Is Integration Really Possible?

| By Paul | | Comments (9)

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.

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Evan said:

I think the guide is whether it is bringing more joy. Whether it is collaboration or integation, I think is secondary.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Evan:

Hi Evan! Thanks. Unfortunately this guide of "more joy" is not a perfect one... because often as awareness increases, there are a bevy of difficulties... "More joy" would not be the words I would use to describe where I'm at right now. On the other hand, I can see what you are saying... In the longer term, I can see that as being a good guide.

castorgirl said:

I think the question of whether integration is possible or not, depends on your definition of the word. Some would consider your idea of collaboration an integration, while others would only consider integration to have occurred when there is only one "I" function. In reality, I'm not sure if the second definition is possible - as Gudrun says in her article, there will always be work to do. This is what I liked about her article, it acknowledges that life is messy and unpredictable, but indicates that we can heal and work towards a point where we can weather those bumps with the resources available.

For me, in many ways, the question about integration is moot. I think it comes down to what your goal of this healing journey is... Is it to be able to say "I've had a challenging life, and I'm now fully integrated"; is it to say "I've had a challenging life, and have learned from those experiences in such a way that enables me to live a full and productive life"; or is it something else?

I agree that anything is possible, and I also have no idea what "healed" will look like... But I do know that I'm motivated to move from my current position.

Please be gentle on yourself.
Take care,

Paul Author Profile Page replied to castorgirl:

Castorgirl. Being motivated to move from where you are is, I think, what it's all about. I think, though, that others have integrated (in the "big I" sense), and maybe looking at things from this side of the fence we might not think it's either a goal or that it even makes sense. That's why I'm saying I'm open to wherever this journey will take me. I agree, though, if I were a betting man, I would not put money on integration, for me, ever meaning the "big I" type of integration.

OneSurvivor said:

Interesting question. I have to agree with castorgirl in that it depends a lot upon how you define it. For some... it is simply the bringing down of walls and becoming co-conscious. No more divisions. That can result, over time, in actually blending or merging... which, for some, is the definition of integration. For some, it is simply coming together with a common goal.

I know that, for me, I have had blending take place. A lot of it was just spontaneous. It was like that part of me reached the point of being ready and wanted to merge... so it happened. I suspect that some of it has happened without my awareness. Since parts can go silent... I don't really know that there is any way to tell if there was a merging or simply a silencing.

When I first found out about the DID, I had a goal in my healing. Over the years and through the different healing experiences I have had, that goal has changed. I used to think I knew what healing looked like. I don't anymore. I have ideas... but I don't really know for sure.

I look more at just being able to live life without being so affected by my past. How possible that is... well... I don't know that, either.

I hope you are able to figure out what healing looks like for YOUR system and what integration looks like for YOUR system... or not.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to OneSurvivor:

Thanks OneSurvivor! I agree that integration means different things to different folks. And I don't presume to have integration as a goal or know how it will play out for me. For now, I'm comfortable with learning to be more collaborative, staying safe, and being on a path of healing that makes sense to me.

Michael said:

Integration is possible for me. That is all I know and ultimately all that is important to me.

For me it is about having the experiences of my life come into my consciousness. I could no longer stay multiple once my experiences are part of my consciousness than I could become a singleton when my experiences could not come into my consciousness.

That simple and that complex.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Michael:

Michael. Great! If that works for you, then wonderful. I know many who are goal oriented. I am more process oriented.

Michael said:

Integration is the result of my processing just as was my multiplicity. It is weird how it is really the same thing.

The difference between now and then is I get to create my own situation. Limited by that pesky space and time thing.

My goals fundamentally are the same as always. It is only how I achieve or fail that is different.

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This page contains a single entry published on April 27, 2010 10:41 AM.

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