My Dream

| By Paul | | Comments (8)

This is the first photograph of mine that I posted here over 2 years ago. When pondering about what I would share as my "Hopes and Dreams" for this month's arts carnival, I thought about doing something new and creative. But this image captures the essence better than any other. So, I thought I would come back to it, but write about it in the present.

At the time I made this photograph, I was blossoming in terms of my commitment to external and internal awareness. Prior to this time, I had focused almost exclusively on intellectual understanding of my problems. And while that pursuit yielded good results, there was something missing and it was not enough. I quickly learned an important lesson: that the most healing comes from a balance between intellectual understanding and exploration on the one hand and emotional understanding and exploration on the other.

The context for this image is that "becoming one" or becoming "integrated" had dominated my thinking for many years. That was my clear goal—or hope or dream—for so long. I finally realized that, for me, that set up an unresolved series of internal tensions. Becoming "one," in a strict sense, is not who I am. It never was. So, I said to myself: "Why make a goal for myself something that is not who I am?"

Rather I see as a goal for me a fluid collaboration based on mutual respect and understanding. In this view, there is more flexibility. It creates the opportunity for various aspects of me to flourish and be laser-focused if they need to be or work together to accomplish what we cannot separately.

Having somewhat separate parts of my psyche is not at all the major problem facing me. It is having separate parts and that contributing to not being able to be safe that is the problem. Or having parts and having there be no communication or collaboration, thereby rendering them fully isolated. I cherish my ability to be able to accomplish goals in life that I know are borne from my compartment-based system; goals that I feel might not be possible without such a system.

So, the question for me has always been how to maintain safety and at the same time cultivate collaborations and communication leading to a more fluid existence? That is what this photograph represents. I had thought "becoming one" would automatically lead to safety and was the ultimate answer. But in many ways I believe that to be a draconian solution, and not even the best solution. I also thought it would someday just happen. After all, I have read stories of how others "integrated" and how it can happen very quickly.

The truth is, while I am not at all glorifying having more extreme forms of dissociation, I cannot not ever imagine a simple "become one" solution for me. The more and more I get to know parts of me, the more I appreciate who they are, what they represent, and appreciate their own individual hopes and dreams and hurts and desires.

This photograph can be seen as "one." It is one wall after all. But it is made up of many pieces. On one scale, all parts of me can be seen as one, and this is how most people in my life see me and this is what I want most people to see. It is absolutely true that together we make up one person. One system. But I also acknowledge that the parts of my psyche are not just aspects of one personality. They are more separate, and I accept that.

And it is through that acceptance that I have learned to move towards a more balanced existence.

In my post from over two years ago, I wrote:

This wall has been remarkably healing for me and it's an image I come back to time and time again. The wall has so many parts, some small, some large, but they each contribute to keeping the wall together and strong. This is how I've approached my own internal structure. This is when I realized that the goal is not to become one. The goal is not to be many either. The goal is to be both. This is when I realized what the saying "the whole is more than the sum of its parts" really means.

So, my hope and dream is for my life to be more representative of this image. That there be collaboration. That parts support other parts. That when viewed on a macro scale it appears as one. But on the micro scale it appears as many. That each part is different yet has similarities to others. And so on.


tb0316 said:

Wow. You spoke so beautifully here Paul, I'm just amazed.

I really appreciate your point about integrating too. I remember very cleary when I was first diagnosed with DID and I read something in a book about the goal being integration, there was a distinct and unmissable negative reaction inside. It was like an insult, saying that the various parts were "bad" or that it would be better if they could just meld together. I realized right away that integration was not my personal goal. Instead, I want cooperation and understanding. Not that I have a problem with people integrating personalities, I just think that it shouldn't be forced as the goal of therapy or healing.

My therapist asked me early on what I wanted for myself and she respected that goal.

I love this photograph. The image is beautiful and striking but the words really make it special.

Paul Author Profile Page replied to tb0316:

Thanks Tai. It's funny, I've had a couple people say they thought I wrote this well. But I see it as rambling. I think some of the language gets in the way. I think people use that word integration and it's meant and heard in a very specific and limited way. If people used the phrase: "Towards a more integrated existence", then that would be something that would, I think, have universal acceptance.

castorgirl said:

Hi Paul,

I love this photo and what it means to you.

It's easy to forget that the small stones act like a cement for the whole structure... that without the input of one part, the whole structure is weakened. I know instinctively that the answer to having parts come forward safely is about balance, awareness and understanding... but the reality of it is so complicated.

Take care,

Paul Author Profile Page replied to castorgirl:

Thanks CG. Yes, the reality of it all is very complicated and I don't mean to trivialize any of this. What I have taken from "each part being important" is that even those parts of us we are least comfortable with, are ones we must pay attention to. This is, as you implied, the really hard part of it all.

wantstorun said:

I like the photograph a lot, there is so much represented there when consider it in the context of a system: Beauty (love the colors/textures); strength; individuality; some rough spots and some smooth spots; and each of those elements is necessary for that wall to be complete. A very good analogy, Paul.

Thanks for sharing your photo!


Paul Author Profile Page replied to wantstorun:

Thanks wantstorun. This is by far my the most meaningful photograph I have ever made. I think at the time I took it, I wasn't aware of what it meant to me. In reality, I took 50 or more shots of this wall, framing it in different ways and zooming in and out. This one had the best compromise of distance and closeness. I ported it into Photoshop and made some color adjustments. So, in reality, this was not quite how it was seen with the naked eye.

Tara said:

I saw this photo and it immediately gave me good chills. Not just for what it represents, but because it is so lush, rich and welcoming. It's a wall, but it's a good kind of wall.
I'm so glad I saw this today. :-)

OneSurvivor said:

I love this photo and the imagery it represents. What an amazing picture of the parts making up and supporting the single unit. United, yet separate, each in its place.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry published on September 25, 2011 11:21 PM.

Has the Roller Coaster Ride Stopped? was the previous entry in this blog.

Expressive Arts Carnival No. 14: Hopes & Dreams is the next entry in this blog.

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