Communication with parts

Warrior Chicken

MyPTSD Pro
Wondering about how others have taken initial steps with communicating with pieces that are stuck in trauma time.

I currently don’t have access to a therapist but would like to try working on a few things myself, but am cautious to not cause more harm than benefit. If there are lessons you’ve learned when initially establishing lines of communication with those trauma pieces, and you’d like to share here, please do!

Something I’m trying to attempt is to listen as though the part is someone else not so connected to me. As though they’ve picked me to disclose what happened to them. I don’t yet know how to respond because I have to remind myself that it’s not me, just listen to her. It’s the first time I’ve ever considered even listening, so I think that’s progress.....but want to make sure I’m not making a mistake with this approach.

Grateful for any input.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
There are others way way way better at me on this forum. Parts is still relatively new to me.

What I've been trying to do is become away of what a part is. And to separate the part's feeling from my feeling. I am getting better at that.
I still don't know what part is what.
When I think a part is me at a certain age, my T suggests something else. So I'm learning.

In terms of communicating with parts. I was doing it wrong. I was trying to use words in my head, not really understanding that some very young parts aren't verbal or don't understand verbal reasoning. So I moved (on the suggestion of my T) to more tactile things to ground the little part(s).

I'm trying to get little parts to know that adult me is here. Not sure how I am doing that other than 'listening'. I think 'listening' comes in many forms. Like acknowledging, not shaming, not dismissing.

But I am in the very early stages so others may have far more helpful things to say.
 

bellbird

Sponsor
Something that really helped me when first communicating with parts (currently have a system of 8 (not DID), but right at the very beginning I think I was aware of 4) was to learn of why each part had developed during the abuse. They all had developed to keep me safe, but through different means. That really helped with my overall understanding of quite a complex and confusing thing that I was trying to come to terms with.

Another helpful step was making imaginary safe spaces for each part. These could be as detailed as you like, taking into consideration the things that each part likes/gives them a sense of fulfillment, the things that each part feels afraid of, and the dynamics between parts if you have more than one.
During difficult times like anniversaries or otherwise, I will make sure that the parts that are most likely to be impacted are safe in their space.

Finding out what makes each part feel comfortable/safe is also useful for attempting to communicate with them, as from my experience they can be most willing to do so when feeling as ease. This can either be in their imaginary safe spaces, or in real world activities -- my Little loves to watch children's cartoons with bright colours, Lupo loves physical activity, Study loves doing her research, etc.

Something that I was very bad at in the beginning and am only really beginning to learn how to do better is how to work with the more "difficult" parts. The tendency can be to reject/disregard/snap back at those that have the less helpful means of coping.
For instance, my part Ed kept us safe by maintaining a sense of control, which used to manifest as SH --- cutting/restricting food, etc.
My part Echo kept us safe by taking on the beliefs of my abuser, and tormenting/punishing us when we'd do something that wouldn't align with them.
Really hard to work with initially, especially when they were in opposition with the other parts. Felt a lot like 6 against 2. But what I've been learning from working from my T is that teamwork is so helpful in getting through this. Internal conflict doesn't really get you anywhere if all it does is continue. That means that I've been working on acknowledging, not shaming, not dismissing as @Movingforward10 said, as well as finding alternative roles for those parts that are more suitable for our life in 2020, whilst still giving them a sense of fulfillment by satisfying their particular needs.

I suppose if I could look back and give bellbird who was just learning to work with parts one piece of advice, it would be that just like any relationship, our relationship with our parts (and their relationships with each other) is dynamic; what it feels like at the very beginning isn't how it will always feel. No matter how stuck things feel, there is always room for growth.

You'll get there.
 

Wendell_R

MyPTSD Pro
One concern of doing this work outside of therapy is that when a buried part comes up, I've had the experience of intense conflict and sadness. That can be tough to get through on my own. I agree with your desire to keep safe and not do any harm!

For me, my parts often came up initially as a sense of separation or agitation, or conversely, as a sense of euphoria that seemed separate. I had to learn to listen and to not say anything. I found out how much energy I have expended in life suppressing uncomfortable thoughts, or covering them up with mental noise. There's also a difference between a fantasy in my head and a part. When I started paying attention to my feelings, I needed to discern how much was just fantasy, and how much seemed to describe who I really was.

What helps my communication are quiet walks, a sense of my body and what feelings in my body are trying to tell me, non-verbal journaling (cutting out pictures, crayon drawing). If the feelings are vague, then I figure out who is talking by process of elimination (it's a male voice, so it can't be the female parts; the older males feel like they are sleeping, so it's not one of those).

Good luck!
 

