A. An Overview to Understanding Dissociation and D.I.D. 1
Dissociation: the state of being separate from association or union with another. Synonyms: separation, detachment, severance, split, segregation, division. 2
In psychology: dissociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity. It can range from any wide array of experiences from mild detachment (daydreaming) to severe (dissociative disorders).
Dissociative Disorders: characterized by an involuntary escape from reality characterized by a disconnection between thoughts, identity, consciousness and memory. It involves problems with memory, identity, emotion, perception, behavior and sense of self.
There are three types of dissociative disorders:
● Dissociative identity disorder (DID)
● Dissociative amnesia
● Depersonalization/derealization disorder
There are different levels of dissociation, and everyone dissociates to a degree. If you have ever been driving down the road and find yourself pulling into your driveway without any memory of actually driving, you have experienced what is commonly called “highway hypnosis.” This is a mild form of dissociation. Daydreaming is also a mild form of dissociation.
Where dissociation can become a problem is when it is persistent and interferes with everyday life. This usually takes place under extreme and persistent trauma or prolonged stress. An individual can dissociate as a coping or defensive mechanism, and if the stress or trauma persists, the individual can develop a trauma disorder, such as PTSD, or a dissociative disorder, such as DID.
DID — What It Is
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) was previously known as MPD, or, Multiple Personality Disorder. Those with dissociative disorders can have other diagnosable mental health problems at the same time, with PTSD being the most common.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, symptoms of dissociative identity disorder (criteria for diagnosis) include:
● The existence of two or more distinct identities (or “personality states”). The distinct identities are accompanied by changes in behavior, memory and thinking. The signs and symptoms may be observed by others or reported by the individual.
● Ongoing gaps in memory about everyday events, personal information and/or past traumatic events.
● The symptoms cause significant distress or problems in social, occupational or other areas of functioning.
Individuals with varying degrees of DID often refer to the dissociative parts of them as “alters, parts, others,” or similar terms.
When another part of them takes control of the physical body or conscious mind, this is usually called “switching.”
The dissociative individual who has DID can also sometimes, but not always, be aware of an “inside world” that is part of their system. The system consists of the safe and unsafe parts of their inside world (often created either subconsciously, or, in cases of TBMC, through programming), as well as all the alters that stay there when they aren’t taking full or partial control of the body.
DID — What It Is Not
1. DID is not imaginary friends or an “inner child.”
2. DID is not demon possession.3
3. DID is not a mental illness or a psychosis.
4. DID is not genetic, although some research indicates that the ability to dissociate can be genetic.
Causes of DID
Although there is some debate and disagreements within the DID community, professionals generally seem to agree that DID is most often caused by persistent and extreme trauma at an early age. The child, unable to physically remove themselves from harm, psychologically dissociates from the abusive environment.
There is evidence that suggests children under the age of seven, when exposed to repeated, overwhelming trauma, are more likely to develop DID than an adult, given the same set of circumstances. However, once a child has begun to implement this extreme form of dissociation, he or she will be able to split off new identities at any subsequent age.
Some examples of persistent and/or extreme trauma can include:
1. ongoing physical and/or sexual abuse
2. psychological trauma and/or neglect
3. ongoing war environment
4. sadistic or satanic ritual abuse (SRA), also referred to as ritual abuse (RA)
5. trauma-based mind control programming (TBMC)
Basically, dissociation is a coping and defense mechanism that an individual instinctively employs in order to survive trauma. This dissociation, when persistent, can develop into the condition known as DID. So what starts off as a helpful coping mechanism, eventually turns into a disorder, becoming an involuntary lifestyle and the exclusive or chief coping strategy the person has available to them
Symptoms — What DID Looks Like
Although a multiple (a person with DID) may act differently in different situations, depending upon which alter is “out” (participating in external life), you would likely never know the difference between a non-dissociative person and a multiple. This is because most people with DID work very hard at hiding their condition from others.
For example, Sara may normally be quiet and reserved, but when her alter, Lori, is out or closer to the front of the consciousness, she is slightly more outgoing and talkative. The non-dissociative individual may attribute this difference in attitude to mood changes, but with a multiple, it’s not necessarily just a “mood change.” Or, Sara may enjoy cooking, but her alter, Tony, may not be nearly as proficient at cooking as Sara.
The American Psychiatric Association writes:
“The attitude and personal preferences (for example, about food, activities, clothes) of a person with dissociative identity disorder may suddenly shift and then shift back. The identities happen involuntarily and are unwanted and cause distress. People with dissociative identity disorder may feel that they have suddenly become observers of their own speech and actions, or their bodies may feel different (e.g., like a small child, like the opposite gender, huge and muscular).
“The Sidran Institute notes that a person with dissociative identity disorder “feels as if she has within her two or more entities, each with its own way of thinking and remembering about herself and her life. It is important to keep in mind that although these alternate states may feel or appear to be very different, they are all manifestations of a single, whole person.” Other names used to describe these alternate states including “alternate personalities,” “alters,” “states of consciousness” and “identities.”
“For people with dissociative identity disorder, the extent of problems functioning can vary widely, from minimal to significant problems. People often try to minimize the impact of their symptoms.”
Differences between alters can be discreet or extreme, but for the most part, the inexperienced non-dissociative person would likely not notice any difference in behavior, or may dismiss any deviation that is apparent. But basically speaking, alters have various personalities, and these differences may be more or less noticeable, depending upon the person or situation. Besides personality distinctions, the differences between alters can also include:
1. religious preferences
2. values or philosophies
4. emotional responses
6. levels of learning or special abilities
7. perceived age, race, or nationality
8. perceived gender identity and/or sexual orientation
9. some alters may view themselves as being an angel, demon, or other spiritual being, as well as an animal or an inanimate object (such a rock, a gem, or a box).
