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.