A very special person in my life got me thinking about how I have managed to get my Helpers to work more as a team. I decided to elaborate a bit on this topic in a blog post and hope that perhaps my methods will help someone else work better within their system as well. As always, these are only my personal experiences and if someone else finds a better way that works for them? Please do stick with what works for you. 🙂
The first order of business? Ask people ESPECIALLY the professionals to stop using the word integration or other words that give the impression that we want to make our Helpers go away. My whole system FREAKS OUT every time they hear this word or others like it. Panic is caused and panic is never good. Nothing at all can be accomplished. How about speaking about the topic more like “We want to get all your parts to work together/be stronger/more helpful.”
Start finding positive ways to refer to your system. I purposely chose to call mine “Helpers” because it shows that I feel positive things for them and all they have done for me. I know they will continue to do that as well.
Other than when I am being sarcastic (which they are accustomed to), I never say anything mean to or about them. Even the ones that can be hurtful or harmful in various ways became that way because they were trying to help me. Not hurt me. Thier methods are something we can work on together. Just as we can learn to modify our own behaviour, the Helpers can learn new and better behaviours as well. They just need extra time, attention and the tools to make those changes.
It really does not matter what you choose to refer to your group as so long as in your eyes it is a positive thing. I actually know one person with DID who refers to his others as “My Motley Crew”. When he says it though he is smiling and he finds it a real compliment. To each their own right?
Practice speaking inwardly. Even if it seems that you are speaking to yourself or no one else is really listening to you? Your system does pay attention and they don’t miss much. At least one is always catching everything you say and think. Everyone with DID or not should practice this. Talk to yourself and say nice things. Never forget… YOU are listening.
With DID, you may need to work on certain things and this is a great way to start the process. No matter what it is that you wish to work on, anything from taking more regular showers to writing a blog or spending non dissociated time with your loved ones, ask your system to help you. For personal reasons, I can not shower without a Helper taking over. A professional may feel that ANY dissociation is a negative thing but I do not feel that way. I feel the end game is to be working as a team rather than fighting against it. Something funny happens when you start to work together as a team. YOU end up out in front and fully present so much more often than you could before. You have everyone working together rather than pulling in different directions. It is so much less exhausting.
Be grateful. Don’t forget to thank your system when they do help you out. The other day I asked my system to help me spend 2 hours of non dissociated time with my youngest daughter which was very triggering due to all that has happened recently. I felt supported by my Helpers and as a team, we achieved that goal. I was very appreciative and told them so. I could actually hear Julie (my head honcho Helper) keeping everything calm for me.
Try not to get angry with them. This can be a hard one for some people more than others. It is important to realize that some Helpers are younger, older, male, female and almost all of them have different life experiences. Getting all those parts to agree on something is not an easy task but getting angry or feeling frustrated works against you completely. I try to speak to my Helpers as a group but I keep in mind that there are some very young girls in there. I lower my tone and I don’t wish to scare them so I try to stay as calm as possible. Getting angry or being frustrated works against you every time.
Allow yourself to have an outlet to express anger that you need to express. We need to allow that frustration out and occasionally all the pressures of having so many parts all separate within you can get on your nerves at times. Find something that is not scary to the little ones that you can do to relieve that frustration. I hear of some people using a punching bag, playing a sport to get their energy out, walking, running, playing a mindless computer game, or as I do, draw/paint/write it out. Anything creative works best for me. Feel free to tell your system to work their energy out at the same time. Why not work together?
In the end, it is all about working well together. Like a community. Each person fills a different role, different strengths, needs and abilities. Working together is such a healing piece of work while pushing against them, ignoring them or devaluing them is a very negative experience for all concerned.