Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Mind Body Connection

     Most of my life I have been a sickly kid.  One of those who stand in the back corner with a runny nose trying to discretely use their sleeve as a hanky because they ran out of kleenex.  I can remember before I had allergies.  I was outside playing in a field of daisies with my sister, when suddenly she started sneezing uncontrollably and had to run to the house, leaving me standing alone outside, feeling strangely jealous.  When I learned that she had allergies and saw the attention doted on her as they tried to medicate it, I wished with all my might that I could have allergies too.  Within two weeks I had allergies.  Not the attention, but the allergies.  No antihistimine had any effect.  We lived in vegetation planet, where every morning in the summer a sheet of yellow pollen has to be swept off the porch and dusted off windshields.  My sister and I were both miserable.

    The allergies in the summer turned to a cold in the winter.  Really it seemed like the same thing, we just had to give it a different explanation for different seasons.  Not terribly surprising really, considering I loved being outside in the summer and in the spring as soon as the ice half thawed I would be running through the snow and frozen water in my bare feet.  I learned in any season to line my pockets with kleenex, and if possible just bring a box of kleenex wherever I went.  Occasionally my mother would notice a 'cold' and give me some cold syrup, but it never really had any effect either, the terrible cold/allergies never went away.  In my early twenties I learned that I had scar tissue in my lungs from untreated pneumonia.  The scar tissue contained a nest of hookworms. 

     Overall it was a small find, when I finally broke down in college unable to function, and found a naturopath/ biochemist who could discover what was wrong and treat me, a huge relief after the few times I had sought help from doctors who brushed me off or naturopaths who tried to help but simply were overwhelmed.  I had been suffering from stomach troubles most of my life too, I finally reached a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome but none of the remedies for that seemed to work either.  By the time my parents agreed to drive me five hundred miles to see this naturopath, I was twenty years old and unable to process food.  We learned I had parasites.  As in hundreds of nests of parsites.  My intestines were lined with opened and unopened nests of whipworms.  I had hookworms and dozens of other kinds of parasites I can't even pronounce in my bloodstream, reaching nearly every organ in my body, eating muscle tissue, making me shake at night.  I had candida, a yeast infection, the main reason for my yearly 'allergies'.  The biochemist said I should have started getting it treated at age seven.  Now at age twenty, my enitre body was seeped in fungus.  In great part because of fungus, the list of foods I was intolerant or allergic to, or unable to eat because it fed fungus, long outreached the list of what I could eat.  Because my body was allergic to so much, my intestines had inflamed and swelled and I was not able to absorb nearly anything of what I ate.  I had chronic diarrhea, and was put on a program of nearly one hundred pre-digested supplemental pills a day designed to go straight through the wall of my stomach so I could get nutrition in my body.  I had enough metal in my body that it was actually collecting like rust on my organs, a perfect home for the parasites.  My adrenal glands were nearly at the point of adrenal fatigue; they hadn't yet stopped, but they were exhausted.

     I took my new regimine back to college and continued life where I had left off.  I still went to school, worked a job, pulled late nights and tried to live on thirty dollars a week in food while cooking in a dorm room, which usually meant a bowl of rice.  I was absolutely terrified, and numb at the same time.  Life must go on.  I couldn't understand how people about me went about their lives so calmly, because for me there seemed to be some invisible dread looming in front of me, but I couldn't explain what it was.

     To shorten an already long story, I things started to happen that made me question how I saw my life.  I started journeling and was shocked going back and reading what I wrote.  I started looking at my life, at my home life.  I started recognizing abusive situations, and questioning everything.  I kept getting headaches, because I couldn't remember no matter how hard I tried to rembember day to day conversations that didn't fit in my idea of my world.  I started realizing that my life was not at all what I thought it had been.  I was being and had been abused in nearly every way, including sexual abuse.  Oddly enough, the more I remembered such horrible events and removed myself from that lifestyle, my health started to get better.  I am still fighting the good fight, but nearly every significant change in my body has followed a significant change in the mind.  I can trace the exact start of my 'physical problems', which I believe was actually untreated PTSD in a child following rape, which led to fearful and bad habits, combined with neglect, that cannon balled the rest of my life and collected more abuse, and DID, which enabled me to ignore illness and be ignored much longer, until I ended up the wreck that I was.