10. some alters may even believe they are dead.
11. they may see their own physical features as different, even though the outside looks the same (e.g. weight or hair color)
12. they may have a different name, or no name at all
13. they have different roles or functions
→ Important to Note:
1. Not every alter goes by a different name. It’s just as common for each alter to respond to the same name.
2. The level of awareness between alters varies from person to person, depending upon many factors, including severity of dissociation.
Levels of Awareness
In trying to explain levels of awareness, the co-author, Loren, likes to use a car as an example to explain the way dissociation works for her. She heard someone else use this analogy, and while this may not be the way every dissociative person would describe the process for them, and neither is this analogy perfect, Loren feels it works well enough to help the average, non-dissociative person understand the process a little better.
The “car” represents the body of the person with D.I.D. and there are many different people (alters) riding in the car. In this car is a driver’s seat, a front passenger seat, a back seat for additional passengers, and a trunk. The driver is the one who is in control of the body. Usually this is me, the host alter (in other words, the one who most often participates in everyday life). But when a switch occurs, another part of me takes over, and I am pushed to either the front passenger seat, the back passenger seat, or the trunk. These different spots are levels of awareness.
When I am pushed to the side passenger seat of this analogous vehicle, I am mostly aware of what is happening and being said, but I have no control over it and limited understanding. Grabbing control of the driver’s seat is easier, however, when I’m closer to the front.
When I am in the back passenger seat, I can be vaguely aware things are happening, but little to no understanding, and everything seems much farther away. My physical senses are dull and taking control of the situation is much harder.
While it rarely happens any more as an adult (it was much more common as a child), sometimes I switch and find myself locked in the trunk of the car. I call this a “hard-switch,” and I am not aware of anything at all. I am not able to regain control until another part of me unlocks the trunk and pulls me out, gradually placing me back into the driver’s seat.
Symptoms — What DID Feels Like
Most multiples would likely agree the goal is to be able to live a normal life, without being incapacitated by symptoms. With time and counseling, symptoms can lessen significantly. People with dissociative disorders may experience some or all of the following:
● Mood swings
○ usually brought on by a switch, or by the stress of the switch
○accompanied by changes in awareness, thoughts, emotions, attitudes, or ethics and morals (this is indicative of a switch)
● Suicidal thoughts or attempts
● Sleep disorders (insomnia, night terrors, and sleepwalking)
● PTSD symptoms, such as:
○ panic attacks
○ hyper vigilance
○ exaggerated startle response
○ flashbacks of the trauma, including physical, sexual, mental and/or emotional trauma
● Phobias (these can be reactions to reminders of the trauma)
● Attempts to cope with the trauma in other ways, rather than dissociation, including:
○ alcohol and drug abuse
○ eating disorders
○ compulsions and rituals
○ other self-sabotaging behaviors
● Headaches (sudden, sharp headaches can be indicative of a switch, but not everyone who has sudden, sharp headaches has a dissociative disorder)
● Amnesia or time loss
● Trances or out-of-body experiences
● Some people with dissociative disorders experience the following:
○ violence (both self-inflicted, as in self-harming, and outwardly directed)
None of these symptoms in and of themselves indicate the individual has DID. This is not a list to self-diagnose. But they are just some of the symptoms that people who do have DID most often deal with on a regular basis.
Furthermore, not every multiple will deal with the same issues. For instance, not everyone has problems with violent or self-harming behaviors (like cutting themselves). Not every dissociative individual has drug or alcohol addictions, and many have no eating disorders, compulsions, or rituals. But the above items are a broad list of issues that are common among many people with dissociative disorders.
B. Thoughts on Healing
This section has been written with those in mind who have dissociative disorders, although some of these suggestions may be helpful to those who are non-dissociative as well.4 Some of these thoughts have already been discussed in this book, but we put it here in one spot for you, for easy reference.
■ General Thoughts
1. If you choose to go to a therapist to help with your healing, either secular or religious, make sure you understand the style of therapy they offer. One type of therapy may be helpful to you, but another may be useless, harmful, or against Scripture.
2. Support groups of various types can be helpful. They can also be triggering, causing more harm than good. Be aware of your own emotions and of your triggers, and if you find that a support group has turned out to not be as supportive as you originally thought, don’t feel badly about disengaging yourself from that situation. When you are in a better place emotionally and mentally, you may find yourself able to be in a group setting again.
3. We realize this is often easier said than done depending upon the situation, but it is vitally important to stay away from toxic people — for example, those people who are abusive, manipulative, lying, controlling, hurtful, or mean. Likewise, distance yourself from people who continue to be friends with the toxic people in your life. It is also important to stay away from people who are triggering to you. They may not necessarily be toxic individuals, but if they, for whatever reason, are triggering to you, simply stay away from them.
Through educating yourself on what types of behaviors are not acceptable, and by learning what boundaries are healthy for you, you will begin to be able to clearly see patterns of behavior in yourself and in others that are unhealthy and harmful. Once you pinpoint the negative influences in your life, get away from them. This is for the sake of your own emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical health. If you are unable to get away from the toxic people in your life, begin making plans to do so, preferably with the help of a trusted health professional, family member, or close friend.
At the very least, set healthy boundaries for yourself and stick to them. If you are unable to go “no contact,” at least make it “limited contact.” Certainly, learn to distance yourself emotionally from them so that their toxic emotions do not adversely affect you.
