How to ‘connect with’ a split-off part? (Not DID)

barefoot

Sponsor
In therapy I’m currently working on trying to ‘connect with’ what my therapist calls ‘a split off part that carries the trauma.’ (ETA I don’t have DID)

When I was about 12, I had a traumatic experience involving a doctor. I dissociated. So, this is about me trying to connect with - and, ultimately, integrate with - this part that feels like it’s still somehow just sort of stuck there in the doctor’s room from 30 years ago.

It feels like we’re onto something significant. And T keeps saying this is a breakthrough and we’re at a crucial point and this is what we’ve been working towards for all these years etc etc.

BUT - I don’t know what I’m doing!

I’ve written some things. And the writing feels ok, good even…I get quite absorbed, it feels like I tap into important things…
But I’m also very aware that, while my real experiences are part of these written experiences, they are ultimately works of my imagination.

T suggested sitting quietly/meditating every day and doing two things:
- gently telling the split off part that I am here for her (or that we are here, if I want to include T)
- asking her if there’s anything she wants to say/tell me. And then waiting and listening…

I know I feel a lot of resistance to this exercise. It feels silly. I feel silly. I feel rattled just thinking about it.

Talking with T about the writing feels ok because I’m talking about a story and ‘she’ is a character in the story…there is some distance. Trying to connect more directly makes me feel irritated and defensive. Angry and resentful. T tries to encourage me to refer to the part as ‘her’ but my default is to say ‘it’ - though referring to the writing it feels ok to say she/her.
And when T reminds me to say ‘her’ rather than ‘it’ I notice that -more annoyed and more guarded.

Does anyone have any thoughts, experiences, insights or tips to share about doing this type of therapeutic work? I feel really stuck with it. How do you connect with a part like this? A part that’s split off, dissociated, largely ‘unconscious’?

I’d be open to doing more writing to further explore - I feel I get somewhere at least with that - but I don’t know what to write! The two pieces I’ve done had a clear purpose. I knew the sort of thing I was going to go and try to write as T had suggested something.

If I just sit down and think, now write something to connect, my mind is a total blank. It feels like I need a prompt or an exercise or something to start me off?

So, my second ask is - does anyone have any ideas for writing exercises to connect with this part/to explore ‘her’ experiences etc?

Thanks in advance. Am feeling quite frustrated and anxious and weirdly angry about this whole thing! I don’t really understand those reactions. It doesn’t feel good :-(
 
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whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I'm sorry. I don't remember if you have DID or not. My response is based on what I've done and I have DID with many insiders/parts.

When I was working with my insiders (I don't work with them directly anymore, which is a whole 'nother story), and I needed to connect with a hidden part, I usually did so through one of the others. So I'd contact an insider I was in contact with and ask if she could find the one I wanted to communicate with. That almost always worked with us. I have two who kind of know everything that is going on and can help with this sort of thing.

The other thing I have done is involve myself in activities that someone the age of the "missing" part would enjoy. Even my most traumatized little ones have responded to coloring, videos, old TV shows, books, etc...

T tries to encourage me to refer to the part as ‘her’ but my default is to say ‘it’ - though referring to the writing it feels ok to say she/her.
And when T reminds me to say ‘her’ rather than ‘it’ I notice that -more annoyed and more guarded.
Hm...think it might be because it personalizes her? Makes her more real?
Does anyone have any thoughts, experiences, insights or tips to share about doing this type of therapeutic work?
This is really hard work and I commend you for working through it!
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I totally get what you are saying. In the therapy session when my T asks me to ask a child part what she is thinking, I feel really silly. I think it's to do with being recognised and being seen, because that child part has frozen and tried to not exist. Idk really.

Sometimes when there is no communication back, I try something like stroking a part of my body. Being more tactile with myself seems to help. Sometimes words don't. T says that this might be because that child part is actually really young. I.e. I might have been 12 when the trauma happened, but the part that reacted initially to that 12 year old trauma was actually an even younger part. And so not cognitively developed to use words.

Also, there may be a protective part that is resisting your attempts to get to the dissociated part. Hence the annoyance/anger you are feeling (that part has worked hard to keep this from you to survive and now you're digging this up and undoing their work all these years - makes sense they would be pissed!). T says this part needs 're purposing'. It's job to protect and hide the trauma is now not necessary and we have to find a different role for it/her.

There is a book "healing the fragmented selves of trauma survivors" Janine Fisher. it really helped me. I've re read it several times.

Good luck. This parts thing freaked me out initially, but it makes so much sense and it helps to work through.
 
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barefoot

Sponsor
I'd contact an insider I was in contact with and ask if she could find the one I wanted to communicate with. That almost always worked with us.
Sorry, I’ve edited my OP - I’m not DID. Sounds like you have a pretty good system for this, which is really interesting to hear about even though I don’t think I have additional parts to call on in this way.


