Putting Your Doubts on the Other Side of the Street

For reasons not relevant to this blog, I joined an online Alanon group.  Alanon is for friends and family of those dealing with alcohol issues.  I learned that Alanon is not about the individual with the alcohol problem, but it’s about *you.*  How you deal with your life, your reactions, your healing.  Learning how you’ve changed (often for the negative) from your attempts to “deal with” or “change” the other person.

I’ve learned many things I can apply to my life – things that have *nothing* to do with alcohol.  I had no idea it was such a widely-applicable program.

Joy wrote a comment on the Baby Talkers post that got me thinking about something I learned in Alanon.  She wrote:

I have been struggling with this for awhile now, especially regarding you tube. They sound sincere, but who is going to actively flaunt this, especially their littles on public video forums? Maybe I’m wrong, but then again, half the time I doubt my own diagnosis.

What’s right and wrong?

Many of us struggle with this idea of what is “right” or “wrong” for this DX, and if we aren’t like someone else, that we doubt ourselves; doubt the DX.  Like somehow everyone who has cancer has the same type, copes in the same way, and responds to the same therapy.

Sounds ridiculous, right?

Man, we have to stop beating on ourselves.

Someone in Alanon used an analogy about houses across the street from one another.  You have your house, you paint it, garden it, take care of it how you will (or won’t).   The other person (in Alanon-speak, the one with the alcohol problem) lives across the street.  You may not like how they take care of their house, leaving garbage outside and not pruning the bushes.  You can comment and bitch and moan, hoping they’ll change.  But they don’t, you get resentful, they get nasty, spiral down, etc.

So I learned from Alanon – get out of their yard and get back across the street into your own yard.  You can only care for your own yard, so stop letting your behavior be dictated by what they do, and what you can’t control.  Work on what you *can* control.

What does this have to do with Baby Talkers?

I’m not perfect and I don’t really understand myself and all the ramifications of my DX.  I don’t like the YouTube videos so I’m walking away from them.  They may be true or not – at this point in my life, I don’t care.  When I wrote that post, I was much more concerned that people would see these videos and assume that’s what we’re all like.

Now, 18 months later, I care much less about that.  I went back on my side of the street and shut the blinds on that side of my house.

I used to agonize about my DX – what it was, what it means for my future, how I’ll “turn out.”  I obsessed in the beginning, as an engineer.  Now, since the last year or so have been 7 times of hell, I’m less concerned with the specifics and mechanics, and I just try to work ways to cope with my daily challenges.  To be fair, I’ve been unable to do any trauma work.  I don’t think I could right now. But since my ability to deal with stressful situations and triggers has been significantly challenged lately, my therapy has been very useful in other very important ways.

In a way, I’ve been forced back across the street to work on my own house and garden.  And I’m worrying less about how I compare, and more about me just getting along in life with my own challenges.



  castorgirl wrote @

Great post… it’s good to see you writing and to hear your perspective again…

It’s easy to neglect our own house/backyard and concentrate on others and their issues… I think that’s part of the survivor coping mechanism – always looking for how we can ease the situation and make sure those around us are happy (people pleasing to the end). It can be incredibly hard to stay in your own backyard and deal with the issues you face. It takes incredible strength… Good on you for doing that work – even if if feels like you didn’t have a choice.

Take care,

  Emily’s Camigwen wrote @

Hi Castorgirl

You are *so* right – we look to concentrate on others to remove focus on ourselves. I recognize that *so* much now. But strangely, I have also sought approval for me, which draws attention to me. A strange thing that I need approval but work so hard on genuinely (I think) working on others in order to justify myself.

I wonder if it all boils down to this – we doubt ourselves, but if we are able to help others, then we are validated, which means that what we struggle with in private must be real and true.

Wow, that sounded profound. (!!!) I have to think on that.

Thank you for your thoughts.

