Book Review: Dear Little Ones

Dear Little Ones: Dissociative Identity Disorder for Young Alters. Written by Jade Miller and illustrated by Germán Zaninetti. CreateSpace, 2015. Available from Createspace and Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

Jade is a blogger and an artist. She is a polyfragmented Satanic ritual abuse survivor who wrote this book to help all inner children who are lonely and scared.

Germán Zaninetti is an illustrator living in Argentina. He prefers to work on mythological themes (mostly Greek and Egyptian), but also feels comfortable with child themes.

It’s hard for me to review this book. I would rather just quote the whole thing so that you can see how gentle and loving it is. Frankly, it brings tears to my eyes.

What I like best about the book is that it empowers child alters. Often decisions are made for them by more powerful alters, by the part currently in charge, or by a therapist or other helper. Hopefully those decisions are made with love and caring, so that the child alters can experience some healthy reparenting. But their lack of power when other people are telling them what to do can’t help but be a repetition of a large part of the cult experience.

Jade takes a really different approach. She starts by telling the child alters that it wasn’t their fault. “No matter what happened, no matter what anyone told you, it was not your fault.” And she tells them how wonderful they are.

She then explains the creation of alters. “But because of those things that happened, other people needed to be born on the inside in order to help the body stay alive.”  Some stayed young, others grew older. She tells the child alters they get to choose whether they grow older or stay the same.

Jade suggests that they explore inside and see if they can find other children to be friends with, older people to help them and explain things to them. She tells them she might find scary people inside, too. They are trying to help in their own way. She suggests that the children be kind to them because they are hurting, too. “In time, as people are nice to them, they will feel better and learn other ways to help and how to be friends.”

That’s true. If inside people are nice to parts that frighten them, those parts change. But I have never heard (that I remember) anyone telling child alters that they can do this, even without a PhD. Talk about empowerment!

After explaining outside people who are helpers and giving the child alters suggestions on how to stay grounded when they feel overwhelmed, Jade comes back to the theme of choice. They get to choose things that make them feel better.

The ending is like a blessing: “I wish all and only good things for you as you continue to take steps that will bring you into a life of truth and joy and peace.

I am with you in my heart, and I am cheering for you.

Love, Jade”

Jade and friends
Jade and friends

You can get to know Jade at her blog: www.thoughtsfromj8.com  and her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/thoughtsfromj8  If you want to write her, her address is talktoj8@gmail.com

You can email Germán at harryzon88@gmail.com

Explaining Flashbacks to Littles.

t’s always hard to explain sophisticated psychological concepts to children, whether they are inner or outer children. It’s hard enough to explain them to adults, but with kids you have to match your words to their age and keep things really simple.

Kids do much better, however, when they know what is happening. They may hate it, but they don’t feel wild and crazy and totally panicked.

Here’s something I wrote in, I believe, 2002.

“This is what grown-ups call a flashback. It feels yucky. It’s something we are remembering. Once long ago we forgot it, and now we are remembering. It isn’t happening now. It just feels like it is because the memory is so strong. But that’s okay. It’s like the mind is burping up a memory. Burp! It feels better after you burp.”

burp

It’s not quite right for little kids. It needs elaboration, and needs breaks for questions. Here’s a rewrite:

“I’m going to explain something to the littles. Anybody can listen if they want to. Nobody has to listen.”

“You are having what grown-ups call a flashback. I can explain it to you. Do you want to hear about them?”

“Okay, fine. You are remembering something that happened to you. Once long ago you forgot it, and now you are remembering. It’s pretty terrible, isn’t it? Do you have any questions?”

“It isn’t happening now, it’s a memory. The memory is so strong that it feels like it is happening right now. That’s why it is called a flashback — the memory is coming back in a flash. After you have had some more flashbacks of this memory, you will understand that it is a memory like any other memory and you won’t be so scared.”

“Here’s a funny way of thinking about it — it’s like a burp. Your mind is burping up a memory. It feels better after you burp.”

If older inner kids are listening, they won’t feel talked down to because they know it’s in language the littles can easily understand. And, of course, both older kids and adults can understand it, too.

Since kids don’t get things right away, it’s a good idea to repeat it each time you recognize a flashback.

Internal Locus of Control

Late last month, I wrote about external locus of control, when you believe that people or events outside yourself control you and you have very little, if any, say in what happens to you. Now it seems like a good idea to talk about internal locus of control and describe the child-rearing practices that bring about confident, self-assured children.

It’s too late for us, of course. Only in adulthood do we discover that we can control some thing and this belief has to be laid on top of feelings of helplessness. But it isn’t too late for whatever outside children we may have or for our inside children. (Teaching and supporting inner children is pretty much the same as teaching and supporting outside children.)

A baby starts off totally dependent on its mother or caretaker, with no concept of cause and effect. But if the baby gets fed every time he cries, he begins to think that crying brings food. It’s as if the world is designed to meet a baby’s needs — hunger brings food, being tired brings sleep, being cold brings more clothes or a warm blanket.

As the baby grows, it begins to dawn on him that he can’t control EVERYTHING. If he drops a toy from the highchair, it won’t come back up just because he holds out his hand. He’s shocked because he believed he was all-powerful. You can see him staring in amazement at the toy just lying there, and he may burst into tears of frustration.

You know the serenity prayer? “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Figuring that out is the task of childhood!

The mother starts off with total control over the baby. If she clings to that control, her child will still be dependent on her at age sixty. But if she gradually loosens control over her child and encourages independence, experimentation, learning to make choices, all those good things, the child will have internal locus of control. He won’t be deluded into thinking he has control over everything or control over nothing, but he will know he can make a mark on the world.

Now, as an adult struggling with the after-effects of RA and my suffocating childhood, I have the task of re-parenting the child parts within me. How can I do this, when my fragmented mind hops around like a bunny rabbit and floats in time, forgetting stuff and losing things right and left? It’s a constant struggle to keep the chaos down to a mild roar.

I have to keep things simple. I have to give my child parts simple choices and then honor those choices. It may not seem like a big deal to me what color socks I wear, but my child parts care. And I want those child parts to realize that they are the kind of person who has the power to influence the world. “See? These purple socks prove it. If you hadn’t chosen those socks, they would be in the drawer out off sight. You made the world see purple socks!” And then I have to offer ever more complex choices, just like I would with an outer child.

If I had been raised in safety and slowly given more and more choices, today I would feel empowered. That’s what I gave my own children and that’s what I want for my child parts.