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How to Re-Associate with Your Body (007) Transcript

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<voices overlapping, music in background>
Oh! Good morning — oh! Do we have to get up?
Keep it down; I’m trying to sleep.
Yeah, we want to make that recording.
What are we going to record today?
What? What recording?
You know, the one about multiplicity.
You know, the usual — we’re trying to make a difference in the world or something.
Oh, yeah.
Well — I just really wanna help people!
I have no idea what to say.
I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who have really good questions, and need really good answers.
Why talk to them? It’s not like anybody gives a shit.
Well what makes us an authority?
I don’t really think it matters how long we’ve been multiple, or how long we’ve known we’re multiple — we’re multiple!
<Aliessa laughs richly>

How to re-associate with your body.

Now, I figure this is going to be a very useful podcast for many people, not just for people who are diagnosed with DID, because it's actually quite common to dissociate ourselves from our body. And it may even be a cultural issue on many levels. So let me start with what is it to dissociate? What is it about the word dissociation that actually applies to our body. To disassociate means to no longer associate, or unassociate yourself with something. And the associate part is to own the connection that you have to something, I guess, or to honor a connection. When I have an associate, there's somebody I associate with. They're somebody I can be friends, family. I can know them at work. I can know them as a client. There's many different ways to associate with somebody. So to disassociate with anything, means you no longer own the connection you have to it. I no longer want to associate myself with you. And there are many cases in life where this is valid. But let's just talk about general dissociation, in terms of everything in life we could potentially disconnect from. So not only our body, but for example we can disassociate from our family. There are other aspects of our life we can dissociate from. We can dissociate from our feelings, and no longer own our feelings. Basically, it's kind of a setting-something-over-there and no longer wanting it near us or no longer wanting it connected to us in any way, no longer wanting people to look at it and us and figure out there's a connection, or we want to disconnect from it.

So we can disconnect from our body, and it's interesting. We can disconnect from our body in so many different ways. We can disconnect from a portion of our body, a specific area. We can dissociate from our entire body. We can dissociate from our sensory input into our body, so that we no longer feel, we no longer see, we no longer hear. We can disassociate ourselves from our body image, so not just our physical body, but also from the idea of what we think our body looks like. We can disassociate from our gender. We can disassociate from our sexuality. We can disassociate from having any sexuality whatsoever, as well as our orientation. So we can even, this is really weird, we can even go so far as disassociating ourselves from the left or the right half of our body, believe it or not. But yeah, we can feel one hand and not the other. We can feel one leg and not the other. We could quote unquote lose it, lose our connection to it, while still keeping a connection, however tenuous to the other side.

Being disassociated from something can cause some problems. Obviously, if you disassociate from friends or family, you no longer have a connection with them. Other people may think you do, but you no longer have a connection with them or you have less of a connection to them. So what does it mean with regard to your body? Well, let's use emotions for a moment. When you disassociate from your emotions, you may be angry, but you don't feel your anger the same way. You don't claim it. You don't own your anger. So you can have angry outbursts, but you can feel like that's somebody else's. Okay, not necessarily specific person in your head, but kind of like it's at a distance from you. You are distantly angered. You feel a little irritated but you're really burning inside but you can't really feel it. So that can be uncomfortable, if you can understand that, that feeling that something is at a distance. Well imagine that with your body, You're touching something, but you're not really sure you're feeling it with your hands, you know, for example. You don't really feel present inside of your body. Your body's at a distance where you aren't connected fully, to the sensory experiences of your life, where you don't connect fully to what you look like, or how your body fits into the world, how it's moving, or how big your body is, or how little your body is. You don't feel connected to it.

I'll get into some examples. So you can have this general sense of discomfort. You can have body image issues. You can have some self care issues. For example, if you're dissociating from your body, you may not care as much about getting your eyes checked or going to the dentist, because you don't really own it. You may not really feel a need to take care of it, because it's not really your body. You're not -- invested is a good word. You're not invested in your body. You kind of feel like a spirit driving around in the world, and this body is kind of like a ball and chain you're dragging around, but you don't really own it. Some people will talk about their body in a way that makes this dissociation more obvious. Especially around people with DID, often you'll hear the body. The body, not my body, the body. You can hear people talking about bodily functions that way. And when people are verbally removing themselves from ownership of things that their body has or does, that can be a reflection of maybe something going on in their head where they don't really own it. They're not 100% invested in their body.

