Category Archives: Triggers

Being human…

Human
I started 2016 with high hopes. I was feeling good and felt strong. Then I spent over 2 months fighting off infections one after the next. I am normally quite healthy so to have 7 infections of various sorts in a row was very shocking. It finally ended and now I am back to my usual self. 🙂

Once I finally got better and stayed well, I decided it would be a good time to my art studio and a spare room painted. This endeavour is the only thing that really turned out since the beginning of 2016. Thank goodness for this!!!

And then April arrived.
My husband works seasonally at the only workplace available to people in our area. We live on the east coast of Newfoundland Canada and the only business here on the “north shore” is fishing. My husband worked on the wharf and the months that he spends at work are the ones that get us through the whole year. Of his 5 siblings that live here, 2 couples are retired and the other 3 all depend on the plant for their yearly income.
We were all ready to get back in to the swing of things and the crab plant was ready to run at full tilt… until it burnt down the day before everything was to really go wild for the summer. This means no work (or scrounging up a few hours wherever he can). It will devastate us financially until the plant is rebuilt in a year (best) or two (reasonable).

That alone was enough but then I found out that my hubby was sneaking smokes. I will not say a lot except to say that he has severe health issues that will only see him deteriorate with the smoking coming back in to his life. This causes me a great deal of stress because I love him and do not want to watch him to decline as he did before he quit. He almost died twice last year… it is scary.

Due to my therapist becoming a grandmother again, I did not see her for what should have been 3 weeks. It is now 4 weeks because the car broke down while trying to go see her this past Tuesday. IF next week works out, I will see her then. A full month of no therapy… seriously not at all good for my head space. 😦

The biggest issue this past week was even bigger to me because I was already so depleted and psychologically tired but that aside, I had a HUGE trigger this week that has just knocked me right over.
You may recall me speaking about my son Marcus and his death. I have not given a ton of details regarding his actual last moments except to say that they were horrific and caused by someone who should have loved him.
This week in my area (very rural – everyone knows everyone). A 5 year old girl was murdered by her father and then he set his house on fire to cover the crime. It is damn close to exactly what happened to Marcus and I have found this whole week triggering in a way that I have rarely been tested before.
The father had been charged with domestic violence 3 times yet the court dismissed the charges each time. Due to the fact that he had no record, he was given shared custody.
The mom did what she could to be heard but no one would listen.
And now her child is dead.
Trigger, trigger, trigger…

To add to those triggers, I was privately discussing the loss of Marcus when one of my Monster/mother’s friends interrupted to call me a liar. That just pi$$ed me right off and being seen as a liar is probably my biggest trigger. I know she is misinformed but it still sent me spiralling downhill at an even quicker speed.

These are the reasons why I was so quiet last week. I was just feeling so anxious, depressed, and triggered. I wanted to drink or just be done with this world and although I did neither one, the thoughts alone scare me plenty. I do not like it when these options begin to look like reasonable responses to the issues in my life.

I have also been feeling so very alone. In reality, I am not alone. I have my blog which is always a source of comfort in hard times, I have wonderful friends, I know good coping strategies now and life when I am more stable, looks really good.
Sadly none of this seems to be enough when things get really bad. I just feel terribly alone. I feel unlikable, unlovable, unworthy, and untrustworthy. I feel terribly unimportant. I do realize that my mind is playing tricks on me but it doesn’t seem to really matter in the moment.

Now the rebuilding begins. Self care, self-care and more self-care.  I have the skills to find my way out of this and I have supports to turn to but it is the actual action of doing it when my energy is so depleted.

I don’t write this to make you worry or feel badly for me. I write it because I can so often come across like I have everything together, that I am calm, capable and have my biggest storms behind me.
The truth? I have weathered many storms, I have managed to make huge changes in my life and I am proud of my accomplishments.
Some days really just “bite the big one” though and I am quickly reminded that I am human. Fallible, occasionally weak, messed up, and confused. So totally human.

My story.

