It seems to me that integration came for me in three stages; and that the term "Dissociative Identity Disorder" perfectly describes those stages.
Stage One, or healing the dissociation, involves recovery and processing of the lost memories -- fitting the puzzle back together again.
Stage Two involves overcoming the identity crisis. Deciding who is who, and who does what, and establishing communication and cooperation between and among the parts. It may or may not involve total integration. It may involve melding of certain parts. In my case, for instance, Little One and Lonely melded to become Lauren, and Baby and Sad, who now call 'themself' Sadie.
A last phase of Stage Two may involve integration -- if there is such a thing. I say that because even now, I still feel myself to Me, Myself, and I. Me represents left-brain, cognitive thinking; Myself is right-brain, subconscious, imagination, feeling mind; and I Am, that part of the whole the collective consciousness, the spirit, whatever you want to call it, which I sort of see as where the seams meet on the blanket of humankind.
Not too long ago (1996-7), while dialoguing with left-hand, Lauren had re-emerged and was chastising me for not paying more attention to her. I apologized for her discomfort, and then, in a plaintiff voice, I wrote,
"I feel confused and helpless to know what to do to make everyone inside happy. I don't even know who "I" am. Do you know? Who "I" am?"
At first there was no answer, and I went into a daydream state, curled in my bed in my familiar comfort zone, where it came to me that "I" am the system, the puzzle, the liquid-crystal whole. When any one piece of the puzzle gets off-balance, or rigid, it puts a glitch in the system, like a washing machine off balance. I was reminded of Carl Rogers' theory that health is about fluidity.
It seems that the key will be to acknowledge and allow all the parts to be heard and to flow. If I become immobilized, it's because "someone" inside is rigid and causing a glitch in the system. I am better understanding these days that left-hand "righting" is about balance, about getting two sides of every story. Left-hand answered my musings, and said, "Yes, this feels right and relieves "us" of a huge burden of you thinking we have all the answers (unless we do)."
This also reminds me of an earlier exchange with left hand, where I asked, "What is it about me that disallows me to study?" (I often find myself immobilized, unable to make decisions or self-start on any project, and spend too much of my time staring at the wall. More on that later). [Note: that as of this typing, in 2005, this is no longer anywhere as true as it was in those days.]
The answer from left-hand was, "Your devotion to your home and family. Would you have yourself be otherwise?"
And I answered, "No, and yes."
And the reply, "And that is what contributes to your inability to focus. You are torn between home and school and since you are already perforated at the seams, you tear easily. You must nurture your own health and spirit continuously to strengthen your ability to withstand inevitable stress."
In spite of the fact that I feel I have "integrated" several times, or in several layers, the question still remains for me as to whether or not I shall ever be wholly "one".
One incident which brings this question to light is a recent  experience I had when I was brutally raped. Unbeknownst to me, when faced with all-too-familiar danger, I immediately reverted to old ways of coping, and became a seven-year-old, compliant and eager to conform to what was demanded of me in order to maintain my safety. I had no idea that I was so vulnerable to such danger, nor so susceptible to splitting again at the first sign of threat. Had I been aware of this vulnerability, I would have been even more cautious and perhaps avoided the incident. [or not. I have learned that that incident was like a drop-kick over a goal post, and though painful, joyfully helpful in taking me to higher awareness and growth.]
Since then, I have learned that whenever I am faced with extra stress, my vision blurs, and I find it impossible to focus on any one task, either physically or emotionally. this is my cue that my "parts" have come unglued and are in need of attention and nurturing. The blurred vision is assumed to be the result of various parts trying to all "see" at once through the only available set of eyes.
Stage Three, then, I see as the process of bringing order to disorder - of creating day-to-day life from the new perspective and experiences of the integrated person, however that may show up. It has been said that at the point of integration is when a "normal" person begins therapy. Having fit the pieces back together again does not mean that those experiences have been less damaging to the development or that missing developmental stages have been remedied. I'm sure there is much yet to be done, in the way of coming to terms with the reality of a lost childhood.
I perceive a difference between "synergy" and "integration." To me, integration is accomplished in the first stage of healing, during the information gathering, BASK modeling, integration of previously scattered material. It is the process of putting together the circumstances and retrieving the memories, and integrating them into the wholeness of experience which caused the splits in the first place.
Integration also involves discovering the parts, and identifying their roles and even the preliminary introduction of parts to each other and to the whole of the system. This could be related to stage one, as described above.
Synergy, on the other hand, is that process of blending similar parts, combining efforts of cooperation and eventual joining to become the whole. As the term suggests, it is the process by which the sum of the pats become capable of achievements of which each is individually incapable. It could be related to stage two.
It is also important to understand that while this flows well on paper, there is no guarantee that once you've navigated one stage, you can move on the next and assume you're finished with the first. It has been my experience, rather, that there is always more. For instance, it has recently come to my attention [recently, in 1998] that I have had a part named "Wooden" who was an autistic or catatonic part (depending upon the degree of stress or danger) who first manifest when I was between one and three months old.
I was first made aware of this part's presence (although at the time I did not recognize him as a part) very early in my process, when in hypnosis, I found myself as a tiny infant having placed myself in an imaginary concrete box, and knowing that I dared not make any noise, or fuss or cry about being wet or lonely or hungry. Only in retrospect did I understand how such a feat could be accomplished by such a tiny infant.