There may be other situations that make it more difficult for you to get away from toxic people — work, for instance. If you are surrounded by toxic people at work, it’s vital that you learn to set your own boundaries and stick to them. It may be helpful to start making an account — such as a log in a notebook — of every toxic encounter you come across. Simply give the date, time, the place, the names of the people involved, and a short account of what was said or done. Try to avoid treating the account as your personal diary. The point of registering the toxic encounters is to possibly build a case for upper management or the authorities; not to vent your frustration, anger, hurt, or the like. In the meantime, make plans to find another job, or to transfer to another department.
Making an account of toxic encounters may be helpful to you in a variety of situations, such as being forced to deal with a toxic ex-spouse, or the like.
The bottom line is: you have choices. True, the choices may be very limited, and they may not be ideal, but you do have choices. It may take working with a professional for you to be able to see the choices that you have, and to help you find the courage to step out and make positive changes for yourself. But don’t let anyone tell you that you have no choice but to take the abuse of other people for the rest of your life.
4. What we call “light journaling” can be helpful in staying aware (staying present), and remembering the highlights of each day. It can also help to serve as a sounding-board, of sorts, for you and your parts to vent anger, frustration, pain, confusion, happy moments, et cetera.
In contrast, what we call “heavy journaling” includes a free-association or “stream of consciousness” type of journaling that can help you recover memories in a very quick way. This is where you focus on a specific traumatic or confusing event in your past that you can’t quite understand, or even recurring dreams or nightmares, and you simply write what seems to be “random thoughts” that come to your head. While this can lead to a quick recovery of memories, it can also lead to flooding of memories, as well as a triggering of latent programming for those who have gone through TBMC programming. As with heavy system work (detailed below), there can be dangers of this type of journaling. So if you choose to employ this, we suggest that you use extreme caution, be aware of your triggers and emotions, and, if possible, work with a professional to help you work through issues, especially related to memory flooding and programming that may be triggered through this memory work.
Overall, we strongly suggest that your journaling stay more on the “light” side, unless you have a good support system, and are working directly with a trustworthy individual who can help you process memories and all the emotion, stress, and even programming that it can trigger.
5. Anger: this is often a “four letter word” for many survivors. Or, at least, a “four letter word” for those who work with or have close relationship with survivors. No one likes to really talk about anger very much, because by-and-large it is socially unacceptable, especially within “Christian” environments. As soon as we — or our parts — start talking about how angry we are, there is a tendency for the “Christians” to come out of the woodwork, telling us how we can’t be angry, and how we need to “forgive.” This can be triggering of even more anger, and is completely opposed to the healing process that we need to walk through.
However, let’s pretend for a moment that the ignorance of such people does not exist, and let’s just discuss anger for a moment.
There are different types of anger. There is anger against God. There is anger against abusers. There is anger at ourselves. There is anger that is used as a defense mechanism, to protect us from real or perceived harm. There is misdirected anger. There is unresolved and unprocessed anger that festers and sours into resentment and hatred. There is an anger that we dissociate from or refuse to acknowledge that can exhibit itself as a pious humility or an ungodly submission.
This is just a sampling of the different types of anger you may be dealing with, and it can be very difficult to work through all these different types of anger and its many different manifestations. But one thing to keep in mind in dealing with all this anger is that there is “healthy anger,” and there is “unhealthy anger.”
Unhealthy anger keeps us from healing. It keeps us from a relationship with God, and it keeps us from developing healthy relationships with other people. Unhealthy anger keeps us from healing.
Healthy anger allows us to set healthy boundaries, and keeps us from allowing ourselves and others to be a target for abuse and ungodly behavior. Healthy anger allows us to heal and can propel us to help others who are in need.
While education on trauma issues, anger issues, and boundaries are very helpful — and we recommend this education — in our experience, the major anger issue that is important to get healing from at the beginning is your anger towards God that you may feel. After this, all other issues with anger begin to find their proper place, including healthy anger that allows you to recognize what is wrong and to set boundaries to protect yourself and others around you.
Expressing anger towards God is a very scary thing for many of us. However, keep in mind that God knows your thoughts. He already knows how angry you are towards Him. By admitting and expressing your anger, you are, in fact, confessing your anger. Confession is the first step to healing. Once you confess this anger, you are placing yourself in the position to allow God to show you His point of view. You may be surprised to learn that He has not forsaken you. He has not abandoned you. He has not thrown you into the pit of despair or the sea of strife and left you hopeless and alone. He is, in fact, right there beside you in that pit or in that sea, waiting for you to recognize the fact that He is there.
There is much more that we could say that reflects our own journey of healing from our anger towards God, but since this is such a personal journey, we will refrain. The issues you deal with may not be the same as what we deal with. But the important thing to understand is that confession of your anger towards God will begin to bring healing.
Another interesting benefit of anger, is that it can actually help you overcome programming. Whether this is the “professional” trauma-based mind-control programming, or the programming of brainwashing and indoctrination because of an abusive past, allowing yourself the luxury of feeling angry can help you overcome this programming. This is done by vehemently and with much angry emotion, vocally resisting the urges, thoughts, and emotions that the programming triggers in you. For examples of how to use this anger in deprogramming and/or processing of emotions and memory, refer to the chapter titled, “Finding Freedom for the Dissociative Individual.”
6. Educate yourself on mental and emotional disorders, particularly those that pertain to you, such as trauma disorders, attachment disorders, PTSD, DID, et cetera. This can help with understanding your patterns of behavior or thoughts that are directly related to those specific issues.
7. Education on other types of issues that may pertain to you will be helpful, as well, such as:
a. Education on sociopathic, psychopathic, or narcissistic disorders, or narcissistic behaviors in general. This may help you see patterns of abusive behavior in others around you that you can then learn to avoid.
b. Education on religious abuse, cults, and cult behaviors. This can be empowering, in part because you can begin to learn that it is not you but them who has the problem.
