11 thoughts on “Shame & DID

  1. chariots

    First of all, I’ve done a lot of denying that I have DID. But I think I’m finally getting over that. And second of all, I’ve had a huge amount of shame about being DID. It’s like saying I’m one of the mutants on X-Men or something. If the world at large sees us as alien (scary) or figments of our imagination (psychotic), how do you work through that to come to place of being ok with yourself? Not easy. Especially for someone who’s spent so much of their life as a people pleaser. It’s definitely taking time to start being ok with myself(s) just as we are.

  2. Maria

    I know we are different. It is different to be many people in one body. But we have come to love one another. With the help of our therapist and a safe place we usually think we are okay. There has been a lot of shame. I don’t know where the shame ha gone but I don’t feel so much shame anymore. I guess what helped me is knowing that its all right to be different. It doesn’t mean crazy, psychotic, or bad. It just means ‘different.’

  3. JA

    i get the thing with shame. on the one hand, yeah, DID is something positive, it’s a survival mechanism, and also, it can be pretty cool to have the different people inside.

    but at the same time? for me, it’s tied up with the shame i have about having been abused. because no matter how much i work on understanding it wasn’t my fault… well, i still feel ashamed about that. and telling someone i have DID means essentially telling them that i was badly abused. and also, it feels like it means i am somehow weak, at least right now, because having DID means that i’m not coping with the world as well as i “should.” it means i’m not able to compartmentalize all of my therapy into 50 minutes a week, and be a strong survivor who overcomes all kinds of stuff the rest of the time.

    means i allowed myself to come apart.

  4. Sydney

    I have a lot of shame not just about having DID but how I got this way. The abuse seems so fresh in my mind sometimes that it feels like it just happened although the first event was 40 years ago. I am also ashamed about some of the things I have done while in an “altered” state. I don’t know how to reconcile these things. Maria says that she is okay, but I am not ok. Can anyone relate?

  5. JA

    i can relate to that. for me, i’m not exactly ashamed of the things different parts have done, because mostly, we’re actually all pretty decent people. or maybe it’s because i’m one of the parts who does things the others are upset over, but i can see why? like, when i feel suicidal, it’s not something that i do to cause trouble, and i’m working on it, and stuff like that.

    but i do feel shame about the fact that i (collective-i) can’t do the things that some of the parts can do. some of the parts are really good at things, and others of us aren’t. some of them are really good at nurturing, for instance, but then when they aren’t around, it’s pretty near impossible for us to do it.

    but then, why *can’t* we do it, if it’s clearly happened before? why can’t we just have all the “good” parts out, whenever they are needed, as soon as they are needed? i think that used to happen, the “good” parts would just show up, and do their thing.

    and i feel ashamed when i can see parts saying things, like they’ve got it all together, and offering advice to people. on the one hand, i can see that it’s good advice. but then, if i know what to do, why don’t i just do the right thing?

    it’s also hard because i feel guilty for asking for help, and needing it so much. doesn’t help when so much of the “healing literature” is about how you need to depend on yourself, and so little of it is validating of the idea that it’s ok to ask for help. or at least, it doesn’t explain how to ask for help in ways that are ok. in my system, the response then is mostly not to ask at all, because we’re just not sure how it’s ok to ask. but having DID is like this huge thing where we need help from people outside, and there are even parts who will just ask for help because they can’t cope, and i feel guilty for not having the parts who can cope take care of everything. even though the people around me keep telling me the ways i’ve asked for help are ok (well, most of the people. there have been a few who said i was being codependent or borderline, but then when i ask other people i’ve known longer, they say that isn’t true. but it’s hard to listen to people who say positive things about me. much easier to listen to the negatives.)

    as for the abuse… it’s hard. because even though i know it wasn’t my fault… it’s hard to understand that emotionally. especially because when the older more rational parts see the memories, they see it as adults, and then it makes even less sense why we didn’t do anything to stop it. and the littles see themselves in an adult body, and have trouble understanding why they couldn’t just cope or leave or get things to stop, because they have this big body, you know? not sure if that makes any sense.


  6. chariots

    I can definitely relate to being aware of what an insider is doing/saying/being – and being terribly ashamed of what they are doing/saying/being. Yet I’m stuck in the trunk or backseat or something and can’t stop what’s happening. Shame is of course heightened by the presence of another person. So, in the presence of another person, even my therapist, I can feel intense shame/embarrassment over what an insider is doing/saying/being, when/if I am aware enough of it.

    I’ve only been demeaned a few times because of this happening (being shifted), because for the most part – those who know me and my ‘people’, seem to accept and even love them. And for the most part, I can be ‘normal’ when I need to. It’s amazing how ashamed I can still feel though, even in an accepting environment.

