Integration is a tough topic for people with DID. People fear that parts will be erased, killed off, disappeared in some way that will leave them fealing incomplete. Parts of the self fear annihilation. With this belief, it is no wonder that the word integration has been dubbed "The I-Word" and is seldom spoken about in social circles among individuals with DID, and when it is, it conjures up huge defenses, fear, anger, and any other emotion you can think of. It is my desire here to talk about what integration means to me. These are my thoughts and feelings, and as such, they may match your own in some ways, or they may differ significantly.
Throughout my own therapy I have had mixed feeling about integration. There were times that I feared integration because I feared losing parts. I also feared the unknown, and feared losing the capacity to to dissociate. Initially I felt safe being able to do so. How would I manage without it? Then there were times when I feared I might not integrate! Like I may be DID forever and not get any better. I wondered how in the world someone who has functioned like this for so many years could ever function any differently. After awhile I decided to just "let it go." I decided to focus on healing (mine and all aspects of myself), and let be what will be. Lo and behold, that is when I actually did begin seeing some changes.
The first change in the system that I noticed was that two of my younger parts began to fuse together. How did I know this? Because I could no longer tell them apart. At first this was disturbing. It was sort of like how you night feel if suddenly you couldn't tell your real live children apart. However, over time I began to realize that both were still there. Neither had disappeared, and in fact they had blended together to make one child part. Since none of each child part's specialness was "taken away", I adjusted to this. I then subsequently noticed this occuring with other parts. There were two adult "ANP" (Apparently Normal Parts) that began to not only fuse together but begin to fuse together with me. This was welcomed whole-heartedly. I did not have any problem with this. All the aspects of each part were clearly still there, but they were no longer discernable as separate. They were part of me.
Over the years, I have noticed that some parts seem just sort of nowhere. I know---gasp! Some of them, I could do without, and good ridance! I had a couple of introject parts, and as I worked on some of this in therapy, the words of those introject parts got placed, rightfully so, onto the person they belonged to--my perpetrators. So, in essense I took them out of me, and put them back where they came from, which is fine by me. Some other parts have healed and their presence is not differentiated from the self at all anymore. One other, I can't say she is "gone" but I don't "hear" from her anymore, nor do I know where she is. She is a highly depressive, suicidal part, and being that my meds have been effective, and I have been free from depression now for years, who knows.....
Back to my child parts, after the fusing and some fusing of other parts, I really began to see my child parts differently. I began to see them more as "little me". To date, my perception of these younger selves is more like "inner children" than separate parts. I do not consider them "alters" anymore. They are me. They are me when I was young. They are a little me. They are part of who I am. After that, I began looking at other parts and realizing that they, too, were all part of me.
So, where do I stand now? Do I consider myself integrated? Yes, and no. Currently, for the most part, I consider myself integrated in the sense that some parts have integrated in the traditional way, and others are no longer walled off in any way. There is no "lost time". They are all present all the time to some degree. There are no more secrets. There is no need for struggles about "shared time", we all have time in some way all the time because we are all here all the time. I tend to think in metaphors a lot, and the image of my integration that comes to mind is that of Jello. At some point, Jello is separate ingredients, then they are mixed together, then they become one object (Jello) that is a conglomeration of all the ingredients. When the Jello is put in the freezer, it begins to solidify. For me, I feel like Jello that is partially solidified, but still too wobbly to be "ready".
So, what do I think will come later? Honestly, I think I will become more and more integrated in the traditional sense, but I would not be surprised if on some level I still feel that separateness. In my heart, I will always be DID. However, I do see a day where I will function totally as one whether that be "truly one" or "collectively" as one. Does it matter? My opinion? No. What matters most is true healing, peace, being able to function in a wholistic way with openness and flexibility internally. For me, there is a feeling of completeness, wholeness, and I do not feel I have lost anything of value from any part that is or was previously a part of my system. The blessings each part brought to the system, are now shared by all. Nothing has "gone away". Nothing feels "lost." Each part will forever live inside me, they just may not continue to exist in such a way that they feel as if they are a separate entity.
As I mentioned before, my thoughts about integration are ever evolving, so as I progress, my thoughts and feelings may change over time. This is just where I am today. To read more that I have written on integration, follow the links below.
PS---I just have to say this one last thing. As a previous educator I am more than familiar with the phrase, "No Child Left Behind". In some ways, integration begins when there is "No Part Left Behind." :)
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