We Have Met the Enemy...

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From 1948-1975, Walt Kelly was well known for writing comics that were based on social and political satire. One of his main characters, Pogo, is a possum and was the smartest animal in the community of swamp animals that made up the comic strip.

One of Pogo's more famous quotes was "We have met the enemy... and he is us." The quote has its origins in war, but Kelly used it as commentary on how humankind was polluting the planet.

Now I do appreciate that when healing from child abuse, such a statement can rub many the wrong way. To many, the enemy is the abuser. But, for me, I am in a particularly challenging place right now. When dissociative coping massively escalates—and by that I mean dissociated parts become activated, start acting autonomously, and I lose large chunks of time which threatens safety—then I cannot help but come to the conclusion that the enemy is indeed myself.

Dissociative coping, splitting, and creating multiple identities are all wonderfully adaptive when a child and into adulthood. But, when you have made that commitment to awareness and communication and healing, and then it feels like that has all been taken away, you cannot help but have a negative view about the underlying mechanisms that drive how we live our lives. That is where I am at now. So, I am not a big fan of dissociation right now.

I see myself squarely as the enemy. And I'm not talking about specific parts of me. I am really not out to pick fights with specific parts. I am talking about the "all of me." Right now, I'm having trouble seeing the healing path. I only see confusion as we ever so quickly move away from being a quasi "internal team" and leap into our own corners.

I have a huge fear that this shift in me is not the normal ebb and flow of healing. That it will be a permanent shift (or very long term shift).

Luckily, Pogo has another famous line. And that is: "Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent." Maybe that way of thinking will be able to keep me going.


Kerro said:

Paul, I'm so sorry you're having such a difficult time. I'm quite sure you're not the enemy, though I know it feels like it sometimes. Please take care.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Kerro:

Thanks Kerro. I think "I" (global I) am both the enemy and the ally. I think one needs to accept sometimes that it works both ways.

Shen said:

Yes! Exactly.

It is the same thing that is meant when one says, "Forgiveness is for the victim." When we hold on to all the pain of the past, it does not hurt the abuser. The resentments, shame and fear we carry hold us in our place of powerlessness.

For me, the only way to get to a place where I can be me, as I am meant to be, is to let it all go.

What a relief that would be.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Shen:

Thanks Shen. I know these concepts you talk about, like letting it all go, are things I have known in the past. Right now, not so much.

jahda said:

Thanks for this Paul. I'm in a similar place right now looking at the "all of me" and seeing how the dissociation has kept that hidden all these decades--once you clear it all away, you are free to see who "you" really are. My T calls this real insight. It kind of reminds me of when Siddhartha faced Mara face to face (in the movie Little Buddha this is depicted very visual way) and from what I remember of Christianity Jesus went through a similar thing facing the devil in the forest I think(?) But it's all the same thing, the same journey to awakening, and without facing who you really are, or looking at your "original face" the journey is quite stalled.

Good luck with all of this Paul, I know how hard it is it's practically killing me lol! I appreciate your blog even though I don't always comment, it's good to know others on the path...


Paul Author Profile Page replied to jahda:

Thanks Jahda. Thank you for your kind words. Please don't ever feel pressured to comment. I think Jesus was in the desert as it was the middle east.

jahda said:

Oh yes the desert, you're right. Sorry about that. It's been a very long time since I studied Christianity, or maybe it was someone else who studied it lol? I really appreciate your mindset on DID though--it seems similar to the work my T and I are doing.

Hang in there Paul--my T says this phase is essential but will not last forever. I guess we just have to remember that when it get so incredibly hard.

Good luck!

Paul Author Profile Page replied to jahda:

I'm trying to hang in there. Really trying.

jahda said:

It will get better--it will. Remember that awakening experience you had awhile ago that you posted about in your blog?...It will come round to you again with even more clear light than the last time now that you have ventured into the darkest places within you and are staring into the eyes of the dragons who live there.

It takes incredible bravery and courage to face those dragons, but then if The Hero's Journey were easy it wouldn't lead to awakening, right?

Evan said:

Thinking of you Paul.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Evan:

Thank you Evan and Jahda.

castorgirl said:

The thing that gives me hope that this shift isn't permanent for you Paul, is your strength, courage and commitment to heal. As an outsider looking in, I see all the stressful and triggering events that you've been exposed to over the last few weeks - news stories, Easter, hospitalisation... I know this doesn't solve the problem, but it helps to put it into context.

I know you can make your way back to a place where the "quasi internal team" can work together again... It may take some time and rebuilding of trust, but you know it can be done, because you've done it before.

Sending positive thoughts and warm safe hugs, if they are wanted...

Paul Author Profile Page replied to castorgirl:

Thanks Castorgirl. I would like to think what you say is true. Probably it is. But it does feel inside that something major has happened that is fundamentally different from a lot of the other times when I've lost sense of the path. We'll see.

castorgirl said:

I'm not sure if it's similar or not, about a year and a half ago I saw a therapist whose therapeutic cure for my dissociation, was to evict parts. She would also only communicate with Management, with no other parts welcome within therapy. We saw this woman for about 8 months and it altered my healing and dissociative system on a fundamental level. Management all but disappeared, Ellie's entire floor was disbanded and there was a return to extreme self-injury which tied in with greater chunks of lost time.