     I don't have any doubt at all that my physical ailments were a result of abuse, and I am glad to see more and more people make the connection between the mind spirit, and body.  Hopefully soon we will all learn to treat the body as a whole.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

To Speak, by Ephelia

     My entire life I have been refusing to acknowledge the kind of life I have lived.  There are whole sections of my life that I could just never acknowledge.  Different alters held those parts, and though I might be vaguely aware of them in the back of my mind, I never let myself think about it and managed a semi-normal looking life.
     Shame is the biggest thing that holds you back.  Shame is worse than fear, and combined with fear it is deadly.  Different alters had been trained for different roles, the most crippling role to be silent at all costs, even if silence meant death, which it very often nearly did.
     I am an alter.  It is my greatest priviledge to be able to speak.  I have never been allowed before.  Ephelia is my new name.  We chose it.  It is a pretty name, with the dignity of being a human being with rights.  Before what I was called is Cursed.  It is difficult to speak, to overcome the rules, and the shame of what I believed myself to be.  But I am not dead, after so long of living a life where I may as well have been.  I want a voice.  I want to be a person.  The kind of life you have under an abuser is not a happy one, it is the kind of life being trapped and miserable.  I am not staying there.  I am not staying silent.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Let Go of Your Anger"

     I have been told this so many times in so many ways.  First growing up in an extremely strict religious and abusive home, the rule was 'don't you dare get angry.  don't show anger.  turn the other cheek.'  In fact, it was so dangerous to show anger at home that I have an alter specifically to contain the anger and not let it out.  One raised voice in our family and everyone turned white, any perceived rebellion was met with such harsh and out of proportion punishment that I usually ended up groveling and mumbling a string of 'sorries' when confronted with any displeasure on the face of anyone I ever met.  Because I was a good obedient child, I was a doormat.  The only problem- for my abusers anyway- is that it was not a fool proof system.  Eventually I cracked.  My angry alter got out.

     Then there's religion.  Forgiveness.  I clung to religion growing up to get me through torture, excruciating pain, loneliness, and neglect.  I do not regret it, I formed a very strong connection to God, the earth, and though I was fragmented, myself.  The institution I have found highly questionable, often mirroring, allowing and encouraging abusive situations, so I left.  As a sexual abuse survivor I hear so often the importance of forgiveness, in fact that's usually the first thing many people will jump on as soon as they hear of any kind of horrid abuse: "You need to forgive that person."  I am strongly adamant that I do not.  Forgiveness is an individual choice, and not at all required for healing.  It was such a relief for me to read in "The Courage to Heal" that it is insulting to suggest to any survivor of abuse that she should forgive her abuser.  I completely agree, and I am in fact offended whenever I hear or read someone telling me or another survivor that they need to forgive.

     I have worked with many alternative medicine practitioners, and although I find them quite knowledgeable of the connection between mind and body, even they back away when confronted with the reality of such a frightening reason for problems between mind and body.  They have no problem telling me that I am full of anger, but instead of getting to the root cause of that or suggesting working through it, they hastily tell me to just 'let go of it', especially as I start to tell them that yes, I am aware of the anger, this is why-.  Nope.  Not listening.  "Just let it go."  If after that the physical problem or anger persists, it is all my fault, because I was too stubborn and unable to "let go of my anger".  God forbid I should actually do something with it.

