The Contract

| By Paul | | Comments (7)

I don't really have a good sense of what's happened over the past couple weeks. I am now out of the hospital. But events and experiences are all over the place in pieces. I suppose I could put the pieces together from my private journal entries, and I will do that in due course. I sometimes resist doing that because then it becomes patently clear how discrete and dramatic my experiences really are.

My main accomplishment in the hospital, and there seems to always be a main accomplishment for each admission in recent years, was the eventual "coming together" of all parts of me in order to create an honest and meaningful "System Contract". The Contract is ten pages long (in rather large font) and contains our first definitive statements on what the parameters must be for our system as well as truisms that we often have great difficulty acknowledging (and even deny).

As an oversimplification, the hospital is a place where my system can relax, resulting in a bit of coming unglued (hence the Brief Cohesion post), and then some learning takes place and I make some accomplishment or some meaning that moves me forward.

This is what happened with the Contract. It most certainly would not have been able to be written outside of the hospital. It was done so in four major sections over an intense period of several hours, with each containing a series of very clear and definitive statements. I will not share the whole Contract, but I will share just a few of these statements:

We agree we must be safe and keep all of us safe and not hurt any part of our system anymore.

We will not ever deny that all parts of our system exist, even if we do not feel their presence. We must always know we are a system, even though we are a single person, a single human being.

We accept all parts of our system unconditionally and know that all parts were created in order for the person we are, the human being we are, to survive.

We know we were severely damaged by [abuser]. And this abuse of power and trust caused our system to be created. We all accept these as facts. We will not ever deny these truths.

These are four of the 16 items from the first Section, consisting of the core elements. Subsequent sections were more wordy, very personal and specific.

It was signed by every part. When I was discharged late last week, I saw my therapist and I read the entire document out loud in her office. Doing this was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done; but all of me knew it had to be done. I didn't think I could get through certain sections. We cried. It felt as if a stake had been put in the ground and we were propelling ourselves forward.

Unfortunately, the Contract quickly lost its luster. I am quite disconnected from it now. It is a horrible feeling to know you have accomplished something historic, say it's your "mission statement", your "Constitution", your "Magna Carta", but then lose the experience and all the knowing in such a short time.

But this disconnection really does not diminish the magnitude of what I've been able to achieve. There really was a coming together of all my parts; more than the brief cohesion of the last post. It is not surprising that I would lose that complete sense of knowing. And I'm okay with that. I think we have to accept inside that things will still be very difficult and I will struggle.

Even if all that's a given, things are different now. The changes may not be as dramatic and quantifiable as I originally anticipated, but there has been a more qualitative reordering of sorts inside.

7 Comments


MeMyself&Who said:

Contracts are big. I'm glad you have one. Reminds me: I think me and my system need a refresher/resigning of ours to see if there are any changes we want or things to work on that we've slacked off on. Thank you for sharing and I hope it works out for you.

Nansie said:

Good luck with all of this Paul. If all of your parts signed this there is hope that all will follow it? I don't know. I wish I could get to this place, but all of my parts have not even come out yet. They are all hiding through the holiday season and I am very numb. It's okay with me though because I get a break when that happens and I can focus on my kids and the people around me. Still though, it makes me feel badly for the parts that are hiding and in pain. Someday we will get to do a contract like this and get them all to sign.

shen said:

Nothing should diminish your accomplishment. For me, I find that I move forward exponentially and then there is a backslide - but never all the way back. This backlash is necessary, I think, to give all the sides of me time to incorporate the new information.

Congratulations on doing what you knew you needed to do, for your hard work, and for the big step you are taking. I know what it's like to be in my therapist's office and say the really hard things. Honestly, I haven't done that much of the "saying it out loud" yet - but when I have, it has been a very powerful experience.

And, thank you for sharing this. I think it's good for all of us to hear what can be done when one really puts their needs first and dares to take the steps necessary to get to the next level of healing.

Kate said:

Good and healing thoughts to you all.

Kate

I think that's an amazing accomplishment, Paul. I have a few small contracts with a few individual parts, but nothing like this. Great work!

castorgirl said:

To have obtained a system wide agreement on core issues is an incredibly important achievement. While you say that you feel disconnected from it already, that doesn't stop it from having occurred. At that time you all came together to work through truths and guidelines for your system.

This could be my interpretation of the wording used, but I don't like the concept of a system contract - this has connotations of a legally binding contract. I much prefer your wording of a "mission statement", this allows you to look ahead at future behaviours which you want to include, but are out of reach at the moment. It infers a flexibility to grow and change, while still acknowledging that there could be parts who don't have the coping mechanisms in place to change those negative behaviours overnight. While working together brings a different dynamic which may bring about immediate changes in the coping mechanisms, this isn't always a given. I'm not trying to make excuses as to why the contract or mission statement should be broken... but rather give each part of the system the room to grow and establish how these new boundaries effect them.

The work done to obtain that system contract is simply stunning. It appears to be a powerful document that will help to validate what you experience, as well as lay down some ground rules about the treatment of the system and those around you.

Congratulations and I wish you well...
Take care
CG

Paul Author Profile Page replied to castorgirl:

Thank you everyone! Yes, I do understand that this is not some strict rigid agreement. I know it's something to live up to... and I know in many ways it makes things harder. I'll explain more about that in some other post. There's huge resistance to this by many parts. But I think things are changing inside. I know the route to fulfilling the contract is communication inside and being open to what the "harder" parts of me hold. The problem, though, is that being more open makes things so much more complicated, and they are already quite complicated. Thank you all for your comments.

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This page contains a single entry published on December 22, 2009 3:44 PM.

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