Girl

It was suggested to me by a long time reader that allowing my story to be told might help reach others. I have hesitated doing this is the past because I just felt the details were not really important. That said? I do agree with this reader and have decided to share some of my story (minus the nitty-gritty) with you today. I do hope it helps you understand me better and I hope it reaches some of you so that you know that you are not alone in this fight for your survival.
I am going to leave my siblings out of this story because I do not feel it is fair to assume how they felt or what they went through personally. If there is a day that the ones still living wish to share with you? I’d happily post it.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a princess.
Scratch that. This is no fairy tale. 😉

I was born at the beginning of 1970 in a winter storm. A fitting beginning for the life that would follow. A winter storm of sorts that lasted decades.
I was born to a family that was quite wealthy and had every available support to raise a child as easily as possible. From other family members, I have been told about how my father was thrilled by my birth but my mother hated me from day one. Probably long before day one in reality. I am sure she viewed her pregnancy as a real inconvenience.

My beginning could have been a good one but right from the very start of my life here on this earth, my mother would begin making choices that would seal my fate and my father would not do anything to stop her.
Their first decision? My name.
Heather was the name of a girl whom my father and mother hated. She’d chased my father around and my mother hated her for it. This is the person whom I was named after. Someone they hated.

I have a few memories of my early childhood but none are good. From 0-4, all I recall is being afraid. Many years ago my grandmothers both told me stories of how I was left in filth and ignored while my father was at work. I was also told that I would scream and beg others to take me with them as they left our house or begged babysitters to keep me. That is just not normal behaviour for a young child. Wanting to leave with anyone rather than staying home with their mother.

Starting at age 4, I was given a gift of new underwear for my birthday. Not the best gift for a 4-year-old but they were a tiny hint as to what that birthday would mean. I would be sold to men who liked little girls and my hair was cut so short that I also looked like a boy and could satisfy men who liked boys as well. This was not a rare occurrence. It was done as often as there was demand and there was ALWAYS a demand.

It was also around this time that I learned to mistrust what people said vs. what they actually did. My mother could be the sweetest, kindest, most gregarious person to anyone on the outside but then a monster behind closed doors. It was her perfect “outside face” that allowed others to believe that she was trying her best but that I was a child with some real issues. She convinced therapists, social workers, a child psychiatrist, doctors, teachers and strangers that the problem was set squarely on my own shoulders. I was the one who hurt myself and then lied with crazy stories to cover it all up. This lasted for my entire life with her. It still goes on to this day! She is perfect while I have mental illnesses.

There was a lot of sexual and physical abuse but even worse than that was the sadistic nature of the emotional abuse. I was made to believe that I was only sold to men (and some women) because I liked it and caused it to happen. If there were bruises or broken bones? I had obviously done something to deserve that. If I got ill. that was my fault too. That woman (my mother) made sure that my self-esteem was now only low but non-existent. I felt less than human and not truly worthy of any kindness. This is the part of her abuse that is the hardest to get over or heal from. I feel like I am worthy and then someone talks about me or doesn’t like me and I am plunged deeply right back in to feeling absolutely worthless. My brain knows that I am a good person, that I give a lot of myself to helping others, that I am smart, and have a lot going for me but my heart still says “You don’t deserve any of it and you are just as worthless as you always were”.

I did try to speak out and I tried to reach for help but these efforts were always met with my mothers wrath. I recall being made to eat a “poop” hot-dog in a bun. If I was going to spread “filthy lies”, I was going to eat filth as well. After a certain number of times where I reached out to ask for help and having that come back at me with a vengeance, I gave up. I still find it hard today to speak up about it because my automatic feeling that accompanies this openness is fear.

There are so many details and situations that I could discuss but I am sure you get the idea by now? It wasn’t just a hard life. It was a life filled with monsters that never hid under my bed. They just stayed out in the open and did as they wished with me as often as they wished it. I many ways this abuse started before I was born and still continues today. 46 years of situations and stories that would make your blood curdle.
If you read my list of Helpers from last week, there are a few more details of which Helpers came in to being and when/why.

