Come Back to Your Truth

Come Back to Your Truth

If there is one thing I have seen as a common thread to a childhood of trauma, it is the invalidation of everything we believe to be true.  Our needs aren’t validated or met.  Our emotions are not validated.  They are touted as problematic.  Our memories are not validated.  Often we are told we are making things up.  And our narratives are not validated, leading to a defensive creation of a false reality just to get through childhood. And if there is one thing that is hardest in recovery, it is learning to validate ourselves.  We usually come to the recovery process with no sense of self.  We don’t know how to trust ourselves or how we feel and we aren’t sure how to get there.  We may get flashbacks and excuse them away as made-up.  We may start to feel an emotion and hear that voice telling us not to be ridiculous.  It is a pattern set deep in our psyches and we are not going to overcome it easily. But as I have become aware of my inner parts, I have learned one very important thing.  My parts are telling the truth.  It isn’t just their memories that are true, but their emotions and beliefs are completely evidence-based.  When I allow my inner parts to feel and to share where those feelings are coming from, they are valid and justified. You may be thinking that can’t be true.  When you are walking down the street and are suddenly in a panic, it is not a valid response.  And from that standpoint, you would be right.  But your...
Love is a Vicious Motivator

Love is a Vicious Motivator

For anyone who has spent time with me over the past few weeks, you probably found it hard to miss my latest obsession.  Recently I discovered BBC’s Sherlock.  I know what you are going to say next.  “Elisabeth, you are 7 years late to that party.”  I know that.  I have never been a big fan of crime shows and I guess I assumed this would be the same.  I never bothered to watch.  But Sherlock is not about crime.  It is, but it isn’t.  It is about something else.  And while I know my inner parts have driven this obsession (because all obsessions are driven by parts), I am just now realizing why.  Sherlock is about inner parts.  It is about trauma.  It is about repressed memories and the way they run our lives.  But most importantly, it is about love. I am not one of those self-development people who touts the all-encompassing beauty of love in the world.  I didn’t grow up in an environment that supported such things.  I never had the luxury of spending time on things like love.  I grew up in hell.  So not surprisingly, my controller took over.  My controller has always been very strong.  My controller was built for survival and lives in the mind.  Vulnerability, emotions and love were never a part of the program.  Love was a mistake.  Love was something to be avoided at all costs.  And there is no TV character who epitomizes the controller more than Sherlock.  He is the ultimate controller But all controllers have one thing in common.  They can’t do what they are...
Helping the Healing

Helping the Healing

I’m going to get real about helpers today.  Helpers can come in many forms.  They can be therapists, life coaches, energy workers, EFT practitioners, mentors and more.  All of these professionals have the potential to help trauma survivors.  But these relationships have the potential to get off track, to cause harm, to re-traumatize.  In social work school, I had one professor who had us frequently repeat the mantra, “Don’t sleep with your clients.”  It was sort of tongue and cheek and it sort of wasn’t.  But I am not talking about the obvious stuff today. The stuff that throws us off guard is the stuff we don’t see coming.  Maybe we don’t see it because it is subtle.  Or maybe we don’t see it because we are repeating our unconscious patterns and haven’t developed awareness yet.  Either way, we can be thrown off our recovery path when we repeat patterns with our helpers.  So here is my list of what not to do if you are a helper or a help-seeker. Helpers: Don’t deny a self-diagnosis. When a client is exploring whether a particular mental illness describes them, don’t dismiss it.  Your clients might have a tendency toward “catastrophizing” or even hypochondria, but examine it with them.  Explore the possibilities.  I find this to be especially necessary with dissociative identity disorder.  We have seen the Hollywood version of D.I.D. and we assume this means we would know immediately if we met someone with this disorder.  But that’s not true.  It can be very subtle.  Parts are great at disguising themselves, especially in front of helpers.  If you are thinking,...
It’s Not Fair

It’s Not Fair

5 Reasons Recovery is Not Fair & 3 Things You Can Do About It During the past ten years, I have been on a recovery journey full of miracles and pain which surpassed my greatest imagination.  And over the past three years, I have worked with many survivors of trauma who are taking their own trek to find a better way of living.  I have learned many lessons about life from my own journey and the journeys of others.  But there is one life lesson that rises to the top. It’s not fair! That may sound like the ranting of a two-year-old, but it’s also true.  There is nothing particularly fair about this life.  And when it comes to a childhood of trauma, it is the most unfair.  What do I mean?  I thought you would never ask.  I’ve been creating a list just to prove my point. We have to treat our inner parts like nobody ever treated us. You may have heard of the term “re-parenting” during your recovery journey.  It may have even triggered you.  How dare anyone suggest that you have to do the job your parents never did.  It isn’t fair that we have to be compassionate, accepting and loving to our inner parts when we never experienced it.  How are we supposed to do that?  How do we express love we never had?  Where do we start? There was nobody to save us in childhood and there is nobody to save us now. Despite our deep longing for a savior, human beings are not capable of saving another.  They may be able to do...
What Matters Most

What Matters Most

The Darkness I traveled this past Sunday and Monday.  As a single mother without extended family, traveling isn’t easy.  I have to ask friends for help, or pay for overnight babysitters.  Neither option is simple for me.  But as an extrovert who loves interpersonal exchange and public speaking, traveling to conferences and giving presentations does give me that motivational shot in the arm for the days I don’t leave my house.  This trip was preceded by several days of intense anxiety.  I knew it wasn’t related to the trip.  I was getting a memory back.  I was getting some sense of it in my dreams and my mind activity.  But I could not seem to overcome the anxiety and release the memory. When I got to the destination airport on Sunday night and went looking for ground transportation, I was sidetracked by someone who had a particular interest in guiding me to a particular cab.  My gut was saying to walk away from this guy, but I was tired, and he was already taking my suitcase and piling it into this cab.  I was planning to find an Uber car, but this guy didn’t even give me a chance to ask.  He was wearing an official airport shirt, but I guarantee he was making a commission from the cab company.  Once I was in the cab, I knew I would spend more than I wanted.  And being on a tight budget, I was not happy with the outcome.  In the scheme of things, it was probably an additional $20, but the trigger overwhelmed my system.  I had been ambushed....
Repressed Memories Don’t Lie

Repressed Memories Don’t Lie

I make it clear that my recovery journey involves repressed memories.  And honestly, it hasn’t been an easy thing to explain.  Most people can’t fathom how our brain can dissociate to that extent.  Most people can’t understand how we can forget such incredibly traumatic events.  But that’s the point, isn’t it?  It is because they are incredibly traumatic that we forget in the first place. My story is extreme.  I forgot the majority of my childhood.  Even before I started recovery, I used to ponder my lack of memories.  I even told my father I could not remember living in the same house with him.  He pretended not to understand why.  Most of my memories have been tied to my inner parts who would take over during traumatic times.  This recent discovery of Dissociative Identity Disorder has led to a much better understanding of my past and how I handled it. But I have heard from many survivors about their own stories of memory repression.  Sometimes, they remember most of their trauma, but not everything.  Sometimes, there are only a few events which are repressed.  Sometimes, they remember everything with no emotions tied to the memories at all. However it manifests, the biggest problem with memory repression is the doubts.  People love to tell us how repressed memories are somehow less reliable than other memories.  While I will be the first to admit human memory is fallible to some extent, repressed memories are certainly no less reliable.  But society has told us differently.  There have been entire foundations created to discredit the recovered memories of abuse victims.  So now,...