The Drop

I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.
~ Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

After my dear Ms T (i talk about my therapist so much, let’s give her a name) checks in with my current state, she goes over how i was switched and hung up on her during our last phone session. She asks me who i thought it might be that swatted the Little who was talking to her away, and then yelled at her and hung up.
She doesn’t usually ask me who was in the face in my absence.

For one, i often have no idea, and for another, none of us are inclined to give their names. We do so exceedingly rarely, and it tends to be delivered with not a little hostility. Even when i’m talking with my husband, who knows them all, i’ll use their role/job, rather than their names. It makes something twist up inside me to use their proper names. Like guitar feedback – and not the cool Jesus-and-Mary-Chain kind. It’s more like when your 12yr old is jamming with his friends in your garage.

I tell her i don’t know.
She asks me if i’d be willing to share with her what popped into my head when she asked me. I told her, but no name, only her role. I won’t be sharing either here, but i will say she is the #1 in the system: most developed, most power, most functional… most like me.

What followed is a bit on the hazy side, which is what happens when Ms T hits on something close to someone in my system. What i mean is, i tend to stay on track with my therapy sessions unless someone else who lives in my brain is triggered. If that happens, i feel myself getting pulled back, and i know someone is trying to pass me along the way, to get in the face. It’s like in a scary movie when the woman finally realises it’s the person she’s with, that she’s trusted the most, that’s killing everyone. When the camera pulls back for a long and wide shot – who knows, maybe i’m even wearing the same expression of dawning horror. /jk

It’s one way to describe how it initially feels during all the levels of dissociation that occur for me, as a multiple. First, there’s the initial receding, and then the numb and floaty feeling that comes with basic dissociation. I’m in a dopey, dreamy state here. Then there’s what i call sliding, where i’m not quite switched, but parts of my system are in the face, and i’m watching what’s happening without being able to affect my own actions. It’s a little like being the new baby at a family gathering – i get tossed around a bit. A full switch is where i can feel a violent pull back. It’d be like if the ocean of space inside my brain where all of them manifest were a pregnant woman. I feel a hard tug, right where my baby’s joined to me. I can share this weird analogy because my first son shot out of me like a football. The doctors weren’t anticipating a first timer to be done in 4hrs, so they were on the other side of the room, talking.

My doc said, OMG, the baby’s head is crowning! and ran over to catch. She did, but the fact that the umbilical cord was wrapped around my son’s neck and shoulders might have helped. I felt a pull on the inside so hard and strange; i could almost hear the boi-yoi-YOING! sound. Like if we were joined by a bungee cord.
You’re welcome for that image.
I’m saying switching comes from the baby-feeding belly-tube of my momma-brain.
K, i’m done. RLY.
Heh.

Back to my hazy recollection of my therapist and i discussing who flicked the wee one away and took her place.
I’ve been working on cutting down on the amount of time between her questions and my answers. There’s pressure to keep my mouth shut from many directions, but i have enough power to push up against it harder than before, i think. Like the football player in training pushing that sled just a little further each time.
I have a leftover impression of pressing myself to speak the answer as soon as i have it.
I’m not a fan of speaking without thought. It’s been my personal experience (so, not necessarily yours) that that can lead to a lack of proper skepticism. I’ve also seen the practise used overwhelmingly by those to whom i’d never go for help/healing.
I’m referring to practitioners of pop psychology (subjective), and to the religious (objective), and i mean no offense.
This is just life as me, making the best choices i can based on who i am, my life experiences, and what i want.
Your mileage will vary.

Having some trouble getting to my point today.
There’s a bit of a kerfuffle going on in this old noggin since that session 4days ago.
I’ll stop writing cute analogies, and just write what i know. It’ll be choppy, without my typical smooth transitions.
You may snort here.

This part of my system we talked about is basically my Number One. She’s task-driven, intimidating, sarcastic, grouchy, gruff and take charge. She’s the most protective over me, and when pushed, her words are nothing short of caustic. As i’ve written about though, she and i have both retired our ninjamouth ways. Still, i would have described her as one tough customer.

And then Ms T asks if it’s occurred to me that she’s probably somewhere around 6yrs old.
I remember it feeling a bit like looking down at a glass floor when you’re standing in a tower. It felt like i was going to slide back further (fall), but i didn’t.
I looked down and i saw HER, and i saw that she is a child.
And then it was like a drop tower at an amusement park.
I saw that they are all children, regardless of the age they affect.
They were all born when i was very small; how could they be anything but? They’re reflections of whatever age they claim to be; merely a manifestation of what i thought a rebellious teenager or provocative twentysomething or kind uncle or hardworking mother would be like.

I’m the only real grownup who lives in my brain.
All of the rest of me are children.

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.

Happy Sunday,
~H~

Deprogramming, Pt. II

I have only the vaguest recollection of my meeting with the man who tried to exorcise my “demonic possession”. I remember crawling the walls of my brain, completely freaked out by him. He and my counsellor did some initial praying, and then he read some passages from the bible. He began asking me who was in charge. He came at me like my head had been taken over by an army of demons, and he was looking to map out who were platoon leaders, and who was in charge of the platoon.
Seriously.

I remember sliding out of the face and someone else talking out of my mouth. It’s like a dream except i’m awake. I’m somewhat lucid, but entirely ineffectual. I slide further away from the front, and as i do, the voices and faces in front of me fade to blurs and murmurs. Someone in my system has taken over, maybe telling him what he wants to hear? Maybe stoic and resistant? I don’t know.
I just know i didn’t see him again.
I’ll just go ahead and use the word “blessing” here:
It was a blessing that i didn’t see him again.

Another bible-based treatment that i took at my counsellor’s behest was a course designed to break me free of demonic influence by reading about and being quizzed on how dangerous it was for me to have masturbated and fantasised while doing so, and how calamitous for me to have had sex outside of marriage, and how just plain awful it was for me to be queer. All chapters in the workbook were followed by extensive prayer, both one-on-one with her, and in the group of other church folk taking the course.
Lots and lots of hands-on prayer, replete with speaking in tongues and herky-jerky movements, laughing, and rivers of tears.
All the touching made me jump out the top of my head and go watch from an empty corner of the room.

These “treatments” did nothing but stir up my Peanut Gallery. The noise, the chatter intensified, activating parts that had been deeply harmed by churches my mother had attended when i was small. (I know this now, back then i was just sure i was going insane.) I was packing on the weight, eating for comfort, for emotional coma, for protection from all the laying on of hands. I drowned myself in food as i was drowning in guilt and shame. I began twitching and jerking during worship on Sundays. I thought i was finally being filled with the spirit, as so many around me in my church seemed to be. (Hindsight tells me, it was ticcing behaviours due to my system being triggered.) Instead of making me feel like the expressions i saw on the faces of those around me (bliss?), i was terrified and disgusted. I began skipping church, and the weekly group meetings we’d have in other member’s homes. I was uncharacteristically silent and withdrawn when i did attend. On a couple of occasions i was able to share that i was struggling, that i felt seriously shaken, mentally and emotionally, and i was deeply afraid.

This was met with perfunctory prayer, and hand-patting assurances that this was part of the journey, that my god had me and my situation well in hand. All would be revealed as i pushed on in faith. Plus, the conversion/aversion course i’d taken had assured me i’d been set free from demonic bonds, so my god could really start working in my life!
(What, he couldn’t/wouldn’t handle demons?)

I see now that i was devolving, as was my church. There’s no need to go into detail, suffice to say my church was part of a movement that had begun having some major leadership issues and was facing a crisis of money and membership. My counsellor was stripped of her position in the church in a public shaming session that destroyed my trust in those in authority there, and my attendance dropped drastically. I continued seeing her though, on and off, for a few years afterward, i think? My memory is spotty here, as i was starting down the road to apostasy, which caused a tumult inside. My sense of blasphemy had been informed by my mother, the denomination i’d been a part of had sharpened it to a razor’s edge.

My home and my partner provided the safety and support i needed to consider forbidden thoughts. My church was sick and dying, and my belief in a god along with it. I avoided the anxiety and stress by not going there anymore. I slipped into a dissociative state where faith and religion were concerned, instead turning my attention to the hundreds of pounds i’d gained while trying to rid myself of the psychic weight i carried. Gastric bypass followed, along with dramatic weight loss, and as some of you already know, serious mental illness.

The  constant tug-of-war going on had to stop. Between my church and my changing lifestyle, and the parts of my system that were deeply religious and those that were not, something had to give.
Church fell by the wayside, as bipolar mania crashed my beaches and swept me away.
The lock busted off the door that’d kept both me and my system relatively controlled. We poured out into the real world, flooding my home with madness and filling my family with frustration and fear.

Religion was lost at sea, god had washed up on the sand and needed someone to push the saltwater out of his lungs and breathe air into them. He took his last choking gasps while i partied at a cabana further up the strand. He died along with my faith.

That was my outside god and my outside church, though. I still practised another religion. The god that i’d blasphemously put before my man-made one. I still worshipped and obeyed a woman-made god. My mother-made god.
She had always been my highest authority.
Her words carried the most weight.
Bits of her personality had embedded themselves in other parts of my system. Her thoughts, beliefs, and opinions echoed down the halls of my brain. Her screaming invective flung spittle at my psychic skin, infecting me with her like a virus. Her rage that flew out of her like a hot wind blew over me and through me. It burned my skin while the fever cooked my guts.

I was filled with her sickness. I’ve spent 20+yrs battling her influence in my life. I cut her out, like a cancer. First, i removed the obvious tumours, but then i needed the chemo and radiation, too. And i use this analogy because my body reacted to the treatments like they were poison. For a long time i felt like i was sick and dying. Her programming had gone to my very marrow. These last dozen years or so have been spent studying my brain. Studying it and mapping it out like a geneticist with a genome. Working with my therapist to develop my own CRISPR. And now this last year and a half, i’ve been editing her out, and splicing in help and health.

I still doubt my diagnosis on the regular.
It’s the programming.

I’m a bad girl.
I’m a liar.
I’m a thief.
I’m lazy and full of excuses.
I’m the reason bad things happen.
I’m the reason you’re mad or sad or tired or broke or lonely or in trouble.
I’m a fraud, an imposter.
Deep down inside, i’m disgusting and filthy and wrong and evil, and if you really knew me, you’d hate me and leave me.

Though i don’t recall her saying so specifically, her personality is so present in my brain that i know how she’d respond to my DID diagnosis.
She’d bark out harsh laughter and snidely call Bullshit. She’d roll her eyes and talk about how hard my life was, her voice dripping with sarcasm. She’d launch into a heart-wrenching speech about how if anyone should be split apart into pieces it should be her. She’d (rerere)retell tear-jerking stories of her own awful childhood, her emotions rising, until she’d wound herself up so tightly she’d burst open with a caustic rant about how grateful i should be that i had her as a mother, and how she’d brought me home a great father, and given me great siblings – friends and protectors and supporters forever.

I could be her speechwriter and she wouldn’t change a single word.
Well, she would, just so i wouldn’t think i was all that. I’m already conceited enough. She’d sigh and say, I suppose this’ll have to do.

I’ve taken her with me everywhere i’ve gone. She’s had something to say about everything i’ve done and everyone i’ve known. Some think that knowing your shadow makes you a better person. A lot of therapy has been learning who i am and looking at all of it, so that i might address what’s not working and what’s harming me and make changes.
I know my shadow very well, because it’s my mother.

When a mental health professional would broach the subject of my dissociativeness, i would never go back.
A door inside me immediately slammed shut because i knew what she would think about it and i knew what she’d say. I knew what she would want me to do – expect me to do. I knew she’d punish me if i didn’t do it. She may be dead 30yrs, but she still survives in my brain. A ghost, a poltergeist tipping over lamps and smashing glasses and turning lights on and off in my head. She messes with my Bits N’ Pieces; terrifying some, shaming others, sometimes pretending to be a friend. Manipulating all of us. All of ME.

When i realised that some of what i thought were dreams were actually memories, i could hear her angry shrieks. When i started living my life as if it might be true that i’m a multiple, i could hear her derisive voice, nagging me, shaming me, cawing with laughter at how pathetic i was. When i found a therapist i could work with, i could feel her tight-lipped silence and her hot stare; i could hear her passive-aggression:

Fine, blame me.
Take the easy way out.
Lazy.
Liar.

Now that i’m working on connecting my brain and my body back together, i hear her more loudly than i have in some years. My therapist asks me to pay attention to what my body is trying to tell me, rather than what my brain is saying. We’re talking, and like the last couple of sessions prior, i find myself snarking at her and feeling frustrated, bitchy… angry. I don’t know why. She picks up on it, and draws my attention to my feet. The one pressed to the floor is going up and down on its toes, and the one crossed over my knee is swishing back and forth like a cat’s tail warns you a bite is coming. She suggests making the movements bigger, putting more energy into it, and then asks me how i feel about her suggestion. After some time and some deft handling on her part, i snarl at her that it feels stupid.
I sound like a teenager. I feel like a teenager. I AM a teenager.

I’ve slid out of the face and i know the rolled eyes and twisted mouth of the girl who’s currently hissing at her. I’m desperately embarrassed to be speaking to her in this way. She’s done nothing but help me. Frankly, i wouldn’t be this far along and doing this well without her. I’d still be looking for her or someone like her i think, because my kids anchor me to this earth, but i might well be locked up somewhere. I might be divorced. My sons might have cut me out of their lives. I might not have the joy of a daughter and grandchildren to make life indescribably beautiful.
Plus, i was taught never to talk sass to anyone in authority. It reflected poorly on my mother. It might make them ask questions, make them look a little more closely. People were only allowed to see what she wanted them to see. The more weight she gained, the more she became a shut-in, because her mask didn’t fit properly anymore and kept slipping. She’d still hear things, though. Teachers were great for earning me a few smacks or an outright beating. Family members. Her occasional, transient friendship…

I must also factor in what she taught me about psychology.
Distrust it and those who practise it.
Look down on it and those who practise it.
And finally, she didn’t tell me this, she showed me:
Give them what they want and impress them, learn everything they have to teach about it, and then go out into the world and use the fuck out of it against others to get what you want.

So, i’ve had bad experiences with psychology and mental health professionals.
Most of them have thought i was fine, or at least well on my way to handling my issues.
I thought most of them were idiots, so i didn’t open up.
They used buzzwords that triggered TF out of me and i’d shut down.
Anyone who started nosing around my dissociative aspects was immediately dismissed. I ran away from the ones who might have been able to help me.*

This means i sit there in her office, i sit with this person who has helped me save my life, this woman who has patiently and gently helped me learn about how my brain works, and sift through the wreckage inside me to find who i truly am. I sit there with her and i want to yell at her and i want to leave and i want to say 10 different things to her, but i can’t speak. I try to WILL myself to speak, but all that comes out most of the time are Yes, No, and more often than not, I don’t know.

