He was shocked, since we hadn’t given much indication of our impending decision, and of course there was a backlash of vicious gossip defaming my character and claiming that I had “forced” my family to leave.
That was, in a way, the first step in my healing road back from DID. I was totally alone, and this solitude gave me time to begin to piece my life back together.
I looked for a grief group to heal from what felt like a divorce after leaving the controlling group. Since displaying any kind of emotion or grief was labeled as negative or “depression” in the controlling group, my emotional self needed a lot of help and support.
I wasn’t able to find a group to help me separate from the controlling group or to help me rebuild my life. Instead, I ended up at a grad school that claimed to help people heal from unhealthy religious groups. It turned out to be much more fundamentalist than the school claimed to be, but I toughed it out to earn a master of arts in counseling. Through those three tough years I also discovered that I wasn’t a Christian at all.
All students at the grad school were required to see a therapist, so that introduced me to the world of counseling. My first therapist was able to listen to and show compassion for a lot of my childhood issues. But her bottom line was to bring me back to Christianity. She was unable also to admit the depth of my dissociation. When I began running into the same roadblocks of obedience and submission that had held me back in the cult-like group, I sought another therapist.
This one was also Christian. She was kinder than the first, but not able to discuss with me the depths of the depravity that had consumed my parents. When it turned out that she, too, hoped to lure me back into organized religion, I went out on my own once more.
At this point I did many things. I read horror novels to understand the mindset of people who abused others. I studied the works of Alice Miller, Susan Anderson, Ellen Bass, Laura Davis, and Bruce Lifton. To ease peer pressure in grad school I took several art classes. I reclaimed some of my favorite music from childhood and even found an online group of people who had escaped the controlling group I’d belonged to for most of my life.
All of this helped to release some of the trauma and grief that had built up through the years of abuse and enforced silence. But each time I was under stress, I was made very aware that my inner personalities still existed.
I was seeing a naturopath for acupuncture and natural health support in 2004. She had sent me to a podiatrist because of a cyst on my big toe. I went to several appointments where my toe was first numbed, then the cyst was drained. At the third or fourth visit, suddenly the smells, sights, and sounds of the office overwhelmed me. To make matters worse, the podiatrist chose to become offended at my sudden apparent lack of trust.
My nervous system started trembling and jangling. It felt as if I was living inside of a drum set. I tried to tell my naturopath about it but she didn’t understand at first. The symptoms continued for weeks so I turned to the Internet. I found an article about chronic shock that described the nervous system being unable to calm itself after trauma. The symptoms matched what I was going through so I bought the article and brought a copy to show my naturopath.
Finally, a thread of recognition got through. This naturopath was also a brilliant energetically based licensed mental health counselor but her varied skills made it challenging for me to know how to help her to understand what I needed.
I began seeing her a couple times a month. Though she was a bit young in years for the work I needed to do, she was able to do several things that proved to be keys in my recovery from DID.
First, she talked to my inner parts directly, similar to how a medium talks to departed spirits. In a way, the inner personalities I’d created were energetic, as bits of myself, and they had departed from my main consciousness. That created a bridge of awareness between what I had perceived as my main sense of self and the parts that had been separated off.
She also suggested I learn an energetic practice like Reiki and that I consider writing a book about my inner personalities.
As I continued to work with her, I remembered how intuitive I had been as a young child. As I reclaimed those parts of myself, I felt stronger and more whole. I remembered the decision to create the inner personalities and the promise I had made to each one, that we would all be together again someday.
Unfortunately, there were some parts of my story that were too dark even for this gifted therapist, so I wasn’t able to continue seeing her until my entire system was restored. But I did study Reiki, earning master certificates in Usui/Tibetan, Crystal, Karuna, Atlantean and Ra-Sheeba branches of Reiki.
Writing the story of my life, now an e-book called Sky Eyes: Dissociation from the Bottom Up, was also empowering. As more and more of the inner personalities grew strong and felt safe enough to rejoin my conscious sense of self, I came to understand that the main issue in my life had been lack of empowerment.
My parents and the cult-like group had felt disempowered, so they had taken power from others in a similar way that I had ridden the energy threads of others, so to speak, when I had mimicked them. The sense of disempowerment had been so strong in the restrictive environments I had been in until I changed my life focus to wholeness that even desperate and violent methods to hold people in the lie that they had no right to be powerful or feel grounded in themselves were viewed as acceptable.
That knowledge helped to solidify my growing sense of self, which in turn helped me to rebuild my life.
It’s strange. Now that I’ve rebuilt my life and have reintegrated most of the 207 inner personalities I created as a child, I don’t feel as strong of a need for people as I did before. Oh, I like people, and I’ve met so many wonderful people through practicing and teaching Reiki that I never feel lonely. But I don’t feel the need at least at this point to do a lot of social things.
I’m sure that day is coming. This stage, like the others that I’ve written about here, is important to my growth and recovery.
I’m grateful to have been able to say I was there—deep in a dissociative mindset—and that I’ve come back again. That perspective can help me to help others to do the same.