Let's just briefly take diabetes as an example. Just as an example. My grandfather, God rest his soul, had diabetes, and he was a double amputee. He had both feet amputated because of complications of diabetes. So I'm a little aware, on some level, that diabetes can mean you lose sensation in your extremities. The sugar damage damages your blood vessels. Once your blood isn't going to your extremities, now the nerves start dying. And when the nerves die, you will have numb patches. You can lose sensation in your entire your toes, and then it slowly gets worse and worse, so it would go up your feet and so on. So now you're numb. You nick your toes on something because you're not fully aware of where your feet are. You get a cut. The cut gets infected because you're not looking at your toes. You're not paying attention to them, and now that can get infected. And that can lead to gangrene because there's not proper blood flow, lymph flow, etc, to the area to help the body clean it and to help the body take care of it. So now the infection ends up getting really entrenched. And eventually, in the case of my grandfather, you know, you get an infection, you get gangrene, and now they have to amputate, they have to actually get rid of the entire foot. Well, it's a little like that. My concern for people who are completely dissociated from their body is well what if you're so numb about what's going on with your body, you don't feel pain. This is a potential issue. Or that you're not paying attention. You know, you know you got a scratch, but you're not taking care of it. Because it's not your body, you don't feel invested in your body. So you're not taking good care of your body. You got the scratch. So what? It's a little infected. So what? You know, and before you know it, maybe it turns into a bigger problem. The general advice to people with diabetes who have a clinical reason that they become numb in the extremities is to inspect themselves and make sure they clean their cuts and things like that. There are other health issues that come from the same disorder, but as far as taking good care of your body and your limbs, you're supposed to be monitoring in case you get any cuts and make sure they get cleaned and so on.

So one of the problems with dissociation is when we feel pain, when we feel discomfort, those are the body's early warning systems. Those are "Hey, pay attention to me. There is a problem here. It's not so bad yet, but maybe you should come here and take a look." If we're not attached to our body, if we're not invested, we may not notice a headache. We may not notice a little pain here and there. We may not notice a strain of a muscle or a tendon that's crying out for a little bit of relaxation or attention. Our body is an early warning system and paying attention to it can really help us.

Other places where we may dissociate is discomfort for how we look. As a multiple, I often feel uncomfortable when I look in the mirror. I'm getting older, so now I have double the discomfort. So when they look in the mirror, they're like, "man, you're old." And then there's the ones who don't feel like they have any real, I guess, foundational ownership of this body, who look in the mirror and go, "that's not me. That's not what I look like." So there's appearance discomforts such as that, or maybe transgender discomforts.

And finally on some of the more -- I think common actually. I was gonna say extreme, but you know what, on the more common end, because a lot of people do this, and it so totally doesn't really have anything to do with DID, but it does have to do with dissociating from our body. There are people who use the body as kind of a defense mechanism. If I gain weight, I am unconsciously keeping people further away from me. I'm not necessarily taking good care of my body, but it's emotional protection. It's a way of using my body as a defense mechanism to protect my feelings. I'll have less catcalls. I'll have less people making passes at me. I'll have less people who want to be my lover. So I'll be less at risk if I am heavier and keep these people away from me. So that's using your body perhaps not in a way that benefits your overall health. Perhaps. It's your choice, but I want to talk about it so that at least, you know, if you're going to do it, admit it. You know, that kind of thing. Don't dissociate from it. Own it. And that's kind of where we move into the topic, rather than the introduction.

So how to re-associate with your body. So like, don't push it away, Own it. Basically what I just said. Don't push your body away. Own it. So it's really important to learn, and it is learning for some of us or relearn, owning and accepting our body. Our body has a lot to do with how we feel. They're finding out more and more and more how much it has to do with how we feel. But really on a basic level, how good you feel when you wake up, how much energy you have throughout the day, your ability to concentrate, some of your emotions, and some of your outlook in life, and possibly a very big portion of these, has to do with how well we care for our body.

