It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really mattered.
Full of darkness and danger they were,
and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.
Because how could the end be happy.
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
~ The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
Yesterday felt like hitting a wall.
I feel like Samwise Gamgee when he says, “If I take one more step, I’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.”
Everything i’m doing feels like the first time i’ve ever done it. It’s a strange business i’m up to, here. My system is all still with me, still functional. I hear them and feel them in my brain, although their voices are quieter and there is a restlessness that’s missing. Normally, they flutter about like nervous birds, like anxious, insipid Victorian women in an Austen story. They’ve always got the vapours; mad as hops, they are. They’re scared and broken children trying to avoid rejection and pain. The floor is lava.
Wow, writing about that took me away for a solid 20 minutes. Interesting. My mind slid from the screen and the keyboard, and turned inward. I went up and sat with them for a spell. We were all quiet. My thoughts were soft and mild. I don’t know if this will make any kind of sense to any reader, but i’m bound to try and the descriptions sit well with me. It was like a silent palaver over what i’m about to write. I believe i have the stamp of approval. Heh.
I don’t pay much attention to other people who are multiples. My childhood programming is maybe too strong, yet. I have a visceral disgust reaction and i immediately distrust them. It was clever of my primary abusers to instill that in me, as it kept me isolated and away from information that might have helped me get away from them.
I share that to preface that i don’t actually know much about how other people with a DID diagnosis experience their multiplicity. If it’s like what is portrayed in movies and television, then we won’t have much to commiserate over. I suspect that it’s not, though. I’ve read a number of articles written by people like me objecting to the existing tropes one finds in media.
I’m no serial killer. I do have a violent part in my system, but they just break things – not people.
Despite blogging a lot about being a multiple, i’m very private about some of the details. It’s like, i’ll have you over for lunch, but we won’t be eating in the bathroom, you know? Some things aren’t for sharing. I’ve also kept some things to myself because my system is fear-based. My precious Bits N’ Pieces don’t trust anyone but me, and that took years of hard work and patience. I didn’t write about some stuff because it would have been seen as a betrayal. I needed to prove myself worthy to be the caregiver for this passel of messed up mutants.
Again, that’s a preamble, to this: From what i’ve gathered about other multiples, i am somewhat different. While i do experience hard switches (that’s where i’m not aware of what’s happening or what has happened, once i’m back in control), i’ve never not been aware of the people that live in my brain… I’d assumed that that was how everyone’s brain worked.
The constant chatter and commentary, the different voices, each voice having its own “feel” and some sort of mental picture attached to it… I’ve referred to them as my Peanut Gallery since i was a very small child.
Only i didn’t understand that they were split off parts of me.
I didn’t know that they held information that i did not have.
They knew things i didn’t.
Once i (finally!) began considering the possibility that i had Multiple Personality Disorder (what DID was called at the time), i learned that my brain functioned in some different ways from most. I was shocked to learn that people experience moments when their brain is silent. And my Peanut Gallery is a lot more fleshed out and separate than the voices most people hear in their heads. Plus, mine aren’t the voices of people i know or have known. I asked tonnes of questions about others’ thoughts and inner commentary, and the more they talked the more clear it was that i was different.
Between speaking with non-multiples, and my limited experience with others like me, it would seem i’m unique in some ways. I’d have to wade into association with other multiples to test it though, and i’m definitely not interested in that – at least for the time being. (Yes, my reaction to other multiples really is that strong. It’s something i still don’t have much control over.)
From what i’ve gathered the lines are more thickly drawn, the boundaries more tangible. For them there’s more switching (loss of time) and less sliding (what i call being somewhat aware, but not in control). Most multiples seem not to share thought-space with their alters, whereas mine are accessible to me almost all the time. I can put out feelers, mentally speaking, and find them up there, hanging out in a part of my brain-aether. I can have conversations with most of them, although i had to work at that with quite a few. Some i can only feel at certain times, some i’ve never heard, i only feel. Some won’t speak to me, and some won’t speak to anyone, and some don’t speak at all. Yet there is a coexistence between us, and a sharing of thought-space and the passage of time that i haven’t heard shared from others with DID. It could be a common trait, i don’t know.
I’m not integrated, not by the current definition used in the field.*
At first i railed against integration. It was anathema to me. I saw it as murder.
Now, i just don’t think it’s the right word, as the meaning doesn’t entirely fit.
All of this is nebulous and esoteric though, and that’s okay with me.
It has to be, because so little is known. Studies are hard to set up and not many meet the standards set by their fellow research psychologists and psychiatrists. And some of those don’t stand up to rigorous examination.
I don’t know if much of what i think or what i’ve done or how i’ve coped could stand up to proper scientific scrutiny, so i move forward based on results. It’s the best i’ve got.
All of this to get back to my original point. (Sorry, i’m scattered today.)
I’m experiencing life with the lowest level of dissociation, ever. It’s strange. I have an emotion and my first reaction is panic, because it feels intense. Say my husband does something i find irritating. The irritation floods my upper body: my face squinches up, and my arms and fingers feel warm and tingly; i’m literally wringing my hands. My chest feels a weight settle on it, and my heart feels as if an anxious hand is squeezing it like a stress ball. My inclination is to make some snappish comment at my husband – when i feel panicky i react like a stray dog that’s been cornered, i.e. i bark and i might bite.
If i’m present enough to realise what’s happening, i consciously note it, and then remind myself of what i’m currently going through. This is a process, and i can move through this feeling without being prickly. Can i let it go? Do i want to, or would i feel better if i addressed it? Then i tap into appropriate coping and communication skills accordingly. Sometimes i react before i’m fully present and in a mindful state. Then i apologise, process what happened, and make amends if necessary.
Maybe i’m watching a true crime documentary and someone has lost a loved one. Man, i thought i cared before… These days it’s not uncommon for me to actually shed tears. Empathy courses through me and again, i feel panicky. It’s during times like this that depression and pessimism can slide in and colour everything i see and inform every thought i have. When this happens i talk to myself gently, as one would to a child, because that’s exactly what i’m dealing with – the kids that live in my brain are relating to the violence and loss and pain in the (true) story, and it’s my job to hold their hand and talk them through it. And when they’ve (i’ve) calmed some, i tell them (me) that it’s not for us to take all that on. That’s someone else’s life and story and it’s for them and their support system and their familial/cultural/societal/political circles and structures to handle the tragedy and its aftermath. I’m bearing witness but it is not my job to fix it. I cannot mete out justice, and it’s neither possible nor appropriate for me to absorb their pain.
Just a couple of examples, but hopefully i’ve given some idea of what my days are like.
It all feels like a lot, yet i’m not overwhelmed. I feel settled inside, somehow. I understand that this is a part of the process. This is a part of my path that i must walk through to get where i want to go – and it makes perfect sense to me and i’m okay with it. I’m handling life in real time, somewhat clumsily, but that will change as i become more accustomed to this new level of consciousness and functionality.
Samwise took that step; away from familiarity, away from family, away from everything he’d ever known. He stepped away from the cozening touch of the everyday, and became part of a grand adventure that, if not for him, could have brought about the end of everything good and right in the world.
A new day will come, and when the sun shines, it’ll shine out the clearer. I know now folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something. That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.
~ The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
I don’t know what the heck this post is, or if it’ll help anyone, but it seemed determined to come out of me… And so there you have it.
Life is weird, and so am i.
Love and Peace,
*Integration is a tricky subject for me. I’m working on a post about it, but it’s not ready. For now, this is all i have to share.
IMAGE: Stefano Marinelli
It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.