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Anthills and Going Beyond the Surface



(The goal in recovery is not to eradicate the identities. The anthill is a only a metaphor) I went to the kitchen earlier today to begin meal preparation. I set some items from the refrigerator onto the counter where I saw a single ant crawling. I went to squish the ant and realized that there were bound to be more and that getting rid of this one ant was not going to solve the issue of an ant infestation. I thought about recovering from trauma with individuals who have Dissociative Identity Disorder and how that can be likened to discovering an anthill of subconscious memories which leads to finding multiple trauma memories that individual identities carry.  At first glance you may only see one ant (trauma memory) which leads to multiple ants (connecting with multiple trauma memories) that individual identities carry. Each ant represents a fragment of the trauma, a singular memory or emotional wound. Behind the visible ants lie countless others, hidden within the intricate tunnels of the ant hill—the subconscious mind. These hidden ants represent the multitude of dissociated identities, each with its own memories, emotions, and experiences. Just as addressing one ant does not eradicate the colony, resolving one trauma memory or identity fragment does not fully heal the individual. Hidden within the intricate tunnels of the anthill—the subconscious mind—are countless other ants. The challenge in therapy lies in navigating the complexities of the anthill—the subconscious—where identities remain concealed behind amnesiac walls beneath the surface. Unlike ants, these identities may not readily reveal themselves, requiring patience and understanding. The goal is not to exterminate identities like squashing ants indiscriminately, but to acknowledge each of them, their experiences, memories, and issues that emerge in therapy and daily life. Our identities might not readily reveal themselves all at once like an anthill bustling with life but by understanding the parallels between trauma work and an anthill, we can approach healing with greater insight and compassion, knowing that true recovery embraces connecting with and nurturing the wounded places within ourselves.   

The goal in recovery is not to eradicate the identities. The anthill is only a metaphor, reminding us the healing from trauma is a complex journey of self exploration and understanding. Each identity holds it’s own experiences and memories. Rather than seeking to squash them and repressing their memories, our aim is to connect with them by acknowledging their presence, thanking them for what they protected us from. Their importance in the entire system of the depths of the subconscious mind (anthill) leads to our wholeness and how we find true healing.    


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