So as a multiple, at some point when I was growing up -- growing up, well, as we were growing together as a group, that's a good way of putting it. While we were growing together as a group, we decided we had to take some ownership of our body even those who know this isn't quote unquote, their body. Even those who don't feel 100% comfortable in this body. We all have to pay attention to our body, we have to associate with it on purpose, very deliberately associate with our body. So we started having conversations with our body very much like we have conversations with each other in our head. We started listening to our body, paying attention to the signals it gave us. Does this feel right? Does that feel wrong? How do you feel right now? Do you have a headache? Is your back hurting? If we're walking around, are our feet tired? Are we thirsty? Are we well hydrated? How's our nutrition doing lately? Do we have any more aches and pains? How are we sleeping? Are we taking good care of our hygiene? Are we extra stinky? You know, whatever it is, we actually have to ask ourselves. Because of the damage we've had, we don't have as much of an unconscious connection with our body as most people probably do. We actually have a break there and we had to consciously choose to be associated with our body, to be connected, to claim ownership, I guess, of our body. And so it's not the body anymore. It's not over there. It's not a hated thing. It's owned. We own it, we associate with it, we talk to it, we relate with it, we listen to it, and so on.

That said, here's a very interesting idea if you don't know how to at least begin the conversation with your body. We have all hands on deck meetings in my head where we invite as many persons or entities in our head to come to the table, as it were. We actually picture a table. We invite them to come to the table and have a conversation. Well, if anything we're discussing has anything to do with our body, we invite our body to the table in a way. It doesn't look like a person, but we do kind of, I guess, turn to our body every now and then, and actually ask "what do you think about this? Hey, body, you know, how do you feel about that?" And we listen for an answer. If you think about food you really hate, and this is probably a good test, you think about something you really hate. Sometimes you feel a physical reaction to it like disgust, you know, like some kind of like repulsion. If you think about something that doesn't make you feel good, sometimes you feel it in your body. If you think about something dreadful like you know, you hate rollercoasters, let's say, so you can listen to your body for the butterflies in your stomach, for that lurching feeling that you get, that dizzy, maybe. You know, whatever hints it gives you. So start to pay attention. Instead of just saying I'm hungry and eating, pay attention to the hunger. What am I hungry for? Am I really thirsty? Maybe I'll try drinking first. Are we hungry for fruits and vegetables? Are we hungry for meats, fats and protein? What is it that we need? And you can really get a little bit more in tune and learn to talk to your body and make it a part of maybe a daily or weekly regimen to say "how have I been feeling lately. How's my body been doing? How you doing body?" you know and actually talk to it.

So that said, we also have agreements with our body. This gets into the fun of mind over body. And we won't even say it's mind over body in this case, okay. We're not gonna have an argument over what's more powerful? Our body or our mind? It's not about that. It's how much our body can be in collusion with the rest of us, a co-conspirator as it were, in determining our health. Okay, this is where we get into fun antics. Since, unlike most people, we actually talk to our body, and we pay attention to our body, our body actually likes the attention on some level. Our body actually responds to us. Now that we've built a relationship with it, we can have discussions with our body. And here's how a typical conversation will go. "Okay, body, I feel my glands are getting swollen. I feel a tickle in my nose and my throat, and I know from years of experience, this means a cold is coming on." And usually my body will agree with me. I get used to knowing when my body is agreeing with me. "Yeah, it's time to take a break Crisses." "Okay, so here we go body. I have a proposal for you. How about, we don't get sick, and I take the rest of today off." Body goes, "Hey, that doesn't sound so bad. We need a break." And I say "yeah, we need a break, but there's no reason to spend our break miserable and sick is there?" Body says "no, of course not." I say "Okay, I promise you, you don't get sick, I'm taking the rest of the day off. Let's go take a nap." My body says "sounds great." So we go, we take a nap, and the cold goes away.

There are other ways my body talks to me. Sometimes my body knows more about my feelings than I do. Or we. Our body knows more about our feelings than we do. Here's another fun thing that'll happen. I'll have a fight with someone. I've got something to say. I'm bottling it up. I'm unhappy with them. Something happened, and I really want to talk to them about it on some level but I'm holding back. I don't really want to talk about it, you know, making excuses, whatever. All of a sudden I start getting a sore throat. Get this lump in my throat. My glands are swelling. I mean I can put my hand on my throat and I can feel they're swollen, they're aching. I feel my larynx getting swollen in the middle, you know, the little voice box and stuff getting irritated when I talk, and I'm like, wow, what's going on? Why do I -- why am I getting a sore throat? Oh, I know. I really got to have a talk with so and so. My body goes "yeah, you do." Say, hmm, okay, let me think about this for a minute. Can I have a talk with them? What do I need to talk with them about? What are we unhappy with? You know, we have a little round table meeting. Alright guys, who's pissy? What do we need to say? Who do we really need to talk to? What's going on? Okay, let's make sure we talk to them. What time are we going to talk to them? We're going to talk to them tonight. Okay, great. How do we plan to introduce it? We do a little mime and a little sketch, and we go over our parts and make sure that everybody's happy with what we're going to do and say. And we go and say, "okay, body, we're going to talk to so and so. We've got to plan." Body's like, "you sure?" "Yeah, yeah, we're gonna do it. We're gonna go and talk to them." "Okay." The lump in the throat starts going away. If we don't go and talk to them, well, then we're in for it. But if that evening, we go, we have the talk, we "sorry, so and so I got this thing. It's bothering me, and I really got to talk to you." bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, and go into the whole thing and get everything off my chest and out of my throat, my strep throat goes away, or what could have or would have probably been strep throat goes away. All that soreness, the swelling in the glands, everything, goes away.

I have these conversations with my body and dodge a whole bunch of things, just by paying attention. Just by listening to my body, by understanding that my body reacts to my feelings, by understanding that self talk -- Ah, here's another one. Self talk will affect my body. Another great example. So here I am. It's the middle of winter. Sun doesn't get up until 7, 7:30 in the morning, but my son has to get on the bus at 6:30 in the morning. That's a pain in the ass, isn't it? Yeah, that's a big pain in the ass. I gotta get up 4:30, 5 o'clock in the morning in order to get my son ready for school. Because I want to, I don't want to deal with him when I'm groggy because then we're just going to get into a fight. So I wake up extra early, just so I have a little time to wake myself up before I go and wake him up, right? So that's a pain in the ass. It's a big pain in the ass, and you know what happened? Eventually, I had some really awful lower back pain. Where does all this lower back pain come from? Well, when do I first feel it? When I'm getting out of bed. Why? Because whatever it is I'm getting out of bed for is a pain in my ass. And I say this to myself, I say the words "pain in my ass" in my head, it comes out of my mouth, and my body starts reflecting what I'm saying. Me getting up in the morning is making my pelvic bone hurt. I'm producing a physical pain based on the emotion, the mental image, the words coming out my mouth, whatever you want to call it, that is targeting my butt.

So how DID I discover this was the problem? I'm doing EFT, which you can learn about some other time, but there's a technique where you kind of dig into these word blocks and emotional triggers and things. So I was doing that on my issue with my pain, and I'm doing my little routine and one of the things you have to do is you have to find many different ways to talk about the problem. So I'm sitting there and I'm doing it and I'm talking about, you know, this pain in my ass, this problem getting up, this problem with my son, bla bla bla, and I'm tapping and going over all the different ways of saying what the problem is. And no kidding, it goes away because I released the emotional block, I addressed the trigger, which was pain in my ass, and then I realized no wonder this is happening. Because I keep saying that. Well, I stopped saying it. Don't give your body an excuse to come up with one of these, you know, physical reactions to your emotional or mental garbage. I can definitely say it's awful inconvenient to get up this early in the morning, and it doesn't have the same reaction as when I say it's a pain in the ass. I can say it's awful inconvenient. I'm exhausted. That may be true. And if it's not true, I shouldn't say it. I may be exhausted, so I can say I'm exhausted. Or it's tiring me out, it's inconvenient, but not to put it into body language words that my subconscious mind or my psychosomatic reactions can grab hold of and make it manifest in physical illness.

Other tales have come to me over the years in working with herbalism and so on when we discuss talking to our body. Saying "getting something off of your chest", if you say that a little too often, you may find yourself with a mastectomy. Pain in the neck can cause neck and back pain or throat pain, you know, and so on. So, watch what you say about your body. If you've already dissociated yourself from it, don't talk about it, don't talk about it poorly. And trying re-associating yourself with something you're talking poorly about doesn't work so well. You know, it's like, why would I want to be your friend, you're not talking so nice about me. Right? So make friends with your body, and stop saying nasty stuff about it.

