A guest post by Colourful Carwen
I struggle with CPTSD. To survive my experience of the world I split my self up. 1-8 are the voices in my head. They are remnants of when I used to walk in 8 different personality types. Number nine is our body who has had no say for years. 1-8 could not cope with what number nine carries. For all our sake, so we were able to function 1-8 stayed in charge. This year marks the beginning of the journey we are all on to work out if it's possible to lay down swords and join each other.We are well into body therapy now! (5 months)
Using a combination of psychotherapy exercises and massage. All nine of us are stumbling on our colourful journey. The aim is to integrate on all levels. Body and brain, neuroplasticity comforts our amygdala. Frontal cortex meets real life limbs and frazzled nerves and stays in connection still able to think.
We start by just trying to identify 'feeling / touch'. 1-8 being able to understand and no longer be scared of the trouble number nine may get us into. Number nine not melting down or kicking of our fight flight freeze fawn response.
As we journey number nine is starting to throw out emotion alongside feeling and sensation. We 'all' feel touch in our tummy, jaws, arms and fingers; managing all to stay present.
1-8 struggle to put identification to these sensations and some of these sensations now come with memories attached to the emotions.
I guess this is where I need your help. I need to write to bring closure. Writing the process down and know it's been heard is really important to me. I'd like to share one of my first integration stories.
It all started about a month into therapy. A sudden convolution in my tummy exploded it literally doubled me in two. I was in bed at home. I'd had a couple of glasses of wine, Netflix was on but all I could do was groan as repeatedly our breath was caught.
The next convulsion would come. Number nine would literally crunch in two. I knew this was coming from my tummy musclesand there was no pain involved. Strangely I did not feel scared.
Being able to remain thinking allowed 1-8 to consider what was happening. Viewing the experience like medical students in a theatre gallery.
Like birth contractions it kept happening. Even when I hadn't had wine and over days several unexpected times. We all tried to grapple with what on earth was going on. A conference was called, a body brain meeting.
1-8 pleaded not guilty, each voice presented what they considered to be going on. There seemed only one culprit. We all turned to number nine.
- What are you doing?
- We can't function if you act like this.
- We need to 'do life'!
- Are you trying to cripple us?
- We are struggling to stay civil.
- If you keep behaving like this we will have no choice but to take over entirely and leave you!
- You are too much trouble!
- We are angry with you!
- Stop it, stop it!
Then and only then after at least a week of squabbling and anger our hippocampus gave us all a pin point. Number nine was trying to remind us of when we walked in a field.
At the time we were visiting a neighbours farm to use their pool. The field In question sloped up the side of a hill. We are 10 years old.
Roaming out on are own in the African bush was a normal pass time. No one knew where we were, but we weren't creating stress so it didn't bother anyone. Scrabbling through some bush scrub we found ourselves behind a group of horses. Not knowing about horses we walked up behind them.
All we can remember next is a dirty great thump in our tummy. The whole world momentarily went black. (One of the horses had kicked us in the stomach). The blackness reseeded, doubled up with no breath and smiling as we recognised this experience as being 'winded' (we knew we would breath again). There's was however an the extra problem of being catapulted down the hill.
The falling and tumbling was not our primary concern, as we knew we could take that. The thing that terrified us was this:_
We no longer had the ability to hide and someone might see!
This would mean being in trouble!!!
This would mean being in trouble!!!
Thankfully no one saw. Swiftly we considered how to make this situation 'not have ever happened'. Getting up we stood straight, blinked and sucked in the pain. We then neutralised our face and walked back and over to everyone else by the pool.
Putting on our swimming costume in the toilet it came as a relief to see the scratches were not to noticeable. The horse shaped welt on our stomach already turning blue would be harder to deal with "No it won't" and we smiled again. "We shall keep it hidden". Occasionally we would have a look. What seemed like years and many colours later it had disappeared.
Numbers 1-8 real back a stare at number nine:
- Out of all the things we have been through your choose that as our first hurdle?
- What on earth are you thinking?
- That is not important!
- Your being ridiculous!
- This is not a game you know!
- We are still angry with you! why make such a fuss?
Then we looked at number nine and realised it mattered to her. She wanted to tell us it hurt. It hurt physically and it hurt to not be seen. It made her withdraw from us all further as it was quite obvious she didn't matter.
That it mattered to her should be enough for it to matter to us all. 1-8 took a a sigh. Guilty thoughts that we should be dealing with much bigger and important events will have to wait. If we are going to learn about each other and respect each other then part of the journey is realising that number nine is probably very sensitive and that's OK.