It’s the programming.
I had to be a good girl to survive. I had to obey. I had to shut up. I had to agree with everything the adults said around me. I had to believe what they believed. I had to think as they thought. I had to have the same opinions. I had to literally sleep with the enemy in order to live. And no matter what i think on a low day, or what some of my parts believe, or what my mother would have told you – i WAS a good girl. I was the best little girl any mother could have ever had.

I look back, armed with information and real love, and this is how i do it. I confront these thoughts and feelings and i examine them with a critical eye. There is an incredibly delicate balance of allowing emotion and reining it in, because i must stay present to learn, to discern, to grasp, to absorb. I’m fighting some seriously ingrained behaviours, here. Or perhaps better put, i’m sitting in a chair, opposite a very good and cute little girl, in the office of my brain, and i’m helping her figure out that her mommy was the one that was bad, not her.
But man, she is so good and loving and loyal and true, that this news is not accepted easily. Her beliefs are dying a wretched death.

I see who i am and how my brain works, and i know that there are people who live inside my head, and they talk to me and sometimes they take care of me. And i know they aren’t real. I know they’re all me.

And i know the diagnosis is still controversial. But i also know that, regardless of who does or doesn’t believe or what label they put on it, my brain will still work this way, and i’m the one who has to deal with it. I must learn to live with it if i want to live – and i do. None of those headshrinkers can fix me/mend me/heal me – only i can do that.

And i hear my mother’s voice in my head telling me i’m full of shit and faking it, and her programming is so strong and so ingrained that i almost believe her.
I fucking want to believe her, do ya ken?
So i pull those thoughts, those voices out of my head and i share them out loud. I make them real, and then i see that they’re naked, just like that dumbfuck Emperor in the story. They’re walking around in my head like they’re all dressed for the Ball, but when i bring them outside they’ve got nothing on. Then they run from me, their influence over me gone. The spell, broken.
Slowly, i am waking from my mother’s thrall.

I tell my therapist i’m angry and i don’t know why. I’m crying and i don’t know why. I’m twitching and ticcing and i don’t know why. And she shushes me and tells me not to worry about the why of it right now. She asks me if i would be willing to just let my feet do what they want to do. Stretch up, stretch down. Flex. Bounce. She asks if she can provide her own foot for me to push against, and i ignore the eyerolling teenager inside me, and i shove my mother’s voice to the back of my brain, and i nod.

I put the bottom of my foot on the bottom of hers and she pushes against me, just a little, and i push back. After just a few seconds i’m pushing harder and she keeps her foot there, steady, letting me push her foot away a bit, and then pushing back into my foot -not much, not hard- just giving me room to push her foot away again. And then my foot is pumping against hers, and suddenly my leg starts shaking violently, and i look up at her, wide-eyed and say, What the fuck?!

She tells me it’s okay, it’s good, she says i’m discharging.
My foot that wanted to run, my leg that wanted to leave. To get me away from what was happening to me. The action that i always wanted to take when i was being harmed…
GETAWAYGETAWAYGETAWAYRUNRUNRUN
And i never could.
The memory of wanting so badly to escape and not being able to, trapped there for so long. So i let my foot and my leg do what it wants to do and it’s so weird, but it works for me. The anger is gone. The need to leave fades.
I felt what i felt while knowing what i know, and i made another connection between my brain and my body.

My therapist smiled at me, and she said, “This was very good work that you did today. This is the work and you’re doing it.”

Deprogramming.
Reconnecting.
Living.

Love and Peace to All,
And to All a Hearty “Hang in there!”
~H~

*Heavy emphasis on the word “might”. They probably could have helped a bit, but i’m going to say not much. If they started talking about MPD (what it was called back then), they’d often launch right into wanting to know names and speak to parts. In my case, not the way to go about it.

Baby, I’m On Fire

I set myself on fire last week. Yes, literally.

This last 2wks i’ve been either slidey* or outright switched. I’ve required near constant supervision, lest i leave, or get up to other sorts of destructive behaviours. Unfortunately, after 5 or 6yrs of no interventions, the police and ambulance were called to determine if i was a danger to myself or others. Although it was determined i was definitely not a threat to others, i did a small stint in the hospital, where i received good care. The doctor offered (or perhaps urged, heh) that i stay longer for more assistance, but i was allowed to leave when it was clear i have family/friend/therapist support at home. He prescribed some medications to help ease my anxiety, and they’ve helped.

I saw my therapist and she always calms me. She helps me see my path more clearly and refocus, but unfortunately, she’s a real, live human, with other clients, a family and a life of her own, and thusly i cannot carry her with me wherever i go.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that this stage of my therapy involves learning to feel my feelings without dissociating. I’m not looking for perfection. I’m not looking for “integration” (i’m not even sure what that word means with regards to multiples), but i am looking for a higher level of day-to-day functionality, and a greater degree of healing.

To put it a little more clearly, when i was abused as a child, my brain severed the connections between my thoughts, my emotions, and my physical sensations, in order to survive trauma so great that i simply had no ability to understand, let alone process it. Without connection, without the means to apprehend what had happened/was happening to me, some of those thoughts and emotions, even some moments frozen in time in my mind, developed their own personalities, from flat and static, to a couple who’re more fully rounded than some people i’ve known. (That was snarky i know, but i’m leaving it, because it’s true. Pfft.)

Continuing on then, i leave the safety and support of my counsellor’s office, and step out into a world that is currently full of triggers. I’ve lived my life either not noticing, or quickly dissociating from these things. I had to, or i simply wouldn’t’ve been able to function at all. I would’ve been stuck in trauma-response, unable to work, to have relationships, to care for myself or others, in other words, to participate in what it means to be alive. I myself would’ve been frozen in time.
The gazelle that freezes when she sees the tiger.

The ability to dissociate not only saved my life growing up, it allowed me to be somewhat effective as an adult. However, as time passed i could see it was only minimally helpful, and in certain cases quite harmful. I wanted more from life, especially once i had children.

I learned to live my life as a multiple, the insight into how my brain works making my life easier and better than it had ever been before… Until a little over a year ago. I was living a reasonably happy and successful life, when i suddenly crashed. It wasn’t like my Thelma&Louise crashes of the past, thankfully. (I play both parts, just fyi.) But i wanted to party, which is something i don’t much care for now, and i felt that old childhood imperative that my abusers had programmed into me to GO HOME; a place that doesn’t exist anymore, and would be beyond dangerous for me if it did.

I had the sense to get my ass back into therapy. When i asked her what i was doing wrong, she said, “Not a thing. You are taking such good care of your brain that your body is now wanting that same care and attention.”
My body is tired of being numbed out and alone. It wants to rejoin my brain. It wants me to listen to it as diligently and lovingly as i did my brain.
And i want to. I know it’s the good and right thing to do for me, but it is a haaaard thing.
It is perhaps, the hardest thing i’ve done in my life, to date.

I stay in my body and feel my emotions and physical sensations, while knowing what i know — that i was repeatedly traumatised from birth, until my mother died when i was in my early 20s.

