Ask Leahpeah 'Questions' Edition Part II

Would you consider yourself a good mom?

Wow. That is one of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked. Not just because of my mental history and what I had to do in relation to my kids, but because when does any mom have an easy time of saying, ‘Hell yes. I’m an awesome mom!’? You think about all the mistakes you’ve made and how inadequate you feel at times. You remember when you lost your temper and yelled and how you watched their little faces crumple in an instant or when they came to tell you something and you were busy talking on the phone to your friend and you made them wait so long that they left the room and then forgot what it was they were going to tell you. Missed opportunities. Failings. They are so easy to spot.

I guess we’d have to figure out what makes a Good Mom. I know I make a lot of mistakes but I always try to apologize as soon as I figure out that I made one. I try to make sure they eat healthy and get enough exercise and don’t spend all their time in front of the TV and computer. I listen when they talk to me and try really hard to keep the preaching and lessons to a minimum. I work hard to try and provide them with a home and the other things that every kid needs. Have I touched on all the main areas of what it means to be a Good Mom? But more than all of those things, I love my kids like crazy. And, I like them. I think they are the greatest people in the entire world. I would rather spend an evening with them playing games or hanging out that do just about anything else with anyone else. Sure – I make a TON of mistakes along the way but I don’t think that makes me a bad mom. I think it makes me human.

You talk about integration on your site, and I understand that to be the melding of all the personalities back into one. My question is: “How is that process done?”

The actual integration process was done in a therapy situation over the span of a few weeks but the preparation for that took years. There are certain values that have to be met first like no more secrets between alters and everyone being the same age. All the parts have to agree that it is the best choice and have no reservations. As you can probably guess, that sometimes takes a long time. But, once those things have been done, it’s surprisingly easy to slip everyone into the same space. I don’t think I can really describe that part because I have no idea how it happened, I just experienced it, except to say that it felt empowering and I suddenly felt strong and capable. As it turned out, in the beginning it was a slightly over-inflated sense of self, which had to be evaluated and examined to be healthy.

If you had it to do over again, would you still chose to be integrated, or would you rather be the seven?

Yes, I would choose to do it over again. I would never wish to become un-integrated. I’m much happier and healthier as one as opposed to seven. I answered this question more fully in a previous post.

I’m curious as to why you think this happened in your life? Was there a defining moment when you separated from yourself? Or did it just happen? I know that you were molested, and that often will create the separation process as a means of survival, but I’m curious as to where you feel that process began?

The reason I initially split was not because of molestation, although that did happen repeatedly afterwards. I split because of some medical procedures done to me starting at the age of 4 where no anesthesia was used.

You said you aren’t taking any medication anymore. How do you not get depressed? I think if I didn’t have my meds I would kill myself.

I do get depressed. Case in point would be yesterday. I spent the better part of the day feeling very low. Some of the thoughts in my head: “I am such a failure.” “I will never feel happy again.” “People hate me and they should. They should hate me. I hate me.” “I’m not good for anything.” If someone had handed me a loaded gun, I would have considered what to do with it for a moment.

But, I know myself too well now to not understand what is happening. The truth is: I’m having a bad day. And me having a bad day feels like that. On those days, my perception of life is all screwy and I know that. So, where earlier in my life, pre-integration, I would have felt all of those thoughts and feelings weighing on me so, so heavy and not been able to get out of that dark cloud for 2 months, literally, now I can think through it.

I tell myself the truth. So, “I am such a failure.” becomes “Today I feel like a failure.” Which is totally different. In the first one, I’m telling myself what I am and in the second one, I’m telling myself how I FEEL. The first one is a judgment that may or may not be true. But the second one is the truth because your feelings are just your feelings and aren’t wrong or right. They just are.

After acknowledging the feeling, the next step is to create something positive from it. Our minds are amazing things and we reach the potential we set for ourselves. If you can imagine something and hold that as an intention, you can create it in your life. If the message I tell myself is “I am a failure.” then it will be true. Instead, try creating something positive like, “I do many things that are of worth.” I was amazed at the stuff I was telling myself when I wasn’t paying attention. Really, awful things that you would never say to another person but there I was saying them to myself over and over. Just start paying attention to what it is you tell yourself. Jot them down in a little notebook.

Hokey? Maybe. But I really do believe in affirmations. They have changed my life. Here are two more examples of what I’ve taught myself to do in a matter of minutes.

“I will never feel happy again.”
“I feel really, super sad today.”
“I eagerly anticipate working through these feelings of sadness.”

“People hate me and they should. They should hate me. I hate me.”
“I feel like I have no friends today. I feel unworthy of love. I don’t feel love for myself right now.”
“I am learning to love myself and those around me more every day.”

Back to the loaded gun. Yes, the thought of killing myself would go through my mind. But it wouldn’t stick. I know myself too well. I know that in 5 minutes, that mamma bird is going to fly by the window and I’ll look outside and appreciate the green of the lawn. It may only last a second but it will happen. Or I’ll glance up to see what time it is and my eyes will catch the frames over the fireplace where my kids’ faces are smiling at me. I know that the deep, overwhelming sadness I’m feeling will pass if I help it along. And I would hate to miss out on the good stuff.

I think the problem for me was when I didn’t acknowledge the truth of the situation. I was not supposed to be sad so I told myself that I wasn’t. It was a lie. I knew it was a lie and once you start telling lies to yourself, you get caught up in this self-medicating and distraction nightmare. If you aren’t supposed to feel sad and you do, then go grab the meth and smoke it until you don’t feel anything anymore. Oh wait, it’s been 3 hours and I’m feeling something again. Must be time to get loaded/self-harm/fill-in-the-distraction.

You spend so much time distracting and lying that you start to not have a life except for trying NOT to feel. Things pretty much snowball and suck at that point and it could take months or years to recover both physically and mentally. I’m not willing to go anywhere near that again so I do the really hard work of telling myself the truth minute by minute. For me, it’s worth it.

However, if I felt myself getting to a place where I couldn’t talk my way through things anymore and I felt the heavy clouds moving in and camping out for the duration, you can bet I’d be putting myself back on medication in a second. Meds once saved my life and that is what they are there for. But as long as I can continue using the methods that are working for me now and I don’t consider crying for 4 hours straight while I’m feeling so awful every so often (usually not more than once or so a month) a problem, I won’t be going back to them anytime soon.