The other thing I have done is involve myself in activities that someone the age of the "missing" part would enjoy.

I’ve been watching cartoons today :)

Hm...think it might be because it personalizes her? Makes her more real?
Yes, I think you’re right and that this is probably it.

This is really hard work and I commend you for working through it!

Thank you! Though I feel like I’m doing a really bad job of it just now!

I think it's to do with being recognised and being seen,

Yes, it’s funny you say this…I wrote a piece from the point of view of the split off part and she’s sort of stuck up on the ceiling, where she floated up to when I dissociated during this traumatic experience…so she was still up on the ceiling, can’t get down and no one notices her. And I was so struck by that after I’d written it - the number of references to not being seen, no one knowing she’s there, trying to get noticed, being unseen and unheard etc…And it’s odd because, that part seems to want to be seen/heard/noticed…but I do not. My therapist is always banging on about the importance of being seen and being witnessed in therapy…but I find it excruciating and don’t feel I want or need to be witnessed. So…yeah…funny you bring that up!

Also, there may be a protective part that is resisting your attempts to get to the dissociated part. Hence the annoyance/anger you are feeling (that part has worked hard to keep this from you to survive and now you're digging this up and undoing their work all these years - makes sense they would be pissed!). T says this part needs 're purposing'

Some food for thought here, thanks…

And thanks for the book recommendation. I’ve seen her in some of the NICABM videos and always like what she has to say, so I’ll check it out.
 

Friday

Moderator
My big fat giant caveat - I don’t do parts work. Feel free to stop reading, right here 😁

***

When I want to deliberately re-open a closed chapter of my life (and, yes, a chapter is an IT, not a she/her. IT is a time I lived, not an anthropomorphic projection embodying that time/place, nor an emotional avatar representing one facet of that time/place) so that I can have access to it... for whatever reason?

I have to get myself back in that headspace.

It’s similar to working on triggers, except instead of a whack-a-mole fashion, where I’m dealing with specific triggers and stressors as they crop up, unbidden? I’m deliberately recalling / or bringing into my life now, what was in my life, then. Sounds and scents are the most effective. For me, anyhow. And also the easiest to source (for me, again, anyhow 😉) What music was I listening to? What music was playing that others were listening to? What perfumes/colognes was I & others wearing?

- Scents would be Sunflowers & CK One, JP5 & CLP, Captain Morgan’s spiced Rum & Cuervo 1800 Anejo Tequila, Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen/ Victoria’s Secret Pear Lotion/ Clairol Clarifying Shampoo / Speedstick or OldSpice, LA Looks Gel, Simple Green, Floor Wax, sex, the booze soaked smell of sweat the morning after running in the heat, Niagara Spray Starch, Murphey’s Oil Soap & kiwi boot polish, etc.
- Sounds were both music AND ambient noise. Music is easy to pull up / create playlists. Ambient noises are harder.
My latter days in the USMC had some the same -but many VERY different- scent & sound profiles.

The same but different?

I was in Japan, so there’s a metric shitton of sensory info just from that. But the most important -to me- things were mostly found in my room & on my body. The satin red & silver Yokosuka jacket I wore all the time, if I wasn’t wearing my rose embroidered bomber jacket. Leggings and a long shirt with a circle thingy to hitch the shirt up. FRIZZY hair. Glasses pressing on the bridge of my nose. <<< Notice how I haven’t actually gotten to sounds and scents, yet? 😉 The biggest reason for that, is I don’t have trauma history when I was 11. So there’s no hundreds of items long list of triggers/stressors shouting and waving their hands, begging Me!Me!Me! to be picked... so first? I have to kind of set the stage by recalling what was most important to me. THEN I can start remebering the cloying scent of The Terrible Plant, the nasty shampoo/conditioner that I used, the Irish Spring or Maraschino Cherry scented soap, the impossible cicadas, the banging grind of the air conditioner in my room, the wood lacquer smell of my bunkbed, or the detergent on my sheets, the mosquito killer (the smell of the heating blue tab thing, or electric whine of the red and white disc shaped machine), leaded gasoline, flakey frozen milk, etc.

Recalling & Recreating = wildly different levels of intensity.

If I REALLY want to throw open a closed chapter? I have to not just recall, but start recreating things from then, now.

If I’m opening a chapter with trauma history in it? The recreations start seeping into my life, now, totally unbidden.
 
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Rumors

MyPTSD Pro
Yeah, my therapist wants me to refer to myself as "the little girl" or "she" and I usually say "her" or "it" because I can't stand to think of myself at that age. Parts work is hard. Very hard. Acknowledging her/it is too close and too vulnerable. As well, I go blank sometimes trying to write. It is like my mind just goes completely blank, I can't formulate words or thoughts. It makes me feel crazy!
 

