Integration

For people who have DID, integration is either a happy end goal to anticipate or something to fear, like a kind of death. Many people think of integration that way: death of the parts. But it isn’t. Not at all. For me integration was like a home-coming as I welcomed my parts back to where they had begun — with me.

For me, as for many people, integration was not a big event. It was not something planned for a specific date and time in my therapist’s office. It was, instead, a natural result of a lot of hard work.

I had finally learned to listen to my parts, really hear what they had to say without breaking down into a crisis. I had to prove to my parts that I could handle the information they each held. I had to let them know that I would honor their trust when they shared their stories with me. It wasn’t always easy. The truth wasn’t always easy to hear. Sometimes it scared me; others it shocked me. It took practice plus a little courage. (Courage is something that gets stronger with practice. So don’t worry about not being courageous. Just work with what you have. Stretch yourself.) Compassion helped too. Each part had been terribly wounded. They had taken on painful, difficult tasks to protect me, so I could survive the abuse physically and mentally. I learned to appreciate them, and, in fact, thank them.

When I finally came to that place of accepting the truth one part had to share, that one would eventually just come home. So, one by one each came back to me. They didn’t die or disappear. Not at all. Now they’re here with me, and I am more complete. I have Georgia’s compassion, Little Caren’s sense of self, Rusty’s determination to protect myself, and George’s sense of humor.

Integration did take some getting used to. When they were all finally home, my head was quiet for the first time. No more arguments about how to answer when someone asked me a question. I had to learn how to make decisions all by myself without their input. And going to sleep at night was difficult at first, because I was used to listening as they sang me to sleep. Playing music helped ease that transition.

When I thought about it though, I realized I did have their input, just not audibly in my mind. I had their good judgment to rely on now that they were part of me. That allowed me learn to weigh different thoughts and be an adult making my own decisions. I learned how to trust myself and be less fearful of mistakes. Adjusting to integration was, like anything else, a process – one that has allowed me to grow up and be more comfortable in my own skin. I thank each of my parts for the job he/she did in protecting my child’s mind when I was vulnerable and too young to do it for myself.

After integration I remained in therapy, because the work certainly didn’t end there. I still had a lot of recovering to do.

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4 responses to “Integration

  • Elaina ~ complex-post-traumatic-stress-disorder.com

    It has been a homecoming, not a death, for me, too. In my case, I became whole, as I accepted, and respected, all of me. It was the denial and repression of parts of my personality, that had me fragmented.

  • Susan_Ks

    A really great post Jessi; thank you for sharing this. I realized that I felt fragmented yet like many others that was explained to me as a “disorder” and something that was to be accepted and lived with. I refused to accept this and instead had the good fortune to work with someone who respected that I did not want to cultivate this and become even further fragmented but to learn how to see myself as a whole individual.

    Much like your path I started looking at “parts” as needing me to sort of “stand up” and learn to take care of myself so that I no longer needed to cope with my experiences and feelings by being fragmented. Instead of expecting the world to accommodate me as such I decided to learn to go through the emotional distress and in doing so and learning that I could and wouldn’t “die” by doing so – I also saw that all the variations of “me” became “me” as I learned the emotional coping skills to handle the distress as an adult that I could not handle as a child – then adult that was “childlike”.

    Like this wise person said – dissociation doesn’t just fall on me but it was an unconscious coping mechanism for experiences that were too overwhelming at the time. It was by becoming aware of when I was “falling into it” that I began to see how to untangle myself from it consciously.

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