Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot on where the assumptions I get about our healing process come from. I remember days before I had a name for our experience, feeling more free, less inclined to feel that there’s a right or a wrong way to go about being myself or healing my past hurts and traumas. Whereas nowadays, I’m more apt to go on paranoid thought tangents.
I‘m getting a memory fragment back, I’ll think to myself. And my next thought is usually, who’s there?
Something I think is missing from the D.I.D. narrative is not every supressed memory is remembered by another system member. Sometimes memories are just repressed, unaccessable to the brain at all.
Yet, my assumption that a memory coming back to me is because there’s another person trapped in this mind that no one can hear yet often times causes me more, or better yet more prolongued, stress than the memory itself. The memories can get really bad, true. But at least if it’s just a suppressed memory, I can face it, feel it, and let it go. If there’s another system member then we have to alocate more time, establish communication, fill in on daily life so they’re not scared of our loved ones, teach them how to do our job, and so on and so forth. That’s way more stress than simply processing a memory if you ask me.
I can’t emphasize how much this ideology has gotten in the way of me processing my own thoughts and feelings and allowing space for the memories to come back to me safely. The framework that I see therapy understanding people like me from is a framework I learned to understand fictional characters by in my university classes for creative writing– Archtypes. And how, then, does that help me hold more belief in myself?
The famous Gatekeeper archtype. The stoic figure, foreboding and distant, with the knowledge of what lies beyond and the coldness to keep it all at bay without being emotionally destroyed. I’m sorry to say that I don’t fit that archtype, and yet I’m the closest thing our system has to this supposed archetype.
If I’m a gatekeeper, I haphazardly make my way through my job, having knowledge of a lot of the traumas we went through, but then stumbling upon new memories by getting feelings in my body that repeat day in and day out, waking up from dreams wondering if they’re the truth or something I made up, and just so happening to catch a smell that reminds me of a time long passed that then spurs more memories to come flooding back days later.
Yet the idea that this stoic archetype of a person that should exist in my system makes me constantly wonder if I should trust what I know, if there’s another, less clumsy, elegant and distant person in here I just haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet. Trust me when I say, I really highly doubt that’s the case. But even if there is, it doesn’t change my point.
Not every memory people in systems get is accompanied by another system member. There’s not always a cold and distant person aware of every trauma that collective has ever gone through, holding things at bay and selecting which memory is remembered by whom. My system used to think that I hid things from them on purpose, and that’s something that honestly caused a great deal of harm in our inner relationships for quite some time.
So to therapists who stumble across my ramblings, please keep this in mind. When teachers and mentors give you frameworks to understand our community by, they are frameworks and only that alone. Not every system looks the same, not every gatekeeper is aware of every detail. We are human at the end of the day. We forget things, we repress things beyond just having another split to remember them by, and we’re real, dynamic people, not some fictional and flat archetype.