8. Learning about communication techniques can be helpful in articulating your needs and your boundaries in healthy ways.
9. Learning about different coping techniques can be helpful in learning to regulate stress levels. Just make sure they are spiritually safe by not being against Scripture.
For instance, while yoga or meditation is touted by most medical and mental health professionals as being helpful in overcoming stress and even trauma disorders — and it has become culturally acceptable even within Christian circles — they are not spiritually safe activities, and they actually originate from mystic religions. Participating in such activities will open you up to demonic influence, and while you may “feel better,” we hope that if you’ve read this book, you understand that “feeling good” is not always an indication that what you are doing is safe or is of God. Don’t participate in things that are spiritually unsafe in order to try to overcome trauma on your own.
You don’t have to participate in yoga in order to do stretching exercises that strengthen your core body and help with your overall health. While both of the following websites have other articles that advocate the so-called “benefits” of yoga, here are a couple of links to articles that give healthy and spiritually safe alternatives:5
a. Planking: https://goo.gl/1y4XqG (link to Mercola.com)
b. Stretching: https://goo.gl/6oruo3 (link to Mayo Clinic)
You don’t have to go into a meditative trance in order to relax your body and de-stress your mind. Instead, try lying down for a short nap, even ten or fifteen minutes. Lying down and resting your eyes for a few minutes can sometimes be helpful in de-stressing, even if you don’t fall asleep. You can also take that time to share with your Heavenly Father the things that are on your mind and heart, asking Him to help you and to take care of the problems you are facing or issues you are having a difficult time overcoming. Ask Him to give you rest — peace of mind, assurance, joy — and He will.
10. Finding a healthy hobby to focus your attention on can be helpful, and can help keep your hands busy and your time occupied with positive things. Try to choose things that keep you focused in the present, rather than things that support dissociation by disconnecting you from reality. For instance, while reading a good book can be a healthy activity — we, the authors, are avid readers ourselves, mostly of non-fiction for research and education purposes — if this is your only outlet or interest, it can lead to isolation. Instead, choose hobbies that keep your hands busy and your mind focused on something positive outside of yourself. This can boost self-esteem and lower stress levels. More active hobbies can include things such as learning to play a musical instrument, gardening, baking, crafting, woodworking, photography, and the like. Physical activities can be fun, and also have added health benefits, such as biking, hiking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, walking, dancing, et cetera.
11. Suffering from depression, stress, trauma, and the like, can make it difficult for us to follow basic, simple healthy habits, such as proper hygiene, healthy eating, and such. So learn to be good to yourself and take time to take care of yourself in the physical as much as you are able by concentrating on the basic things: food, hygiene and health.
If you haven’t been eating properly, try taking little steps every day to eat better, eating the healthiest food you are able to afford. If you can afford them, take vitamins. Attend to your hygiene. If you have medical needs, start taking care of them as you are able.
If you have problems with addiction, bring it to your Heavenly Father and ask Him to help you. Don’t be ashamed if you have a series of good days, but then slip and fall into addiction again. Confess your sin, repent, and ask Him to help you again. If you need to get professional help for your addiction, don’t allow shame or condemnation (false guilt) prevent you from doing so.
12. Don’t be so hard on yourself, and take life one day at a time. Learn to find pleasure in the small things in life, such as taking a moment to appreciate how the birds are singing in the tree outside your window. Above all, breathe, and remember that healing is not a destination but a lifestyle. It takes time, so be easy on yourself. Don’t put yourself on a timeline of healing, or allow others to put you on a timeline. True healing comes from your Heavenly Father. Focus on Him and on your relationship with Him. Allow Him to teach you to trust Him, and as He helps you walk down the healing path for your life, your faith will be built up in Him. Submit yourself to Him and ask Him to help you. He knows exactly what you need and He knows how to heal you from the inside out. Some suggestions on how to do this can be found in the chapter titled, “Finding Freedom.”
■ On System Work
1. There are levels of dissociation, and there are levels of awareness concerning the inside system. If you are unable to be in contact with your system and your inside others, don’t worry about it. Ask your Heavenly Father if He can help you get in contact with your inside others, under the condition that it is in accordance with His will for you. For different reasons, some of which are explained below, it may be best for you to not have contact with your inside system. Your Father knows best, and ask Him for His will to be done in your life, even in this matter.
2. The number one rule about system work is this: don’t do system work with others, not even a counselor or other mental health professional. This could lead to programming, reprogramming, or triggering of programming, even unintentionally.
You may, however, wish to share with your counselor about any system work you do on your own.
3. There are two basic kinds of system work: heavy and light.
Heavy system work involves diving deeply into your system to figure out what is there and who is there. It can be thought of as a type of heavy duty “detective work,” going into places that are unfamiliar.
Light system work involves working with your inside others that you already know you are there, and working within the spaces of your system of which you are already aware.
4. The three major dangers about heavy system work you do on your own are: you may have memory flooding, memories may cause retraumatization, and if you are a survivor of mind-control, you may trigger programming. These are very real dangers and can cause a lot of internal upheaval, which will then cause you upheaval in your everyday life.
Heavy system work is not necessary in order to find healing. It can be helpful in understanding certain things about the other parts of you, it can bring memories back very quickly, and it can also satisfy any intellectual curiosity you may have about your particular programming. However, each of these things that seem to be “helpful” have their own inherent dangers.
For instance, although heavy system work can be one avenue through which you quickly regain your memories, these memories can be retraumatizing, and if enough of them are happening at once, or if the emotions associated with those memories are extremely intense, it can cause what is called “flooding.”
