What does integration feel like?


Hi all,

I don't have formal diagnosis but a lot of work in therapy is about my parts and trying to establish who is who, who feels what, separating out all the feelings and recognising them. I haven't figured it all out.
Since therapy I have had 3 occasions where I have experienced this whole body feeling of joy or happiness. It's been in response to changing my name. Is this what integration feels like? Can you have integration when you don't know all about your parts yet?
I have felt happiness (I thought!) before. But I have never ever felt this whole body feeling. It's been lovely and a revelation.

Is integration something that can happen like this - because of a reason and then separate out into parts again?

Or what exactly is integration?
How does it feel like?
How do you know it's happened?


I don't think, for myself, that integration is an 'aha' moment. For me it has been more like a slow and methodical process.

The good thing about recognizing I have split into parts is knowing that I can consciously create a new part as my new container part. The future and integrated me part. My end goal is cohesion. Cohesion, to me, is walking towards a life that is not attracted to the re-enactment of my trauma. It is also about recognizing mind/body splits (things like compulsive eating, attraction towards people who are harmful to me, the part of me who has no awareness of being mindful of my body, etc).

Each day I wake up with an awareness of the container self (yes, I have recently changed names - which labels the container part). I have an awareness of that part outside of me (no idea how to describe that), and build routines around that part that support my body health first and foremosst. That part drinks warm water every morning. Most mornings that part makes fresh pressed juice. That part of me goes for a walk most days. That part of me exercises to relieve the stiffness that comes with the adrenal failure that accompanies trauma. That part of me is meticulous about sleep time. Almost 12 hours of bed time. That part of me is engineering a proper name change. Legal and all.

I take the best of my other parts with me. The part that is dedicated to the wellbeing of those I love. I am conscious of that parts deficiencies in not recognizing m,y history of lack of discernment. The part of me that doesn't recognize when too much is too much but at the same time sticks with stuff that most wouldn't. I guess the idea for me has been to try to balance out the dichotomy of one who has been so traumatized throughout life. The idea for me is to leave the judgement against myself behind and just acknowledge and try to picture a better way moving forward.

I think I recognize that I am integrating myself because my life is working out better now. I feel a sense of peace overall. I feel more in control without having to grasp for it. I have more of an awareness of my body and what it needs. I have a genuine liking of myself and who I am. I have no interest in other people's opinions of me and refuse to get caught up in snippy shit. I am better able to take (and therefore assign) proper ownership to myself and others.

I am not certain if this helps or not.....


In my opinion and experience, integration is not a matter of insight or feelings of happiness but a state of mind so present that you feel truly connected with all both in pain and joy. For me one value I always had was to accept myself in both truly diabolical to caring human being I have become from my trauma and childhood. I did not value one state over the other cause I had experienced both growing up. But yet over the years, I have been dissociating, avoiding anxiety, daydreaming, practicing bravado of reaction formation to fear, to sadness, to shame etc. and I did not even bother therapy cause well I accepted how f*cked up I am as a person (the rotten apple does not fall too far from the rotten tree - my mother). So I lived unconsciously happy, joyful person and consciously difficult, hateful but so conscious of it, I learned how to manage it logically. But to have that is opposite of integration. To manually split unconscious and conscious and continue to imitate and learn without understanding foundations of self and the mind is traumatic and opposite of integration. Trauma is breaking the psychic, body and mind. Integration is when they all aligned at once.

When I went to therapy, I broke down completely cause all dams/defenses were removed and at bare minimum, I felt so much fear and sadness on one side (the true feelings of my childhood) and the other, I felt disgust, hateful and detachment (like I do not care and aggressively wtf like my mother showed me and buried in my body). So in therapy, I was not surprised when both sides started to come to the foreground when I am not in social setting where I am in control of myself. I did not resist. Whenever the therapist focuses on how bad it is to have dissociation, to be so unconscious, I started (after few years) to entertain the benefits of dissociating? What is the benefit for the adult, the animal in me for this?

And weirdly, and randomly, every time I have a deep dissociation, I felt I was breaking through massive barriers psychological and after I would have moments of what I considered deep understanding of myself. It felt like when you hear your absolute favourite song or music, and you feel it so deeply that it touches your gut, and you may have tears of sadness or love or pure bliss just for the sound going through your body! That moment of recognition with the music, with the present, fully mindful and yet experiential is (to me) what integration feels like - I connected with the present. Now you are right it is spectrum cause reality will always interfere...there you are standing fully mindful and hear the cry of your child...shit! worry takes over! but the more you remember integration moments and can recall them to experience another in the now...is healthy state of mind.

IMHO, people who are integrated are more skilled in maneuvering from the harshness of the reality to stay in the present without judgement. They are not jumping to the past or to the future as often. they are not like mentally triggered by a past thing or throw it to the future for unhelpful hopefulness. They just take it like the music and let it go through the body automatically, unconsciously, out of habit, and then feel easier to own their feelings and decision making process because there is no fight inside. They are not fully clouded by a fog. and even when integration becomes elusive, they are not defeated but feel the need for that state of mind like grieving etc. They are not fighting reality. They are utilizing skillfully and taking cues from the reality to reach equilibrium of in my thought right and left brain balance with the body. The most obvious integration is when a baby has a good sleep, diaper is changed, fed and touched lovingly and you leave them alone and they are just cooing! that is moment when all needs met and one just stays in the moment. Very hard for us as adults to do all the time that but we do experience them and if we are not slowing down, it passes very past...imagine learning to cultivate that for longer periods of time.

Long story but that is life again! it is not snapshot...it is a way of living most of the time. I work mental health and I can see when I put my hat at work, I am more mindful,staying in the present and fully listening and paying attention to clients. Of course there are times I become inattentive but I note that as part of the interaction and hold it not berate myself or blame the story of the client. It is almost like when I am with a person at work I am most integrated than when I am in my own life or even in my therapy...the irony! but then that is why I know the difference.


Thank you both for your replies.
I've read and re-read them, and taken a few days to reply as my head hasn't been in the right headspace (not sure it is still, so I don't think I will do your posts justice).

I really appreciate you sharing your experiences. Both make sense and are making me think.