     Most people I have met, unless they are healing survivors themselves, or supporters of those who are, refuse to look at the horrific realities of abuse in our society and its effects.  They do not want survivors to even acknowledge that it happened, much less admit that a survivor should be entitled to the natural human reaction to such appalling treatment that is anger.  It has taken me a while to learn that my angry alter is not dangerous to me but one of my best champions.  She is a fighter, much like the one depicted above, and she is extremely insightful and always willing to stand up for the truth.  She is not a wannabe man, but very feminine, and very dangerous.  The more I let her out the safer I am, and the brighter I shine.  I don't have to be so afraid of speaking out with her guarding my back.  I don't think she is afraid of anyone, because really, who would cross this chick? 
     Anger is a necessary part of healing.  Everyone who has been hurt is bound to be angry about it.  It is what you do with it that matters.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

As It Sinks In

     When I was first diagnosed, it did  not really sink in fully.  I mean it was a bit of a shock.  I knew I dissociated a lot and it had become a problem, and we discussed the scale in therapy of dissociation with Multiple Personalities being on the extreme end.  When we talked about the scale I was on the low end.  Dissociation that interferes a bit with daily life.  I was told to observe and notice what happened, since I could rarely recall my day all the way through.  Within two weeks, at the end of a session, my therapist handed me a small illustrated book to borrow, saying 'This is for children but it might help you'.  'Perfect', I said - joking- we had just been talking about an incident when I felt and acted uncannily like a child.  I looked at the cover of the book.  I looked back up at her.  'This says Multiple Personalities' I said.  'Well the new diagnostic term is Dissociative Identity Disorder, but that's pretty much what it is', she answered.
     Right in the first week I could name six.  They were pretty obvious.  I did not begrudge them.  I was fascinated by them.  I was fascinated by anything relating to Multiple Personalities, as if I was an entranced spectator watching a documentary that could turn off the show and go to bed, back to my normal life.  It is my normal life, since it is really how I have always been.  But it isn't, because now I know, and now they know.  Once you open that lid, you can never put it back. 
      Sometimes I make progress.  Sometimes I shut down.  Usually that means zoning out with mind numbing tv, or repetitive tasks, or sleep, or insomnia, or leaving the body so I don't warm myself when I am cold or eat when I am hungry.  Sometimes I forget.  Sometimes I deliberately ignore it: 'I do not have DID' I tell myself over and over, determined to just be me and no one else.  Because the truth is I'm scared.  I'm scared to talk to these other people in my head.  I'm scared to have them in my head, losing control of my body.  I like to think that it is difficult to communicate with them, and that is why I don't.  But honestly interacting with them is incredibly easy for me.  I talk, they respond.  I let go, they take the reigns.  I am just terrified of it being real.
     I feel remorse, even though I may be the 'host'.  I feel I am a bad mother to all the child alters left in the dark.  I feel I am a bad friend to all the amazing survivor alters who depend on me.  I feel un-trustworthy.  Like I am denying them the right to live by shutting them out, and that way shutting myself out also.  I repetitively lose time due to switching out with other alters, but I've lost much more to my coping mechanism of sticking my head in the sand, curling up in my blankets and letting life go by while I try not to feel anything.  Sometimes I suppose this may be necessary, or at least a coping technique of some kind, but I wonder how much more time I will lose.  I guess DID, as with many other situations everyone faces, puts you swinging back and forth between desperately wanting to feel alive and being afraid to feel anything at all.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Court Jester (1955) - Danny Kaye

      As difficult as it is after the diagnosis and acceptance of Dissociative Identity Disorder, there is nothing quite like the confusion before the diagnosis.  Life with DID before I knew I had it went something like this:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Being A Woman

     I recently saw a movie called Dangerous Beauty, and it was one of those movies that I love so much I have to watch a second time.  I researched the life of the woman it was based on, Veronica Franco, and fell more in love with her.