Heavy system work can also be done to try to “deprogram” yourself, in a manner of speaking. (And by “deprogram,” we mean “heal from” the programming… destroy it!) However, as with unlocking memories, there are dangers to this as well. For instance, while exploring your system, you may come across a locked door that you or your alters find a way to open. Opening that door may trigger a programming script, which can then cause a lot of internal chaos, which can, in turn, cause you a lot of upheaval in your everyday life.
Given the dangers, should you proceed with heavy system work, we strongly advise you to do so cautiously and slowly, and under the care of a trusted professional to help you work through the retraumatization, flooding, as well as programming issues that will likely come up if you are a survivor of mind-control agendas. This professional would not be doing system work with you, but simply helping you work through the emotional issues that come up as you do system work on your own.
5. However, the safest way to do system work (and what we strongly advise) is this: ask your Heavenly Father to take care of whatever may be in your system that is causing you problems, including programming, loud alters, and the like. Then let Him take care of it. There will be no need for you to go inside your system. You don’t even have to know what, exactly, is inside your system that is causing you to have problems. All you have to do is ask Him to take care of it.
If you are aware of specific types of programming that have been triggered in your system, simply ask your Heavenly Father to do what needs to be done in order to delete that programming. For the fractal programming that is found in many charismatic teachings, the list under “End-Time Programming” may help you identify at least those few.
But whether or not you are able to identify which specific ones are pertinent to you, simply ask God to destroy any programming. He may show you a specific internal issue that needs to be addressed, and you can then submit that area of your life to Him, allowing Him to bring healing. He may work through your alters on the inside, and show them where programming is hidden and how to get rid of it. This can be especially true of ISH’s (internal self helpers), and you may or may not be consciously aware of this taking place inside your system.
Generally speaking, simply asking and relying on your Heavenly Father to take care of any issues is the safest way to do system work and to “deprogram” (heal), in our opinion and experience.
6. Regarding general triggering of programming: for programs that cause you to be stuck in patterns of thoughts or behaviors, it may be helpful to start paying attention to what was happening around you right before that program was triggered. We aren’t suggesting this is easy to do, but if you are able to begin trying this, it can help you see patterns. There are various techniques for overcoming this programming and to start a new, healthy pattern of thought. For instance, if you are stuck in a “I will never succeed at anything I do” pattern, forcefully and vocally begin a new pattern, such as, “That is a lie! I am working hard at what I am doing and my hard work will pay off!” Or, “That is a lie! I am successful at what I do!”
If you are coming against a pattern that is triggering a “call-back,” whereby you feel the strong urge to reconnect with past abusers, handlers, or programmers, forcefully and vocally remind yourself of why you are not going to do that, regardless of how you feel. You may find that preparing beforehand is better in a situation like this. For instance, you may want to make a list on a piece of paper of all the reasons why the people and the situation you left is toxic, and why you are not going back. Then place this list in a prominent place in your house or room. When that program is triggered, you can then march to that list and forcefully read it out loud. Keep a copy in your purse or wallet to bring with you, so if you are triggered when you are out, even being able to touch the paper might be helpful in grounding you, and may help you differentiate between what is real (the paper, you, your needs, your well-being) and what is false (the urge to reconnect).
These are simply a couple of general suggestions. As you educate yourself on various topics, including your own disorder, you will come across many more suggestions that will be pertinent to you and helpful to you and your specific situation. So keep educating yourself.
→ Important to Note: by “forcefully,” we mean, it is helpful to be angry. Anger is better than helpless and hopeless, and it can be a very powerful emotion that can actually help you overcome programming. If you can’t feel anger on your own, holler anyway. It might release some much-needed anger. If you are able to get in touch with the others on the inside of you, and if you have angry alters (you likely do), get in touch with them and embrace them. They are there for your survival and for your help — for the survival and help of all of you. Getting in touch with this anger is helpful in overcoming programming. (See: point five of “General Thoughts.”)
7. Regarding memory work: the safest way to remember something you know is there but you can’t quite recall, is to ask your Heavenly Father. You can ask Him to help you remember something if He knows it is something that you need to know. If He chooses to bring the memory to your mind, it is less likely to be retraumatizing, and it is less likely to lead to flooding. The memory may be shocking, but it isn’t likely to be so retraumatizing.
If you are already being flooded with memories, or are having memories that are retraumatizing, bring it to your Heavenly Father and ask Him to help heal you and to help you overcome. If you are aware of any inside parts of you that are being retraumatized, ask Him to bring healing to those parts of you, as well. Then take time for yourself, allowing Him to work healing in your life. You may also find that implementing some of our suggestions in the above section may be helpful as you work through the difficulties of retraumatization and memory flooding. We also talk about this at length in the next section.
8. If you are in touch with your system and in touch with at least some of your alters, light system work can be helpful, if done carefully and in moderation.
For instance, you may wish to create a safe spot for all your alters to converge so they can feel safe and begin inward healing. This can be helpful; however, the danger of this is that you may feel the need to stay there yourself as a coping technique. You may feel the desire to dissociate from life, wanting to stay in cozy and comfortable place you created within yourself. This is not a healthy coping strategy. It worked in the past when you needed to survive difficult situations that had no way out; but in walking down a healing path, you need to learn better coping techniques that will ground you in reality, not keep you dissociated.
A good alternative if you are able to be in touch with your internal self helpers, is to ask their help in implementing changes within your system/s that will help bring a calm atmosphere. This can be helpful in a variety of situations, even in circumstances where programming has been triggered, if dark/occult alters are causing a great deal of chaos, or if you are experiencing flooding.
