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Survivors Speak (Rebecca) – A System of 39

In this week’s interview we will hear the story of Rebecca. She was born and raised in Florida, USA and grew up with two older brothers. She loves the outdoors and trying new adventures. Her hobbies include: kayaking, biking, long-boarding, swimming, and much more.

Her passion is helping people who are struggling with mental illness know they aren’t alone. Having felt so alone herself with a mental illness she is determined not to let anyone else ever feel like that.  Her mission it to let others know they are loved and that they matter. 

Her Story 

“The bird on the branch is not afraid of the branch falling. Not because of its trust in the strength of the branch, but because of its trust in the strength of its wings.” 

Please share as much as you are comfortable with regarding your childhood abuse/trauma.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about my childhood abuse because my abusers are still around and I haven’t gone into detail with my family about it.  I was sexually abused by family members for my entire childhood.

How have your experiences with childhood abuse/trauma affected your life? Please share both the good and the bad. 

Is has affected my life in a lot of negative ways.  Because my abuse was so intense and prolonged I developed Dissociative Identity Disorder

DID develops in children, under the age of 8, who have gone through severe, prolonged, abuse.  The abuse is too much for them to handle and cope with so the brain creates alters (alternate personalities) to hold the trauma so the child can continue to develop and survive.  This is possible because a young child hasn’t fully developed into their own personality yet.  So the brain can break off pieces to form other alternate personalities. 

I have 39 alters and together we are a system.  I am the leader, the host, the alpha.  There are 39 parts who have broken off from me.

I was first diagnosed with DID in July of 2018 and I was in complete denial.  I didn’t know much about the disorder and I refused to believe that I had it.  Mostly because DID only develops when you have been through severe, prolonged, childhood abuse.  I didn’t have any memories of that and I didn’t want any memories and so I refused to accept this diagnosis. 

However, all the signs were there.  The lapses in my childhood memories.  Only remembering snapshots here and there.  Remembering things as if I was watching a movie of someone else’s life, not mine.  All the signs of PTSD were there.  The hyper-vigilance, always on edge, never able to relax, SUPER anxious all the time, feeling an impending doom like I could die at any moment, never feeling safe, an extreme fear of abandonment, fear of men, etc.  All signs of childhood abuse.  As much as I wanted to ignore the disorder, I couldn’t ignore the signs.  

I’m going to jump ahead to what my life is like now, 2 years after getting diagnosed. I have 39 alters.  Which equals chaos.  39 alters with their own thoughts, opinions, feelings, attitudes, perspectives, triggers, etc.  Every day is such a challenge.  We have nightmares every night and so every morning we wake up with people in trauma reactions and flashbacks.  When they are triggered like this I am not in control of the body or what we do.  The trauma feelings are.  That’s what we call them., trauma feelings;we feel like we are back when the trauma was happening. 

The kids forget that I am an adult now.  They forget that I’m grown up and that we are in an adult body.  They still think that we are living during the time of the abuse.  Every morning we wake up like this.  Sometimes I am able to calm them and sometimes they are in reactions all day long

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What are a couple things that have helped you manage your C-PTSD from day to day? Talk a little bit about what it is like to live with this diagnosis. 

My therapist has helped me a TON.  My anxiety is pretty much constant but I’ve learned tools to deal with it.  Grounding helps me the most, using my senses to bring me back to the here and now. 

I stepped away from my job for now so I have more time to focus on my system and keeping us out of trauma reactions.  I meet with my therapist multiple times a week and we are doing really intense trauma work right now. If you are a parent, what is the hardest part of parenting after trauma? What is the most rewarding part of parenting after trauma?
 

What is one thing you want others to understand about being a childhood abuse/trauma survivor?  

That they are not alone. 

What advice or reassurances do you have for other survivors who are struggling? 

Reach out for support.  Find a therapist.  Find a community.  Go to treatment if you need to.  Apply for disability and pull back from work so you can focus more on healing.  Life after abuse is possible.

Follow Rebecca’s Journey

Follow her on Instagram

Her books are available on Amazon for Purchase, click on the books to purchase.

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Read more about Dissociative Identity Disorder HERE.


Closing Comments

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