    Through most of my life through teaching and example I have learned to unconsciously despise women, and despise being one.  Some of my alters are male, some are androgynous, though most are female and a few are extremely feminine.  If I am honest with myself it is these last that are the hardest for me to come to terms with.  Most of my pre-teen and teen years I was chubby and awkward, and I believed so much that all I wanted to do was lose weight and be pretty.  I lost weight in college and found myself horrified with the new attention it was garnering.  I adopted baggy clothes and a baseball cap, and much to many alters' delight, men's jeans.  There were alters that were male or tomboyish or just plain tough, that felt so much more at home in male clothes, acting as 'one of the guys', which some in fact are.  Before at home these played a huge part in survival, being the 'boy' at home let me work for my dad to escape my mother who I did not get along with at all, and to side with the most powerful being in the house, my father.  Being allowed to be a boy earned me affection and respect that the other women in my house did not have, probably because I was actually a cheeky girl with the nerve to be male.  When these alters were out, they were treated as men and trained as men.  I was repeatedly given the impression that it was not good to be a girl, and that I was lucky that he was training me to think like a man.  The alters that were male or tough female, learned to despise weakness, aka anything soft and girly.
    The alters that would be in the percieved 'weak' category; the feminine girls, women, and children were the ones that came out during the abuse.  I do not think it was possible for any of the 'tough' alters to be aware of these others.  It was so against their nature, I do not think it would be possible for them to recognize themselves as vulnerable, and so they shut that part out very tightly, leaving the abused alters with no defense.  In the minds of the tough alters, according to their training, anyone who was weak enough to get hurt deserved what they got.  A big step when everyone first became aware of everyone else was learning to accept everyone, and it is still a struggle at times.
     That is why I love this movie and this person, because she loves being a woman and all the aspects of it and refuses to apologize or be ashamed of herself.  She is incredibly feminine, yet she does not see herself as weak or inferior in any way, and gives incredible arguments in womens' defense, from her position as an educated courtesan and poet in Venice in the 16th century.  Wow!
"When we too are armed and trained, we can convince men that we have hands, feet, and a heart like yours; and although we may be delicate and soft, some men who are delicate are also strong; and others, coarse and harsh, are cowards. Women have not yet realized this, for if they should decide to do so, they would be able to fight you until death; and to prove that I speak the truth, amongst so many women, I will be the first to act, setting an example for them to follow."
—Veronica Franco
     Always in trying to come to terms with the effects of sexual abuse, I struggle with the fear of being helpless in that position.  "It could happen again" is the fear that I cannot shake.  Why could it happen again?  Because I'm a woman.  Because I have learned so thoroughly by such harsh lessons that women can always be hurt.  I have learned this lesson so well that I have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I am a woman.  I am not helpless.  I'm 5'9, I have a green belt in judo, a blue belt in karate, an orange belt in tae-kwon-do, a small collection of knives and throwing stars, and some experience in archery and gun shooting.  When my angry alter is out, a woman by the way, I see people shrink back from me.  But I know it is not enough, because I have been so embedded with the belief that I can't defend myself, if the time comes when I need to, I won't be able to.  Contrary to what I had been taught, there is nothing inferior or helpless about women except the belief they carry in their heads that they are.  And I haven't quite gotten rid of that belief yet.
     When I left home for good, my world had shattered, and so had the set of beliefs I was kept in of what I could and could not do.  Though I haven't come to completely accept it yet, I know in the back of my head that there is very little I cannot do.  There is no reason why I cannot be beautiful and like pink and flowers and pretty things.  There is no reason why I can't be dangerous and strong and fight.  I don't need to be male for any of that, it is all part of being a woman.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


