Is Integration Really Possible?
I know, that is a provocative question.
I have had 20 years of being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder and have worked on healing, in various ways, for all that time. I know that I am clearly very different now than I was 20 years ago. I suppose many people—multiple or not, abuse history or not—can make that claim. Of course, I am continually reminded that in many ways I am very much the same.
How my system "works" has changed, mainly because of the increased awareness I have cultivated over the past several years. This has led to increased levels of internal communication, some inter-part compromising, and, yes, very "public" internal battles.
Another change is that a few in my system have had their names clarified over the years. I am not sure how that happened really. And some have become quiet. And then there is the experience of co-consciousness. To me, even though all of these are part of the healing and evolution process, they are also the seeds that sow doubt about my experience. I sometimes struggle with this, concluding that the whole experience of dissociative identities is a complete sham. But I hold onto things like Is Dissociative Identity Disorder Real? and I am always working on accepting my truth.
As I heal, and I do think I am healing, I can visualize the core of "me" growing and taking on what the rest of me used to hold in compartments. In one sense, I think that is a sort of integration or merging. I have had parts of me who absolutely hated being identified with me, Paul, in any way, shape or form. That is happening less now.
I have never appreciated the view that integration is something that happens in a sort of fusion in a one hour appointment in a therapist's office. That is not my experience.
I say that because I did have a series of experiences of what I called my Higher Consciousness Experience. One could make the case that such an experience is integration in its purest form. And I postulated that those of us with dissociative disorders would be most affected by such experiences because our internal structure has been in such opposition. In other words, we have farther to go internally than many others, so we would feel these consciousness states as being drastic leaps from where we usually are. I have labeled these experiences as "touchstones" and they do motivate me to continue this work. I like to use the analogy that it might be like taking a trip up into space, and then returning. Or, another more real-life example could be when my first child was born. Not only did time stand still, it was a completely unifying experience.
So, back to integration. The question I often ask: Is my approach of taking on more and more scalable and sustainable?
I often get overwhelmed with what I have to deal with internally. My Healing Guide has said "You can't do it all yourself." And she is correct. There is the view that parts are sometimes happier with my taking the load off them, as long as they get to retain their separateness and their "identity."
But, honestly, I think they are mostly meeting me halfway. Meeting halfway is the key. If I do it all myself and take all of the responsibility, my cup will simply runneth over.
So, I have called what I am doing, for now, a "collaboration." It makes more sense to me.
Is integration possible? I do firmly believe that anything is possible. Although, I am not really sure what that would look like for me.