When I am in dissociation/splitting from Self, it feels like a switch in my brain; one keeps me grounded in my body and environment, and the other pulls me into a fog of fragmentations. I can feel the switch, on and off, and my behaviours reflect where I am. When I’m in my healthy, whole Self, I feel alive, creative, social, and full of confidence. When I’m in my trauma self, I’m dull, lonely, and full of fog. I experience overwhelming emotions and body sensations.
Some may call this Dissociative Identity Disorder, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I have that diagnosis to some degree. Janina Fisher, one the best therapists on fragmented selves, calls it Structural Dissociation – where we are conscious of the switch but can’t control it. Our moods and behaviours vary extensively from fragmented to fragmented parts.
This article explains it well:
There is healthy dissociation when we daydream or zone out momentarily and forget what we are doing. This type of dissociation is just a normal human being.
It becomes destructive when it becomes an entity of itself rather than a drift from our healthy Self. I describe it as the switch. Perhaps it is different for others but for me, I can feel the switch from myself to my trauma self.
Healing this is incredibly hard. It’s been six years of therapy and numerous modalities and therapists, and I’m just getting to the deepest wounds. I don’t think many therapists understand this kind of trauma. It occurs from extreme abuse.
Many of us don’t realize we have this because we live in a fragmented part or parts thinking this is who we are. Or we developed parts that make us functional in a dysfunctional society, and we believe these behaviours are the norm.
But the tell-all sign of whether or not you have a dysfunctional dissociation is that you often feel fake, empty, and powerless. Your healthy Self may be hard to grasp, or when you are there, it feels unreal. Sometimes, you are there and enjoying yourself, but there is constant knocking on the switch’s door, yelling at you to get back there.
Sometimes, many switches yell at you simultaneously if you are as blessed as I am. “Here a fragment part, there a fragment part, come on out and grab at me!”
Did you know that personality “disorders” are functioning with this split? Borderline personality “disorder” has a famous quote: “I hate you. Don’t leave me.” There is even a book title on this. Two severely fragmented parts in continuous conflict with the other leave the individual in internal chaos because they are pulled relentlessly from one to the other.
A narcissistic personality disorder is a split so deep that they have no access to their un-traumatized Self. The removal of empathy and an open mind to intense control and loathing is so strong it is like a separate person driving the individual. Often, you will hear survivors of narcissistic abuse say they saw their eyes go dark and their soul leave their bodies. The split is that deep.
I am lucky to still have access to my Self, as touch and go as it is. I will practice gratitude for that today.
How I am healing it
I still have a ways to go, but I no longer find myself lost in my fragmented parts. I can now return to Self and hold space for my trauma while being in Self. I sometimes switch back to my trauma and get stuck there for a bit, but working with it helps me find a way out.
The key, I find, to healing is
- I am practicing re-orienting to parts of my healthy Self and Mother Nature.
- Never fighting my drives into my fragmented parts but radically accepting them and holding space for them to work through their needs.
- Feed my needs continuously like an infant crying for her mother. I am always giving myself what I need and want.
- Letting myself feel depressed and hopeless when the flare-ups reoccur and grieving for what I’ve lost. Holding in this energy keeps me from moving forward.
- I co-regulate with friends, nature, my pets, and therapists.
- Letting myself be petrified while I’m in complete Self and have no idea who I am, what I am supposed to be doing, or how to just be. Being present here gives my body the experience that I am ok.
- Work with the deep wounds that caused the split in the first place – this I am still searching for an answer.
- I am journaling from the point of view of the parts. They want to be seen and heard, so I give them an outlet.
Check out these places for more info
My upcoming book
My book, Fragments (working title), is in the works. I have compiled years of journaling from my fragmented parts to rewire my nervous system into more wholeness. It is a book of poems and essays gathered to tell a story.
The table of contents of my book:
To be traumatized is to be spellbound
The dance of death
The spell break
Waking up from crucifixion
If you are interested in the book, contact me with “Send me your book when it’s ready!” and I’ll add you to the list. I am looking into self-publishing and hope to have the book ready this year.
I have worksheets in my shop on grounding and reconnecting to Self. I have created these practices to share, which have helped me a lot in my journey.
I have found this helpful in my understanding of this type of trauma.
Janina Fisher discuss this in depth in her book. She also has webinars and courses on her website at https://janinafisher.com/.
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