I think some people find multiple personalities (DID) fascinating. It’s really not. It’s just a daily hell to be honest. My memory is full of holes, and my mind is in pieces. These pieces think and live autonomously, and they make it difficult to function. Sometimes it’s simultaneously confusing and funny as hell. The other day I had a CT scan. This is what it’s like having DID and trying to get through a 5 minute medical procedure: The tech asks me if my shorts have any zippers or metal on them. I say no. She says that the machine will tell me when to hold my breath and when to breathe. Ok, sounds easy enough. She tells me to put my hands above my head. I spaced out for that, and she’s just staring at me. Luckily I snap back to reality, a part replays what she just said, and I realize I’m being asked to do something. I quickly put my arms over my head, but not after that awkward pause. The machine starts, we seem ok with it. We’re amused by the sticker that says not to stare into the beam. A kid says to me, “What happens if we look at it?” I said, “It’ll hurt our eyes.” “I want to see if it does!” “No! Don’t look at it!” While this internal dialogue is going on, we forget to listen to the machine. Somehow we don’t hear a loud computer voice telling us to breathe normally and then prepare to hold our breath in 5 seconds. A voice yells at me, “Hold your breath!” The timer had 1 second left, and we managed to stop breathing just in time, thanks to the part that was actually paying attention. Then parts started to freak out inside because our arms were above our head. I told them it’s just temporary, it’s just a quick medical scan. They freak out anyway, because the simple fact that they are unable to move is terrifying, especially in that position. I almost forget to hold my breath again. When we leave the office, a voice says, “There are zippers on your shorts.” “Goddamn, why didn’t you tell me that before?!” (Sigh). They reply, “It’s ok I think, they’re on the side pockets, it won’t interfere with the scan.” “Yeah, but we should’ve told the tech,” another voice says. “Oh well, too late now.” That was all in the span of about five minutes. That type of confusion and momentary amnesia is common in my life. It’s exhausting.
I hope that example explains how difficult it is to live like this. I’ve spent decades trying to put the pieces together to see my life, who I am, what I’ve been through, and why there are so many of us. It used to be that every time I realized something, I’d forget it again. I’d take one step forward and two steps back, and therapy got me nowhere. My journals are the only realizations that don’t disappear. I have so many of them from my teenage years and adulthood. They permanently record the pieces of memories, and they repeat over and over. Sometimes it’s frustrating and scary to go back through them and see it all so clearly. It’s frustrating because I forget. Reading those terrible old poems takes a lot out of me.
It’s different now, which fills me with hope. I’m remembering everything. It’s a storm in my brain, but it’s there to stay. I’m grateful that parts of me wrote it all down starting at a young age. We even dated every journal, so we know when we wrote it. They were dedicated. They would number every page and then write a table of contents at the beginning of the journal, listing every poem and what page it was on. It definitely helps. When I read the suffering and pain they’ve been through, I have compassion now. Before I didn’t want to believe them. How could these pieces fit together to form such disturbing memories? How could my life be such a nightmare? But the only way I get better is if I listen to them. It’s important to them that I hear them and validate their pain. It’s the only way out of this hell. The second part of my healing is to have others hear my story. As scary as it is, I have to share it. We were locked in silence for so long. My parents and the other abusers would always threaten to kill me if I talked. It was unnecessary because of my shame. But they also said, no one will believe you anyway. Even when I had therapists that I trusted, I was afraid to tell them what I saw, I feared they wouldn’t believe me. If my writing helps others then I’m happy, but it’s true that this blog has become my new journal, one I can never lose. It has become a permanent record for me, like my journals once were. It helps me take all the pieces scattered in my brain and make sense of them.
That other part of my healing is to have a witness. Unfortunately for my therapist, she is the one we chose. I hate that I have to tell her so many disturbing stories. The guilt that it is too much for anyone to hear is still strong. I’m trying to let that go, because everyone deserves to tell their story. So the following is mostly for my therapist and me. Sometimes I bring my old journals to her, so she can see what we wrote when I was 14 or 15 years old. I was always too ashamed of my shitty teenage poetry to share it, but now I see that I need to anyway. I had a hard time actually handing my journals over to her, not sure why. Maybe it was the vulnerability. It feels safer to just post some of it for her to see. I have to try. The voices desperately want her to see what they are going through. Humans are social creatures. We need connection and understanding. If I stay locked up and alone forever, I will never be free. I needed someone nonjudgmental and kind to see what we have lived through. That’s why we’re so grateful for her. She never really seemed that fascinated by my condition, which was actually a relief. Most therapists were too interested and got too involved. One of them lost her license to practice because of this. So the fact that she keeps her distance makes us feel safe. It’s a balance I suppose, if she was too distant, we would disconnect. If she was too involved, we’d also freak out and want to leave therapy. As I’ve said in past posts, this is because of the disorganized attachment that developmental trauma causes. If a therapist is consistent and has good boundaries, we feel safer, and we can heal. It’s a relief that we’re finally working together, and I’m finally realizing it all. The pain is almost too much on most days, but I have to feel the pain to eventually feel better.
This is the hell in my brain on pages written decades ago, including some written just a few years ago. Their desperation to be heard overpowers our fear and shame now. We are brave enough to post this and share our nightmare of a story.