Recovery is complicated. I know I am not saying anything new. You already get this. You would not read my blog if you had not determined this for yourself.
But I feel the need to say it today. Today is a tough day because I have to face my “humanness”. I have to face my shame. I am not talking about the unwarranted shame. That shame is different. I am good at talking with my inner parts about that. I can have the inner conversation about how the abusers handed us their shame. I can talk about handing it back to them. We can let that go now.
This shame is harder. This shame is justified to a point. This shame is coming from my parts who have done bad things to good people in an attempt to stay safe. It might not have been blatant. It might have been very passive. But that doesn’t make it better. My inner parts have learned some interpersonal skills that are disturbing at best. They learned them because of a horrible past. They learned them from people who were supposed to care but never did. And it is important to understand that. But they used these skills at the wrong times with the wrong people. They used these skills in adulthood after safety had been established.
And while my job is to understand and accept my inner parts as much as possible, I have moments where I have to cringe. I have to ask my inner parts the question, “Really guys?” “Maybe that was overkill. Maybe we could have found another way. Maybe you could have left me in charge.” In reality, I know why they couldn’t. There were triggers. They were not small. But my initial response is to judge them. My initial response is to wonder why the hell I have been given the gift of D.I.D. even if it did keep me alive.
Today I left a voicemail for someone who was affected by several of these moments. I don’t know if she will respond. I have interacted with her since the incidents in question, but I was not consciously aware of how damaging my behavior had been. She was pretty darn kind considering what I know now. But that may have been forced. I would not be surprised if I didn’t hear from her. I can’t help but think two things.
“I really want to tell her what was happening then.”
“I really don’t want to tell her what was happening then.”
Does it make anything better to explain D.I.D. to a person who is not educated about trauma? I don’t know. Maybe it would be easier to let her keep believing I am selfish (or worse). Maybe it isn’t a good idea to tell her about all the ways I have adapted to an unsafe world and how that impacted her adult life when she did nothing wrong. Maybe it isn’t fair to put my inner parts in a position to hear from her about their actions. What if she’s mean to them? What if she re-traumatizes them?
But what if she is understanding? What if she takes the time to listen and responds with empathy and compassion? How much healing could happen if my parts were faced with that response from someone other than me? It is risky. There is no doubt about it. But maybe it is worth the risk.
But recovery is complicated. The answers aren’t simple. We are victimized and we treat others poorly because of it. We can heal through relationship, but we can hurt through it too. We can revisit an event we didn’t know about from 20 years ago and find some closure. Or we stir up old wounds that others don’t want to discuss. I don’t always have the right solution. I know my intuition knows the right answer, but it isn’t available to me all the time. There is one thing for sure. I can’t control the outcome of this one. People will do what they want. It is risky to put myself in front of people knowing I have done things I am not proud of. Even scarier, I may have done things I don’t remember yet. And I can feel the exhaustion as my system battles with this one.
For today, I will try to sit with this and accept my lack of control over it. For today, I will try to understand that I did the best I could under the circumstances. For today, I will try to wait without panic. For today, I will hope a little more healing might be coming my way.
Written By Elisabeth Corey, MSW