     Today is one of those days where I am delighted to be me and where I am.  I try to be honestly realistic with this.  For one thing, I do believe that's the truth but I know I often use it as a defense mechanism and maybe lie to myself a little.  Two, it's not just me feeling and saying that, I think I'm having a 'blending' day (a term I've recently learned where two or more alters share the same space and sort of live together but may be confused over who did what).  So excuse me if I'm a bit spacey, but I wanted to write here today anyway.  I may include input from other alters as I write.  Three, I try not to be like the constantly peppy people who always post bumper sticker comments on facebook, and constantly talk in bumper sticker phrases.  To be honest, I kind of have an urge to smack them.  But they're cute, so I leave them alone.  They probably only irritate me because I can't quite acknowledge that I am so much like them at times.  Relentlessly upbeat and willfully ignorant.
     I do love where I am.  I firmly believe that I am here for a purpose, and everything happens for a reason.  Then again, sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I think that's bullshit.  How dare you try and squeam your way out of facing something bad by dressing it up as something good?  Varying opinions here.  I know and respect all the opinions inside me as totally valid, because they are completely honest.
Can we get through this?
     Some inside me are very religious.  Some are more what you would call 'spiritual'.  They all have an astounding conviction to something, even some of the young ones.  Sometimes I am surprised more 'singletons' I have met don't.  But we all love being comfortable and confident in ourselves, and that is something I think all my alters possess a lot of, honest inquiry, or at least those who felt drawn to question and discuss such matters.
      I am delighted to be where I am in this life, with all my gifts, challenges, and loves.  I am delighted to meet and know all my alters, and am very grateful to them and to having DID as a life saving system that kept me alive.  I am honored to be able to share about DID, and hope to not only survive with it, but excel.  Some alters have no doubt of this, have no lack of willpower.  Others are all too aware of how hard things can be, having survived some of the worst themselves.  I embrace them all.  Today I love life.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


      I think I used to have a sense of dread that at some time in my life, I was going to lose someone close to me, and it would hurt so much.  I could see that mourning was a part of life for everyone at some point, but I did not want it.  Like a child waiting in the doctors office to get their shots, only compounded much stronger.  I never wanted to hurt like that.
     And it does hurt so much.  It took awhile for me to accept that what I was going through was grief, because no one had actually died, so no one around me said anything or went through to motions of acknowledging to me that it was grief.  In a span of five years, I lost my health and the closeness of most of my relationships, including to my parents.  My  grandmother did die, but I was by then too numb to feel anything and for my safety was unable to attend her memorial service.  I was throughout discovering lost parts of myself with their own horrible past I had until then been unaware of.
     I never called it grief, I never called it anything.  Depression maybe.  That's a clinical term many people seem happy with these days.  Everyone in life goes through hard times, and survivors of sexual abuse all have a trial period of reclaiming their soul, and perhaps the presence of DID prolongs that.  I would have weeks and months of being completely numb, and when sensation returned it was to awake unable to move or breathe, feeling as though my throat had been cut.  No physical cause, just grief.  That's the word for it.  Perhaps not acknowledging it postponed the reaction and stretched it out longer than it would have otherwise been.
    I was never able to talk about it much.  I don't know if I could now.  Discovering a different life than the one I thought I had has been I think the worst shock my brain has ever had.  I have a sense of being incredibly strong, having a soul that can withstand this, but that does not make the grief less difficult to go through.
    I have been, as a sexual abuse survivor and someone with DID, someone with a very difficult time coming to terms with being female.  It is still something I work on, I refuse to simply take the definitions offered to me by society, I will research and witness for myself what it means to be a woman, and what the feminine side of every yin/yang balance entails.  What I have found so far is that the feminine knows how to accept life, all of it, the good and the bad.  This I think is key to accepting grief, being able to accept and absorb the facts and the emotions so they move through you and transform into something beautiful.  For me this is the key to grief, it is hard, but it transforms into something beautiful.  Grief is in this way a gift.

