I made a unconscious decision not to question Susan about her associated identities unless she brings them up first. I think that is best for me and for her. I have however, made a conscious decision to ask a few follow-up questions when she mentions someone. That way I will get some information fixed in my mind about these people and the reason for their existence. They all have a purpose otherwise she would not have created them.
In a previous post, I listed most of her helpers, including one named The Protector.
Susan volunteered some information about him after a second session of therapy this week¹. He does not have a name but his title is The Protector / Punisher.
When children are sexually abused, they may develop such depth of guilt and shame, they may want to commit suicide. The thought of committing suicide, even a child did not square with her young religious belief. To keep herself from committing suicide, at about age 8 or nine, she created the Protector / Punisher. Until this past Saturday she just referred to him as The Protector. When she talked about the session she added “Punisher.”
He is an adult, nameless male who responsibility is to protect Susan from perceived danger and committing suicide. For decades he has kept her alive. He is also the identity that punishes her when she fails to live up to certain expectations. When she doesn’t live up to certain societal expectations, Susan uses this pers
on to physically harm herself, thereby taking away her guilt. This allows her to function for a while, until the she is again overwhelmed by guilt. I am not around when she hurts herself, but sometimes, not always, I am suspicious that she has hurt herself. There is no typical guilt cycle; a few days, a couple of weeks.
For good or bad I am not hyper-vigilent watching for signs of self abuse. That is something I can’t carry. For about three years after a series of major self abuse and her hospitalization, when I came home from work, I was not sure what I would find upon opening the door. I have come to accept that she will talk to me about serious self abuse problems, but deep with in me, there is a seed planted that I would not be surprised if something should happen when I am away.
Another purpose of the Protector is to protect Susan from males who she thinks will sexually use and abuse her. Since she was taught at a young age that males only want to have sex with her, and so many males abused her, she understanably percieves all males as a threat. Myself included.
Shit! What a way to live.
¹Susan’s therapist recommended a second session this week. In a few weeks she will be going twice a week regularly.