I wish I could say that I grew up, moved away and never had to deal with my mother again but I moved 3,500kms to get away from her and 2 months later, she was living 1km down the street from me in her newly purchased home.
I have not spoken to her in over 11 years yet she still speaks about me in public to anyone who will lend her an ear. She tells them lies and makes me look horrible. We live in a very small community and there are many people who have never even met me whom hate me with passion. I’ve been called a liar, a bitch, a whore, a selfish daughter and worse by these people who just believe the words my mother shares. Supposed grownups and mostly “church friends” of my mothers. I really try hard not to let it bother me but she has even gotten to my own children and 2 of my husbands extended family members. The words said under hushed breaths make me want to just run away again and never look back… or just give up and leave this world altogether. It is hard not to taint the good that I have created in my life with that poison. I am only human. It is hard to be hated and even harder to be hated for something you never were.

Sadly it is not only my monster/mother that drags me down like this. My father takes part as well. He is quieter about it but when discussions of how my brother abused me surfaced, it was his voice on the other end of the phone calling me a sociopath. In my heart I know that he believes every word and knows the truth but he is unwilling to face it and it seems that hurting me instead is acceptable to him. I recently cut off all contact with him and I know it was necessary for my future mental health but I feel like a 46 years old orphan who never knew what it was like to have a mom or dad.

I’ve felt very lonely lately. I miss those whom have loved and seen die by suicide due to their PTSD. I ache for my murdered son. My heart has cement poured all over it while my living children find their way home. I really miss the nurse I felt close to while in hospital and the doctor whom I got to know before his sabbatical. Now my current therapist is retiring in a couple of months and I must say goodbye to her as well. I know these supports are not meant to be lifelong friendships and I am good with that but it doesn’t make missing them any easier. These people got me, they understood me, They believed me and truly heard me. They made me a better person. I am just tired and I am trying to find and keep my spark. I will find it again. I have faith in that.

I’ve had some comments about how I do not share negative stories on my blog but I feel that my intentions are perhaps a bit misunderstood. I do not keep things positive because I want people to think life is just all great and I am flying high. I keep it positive because I have dealt with and still deal with more negative in the run of a day that some people experience in a lifetime. By remaining positive myself, I feel like I am adding to the good in the world and that somehow negates some of the bad. It takes a lot of effort on a daily basis to live a good and positive life but I almost always feel that it is worth the effort.

This blog is very important to me. YOU are important to me. When someone says that they heard what they needed to hear or got what they needed to get because of a blog I wrote, it helps me add to the balance of positive in my life. Thank you for that.

If there is more you wish to know, just ask. If it is too personal to be on the blog, I will respond with a private email.
All the best to each of you. ❤

Kind Words CopyHand drawn by Heather. For sale. $20
Buy an 8×10 “Be Gentle”

Unexpressed emotions.

Buried

I believe this to be true 100%. It may not be true for everyone but in my experience, most people will trauma need to talk about what they went through before they are able to heal from it. I can not fairly speak for others so this blog will be my own experience. That said? I’ve heard the same thing over and over again.

In most of my therapy, there is a real unwillingness by psychiatrists or therapists to discuss what happened in any detail. Attention is given to the here and now with the goal of working on how the trauma affects you present day. I do agree with this for a certain amount of time. Safety needs to be established, trust needs to be created, supports need to be in place and perhaps a few other things before discussing the actual story takes place. This takes time. Sometimes a lot of time. Perhaps for many people the time to discuss the details just never arrives. They do not want to or just never feel ready. That is their own personal choice and I respect that.

The trouble for me began when I wanted my choice to be taken seriously. Keeping all my secrets buried inside of me led me to the edge of a huge cliff and I was hanging on by one small fingernail. My story had never been discussed, never been opened up for discussion… and never believed by anyone. I’d only ever been 0-24 when the bulk of my abuse happened. I’d tried reaching out but no one had ever heard me. Those who did hear me found ways to brush it all off or turn around and blame me for what happened. I’d given up and I’d remained silent for decades. That silence was nearly the death of me. Piece by piece. Day by day.