It's now about a year since I stopped seeing that therapist, but the ramifications are still there. Trust with therapists and within the system were severely damaged. But now I see glimpses of hope that some co-operation and functioning is returning.

So I know what you mean about great shifts... But my hope for you, is that you still have those good support systems around you in the form of your Healing Guide and others. I don't want to dismiss your experience, and paste over it with platitudes about it all getting better soon, as I know that it may not. But, my hope is that you can regain the internal trust to a point where you can work together again. It may not be the same as before, but that doesn't mean that it can't happen in some form. It may also not be for some time, but my hope is that it's sooner, rather than later...

Take care,

I think I can relate on oneself being the enemy. It can be completely frustrating to commit to healing and getting to know one's alters only to meet resistance by yourself. It can feel really defeating.

Jenepher said:

I am so sorry. The fu^%ed-up thing for me about having parts is that they don't have any hope. Suddenly, I get a veil of desperate hopelessness over my vision. Only, I never know it, at first.

My parts don't have the advantage of knowing about the love, the strength, and peace that I have in my life. And when I am in a "part" and there's no hope, only self-hate, it is close to impossible for me to keep perspective. Of course, it feels as though it's taking over. The nature of disassociation. Sheesh!

I'm no big fan, either. I mean, I know the ability to disassociate absolutely saved my life. But,it's been a pain in my a%#, for all the years since.

It's so good that you've got all of us. We'll stand in reality, for you. Until you can stand there, with us.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Jenepher:

@Castorgirl: The parallel to your story is that the system can have huge reactions to seemingly small triggers (not that yours was small). Yes, I do have a lot of support and I hope I can do what I need to do to connect internally.

@Missing In Sight: Yes, this is kind of how I feel... I keep thinking I cannot work any harder.

@Jenepher: Yes, I understand parts having no hope. This is a hard place. This is the good benefit of communication and this lack of hope can slowly change.

Thank you all!

OneSurvivor said:

It is always difficult when something happens that makes it feel as if we are going backward instead of forward. I hate it when I feel as if I am losing my bearings and I especially hate being afraid that it will always stay that way.

At this point, I think I can safely say that life and healing are both full of changes. No matter which way I feel I am going, I will always get turned back around at some point.

I have heard that healing is more cyclical, more like a spiral, than it is a straight line. I find that I do much better when I keep that in mind. I need to revisit issues again and again and each time I am a bit farther along the spiral. I don't just work through things completely and then move on to the next.

That is my experience. I hear your struggle and I hear your fear. I still can find myself in that place, albeit for different reasons.

I wish I had more to offer you; some key to moving beyond where you are. I don't. I just know that things seem to get worked out eventually.

Caring about you.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to OneSurvivor:

Thanks OneSurvivor. I wrote that in a particularly bad place. I feel like I've moved ahead a bit. But not sure. I think the premise of the post was that something has really changed inside. And I think that's probably still true. Your point is well taken, though. If I can accept that things will constantly change, I can adapt to these changes. Thanks! Your words mean a lot.

Paula said:

I am not big on dissociations. Last year when undergoing trauma therapy I experienced the very first time that I started the stove and couldn't remember. A phone call only got me out of standing at a light and not moving for apparently 15 min. It was the first time that I found myself in a different part of town. That I crossed the road like a robot... nearly getting run over. I understand the safety aspect. It frightened me to hell. All the therapists told me it is protection. That certain systems of mine are shutting down for not being overwhelmed spiritually and emotionally. Working to hard. That at least was the case for me. Such things don't happen anymore. It was a strange time, didn't trust myself out of bed! It was hard to see and accept this as it came out of the depth of my soul and suddenly disappeared again. Made me aware that my deeper self is doing work as well. Changes of all kinds are happening. Today I am grateful that a part of mine helped me through. Hugs to you!

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Paula:

Thanks Paula. I think, for me, I go in and out of these ways of being. There are many times when I think I won't have to revisit some of the more extremes of dissociation. But I end up back there.

katie said:

hi paul~ i don't really have new to add. my perspective in healing and one way i'm relating to what you've written here is that there are times when i feel utterly tired of myself. it's slightly different from self-loathing, moreso a level of exhaustion when things i've worked on over and over continue to crop up. it feels like i'm something i want to escape, yet it's me and i know i'm stuck here. so in that way i feel like i can relate to what you say here. trying to learn to love myself and learn to reparent and be my own friend are some of my overall goals in healing, and there are days that is particularly difficult.

as for the shift that has taken place in you, and your internal reactions lately, i can't help but wonder if these are aftereffects of you leaving the catholic church. that seems like it would be very jarring fundamentally. like a death or divorce. something you don't just snap back from. something that transforms you. that may take a while to rebuild.

sending kind and warm wishes your way.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to katie:

Thanks Katie. Just hearing someone relate helps.

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This page contains a single entry published on April 30, 2010 3:15 AM.

Is Integration Really Possible? was the previous entry in this blog.

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