This was a difficult concept for me to grasp, so i can imagine that it may be for others, as well. I’ll provide an example to help explain:
One of my abusers would always jingle the change in his pocket. As an adult, i would often hear the sounds made by coins jingling together, and when i’d hear it i was bothered, unsettled somehow. But the memory of the man who did that was held by a part of me that i wasn’t personally connected to, and so the pain of what he did to me didn’t consciously affect me, it just left me with a vague sense of unease. The reason it upset me was kept from me by both the little girl bit that lives in my brain who remembered, and the part of my body that he had hurt, and while i’ve now connected to the girl who’s held that memory, i hadn’t yet connected to the pain that he’d caused in my body.

So now, today, when i hear change jingling, i remember the man and what he did, but i also feel the pain in my body: the terror making my heart beat faster, the violation of my genitals, the itch in my legs to run away. I don’t just remember, i feel it, and although this may not make sense, in a way it is for the first time.

This has been my life for the last few months. I’m triggered frequently, repeatedly, daily, and i sit with it and i remember and i feel it and i hang on for dear fucking life, until the connection has been made. My Bits N’ Pieces are being reconnected to my body and so am i.
I’ve lived my life playing dead so the bear won’t eat me, but the bear’s long gone and it’s time for me to rise up and join the living.

It’s terrifying, painful work, and i’m physically and psychically exhausted.

So last week, i get it in my head that i must purge the clutter in my house. I’m convinced that i’m drowning my entire family in hoard (i don’t come remotely close to such a diagnosis), and i’ve got to get it out of the house or everyone’s going to get sick and die. While my family’s been great at helping me with this (we’ve been slowly decluttering over the last few months), i had some angry, protective parts come out and start throwing out everything they could get their hands on, including some heavy items that i have no business lifting, given my current fibro flare and the osteopenia in my lumbar region.
Once their rage was spent, as is my system’s way, a little part came out to be a “good girl”, to try to assuage any hurt feelings the angry ones may have caused. She came out to help.

I was raised part urban, part rural, and i know how to use a burning barrel. It was my job as a kid to use it, and save us a trip or 3 to the dump.
But i didn’t know how to do that when i was 5.
She wanted to help, and there was some paper/cardboard trash that needed burning.
So she poured gasoline all over everything in the burning barrel and lit it with a little cigarette lighter.

I was slammed back into the face by her terror and pain and i heard the WOOF! as the fumes lit. I felt the fire kiss my face from my hairline to my top lip. The fire lingered a little longer on my right hand and danced about halfway to my elbow. It took a couple of seconds, no more, but it seemed longer. Every emotion was intensified by me having not been there before it happened.
Which has happened to me countless times, and it’s never not been scary.
To find myself in a completely different situation from the one i last remember, with no consciousness of the passage of time, where in fact it seems like 1 second one thing is happening, and the very next second i’m somewhere else entirely doing a completely unrelated thing… Well, i would imagine that would scare just about anyone.

I singed off a fair bit of my hairline, and most of my eyebrows and eyelashes. (Which i’ve spent time and money regrowing due to trichotillomania. /majoreyeroll) The tip of my nose got it pretty good, so i’ve referred to myself as Rudolph for the last week, heh. There’s a bit of scabbing on my upper lip, but not noticeable, i just feel it. It was my hand that got the worst of it, with significant blistering and lizardy feeling skin across my hand about a third of the way to my elbow, plus 2 second degree burns on my fingers, and a third degree on my thumb.
I’m sure we all realise this could have been much, much worse.

In this blog i share my day-to-days: adventures, misshaps, and ho-hums all, to help myself sort my shit out, to help foster understanding of those of us living with mental illness (like me), and those of us considered neuroatypical (also me). I also write to reach out to those like me, to let them know they aren’t alone, and to offer hope that they might too, find their way to a place of functionality and happiness that works for them.

My point with this post is quite specific, and of utmost importance for me to understand.

Sometimes, no matter how much work i’ve done or how far i’ve come, shit’s gonna happen. I’m not a danger to others – for instance, if i’d been around children, angries and littles wouldn’t have come out that day, only protectors.
But sometimes, sometimes my brain is just gonna do what my brain’s gonna do.
I am who i am, and i’m finally starting to like me. Not just accept, not just love, but i’m growing attached to me. I’m rather fond of myself. I’d hang out with someone exactly like me.
Crazy, broken, occasionally completely dysfunctional me.**
Yes, i’m working hard AF to get to what i consider to be a higher level of function – i’m seeking more happiness and more usefulness and just, i don’t know, more presence and availability to the world around me and the beings sharing space with me in it.

BUT

I’m absolutely fine and right and good already.

Love and Peace,
~H~

*What i call a dissociative state where i’m some level of conscious of what’s happening to and around me, but i’m unable to affect my own actions and have little to no agency – it’s sort of like watching myself on tv.
**I know some of these descriptors don’t work for everyone, but they do for me.

A Brief Detour

The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance.
~Frank Herbert, Dune (St. Augustine of Hippo)

Last year i was cruising along at a higher level of function than ever before. I suppose there were signs of trouble in the summer, but i can’t recall if i caught them.
By late fall i was spiralling. I’d lost some voices that were at least semi-regulars in my brain conversations, and it stirred up my entire system. I had enough sense and experience to return to therapy, to the same therapist who’d helped me save my life, and learn to live with being a multiple.

What she proposed as the next layer of the delicious oniony goodness that is my psyche scared the everloving crap out of me, and by late January i’d lost control of my system.
The inmates, as they say, were running the asylum.

I want to point out here that this loss of control, or rather, the way my treasured Peanut Gallery were acting out, is nothing like it used to be. It used to involve forced psych commitments, the police, detox centres, and long term hospital stays. My husband nearly had a breakdown, one of my sons emancipated himself from me (and rightly so), and i lost every significant friendship that i’d stumbled into over the years.
The much poo-pooed geographical cure worked for me, but just barely. I was a heavily medicated, bipolar multiple freakshow when my husband, in utter desperation,  stumbled upon my therapist locally.

She was the first mental health professional who’d been able to overcome my intense resistance to the DID diagnosis. She met me where i lived (even literally, for the first few years), by using no jargon, no hint of spirituality, and neither asking for my history of abuse, nor to talk to anyone else who lived in my brain besides me.
She slowly and gently taught me to listen inwardly and to be aware of and present in, my physical body. Things i could never do before.
Amazing. Fantastic. The heavens opened and choirs of angels sang.
I thanked her and went on my merry way, steadfastly plodding along the road of happy destiny.

I see now that i wasn’t nearly ready for that destination, and that she’d tried to tell me.

Back to present, and i am devolving rapidly. Losing time, stressing loved ones, various levels of intoxicated, and trying to put distance between myself and the world. The world has once again become a scary place that i feel ill-equipped to navigate through. The world hurts and i don’t want to be in it. The problem is, the place i used to hide hurts, too. It hurts more, in fact.
All my life i could hide in my brain and rotate through any number of my Bits N’ Pieces, to escape both fear and pain, with impunity (relatively speaking). But i’ve done too much work, i’ve come too far along the road, and i know too bloody much to be able to give myself over to the numb embrace that is dissociation, for me.

Well, fuck me gloriously.

To understand the endless and inescapable state of being myself and not myself, try saying that sentence with 2 different inflections (consider your surroundings before choosing whether “saying” is literal or figurative):

Well, fuck me gloriously,

and

Well, fuck me gloriously!