Freida

Sponsor
Ya...parts work without adult supervision can be tricky. ☺️ I like the idea of making a place for them but it's tough if you hate them. Think about how long it took for me to get screamer out of the dungeon.

Maybe look for a part that feels more connected - like my warrior. She and I are sort of on the same page so it's easier to talk with her. I do like the idea of trying to figure out what each part represents and how they live.

Keep reading Body keeps the score...it does a great job explaining connecting with parts
 

shimmerz

MyPTSD Pro
My parts, which are mainly preverbal and therefore speak to me using somatics, really needed to find ways of finding comfort for themselves. I feel like comfort is the first language of connection and my parts desperately needed connection. My focus has been on how to find soothing connection routines.

For instance, I have learned that walking into my house is a huge stressor for one of my parts. A heating pad really helps this part to not feel the need to act out so each time I come indoors I turn on the healing pad immediately so I can rest it on my lap or sit on it.

Going to bed is also a large stressor for another of my parts. I have two heavy duvets on my bed (for the weight) and put on really soft and cuddly pj's.

I find that my parts are parts by definition because there is a mind/.body split. Always my primary means of connection with my body is to do something comforting for my body. If I happen to have a conflict (have an urge to sabotage or self harm) I always, always, always look for an alternative that favours what is good for the body. That eases the conflict in my mind. If I find my head saying (for instance) 'eh, eat whatever you want' then I try to set up an alternative set of behaviours/habits that favour what is best for the body. 'Hmmm, I feel the need to stuff my face with sugar, so let's boil a nice cup of hot water (tea) and see how that feels'. For me, this works all the time and has really made my living with parts much easier.

For the record, I have had differing opinions from therapists about my parts. Some say DID and others say not. Personally, I think I am DID with a few incredibly damaged non verbal infants/toddlers. I do everything I can to treat them with loving kindness. I am finding the more I am able to nurture these parts, the less fragmented I feel and act.
 

Warrior Chicken

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks very much for everyone insight and suggestions. This stuff can be very confusing! I can understand a certain degree of fragmentation is fine when it allows us the ability to function in the world. Just like it’s possible to be your work self and your home self. For me, those two are vastly different and it can be exhausting to try to be both of them daily. So, for years I was just my work self. I think what I’m starting to see, and I could be completely confused on this....is that my work self banished pieces of me. If they made noise I had tactics to silence them. Now that I’ve done some therapy and talked about traumas, it’s like they’ve been awoken. I’m sorry that I banished them in a sense but it’s what I felt I had to do.
some very young parts aren't verbal or don't understand verbal reasoning
I hadn’t even considered this! Makes total sense though.

Another helpful step was making imaginary safe spaces for each part
I imagine you had some hints about what kind of safe spaces to build? Or was it more trial and error?
I will make sure that the parts that are most likely to be impacted are safe in their space.
Sorry if this sounds ignorant.....I feel that some would refuse to stay in their spaces and have a tendency to take control when given ‘orders’....did you have trouble with that?
finding alternative roles for those parts that are more suitable for our life in 2020, whilst still giving them a sense of fulfillment by satisfying their particular needs.
Maybe this is key to the above question. Not giving orders but providing alternative roles for the troublesome ones.....
when a buried part comes up, I've had the experience of intense conflict and sadness
This has happened and my immediate instinct is to silence them otherwise I feel the risk that they’ll ‘take over’....suppose that’s a built in defence mechanism I have.
I found out how much energy I have expended in life suppressing uncomfortable thoughts, or covering them up with mental noise.
Yaaaaa..... get this! I’m sorry you had to expend that energy in suppressing yourself.
There's also a difference between a fantasy in my head and a part. When I started paying attention to my feelings, I needed to discern how much was just fantasy, and how much seemed to describe who I really was.
I’m not sure I understand this. I do have trouble with feelings.....but have been told that feelings are valid (or is that the core feelings - anger, sadness, fear, etc) but then sometimes those aren’t valid either....is that the fantasy you mean? Like when something triggers you and you get the feeling of the event occurring with all the intensity of the emotions from then but it’s not happening in real life.
Maybe look for a part that feels more connected
This is a good goal for me to attain.
really needed to find ways of finding comfort for themselves
This adds to the notion of safe spaces that Movingforward mentioned. Thanks!
 

Wendell_R

MyPTSD Pro
I’m not sure I understand this. I do have trouble with feelings
Sometimes we fantasize about being a different person (for example, supposing I was rich, supposing I am younger and going out with someone I like), or we can experience feelings that have been repressed. My point is that that kind of fantasy or expression of feeling can be similar to the sense of having a different part. When my Lady part first came up, it seemed like I was just indulging sexual fantasies about being female. Then I realized that my sense of her was much deeper, and that she is the manifestation of a big chunk of who I am.
 
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