Monday, February 28, 2011


   The morning of the second time I went to see my therapist, I nearly threw up.  I kept running to the bathroom.  I kept blacking out.  I had a headache.  I was dizzy.  My father was going to be reported for incest.  As my sister drove me to the rented office buildings, I sat slumped by the window in a daze, knowing my world was going to end.  I hadn't told her, of course.  She didn't want to know, and I didn't want to tell. 

    Of course that was the big dilema of going to see a counselor, was that within a certain time frame they were required to report it.  You couldn't tell any kind of professional confidentially, no matter how desperately you needed help.  That was what had kept me waiting a year before trying to get help again, I didn't know exactly the rules of what would be reported.  So I ignored it, until I started seriously considering trying to throw myself through a glass door, and I decided it was either that or therapy.

   Most people wait 14 years on average before telling anyone about sexual abuse.  I waited 14 years before allowing myself to remember sexual abuse.  I constantly waited until it became a choice between telling or running a risk of dying in silence, and to be honest I didn't know which was worse.  The first appointment I had with my therapist, I didn't tell her many details just why I was there, but apparently there was enough concern for her to tell me she was going to report it.  She ended up putting it off, and allowing me to make the decision of whether I would report it myself.  By now I wanted to do it, I didn't want to go back.  I was going to tell.

  I lied to my sister about it being my decision.  I told her what I had heard initially, that they were required to report it and there was nothing I could do about it.  We didn't talk about it, we never have, but her face was ashen.  I would be required to report it in the same county as it occured, which made me even more nervous.  I was very familiar with the law enforcement in my home county, and they were the last people I would expect to stand with me instead of my father.  I was told what to expect if they took the case.  I was told I would lose nearly all my family, all my friends.  The opposing attorney would do their best to put holes in my argument.  No one would believe me, I would start to believe I was crazy.  Did I still want to do it?  As it turned out, they did not take the case.  I was disappointed but relieved at the same time.  It didn't work but it did have the effect of setting my distance, something I needed.

   Of course there are other things that are hard to tell.  Any of it is hard to tell, but some more than others.  A few months later I was diagnosed with DID, and the more I learned about my alters the more I learned about my life, things I had never wanted to know.  Many of these alters were under a strict rule of silence.  Many times I would go in to tell something I had found out and switch so I didn't remember what it was.  Sections of my memory were blocked out.  Even things I tried to process in the present, such as some of the research I was trying to find in books, was blocked from my vision so I could not see or understand, or remember certain paragraphs.

   The result of being unable to talk about some of these things have been constant panic attacks, insomnia, difficulty breathing, and worsening of a myriad of health problems I am convinced is connected.  Who do you tell about this kind of thing?  Trauma is hard to process, it's not the type of thing you can just drop in a conversation.  And if you do, no one knows what to say.  Many times I would open my mouth, and nothing would come out, so I just closed it again.  I'm sure for anyone who has survived abuse or trauma trying to figure out what to do, this problem comes up.  It is not something you can keep to yourself, yet it is difficult to share, and equally difficult to find someone to share it with.  The painful truth is that that's the only way to continue healing- keep telling.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Family and Love

    My therapist told me when I first started seeing her that incest is one of the worst kinds of trauma/abuse because it tears apart the family.  How true that is.  I had a perfect middle class family, the kind who could afford insurance and help send us to college.  Both my parents have PhDs, are intelligent, well respected members of society.  Most of the time when I didn't remember-and I only remembered the bad when bad was happening, when it wasn't I switched back to someone who only knew good.  Dissociative Identity Disorder develops in families of incest because experiencing constant sexual abuse, and then walking upstairs and having a pleasant dinner with the family, is not possible for a child without dissociating to preserve the illusion of safety in order to survive that environment.

     When I first started to remember/realize the abuse in our family and its extent, I did my research and saw all the countless stories of abusive families and their dynamics, which is 99% that abusive parents have been abusing for years, do so intentionally, and will not stop.  There is a 1% chance for hopefuls, thrown in cynically and more out of pity than fact.  I was adamant that no other families could be like mine.  I knew we were in that 1%.  I would explain, they would be sorry, some way we would be a happy family.  The alternative was too unbearable, too impossible to contemplate.

