I’ve been thinking about baby alters lately, and very young child parts, of which I have not just a few. They get neglected a lot. Partially because unless they’re doing/feeling/radiating something painful that I inadvertently tap into, I just don’t always notice them. So when I remember that they’re there, I’m at a loss as to what to do with, about, or for them.
The thing is that there’s not a lot written about baby parts, or baby alters, and it kind of makes sense to me because – just like actual-age babies – it’s next to impossible to know what they truly think or feel. (You can hypothesize, conjecture, and theorize, but it’s all un-provable.) Or maybe I’m just not looking hard enough.
I mean, do babies even have “thoughts”? My impression based on nothing empirical but just a lot of hunches and a little bit of very vicarious experience is that babies don’t “think” or “feel” in the way we understand those terms, as much as they experience. And of course, when you’re talking about babies (and even children), age counts a lot. What a newborn experiences is hugely different than an 18-month-old, but they’re both still babies (I mean, more or less). Likewise, the difference between the comprehension of a 3-year-old and a 9-year-old is profound. So age matters.
For me, there are occasional times when I start noticing that I’m experiencing something that I can’t quite describe. Even describing the experience of not being able to describe the experiences I’m referring to is difficult. What I believe may be happening is that – as the programming/ dissociative walls continue to break down in my mind – I am moving more and more toward co-consciousness with others, even if I’m not aware of the actual fact or extent of it until it starts happening. In the instances in question, I would have to presume I’m linking into an alter who is no more than 2 years old at maximum, and most likely much less. Pain is usually the only (or main, or biggest) clue that there’s someone else there with me.
I can feel completely at peace, or even just neutral about something going on, but also be aware that someone else is there on the inside who is in pain. Not necessarily even because of the situation, but the situation is bringing it up. If I decide to pay even more attention to that sense of other-ness there with me, I can start to move more into an awareness of what they’re experiencing, and the more I allow that to happen, the less I can retain my adult framework of understanding what’s happening on the inside. I move into a nonverbal…realm, for lack of a better word.
So to recap, in real life, sometimes I have an experience where there are non-verbal aspects of being in the experience that I simultaneously notice, but also cannot articulate. Because they defy communication. It’s more than just being tongue-tied and not being able to think of the right words at the time (or even later). It’s different than that. I’m familiar with that frustration and this isn’t in the same category. This is where the experience itself cannot be matched with words because the experience is not happening in words…so to speak. It’s not a verbal experience; it’s also not cognitive, it’s not (necessarily) emotional, although frequently emotions are activated as a result (but the essence of it isn’t rooted in emotion), and it’s not definitively not narrative.
Still struggling to explain.
It would be a little bit like viewing a sunset and being asked to relay the mathematical equation that corresponds to the sunset. I can’t. Sunsets are not mathematical equations. They aren’t experienced that way and are also not described that way or explained or even categorized that way. So if you put my back to the wall, I could spout out some completely random equation and we could call it “sunset” if we really wanted to, but…it’s irrelevant.
It doesn’t in any way convey the experience of a sunset. It’s the wrong language, partially because it’s even a language at all and sunsets are not a language; they’re experiences, and it’s not the best example because there actually IS a word for it, but it’s the only example I could think of at the moment. Trying to describe non-verbal baby part experiences is a little bit like that. Trying to put words to them is frustrating because words aren’t the right vehicle.
At any rate, I know you’re probably wondering What are you talking about??? Can you give me an example??? And I’m trying. Because of the problem I just described, I have examples lodged in my brain, in some other language/experience-vehicle than words, and I just don’t know how to convey them to you.
There are a lot of sources of information about child development and even infant developmental theories, but nothing that I can find about the implications of all these ideas as it relates to healing a person’s wounded baby parts or alters. Like I said…maybe I’m just not looking hard enough. There’s also the problem that quite a lot of child and infant developmental theories do not necessarily translate smoothly to child or baby alters. They also – generally – do not discuss the impact of trauma on infants and young children unless you’re strictly talking about neurological development… which matters, but doesn’t lead into any practical advice about healing what went wrong in an adult survivor with DID.
My questions, at the bottom line, are:
What does a particular recurring experience (that seems to draw a certain baby alter) mean? Or more specifically, if you ascribe to the developmental phase theory: what phase is it connected to or what developmental stage has been damaged/interrupted?
What is the problem/conflict happening for the baby part that the experience is calling attention to? Put differently: what deficit is being re-experienced?
What does that baby alter need in that situation, or what new experience(s) is needed for positive growth?
Does anyone know of any resources for these things? Please share, if you do. Cheers. ~J8