My close friend Stephani has hipped me to the world of Internal Family Systems – IFS, and it’s changed my life. I will be candid, Stephani has been talking about doing “Parts Work” for as long as I’ve known her, but I had no idea what the context of “Parts Work” meant. As my relationship with Stephani has gotten stronger over the last few years, she’s helped me identify different parts of me when we’ve had conversations about life experiences.
Over time, it’s sparked my interest in wanting to get to the bottom of what “parts of me” even means.
What is Internal Family Systems?
IFS is a transformative, evidence-based psychotherapy that helps people heal by accessing and loving their protective and wounded inner parts. We believe the mind is naturally multiple, and that is a good thing. Just like members of a family, inner parts are forced from their valuable states into extreme roles within us. We also all have a core Self.
Self is in everyone. It can’t be damaged. It knows how to heal.
By helping people first access their Self and, from that core, come to understand and heal their parts, IFS creates inner and outer connectedness. Read more about the aspects of the Evolution of the IFS model.
The more I learned about IFS, the more I began to identify different parts of me, and I started to evaluate what role these parts have played in my life currently and back to my childhood at my earliest memories. I am still at the beginning stages of learning about IFS, so my writing might be based on the level of understanding and experience I currently have with IFS. I feel the need to share this because I am still learning.
One of the many IFS dynamics I am drawn towards is the concept that we all have parts, and we all have SELF. Self is the true us and who we are. IFS guides each of us to know that we have no bad or negative parts, and all of our parts have served a great purpose. These parts have been protectors to help protect SELF from harmful experiences at some point along our journeys. They can surface at different areas of life as protectors, and sometimes they stay in the background, not surfacing at all.
Moving forward, I want to share some of the parts of me that I identify as I move forward with the Internal Family Systems Model. Example – I have already identified one of my teenage parts. I’ve named her and acknowledged different times when she shows up in my current life and what she protected me from in my teen years. I’ve been able to identify and tap into her feelings, and she’s already shared a lot of her role with other people. In doing this, she already feels she has a voice, which has never happened. She’s shared things about her that have been locked inside for 46 years. Sharing is healing, so even this small step has created an extended-release for me.
I’ve identified one of my five-year-old parts, and I’ve also named her. She played a pivotal role in my childhood. I want to share more about her in a separate article. I’ve identified one of my pre-five-year-old parts, and I haven’t come up with a name for her yet. She holds the terror and trauma from relinquishment separation from being given up for adoption. As I navigate my IFS journey and move forward with understanding these parts, I hope to know how these parts impact me to this day and what they have protected me from in the past.
This all might seem like a strange foreign language because I can relate. Those were my thoughts in the beginning. However, when I have tried EVERYTHING under the sun to heal my adoptee/relinquishee issues, and nothing has worked, it leaves me in a state of mind where I’m willing to try anything. The more I learn about IFS – the more it makes sense to me. It’s given me a new tool to discover and learn about layers of myself, which has given me a new fresh wind at trying to figure it all out. It’s given me a chance to provide a voice for all the parts of me who have so desperately wanted to be heard, but no one has been available to listen.
Some of the questions I have –
Why am I the way I am?
Are my ways serving me a good purpose?
What do I need to identify and change?
Now I can begin to understand my sensitivities and where they come from?
Healing can happen from these discoveries. I’m excited to start the IFS process and share some of my self-discoveries with you. I feel this model might be something that other adopted individuals might consider learning more about. One thing is for certain; healing isn’t going to come knocking on our doors. It’s up to each of us to seek healing ways out, and that’s going to look different for each of us. As I move forward with learning more about IFS, and the process of seeing a new adoptee/therapist I want to share my discoveries with you all. Even if it helps one adoptee, it’s worth the share.
A special shout out to my close friend Stephani – Thank you for your willingness in sharing your parts with me, thank you for encouraging me to learn my parts. Thank you for listening to me share about my parts. Thank you for your transparency, and most of all THANK YOU FOR YOUR FRIENDSHIP! XOXO P
To my fellow adoptees, do you know anything about IFS? Have you tried using it in the past? Are you currently using this model? If so, what’s your experience been like? Has it helped you? If so, how?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova