Last week at therapy we realised that I keep my sexual abuse carrying alter, Ellie, locked in a room when she’s not being invited out to have her time. We found this out as she took the reins in the session, tearfully berating the way she is invited out once a week and then dissociated from again so we can carry on functioning and being as near as we can to “normal”. She said this pain of rejection and abandonment after each therapy session is like a reinforcement of her silencing directly after the abuse. On the one hand I invite her out knowing it’s her that needs to heal, on the other I don’t want to allow her to be the one always in control or we would be a mess of terribly dark emotions and pain like we were before I started the therapy journey.
So my therapist invited me to leave the door to the room I put her in unlocked. She felt so happy at this and reassured me she doesn’t want to take over or make us miserable all the time, she just wants to not be rejected so horribly after each invitation to come forward, be present and heal. And so with this visualisation I left the session with the door still unlocked. I went to a 6 hour CPD course about sexual abuse on Friday with the door unlocked. Ellie sat and listened and did her best to take the things she was hearing on board. When it became too much I dissociated without any control but that was ok too. Because at least Ellie was hearing many of these things she so needed to hear. It feels madness that I’ve spent two years at therapy with the door to the person holding the abuse locked! I never even realised I was dissociated and wondered why I was never healing. I learned so much more of how to regulate my emotions, but healing Ellie? No, that wasn’t happening. I knew I wasn’t prepared to open the door to the abuse but I didn’t realise the door wasn’t just to the abuse but to a very part of me that held the abuse, an “alter”.
I was concurrently attending therapy desperate to heal and denying to myself that I was ever abused. Both were for the same reason: longing to have the best life possible. Dissociation meant I could pretend my past wasn’t real and thus most of the time I didn’t experience the terrible psychological effects of the trauma. But there were always the times the pain bubbled up and I lost control, it seeped through the cracks, Ellie was shouting out desperate to be heard, to be witnessed, to be validated. She would rage, she would cry, she would want to die. She would cut herself. And now here we are at last… I can speak her name and I can leave the door to her unlocked. I am learning to trust her and she is learning to feel trusted. Every step of it is healing. And whether DID is just an elaborate way of visualising dissociation or whether Ellie is real, by treating her like a person, her very own person, I feel I am able to attend to her needs in a way that was never possible while I was just this alleged single entity that was both abused but also defiantly denied that awful past.