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.

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