Halloween is almost upon us. For many people, this time of year elicits memories of joy, dressing up, going trick-or-treating, and becoming lost in your personal haul of candy. For some trauma survivors, however, this can be a daunting time of the year. When it comes to DID, we are not only managing any triggers our adult parts must dance with, but also those that trigger fight-or-flight in our child parts.
One of the things I am working on in therapy, is talking to child parts within. Here are some ideas I have learned for this Halloween season.
- Do not underestimate the power of internal communication. Where I live, there is an orchard that turns their farm/orchard into a “Halloween Land.” They have a Halloween market, Haunted Hayride, and Roast marshmallows around a fire in the dark. These are all triggering in some way for us. One of the things we do is do some internal communication before we leave to visit the Halloween Land. While there, we try to show our child parts that it is the same orchard they know and love, but just “dressed up” for Halloween. We touch painted pumpkins so they can see it’s just paint. We do things they like, such as eat a candy apple or funnel cake. We walk around and point out parts of the orchard that are familiar.
- We go in with a certain time limit. By keeping the visit short, the child parts know they will definitely be leaving at X time. We also let them know that if they want to leave before the time is up, that’s okay. It gives them some power and control back to know they only have X minutes left, or if they really cannot handle it, they don’t have to.
- Halloween costumes don’t all have to be scary. We look around and point out Halloween Costumes we think are cute, such as a child dressed up as a unicorn. We compliment adults and kiddos we come across when we like their costume, to show parts that not everyone in a costume is mean or going to hurt us.
- It’s ok for the child parts to say no. Child parts can decide not to go to any events they don’t want to. We have an inside safety room where they cannot hear/see outside. We make sure if they “stay home” that they have plenty of safe activities (e.g. coloring, video games, art) and they are not alone.
Whatever yous decide to do this Wednesday, you deserve to feel happy and safe. Don’t go it alone. If you’re going to be alone, make a plan to check in with someone by phone. That’s the great thing about healing–we no longer need to be in isolation due to our trauma.