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Harrington talks about feeling a strong sense of personal narrative. In my personal work I've encountered and worked through many things, memories, my shames, my guilts, my confusions, reconsidered the role of my parents in my life, and reconsidered my entire life altogether.

But one thing I've always lacked, and still seem to lack, is a strong sense of personal narrative in my life, or strong sense of self. I've always been pretty 'malleable', finding myself adjusting my manner to fit how other people are behaving and talking. I believe I've always done this to avoid conflict, to avoid standing out and bringing attention to myself. I do have personal beliefs and morals that I can explain and describe, however I've always found it hard to describe myself, my personality. Am I easy going or tense? Serious or fun-loving? Intellectual or visceral? Sometimes I feel I am one, sometimes the other, sometimes both or neither.

(One actual benefit of all this is I do feel I have a strong sense of empathy, of being able to consider alternative viewpoints, the perspectives of others. I love exploring new viewpoints, and experiencing other cultures. But none of this should come at the expense of a strong sense of self.)

I think the same goes for my memories, and my sense of personal narrative. I do remember a lot about my life, and feel especially in the last month or so that I'm developing a healthier perspective on my life. I can describe many of these memories in full detail as well (click here for an excellent tool if you wish to explore and discover lost memories of yourself and your past.) But I don't feel I'm able to create a narrative or story of it all, with me as the central character. I do believe that this is something I need to do, in order to continue with my recovery from DP. To be able to relate everything that's happened in my life, to my development, and to who I am today.

This photo was taken in Hamburg in 1936, during the celebrations for the launch of a ship. In the crowd, one person refuses to raise his arm to give the Nazi salute. The man was August Landmesser. He had already been in trouble with the authorities, having been sentenced to two years hard labour for marrying a Jewish woman.

I'm also easily lost in distractions, in external things that bring me 'away from myself', and I think this is a major cause of that as well. It would seem to fit hand-in-hand with DP/DR in general.

We need to be able to create the true story of ourselves, to be able to go back and understand what was actually happening, and ruminate on what 'lessons' we learned from past events, and decide whether those lessons were right or wrong. We need to understand who our parents really were, why we really felt the guilt/shame/confusion/anger we did. It's more than just replaying events in your mind, it's about putting yourself front and center in those events, like a director directing an entire scene but focusing on his main actor/actress. We need to do more than just remember, we need to understand- not just on a surface level, but in our bones.

One of the ways I've done this work is through posting in this web site. Most of my posting has been comments at Fearless's blog as my personal work has been from the standpoint of exploring my childhood, and there are often posts and comments that stimulate avenues of thought for me. Instead of 'As If' letters, by writing posts I am forcing myself to clarify and concretize thoughts and impulses- basically thinking by writing (as I'm doing now.) I feel my brain working hard when I do this, I can feel it working to incorporate new concepts and apply them to my life. I've had a few of these 'mind bending' moments so far, and am sure there are more to come.

There is a saying, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." I think this is, or can be very true. But if you feel right now that what has happened in your life has not yet made you stronger, then probably right now it's made you weaker. You have to go back and seize that strength in the face of adversity, it doesn't come to us automatically, it happens through personal growth, development, wisdom. In most great stories, there is great adversity and struggle, but it's in the outcome in which the ultimate meaning is made, where learned lessons are put to use and victory can be earned.



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retep
Jan 05 2014 10:39 AM

But one thing I've always lacked, and still seem to lack, is a strong sense of personal narrative in my life, or strong sense of self. I've always been pretty 'malleable', finding myself adjusting my manner to fit how other people are behaving and talking. I believe I've always done this to avoid conflict, to avoid standing out and bringing attention to myself. I do have personal beliefs and morals that I can explain and describe, however I've always found it hard to describe myself, my personality. Am I easy going or tense? Serious or fun-loving? Intellectual or visceral? Sometimes I feel I am one, sometimes the other, sometimes both or neither.
(One actual benefit of all this is I do feel I have a strong sense of empathy, of being able to consider alternative viewpoints, the perspectives of others. I love exploring new viewpoints, and experiencing other cultures. But none of this should come at the expense of a strong sense of self.)"
I can relate to this. For whatever reason it has become less confusing for me, I guess because of the work I've done in the past year. I was just talking to a friend how I have pussyfooted around people's emotions that I have assumed they would feel if I said things as I actually felt them. I realize that I can never really know what another person is feeling and everyone is different, and the greatest disservice I am doing is not caring enough for myself to express myself as I feel it. That includes allowing myself to do something that may cause others have negative reactions- the bottom line is I don't control how they react.