For instance, the co-author, Loren, with the help of her internal self helpers, locked herself out of her internal system for a short period of time. Among other things, this helped cut her off from the chaos that was going on inside from occult alters and from depressed/suicidal alters, so that the internal self helpers could sort through those alters and segregate them from the others.
If you aren’t in touch with your inner world or system, or unable to easily interact with the parts on the inside, that’s okay. Don’t try to visualize something you can’t see to begin with; this can open you up to being deceived. Just ask God to calm your inner world, and ask Him to bring healing to every part of you. God will bring healing to you, sometimes working through your ISH’s and other internal parts to bring order and peace to your internal world.
9. If you are able to get in touch with the others on the inside, working with them one at a time, or in small groups, can be helpful in working through different issues you have, such as overwhelming emotions, patterns of behavior or thoughts, addictions, and the like. We advise you to not push it too hard, however, so you don’t become overwhelmed. Little baby steps are better than wide, giant strides. Some things cannot and should not be rushed, and healing is one of them.
10. Always keep in mind: healing is a journey, not a destination. It’s a lifestyle. Place your trust and faith in your Heavenly Father, and He will see you through. As you focus on Him, you will begin to experience more freedom.
■ Heavy Work, Grounding, and Processing
If you decide to do the heavy journaling or the heavy system work, or have been doing it and are feeling overwhelmed, we have a few tips to hopefully make your journey easier. Of course, these tips will be helpful in a variety of situations where you need help processing or need help grounding, and not only if you choose to do more heavy journaling or system work. But they will be of especial importance if you decide to forge ahead with a lot of in-depth work.
1. Important — only do heavy journaling or system work IF:
● you are in a stable, safe place;
● and, if you have someone to help you through this process. If it is not a qualified, trustworthy therapist, let it be a support person, such as a close friend or a spouse.
If you do not meet both of these criteria, it is our opinion that you refrain from doing heavy system work or heavy journaling. To do so would be unwise, and may cause you more harm.
2. Be aware of your emotional and mental state. No matter your situation, if at any time you are unable to work through and process your emotions and memories in a healthy manner, stop doing heavy work. It helps if you have a system in place on the inside of you to cut yourself off from loud or overwhelming alters and all the emotions and memories that come with them. This was talked about in point 8 in the above section, “On System Work.” If you feel strong enough at a later date to go back to the in-depth work, then do so, but continue to stay aware of your emotional and mental state.
3. When doing heavy system work, even when working with a therapist, we strongly urge you to not allow them to do system work with you. Would you allow someone to sit beside you and help you write your journal? We certainly hope not! But the same principle applies here: don’t let someone help you write your journal, and don’t let someone do system work with you. The therapist is there to help you process through the memories and the emotions of those memories so that you can come to an understanding for yourself; they are not there to dive deeply inside your system and poke around. At the least, that is an invasion of privacy; at the worst, that is the equivalent of a programmer. Don’t allow anyone to do that to you. Your system should be closed off to any outside intruders, whether human or otherwise.
4. Continue educating yourself. This book only gives small tips from our limited understanding and perspective. There is a wealth of free information in “Internet Land,” and many professionals have written articles or have produced videos that can be a great help to you.
5. Continue working on your relationship with your Heavenly Father. He is the One who will help you find freedom and deliverance. The things we spoke of in “Finding Freedom” and “How To Pray” may be helpful to you in this regard.
6. Go slowly. Don’t rush it. It will be easier to manage and process the memories and the emotions that come with those memories if you don’t rush the process.
7. Learn how to “ground” yourself. If you are feeling overwhelmed by memories or a wide range of emotions from yourself as well as from the inside parts of you, this is a sure sign of flooding. Here are some tips in dealing with this:
● First, breathe. Close your eyes if it helps, and breath slowly and evenly.
● Second, ask your Heavenly Father to give you peace and to help you.
● Third, focus on five important questions: who, when, where, what, and why?
Answering the first three questions are important in grounding yourself in the here and now, and remembering that you are not that little helpless child any longer. You are an adult, and you are not helpless any longer. After you are grounded, answering the last two questions can help you more subjectively analyze your emotions, the emotions of your alters, and then process them.
These things take practice because they won’t likely come naturally. But keep practicing, and it will get easier with time.
You may be feeling confused as to who, exactly, you are. So remind yourself of who you are. Say it out loud, even just a whisper, and then gradually get louder with your voice.
If you are flooded with memories, you may be dealing with switching, or with emotions that are keeping you in the past. Remind yourself of the year, the month, and the day. Look at a calendar if you or the inside parts of you needs reassurance that it is, in fact, the present and not the past. Remind yourself of the time of day. Is it day? Is it night? What season is it? Look at the clock and tell yourself the time. Then remind yourself — all of yourself — that this is now, and the past is gone. You are not in the past; you are in the present, and no one is around you that is causing you pain.
Remind yourself of where you are at the moment. Start small. Are you in a bedroom? Are you in a living room? Are you outside? Next, zoom out to the bigger picture: what city do you live in? What state or province? What country? If it’s the same place you were living in when others were causing you harm, remind yourself that no one is causing you harm right now.
● You may want to stop here, and think of your five senses: hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch. What do you hear? What do you see? What do you smell? Is there something you can taste, even water? What does it taste like? What do you smell? This is helping to ground you in the here and now, and to help pull yourself out of the past, where your senses were overwhelmed with things that were not pleasant.
When you are adequately grounded and feeling calmer, proceed slowly with the next two “W’s”: what and why? Have a notebook nearby so you can jot down some answers, or even draw a picture about it. It doesn’t have to be a grammatically correct sentence, and neither does your artwork have to be worthy to be framed and placed beside a Picasso. It is for your healing, not for anyone else.