The first time I ever told my story as an adult was while I was in hospital. It nearly cracked my soul in half to tell even little parts of it and I felt like my mind would never find a way to get put back together. I felt so exposed and I assumed everyone could now see how dirty, disgusting and pathetic I really was.
As hard as those first days were, it was also the beginning of my healing.

My secrets began to feel the air and began to travel along beside me as a part of who I was rather than weighing me down like the rocks they had been before. My shame was heard and disputed. My guilt was seen and I was taught how to place it in the proper place. I learned that my story was just that. My story. It was not who I was.

After leaving the hospital, I had a psychiatrist whom was a very kind and helpful man. I know he cared but he didn’t really see me. He saw my mask. My Helpers came out to him but he didn’t know me well enough to realize it so he was never able to help them. We never really discussed anything in detail. We tried a couple of times to just scratch the surface but it was almost like he was afraid to upset me. I do not know if that is why he pulled back or not but I can think of no other reason.

I also had 2 therapists. One who never believed anything that I disclosed in the hospital because she was too busy writing copious amounts of notes and being totally ticked off that I had opened up while hospitalized and not while I was with her. Her only way to explain that? I was lying.
I will tell you know. She was another trauma. Just one more professional who wasn’t willing to really stop and look. If she added up my symptoms, my life, my triggers and fears? It all pointed to exactly what I’d been through.
Eventually I picked myself off the floor and never went back to her.

Another therapist was found and she worked alongside my psychiatrist. They both felt that it was better for me to stay with current day issues and deal with those rather than dig up the past. That is all well and great but guess what happened? My mask got better looking while my secrets started to find their way back in to my soul. One heavy rock at a time, they got in, settled down and grew larger. On the outside, everything was just great. On the inside? I was beginning to die again.

You see… these professionals had the best of intentions and I am sure they would be hurt if they knew they had caused me to just close back up and put my mask back on but that is what holding secrets does to you.
The things that bother me most today are deeply rooted in what happened years ago. I do not need to discuss it infinitum, but I do need for the back story to be known so the troubles of today can be worked on effectively. By being unwilling to go where I needed to go, their help was of no use. They were really great people and I liked them both but they were not helping me nor were they willing to hear me when I tried to tell them what I needed.

I finally found a trauma centre with trained trauma therapists and I am beginning to continue healing again now. We do not spend each session deep in the trenches of what happened in the past but when an issue comes up, we do look at where it began and how I processed it at the time. It is in that moment of my history that the damage occurred. I do not need to fix the spirit of the woman who I am today. I need to heal the young, confused, scared, helpless child who is still inside of me just waiting to be allowed to come out and once again walk alongside me rather than dragging me down.

I wrote a poem while in hospital about this and I will put it in its own post. I hope you’ll like it.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Karma

  • Karma – An action now becomes a future consequence.
  • Karma has no menu. You get served what you deserve.
  • “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” Eckhart Tolle
  • “Karma comes after everyone eventually. You can’t get away with screwing people over your whole life, I don’t care who you are. What goes around comes around. That’s how it works. Sooner or later the universe will serve you the revenge that you deserve.” Jessica Brody
  • “Even chance meetings are the result of karma… Things in life are fated by our previous lives. That even in the smallest events there’s no such thing as coincidence.” Haruki Murakami

I was having my usual wonderful Sunday morning chat with my good friend D. She asked if I believed that life happened to us as we think it. Remember that book “The Secret”? What you think, you become. That whole thing? I don’t but that led further in to a conversation that spoke of karma and getting what you deserve. I have no idea how most people take this whole idea and perhaps it is not triggering to most people at all. If you’ve had a decent life, is it comforting to think that you are getting back what you put out there?

