In retrospect, I am struck by the fact that I used the concept of “pieces” to describe my condition, although I had no inkling at the time of writing of the concepts of dissociation or multiplicity. The point I wanted to illustrate was that I had used my everyday experiences to constantly tamp down the memories of my abuse, and to keep them out of my conscious awareness.
At the time of writing of this poem, I had wisps and whisperings of information, but no idea of the extent of my abuse as later described by my various parts in left-hand writing. Later, although I was given graphic detail of circumstances, affect, sensations and resultant decisions, attitudes and coping mechanisms, I still had no cognitive recall of many of the events described, and have never gained such recall to this day.
When I questioned my parts as to why I was not given “normal memories” they assured me that to do so would not be in my best interest, and that I would never gain such memories, to protect me from having to see those pictures when I participated in normal, healthy activities, such as having sex with someone who loved me. I must say that I am grateful for such protection, and I feel that it illustrates an amazing capability of every individual Self to determine, at a core level, what a person is capable of enduring, and that no memory which would bring harm to that person will ever be released.
I would further state that while it may be true that all of my left-hand writing was possibly the work of elaborate imagination, the fact is that I have used the tools I learned, and through processing of the memories as though they were true, regained a sense of control, of joy in life, and of functionality which had theretofore been impossible for me, in spite of years and years of counseling by an impressive array of therapists using a wide assortment of therapeutic methods and modalities. I never had any desire to retaliate or injure my family in any way, nor would I have done so had they been living. I simply wanted my own life back.
Completion of the BASK model is the first layer of integration. Having a complete understanding of who did what to whom, how that made you feel, where you felt it in your body, and what effect that had on one’s choices and decisions for oneself is the point at which a “normal” person begins therapy.
For example, a person may have emotional responses, with no re-cognition or memory, or understanding (mental) of why she feels that way. or, she may have memories of horrific abuse, with no affect (emotional response). A person may be “triggered” to feel a certain way (maybe panic) by the wafting of a certain scent, or the sound of a certain song, but have no recall of why she feels that way. Integration of all of these components is imperative to the wholeness of the healing process.
Simply stated, dissociation can be described as a little girl pretending she is someone or somewhere else (or both) while she is being hurt beyond her own ability to endure. Repression entails amnesia for instances of abuse. In order to maintain the amnesia, the states of mind or alter personalities assigned the task of holding the memories are split off from the host personality to allow her to carry on in daily life without the ongoing trauma of her abusive episodes.
The goal of treatment in DID is ultimately integration, wherein the core self and the alter personalities become co-conscious of all stored memories and cooperative among themselves in the management of the affairs of living.
In coaching left-right hand writing, I find it sometimes helpful to coach the right-hand questions, but would never coach a left-hand response. A person who has been so traumatized may have no idea of how to approach her hurt inner children with compassion or understanding, or what to do for them when they surface. She may in fact, (as I certainly did) believe that those parts are less than desirable; that they deserved their treatment; that they are to be hated and avoided. She may treat them with the same contempt with which they are (and she is) familiar. She may never have had kindness or compassion or honoring of feelings modeled for her, and may be unable to approach her parts with love or compassion. In the beginning, she may also have no idea how to ask questions, or what to pursue in finding the answers she seeks.
One very common response to this process when it is first introduced is for a client to ask, “Am I just making this up?” or “What if I already know the answer before I write it down – does that count as a left-handed response?” I reply with a question – “is this information news to you?” It almost always is. They had not been cognitive of such information before accessing subconscious material. Further, the information will “ring true” although denial is often more comfortable.
Critics of this method would certainly say that imagination can construct these circumstances to please the client or therapist. While it is absolutely true that memory is extremely fluid and malleable, and that it is always possible that an active imagination could make up these stories, it is my experience that to deny the memories as they present themselves is to further disenfranchise the victim.
The question of whether or not the memories are accurate is not the important question. Few victims of DID are interested in legal or retaliatory action against their perpetrators, but are rather determined to take back their lives and learn to live in a more functional way. The perceptions of the subconscious parts who dare to share their secrets must be honored and processed in order for healing to occur. No one is more loathe to believe the types of things that may present themselves than the victim herself. Every item shared by left-hand writing, or whatever other spontaneous retrieval of memory occurs, must be taken at face value and processed as though it were true.