Waterbear

Confident
Oh my word! I haven't read everyone's responses yet but I feel like I could have written yours almost word for word... really. I'm not sure I have any answers, because like you I am still stuck with it all. I don't know how to connect to this part of me (Teenage One) I don't know how to relate to this part of me yet. I am millimeter by millimeter getting there though, so I guess I would say time, therapy, patience - oh my word how much patience!? To keep thinking, trying, feeling? I know my Teenage One feels angry now, whereas three years ago when we first started working on this a little more I would say there were no feelings at all, so maybe we are making progress? As for writing, this is the only bit that doesn't really relate for me. There are no words yet, from her.

Now, I'm off to read the other replies and I hope you may have had more help from some of the guys here, but thank you for posting this....
 

Waterbear

Confident
I should add maybe, after reading these posts, that I have a Little One too. Me and Little One did not get along at first. She didn't trust me and I thought she was a complete pain in the butt, or worse! I'm pretty sure I used to say that I hated her. But after some intense and very difficult, crazy work, we don't feel like that anymore. We are integrated. We have a relationship but she is also a part of me. (I don't have DID either, but I do have these three 'parts') She as easier to connect to though, because she didn't hold as much hurt and pain, surprisingly, seeing as she was actually the one that was abused (but I didn't really get that until I was a teenager, so maybe that's where that comes from...)
Anyway, I don't want to ramble about me, I guess I just want to say that I believe that it is possible to get to the point of integration, because I have seen and done it first hand, but I also remember how impossible it felt at the time. How I didn't understand. How I felt so stupid for wanting to play with kids magazines etc. How I felt the real struggle to interact with her right at the beginning. But it came, and so I have hope, for you and for me, though I do think it is MUCH harder when the part has 'dissociated' so much.

Keep going! If you want to chat, I'd be up for that!
 

barefoot

Sponsor
@Waterbear I think it sounds like you are way ahead of me with this. You may still be slowly chipping away at the Teenage One but it sounds like you've gone great guns with others.

Thanks for the encouragement to keep going. Right now, I don't know that I want to. Or that it would be realistic to try. I just feel that I'm so rubbish at therapy! And like I'm going backwards.
 

Waterbear

Confident
@Waterbear I think it sounds like you are way ahead of me with this. You may still be slowly chipping away at the Teenage One but it sounds like you've gone great guns with others.

Thanks for the encouragement to keep going. Right now, I don't know that I want to. Or that it would be realistic to try. I just feel that I'm so rubbish at therapy! And like I'm going backwards.
Oh bless you... It's so very very difficult. I can totally relate to that... Even when working with my Little One there were often times that I wanted to give up. Hopeless. No idea what I was doing. Felt stupid and crazy at the same time. So much frustration. It took a good few years, but it has totally been worth the effort. That's all I can say. Take care of yourself, you'll figure it out in the end (laughing at myself because I hate it when my T says stuff like that, but she's often right!!)
 

barefoot

Sponsor
Had a therapy session this afternoon and we picked up on this again. I honestly feel like I could cry.

It's so frustrating. In my head, I think: 'Let's do this, let's get cracking, let's dive into this stuff that seems to be important stuff.'
And then we get to it and, nope, resistance. It makes me feel wound up and irritated and just really rattled. And then I get pissy and defensive.

T talks about getting the split-off part back and, ultimately, integrating. And I feel like I should want that and feel it's a good thing. And in terms of therapeutic progress, that does sound like A Good Thing. But a huge part of me wants nothing to do with it. 'I don't want her,' I said today. And as I said it, I felt like I was disappointing my T somehow because she had seemed so excited that we were on the verge of this great breakthrough a few weeks ago and now I've ground to a halt again. (I know she won't actually be disappointed with me) I suppose I am also disappointed with myself. I've spent £1000s of pounds and six or seven years on therapy and feel like I should be further along with all this. And when T was excited about this breakthrough, I guess I was too and felt like this is it, this has been the whole point of the last years of therapy.

But I feel really stuck. I haven't done any of the trying to connect exercises in the last fortnight. I don't want 'her'. And anyway, what happened in the first place wasn't even that bad, so this is pathetic.

It feels like such a big step backwards.

And then, at the end of today's session, I had an instant feeling of longing for my T. Of missing her. Of not wanting to wait two weeks to speak to her again. I felt a bit...abandoned (why?? I've never been abandoned!). And panicked. And needy. Which is how I used to feel at the end of sessions, when leaving her room always felt like such a wrench.

So...yeah...this all feels like I'm going backwards...

I quite wanted her to suggest a writing exercise today as that seems to be the most fruitful method for me at the moment. But she didn't. And I didn't mention it either. So, that was that. I feel like I quite want to write....but I don't know what. Not just journalling where I'd just do a lengthier version of this post going over and over it. Something more focused and purposeful. Something about what happened. Or about this part. That feels do-able and like it could be helpful. The resistance isn't there for that. But, instead, there's just blankness....not knowing what to write about or where to start... Maybe that is still some sort of resistance...?

Ugh! Just venting!
 
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