t want anything at all to do with us. We were too far gone.

Fast-forward 3 years and we have learned that God does, in fact, want us. He has much to teach us and we have a lot to accomplish in this lifetime. We are going to walk the path He set, the path to help others move forward in life. We are getting healthy. The children, who are really the most important part of our life, are growing and learning. They are healthier than ever and they have bright futures ahead of them if they take advantage of it.

We are blessed in crazy ways. We’ve had the room we need to discover who we are and how each of us helps the system as a whole. We’ve learned that hair grows back and it’s fun to play with. We’ve learned that we can not progress in anything if we aren’t working together.

We have an amazing dog who lights up our darkest nights, which is kind of funny since he’s all black haha.

On our worst days, we found we can get through them by having ongoing conversations with God and by finding things we are grateful for. Every day holds a small reason, at the very least, to be grateful.

Today as I write we’re listening to Anthem Lights on YouTube singing a variety of pop Christian songs and older hymns. They put their own spin on them and it’s really beautiful. The older hymns remind me of growing up in a Congregational church. The services were so rich with ritual. One of us (can’t remember who) was often an acolyte. The Doxology was sung at every service. The beauty of the ritual went right over our heads at the time. I love our church now and wouldn’t change it at all, but at times many of us miss that beautifully rich ritual service. I think they mean more now because our relationships with God are so much more solid.

I’m listing the fact that we got to experience those services as a child as a blessing. I like the fact that we can find things from that time period and realize what true blessings they were. We can be grateful for some positive things during that time also.