Send Your Replies to Nancy about merging parts and signs of progress
I understand how difficult it can be when faced with the prospect of "merging" alters. As trauma survivors, we often feel we have lost so much of ourselves already that even the thought of losing another part can cause us to avoid integrating. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that everyone has "parts"--different aspects of their being that help them to function effectively: a mother part, a daughter part, an employee part, a friendly neighbor part, a lover part and even an angry two-year old part. What makes those of us with Dissociated Identity unique is that our "parts" are much more separated than the "parts" of individuals who are not dissociating...our "parts" often functioning as completely separate alters in order to manage the effects of our past traumas. When "merging" occurs, these "parts" or alters begin to integrate into our "core" being...they don't die or disappear...they simply assimilate into more "regular parts" in a way that will enable us to function more as a cohesive whole rather than as a set of separate entities.
Like Lynn and many other trauma survivors, I'm not completely integrated and sometimes get glimpses of the still deeply traumatized aspects of myself but now, always with a sense of "co-consciousness"--an awareness of what's emerging, why it's emerging and how to soothe that "part" of me. I often use guided meditations in order to connect with certain "parts" of myself when I'm concerned whether they're still there....and am always pleased to discover that I am as multi-dimensional as ever, only now with a stronger sense of wholeness. I agree with Lynn and your therapist that this is probably a very healthy sign. As you become more aware of alters such as "Tom" beginning to integrate with your core essence, give yourself and them a big hug, and welcome yourself home!! I wish you all the best on your journey of self-discovery and integration!
This is a great question. I personally hoped for answers to this question when I started MANY VOICES in the first place, back in 1989. I wanted to know what it meant to feel "better," or to be more unified. My therapist said it would feel different, but she couldn't describe it. I wanted more details!
What I've noticed over the years is that things inside me "shift." Some people, after thorough treatment, are able to consider themselves as "ONE" alone. I'm not one of those people.
I do not consider myself fully-integrated, but I am very functional and have been able to function in an apparently "normal" way for many years. I work, I have friends and close family members, I take responsibility for all my actions. I refer to myself as "I", not as individual parts. (Again, I've probably done this for 20 years or more.) But even so, there are times--especially when I'm under serious stress--that one "aspect" of myself or another will take the forefront. This is sometimes disconcerting and troubling to me. When this happens, my best solution is to go off by myself with a journal and write down whatever is going on inside me--good, bad, or indifferent. If I'm troubled, I say so--and I say it with lots of vigor. I don't hold back from myself anymore. And on rare occasions--such as recently, when I developed major medical problems , folllowed by grief at the loss of a loved one--I have gone back into counseling for those specific reasons. So far, I'm glad I'm doing this.
Good luck with your "merging." I'm not a therapist, but it sounds pretty healthy to me.