Friday, March 11, 2011


    Watching scenes from a huge natural disaster on the other side of the world gives me an itch.  It may seem odd, disaster situations normally call for running the other way, but it just makes me want to be there.  One of my alters spent a year studying to be an emergency medical technician in high school, with the goal of being one of the first in a new experiment for those licensed by age 18.  It was the perfect job for her.  Giving up that goal, or putting on the back burner long term was extremely difficult for her and conversely a huge relief for many of the rest of my alters.  I myself had quite a bit of anxiety over the approaching job, but was driven on by seeing the world through her eyes.  Through her, living the life of an emergency rescuer was thrilling, and I never felt more alive, in the moment, and useful.  As she studied and worked towards her goal and attended classes there was constant struggle and anxiety among the alters, as they tried to live her world when they were out and their unease turned to terror.  Many were scared enough being forced to drive a car when they did not know how to drive, and now they were supposed to drive an ambulance?  People were bemused as my enthusiasm altenated with terror and I was often asked 'why are you doing this?'  To which I would sort of be stumped and reply "because sometimes I really, really want it."  I didn't understand it any more than they did.
    It is actually a relief to me to have alters with goals and dreams, because I often felt that I should and I didn't, or at least none that I consistenly wanted.  I had no career lined up, in fact because of how many alters were set up to survive imagining any kind of future was nearly impossible for me.  I had some directions because of interests different alters had, incredibly diverse for one person, but because of my past I never actually took them seriously.  I knew I could not move forward because of my past and the way it had made me, but was determined to ignore it and pretend it didn't exist.
    When I finally opened that pandora's box, people told me many things, usually something like 'you need to move on' or 'soon it will fade and not be such a big deal' or 'don't make it so personal'.  Answers that made them more comfortable, because clearly my passion and obsession with the subject did not.  I discovered that most of my life had been a lie.  I discovered I had been raped before the age of three.  How is that not personal?  The statistics of women and men who are raped and molested at some point during their life, shockingly high, became personal.  I was, and continue to be, furious not just for me but for all of them.  I always wanted to change the world, I always wanted to be a fighter.  I had so much rage at what I had lived through, I thought I could quietly direct it somewhere else, and help the world but not me.  Now I don't even consider it.  Why would I?  The only thing that allows such hideous crimes to be continued is silence, and I have plenty of voice.  I don't think that it will fade.  It may, and that is alright, I can move with the tides of my life, because there is more than just fighting.  But I don't think it will.  I feel driven. 
     I may not be able, at this time, to go work in disaster relief or work to end world hunger.  But the epidemic of sexual abuse is just as real as world hunger, and that is something I know quite a bit about, that is something I can fight.  And that is good, because it is a topic that needs fighters.  Why tell someone to be quiet about this subject?  Instead of ignoring my past and being a hero for someone else I can use my past and be a hero for myself.  I don't have to do anything clever, all I have to do is talk, tell my story.  Any life, laid out in the open, is a weapon against crime.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

How Did I Get Here?