Both D. and I are trauma survivors. Heavy duty childhood trauma compounded by events in adulthood as well. Karma to us seems horrible.
If the idea is that you get what you deserve, what on this earth did we ever do to deserve the lives we were handed? Lives that will likely never be completely free of PTSD or its affects. We can (and we have) improved A LOT and we keep working hard but the cards we were dealt were impossible to work with.

I remember telling someone many, many years ago a little about my mother and her kind response to me was “Karma’s a bi**h. She’ll get back what she gave one day.” Well… I felt comforted for all of 2 minutes until my mind said, “What did I do to deserve what I got?”. That thought took all the self blame, shame and guilt that already lived inside of me and just nailed the last nail in the coffin that I had been trying to escape from. I shut my mouth that day and never told one person about the total package of my mother again for over 30 years.

You see, as abuse survivors, we are filled with guilt as a way to keep us quiet. We are told that we wanted what we got. We were told that we deserved it and we caused it. In a way, we are being taught that we are being dealt the karma that we greatly deserve. If we were a better child, teenager or adult, who behaved properly and didn’t screw everything up all the time,  we would have had better lives.

For years I heard those messages about karma and allowed them to settle inside my soul. I believed the messages that were taught to me in an evil way then cemented in to me by well meaning people who were directing their words of karma towards the abusers but landed them flat on to me.

It was only 3 years ago that I learned that I did nothing to cause what happened to me. I learned that I could have never asked for it, wanted it, or screwed up enough to justify what was done to me. I was a child who grew in to a young adult that believed I didn’t deserve any better and abusers took advantage of that. If I’d never been blessed with a chance to truly begin to heal and recover, I’d still not know that I deserved better and I woudl still believe I was getting what was deserved. My karma.

And just for a moment, I want to take a look at my beliefs.
If someone did me harm, do I want them to be harmed?
When my mother dies, do I want her to come back in a new life (as some believe) and experienced what she put me through?
Do I really want to spend my life holding out hope that bad things will happen to bad people?
I don’t.

What do I want then if it isn’t karma?
I want the people who hurt me to see the error of their ways and stop what they are doing. I know that many did over the years. It can not take away what they did to me but it can hopefully be one step closer to it not happening to anyone else.
Do I want my mother to come back and live my life? Absolutely not! That would only mean one more generation of pain and hundreds more abusers out there. While I do have some days when she’s hurt me again (I have no contact at all with her but that has not prevented her poison to continuously seep out of her every pore) that I feel very vengeful, but within a day or two I am back to wishing that she would just stop. Just stop. That is all I want. I don’t want her to hurt the way that I have because that only perpetuates the cycle of abuse. I want her to stop torturing me but more than that? I just want the negativity to stop with her and never attach to me. I refuse to be that person. Negative, hateful, wishing karma… I just want it to stop.

If this blog today makes you think about karma, the negative message that it sends to the victims and the negativity that it perpetuates in this world, I hope that perhaps today you can try to find a way to let it stop where it is and never continue on with you.

Now for a more positive quote with a terrific message for all.

Change

Which wolf are you feeding?

After any big news story depicting terrorists, mass shootings, or other terrible events, people tend to panic and it is very easy to become very negative very quickly. It is in these times that I read a wonderful and well-known Cherokee legend: An old grandfather is speaking to his grandson about what causes the violence and cruelty in the world. “In each human heart,” he tells the boy, “there are two wolves battling one another—one is fearful and angry, and the other is understanding and kind.” The young boy then asks, “Which one will win?” His grandfather smiles and says, “Whichever one we choose to feed.”

It’s easy to feed the fearful, angry wolf. Especially if we’ve experienced harm, the anger pathway can become deeply ingrained in our nervous system. When our old sense of injury or fear is triggered, the intolerable heat and pressure of anger instantly surges through us. Our attention gets riveted on the feelings and thoughts of violation and all we usually want is revenge. Often before we have any sense of choice, the nasty comeback is out of our mouth, we’ve slammed a door, hit send on an ill-advised e-mail, put someone down behind his back.

