Posted by: Marie | October 16, 2009

(165) Putting names to the faces

Post #165
[Book study – Friday, June 26, 2009]

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
(Third Edition, 1994)
by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

Part One: Taking Stock
Coping: Honoring What You Did to Survive

[Table of Contents]


Green text: Quotes/Summaries from the book
Gray text: My words

This transformative work (the entire series of blog posts relating to this book) constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright law.


(I went to bed right after writing the previous post, but my mind was still racing . . . all these little bits and pieces started falling into place in my brain. I got up several times to scribble some notes. So, this morning, I’m going to type up a cleaned-up version of my notes . . . this post continues my answer I started in the last post.)

The Lotus by Martin Chen

The Lotus by Martin Chen

Going with the idea that I have created separate “personas” within myself, I’m going to borrow some concepts from the DID world and use them to define what “I” look like inside. I’ve never even thought about this before, so it may be a bit rough and I may change my mind about this later. But, for now, I’m just going to go with it.

And, keeping in mind what my friend Faith Allen (Blooming Lotus) often says – that alter personalities are created out of love in order to protect the host person – I’m going to honor the existence of the different personas by giving them affirming names. (I don’t think “Perfect Marie” or “Bad Marie” are affirming names.)

I started this exercise by figuring out which of my behavior characteristics could be attributed to which “Marie”. I paid special attention to opposing characteristics (for example, some days I’m ultra organized and some days my focus meanders and my behavior is random).

What I noticed is that some characteristics didn’t fit into either. So I started considering the possibility that some characteristics actually belong to my “host” or “original” persona – or that I have more alter personas that I had originally thought. Once I recognized four different personas, it was very easy for me to figure out which characteristics were associated with each persona – I guess I am more familiar with them than I could have imagined.

Aura: golden yellow – very bright and sunny
Arrived: at birth
Needs to be protected
Enjoys nature and sunshine on her face
Child-like, playful
Enjoys an easy, casual motorcycle ride
Music (playing piano)

As in: Under the Cover of Darkness
Aura: black with a hint of very, very dark menacing blue
Arrived: around age four (or before?)
Started out as a safe place to hide (a good thing), then morphed into:
Insatiable appetites
Violent porn
Sexually deviant
Isolated & alone

Spit Fire
Aura: passionate red
Arrived: developed during my teens – peaked in my early 20’s, now faded
Why I dye my hair red
Organization and strict order
Self-preservation (“I’ll kill you if you touch me”)
Sexually adventurous
Rides motorcycles aggressively
Masculine, athletic
Likes smaller groups of people
Fewer words, more action
Self-sufficient, independent

Aura: healing blue and green
Arrived: in my early 30’s, has been getting stronger since
Jumbo boobs – full figure
Protective of others (in a “gather my brood under my wing” way)
Enjoys community
Conversation – more words, less action
Minimal organization, order and planning
Follow my instincts
Host of paranormal abilities

I guess this brings me to the question . . . do “normal” people have these personas? I mean, I hear people talking about, “You’re seeing a side of me I don’t normally show.” So, is that all this (above) is? Or is there a true “splitting” that has occurred within me that is closer to DID on the continuum? What do I do with this now?

I really struggled with honoring the good in “Darkness”. The names I first selected were along the lines of “Thief”, “Evil”, “Sinful” . . but, since I am inspired by Faith Allen to recognize that all personas are created from a place of love as a way to protect the original person, I finally settled on “Darkness”.

This goes back to my theory that I used this persona and the masturbating to violent porn as a way to figure out what happened during those Sunday afternoons with “X”. Darkness was the place I could safely hide while tending to the wounds inflicted upon my four-year-old psyche. So, Darkness has some good mixed in there – it started out as a good persona.

I can see a benefit in identifying the characteristics of each persona – at least I can pick out which characteristics I like and want to keep – instead of seeing “Spit Fire” as all bad and something to reject, I can see there are aspects of Spit Fire I’d like to keep and cultivate. So, by doing this exercise, it opens up the possibility that I can keep those aspects and release the others. After all, I do really like being a spit fire and I really like my red hair!

Quotes 077


  1. I think that the DID difference is that there is no memory of the ‘other personas’. We all have different personas to some extent – we show different sides of ourselves to our friends, GP, counsellor, parents and so on. But we normally do this more or less consciously (at first anyway – later it it usually habitual).

    My idea about what to do with it: you have these resources (hiding in the dark, spitting fire, peaceful idealism, nurturing co-operation. I suspect all of them may have a place in a full life. Each of them probably filled a need at the time you developed them – they may meet needs you have in the future.

    This is just my idea. I look forward to knowing what happens with them in the future.

    • Hey, Evan –

      I’m thinking along the same lines. I can pick and choose from each persona, and thoughtfully choose where each persona comes out to play. This is part of letting go of my black and white thinking (certain ways of being are all bad or all good) and allowing myself to hang out in the gray spaces. When I think about that way of operating, it feels well rounded, peaceful and powerful.

      Thank you so much for bringing the clinical explanations to this discussion!

      – Marie

  2. If you feel that you are able to pick and choose from each persona, then take my word for it, you don’t have DID. :-) One of the most frustrating things about genuinely fragmented personality is that I do not have a choice as to which characteristics are available to me at any given time. I know what they all are, but I don’t have much choice as to who presents under what circumstances — or at least, it takes a great deal of work to make anything resembling that decision.

    Everyone has aspects of self; everyone has shadow selves and light selves, contradictions and complements. It’s the degree of voluntary access that determines whether the personality has dissociated.

    • Hey, David –

      I had pretty much come to the conclusion that any dissociation I experience is within the “normal” range. So, thank you for the confirmation . . .

      I think it is more a matter of choosing to accept and love (or at least appreciate) each “part” of me.

      I really appreciate you chiming in on this . . . I actually was afraid that I would offend people with DID by publishing this. I respect the struggle you all have and I don’t want to minimize the huge-ness of that struggle by writing about “my struggle” with dissociation. I recognize that the dissociation I deal with is a hill of beans when contrasted with what you handle everyday. You have my admiration!

      – Marie

    • P.S. I still think I can learn a lot from the steps you all take in order to attempt integration . . . so, know that I’m watching and learning!

  3. As always, I love the quotes!!!!!

    Thanks for your feedback about my “boyfriend…” been distancing myself. Staying friends (ha more like acquaintances b/c we are in the same phd program)….think he has a lot to sort through! And, needs that I will NOT satisfy!

    • Hi, imaginenamaste –

      Good — I’m glad to hear that! I was a bit fired up when I read your post . . . just a tad protective of you . .

      Thanks for stopping by!

      – Marie

  4. I have in the last few months or so started to identify the parts of me. At first i was resistant to the concept but doing this has really helped me to understand myself. My T noticed them long before I did which I found interesting. The idea that they were and are there to protect me is something I need to remember even as I work to get all parts on the same page.

    • Hi, lostinamaze –

      I’m glad you are learning about and (embracing?) all your various parts! We sure are complicated beings, aren’t we??!??!

      It sounds like you have a neat T!

      – Marie

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