What i mean is, it was both a bad thing and a good thing, and i was both glum and sarcastic, and gleeful and sarcastic. So yeah, always ambivalent.
And sarcastic.
And profane.

Unlike prior derailments though, it only took a few months and a 3 week bender, to understand what my therapist was asking me to do. Asking if i knew what she was asking, because to do or not to do is alwaysalwaysalways my choice.
She taught me that and i know it today and she still tells me all the time and it is beyond excellent that she does.

And i want to do it.
I’m detoxed, refocused, calm(ing down, ish), and i’m ready to go.

Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.
~Frank Herbert, Dune (Duke Leto Atreides)

Have yourself the best sort of day you can. Look after yourself. Try to drink, eat, wash, walk, talk, if you can.
I also find breathing beneficial.
I’ll post again soon.

~H~

Hush Little Baby

Baby mine, don’t you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart

Never to part, baby of mine

~ Baby of Mine, Dumbo(1941)

 

I mentioned a while back that i’m not good at self-soothing. It’s not a mystery why. A baby needs physical touch and affection in order to connect with the world outside of itself. Touch is also part of what teaches them they are individuals, once they begin to see themselves as separate from their primary caregiver.

What do we do with babies when they cry? We soothe them of course, primarily with touch. What might happen then, when a baby is assaulted? I’ll tell you what happened in my case — disconnection. My brain was unable to process what was happening, so it severed the connections between thought, emotion, and sensation. I had some traumatic experiences that made no sense without coming to terrible and devastating conclusions that i lacked any sophistication to reach. I was constantly in danger from the person i depended on to meet my most basic needs: water, food, shelter. I disconnected so often and for so long, that some of my thoughts, my emotions, and my sensations, began developing their own rudimentary personalities.

I made parts that were frozen and felt no pain. I made parts that ate the anger and kept it hidden. And i made parts that aligned themselves with my abusers; those that believed what was happening was normal, some that knew i was a bad girl and deserved punishment, and others that believed my mother was wonderful, and everything she did, by association. Then, when i got older, i began making parts to function in the world around me: parts that performed more normally for grandparents, playmates, teachers, caregivers, and always, parts for my ever-widening circle of abuse.

What happened when i had an unmet need, was my brain would provide a part that could cope. For instance, if i wasn’t being fed, i had a part my mother had taught to panhandle and shoplift for her, so i might use that part if i was alone in the house or could otherwise get away. When i was being abused there were any number of parts, depending on what type of abuse, and who was doling it out. Outside of the home and other abusers, i still felt a great deal of fear and anxiety. I was trying to fit in but i felt separate; i wanted love, acceptance, help… But it only ever came in rare, and small amounts.

Over time, my brain behaved like a well-oiled machine, and the end result was my feelings were never attended to in the way a child needs most — by soothing and care.

This has everything to do with my toilet-epiphany to which i referred in my last post.
I’ll expound on that in the next couple of days, but i’m ending this one here.
I’m trying to keep my posts a bit shorter for the time being, so that i might have the energy to write through what’s currently happening, to take the time and care i require to heal from recent days, and prepare for those to come.

Thank you for being here, it helps.
Take care the best you can, and i will, too.

Love and Peace to All,
~H~

Naked Brain Bits

Yesterday was a bit of a downer, huh? I’m sorry about that, but i think, at least for now, it’s important to put up some of the pieces that come from other parts of my system.

Ugh, i hate how that looks on the screen, but there it is. To refer to them in a more specific way than to say i’m a multiple, exposes me and leaves me vulnerable to attack. Up until a couple of years ago, i kept my diagnosis to myself. Everyone knew i’m bipolar, and that felt like enough. It gave people a reason that i act the way i do, but it spared me the sideshow freaky part, and the potential for disbelief. It’s a controversial diagnosis out there in the real world, and it was hard enough for me to accept it, so while i don’t blame folks for having their “Really, Sybill?” moments, i can ill afford the emotional cost to help anyone else get there.

This is where the portrayal of multiples has done so much damage.
Also, Fuck you, Shyamalan. And a hearty Fuck you to Criminal Minds and aaaall the Law&Orders. Fuck you very much.

A quick aside here though: I think it’s worth it to point out that my diagnosis has been received much more easily by your average non-professional than by those working in the vast and boggy field of mental health care. My GP is the greatest doctor that ever GP’ed, i’d not trade her for a bucket of gold. Seriously. But i learned after the second or third time i brought it up, not to talk to her about it. She looked like she’d rather mop a slaughterhouse floor. Hell, her face looked like she WAS mopping one. And my psychiatrist who handled my Bipolar Disorder interrupted me to say, not a bit brusquely, that he didn’t know a thing about that, and had no intention or desire to educate himself in that area. My therapist who treats me has encountered that attitude with many psychologists and psychiatrists.
Real doctors don’t read that chapter of the DSM-V.

For regular folks it’s mostly been a mixture of “Okay, if you say so,” with a shrug, to, “Wow, really? That’s weird and kinda cool.”* Those ones usually come back later with questions, which is always fine with me. I may choose not to answer, and i definitely don’t perform, but i welcome questions.
I am very okay with anyone giving a shit.

Not so quick an aside, i guess. Heh.

Back to being naked. The figurative kind.
You don’t need to know this, but i’m telling you anyway: I’m always clothed, unless i’m showering or sexing. The simple and pure joy of nudity is another thing that sexual abuse stole from me, and it’s one of the things i’d like to take back.

This kind of vulnerability, this level of exposure, is scary for me. I’ve set the stage for it, by sharing all the things that i have already, and i fully consent, and i’m cleverly using soft candlelight, but i’m still baring some bits that i usually keep to myself. There are very few people that i discuss being multiple with in real life. My husband and my children. 2 lovely girlfriends in the town where i live. The interwebs are a bit different. Obviously, i have my blog here, and i share that, and i have a very dear group of friends that i met on a fan site over 15yrs ago, with whom i’m much more forthcoming about being multiple, but that’s been it. And i don’t go back and make an announcement that i was switched when i wrote that or someone else did that thing there. I’ll say, I’ve been in a mood today, or hint at it and say, I’m not quite myself today, or if it’s getting out of hand, i’ll just state that i’m taking a break from social media, ttyl.

This is a whole. nutha. level.
I’m saying that someone in my system bashed that out on my phone in the van yesterday. In my husband’s work van while he was in someone’s house, cleaning up from a renovation that his company did. He’d picked me up somewhere in the city because i’d switched and gotten lost, or gotten lost and switched (i’m not clear on that yet, and may never be).
Therapy is getting more difficult every time i go. My husband drops me off and quite often i have a friend that picks me up and takes me home. She’s wonderful, and i’m super-fortunate to have her in my life. Yesterday though, she had an appointment, so i’d planned to bus it to where she was at. It’s no small point of pride for me that I’ve become rather adept at using public transit. Getting lost has always been a huuuuge trigger, and for years i couldn’t handle the stress of buses or trains on my own. I’d immediately get all floaty in my brain, which is a sign that i’m sliding and i’m ripe for a switch. It’s like an aura before a migraine. I worked to conquer that trigger last year, and i’d been traipsing around the city with no problems for months, so it didn’t even occur to me that it might be a problem for me now.
Lemme tell ya, it was a bloody problem.
(I’m going to move on now, but as i’m proofreading and editing I can see that this reads unfinished. This is all i have, though. Therapy was hard, i left the office, and suddenly i’m in the van with my husband. We’re parked on our little country road, and i’m drinking an alcoholic beverage and crying. Sometimes, i’ll get a bit more information about the blank space as time passes, but i often won’t.)