  7. Cooper

    It took a long time to emotionally accept DID. We isolated from everything until we were able to find a personal, inside acceptance of “me” as a “we”. I still get embarassed when there is an OOPS thing (switch) that is noticeable but I try to remember that it’s a part of me that has something to say and we can learn from that OOPS together to make whatever it is easier on that part. We’re not always successful with that, but we try because it’s been important to learn about all parts and to compassionately care about the experiences, needs, thoughts, behaviors and functions of each part. Embarassment can still happen, but shame for having DID or shame for what caused the DID? We let go of that a long time ago. I’m not ashamed for surviving. I’m not ashamed for being here and using the best abilities I had to live, to protect special parts of me. I’m not ashamed of my ability to dissociate in order to survive. I also spent a lot of time with little parts explaining to them the difference between shame and embarassment. The real shame belongs to those who were abusive. We worked as a team to put the shame part where it belongs (with the abusers) and we put the pride part (we survived, we’re here and we’re going to overcome) where it belongs (with all of us). The embarassment about a switch in public…we’re still working on that one but getting better with it by trying to learn what that switch was teaching us about ourselves in that particular instance. I don’t know if that helps, but that’s what we do/believe.

  8. JR

    I am okay with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Dissociation saved my life. I feel shame when I listen to and abosorb my parts. I also feel shame when I remember things that happened to me. The shame becomes overwhelming.

    I try to find peace within and then invite the parts that are feeling the shame to join me. I don’t know how else to live with this. Any comments?

  9. Cooper

    JR, I probably should have a bit more clear on the question I was answering. I thought it was about shame and having DID, so I answered that way. We did and still do quite a bit of work with the difference between shame and embarassment, but I agree with you 100% about being overwhelmed by shame associated by memories of things. It can be and is overwhelming at times. If it is overwhelming for me as an adult, it is moreso for the parts most affected as they are younger. Like you, we try to find peace in the midst. Then we try to do what would give the parts affected peace in their own midst. We get those affected by the memory and give them an opportunity to draw what they are experiencing, talk about what they are feeling while they draw and we just work on it as a team. Gives you a righteous headache sometimes when quite a few are involved, but it seems to help us. After we help the little ones with their particular memory set, we get to work with the anger of the teenagers and give them an opportunity to work with their modes of expression. Then we try to work with the adult layers who have a different approach to the sense of shame they now have for things they never knew about. Eventually, through all the layers, we work it through. One way you can tell the little ones were helped…they and the teenagers help the adult set when its their turn to work with it. At the end of the process, everyone seems to have helped everyone else inside and peace returns. The more we work with it, the less intense it becomes over time. That’s pretty much all we know to do. The best way for us to live with it is to help each other with it.

  10. Maria

    Oh, I too have trouble with the embarrassment. I identify with Cooper in that I think for the most part I have let go of the shame. Sometimes it comes back but it is not the over riding feeling. But I can easily be embarrassed. Sometimes when one of the others act in a certain way I feel it is a reflection on me. I also feel awkward when I know people are seeing an adult and mature body and I am unsure of myself. One of our other selves, jane, is a teenager and she hates it if she feels gawky. So we each struggle with this somewhat.

  11. Jigsaw Analogy--Cleo

    I was thinking about shame and DID, and also in relation to having fibromyalgia. And for me, a bit part of that is my inability to just overcome these disorders, and go on and have the kind of outwardly successful life I am “supposed to” have. If I didn’t have fibro, if I didn’t have DID, then I would be a college professor, and a mother, and run a perfect household. I would have all of the outward things that show I am successful. And I feel like, if these things are *sometimes* within my abilities, then maybe there is something wrong with me for not being able to do them all the time.

    Rationally, I can see that isn’t true. But boy do I feel guilty about it. I feel like a failure. I feel like it’s just admitting I’m a failure if I do something like go on disability (not that I currently have the physical or mental energy to apply for disability, so it’s a moot point).

    But acknowledging that these are not things I can overcome, and that I’m going to have to readjust my life to fit within limitations. That feels like giving up, and I deal with a lot of shame for not being able to be the poster child. You know? “Yes, I have DID, I have fibromyalgia, I have whatever it is that holds other people back, but you CAN succeed and do amazing things and be a total outward success if you just try.”

    I was raised to believe I could do anything if I only tried hard enough. This was meant (by people outside my family) to be a supportive message. But it inevitably combines with the message from inside my family, that any time I couldn’t manage to do what was expected of me, it was my fault for not trying hard enough, and not connected to the tasks genuinely being too hard.

    But the fact is, not everyone can achieve what the “poster children” achieve. Not everyone is able to overcome these things. Sometimes, we have to scale back. I’m struggling to be ok with that, but it’s hard. So that’s a big place where I feel shame.

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