    Repeatedly, I was hit with the impossible.  It may seem unlikely to some that one could live in an abusive environment and not be aware of it.  There are many reasons this happens.  One is that you only know what your parents or caregivers tell you.  You are not born with a set of ideas to see the world through, you are given them by your parents.  If they do not tell you that what they are doing is abusive, and no one else does, then in your mind it is not.  I had no idea that the sexual abuse going on at home was/and or bordering illegal.  I didn't know it was abuse.  I knew I hated it and it made me feel icky, but I didn't think about it.  This was possible for me because another reason people don't know what is going on: dissociation.  My home was the kind with two worlds, a very bad one held in silence by terror, and a very good one where everyone did and said everything that would be expected of a normal family.  Indeed I don't believe we were very spontaneous, we did everything because it was just 'what was done' and it would make us seem normal.

     Of course my family was not in that pity given 1%.  I had to leave the safety net of my parents, and I did so cowering and only when forced to by a threat on my life.  I simply stopped talking to them, cut off contact as much as possible.  I am not telling this to lead up to more re-hashing of a traumatic story, although it certainly is, and deserves respect and credit.  I feel as though my parents have died, but it is worse, because they are not, and I am the one who chose to cut things off.  I still feel guilty about this, even though I know I had no choice, and it is a feeling that comes less and less.  I have become a person who can cut off any relationship at the drop of a hat, after cutting off the closest relationship I ever had, and that was with my father.  My trust level is about zero.  It is not my nature.  I love family, I love friends, I love have relationships and contact.  I am not crazy, as my father suggested to me concerning my radical 'un-normal' behavior.  And contrary to the guilt trips many people put on me, I do love my parents.

   I have found some interesting things about love.  I was born with it.  For awhile I was convinced by everyone around me that they must be smarter and I should believe their ideas that love is not always possible.  They lied.  Love is not always the opposite of hate.  Some days I love my father, and some days I hate him.  They are both inside me at the same time, and it is disrespectful to me to suggest that I need to ignore or get rid of the hate, or that love cannot co-exist, or that I should not love someone who has hurt me so badly.  Fear can block love, creating the illusion that some things just can't be done.  Hate is a result of hurt love, and fear.  Fear and Hate are both important in their own right, and deserve to be recognized and felt for what they are, but not mistaken for anything else.  Love is not need.  "I love you, I need you" are really two different things.  Going back to an abuser because they 'need' you is to show a lack of love to you from both you and them.  Loving someone does not mean that you should allow them to hurt you.  If you love yourself, if you love them, you will NOT allow them to hurt you.

   Leaving any set group of hurtful people will make you a target, especially if you are exposing a secret that they work hard to hide from themselves.  Most often, you are made out to be the bad guy, the 'rebel', the 'troublemaker', 'evil', etc.  I think that contrary to this we who leave abusive families, or any abusive situation, make a tremendous step towards making the world a more loving place.