I’m all in my feelings these days, and not always great at handling them. Cue my precious Bits N’ Pieces, with varying levels of happy-to-help! one level being not happy at all. I should have seen it coming with the trouble i was having using the transit app to plan my trip. It wasn’t going smoothly, and i was getting frustrated and foggy-brained even before my appointment. I’ll try not to make that mistake again. It was all there, down to the concerned look on my husband’s face as he dropped me off. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d seen trouble on the horizon.

Wow. I’m flitting about from flower to flower in this piece, eh? I think people with ADHD might relate to this part of how my brain works. When my system gets riled up there’s more and louder conversations going on, and my attention is pulled to THIS ONE! that used a trigger word, and THAT ONE! that’s yelling, and OH! someone’s crying…

So. That thing from yesterday that wasn’t poetry, but sure as hell wasn’t prose. I didn’t write that. I have no memory of it, although i am the one who put it up on my blog. Because she had something to say and she deserves to be heard.
Naked brain bits.
I haz them.

* People don’t actually say those things. I’m putting words to their expressions for illustrative purposes.

IMAGE: The Brain, by Naked Human Bodies

Tears In Rain

Painful to live in fear, isn’t it?
~ Leon Kowalski, Blade Runner

I must write about today, and i’ll try not to take days to get it up. My concern is that there is so much i want to say about it, that i’ll lose some important parts because i’m a shit typer on a crap keyboard and i’ll never be able to bash it out fast enough.

I saw my therapist today and it was an hour i hope i never forget. It may be one of the most impactful hours i’ve ever spent with her. When we sat down she immediately told me that she was weepy and sleepy, but she was fully capable of being present in our session. She’s done this before when she had personal issues, and i appreciate it. If i could already tell that something’s not quite right with her, the acknowledgement builds trust and esteem (in me, for both myself and her). It also gives me a heads up if i’m too fucked up at that moment to notice.

A client of hers died. They were a multiple, like me. She was telling me how good a person they were, and how well they’d been doing recently, and then her face crumpled and she was wet-eyed and finding it hard to speak. She was upset at how difficult it is for multiples to get proper treatment, how we’re the redheaded stepchildren (my words) of the DSM-V. How we’re often blacksheeped and scapegoated by our families, and mercilessly troped in art and media. DID can be devastating and debilitating, and she knows. She’s seen how we struggle to find help, to understand and to be understood, to find acceptance, to be extended grace and mercy.

She was moved to tears. For multiples. For me.
She was angry over the unwillingness of those in the psychological and medical profession to acknowledge us. She was angry at the doctor who bluntly told her, “we don’t read that chapter”. She spat out how, up until recently, multiples were forced to switch in front of a board in order to receive income support while they sought treatment. I knew that already, knowing a woman who’d had to perform her trauma in front of a bunch of strangers years ago. (When she came back to the face* she was under a table, shuddering and sobbing.) The fact that there’s no standard of education/training in how to deal with multiples, save from those who’ve made a point of trying to help/treat us.

She was pissed about it. She had angry tears.
She was hurting for us.
Someone was hurting for me.

It’s been hours since it happened, hours since i’ve been home, and hours since i started writing this. I’m sorry, but i’m not going to get this up today. I hope tomorrow, but i don’t know. This has hit me on such a deep level i’m having trouble accessing it. There are a lifetime’s worth of protections inside me, all designed to keep this intensity of emotion away from me. And i reflexively dissociate from feelings like this – i numb out. I float.

I don’t know how to feel or process her experiencing sadness and anger for me. That she mourns.
I’m not worth anyone’s time or attention, because i brought all my troubles on myself.
Because i’m a drama queen.
I’m a compulsive liar.
I’m a chaos addict.
I’m an attention hog.
I’m borderline, a narcissist, a psychopath, schizophrenic, schizo-affective.
It’s just bipolar. It’s just PTSD. (Yes, the word “just” has been used – to my face.)

The years of my adulthood spent knowing something was wrong with me and seeking help, but never getting enough. Never having that click of knowingness, that inner a-HA! It’s like putting together a puzzle without the box it came in. You’re not sure what you’re creating, but you’re determined and things are taking shape… And then you find that one puzzle piece that is close to the centre and joins that ring of wtf-is-this? pieces together and holy crap! it’s your face.
The early years of knowing i had a lot going for me if i could just get some help, some clarity, some tools, so i could get my feet underneath me and set to walking in some direction with some kind of intent. And then getting some of those things, but not being able to turn it into any lasting change of mindset, or molding of attitude, or definition of purpose. And the judgment and condemnation of self that always followed, beating me down, wearing me away; the slow erosion of aspirations and the wasting of ambition.

Perhaps the worst bit was running from the diagnosis. I was taught by my mother to bury and dismiss any obvious characteristics of being multiple. I learned from society’s awful tropes that multiplicity was dangerous, if not outright ridiculous. Then there was the mental health profession’s ham-handed bungling of treatment, or their opportunistic feeding upon us for notoriety and financial gain, or their cold (and, it seems to me, strangely angry) refutation of multiplicity, that set the capstone atop my own personal wall of denialism.

I sat there in her office and looked at her with her blotchy, squinchy face, dabbing at her eyes and blowing her nose, and i could see that she SEES the terrifying otherness that i’ve faced my whole life. She SEES the pain, the fear, the constant struggle, of trying to find help and acknowledgment from someone who should be able to help me, and getting nothing, or the wrong thing, or not nearly fucking enough.
She’s angry for me, and she hurts for me, and she mourns all my little deaths.

I DON’T FUCKING KNOW HOW TO PROCESS THIS.

I’m entering into the part of therapy that i thought would never be part of therapy with her.
Disclosing my story.
Sharing my parts.
I must take what was scattered and gather it to me. Connect the things that have been disconnected since i was a baby. And i know what i must do to be a new level of functional. I know what needs to happen to get closer to a real live Homo sapiens sapiens. I must feel the feelings while knowing what I know.
Once i understood from her that it was the necessary next step on my journey towards healing, health, and functionality, i hellahellahella didn’t want to, but i knew that i would. I also know that i will get through it and be better, not all better, but much. I know that i’ll be closer to all the things i seek, that some of those goals i had in my youth might yet be mine, and more easily too, having slogged my way through this boggy bit of the path that’s before me. Yes, i had no illusions and i knew i was gonna git ‘er done anyway.

But i now have something i never thought i could, something i’d forgotten i’d even wanted at one time.
To be seen in this way, to have my specific and personal struggle seen and acknowledged, and to see someone have the appropriate emotional response to it.

Righteous indignation.
She had it for that client, tragically lost, and she has it, FOR ME.
A part of me that has always been alone and stopped considering it would be otherwise a long time ago – suddenly is not. And doing this, this part that i’ve been dreading so hard that i can’t barely sleep/think/function, this part that has me so stressed i’m a switchy/slidey parade, a Bits N’ Pieces Sideshow (a Histrionica Production), well…

I actually believe i won’t be doing it alone. She will be with me. And i think that i think that she won’t ever hurt me. I mean, she’s told me and all of me that she won’t ever purposely hurt me, and if she ever did, it would be accidental and she would be sorry and do everything she could to make it right, but everyone hurts us and we expect it because why wouldn’t we because everyoneveryone does, but she hasn’t,
and we’re starting to maybe believe that maybe she won’t. She hasn’t so far, and no one has known us so long and not.

Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it?
~ Roy Batty, Blade Runner

This is all i can do, for now. I hope it made some sense. I may add to this, but i’m floating away a bit, so we’re stuck with this today. 2 days later, heh. It could have been longer or not at all, i suppose. Not bad.

* In my own personal multiple slang, being in the face means currently in control of the system. The person/part that the rest of the world is dealing with in that moment.

Image: … Like Tears In Rain, Vladimir Eisinhorn

Slow Trees and Sweet Fruit

Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.
~Molière

To be committed this year to writing through the bad, means that i must write today.
Because yesterday was bad.

I’m not sleeping well. I haven’t in months, but it’s taken a steep downturn these last few weeks. I don’t think i’m getting enough restorative sleep. I sleep without dreams for the first 2 or 3hrs, but then a dream will wake me, and after that i’m awake every half hour or so for the rest of the night. If i have a nightmare, i usually have to get up and write a bit about it before i can get back to sleep. In the morning i can usually catch another hour or 2 unbroken, but it’s not enough, and i’m not sure i’m hitting D-level sleep.

I’ve struggled with sleep issues since childhood:
It started with night terrors, which eventually got so bad my mother actually sought treatment for me (unless i needed stitches, i was generally on my own). Learning lucid dreaming helped me drastically improve my sleep, which was particularly important as a child with epilepsy.
Abuse would sometimes come to visit me in my room at night, so i’ve spent a lifetime as a light sleeper.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in ’95. It’s known to those who’ve heard of it as chronic, deep muscle pain, and it sure is, but what most who don’t suffer don’t know, is that it’s also characterised by an inability to reach the restorative level of sleep that follows REM.
Although i practised good sleep hygiene in my 30s, manic bipolar episodes regularly threw me waaaay out of whack, and i began using alcohol as a way to get some sleep. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it seemed to be a favourite way of my system to cope, too. Imagine that, heh. I’m sure you can imagine the price i paid for it, too. The problem wasn’t so much that, for me it was the toll it took on my husband and children.

The cost is simply too high.

These last few years have consisted of learning how to live with how my brain works, and building quality of life. I settled in to checking in with my brain at the start of the day, tailoring my activities to optimise function, monitoring my inside chatter and maintaining connection with my Bits N’ Pieces, and ending with a little roundtable at the edge of my bed each night. This was designed to set me up for success in the morning, and also to quiet my mind as much as possible, in order to achieve restful sleep.

I’ve plugged away rather successfully at this for some time now, i think. I set a very small goal, and i work slowly and methodically to reach it. Once i do, i practise it until it becomes an unconscious part of my daily routine, and then i set to adding in another little thing. I tweak things a bit here and there to improve my efficiency, and i’ve needed the odd course correction, but i haven’t gone too far astray. In fact, i did so well for so long a time that i felt like i needed to set bigger goals; things like working parttime, volunteering, and more peopling – including building friendships.

You may gasp now. Heh.
You may also understand how i found myself back in therapy, tits deep, and not sleeping for shit.

Looking back at the last year, at first i thought i’d been going too fast. Now, i think that may have played a part, but it’s not the crux of it. There’s a tinge of fear too, the waiting for the other shoe to drop, but that was my childhood. Once i got away from my parents, my physical and mental well-being were no longer in serious jeopardy. After that, when a bad thing would happen it could be traced back to some genuine responsibility on my part, usually accompanied by some unconscious actions/reactions and choices i’d made due to my upbringing.
It might also be something utterly out of my control.

But that’s not this. I think this is homeostasis.
I’m establishing a baseline. It’s a minimum level of quality and safety that i must have in order to live the life of my choosing. I’ve never had this before. I’ve spent most of my life just surviving, much more time than was necessary. I’m not blaming myself – it was all i knew, and like Maya Angelou said, when i knew better, i did better. And i’ve done better. So much better, in fact, that some parts of me are resting now. I think the nightlights inside my brain that various parts of me keep on for fear, my dear, hypervigilant little soldiers, are blinking off because they can finally rest. They’re leaving their posts to go home for a rest, and i think they may sleep for a very long time.

But hey, just because going too fast wasn’t what got me here — fucked up and freaking out — that doesn’t mean that slowing down isn’t part of the solution. I think it is. When i get upset and anxious i’ve learned that dialing it back a bit can free up some much needed energy to deal with the stress. And Boy Howdy! has there been stress.
I’ll tell you about yesterday, tomorrow.

See You Then,
~H~

North

Once again, i think it’s important to start with a warning:

If you are currently in a place where you’re easily upset or triggered by content, this may be a piece you’d like to skip, either until you’re better able to process, or even altogether.

If you are a multiple, this piece contains discussion of integration. Take care of yourself and your system. Think about it before proceeding. Talk to your p-doc or whomever is your mental health professional go-to.

**********

I used to be scared of
Letting someone in
But it gets so lonely
Being on my own
No one to talk to
And no one to hold me
I’m not always strong
Oh, I need you here
Are you listening?
Hear me
I’m cryin’ out
I’m ready now
Turn my world upside down
Find me
I’m lost inside the crowd
It’s getting loud
I need you to see
I’m screaming for you to please
Hear me
~Kelly Clarkson, Hear Me

I don’t know how to start this part.

I know i’m not a writer – i’m a talker. I’m a sharer. I don’t have much to share, but i do have experiences and thoughts about them that i think might help others who struggle as i do, so i share words. The problem is, i have so much trouble being physically around people that some of the more important words that i want to share never come out of my mouth. So i’ve tapped away on the keyboard for years, trying to find a way to say the things i’ve always wanted to say, to say the things that so need saying.

At first trying to find the right way to say it all was like learning to draw blood. Finding a vein was difficult, and once found, it was frightening to make that first stick. What if i failed to hit it, or the needle went all the way through, or the vein dried up before i got enough blood?
Now, i’m practically a phlebotomist, but am i tapped out?

Okay, that’s a lot of directions to give you for my location when you can probably see me standing here across the street, but i’m anxious about this, and so i’m babbling.
You see? Not a writer, but i have found my voice, out here in the ether. Some of the people who know me in real life AND read my blog, have confirmed that this is how i talk. A soup of ramblings, 50 cent words interspersed with random slang from various cultures and fairly drowning in qualifiers, salted liberally with profanity. My talking style highlighted on the page by run-on sentences and bracketed asides. When it seems as if i’m done OH LOOKEE! more punctuation that is not a period. Yep.

In all the early movie depictions of multiplicity that i’ve seen, the characters aren’t considered fixed or well until they’re integrated. In other words, no more scattered bits, no alters, no splits. Not even a cohesive unit or a workable system (i don’t think that was even considered back then). Nope. Seamless and smooth and all in one piece. I only knew of one person who’d refused to integrate. I’d read her book and she was on a daytime talk show once, where it was clear she was still quite troubled, and the undertone of the show that i picked up (which may not have been there, admittedly), was one of pity and sadness that she was not whole.
(Note: I didn’t put quotation marks around certain words in this paragraph, as i thought it might be distracting, because there’d be a LOT.)