What are the specific emotions you are being overwhelmed by? Write them down and say them out loud, but don’t just say them any old way. For instance, do not say, “I am afraid.” Instead say, “I am feeling afraid.” Do not say, “I am angry.” Instead say, “I am feeling angry.” The reason for this is so you will not continue to feel overwhelmed by these emotions, and you can more easily analyze them. You are acknowledging that this is how you feel, or how other parts of you feel, but at the same time, you are not allowing the emotions to define who you are. You do not exist because you have emotion, but you have emotion because you exist. This is an important difference to understand, so you will not allow your emotions to overwhelm you, and so you will not allow yourself to be defined by those emotions.
Why do you have that specific emotion? Here is where you can begin to explore why you feel the way you feel about particular emotions. Take one emotion at a time and put your thoughts to paper on the why of that particular feeling, although you may find the reasons all intertwine at certain points. That’s okay, too.
● Finally, give everything to your Heavenly Father and ask that His will be done and accomplished in your life, and in every part of you, so that He can help you find freedom and healing.
→ Important to Note: If you think about it, these steps behind “grounding and processing” have been about three very basic but important things: confession, repentance, and submission.
● First, you recognized (admitted, confessed) that you needed to ground yourself and process through some emotions and any memories that came with it.
● Second, you spoke the truth of the “Who, Where, When, What and Why.” This is confession.
● Third, you chose to turn away from a continued dissociation or the lie behind the programming. This “turning away from” is repentance.
● Fourth, you gave everything to your Heavenly Father and asked Him to take care of it according to His will. This is submission.
Understanding the truth behind “repentance, confession, submission” and what it truly means from a Biblical standpoint, is such a basic but very important part of healing. So if you have been practicing all of these things, and reminding yourself — forcefully, if need be — that these things are for your healing and not your condemnation,6 this step will be much, much easier for you to do.
We hope it is clear by now that the key to your healing is building your relationship with your Heavenly Father!
8. The last tip we have is for you to talk out your memories and your emotions with your therapist, your spouse or partner, or a support friend when you feel safe enough to do so. Verbalizing the emotions you felt, and any memories that came along with them, is a very helpful step in your continued processing and healing. It can also help break the silence, which in turn helps break the denial, and in turn begins to break the pattern of dissociation. It is creating a new, healthy pattern, built upon first acknowledging yourself, your other parts, and your own emotion and memories; and then someone else acknowledging you, your parts, and your emotion and memories. Having a healthy acknowledgement — knowing you are being heard and accepted — is a powerful, healing thing.
■ Notes About Support Persons
→ Important to Note: We are not speaking of therapists in this section, but of a friend who has agreed to be a support person for you. Ideally, this type of supportive situation will come about organically, without the need to “interview” potential friend candidates, or the need to get a list of “Boundaries and Rules” in writing. This isn’t a contract situation. It’s looking for a friend who, over time, has shown that they are stable enough to provide a little extra support for when you need someone to talk to. This can be a very rare thing, but if you can find a friend like this, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Be choosy. Don’t pick just anyone who is sympathetic to you. Just because someone is sympathetic, does not mean that they have the energy, the time, or the general understanding of trauma and dissociative disorders to be your support person. It should be a good friend that has shown over time that they care about you and are able to lend a listening ear for when you need someone to talk to. Although your support system can and should include your spouse or partner, if you are in a relationship, sometimes the burden to be your sole support system is too much for one person to handle. So it’s nice if you are able to have another friend, aside from your spouse or partner.
2. In some cases — particularly with those people who jump at the chance to say they are your “support person” — it may be necessary to define exactly what they think that means. If you need a phone call or some face time, but they only want to text or occasionally message on social media, that can very quickly escalate into confusion, hurt feelings, anger, and resentment. It can, in fact, be contrary to the healing process.
3. If another survivor friend is your support person, this can be okay under certain circumstances. First, if they are not in a safe, stable place, they will not likely be able to give you what you need. Chances are, your needs will drain their own energy, sucking them dry emotionally, and bringing harm to them. Conversely, their needs may do the same to you. This isn’t a good situation for anyone to be in, either for your friend or for yourself. Second, if they are not far in their healing journey, they are not likely to be in a position to be anyone’s support at that time. They are in a position where they need support. Follow the Biblical principle, and keep in mind that “the blind can’t lead the blind.” (Luke 6:39)
4. If you do have a support friend, keep a few important things in mind.
● They aren’t God. They can’t heal you. (Neither can any therapist or counselor, by the way.)
● They aren’t your therapist or life coach. They are your friend. If they are a good support friend, they have at least some understanding of trauma, attachment, and dissociation disorders. So, for instance, they might be able to remind you of your grounding tools that you are learning to use, and they certainly can and should pray with you and for you. But they aren’t there to tell you what to do. They are there as a good friend to cheer you on and to encourage you as you figure it out on your own, so don’t lean on them to tell you what to do or how to do it. Additionally, depending upon the comfort level of your support friend, you may need to refrain from constantly going into all the gory details of your past as you might would do with a therapist. Be aware of their triggers, too, especially if they have a dissociative disorder as well.
● They aren’t there to do the work for you. You have to be educating yourself. You have to be learning about and implementing different grounding techniques and healthy coping strategies that work for you. You have to be working on your own memories and emotions. You have to be processing your own memories on your own time. You have to be working on your own relationship with God. You have to be your own best therapist and your own best friend; no one can take that place. And guess what else? You can do it! You are capable, and with the help of your Heavenly Father, you have the ability to find the strength within yourself to walk this healing journey.