Yet, we do have a choice. There are meditations that train the heart and the mind directly deactivate the anger pathways that propel our habitual behaviors. While the limbic system acts almost instantaneously, we can develop a response from the frontal cortex which includes the social centers involved with compassion that interrupts and subdues the reaction. This is where cultivating mindfulness comes in.

Mindfulness is the “remembering” that helps us pause and recognize what’s happening in the present moment. Once we’ve paused, we can call on the higher brain centers to open new possibilities. We can soothe ourselves, recall another person’s difficulties and vulnerability, and remember our own goodness and strength. No matter how painfully we’re triggered by the world’s violence and insensitivity, we can direct our attention in ways that carry us home to our intrinsic sanity and good-heartedness. For the sake of our own inner freedom and the well-being of others, we can intentionally feed the understanding, kind wolf.

Often, our first instinct is to protect our wounds by armoring ourselves with hatred and blame. Forgiveness, which allows us to let go of this armor, becomes possible as we bring a full, compassionate presence to our underlying vulnerability. Such presence loosens our identification with the thoughts and feelings of anger, and uncovers a heart space that is naturally open, inclusive, and warm.

Yet, this seldom happens suddenly or irreversibly. If we’re resentful and at odds with someone, it can take many rounds of intentional presence with our own hurt or fear until our self-compassion opens us to more acceptance and understanding. And when our grievance expresses as full-blown hatred, or when we feel deeply violated, forgiveness can seem out of reach or even impossible.

Forgiveness can also seem like a bad idea. We may be afraid, for instance, that if we let go of blame, we’re betraying our own emotions and setting ourselves up for further injury. We may feel that if we forgive, we’re condoning a person’s hurtful behavior and not honoring our right to be respectfully treated. Maybe we feel that if we forgive someone, we’ll be stuck feeling that we are the ones to blame. These fears are understandable and need to be recognized, but they are based on a misperception.

Forgiveness means letting go of aversive blame; it means that we stop feeding the fearful, angry wolf. It does not mean that we dismiss our intelligence about who might hurt us or that we stop taking actions to protect ourselves and others from harm. We all need to be able to tell who might betray our confidences, take our money, misunderstand our intentions, and abuse us physically or mentally. And when someone threatens our own or others’ well-being, we need to find effective ways to communicate our concerns, set boundaries, and determine consequences for harmful actions. We can dedicate our lives to preventing harm,

People often ask, “How can I possibly forgive her after she had that affair?” “How can I forgive him for physically abusing me as a child?” When we try to forgive someone prematurely, we usually succeed only in papering over our anger and underlying hurt. So, what do we do? This might not be the time for forgiving; it may not be possible or real at this point. Sometimes what needs attention is the place inside you that is hurting and afraid. This is the time for offering a compassionate presence to your own heart.” Compassion for oneself is the very essence of a forgiving heart.

Many people say that when they stop feeding the angry wolf and instead open to their own vulnerability, it feels like a homecoming. As one person put it, “Instead of focusing on the person who hurt me, I started down a path of freeing myself.” We can either “get back” at someone and let the wound fester, or attend to self-healing. Feeding the angry wolf may come more easily, but learning to stay present and be compassionate towards ourselves connects us with our goodness.

Wolf

Dirty word of the day: Integration

I know this will be a controversial post for some people. Many medical professionals do not agree with my views… which is fine because I do not agree with  theirs. 😉 Joking aside, many doctors, therapists, and even some people within the dissociative identity disorder (DID) community feel that integration is the holy grail of healing persons from DID.
To me? Integration is a dirty word.

If you have not read this blog before, I call my “alters”, my Helpers. Hence the name of the blog. 😉

Even now while writing this, I can feel my inner world starting to freak out. Anxiety, worry, a wish to run away, feeling overwhelmed, getting angry… that is what my Helpers deal with every time this word is said. I feel it too. Big time. I feel totally in control today and I am always out front when writing but I can still feel the weight of inner feelings especially when they are shaken up.

