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The Necessity of Dialoguing with Your Parts in DID

December 4, 2019 Becca Hargis

Is it necessary to dialogue with your parts in dissociative identity disorder (DID)? What are the benefits of dialoguing? What exactly does it mean to dialogue with your parts? In previous posts, I have written how important it is to communicate with your parts, or headmates as I call them. However, dialoguing with headmates is something more. What does dialoguing look like, and why should you try it?

The Benefits of Dialoguing with Your Parts

While some might find dialoguing with your headmates unsafe, attention-seeking, or as a way to reinforce pathological behavior, dialoguing with your system is important to become aware of and knowledgable of each headmate. Engaging with your headmates encourages connection with them, which promotes healing. We dissociate because our parts are segregated, so by dialoguing with them, we can break down the amnesiac barriers and start to become co-conscious with them and function more as a whole. 

Some might feel that talking to your parts causes avoidance and reinforces ways to escape dealing with trauma that has hurt your system. However, dissociation is causing current separation in your system and, therefore, the avoidance. Dialoguing with your headmates does just the opposite. When dissociated parts dialogue with each other and come together, they learn how to cope, manage their feelings, and work on strategies so that further avoidance is not used to deal with unwanted feelings. 

How to Dialogue with Parts In Your System

Dialoguing with your parts in the system may sometimes be difficult. It can require being open and vulnerable with your innermost thoughts and feelings. It involves having a written and documented two-way conversation between your parts.

To dialogue with a headmate, start out slowly. Imagine you are meeting someone for the first time. It would be inappropriate to start asking the other person very private and intrusive questions. Normally you would discuss common topics, such as one's name, the weather, or one's age.

The same concept applies when talking to your headmates. Start with safe topics and ask general questions. Ask your headmates written questions about their names, ages, and feelings. Such benign topics will encourage a willingness to speak with you, will foster trust, and will create feelings of safety. If you already know the name of the headmate with whom you wish to speak, ask to speak to the headmate directly by using his or her name. 

It is also a good idea to wait patiently for your headmates to respond. They might be nervous and scared. Based on prior messages from an abuser, it might even be taboo for a headmate to speak to you. In that case, just listen carefully. Sometimes when dialoguing, you might just get a gut feeling or a sense of communication in return. Other times you might actually hear the words of the headmates responding. Any form of communication is okay. Trust what your system is giving you, and write it down to read later.

An Example of Dialoguing with the Parts in My System

I have dialogued with my parts for more than a decade. It hasn't always been sunshine and roses. Not every one has wanted to participate, and, in the beginning, those that did engage would be disrespectful, incite fights, and swear at others. So we laid some ground rules of dialoguing where disrespect would not be allowed and headmates could participate without using their name. One thing that has been helpful is to use different colored pens to recognize who is present during times of dialogue. 

For example, an angry part will write with red ink while a depressed part will write with black ink. Everyone who dialogues has his or her own pen so we know who is speaking, even if the headmate doesn't want to give a name. 

The following is a snippet of what we wrote a while back. I was dialoguing with a part we'll call Headmate A, and another part, named Headmate B, did not like the topic being discussed. Headmate B interjected into the conversation the following lines of writing. This is a conversation between Headmate B and myself:

Headmate B: "I hate everything. Especially your happy, positive talk."

Me: "Do you not feel happy? Why do you hate everything?"

Headmate B: "I am forgotten. Nobody sees me."

Me: "I see you. Put your head on my shoulder, and I'll carry you tonight."

While we did not have a name for Headmate B or know who she was, we deduced from the language and the feelings that she is a child. So while dialoguing might not always provide you with the specific information you seek, it can give you a general understanding of some of your headmates and what they need to feel supported by the system.

The Outcome of Dialoguing with My System

Dialoguing with my parts is one answer to stop dissociating and disconnecting from ourselves. There may be a variety of reasons why you might hesitate to dialogue, but dialoguing breaks down the barriers of communication promotes connection with your headmates. 

There have been times when the headmates and I didn't dialogue, and the result was a lack of co-consciousness. Every headmate was running his or her own show, and no one was connecting or getting along. Dialoguing with headmates helped me decrease my dissociation and improve my system's willingness to work together.

I will add that any form of communication with your headmates is relevant and valuable. Whether you journal, paint, collage, or use photography to communicate with your system, the importance cannot be overstated. With that said, dialoguing has many benefits and has been the most successful tool in bringing me and my system together.  

Do you dialogue with the parts in your system? How do you do it? Share your thoughts in the comments.

APA Reference
Hargis, B. (2019, December 4). The Necessity of Dialoguing with Your Parts in DID, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 14 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2019/12/the-necessity-of-dialoguing-with-your-parts-in-did



Author: Becca Hargis

Becca is a mental health advocate who is passionate about ending the stigma against mental illness. She is currently writing a book on her experiences with dissociative identity disorder. You can connect with her on her personal blog, TwitterFacebook and on Instagram.

BEAN
December, 6 2019 at 1:25 am

Have been struggling with trying to dialogue with parts for a while. Mostly there is just a lot of noise I can’t decipher. I will try this writing technique. Thank you.

December, 6 2019 at 6:42 am

Hi, Bean. I’m sorry you have struggled with dialoguing. I understand how difficult it can be. I wish you much success in trying again. Please keep us posted on how you’re doing.

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