Dissociation means disconnecting. When we think of it in terms of PTSD, it is a method of self-defense. Dissociating allows us to escape. We just do it mentally rather than physically.
Dissociating is a term it took me a while to learn. When I finally understood it, I was relieved because I had what I thought of a “time blackouts.” For example, I remember entering a room once where I was forced to walk past my father.
Now, my father was a violent man, and I was terrified of him as a child. I stopped in the doorway and wondered if I had the courage to walk past him when I would be in a confined space and close enough for him to hurt me if he wanted. Then, all of a sudden, I was on the other side of the room, past him! I had no memory of having walked past him. It was as if I had been transported through time.
That experience, and others that were similar, were very frightening to me. I wondered if I had “blipped out” because of mental illness or some other strange mental defect. Years later, after much research, I ran across the term “dissociating,” and looked it up. I researched it thoroughly and realized that was what had happened.
I no longer think of myself as being defective for having lapses of memory. I think of myself as having some pretty cool build-in defense systems that protect me from things I could not otherwise deal with. Dissociating is just another way I coped with the horrors I was living with. It is another way I found to successfully survive.