Concurrent Consciousness and Dissociative Identity Disorder

My wife, my girls, and I have now passed the 9-year mark of our healing journey for her dissociative identity disorder. The last 2 years have been hard and disappointing ones which is why I’ve been so quiet on this blog. I never blame the girls for the difficulties. It’s not their fault: no one asks to have d.i.d. But after almost having the first 7 girls completely connected and our sex life finally becoming minimally healthier after 27 years of utter dysfunction, Jenny’s healing needs have reset the clock in so many ways.

And yet, Jenny has made progress in so many ways. Moreover, despite her domination on the outside for the last 2 years, the other 7 girls continue to make progress as well. As for Jenny, she, like Tina, was 100% dissociated from the other girls which has made tearing down the dissociative walls so much harder. But unlike Tina who had Sophia’s help during the connection process, Jenny has had no other girl able to help her, yet. However, she and the other girls have developed a pre-cursor to co-consciousness. It’s what I call “concurrent consciousness.”

Concurrent consciousness is the subconscious ability for Jenny and the other girls to do things ‘together’ without recognition that they are doing it together. From my vantage point I can see all kinds of collaboration between Jenny and the other 7 girls. They’ve done numerous sewing projects together since Jenny joined our family. They also read vast numbers of books together: probably at least 10 books a week. And at this point, I hear regular updates from ‘both sides of the divide’ on a range of daily activities that Jenny and the other 7 have done. The stories always correlate, often verbatim. And yet when I point out the obvious connection Jenny has to the other 7 girls, they are all mystified. They don’t disbelieve me, but they simply have no cognition of doing these multitude of tasks ‘concurrently.’

And as I think back, Tina and the other girls also developed this ability before they were co-conscious with the others. But fortunately for each of them, they were able to move from ‘concurrent consciousness’ to ‘co-consciousness’ more quickly than Jenny has. During this phase I always hear the ‘new’ girl claim to do tasks and the other girls refute those claims saying, “She did not! We/I did it!” It’s a little funny from my perspective to hear them arguing over who did what. To me, I’m simply happy that the new girl is clearly interested in the activities of the other girls because I know that interest is what will eventually draw her into full connection with them. But until then, I simply remind the other girls that it is a good thing that Jenny feels she is doing these tasks with them (and she is!)

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The Reason for Switching: Good or Bad?

I follow a blog about dissociative identity disorder, also called multiple personality disorder, and her therapist was concerned because she had been doing a lot of switching lately. At first her therapist’s reaction struck me as odd. But I’ve seen this negative attitude about switching many other places as well. I’ve always been happy the more switching I see among my girls. So what’s up?

As I began to contemplate the differences in opinion, it occurred to me the therapist might be focusing on switching among the members of the group as a sign that there’s a lot of triggering dissociation going on. And I guess at the beginning of our healing journey, or maybe even before we knew about the d.i.d., switching was a “bad” thing. It meant Karen wasn’t coping so she went inside to let one of the little girls deal with the unpleasantry. I guess switching for that reason showed a lack of stability.

But once we began the healing journey and the little girls made the permanent move toward the outside, switching actually became a good sign. More

The Last Insider?

Over the last 4 years as I have helped my wife heal from dissociative identity disorder, I have had 6 little girls enter my life. Each one has been a unique pleasure to love as she became a part of my life. And each one has also had her own set of issues that I have had to help her heal. This past January it appears that the last insider in my wife’s network entered my life: Tina.

Now Tina had popped outside on occasion over the previous 3 years but she never said a word and she always looked lost and terrified anytime I saw her. So all last year I began an email-writing campaign to draw Tina out from the shadows so to speak. Each day I sent her an email along with the separate emails I sent to the other 6 girls, but I never got a reply. Then for Christmas, I gave her a present and that seemed to draw her out of the shadows inside, and she began to visit me regularly outside. But the Christmas present lay unopened until in January when I wrote her a little song and sang it to her and the same morning her present was opened! I finally had made an inroad into her heart.

But Tina isn’t like the other girls. When she was inside, she was COMPLETELY alone. Amy took care of Sophia inside. KA was Amy’s inside mother. And Ally and Shelly were sisters. But Tina was silent and isolated. The other girls only saw her in the shadows, and she did not speak or interact with any of them.

When she joined me outside, it wasn’t much different than on the inside. Tina couldn’t talk and wouldn’t let me and anyone else touch her. So for the first 2 months we really struggled to communicate. Then I took her, the other girls and our son to the D.C. Cherry Blossom festival in the hopes of connecting with her, and that weekend she communicated to me that she could sign the alphabet. So I quickly learned how to sign the alphabet as well and for the next month she would sign to me while I spoke to her. I’m still not very good at reading the letters, but I got along enough that we could hold real conversations.