I can not speak for everyone else out there but I can speak for myself and I will express how I personally feel about the issue of integration. If you disagree, I’d love for you to write a blog on it and forward it on to me. I’d love to read other opinions. 🙂

Having DID is not easy. Every situation that happens garners my own emotions but then the Helpers step in with theirs as well. Have you ever been at a big get-together and try to get everyone to stop and listen to you? Can you imagine trying to come to agreements about certain important issues? There will be as many opinions as their are people. DID is a lot like that every day.
That said? Some of the same people who may drive you batty would also rush to your aid if you suddenly collapsed or started having real troubles coping. DID is a lot like that too.

I believe that my Helpers started coming in to existence between the ages of 2 and 4. I know for sure there were several there when I was 4 and 5 but I have a feeling they were there earlier. For me? I’ve never had a life without my Helpers in it. For the purpose of this blog, I will set aside all the confusion and thinking I saw dead people and just discuss my view since being properly diagnosed.

As much as life with DID can get hectic, I am never bored and never lonely. I have company at all times and honestly? I am not sure I’d enjoy life so much without it. I was once on medication that made them almost silent (and made me a zombie) and that was a very sad and lonely time for me. I am also ALWAYS full of ideas for new things and ways to use things that I myself may have never thought of.

I also have a huge issue with integrating these people whom I have come to view as such a big part of my life. Who do I get rid of first? Little “Hannah Banana”? My ever faithful sidekick Rielyn? Old man Oscar? Tilly who helped me birth a baby when I was too young to mentally handle it on my own? I am sorry but full integration is never going to happen because each of these Helpers are important to me as individuals.

I am also very aware that each of them is a part of me. A very compartmentalized part of me but still essentially “me”. While it would be all neat and tidy to roll the Helpers and I in to one person, I honestly feel I would end up completely overwhelmed. At least right now there is separation between all these opinions and emotions.

So what do I want? What do I feel is healthy?
Teamwork.
Rather than working on getting each Helper to integrate, I spend that time trying to work out the kinks in our relationships and certain actions. I will use Jenna as an example. She was always having issues with self harm and quite often these “events” were incredibly scary. I still have many scars. Trying to integrate her causes panic, more dissociation and more self harm. Working out a deal between us was FAR more productive. Jenna admitted in writing and through art that she often used self harm not only as a release but also in trying to fix old scars. A deal was made that if there was no self harm for 6 months, we would get a tattoo to cover one set of scars. 6 months later was another tattoo to cover more. Jenna LOVES her tattoo’s and I love them too. She found a new strength during a year of no self harming that she still possesses today. Integration made her run away and refuse help but making a deal with her stopped the harmful behavior and allowed me to take care of her.

One by one, we work out deals. We make rules that certain age groups MUST follow. No one under 18 drives. No one under 18 signs important documents. Only I (Heather) goes to therapy. If anyone has a concern, they can write it down and I will take care of it or help them with it. There are a few other rules that are for safety, friendship, being creative and so forth. These rules are enough for me to feel good about my team of Helpers.

There will always be mess ups, uncomfortable situations, missing time, forgotten occasions and other issues that persons with DID have but would full integration solve all of these issues? And what about all the PTSD triggers they help me through? How often I would have fled out of a movie theater, ran my car off the road at a fright, been unable to function at social events before I was able to stay more present? My life would have been far worse. I am sure of it. My Helpers came in to being for excellent reasons and I do not wish to thank them by making them null and void.  Also, I am aware of 34 Helpers… integration could or would take FOREVER. I’d rather live my life with my team. They help me and I help them. For me personally? That is enough.

