Recently in System Map Category
My last post was a system map, a tool I first wrote about last October. The ability to make such maps is something I have worked to achieve over the course of many years, and I find it to be an invaluable tool.
I am finding it difficult to write in the ways I have become used to here. I do not seem to have a sense of confidence in understanding much about how I use dissociation and how that may be related to others' experiences. I also seem to have difficulty sharing much of anything that is even remotely personal. I feel very much alone in my struggles.
So I will write about what is going on for me somewhat abstractly via the most recent system map from this morning with labels of aspects of me removed for safety.
My system maps change regularly, as probably anyone who regularly dissociates. That is not anything new or surprising. In fact, it is one of the more validating tools I have available to me that paints a crystal clear picture of how drastically the elements of my psyche can shift over short (and long) periods of time. It is validating because to make such a map, I need to really be able to check in with all aspects of me, and it is clear that what is happening is not simply a mood shift or a influx of thoughts.
This period has been dominated by the resurgence of a particular part who holds an enormous amount of information as well as power. My psyche is very complex right now, more so than usual which is saying quite a lot. Safety has been compromised, but a good deal of information is being shared and connections are being made that I had not even considered in my now two decade journey of healing.
The timing of these shifts is clearly related to the Easter season. They came to a climax on Ash Wednesday last week, a relative benign day when compared to Good Friday or Easter Sunday, holy days which have been dominated in the past by conflicts within and beyond me; about good versus evil, God versus Satan, and the like. These are some of the core conflicts which have never been resolved in relation to my past experience (or understood or even accepted).
They are now pressing for attention. There is no alternative but to dedicate myself to addressing them. Until last night, I felt like a fish out of water. But I was able to communicate internally and information was shared that helped these conflicts be a little less difficult. This system map, then, is a sort of visual representation of how the information has been shared.
Information sharing, a form of internal communication, is perhaps the single most important tool we can have in healing from the unhealthy aspects of a dissociative existence. That is a statement I would have scoffed at just a few years ago. I would say "What are you crazy? You have no idea what you are saying!" But I have found that it is true.
Several months ago, I wrote about system maps. I am not writing here much lately, mainly because my life has been so busy.
But even being good at having a busy life can be a problem if you do not take care of yourself along the way. So many times I have found myself flying off the track.
So, I thought I would put up a map I did the other day.
I have struggled for a long time to make any sort of system map. Decades really. I have long known that this inability has clearly been all about resistance. And the resistance was mostly that I believed once I made a map, I was locking all of me into a certain way of viewing myself. I thought it meant it would play too much into a "dissociative" way of looking at the world, when what I really want is to move away from that view.
One important lesson I have learned is that to heal and move forward, you have to accept where you are in the present.
Over the past few years, with that acceptance mostly in hand, I have focused on more visual ways of checking in with myself. I started with these maps two months ago. I have now made 15 maps, and my goal is to make them more regularly. Each really only takes a few minutes. I use a simple diagram program called Diagrammix on Mac OS, but there are many out there. To make a new map, I either start with the previous one (if I feel connected to that last state) or I start with a template (if I do not).
I change links and arrows, widths of circles or squares, shapes, colors, size and more. It ends up feeling a lot like a virtual sandbox. I have found that what comes out is usually not at all what I would be able to describe if I had to use words. So, in that sense, they are quite helpful. I do not really have to think all that much and I do not really worry about how "accurate" the map is. The intent is to do as good a check-in as possible. It is sort of akin to taking a temperature reading. It is but one measure, albeit and important one, of where my head is at.
I also save all the images to a folder, and can flip through them as a slideshow. This sequence of images gives me a sense of change over time. Again, quite helpful.
My private system maps do have labels in the circles and squares (I removed them for this post). I have talked before about labels and names, see Naming Parts of Our Dissociated Selves. For me, I have found that the names and labels help me identify and make sense of what is going on. It provides a framework for me to think about myself, and thus, is an important component of healing, changing, or growing. I am, however, careful with names and labels and have established a "safe setting" rule where they are used. That means they remain private.
The maps show me how drastic the changes can be over time. Sometimes I have made a series of maps just over a few hours and even that can show dramatic shifts. The point of seeing that, for me, is mostly about gaining visual markers. What often happens for me is that hours or days run into other hours or days, and I can easily lose track of continuity of experience.
There are many skills one can use to help. I have written about many before, and this is just one more skill to add to the "toolbox."