But signing the alphabet is still rather limiting and so I continued to rack my brains for ways to connect to her. If you have ever read the poems I put up on this blog, you’ll notice that since Tina entered my life, I began writing her poems as a way to reach her heart because of how the first poem/song seemed to connect with her.

But I also began to realize that Tina and Sophia were beginning to connect. At that point in Sophia’s healing journey she was finally starting to transition to the outside. Unlike the other girls (Amy, Ally, Shelly and KA) who had made the transition outside in a few months after they started the process, even though Sophia had been coming outside from the start for a weekly bath, she remained mostly an insider until last fall. But as she began to move outside more, I offered Amy (Sophia’s caretaker when inside) rewards to help Sophia make the transition because of Sophia’s limited muscular coordination and reading abilities (the only toddler of the group). But one thing in which Sophia outshone all the other girls was her ability to do puzzles and find the hidden-object games. And as I watched Sophia shine at these puzzles on their Nook, I noticed that Tina took a huge interest in the puzzles as well. And the light went on. So after consulting with the other girls, we began encouraging Tina and Sophia to do puzzles together, and after a while not only were the two connecting with each other, but Tina began to use Sophia to speak with me and my son. She finally was silent no more.

But as I’ve said, Tina is unlike any of the other girls. Everything has been harder for her and thus for me as I help her heal. When Tina first came out she unleashed a hurricane of emotions that had all the older girls including Karen (but not Sophia) feeling “little” for months. The intensity and duration of these new emotions seemed to threaten all the progress the other girls had made. During those months when all the other girls told me how little and scared they were feeling, I spent many hours encouraging and telling them, “It’s ok, Honey. Even though you feel little, I don’t. I’m a big man, and I will take care of you.” And so little by little the emotional storm subsided and the other girls got thru it.

Another difficulty for Tina has been her rules. I once wrote on this blog about insider rules and how I have helped the girls thru them. But whatever rules the other girls had, they seemed to play a minimal part in their lives. But not so with Tina. With Tina she not only seems to have more rules than the others combined, but she has the nastiest rules designed to keep her from ALL love and relationships inside and outside. She’s not allowed to talk with me or the other girls (though she gets around this rule by using Sophia’s voice). She’s not allowed to be part of our family because she’s a “bad” girl. She’s not allowed to respond to my emails because I love her, even though I watch her reply to the various facebook groups she and the other girls frequent. I’m “her guy,” but she’s not allowed to be “my girl” like the other girls. She’s not allowed to have friends, and so she turned down Sophia’s request to be friends (though she breaks that rule by counting me a friend). More

Update: How Things Look 4 Years into our Journey

When I began this blog 2 years ago about my wife and my journey thru dissociative identity disorder, we were 1 year into the journey. This blog quickly came under attack as naïve, unconventional, dangerous, without merit, and off putting, just to list a few of the criticisms. I was blacklisted from the wordpress dissociation blogroll as well as various d.i.d. groups around the country and the UK, and the few therapists I attempted to contact seemed to have a similar opinion.

So I kept pestering my girls for feedback to make sure they didn’t feel I was abusing or manipulating them and to make sure they thought I was a help and not a hindrance to their healing. I also kept a meticulous journal of their and my progress each day with the hope that some day our methodology might be validated.

But over the last 2 years, I’ve had a small stream of visitors who seem interested in the method I’m espousing. The few positive comments that I get from time to time have served as a lifeline when I have seriously considered shutting this blog down and stripping it clean. I have no desire to be a lunatic relegated to the fringe of the d.i.d. world like a “freak show” at a circus.

So to my internet supporters whose positive comments have literally kept me in the game when I wondered if I could make it another day, I wanted to give you an update to let you know that what I espouse on this blog really is working with my girls. I want to give a progress report if anyone cares.

At this point in the journey I can’t remember the last time any of my girls have had a major (or even minor) panic attack of any kind. Even though Tina joined us 4 months ago and was BY FAR the most deeply hidden girl of them all, she seems to have started on the healing foundation the other 6 girls provided. Yes, Tina has exhausted all of us emotionally by some of her other needs and the fact that she cannot talk (though she can sign the alphabet), but no panic attacks.