This part had first manifest, to my wasband's amusement, once in a while during sex, when he could place my body in any pose, and I'd stay that way. Wooden manifested himself several other times, as one of a series of parts who navigated a particularly grueling set of "remembered" circumstances, as a major player in reaction to my rape ordeal, and finally, in a cranio-sacral session just a few days ago, when he finally made it known that he had been a constant companion since that earliest memory of a catatonic infant, and that it was his job to protect me from overdoing or becoming overwhelmed as well.
Wooden claimed responsibility for my very familiar state of inertia or immobility, wherein I find it difficult to make any decisions or accomplish normal tasks unless I have a structured schedule. With the help of the therapist, and further journal dialogue, Wooden agreed to release his hold if I promised to maintain physical and emotional support for myself in the form of my therapist and my chiropractor.
It was revealed in this journal session that my system, having attained a degree of spiritual and mental prowess, was now engaged in more detailed healing of emotional and physical wounds, and that Wooden had been a necessary protector until I was ready to tackle this phase of my healing process, and until I could count on physical and emotional support in the form of my therapist and chiropractor.
[I would like to note here, in hindsight, (August 2005) that these kinds of tactics and protective decisions made within a system, and without the cognition of 'me', were not always so reasonable. It may be the best they can do, but it isn't always in the best interest of the system, because 'they' don't always have the whole picture. Varying degrees of sight, hindsight, oversight, understanding, etc., must be mapped and integrated into the whole healing process. This is an ongoing process between therapist, the Self, and the individual parts, to come to equilibrium. As an example, early in the sorting process, I learned that "Deep" (depression) was my fierce protector, and his tactic was to shut the system down, so the revolving doors didn't turn into blender blades. As a result, I fought depression my whole life, until finally, I spent two years in the fetal position in my bed, before I could finally find anyone who could help me. It was the best he could do then; we have since come to much better solutions for all of us.]
Another interesting incident occurred shortly after the second stage of integration, which I felt was highly significant. In June, 1997, I attended training as a Rapid Eye Technician, and as part of that training process, I had several sessions with therapist where I accomplished yet another round of integration, and all of my parts "danced to the light", leaving only "Julia".
In September of that same year, a friend who practiced kinesiology and hypnosis came to give a weekend workshop, and stayed in my home. I had several sessions with him, and at the end of the weekend, he tested my muscles with the question of whether or not I had been abused by my father. The answer was "No!"
I have never felt so humiliated or betrayed, or so confused, or so heartbroken as at that moment, and the weeks and months to follow. I felt completely devastated, and lost all trust in myself, in my prayers, in my left-hand journaling.
After a great deal of soul-searching, I came at least to an uneasy peace, at least cognitively, and to determine that no matter whether or not it had happened, I knew my parts, and loved them, and got what I needed out of their experience. But I had to conclude that perhaps they had made up the circumstances to teach me what I needed to know. They say the body never lies, so my question was, "Which time did it lie? The times I was abreacting such graphic portrayal of abuse, or the time I tested negative on it having happened at all?"
One curious thing was that when they asked if I had been abused by my dad, the answer was no; when they asked if my writings were true, the answer was yes. Needless to say, I was highly confused, and extremely depressed. Because the veracity of my experiences were in question, I lost faith in my ability to write or pray or receive any true answers, and I literally felt like I was in a freefall into a black hole.
A month passed, and I went to a conference in San Francisco on "Wholeness and Multiplicity" where I was so very richly fed. While I was there, I was even more confused and filled with grief, because there was such a sense of belonging and fitting in on the one hand, and such a sense of betrayal and rejection on the other.
The solution finally came as I stood alone in the parking lot after the conference. A tiny wisp of a voice came to my mind, and said, "Julia wasn't there." Even now as I write, the relief of that moment floods over me again. What a gift!
What this has come to mean to me, on the other side of the hill, is that Julia wasn't there! I am no longer trauma based. The others took the trauma to the light. If I had been skeptical of the efficacy of Rapid Eye Technology before, I'm a believer now!
And now I come to the third stage of the healing process. Bringing order to my life, and more, filling the void which was the trauma. I still journal with both hands. Julia, the mind, writes with the right hand; and Julia, heart and soul, writes with the left. I still don't have cognition of heart and soul without writing, but I wonder if anyone does? I think rather than being "split" I simply found doors to my inner selves that others may not be aware they have. Julia, the heart, put it this way in my journal:
"The others are here, part of the whole, but no more separate parts --(unless they are) just like in the dance at the conference. WE have all of their everything, but they let all the pain and trauma go. The trauma is changed and gone to the light. What is missing is positive experience to take its place. So in some respects, I feel empty, a void of experience. Without the others, I also feel sometimes sad and lonely and somewhat hollow and fragile.
Julia, the Soul writes: "You need to feed me. I am starving."
What do you eat?
"Blinking in rainbows, music, sunsets, fresh air, good books, prayer, walks in the early morning, friends who love you, reading to the children, solitude, peaceful moments, unconditional love, candlelit baths, green things, dancing, drumming, helping others, writing, singing, gardening, ceramics, art, cleanliness and order. When these basic foods are plentiful, I will be more help to you. I am weak now."
"What is that I feel? I am crying without words."
"Hope, longing, sorrow that we are yet so fragile and weak. JOY that we are finding each other and communing. Keep writing. Keep listening. Keep loving."