● They can’t meet every need you have and they can’t fill the empty spots left in your life by those who have hurt you. They can’t be mommy, daddy, sibling, child, therapist, pastor, nurse, coach, and “replacement-lover,” all rolled into one. They are a friend who has agreed to be there for you when they are able, and that’s it.
5. In regards to that last sentence, “They are a friend who has agreed to be there for you when they are able,” there is one very important caveat to keep in mind: when they are able. There needs to be healthy boundaries that are respected. At the least, this means you are respectful of their time and energy, and they are respectful of yours. This may include having blocks of time where they are not going to be able to talk, such as around dinner time, or on weekends, or something of the sort. This is just as much for you as it is for them. If you never learn to accept other people’s healthy boundaries, you may end up in situations where you are always inadvertently pushing people away because you expect too much from them. This, in turn, reinforces the attachment injuries you have, causing you to once again seek out people without respect for boundaries, holding on to them too tightly, suffocating them, in a sense. So if they are having a bad day and can’t talk, or if they are busy with something and do not have the time, let that be okay. If you keep point four in mind — that they aren’t your everything — then this will be better for you, and easier for you to respect boundaries.
This does not mean that if they are emotionally distant from you, or begin ignoring you, or become increasingly unavailable to talk with you, that you should just put up with it. If your friend isn’t able to handle being your support person, then he or she shouldn’t be your support person. There may be perfectly legitimate reasons for them being unable to, such as their own personal problems they are struggling to deal with, and this doesn’t necessarily mean they have come to hate or dislike you. But these are signs that it may be time to look elsewhere for the support, if you still need extra support, and that is okay, too, because your boundaries and your needs are just as important as theirs.
6. Be a good friend to them! Be a support to them, too. This may seem like a very simple thing — and it is — but it’s so important. This is part of learning how to have meaningful relationships with people. Everyone needs support, even people who don’t have serious trauma injuries. Ask how they are doing, and then listen to what they have to say. If they are having a rough day, listen to them and offer your sympathy. If they are having a good day, let them share the joy in their life. If they need help and you are able to help, do so. Pray for your friend, and let them know that you are praying. Be the friend that you want others to be to you, and if there is mutual respect between the two of you — and mutual respect is an absolute must with a support friend — then your friendship will be reciprocated, and you will both benefit.
Yes, these things are most often easier said than done, we know. We’ve been there. But with God on your side, with practice, and by being patient and loving with yourself as well as with others, you’ll work through it, and come out happier and healthier, able to have meaningful relationships with people whom you respect and who respect you.
■ Some Notes to Potential Support Friends
1. If you can’t be a support friend, for whatever reason, don’t sign up for the job. It is bad to have no support, but for a survivor, it’s far worse to have people who say they are going to be a support, and then are not. It reinforces all the attachment injuries, and heightens fear and insecurities for the survivor. It simply isn’t healthy or fair to them.
2. Having sympathy is not a good enough reason to be a support friend for a survivor. Yes, you have to be a kind, sympathetic person, but that alone isn’t going to help. You need to have a least a basic understanding of trauma disorders, attachment injuries, as well as dissociative disorders, and the desire and ability to continue your education. Otherwise, the entire process will quickly become overwhelming for you, which won’t be fair to either you or the survivor. So make sure you know what you are getting into.
3. Do not bring your own presuppositions into the relationship and presume to know more about trauma than the person themselves. It simply means that you understand enough to know that you don’t understand enough, and being willing to learn.
4. It’s not always a good idea to offer advise unless they ask for it, and even then, tread lightly. They need your support, not you constantly shoving your advice down their throat. Sometimes they do need advise, but keep it general, unless they ask for more. Don’t put yourself in a position where they will begin to resent you, feeling as if you are just another controlling parent, constantly advising them and telling them what to do. Nor do you want them to begin to treat you as if you are their controlling parent, depending upon you to tell them what to do and how to do it. That isn’t healthy for anyone.
5. Set healthy boundaries for yourself, and respect their boundaries, too. In other words, have mutual respect, especially for time and energy.
6. If the time comes when you are no longer able to be a support person, just tell them. Don’t drag it out until it’s to the point where they are left wondering if you are just sick and tired of them and don’t want to have anything to do with them anymore. Survivors aren’t weak. We are strong. Your survivor friend can learn to handle it if you can’t be there for them the way you said you would in the beginning, especially if you handle it the proper way, but don’t leave them hanging.
Handling it properly includes giving them at least some plausible reason, such as you have to take care of aging or sick loved ones, or your own illness, or you are moving away. You can also assure them that although you can’t be as big of a support as you have been, you will continue to be their friend and will continue praying for them.
1Aside from the personal experiences of the authors, professional sources include:
Dissociation and Dissociative Disorders. (2013, October 14). Web. www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/dissociation-and-dissociative-disorders.
Dissociative Disorders. (n.d.). Web. www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Dissociative-Disorders.
What Are Dissociative Disorders? (2016, January). Web. www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/dissociative-disorders/what-are-dissociative-disorders.
3The alters or parts of a person are not demons; however, those with DID are just as vulnerable as anyone else to being controlled or possessed by the demonic. Perhaps the argument could be made that those who have DID are more vulnerable to demonic possession, but this is something we will neither agree nor disagree with. It all depends upon the individual situation, and we’ve seen plenty of non-dissociative individuals purposefully open themselves up to the demonic, so we will not engage in the “blame game.” The more important thing is to stop blaming the victim (the survivor of trauma), and start helping. Stop accusing and dismissing those with DID as being demon possessed, and help them focus on the One who has the solution to the problem: our Heavenly Father.
5With certain exercises, such as planking, it’s advisable to get the help of a professional, so as to not cause injury.