The first 6 girls are highly co-conscious with each other to the point that they no longer fight to be the one outside. I’m not saying they have ‘arrived’, but they are finally starting to work together as a group of friends rather than a bunch of individuals who have been handcuffed together against their wills. Here’s a little excerpt from my journal recently:

Quite honestly the fluidity between ALL the girls is one of the things that has me wondering what is going on beneath the surface because in spite of the fact that Tina has dominated the outside for the last 2-3 months, the other 6 seem to have grown closer together not further apart as they have waited for Tina to come to the place of joining the family and joining their group. They switch and share and finish sentences for each other and speak for each other using another’s voice and on and on. More

Insider Roles

If you’ve followed this blog at all, hopefully you’ve picked up on one of my fundamental beliefs concerning the healing of multiple personality disorder or as it is now called, dissociative identity disorder. I believe it is extremely important to treat all the insiders like real people. I don’t ever refer to them as parts, alters or any psychological term that would suggest they are anything less than a normal girl (or boy).

And yet the reality is when the girls first came out, most of them were only the shell of a person. Beyond the role of defender, inside mother, helper, etc, the girls had few interests. Shelly’s sole desire when she came out was to gaze at the pretty scrapbook paper in the craftroom I had made for the bigger girls. KA’s only desire was to cross stitch. Sophia’s only desire was for me to make her clean by giving her a bath and then slathering her from head to toe in baby lotion so she smelled clean. And Alley confessed she had no likes, no desires, and she never had any friends. Amy alone seemed a somewhat complete little girl though she was definitely developmentally limited.

But I never let these deficiencies affect my attitude toward them. I always called them by name, and I always treated them like I would a typical little girl except in giving them allowance for their trauma issues.

As I treated the girls this way, I noticed they began to fill out their personalities. They discovered new likes and dislikes. They began to developmentally grow and acquire new skills. And they also became more attached to the outside world and to me and our son. They expanded beyond the small confines of the “role” they had within the network or “system” and found that there was a world of enticing things on the outside to be engaged.

“So what?” you may ask.

I recently made a comment on another blog about “insider roles” as I realized that those initial roles for my girls were very restrictive and were not conducive to healing. When an insider is very narrowly defined by his or her function within the “system,” there is little impetus to change, and without change there is little hope to grow and heal. But as I’ve interacted with my girls and purposely stimulated them to develop and become “real little girls” (as I like tell them), they realize that they don’t want things to stay how they were in the past.

I thought I was simply obeying the Golden Rule by treating these girls the way I would want to be treated. But looking back I see that moving them beyond their predefined insider roles to become real little girls was extremely healing. Here are a couple of examples. More

Facilitating Co-consciousness

When my girls and I first began this healing journey, I focused on the needs of each girl individually and without apology. Because of the dissociation each girl saw herself separately from the others. So I met each girl where she was at as I helped her heal.

But as my girls (host and insiders) continue to heal, they are naturally becoming more and more co-conscious on numerous levels. So sometimes I get a little frustrated when one girl will still ask me to ask another girl (typically Karen) a question. Huh? “Can’t you ask Karen yourself?” I’ll ask exasperatedly.

But I’ve found that a far more therapeutic way to encourage co-consciousness is to find those things in life that naturally attract most or all of the girls and focus on those things. So last year I made Karen, Amy and Alley a dedicated craftroom for them to scrapbook in. When they are scrapping, all 3 naturally work together co-consciously. There’s no forcing or lecturing them to do so.

Then for this past Christmas I found a gift that all 3 of them were delighted to share: a handmade jewelry armoire box. Again all 3 girls were thrilled to share this extra special gift together. Also for Christmas KA, the insider mother, began to join our family on the outside and she LOVED to cross stitch. So I bought her all the supplies she needed. At first Amy and Alley weren’t too sure about this craft, but as Karen and KA worked on cross stitching, the other two girls decided they liked to do it as well. So the girls now have another craft that they will consistently work together co-consciously.

And then just last weekend, it was brought to my attention that we had never finished decorating our bedroom when I had done some work on it a couple of years ago and painted it last year. So I took the girls to Hobby Lobby on Saturday and invited all 5 of them to help pick out the decorations to complete our room. The look in their eyes was enough to tell me that I had hit a home run with them. They each picked out decorations individually and then Karen wove them into cohesive displays of beauty.

These are just some of the things that I have done to encourage greater co-consciousness among the girls. We have a spoken goal that we are working towards: we emphasize things they all like to do and are slowly discouraging things that only some or one of the girls like. I don’t INSIST on total unanimity among the girls recognizing that they aren’t at that point yet, but our goal is to move in that direction. More