Thanks for your blog post!


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retep
Jan 05 2014 10:40 AM

Although I have not recovered I have been considering writing my recovery story soon. There are certain subtle aspects that have either improved greatly or are on the tip of vanishing. As I get closer to full recovery I can continue to edit it as I learn and understand more. I figure this is a good way for me to really start seeing the finish line and feel the true me.

I have been getting in touch with my complicated story (narrative) in the past year in a way that I have never before. Connecting more to these memories on an emotional level has increased my memory of those times as well as improving my memory building today. My perspective has been changing because of that. The poison that I have been drinking since childhood that I was inherently a bad or strange person has slowly been shifting to realizing I was a victim to troubled and confused caregivers who put their hangups on me when I was too young to know any better. As I connect to this, I am also seeing that I am no longer in that situation and maybe just maybe, it is safe to come out of this disassociated state.

When we see a clear narrative of our past it empowers us to change the future of our story.


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themaxx10
Jan 06 2014 03:57 PM

I can relate to this. For whatever reason it has become less confusing for me, I guess because of the work I've done in the past year. I was just talking to a friend how I have pussyfooted around people's emotions that I have assumed they would feel if I said things as I actually felt them. I realize that I can never really know what another person is feeling and everyone is different, and the greatest disservice I am doing is not caring enough for myself to express myself as I feel it. That includes allowing myself to do something that may cause others have negative reactions- the bottom line is I don't control how they react. Thanks for your blog post!
Thanks for the comment! I think I am much better now too, basically I am now more able to just "let it fly" and say what occurs to me, without worrying about how other people might take it. I think in general I am not one to worry about politeness or protocol, preferring to deal with people as they are and with genuine rather than forced concern and interest. The funny thing is that I am able to do this at work much more with outside clients, and have found dealing with other people much easier and enjoyable as a result.

I also find that people I might have otherwise had stilted or uncomfortable conversations with, become a lot easier when I just let go.

Even so, I'm sure we will run into situations where people react negatively due to whatever expectations or hang ups they have. But I think the positive experiences basically outweigh the negative.


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themaxx10
Jan 06 2014 04:01 PM

Although I have not recovered I have been considering writing my recovery story soon. There are certain subtle aspects that have either improved greatly or are on the tip of vanishing. As I get closer to full recovery I can continue to edit it as I learn and understand more. I figure this is a good way for me to really start seeing the finish line and feel the true me. I have been getting in touch with my complicated story (narrative) in the past year in a way that I have never before. Connecting more to these memories on an emotional level has increased my memory of those times as well as improving my memory building today. My perspective has been changing because of that. The poison that I have been drinking since childhood that I was inherently a bad or strange person has slowly been shifting to realizing I was a victim to troubled and confused caregivers who put their hangups on me when I was too young to know any better. As I connect to this, I am also seeing that I am no longer in that situation and maybe just maybe, it is safe to come out of this disassociated state. When we see a clear narrative of our past it empowers us to change the future of our story.
My experience has been almost the same. I started a blog basically to have another outlet to continue writing and integrating my thoughts and memories. I'm still recovering but feel a LOT better already in the last couple of months. Enough that if I basically stay where I am and my DP does not get any better, I'll still feel grateful for the progress that I have made.

Obviously it would be great if a light switch just turned on and we were 'cured' overnight. But all the mental and emotional progress I have made has been very necessary, and I'm sure there is more to come.


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wise
Feb 03 2014 05:29 AM

Personal narrative is an important antidote to those of us who have lived our lives enmeshed with others (for the sake of appeasement in an ill attempt to obtain a secure base). Concentrating on yourself, writing your own narrative and being in a safe environment where there is unconditional acceptance is key to recovery. The purpose of your existence isn't to be an extension of someone else or to fix another's problems. That is no way to live and yet most of us on here do live that way. We were never allowed to have needs and be accepted as were were so we were shamed into their compliance for the sake of others' convenience. Had we been so demanding as to want to do things as we saw fit
putting our foot down whenever it needed to be done that would have threatened our existence. We were traumatized for ever trying so we knew to never try again.

 
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