Friday, February 25, 2011


A major challenge in learning to live with DID is switching.  Switching is when alters come out, or 'switch' to another.  In someone with DID that is not co-conscious as I am, that would mean an alter takes over completely.  This might sound drastic but is rarely noticeable to outsiders.  People only see what they expect to see, and no one expects to see another person taken over by another personality unless they are aware they have them.  Sometimes I do black out completely, and wake up walking or browsing the internet, usually just a continuum of what I was doing before.  As far as I have noticed, I only lose a few seconds or a few minutes when this happens.  It is hard for me, at home by myself, to even realize that I have lost time.  To me it is a second.  I may blink and lose two minutes.  I usually only notice that I have lost time when I look at the clock and what felt like five minutes has been a hour, etc.  (This happens a lot, with time and also days.  I have been quite happy with myself recently for getting a calender and closely monitoring it and the computer so that I usually now know what day it is.  Time is a bit better, I feel great satisfaction looking at the clock having expected five minutes to go by and it was indeed only five.)
In public when this happens it is usually under a lot of stress, as everyone is aware and trying to get out and see or very agitated, and switching happens much more frequently.  I usually have a headache from all the switching or from trying to hold control, where I literally tighten the muscles in my body and head to try and 'hold' onto it.  With a complete switch as I described above, I will have the headache, and feel myself start to 'slide' sideways and then black out for a rapid second.  It is like blinking without closing your eyes.  The sliding is a bit akin to having the 'room spin' as in a panic attack but much more intense and brief, and always precedes a switch.
The most common switching for me is co-conscious, meaning someone else will take over most or all of the functions of the body, but I am still aware with all my senses of what is going on.  It is like standing behind their shoulder (left shoulder, always the left for me, my counselor has noted I'm very spacial:)  no, no, spacial, not special!).  Sometime when I am 'in the back' so to speak, I can give them information, or guide them, usually as with children alters to help take care of them and keep them safe.  If needed sometimes I can pull myself to the forefront with great effort.  Usually being addressed by another person jerks me to the front, since everyone inside knows they are talking to me, and the rapid jerking and or forcing myself to stay in front gives me a headache.  Sometimes, however, I cannot take charge, or even communicate with the alter that is, and they usually do their best to avoid people or simply ignore them. 
Going out in public is a challenge that we are working on.  Some alters express a desire to be out in public, especially recently my five year old.  She is brave and loves being around people, so we have been able to work out a deal where I will be in charge and she can come out too and just watch, or if she is in front and in charge I can guide her and take over if necessary.  Switching in public is probably more scary for me than for them, it makes me much more aware of the process of losing control of my body while someone else steps in, and worry of what will happen or what they will say, and realizing I have less control than I think at times.  Managing switching depends on how well you can communicate with your alters, since it is a group effort.  Ignoring anyone or any part in the body, something anyone who has grown up in an abusive home has learned to do, is catastrophic with DID.  However, learning to work with everyone results in an impressive team.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Living with other people inside you is not easy.  To date, I have met 36 personalities.  Some are fragments, some are fully developed personalities with their own likes, habits, and ways of thinking.  One of the most challenging things I'm learning- if you can really pick out only a few in this situation -is learning to respect everyone and ask permission to talk about them, share a story about them, or use their things.  It feels surreal to be talking in my head asking for permission or asking a question and listening for the answer.  I've always had these voices in my head but I never took them seriously, I knew they were just different aspects of me and never realized they came out to live their own life at times.  I just 'talked to myself' alot and would sometimes joke about it with other people, what an odd goof I thought I was to admit that I often tell stories to myself, sometimes sing and dance when no one's around, and am entertained by it.  Not the one doing the telling or entertaining, but everyone else in my head is entertained.  I never really thought about it hard enough to put it in words and realize that might be a bit abnormal, it's just the way I was.
I am the 'Controller'.  A self given name, a bit arrogant according to everyone else.  I like to think I'm in control.  I'm really not.  I have a hard time accepting that I'm sharing this life, this body, I like to dominate and try and take over or push others around to fit into what I think should happen with my life.  It causes tension and headaches, as I fight to be the one in charge of what the body does.  I am not even certain I know how to relinquish control.  Relinquishing control is not something I'm good at.  I just give up at a certain point when I know I'm done and take a back seat where I can usually see what's going on.  I am the 'main' personality, sort of like the computer moniter.  Not the core personality, as in the original one that I was born with, because I suspect I'm not.  I am the one who most people interact with, I am the one who tries to coordinate and keep everyone informed.  I suppose I have the priviledge of being the one who gets to live in the outside world most, for which I have been shielded from pain quite often.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This is my blog about living with DID, dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder.  I struggle alot with the idea of starting my own blog, partly because I have many alters with different views on having some, some are adamantly in favor of sharing about myself and putting my mark on the world, to share myself and help others.  Some are quite in favor of secrecy, privacy, and the protection or idea of protection it may afford.  That is mostly a learned trait, I think.  I love sharing myself but so often have been told in different ways 'don't do that.  it's not safe'.  I think the world would be a better place for having me, but have been told and shown that the world will hurt me and I must keep to myself for protection.  The dilema of everyone, isn't it?  One of the main fears for me as someone with DID is constantly looking over my shoulder and trying to guard my activities from my abusers.  DID is caused by sustained severe childhood trauma, not officially of course because that would radically challenge an authoritarian system, but it's as true for me as for anyone else with the condition.  I live in constant fear of being tracked, manipulated, controlled.  Whether or not this fear is currently valid is uncertain in my brain, but I still hesitate to do the smallest things, for fear of being watched, or leaving a trail that could be followed.  PTSD of course accompanies DID nearly always and is difficult to navigate, but as I learn to steer I gradually overcome it.  I have never heard of anyone fully overcoming the challenges of DID, since there are so few stories put out publicly, but there are a few that are full of hope and determination.  For now I will keep this a closed personal blog, since I am too vulnerable to really put myself out there yet, but I want to be able to share me with the world, even in small steps.