Internal Parts

When your voice grows quiet what does your mind say? Do you sense a recurring tone or message from within, or do you experience a variety of internal processing content and intensity? I imagine for most, internal dialogue depends on situational factors. Yet the voices that rise up in these instances are uniquely their own. What do you hear in your own stillness?

Some of my internal voices were born from childhood sexual abuse. They seem to be the loudest and strongest voices, often muting others that may exist. Yet even though decades have passed and I am safely away from abuse now, these parts are still on heightened alert maintaining their dutiful roles. Only now these roles no longer serve me. Instead they are often a hindrance to feelings of safety and security and developing healing connection in my life.

My efforts to identify and untangle these various internal parts that live deep within me has proven to be a difficult task. It feels like these parts wish to exist independently and without my awareness. When I try to shine a light on them they retreat – like cockroaches they scatter and flee into hiding. Approaching these parts with words often leaves me empty handed. They don’t seem to communicate with words. So recently I ventured into the task of attempting to communicate with them in a different way – expressing what they feel in images that they could visually present to me.

I held a pencil in my hand and without deliberate effort I let it move across the page, sketching what each of these parts felt like inside of me. Before long my page began to fill with grayscale images. Then color emerged as I sunk deeper into this exercise. When the images and colors stopped freely moving across my page I set my pencils down, understanding that although my drawing was not complete four distinct parts showed up for me that day.

The curled up grey figure at the bottom is shame. I have been drawing different versions of her since I was a child (see My Shame is a Shapeshifter for more drawings of shame). She feels the need to hold herself desperately together, shrinking into the smallest space that she can occupy. Shame is so powerful and pervasive that she feels it consuming her, changing her in a way that will make her unrecognizable – losing her form – blurring the lines between who she is and who she fears to be.

The fiery figure above her is anger. Anger conveniently positions itself over shame for a reason. Anger is fueled and intensified by feelings of shrinking cowering weakness. Anger lashes its fury outward at times, directing focus and blame on those that hurt us or left us susceptible to harm. Yet it is often an inward path that anger chooses – fueling thoughts of self blame and self loathing as its weapon of choice.

The dark hooded figure turns its back on everyone else. She outwardly projects that she doesn’t want to see nor does she want to be seen. Yet she stands nearby, quietly wrestling with what she feels as a need to be noticed – a need to be seen – a need to be saved. This one feels like a teenager inside of me.

The purple figure feels heavy and desperate. The heavy weight of what she carries is dripping and oozing out of her. She looks and feels like pain to me – a frightening and messy kind of pain.

Four parts showed up in this first attempt at visually meeting my internal parts. I know there are more – I can feel that there are more parts within me. They just need patience and safety before they will step forward and present themselves to me. Drawing these figures does not rid me of their powerful presence. My goal is not to erase them (even though at times I wish to do so). Instead I am learning that I need to understand them. I need to build a bridge between my current self and each of these parts. I need to learn to work with them instead of against them. They were created out of necessity. They were created in me and for me. Learning to build new connections with them might allow me to help redefine their roles in my life to better suit my current needs. It feels like a daunting task ahead of me, but it is also one that I recognize as necessary.

What has helped you to identify and connect with your internal parts?

20 thoughts on “Internal Parts

  1. very very well done for talking about,Sexual Abuse .people never see the every day effects.there views/judgements are very Snotty Nosed .. i was abused as a child .my story is in a Authors book ..i have M.E .Bladder and Bowel problems BECAUSE I WAS ABUSED ..DIFFERENT Adults took turns on me .i am not afraid to say/not afraid to talk about it .Research is very RARE about Abuse .YET IT IS EVERY DAY EFFECTING ,. my blog.http;// twitter.supersnopper MARK

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  2. Oh wow this is such a powerful piece of art and writing and I’m so grateful you shared it. I can relate so much to the internal parts created out of necessity to survive sexual abuse. It is such a hard task to find them and accept the them and understand them and welcome them and learn to work together. I envy people who have one solid sense of self. It is truly difficult to reconcile all the parts inside as all one person. Youve captured that struggle so well. I too have that hooded figure in particular who wishes to be alone and separate and unseen and yet paradoxically wishes it could be seen and included and loved. Thank you for sharing 💕💕💕

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful response. It means a lot. Do you feel like you’ve been able to identify all of your internal parts that creep in from your past? Mine feel so tangled together that they are hard to distinguish. Drawing is helping me to single out each part, but it feels like there are more in the darkness all tangled up together.

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      1. No I haven’t identified them all. And also some are very fragmented and not much more than a particular emotion or reaction where as others have their own set of beliefs and memories. It’s very complicated isn’t it. Drawing is such a good idea. I’m so happy it’s helping you.

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      2. Yes, that sounds very familiar and how I get stuck. Some feel like entire beings and others are simply an emotion that rises up.
        Drawing has definitely helped, but it’s so incredibly complicated.
        I appreciate your thoughts.

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  3. It is heartening to read that drawing as therapy has been of help to you. For those that struggle to find the words to express their pain, I hope your post is encoraging for them on their journey to find that complete self. Behind the anger is so much pain and trauma. If I had a magic wand, I would wish to eradicate shame, at the very least. Thanks so much for sharing. I admire your courage.

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  4. I didnt get to read this before posting my earlier comment but its really wonderful. Accessing those emotional forces through drawing seems so powerful. I was really moved by your description of shame. I think when I grew all parts of my true self got bound in shame.. its like a straight jacket really thinking you have to hold it together.. thanks so much for sharing this…

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    1. Thank you. It’s really amazing how drawing can sometimes create a window into a part of myself that seems otherwise inaccessible – especially the shameful parts that work so hard to stay curled up and hidden. Yes, like a straight jacket.
      Thank you again for your thoughts. 💕

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