If you haven’t heard of the Healing Together Conference, it is an annual multi-day conference held in Florida for therapists who treat DID, survivors with DID, and supporters. It’s been well established now. I’ve never been because I’m fearful of exposing my anonymity (even though there is no obligation to “out” yourself, just being somewhere in public at a known DID event unnerves me).
I get that there’s a growing movement of younger survivors who want to be “out” as DID/OSDD. That’s awesome for them. If that’s their goal for their recovery, go for it.
For a lot of us, however, we stay anonymous for many reasons. One is social stigma is still alive and well against this disorder. People regard it as an anomaly or a curiosity to be studied for entertainment, rather than for advocacy. The difference being that the focus becomes questioning of the survivor. The same old story pulling attention away from the abuser(s) and their crimes.
The second reason (which is true for us), is it is unsafe to be out as a survivor of ritual abuse. Our main abusers are still out there. One of the more harassing ones is dead now, but I still wouldn’t put it past the others to attempt to silence me if my identity was verified.
Safety must always be first, and foremost, in all of our recovery efforts.
Ok, so what does all of this have to do with me and the conference? Well, beginning this year, An Infinite Mind (the non-profit organization responsible for organizing the conference), announced a new annual tradition. This is the development of a one-day mini-conference. The plan is for the one-day con to travel annually to different regions of the United States. For its first kickoff, they are hosting it at McLean Hospital in Boston, MA.
McLean Hospital is one of the country’s only inpatient providers that specializes in Dissociative Identity Disorder. Not only are they one of the few, but they are one of the leading providers in the field. And if that’s not enough, guess what they pride themselves on? Their efforts on on de-stigmatization of the disorder.
Good people and a safe environment!
I was telling [the fiance] about the conference, and how I have always wanted to go, but I’ve been fearful about my anonymity. “But this one-day thing is going to be at McLean! That’s like if they had it at Sheppard Pratt.”
“Then you should go.” He said matter-of-factly.
“Really?” I looked at him. Even after all this time, his unfailing support catches me off guard.
“Absolutely!” He energetically responded. “Let’s do it, babe.”
“Us, together? You’d come with me?” I’m still shocked.
“Of course!” He began feverishly typing in to the computer. “Let’s see what I can find out.”
So he read about An Infinite Mind and the Healing Together one-day conference. He remained just as enthusiastic and supportive and began researching hotels and flights to Boston.
Today, we took some time to look at the agenda. There’s some great topics I’m interested in, like new research, mindfulness as a grounding skill, and trauma-sensitive yoga.
“Oh, look at this! This is for supporters!” I pointed and read out loud to him, “Optional Chat and Chews. Grab your lunch and come join your fellow attendees to discuss what’s on your mind. These are moderated by mental health professionals. There’s one for survivors, and there’s one for supporters!”
“There is? I need to go to that. There’s not a lot of things out there for supporters.” He responded.
It’s still a scary thing for me to contemplate, but I’ve committed. I’m going with [the fiance] and I’m super happy he is finding his own independent value to coming with me.
I’m still not going to reveal, “Hey, I’m Nel. That chick that has had a blog about DID recovery for the past 7 years, and writes a lot about SP.” But I’m super excited, nonetheless, for my own healing, to learn the latest research, and widen my symptom management toolbox.
See you soon, Boston!