Recently Paul from Mind Parts, posted about an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called The Inner Light. When I tracked down the episode, I was stunned. This episode of a science fiction television series resonated with me; more so, than any of the shows about DID.
Shows depicting DID generally include varying degrees of sensationalism about how a dissociative lives and the etiology. They often concentrate on a slice of the dissociatives life, rather than the totality. One of the key things that I’ve found to be missing in many of these media portrayals, is hope. Hope that dissociatives can heal and navigate this world successfully. Even if there is a hopeful message, it is often a brief note at the end, rather than an overall theme.
When I’m curled up in a ball, hurting from self-injury or memories, I need hope.
So, how does this episode offer hope? First, there’s the basis of the storyline… Morgan Gendel (writer), named the episode after a song written by George Harrison, which was in turn, based on the 47th chapter of Tao Te Ching:
Without going outside his door, one understands (all that takes place) under the sky; without looking out from his window, one sees the Tao of Heaven. The farther that one goes out (from himself), the less he knows. Therefore the sages got their knowledge without traveling; gave their (right) names to things without seeing them; and accomplished their ends without any purpose of doing so.
I understand this as meaning that we have the resources within ourselves to heal. Yes, we may need outside assistance along the way, but this is as a guide and anchor, rather than them doing the difficult work for us.
I admit to struggling with this concept greatly. At times, it encourages despondency… if I have all of the resources, why haven’t I “healed” already? I’m motivated to change, and have been told that I’m doing the work from people I trust, so why am I still struggling? Then, I remember that having the resources, doesn’t necessarily mean that I know how to utilise them. This is where guidance from people such as therapists come in, they help us find ways to access and use our internal resources in positive ways.
Within Inner Light, hope is represented through a tree planted within the community courtyard during Picard’s time on Kataan. Despite the water shortage, each community member voluntarily gives up some of their water to ensure that the tree survives. The tree is described as a symbol of survival and an affirmation of life, because “hope is a powerful weapon against anything” (Batai). As time goes by on Kataan, the tree flourishes, despite the drought around them. To some within the system, this was a powerful message… for others, it’s an affirmation of their work.
The idea behind the community tree, taps into the idea of working together for a common goal. I’m going through some difficult memories at the moment, which is causing a great deal of confusion and divisiveness amongst the system. Pulling together and working towards a common goal is what I’m aiming for, no matter how out of reach it feels at the moment.
One scene in particular was quite emotional for me… near the end of Picard’s time on Kataan, a time capsule is launched by the people on Kataan. At the launching, there is a gathering of the different people who have interacted with Picard during his time as Kamin… people who have supposedly long since passed on. It is then revealed that the time capsule being launched is carrying the hopes, dreams and memories of this long lost civilisation.
Batai – “We hoped our … [time capsule] … would encounter someone in the future – someone who could be a teacher, someone who could tell the others about us.”
Eline – “Now we live in you. Tell them of us…”
I’m not quite sure how to describe it, but this is how they see my role as host of the system. To tell others of what happened, not to recount their experiences as such, but to validate their existence and feelings. This isn’t easy, as we navigate through layers of denial, flashbacks and old coping mechanisms. But then, I have the knowledge that I survived those experiences, and I had the resources to cope in a creative way… that means I have the strength and ability to heal as well.
As a note: I’ve looked at a few things within the episode that resonated strongly for me; but there are others that are relevant for my experiences with DID and trauma… issues around memories, several realities co-existing and an empathy for children who won’t get to experience a rich, full life. As with anything, this episode may resonate with you, or it may not. The main thing it offered me, was hope. I need some of that right now.