Helpers

Rules

Grooming

TRIGGER WARNING!!! I am discussing the 6 stages of grooming that are considered fairly “textbook”. I will not list details or use names. I am doing this only so we can protect our own children but also have more compassion for ourselves by understanding the trap that was set.
I don’t know about other people but whenever I’ve discussed my abuse in any way, 99% of the time a questions is asked. “Why didn’t you tell?” Well… this is my answer.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner is a world renound expert and focusses much of his time journaling and teaching about this topic. My information was found in his research. I usually write posts that are 100% my own content but for this post? I feel he explains it better than I could. 

Stage 1: Targeting the victim
The offender targets a victim by sizing up the child’s vulnerability—emotional neediness, isolation and lower self-confidence. Children with less parental oversight are more desirable prey.

Stage 2: Gaining the victim’s trust
The sex offender gains trust by watching and gathering information about the child, getting to know his needs and how to fill them. In this regard, sex offenders mix effortlessly with responsible caretakers because they generate warm and calibrated attention. Only more awkward and overly personal attention, or a gooey intrusiveness, provokes the suspicion of parents. Otherwise, a more suave sex offender is better disciplined for how to push and poke, without revealing themselves. Think of the grooming sex offender on the prowl as akin to a spy—and just as stealth.

Stage 3: Filling a need
Once the sex offender begins to fill the child’s needs, that adult may assume noticeably more importance in the child’s life and may become idealized. Gifts, extra attention, affection may distinguish one adult in particular and should raise concern and greater vigilance to be accountable for that adult

Stage 4: Isolating the child
The grooming sex offender uses the developing special relationship with the child to create situations in which they are alone together. This isolation further reinforces a special connection. Babysitting, tutoring, coaching and special trips all enable this isolation.
A special relationship can be even more reinforced when an offender cultivates a sense in the child that he is loved or appreciated in a way that others, not even parents, provide. Parents may unwittingly feed into this through their own appreciation for the unique relationship.

Stage 5: Sexualizing the relationship
At a stage of sufficient emotional dependence and trust, the offender progressively sexualizes the relationship. Desensitization occurs through talking, pictures, even creating situations (like going swimming) in which both offender and victim are naked. At that point, the adult exploits a child’s natural curiosity, using feelings of stimulation to advance the sexuality of the relationship.
When teaching a child, the grooming sex offender has the opportunity to shape the child’s sexual preferences and can manipulate what a child finds exciting and extend the relationship in this way. The child comes to see himself as a more sexual being and to define the relationship with the offender in more sexual and special terms.

Stage 6: Maintaining control
Once the sex abuse is occurring, offenders commonly use secrecy and blame to maintain the child’s continued participation and silence—particularly because the sexual activity may cause the child to withdraw from the relationship.
Children in these entangled relationships—and at this point they are entangled—confront threats to blame them, to end the relationship and to end the emotional and material needs they associate with the relationship, whether it be the dirt bikes the child gets to ride, the coaching one receives, special outings or other gifts. The child may feel that the loss of the relationship and the consequences of exposing it will humiliate and render them even more unwanted.

So……..
The next time you are asked if you told, why didn’t you run away, why you never shared this with a responsible adult or any other questions that feel more like blame than questions?
Your answer can be that you were groomed by a professional who knew what (s)he wanted and was going to get it by any means necessary.

For me it is really difficult looking back especially at the times when I truly believed that I was being loved and cherished. I was so desperate for attention that it was easy to groom me using that technique. The only threat ever needed was the risk of losing someone who loved me when no one else did.

In the end, abuser are abusers and whether you are a young child or a competent adult, abusers can worm their way in to your life in these ways. If you are in need of love or attention, they will give that to you. The only way that we can change this is to start recognizing it in our current day relationships to make sure we never go down this path and to also offer ourselves compassion for our pasts. If you knew better or if that person could not fill a deep seated need? It wouldn’t have happened.

A special note to others who were children when this began.
You were a child.
When you look back, you do so with adult eyes and adult options.
You come up with things you could or should have done because TODAY those are options. Back then? They likely were not.
My biggest reality check comes when I look at children who are the same ages that I was back then. They are so little, so precious, so vulnerable.
Show yourself the compassion that you deserve.

Dalai