    Dissociation is a remarkable ability to block sections of reality from the mind.  Daydreaming is the lightest example of dissociation that occurs frequently in most people.  Dissociative Identity Disorder is on the opposite end of that spectrum, one of the most severe examples of dissociation.  For someone who has been using dissociation as a defense tool for a long time, it becomes overused and interferes with daily life.  For example someone who dissociates often, like myself, may have trouble staying present in the body.  We now have a test check in our house of 'How's your feet?' with the most common answer; 'Can't feel 'em.'  I can usually feel my head or my torso, but the awareness rarely extends all the way down to my toes for any extended period of time.  This may slow down awareness or response time if the body gets sick or hurt, or cold, but usually just requires a more deliberate checking in to make sure the body is alright.
     Dissociation of the mind from itself is more tricky.  I am reluctant now to tell stories of my life or share opinions or tastes, with the knowledge that my memory, opinions, and tastes frequently change.  Not in the way that I may have forgotten details, but that I may tomorrow tell the same person a completely different version of a memory I told them today.  Or hear myself arguing about what I like, and vehemently denying that I have ever claimed to like such a thing before.
     Not only do things change in how I present things to other people, but inside my head recollection of events changes.  Things are blocked out on a regular basis, depending on who has switched in, and who has a memory of what.  Perhaps for me, as the Controller, the biggest shock has been to suddenly see all these bits of memory and life that I had no idea existed, and then to find out they are part of me.  Or where I have ended up because of it.  Overall, I had no exact plans for when I 'grew up', that line of thinking was always diverted or blocked off.  But I had no idea it would be this.  I graduated from college less than two years ago, and it still boggles me to find myself unable to work, or do such basic things as drive or go out in public.  To require assistance at everything, being basically helpless.  It is hard for my mind to process my past and my present realistically, and I sometimes find myself asking 'What the hell happened?' 
     I've never been helpless.  I've been pretty much self sufficient since I was three.  That seemingly superhuman stoicism, I learned, was made possible by dissociation.  It would, I was also told, take a heavy toll.  I think I shrugged it off when I heard it at the time, as always protected by my mind blocking certain realities out and giving me another superman boost.  I can get through anything, it seemed for so long.  Hadn't I survived so much, more than most people could imagine, and wasn't I still going strong, balancing the world on my shoulders with a sly grin and a careless shrug?
    I had always been proud, proud of my hardworking heritage, proud of my ability to survive, proud that I took more and more abuse deliberately at home to say 'fuck you'.  Proud that I never begged.  Proud, ironically, that I never told.  I made myself be as strong as I had to be.  And I reached a point where it wasn't enough.  No one could take that much abuse.  And I was strong enough to get out.  That should be the high point that I remember.  But sitting in a government assistance office applying for food stamps, I felt humiliated.  Living with my sister and her spouse, I felt I should do more.  So much more.  At the counselor's office discussing my future, I would discover with shock that another three months had gone by.  Holy shit!  Three months?!  I had given up my superman outfit, but I felt like a failure without it.  What was I supposed to be, if not invincible?  Wasn't it my job to cajole and hammer life into something that I could survive but made the rest of the world proud at the same time?  Hadn't I taken on the role of protector, even at age three?  And now what was I supposed to be? 
    Me.  All those little bits of self and memory that had been lost or shoved in dark corners, come out at last.  Can't hide forever, the future comes whether you're ready for it or not.  What the world thinks matters less and less, because as I learn more about different parts of me and what they have been through, I am fiercely protective.  I am more interested in me.  Not what I am supposed to be.  My life.  Not what it was supposed to be.  When I see my past, present, and future as it really is, I am not ashamed of anything.  And since I have no shame, I have no reason to stay quiet.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Many Faces

