This is Change

| By Paul | | Comments (20)

Art Therapy Dissociative Identity Disorder

In my last post titled Inside from the other day, I wrote about how the Art Therapy work I did with My Healing Guide last week in the hospital helped us reconnect in a way that had been sorely lacking for a while.

That disconnection was really not the fault of either of us. I realize the whole post was meant to tell a story that led to an optimistic outcome of reconnection. That post, however, did not represent the complete picture. While the result of that process was one of reconnection to the healing path, that connection did not at all stick. Dissociation and inability to ground (as well as basic necessities like eating and sleeping) were constant battles.

Partly, the drivers that led to the disconnection in the first place were due to the fact that we had been through a really intense and emotional period of six months, most of which was documented here. In December, our system came together to create a Contract (which we also call our "Statements of Truth"). In March, My Healing Guide and I made a visit to the church where a lot of childhood abuse happened. This helped us deal with Easter in a more holistic manner, even though I spent that time in the hospital. There was also the worldwide Catholic Church scandal as well as a family crisis thrown into the mix.

On Monday morning in Art Therapy, the directive was to draw our relationship to treatment. As you can see from the image above, I felt quite split about that question. On one side, I felt as through there was this sense of blending of colors and views, held within a container of grounding brown. But on the other, there was pure black chaos. The two sides felt completely separate.

Fortunately, sometimes such tension can be a good thing because something had to give. The crux of my problem has been that there is a part of me, a seriously self-harming part of me, who has seemingly not been in any sort of alliance with the healing journey we have been on for the past couple years. I recently realized that the more progress we made on healing, the more this part of me was left out. I also realized that my words saying that I was open to meeting this part of me halfway were not really coming from a place of true meaning.

Well, all that changed, quickly and dramatically.

On Monday evening, I wrote a multi-page letter to this part ending in directed questions meant to learn more and open the door of collaboration and inclusion. On Tuesday morning, I discovered there had been several text messages sent from this part to My Healing Guide during the previous night.

On Tuesday afternoon, this part of me spoke to My Healing Guide for most of our session. So much happened. Many perceptions were completely shattered. Amongst many other revelations, this part was not evil like we all thought, but rather a hurt child. She wanted to be part of the healing.

Tuesday night I tried to write down what I remembered from the session. Clearly something enormous happened. That evening there was all kinds of internal chatter about what all of this meant. Many parts did not trust that she could be brought into our healing circle. Many saw it as some elaborate trick just to get out of the hospital. Some saw it simply as not being real.

Wednesday was spent trying to rest and regain strength, and have this huge change settle in our system a bit. That has continued through today. The aftershocks have been large. The chatter has persisted, as well as the doubt, and some parts are still very scared.

But there are signs of trust.

In Art Therapy today, the directive of "draw a nest" led to a very clear image, all done in charcoal. Balanced in the nest were circles representing parts coming out of the nest much the same as depicted in Towards a Model of Dissociation. But it was clear where the "new" part was. She was the furthest away from the nest, but still connected to all the rest.

Tomorrow, I will leave the hospital. Despite all the recent huge changes, which I could equate to an earthquake, I feel like I am finally on solid ground.

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katie said:

hi paul~ wow, that sounds like a potentially wonderful growth moment. i hope all goes well with getting to know this new part and that your solid ground continues to feel that way and only grow stronger.

i appreciate you sharing your artwork, i was especially struck immediately about the last piece that i thought it looked like a face. a kind of self-portrait, and i thought it was interesting that one one eye would be the cross (maybe part of you is preoccupied with the religion issue) and then there is a divide and the other eye is outside of the "skull" with the balloons near it. as though the other part of your vision is outside yourself or your physical body with your other parts which are your child selves.

i have no idea if i'm tuning into anything meaningful here, these were just my immediate impressions. something very moving about this piece.

wishing you all the best as you leave the hospital and return home.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to katie:

Thanks Katie. Yes, it was a huge growth moment, as you say. I should say that this part is not in any way new. We all knew her. But it's how we see her and include her now that has changed. The last post was indeed a self-portrait, I suppose. It's how I see myself, I guess from the inside. Thanks!

shen said:

Unconditional self love means accepting everything as it is.

That is difficult, I believe, for anyone. Those of us who have opposing views of the world present at the same time likely find it harder. I understand this kind of situation where I would be saying something, in session and at the same time would have inner voices screaming that this is not how things are supposed to do, some who are afraid of the words themselves and some who are afraid of the "teller". Sometimes there is anger, but usually its predominantly fear, in my case.

We must be more vigilant and more accepting than other people. We must somehow welcome the teller and the cryer and the one who is hiding in the corner and tell them all that where they are is exactly right and then feel as if we are whole and manage to walk through life without judging any of it. Is it even possible? Intellectually, it seems it could be, but emotionally, fighting with one's self does make it harder to love one's self.

