Compassion and Healing Trauma

We all have bad days, regardless of what we’ve been through in life. Last night was rough for me. A random picture on the internet that was supposed to be funny ended up triggering me a great deal. It was a meme with a picture of a medieval torture method. This set off the parts that went through a similar experience.

They were terrified and hurting. I tried my best to be compassionate towards them, telling them it’s ok and they’re safe now. I told them the bad things aren’t happening anymore, and he can’t hurt us. He’s a coward. But it didn’t help, the chaos continued. I knew that they needed to talk to our therapist. This COVID-19 pandemic has the world collectively traumatized and has made it very difficult for everyone. Getting support during this time has been tough for us, because phone calls are not as helpful. There’s something about sitting with T where we feel safe, so that we can tell our story and have a witness. Having a compassionate witness through our journey is key to us healing and realizing what happened. I’m grateful that T doesn’t mind if we text her during business hours if we need help. She called me and we told her what we were seeing. We talked about the memories, and we started to see more and more of the picture. It was sad and scary, but T was there for us. We talked about how confusing it is that people can be that evil, especially my own father. It’s hard to realize that he was such a monster. He truly has antisocial personality disorder. He is sadistic and has no remorse or empathy. I don’t even want his DNA. I told T that I don’t ever want to be anything like him. But I have his photographic memory, his artistic abilities, and his love for water. I even look like him sometimes, which is very difficult for me. She reminded me that I do have my parents DNA, but I’ve made my own choices and have never been like them. Obviously biology is just one component of who we are. What happens to us and how we makes sense of it can be influenced by many factors. I’m grateful that I have a lot of empathy for others, and I think that’s partly because of the abuse. I understand suffering, and I don’t want people to hurt like I did.

Sometimes it’s hard to be compassionate with myself because trauma causes such self hatred. I internalized the shame he should’ve felt. I decided I was bad because I didn’t do anything to stop him, or whatever reason some of the parts have for deciding we were bad. But we never did anything bad. We’re not like him. The worst thing we ever did was fight boys on the playground in elementary school. We weren’t bullying them, we’d just challenge them and win. But once we saw that it embarrassed them to lose, we stopped fighting. Our empathy has always been our compass, one that guides us in the opposite direction than him. I guess I just needed to hear that compassion from T, and then I was able to feel self compassion. This, I believe, is the key to healing from trauma. Survivors need to find ways to confront their shame and self hatred and love themselves again, regardless of how compartmentalized they are. It’s the same reason it was extremely healing for me to get a tattoo to cover up my self harm scars. It helped me let go of my shame and self hatred. Getting a tattoo that made me confident and proud felt like an act of self compassion.

So today, I will be kind to myself and the parts that are hurting. I’ve even learned to be kind to the angry parts, though sometimes their anger scares me. They’re angry for good reason, and they went through hell for me. They protected me. And honestly, as angry as they are, they are still good to others. So I told them thank you, and that they’re my heroes. When I told T that, I started crying a little bit. It was the first time in a while that I’ve been able to cry. It may have even been the first time I’ve ever cried about being tortured. This is huge for me. It means I’m able to accept that it happened and feel compassion for myself.

Sometimes I do things for them even if I don’t want to, like letting them watch kid’s movies. We just watched Onward, a cartoon about two brothers. At the end of the movie, a beautiful song started playing during the credits. I looked up the lyrics and realized that they were perfect for the parts who saved me. When they’re hurting, I play it for them. The more I let them know that they are heard and not alone, the better we all feel. Even if you don’t have DID, if you went through trauma in childhood, there is that inner child that needs your help and compassion. They need to feel heard, validated, and they don’t want to be alone with their pain anymore. I use inner talk, art, movies, music, and therapy to help them. It’s whatever works for you. Everyone is different. Music has always been a common interest for all my parts, so it’s a powerful healing tool.

“Carried Me With You”
Song by Brandi Carlile

You’re the soul who understands
The scars that made me who I am
Through the drifting sands of time
I got your back and you got mine
If you bear a heavy load
I’ll be your wheels, I’ll be the road
I’ll see us through the thick and thin
For love and loss until the end
‘Cause you carried me with you
From the highest of the peaks
To the darkness of the blue
I was just too blind to see
Like a lighthouse in a storm
You were always guiding me
Yeah, it’s true
You carried me with you
From the day it all began
Yeah, you were there, you took my hand
And when I hurt a bit too deep
You watched me as I fell asleep
And when my head was in the clouds
You found a way to pull me out
You picked my heart up off the ground
And it showed me love was all around
Yeah, you carried me with you
From the highest of the peaks
To the darkness of the blue
I was just too blind to see
Like a lighthouse in a storm
You were always guiding me
Yeah, it’s true
You carried me with you
Oh, we’ll be sittin’ on the world together (Ooh-ooh)
Watchin’ as the days turn into night (Ooh-ooh)
We know how to brave the stormy weather (Ooh-ooh)
And we’re never givin’ up without a fight
If you should ever bear a heavy load
I’ll be your wheels, I’ll be the road
I’ll see us through the thick and thin
For love and loss until the end
‘Cause you carried me with you
From the highest of the peaks
To the darkness of the blue
I was just too blind to see
Like a lighthouse in a storm
You were always guiding me
Yeah, it’s true
You carried me with you
Oh, you carried me with you.

The text I sent my therapist later today after I talked to her on the phone. Humour is a really great coping mechanism for me.

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