Well, once again it has been a “few” months since my last blog. It has been a time of learning and growth, and during these times I don’t have a lot of excess energy or brain power to write, and, I am learning too be OK with that.
I had spent the rest of the summer and the early part of fall being mindful, sitting still, quiet walks, alone time and processing. Yes, it was hard, and yes it was worth it. This was another step that was needed for me to get where I am now.
During this time, I started thinking I wanted to learn more about my condition, Dissociative Identity Disorder. By this, I mean I wanted to learn the science behind it. But did I want to go to school for the next 10 years? No, not really. It was then that the universe provided.
I had gotten word that some service agencies here were holding a workshop “Dissociation 101: How to work with people who have experienced complex and chronic trauma” They had invited someone called Christine C. Former from Calgary. She is a member of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation-(I.S.S.T.D.) - I had not heard of her, but I had heard about the I.S.S.T.D. and at one time had been a member when I could get their student membership. They are the foremost experts in this field.
So, I thought about this workshop for a while. I asked myself “Why would I want to take this workshop?” It was a big chunk of money for me, and I wanted to make sure I was doing it for the right reasons. The answer was that I wanted to be able to listen and talk to someone who knows the science behind this condition and has access to the studies and research that I don’t. I wanted to make sure that what I was saying in my talks and workshops were correct, and I wanted to get the latest information, theories etc. so I could share them with my audiences.
Once I understood why I wanted to be there, I sent an email to the contact person to see if I could take it- as I am not a service provider or affiliated with any organization. I thought all I could do is ask. So, I sent an email telling the agency who I was, what I do, why I wanted to take it etc. and asked if I would be able to take the workshop, and the answer came back that I could.
So last month, during an 18 hour weekend workshop, I learned the science behind dissociation. I learned that of the psychiatric conditions, this is one the most studied, and the most scrutinized. We know what causes this, that’s more then we know about many of the other conditions. We have thousands of studies- decades of scientific research to back this up.
I learned that what I have been saying/teaching, and my understanding of what goes on in the brain and the central nervous system is spot on, but now I have the science behind it. When I give my presentation I sometimes wonder “Do I need to go to school to learn about this?” And I have come to the conclusion that I do not. There are experts out there, doing the research, it’s out there if people want to read up and study and get more information. What I do have and can give, is a unique perspective that comes from lived experience, from someone who has been there, gone through the wars and come out the other side. And I am learning that this is pretty special in itself.
On the first day, we all introduced ourselves, of course I was the only “non-professional” there- and I did disclose I live with this condition. I did this because for me, my childhood was full of secrets, and I no longer need to keep this a secret. I also reassured the group that I am not going to turn into a Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, and that this condition is nothing like Hollywood portrays. I told the group I would not be switching like Hollywood shows. The facilitator- Christine said something like “Well, if you do, I got it”- she is also a therapist J
I also told the group that it did my heart good to see so many people interested and willing to learn and thanked them for their courage to come and learn about something that can be scary if you don’t understand it. I have been speaking publicly about living with this condition for about 12 years, it’s nice to see that the community sees and understands the need to better understand this condition and learn how they can better help their clients.
It was an amazing weekend, I learned tons, met some lovely people, made more connections and came away even more self-assured that what I am doing is what I am meant to do. When you work on your own, you do have times you doubt yourself, or at least I do. I have put out the offer to those folks at the workshop that if they have questions, or would like me to come and talk to them, or their group, about what it is like to live with this condition, I am more than willing to do so.
As I said, it was an amazing workshop, and I met some lovely people and some asked me really good questions and great conversations happened. It was really cool when someone told me they recognized my name from the article I wrote, - someone had forwarded it to him. Someone else came up to me and said...” Since you’re the one expert here, what do you think of the workshop?” I smiled and said, “Awe, thanks”. I told her the workshop was great, and everything the facilitator was saying was right on, and that it was good to learn the science behind the condition. I now have a better understanding physiologically what was happening in my body and brain when I was switching, memory lapses etc., I now understand. And I also realized how far I had come. That is pretty amazing, and powerful.
One morning following the workshop I was going for a walk through the woods and I was thinking of how far I have come in this healing journey of mine. I thought back to the days before I was diagnosed and thought I was crazy, losing my mind and at times, wondered if I had early onset Alzheimer’s. I wondered why other people could seem to function and remember appointments, to pay bills, etc. and I couldn’t. I wondered if life would ever get better, or even if there was a “better.” Those were some dark days. During those days I could never imagine I would be where I am now, doing what I am doing, and being able to walk into a room full of strangers, all professionals, and not only feel confident about who I am and what I know, but believe, and know in my bones that I have something to offer.
It took a long time to get here, a lot of work, a lot of tears, a lot of support. There were many moments of doubt, and I know I will still have those moments now and then. I know I will have good days, and not so good days, but during those not so good days, I know it will get better.
I also know that I am here, not because of giant leaps, but because of thousands and thousands of baby steps, some so small they were microscopic.
Sometimes we can become overwhelmed by the enormity of a task, I know I do. Things can seem so big that it just overwhelms us and we don’t know where to start.
I want to tell you that things change when we make little steps. Sometimes, when we are struggling we can’t seem to make a full step, I understand that so well. When those times arrive, do baby, or micro steps. What is a micro step you may ask? If you are breathing, that is a micro step forward!
The steps don’t need to be huge, because many little steps add up.
NASA did not decide to land a man on the moon, then do it. It took many years and many steps, and a lot of support to get there. I didn’t get where I am, and develop the ability to do what I can now do because I thought of it. It took many years, many steps, and a lot of support. But, like landing the man on the moon, being where I am today is also pretty frigging amazing!
Those are my thoughts for today, may you be kind to yourself during this journey we call life.
Cheers and be well
PS- here is a link to The I.S.S.T.D. http://www.isst-d.org/
Here is a link to Christine C. Former, she was amazing, authentic, knowledgeable and funny J https://www.thetraumatherapistproject.com/podcast/christine-forner-ba-bsw-msw/