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My Divided Mind

I understood how different it felt to be a person with a divided consciousness

I was recently asked during a presentation on trauma and dissociation what having parts feels like on the inside.

It wasn't until I started healing and integrating that I understood how different it felt to be a person with a divided consciousness rather than a person with a whole sense of consciousness.

When my mind was divided it was organized like a house with many rooms. Some rooms were created to hold unbearable memories, to keep them away from my consciousness. Those doors were painted black and I was unable to find the key to unlock them. Other rooms, bright and colorful, I came and went from easily. All these rooms were created instinctively by my mind in response to the relentless abuse I suffered at the hands of my father and others while growing up.

I was lucky to have a central sense of self-like a stage director-who could collect and store information in the bright rooms. This central Me also locked the dark doors and kept their existence away from my consciousness. Any time something threatened to remind me of the information those doors hid, the central Me cleverly rushed in with anxiety, racing thoughts in English and Spanish, and obsessive worry. Anyone watching me would have thought me to be fidgety, distracted, talkative, nervous, and compulsive about tidying.

As an adult, my life became much more stable and safe. With my greater capacity to handle the information the dark rooms contained, their doors began to open unexpectedly. The emotions and pain that came rushing from them were overwhelming. They felt like they would overtake me. I was flooded with the terror I had felt when I was attacked as a child. Even though the central Me knew I was bigger, stronger, and no longer in danger, I believed that I would die. I felt small and defenseless. My thoughts came in Spanish again, even though it had been years since I had spoken Spanish regularly. These were signs of the parts of my consciousness.

My body began to seem less defined. I didn't have a good sense of how big or small I was. The limits of where my body started and ended were fuzzy so I often had bruises from bumping into things. My hands felt too big for me at times. I looked in the mirror and was surprised at the person I saw. She seemed to be much older than me. My feet looked big, my legs long.

Once I started to integrate these separate aspects of myself, throwing open all those doors, I started to feel calmer. I had less thoughts running through my mind, interrupting my day. I slept better. I was less distracted and could concentrate better.

Over time, I integrated more and more of the rooms in the house into the central part of me. I started becoming whole. I started breaking down the walls of each room, creating an open floor plan in my mind. As this happened, my sense of calm deepened and I gained a sense of confidence I had never felt before. I felt clearer and sharper in my mind and in my sense of my body. My hands looked like they belonged to me again. I looked like I thought I should when I looked in the mirror. I began to feel more capable and my emotions stabilized. A sense of confidence grew in me that I could ride out the terror, fear, anger and loss that those locked rooms held.

The Sum of My Parts: A Survivor's Story of Dissociative Identity Disorder was released this month by New Harbinger Publications.

To learn more about Olga and her work visit her website at