Sometimes the english language is so unsatisfying. I've tried to say something several times here, written and re-written, and I'm still not sure I've made my point.

Good luck with the homecoming. I look forward to hearing more, soon.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to shen:

Thanks Shen. You said it very well! It's hardest to accept the parts of us who are hurting the body, and in ways we cannot accept. I have slowly come to this place. Even though I presented it as an abrupt event. It's really the culmination of a lot of effort. I am hoping that the self-harming will settle now that this part is more with the rest of us. I am hoping that she can be supported in much the same way other parts are. Thanks for your kind words.

Nansie said:

Amazing breakthrough Paul! It is funny how much we fear a part that we don't yet know... then when they come forward they really aren't so scary. Good luck with your homecoming and I hope all goes well for you.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Nansie:

Thanks Nansie. This part has come forward and has been scary. But we made a shift inside to include her, even with all worries about danger. I think it's our shift that is helping her know she doesn't have to be so scary and will allow some healing.

Jennifer Whalen said:

I love your posts. Hands of love!!!


I am sorry that I have not been keeping up with your blog and that you were having such a tough time. I'm sorry that you were in the hospital, but it sounds like it was a good thing for you. (I know mine have been).

I love that you shared your art therapy...they are powerful. I know for me it has really helped. I've used fingerpainting, crayons, Wordle, Polyvore, Poems and slideshows. Praying for continued healing on this journey.

take care,

Paul Author Profile Page replied to ClinicallyClueless:

Thank you Jennifer and CC. Don't ever feel bad about keeping up with what I write.

castorgirl said:

While I know this is the first step on a new healing path, it's a huge step!

It's amazing how our perception of parts can so easily be wrong. I know I get so caught up in their actions, that I ignore the pain and other underlying causes.

It was incredibly brave of this part of you to make a positive move... I admire her strength. I know that it will take time for all the parts to trust this new way of being, and it will take some testing as well.

Please take care... I know from your past posts, that "re-entering" daily life after hospital can be rough.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to castorgirl:

Thank you CG. There was a lot of bravery working on many fronts to make this happen. It's hard with "daily life" to keep focus on these gains. But this is something I will work on.

Lothlorien said:

Art therapy is so cool, and I am glad you have shared your experiences with it in the hospital. I think the drawing a nest idea sounds awesome. That is a unique assignment I have not heard yet. I may try it myself.

I am surprised you can post while in the hospital. I have never been in a hospital setting where I could have internet access. I hope that you are doing really well now.


Paul Author Profile Page replied to Lothlorien:

Thanks Lothlorien. Yes, I like that I'm able to talk about the hospital. I know all hospitals are different. This one is a specialty trauma/dissociative unit near Boston, called McLean Hospital. And for the past few years they have had Internet access, behind a firewall. It really helps me be able to be connected to my work, family, life outside. There's a lot to be said for allowing people to stay connected to their real lives. I think it's a good thing and very different from the "old days".

OneSurvivor said:

What awesome news! It seems like you are really making headway. I notice the side with the black chaos is quite a bit smaller than the side with joined colors. There is a solid wall between them, almost as if it were protecting the colors from the chaos. :-)

Paul Author Profile Page replied to OneSurvivor:

Yes, OneSurvivor. Inside is reorienting in major ways. But in many ways the changes feel subtle. In some ways there are many dangers. But, it's change. And I have to believe that in the long run, it's a huge positive. I hadn't thought of the image like you did. But I see what you are saying.

Ivory said:

Paul! I am so happy to read that you are getting out of the hospital with new awareness. It is a huge and wonderful step forward!

I was particularly taken by your attached picture. The rainbow. I have a Color who draws many of them, different forms of them, and different colors of them, but mostly like the one you have attached.


Sarah said:

"She wanted to be part of the healing."

This line brought tears to my eyes. The good kind of tears. :)

Paul Author Profile Page replied to Sarah:

Thanks Sarah and Ivory!

I'm really speechless of the progress you have made with this part. This is real change. It was unbelieveably brave to write this letter to this part and very brave from this part to answer you and your T. Til now, we aren't able to make such a communication in our system. Probably it isn't the time to do it yet. I'm still afraid of some parts. They have so much power to hurt the body. One wrong step and I don't know what will happen. I think the trust within your system had grown enough, that this huge step was possible.

I'm so happy for you and I hope that all parts will accept and support this one.

Take care


April_optimist said:

I'm so glad you were able to do this! Every part of us got hurt. Every part of us helped us survive. The more we can embrace all of who we are and were, the better our lives become.

I also stopped by to say good-bye. I've posted about it on my blog and you've been a part of my online life so I wanted to take leave here as well. Know that you will be in my heart and prayers.

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This page contains a single entry published on May 17, 2010 4:03 PM.

Inside was the previous entry in this blog.

Expressive Arts Carnival Activity No. 1 is the next entry in this blog.

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