Once i finally had a therapist i could work with, i found out right away that integration was not an option for me. I wouldn’t even consider it. I’d been in mental crisis due to bipolar mania and the resultant onslaught of people in my brain all wanting to know and be known and freaking out at the same time, and although they were wreaking havoc and had been doing so for years, i’d developed strong feelings for them. I knew that i loved them, and was grateful to them, and that i owed them my life, many times over. Integration, to me, was murder. It was anathema, so much so that i could never quite recall the word. I always had to search outside myself for it, be it googling, or describing what i meant to the person i was talking to, and asking if they knew.

I know she talked to me about it, and i know i told her no fucking way, but i can’t recall how the conversation or conversations went, or when they occurred.
And i know that at some point i was done seeing her. Did i tell her? Did we have a session or more where we talked about it and had some sort of exit interview?

Zero. Fucking. Clue.

Though i moved on without her, and our times together became like the dreams-that-weren’t-dreams of my childhood, she taught me things about how the brain of a multiple works, and how i might better be in the world and navigate it in order to achieve a higher level of functionality, thereby cutting down on chaos and freeing me to get more of what i wanted out of life. I learned how to stay present, in the face, and as i enjoyed more success at living life on life’s terms, i gained more trust from my precious Bits N’ Pieces, and being in control of myself became less difficult. Don’t mistake me though, things were by no means easy. There was a great deal less crisis and chaos, but every time i was with anyone outside my family i’d quickly dissociate and lose control of switches and slides. I had to admit that social situations were a minefield for me, and the only way i found to handle it was to stop altogether and just stay cocooned in my Little Crooked House for a couple of years.
My system trusted me, but weren’t much closer to trusting anyone else.

I spent those years at home, learning and practising how to manage my brain. How to tune in to my system, to listen and to comprehend what they were saying. To meet their needs by meeting mine, and vice versa.
I hermitted at my own personal Fortress of Solitude, where we all took our turns being Jor-El answering Kal-El’s questions, imparting our personal histories, sharing the strange flavours of a culture of one or the occasional melange of 2 or more. And me, ever parsing over it all.
Our crystalline shards, some razor-sharp, jagged, dazzlingly beautiful. Stories told in whispers, puffs of icy wind, pain sung like silver bells, tinkling like falling ice. The words land and bite into my skin,  glittering emerald frostfire that illuminates our haunted faces, and we who are able, see.

Like young Clark Kent, now armed with knowledge, i begin the long walk home, and like him, i don’t have a clue where i’m going.

Keep On Keepin’ On

Once again, i think it’s important to start with a warning:

If you are currently in a place where you’re easily upset or triggered by content, this may be a piece you’d like to skip, either until you’re better able to process, or even altogether.

If you are a multiple, this piece contains the prelude to a discussion of integration. Take care of yourself and your system. Think about it before proceeding. Talk to your p-doc or whomever is your mental health professional go-to.

**********

It’s okay, you can take a condom
It’s okay, you can take a valtrex
And it’s okay, you can get an abortion
And then keep on keepin’ on
And then keep on keepin’ on
~ Vic Chesnutt, You Are Never Alone

I’ve written at length about my life experience with therapy, but a (semi) brief refresher course would be apropos.

I started therapy when i was around 6yrs old, when my mother sought treatment for my night terrors. After that, she began involving me in whatever new thing she was into, as she struggled with her own mental health. We chased a few pop psychology gurus including Werner Erhardt and EST, and Fritz Perls and Gestalt. She jumped on every bandwagon and read every book. If you are unfamiliar with my story, let me be clear that, although she had her own issues that needed addressing, i don’t believe that’s why she walked those paths and broke bread with those people.
I don’t think she ever put any serious work into becoming a better, healthier person. It is my opinion that these places were rich with easy targets for her to use, and the icing on the cake was that they also vastly increased her arsenal of weapons with which to manipulate people. And this is what i may have subconsciously took in – her absolute derision of anyone seeking healing or enlightenment through psychology. They were beneath her.

Then there was the indoctrination i’d received since birth that i’m never to talk about what happens in our home. Ever. And i was a good girl who did as she was told. Even when teachers or school psychologists, members of the church, friends of the family, or mandated social workers would occasionally smell something off and ask me questions varying from vague to pointed – i said nothing. Years later, when i was a new mother and sought out an old and much-loved caregiver for insight, she related a story of a night i was dropped off at her home for an overnight. I had obviously been seriously beaten, and when she asked me about it, all i would say is that my mother had told me not to speak about it.

At one point i was taken from her and put into foster care, which cemented my brainwashing. Every visit home she’d fill my head with how all the caregivers and professionals around us were trying to take me away from her, how they were telling lies about her and trying to keep us apart; how my foster parents were trying to adopt me and i’d never see her again. I was too young to know that she’d made me both her mother and her spouse years before, so she was triggering me to come home and take care of her.
I carried that distrust and suspicion with me until i was 21yrs old, when my mother abandoned me at a shelter after an attempted rape by a family member, and a tiny, First Nations social worker convinced me by just telling her own story that i was a victim of child abuse.

Once i knew the truth i was set on figuring my shit out, and i knew i’d need help to do it, but i could never find the right person. I could work with someone for a while, but they’d either tell me after a couple of visits that i was fine, they’d hit a wall they couldn’t get over, or they’d suggest i was a multiple and i wouldn’t go back. There was a wonderful social worker through my church who was finally able to get me to accept the diagnosis, but the kind of therapy that she offered was filtered through our religion and that was never going to help me.

Since i was 21, i’ve probably seen at least a dozen therapists, and that’s not counting psychologists or psychiatrists i’ve seen through my medical doctor or when i was either staying voluntarily in various hospital units (i call them The Bin, with zero affection) and mental hospitals, or being forcibly committed. I’ve done various group therapies offered through different counselling groups and tried a lot of 12step groups, and courses and workbooks under the care of trained facilitators galore…

How funny -and here i mean both peculiar and haha- that i should finally find the right person in a little sleepy town i’d gone to hide in, who agreed to see me at my husband’s desperate request, at a women’s shelter on short notice?
I don’t remember anything about meeting her, just going to the shelter and i think she was in an office down the stairs? I may have seen her a couple of times there, but she incredibly, graciously offered to come to my home for sessions, which was wonderful, because i was taking off down the road all the time at that point. Maybe i told her these things or maybe she ascertained my level of fuckedupness and stooped down low to meet me where i was at, either way, she started coming and i actually let her in.

She did (or rather didn’t do) a number of things other than that, that no other therapist had ever (not) done before*:

– she didn’t ask for my life story;
– she didn’t ask to talk to my system or even ask for their names;
– she respected my request for no spirituality and talked about things from a science or experience perspective only.

She would sit on the big leather couch by the front door, and i would sit on the love seat, on the side farthest from her. The other thing she didn’t do, not even once, was push. Not to talk about anything, not to do anything, not even to think about anything, that i didn’t want to. Not ever.
I think it was over a year, and maybe even 2, before she could sit beside me.
And sometimes, i would even look into her eyes.

We’ll never know for sure of course, and i know i’d have kept trying as long as i could have, but i was spiralling down hard and fast and she helped me save my life. I may not have got that done in time without her.

One more thing she never pushed on me, though we discussed it: integration.

Here we go.

*Sorry to grammar people for that one. It hurts my brain a little too, but that’s how it came out, and i try not to edit this stuff.

Photo credit: Melancholy, Louis Jean François Lagrenée (c. 1785)