  Faith wrote @

I can relate to that a lot. I’ve been in the process of I suppose weaning myself from online support groups because I’m sick of being bombarded by people who can’t and won’t change and all it’s doing is causing me aggravation and drama, which I’m trying to remove myself from.

I’m also in a position where I’m trying to just put aside the trauma, in the sense that I’m not in therapy because I can’t afford it (stupid insurance) but I’ve still been trying to pick at the scabs by myself in a very obsessive fashion trying to push through and work on things on my own, which is probably detrimental for a variety of reasons, when I wise man who I happen to be married to pointed out that our system worked perfectly well for a long time before we even truly realized we had a system, and perhaps it might be better to focus on cooperation and day to day things right now rather than trying to dig out all this dirt, especially as it’s been giving us nightmares and generally just draining us.

I suppose in the house analogy it’s kinda like the house has a really grody basement and it’s all messed up and needs to be cleaned out but it can wait for now because the plumbing is fine, the heater and the a/c work and keeping the house clean and everyone fed is the main goal; so it’s best in that case to keep everyone fed and talking to each other inside the house and worry about the basement later.

As I’m doing that I’m finding that the basement is actually tidying itself, which is weird to think about, but proving to be true.

  Emily’s Camigwen wrote @

Faith – your husband sounds like a very perceptive person. I think it’s impossible to work on the dirt when everything else is in chaos, and the basement analogy is a good one! It’s out of sight, but not necessarily out of mind. But not something that has to be dealt with *today.* That is a really great image!

As for the basement tidying itself – I think I can understand that. As we work through the day to day stuff and if some of our tools get better, it may just be starting the big rats’ nest down there to loosen up a bit.

Good luck working through each day, and I hope you are able to get into therapy. I don’t have kind words for the insurance companies, either.

  Paul from Mind Parts wrote @

Wonderful Emily! Yes, I agree with this wholeheartedly and what CG and Faith have said.

I will add only that my feelings of “littles” talking (and let’s leave it at publicly, not talking about in therapist’s offices, etc)… is that it’s sort of a direct opposite of how DID was/is designed. In that sense I can understand why it rubs so many of us the wrong way.

Tempy at Cracker’s and Juice blog did a wonderful video and talked about this. You may want to take a look.

On the other hand, who am I to say? Maybe others’ being so open about their “littles” is actually healing.. for them. I don’t think it is for me at all.

But, I agree, I do try to “stay in my own yard”. Yet I sometimes get to look into others!


  tigerweave wrote @

As a system with littlies that are quite talkative and active, I would suggest it si something more than “healing” And certainly them being openly “out” is atithesis to the underlying DID structure of hiding.
In our case, and from what I have observed in other systems, it is simply that our little ones are getting over their traumatisation and more curious and interested in participating in life again. So for us it is the step beyond healing. They are happy, now they want to play!
And us Big People have come to the understanding part of our role in the system is to protect them from hurts and create spaces where they can be out safely and enjoyably.
Their simple enjoyments echo through the entire system. I think in the same way a singlet who is well in touch with their inner child will freely enjoy things with a childlike joy.

Regarding the usual hiding, and a little one being obviously out, we think it is … like … if there were no pressure on us from external sources to hide away, and we are all happy and don’t need to hide to hide the trauma, then why would we hide? Us Big Girls find ways they can be out and happy and safe all at once.


  Paul wrote @

I totally get this. I am only suggesting that “little exploration” or “expression” be done in a safe space. I think young parts need to appreciate that there are boundaries around when it’s safe to be out. As I wrote before, I was not terribly happy when a 6 year old part of mine showed up while I was teaching a course while at the blackboard last summer.

The problem is that if young parts are out and very public and then it interferes with your adult life, then it can get complicated and troubling.

So, usually younger parts get masked when out in public by an older fronting part.

It’s all so darn complicated, I know.

  Jackie wrote @

Great metaphor with he houses. I shall try to remember to stay in my own yard as well.

All we can do is our best in our own house. Non conforming is our specialty, but at the same time, we’re an expert at acting however is necessary in public.

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