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.

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