Don't Snoop in my Diary! Part II
June 22, 2011
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I separated out Part II in case this is too disturbing for people. So I don't usually put a trigger warning, but this article is about digging around in the deeper recesses of buried memories -- the original memories, the memories that forced us to choose whether to split rather than just be neurotic. They're usually memories of events that are beyond normal trials and tribulations of childhood.
Then there's the privacy that may or may not be violated on a constant basis by the typical therapeutic process -- whether encouraged by our counselors or therapists, or forced from within because we think we "have to know." Before you put yourself through the exceptional deep levels of attempts to recover lost memories ask whether the pain is worth the gain. As with everything in life, the answer is always going to be "Sometimes." I want to give you some of my experience to help you realize when it's time to draw the line.
Wrong or right in theory, busting down internal barriers looking for information can really wreck your internal trust and stability. So either you're violating your trust between selves or between yourselves and the people you hire to help you take better care of your life. This isn't something to do just because. You have to do it in love, in need, to repair systems that are already broken, to work on things that can be worked on in no other way but that MUST be worked on. In other words, I encourage you only to work on this issue when your system is most stable and has a high level of trust, and to take on these issues with an eye towards getting as much compliance and agreement as possible. Isn't it better if someone hands you their diary and says "Here, you can read this" rather than you sneaking around peeking at it, or stealing it and reading it without permission?
I've said it before, so I may appear to have some personal bias, but you do not have to do abreactive work or dig around into forgotten memories -- unless you decide you have to. I spent years poking around, exploring triggers, attempting to dig up memories, tracing triggers to their roots, eradicating triggers, and doing various "therapies" and memory digging. I have troves of diaries, journals, missives, and more that spiraled in on the central issues that are still locked up as tight as a radioactive material containment device.
There are a few journals that I find it's sickening and disconcerting to open. It's not a matter of whether I can accept my past or not -- it's that I read about certain types of acts and get nauseous. I make no apology that I think there's something wrong with people who can, say, read When Rabbit Howls and be undisturbed by it. I was disturbed, and I found certain passages disturbed me in a way that I felt was important so I underlined them. I copied them all into one diary and started exploring those issues for myself, and drawing pictures and letting littles work it out -- who owned this, or that.
It's like we were all doing a ceremony around our two most disturbed littles and trying to "wake them up" and make them talk. Badgering them with the most disturbing triggers we could find, asking them to own up to why, asking them to wake up to co-consciousness and share what WE asked them to take and hide away over 20 years ago.
When we open that book, to this day, we discover a world of horror. It's dark. It's disturbing and sickening. If we stay in that book for more than a few pages, our anxiety goes up. The shut-ins (mostly Tina and Shane) get jittery -- like we're getting too close to their secrets. I'm a few days short of 42 and I'm still not ready.
When we set that book aside and stopped working on it, it was followed by the realization that dragging ourselves, and especially Tina and Shane, through the proverbial mud was abnormal cruelty. We don't know that they're "people" in that we're not sure whether they ever developed sufficiently to be more than stylistic mental combination locks holding back painful memories. They're not asserting themselves on external events, holding us back from living, interfering with functionality, triggering or abreacting uncontrollably, etc.
So to us, this started falling under the heading of "Pick your battles" -- why do that type of core-of-the-sun level excavation if the damage would be harder to repair than the gains from knowing minute details of episodes we have every right to want to dissociate from?
I don't recommend digging where you're not welcome. We care for our most hurt and damaged littles or little lock-box fragments if that's what they are and we welcome them waking up, sharing their secrets, joining the rest of us as active and aware residents, if that's what they would like to do, and in their own time. As long as they're locked, we're not going to force the locks and release Pandora's box (Pandora of Crisses says "Thank you, very much!") into our system.
Part of the reason I'm posting all of these posts is to educate therapists -- there's SO MUCH WORK TO DO before you go straight for core disturbances and the potential of releasing chaos in the system. You need good strong coping mechanisms in place, you need high levels of trust, and if and when you're ready to release the memories -- big IF and it might be a while until WHEN -- it will pay off in less PTSD (if any), a collaborative effort to help handle the issues that come up, higher rapport with your counselor, and being able to remain functional despite doing this deep work.
If you go through United Front, really take the time to build up a great system structure and rapport, still decide to go through the deeper work and it ends up throwing your system into chaos and pain, imagine what it would have been like before United Front. That's happening to multiples everywhere. Please don't do this to yourselves, and don't allow your counselors to encourage it. Take care of the group first, take care of the memories later.
<< Don't Snoop in my Diary! Part I | Index | Please make yourself at home - Part 1 >>
Thank you so much for your input. Sometimes we're drawn to what we need. Perhaps you honed in on this because it's what you needed to hear today.
I found archaeological digs into my past expensive and frustrating and always wanted to know more about how to move forward, how to live our dreams, how to get along, how to be "functional" by our own definition of the term, etc. I never minded telling people what we remembered of the past, to give them context for things we'd been through, but it really doesn't bother me that there are things missing -- and anything I've found out about the things that have gone missing only reinforces that perhaps it's best that it stay that way.
Good luck, and please let me know if you need anything. Been thinking about another article -- long overdue....so I might have a new post soon. : )
We'd done some digging with the help of a therapist. I'm glad we had her, because it woulda been scarier facin' some of it alone. Eventually, we stopped digging, because some of the stuff we found ... well, there was a good reason it'd been hidden. We still could use help working together better, which is why I'm glad we found the Boot Camp. Thanks so much for makin' it! : )
I agree that if you are going to go poking in memories or prodding those who remember into spilling the beans that you need support. It can be a therapist, a coach, a great friend. In some cases, a friend might even be better: there's no ethical constraints against a friend holding you or stroking your hair if you need to be held.
You're welcome -- this is something we've needed to write for a while, but just like stumbling on something you need to hear/read at the right time, I couldn't write it until the right time for us either : ) So we've been living together by these principles for many years -- we just needed to be in the right place to organize it, put it into words, etc.
Please enjoy, and don't hesitate to ask questions or for clarification! Also, let us know whether something works or doesn't work for you. Blessings on you!
I don't really know why I felt compelled to jump to this section, other than that I see the forcing of memories to be the only therapy tactic that is known by most. It gets old. I too have spent years, and tons of money, trying to figure out why we're split. What's the point? Isn't it more important to find out how to work with this dx? I couldn't agree more with your take on it! Cathie