DID, Trauma Recovery, and No Words

Content Warning: Sex and Sexuality

Today, we had therapy with our therapist, K. We have been working on parts who have differing views around sex. For instance, I (Nel) enjoy safe sexual activity with my partner (husband). However, sexual activity is invariably a direct trigger to sexual trauma.

We do a lot of freezing when it comes to someone touching our body. Sometimes we laugh like we’re being tickled, but we’re not happy and it’s not fun. It’s a body reflex that I may have no cognitive understanding of.

Whereas Mina, who co-fronts with us much of the time, we are now learning through therapy is asexual. It’s not triggering for her, but it’s also just not interesting to her. She could live without it for that plain fact, aside from the trauma.

So we have been reading an educational worksheet developed for tweens learning about human biology. Specifically, we have been reading aloud in session about the human female body. And guess what?

To a lesser extent, those same body reflexes are happening in session just by reading about the body. We do the nervous laughter, and even become completely overwhelmed and verbally shut down. We know we are feeling overwhelmed in the moment, but we are unable to find the words to describe it to K.

She assigned us a therapy homework project last week to collage issues that came up in session: (1) not having words, (2) nervous laughter, and (3) other body response I haven’t mentioned yet–extreme tiredness like I’m going to fall asleep.

Collaging is usually easy for me. It allows a part (and sometimes multiple parts) to communicate freely without the use of words. Deep feelings, inner experiences, or memories are expressed in a way that is tolerable outside of therapy.

WELL. This collage experience was the most frustrating I’ve ever completed. I spent hours scouring through magazines only to set them aside and then pick them up and start all over again. I found occasional images that struck a chord, but for some reason, a part was stuck on finding words. Only words. They wanted to find the exact words to describe not having words when overwhelmed.

Eventually, we created a simple, organized collage with one background image and some cryptic language scattered around the base image in a pattern. I don’t want to describe the pattern because it could be triggering to some other DID folks who read this blog.

If you don’t recall what my typical collages look like, they’re usually a bit more active and disorganized (TW for RA themes): Example 1, Example 2. I will include a picture of the collage we just created next weekend. K. has it for now in order to review so we can better process at our next session.

The therapy session did shed some light onto the part who influenced me in creating the collage. Actually, she let herself be known quite fluidly once it “clicked” in session. It’s not a new part, but rather one who just doesn’t communicate verbally. It is interesting she chimed in on the collage, because she’s not a child part. K. and I had determined the parts struggling with sex were younger parts.

Any internal communication is good internal communication in my book. I’m sure this part is connected in some way, as she historically was a gatekeeper part. So perhaps she helped facilitate switching or “saw” some things.

This week, I have a new collage project. K. asked us to pick one word from the bullet list on the worksheet of female anatomy that a child part may want to collage about. I stared at the list, and there is only one word, one part of female anatomy that stands out for us. Ok, two, but this one word is like setting a cannon off inside. It’s the word to process in connection to sexual trauma for us. It’s the center component to a lot of child parts’ sexual abuse.

Overwhelmed much just thinking about it? Oh, yes. *Deep breath* but one step at a time, as they say. One step at a time.

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