Working With Traumatized Parts

Healing should be the end goal of every system, and healing doesn’t necessarily mean integration. For my system, it’s getting the memories to take up less space in our mind along with breaking down the barriers between system parts to make us function better.

I’ll be talking about helping severely traumatized parts, but these are all suggestions that can work with any part.

The first step is to find/identify triggers. This is important for any system member, but especially parts who become violent towards others or your body when fronting. This can help prevent violent parts from fronting at random, though it is not always a guaranteed to work.

Triggers can be something as simple as a smell or seeing a certain color. Even hearing a song. Or they can be big ones that throw the entire system off, like seeing abuse talked about or hearing people yelling in stores.

They can also be useful for when you want someone else to front. In my system, we don’t have a set “host” it’s kind of a free for all but we don’t ever argue about fronting. Say we listen to a certain song that another part likes, then they might come out or at least be pushed towards the front.

Journaling to find triggers is extremely helpful. Having a journal that you can take everywhere and write down whats going on when someone else fronts or comes close to the front is a great tool. This can also help improve communication between parts who aren’t able to talk to each other as well. You can write notes to each other to help remember important things. I have other suggestions for what to put into a journal but those are for another post!

After you find and identify the triggers for a traumatized part, try and avoid them until you and a trained trauma therapist can sit down and work on the trauma behind this trigger and work with this part to improve their life. In the meantime, if you are in a safe space now in 2018, remind yourself and everyone in your system that it is the present day.

This can help a lot with traumatized parts of any kind. I don’t just mean saying “this is 2018” though this can help, bringing in something that is exclusively 2018 can help solidify it even more. Some suggestions I have could be things like, a candle or lotion in a new scent that you light/wear every day. Make sure you like the scent of course but make sure it’s not something you have any memories associated with it.

I only suggest scent because it’s the strongest sense.

If you don’t like candles, lotions, or anything smelly, try a food. Taste can be strong too because it’s related to scent, plus with food, you get a texture too. Try a new ice cream flavor, or drink a new juice. Maybe buy a new type of gum so you can chew it whenever you need to and remind your system that it is the present.

Touch can also help a lot. With my system, we hate being cold, and cold triggers us a lot. We have a heated blanket because of our pain it’s new we got it in 2017. The feeling of the heaviness of the blanket and the warm cozy feeling is a great reminder during night time. Maybe pick up a smooth stone and carry it with you, or have a soft stuffed animal or piece of cloth to rub when anxious.

Music is another suggestion, maybe you have a new favorite song that came out in 2018, listen to it and remind yourself that it’s 2018 and you are safe now.

The main thing you want to do is to be gentle with them (and yourself!) Remember that they are holding things for you and your system that are too horrible to remember right now. Another thing to remember that you don’t want them to tell you their trauma or even talk about it. Just like you wouldn’t ask another survivor on the street what their trauma is you don’t want to ask a traumatized part.

That trauma is stored in them for a reason. That reason is to keep you safe and the system from falling apart.

Traumatized parts have a huge job, and though some of them may seem to be mean they are doing a great deal for your system.

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