Keeping your word. So I was talking about making agreements with your body. If I do this, then you do that. And your body will probably, once you get into a good relationship with your body, your body will listen. And you'll be able to tweak a few things here and there by making agreements with your body. But when you have an end of the bargain to upkeep, keep your word. You can't apologize for breaking your word to your body. Your body is very black and white. You got to visualize things. You got to -- you know, like, I'm putting things into words for the convenience of an audio file here, but really a lot of this is done with visualization and sensation and playing things out in my head and having much less of a word-based conversation with my body. So when I say "How about you don't make us suffer while we relax?" If I don't relax, and it let me off the hook, well, tomorrow that sick, that unease may come back twice as bad, because the body will turn around and be mad about it. On some level, like you said, you were going to take it easy, and you didn't. So you got to really keep your word.

Now in terms of being multiple and dissociating from your body, this is kind of a double edged sword because, yeah, we may all feel like this isn't our body but this is our shared home. You know, in our internal landscape, we may have a house. But out here, the other side of those walls of the house is this body. And we may run around inside of our internal landscape and feel perfectly comfortable in there, but it's not going to be very comfortable in there if we don't take good care of our body, and, say, our mind starts to decline. Or we stopped taking healthy food and we're sluggish and slow because we didn't take as good care of ourselves. When we make choices regarding our body, it's honoring our shared home. We may not feel like we fully own the person looking back at us in the mirror, but we fully own this body in terms of being its steward, being its caregiver and caretaker, and its -- well we're associated, you know. We're all living here. The brain that fires neurons is part of this body that clothes us and protects us from the elements and, you know, and so on and so forth. So taking care of our body. Another way of putting it is, you know, you're not going to have the candy and you're not going to have the ice cream if you make your body so sick that you can't eat those types of things anymore. I like to have a couple of things like that here and there, but if I do it all the time, I'm going to make myself so sick, I can't have it ever. So staying exercised, staying healthier, will help us be able to enjoy those things here and there for the rest of our life rather than all today.

Then we can also talk about body resentment. If you're dissociating from your body, one of the reasons you may be dissociating is because you resent your body on some level. This may get into places you might need to go talk to a professional about. This would be a good topic for a day or two to really think about, like, what am I holding against myself? What am I angry about regarding my body? Is this part of why I don't want to be associated with it? Can we make up and become friends again? What do we need to do, what little things on our checklist do we have to do to fully own it, to fully associate with, be invested in, this part of ourselves again?

In terms of this being our shared home, we have to decide, are we just renting? Like, are we going to wreck the joint, like we're just renting it, and we have no investment in it? Or do we own this home? Is this our permanent residence that we're going to be in for the next 40 or 50 years, maybe longer, so we should probably take better care of it? I hope I'm gonna live another 40 or 50 years. Goodness knows my bucket list is long enough to need another 40 or 50 years. So if I want to take care of everything I want to do, if we in here want to fulfill all of our projects and go and see the things we want to see and do the things we want to do, we have to start considering taking better care of ourselves. At 47 things slow down a little more. In another couple of years, we'll be over 50. And maybe we want to be in better health. Maybe we want to own our health a little more and take better care of ourselves so that we can last another 50 years, so that we can check off everything on our bucket list. And so that we still have the brain that can handle so many people running around in it all at the same time, we might need to take better care of ourselves.

So this is another thing you can do is take a look at your relationship with your body and say, Am I just renting? Is this just you know, like, Oh, I'll be here a couple months more or I'm signing a year lease? Or do you own this body? You know, and you just have to pay taxes? But do you own this body? Is this really yours? Do you own this? Are you responsible for this thing? And if so, well then maybe stop saying the body start saying my body or our body and start really considering ownership and what ownership entails. If you own a house and the roof is leaking, you got to fix the roof. Well, if you own a body and the teeth need cleaning, it's time to go to the dentist. Or if you need glasses, it's time to make sure your prescriptions' correct. Or if you have diabetes run in the family, maybe it's time to look at your diet, get some exercise, and so on. So really owning the outcome of your physical health also kind of requires owning your body and its physiological processes. No matter how happy you are with it or not, you still kind of got to own it in order to get to happy.

Hopefully, that gives you some ideas for things that you can do. And please feel free to comment on this. What do you think you can do and how is your association with your body? How are you doing in regards to how attached you are and your investment in your body? That said, thank you for joining me for this episode, and I really look forward to talking to you again soon. Bye bye.

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