Psychology and Mental Health Forum

Author:  Johnny-Jack [ Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:25 am ]
Blog Subject:  one's own safe place and EMDR

Creating a safe place inside for EMDR work is standard practice. I began seeing a new T recently. She started the preparation for EMDR work by focusing on my creating a safe place inside for alters to go to if EMDR were to bring back memories that were too difficult for some, especially all the littles, to bear. The "safe place" we came up with was not a meadow, or a seashore, or even a comfy cottage, but a pirate ship. The idea came, not surprisingly, from little boy alters. However, I had some trouble creating the ship inside. When I did a similar exercise several years ago, no problem. I created and began describing an imaginary place of my own so fast that my shrink was surprised. But imagining often comes easy to someone with DID.

This time I had some trouble creating, imagining the pirate ship as an internal physical place with three-dimensions. I did work out some characteristics of the ship, like it shouldn't be out on the ocean at the mercy of weather and who knows what but anchored in the cove of a small uninhabited island. There needed to be cannons and other weapons on the ship that were easily aimed should monsters (abusers) approach. There needed to be plenty of food and places to rest and relax and feel safe. Most importantly, the littles needed someone to take care of them if they felt scared. Everyone needed to know their role on the ship in case of emergency, which meant any emotional overwhelm from returning memories due to EMDR processing.

"Inside" was the place alters went when they weren't out in control of the body but it had collapsed into oblivion in fall 2011. Without a deep inside anymore, it was very difficult to create the pirate ship with enough "realness" though the exercise had benefits.

I have a high percentage of littles but just enough older alters to match up with each little so that were anyone to become too upset, they would have a protector. So here is the watch we've set up.

JACK protects ADAM, the core: both alters are key in my system, both considered "indispensible" compared to others. Although young himself, Jack is the most proactive protector of small children. Adam once chose to get close to Jack and inadvertently blended with him, so I already know he likes him. Jack would also be good with Ashar because he was the first to look for and find him inside. He got bitten in the process because Ashar is feral. Before anyone else knew what to do, Jack rescued Ashar from inside as it was collapsing. It was a subjective experience but it felt quite real.

JONATHAN protects ASHAR: Jonathan is wise and Ashar is the most traumatized of alters. I would trust Jonathan to know what to do in an emergency. QUATO protects JOHANN: Both were hurt from similar abuse around the same time, but Quato grew up. Quato can be a sourpuss but that falls away the moment a child is in need. DAN protects HANSEL: Dan always comes into the body angry and he can be grumpy but he is extremely protective, maybe over-protective, of children. Hansel is usually cheerful, so they seem a good match. AARON protects CHARLES: Both are very newly known to our system. Aaron is not a very deep alter. But he is here, kind and capable, and has introduced himself to Charles and explained how he will be available to help him.

MARC-DOMINIC protects LITTLE JOHN: Marc is old and also not a very deep alter. He's perhaps the least attentive alter by comparison. But Little John has probably been awake in the body for many years, weathered two years of hosting as a small child, tends to look after himself a lot, and may not need as much heavy protection as the other littles. SPHINX is the gatekeeper so not very good at all with human emotions, though he would protect a little in a pinch. He's here to guarantee the stability of the system and he does a pretty good job at that.

JOHN is the host and usually "does" the therapy. However, if another adult alter were to do the EMDR -- and Jonathan has taken a turn so far -- John loves all the littles and would easily take over protection of a child alter who was left unattended.

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