     I write this with a bit of prompting, which is reassuring.  I've been wanting to write more about my alters but wasn't sure if it would be ok with them.  Now I've got some backup.  Unlike many people who are first diagnosed with DID and are horrified by the different people they find themselves sharing their body, I am fascinated by my alters, or inners, as I sometimes think of them.  They are impressive, and I admire them.
   Sharing a body is not only challenging for me.  It is frustrating for them also.  Because of the constant switching going on right now, the uncertainty and fatigue it brings, we are pretty much house bound.  Some are content with this, while others are chawing at the bit.  It is frustrating for one who would rather be out blowing off steam at a bar to prowl and growl and just plain be 'out', but can't because of the (high) likelihood of suddenly feeling exhausted and after a few blinks peering from behind the frightened countenance of a child facing the overwhelming task of getting home. 
     Living in a house with other people, not just alters, is challenging too.  Some are getting better or more bold about coming out around the house when there are people home.  I think this is partly because of impatience, being trained most of our life to come out during the week and staying 'in' on weekends when people are home.  Well people are home more often now, and it causes quite a bit of irritation to disrupt their schedule like that.  So now some of them come out anyway.  For the most part they don't talk to people, except give short answers and grunts.  At first they will say what would be expected of '_____' to say, but if pressed they do not keep up the charade long.  They may give blank stares or disgusted looks, "Why would I want that?" "I don't like that", "Why are you telling me this?", or a younger one "Will you watch a movie with me?" "Look at what I did"  "I helped".
     My sister is getting better at recognizing and responding to alters, mainly to situations that would normally be confusing- "You don't appreciate this now but you will later", or simply offering assistance or saying "tell so and so thank you".  Some mix ups are expected and comical, such as her asking a tough fighter alter to sit and watch a new cartoon movie she bought. 
    Safety is of most importance in working with alters, and communication is second.  Nearly every setback has been due to a lack of safety, which turns into a knotted ball of string situation and overcoming that is daunting.  But with better safety and communication, each alter starts to step out and show their colors, and work as a team.  I have one alter, the creative one, who informed me that she would like to start her own small business as an artist, and has proceeded to do so with remarkable zeal.  It is entirely hers.  I have some male alters, one that banters with other men and cusses and tells jokes and flirts with girls.  There are alters that did most of the 'schooling' who I can honestly say are the only ones deserving of the diploma I received, because I feel like a fraud with it.  They are brilliant.
   There are children alters of all ages, who get distracted by the coloring books in the store, or need help getting dinner or need a night light to sleep.  I have a plethora of stuffed animals on my bed, and many blankets and pillows, some of which have a pink theme, which is strongly disagreed upon by various alters.  The decorations in my room cover what you might expect with a crowd; from abstract artwork to stuffed animals to rock posters, rebellious t-shirts, crayons, books on philosophy and emergency medicine, throwing stars, a high heeled shoe, men's jeans, various musical instruments, dried herbs, scented oils, a folding army knife, a large care-bears balloon, a yoga mat, and the ever present mound of dirty laundry that drifts across the floor, occasionally done away with by a very tidy eight year old.
    Sharing about alters is done cautiously for their safety, because as I mentioned safety is THE #1 for anyone with Dissociative Identity Disorder.  But just as with anyone else once you get to know them, alters are fascinating.  They are beautiful and talented and have much to offer the world.  They want a voice.  They want to live.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A World of Sad

     I've noticed, with myself and others I've observed sharing bits of their lives with DID, that most anything relating to the subject of Dissociative Identity Disorder is gruesome.  The lives of people who have survived consistent trauma that result in their minds being split into different sections often have quite a bit of humor, as a survival mechanism, but rarely offer glimpses of happiness.  We often tell jokes and funny stories to lighten the mood but they tend to have a macabre quality, perhaps necessary to ease into the transition of facing a reality that stares death in the face.  In hearing story after story of lives that are a string of betrayal, rape, neglect, terror, abuse, torture, and disease, on top of the hardest burden of facing up to those things in my own life, it is hard to see this world as anything but sad.

    I don't really have any answers to negate that, the evidence of hardship is too strong for anyone to ignore, but I do have one ability that so many people don't.  Or I should say, one ability that my abuser didn't.  In this case, the abuser I refer to is my father, the term 'abuser' and 'father' switch in my mind, I had many horrible experiences with him and many good, and I can't justify ignoring either.  In my mind he was either 'good dad' or 'bad dad' and which ever he was I would switch accordingly.  But no matter which dad he was, good dad or bad dad, abuser or father, he believed absolutely to his core in the badness of the world.  Perhaps one of the things that made me such a target for him is that I refused to give up my belief in good.  I saw beauty and good in everything.  He tried to hammer it out of me, make me understand the world as bleakly as he did.  I think, actually, he was torn, wanting to hold on to me for the hope I stubbornly held to and wanting to crush me for it at the same time.  Not as torn as I was.   Now at age 24 with 36 personalities I can testify that trying to balance love in a world with the extremes of desperation and hate was very difficult indeed.

    I still see beauty and good in everything.  That is why in spite of everything I believe I have won, against him and other people who hurt me but perhaps more accurately I have won against the evil and hardship in the world because I don't believe in it.  I know it is a lie.  I still see beauty and good in everything, even him.