Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Comfort of Same

I laugh each time I walk into Crane's office. It never changes. It's like walking into a place trapped in time.

I don't remember what it looked like when I first started seeing him in 2000. I vaguely remember grilling him from a hospital bed during one of several transfusions needed around that time... but the office in the building he shared with a few others is a blank... well, outside of the waiting room and another therapist's dog who hung out there. I was disappointed when the dog didn't join him in the move later that year. I think Stephanie was downright pissed. Somehow, the idea that he had a dog in his office made him slightly more worthy of talking to sober.

In the eleven years since Crane moved his practice, nothing has changed. Occasionally a new stuffie appears on the chair by the door. It's piled high after all these years and the Eeyore we gave him is buried under the top layer. Beyond that and the height of the gravity-defying stack of charts on his desk, it remains the same.

I could close my eyes now and describe the entire office in detail, right down to the placement of the books.

I laugh at the sameness but recognize now the comfort in things that remain constant.

I used to laugh in surprise whenever Lyn would tell me weeks in advance of any change to her office or decor. It seemed silly to me to feel anxiety over something so trivial as the placement of a couch.

Then I walked into the local church-run free clinic.

The community need is so great and the program so new, each time I enter the building it's a whole new ballgame. The procedure hasn't been the same twice. If I went to the clinic on a more regular basis, perhaps it wouldn't be so jarring... but I sat there last night, scribbling this post in my notebook, waiting for the dentist and fighting anxiety because I'd been separated from family. I had to sit in the front row, with Charlie and Becka in the back because they weren't seeing the dentist. Seating people according to their need was a new one and one I hope doesn't last.

My constant wasn't by my side and so the continued change of the program was disorienting and disconcerting. I was so serious about getting out ASAP that if the little old lady who kept trying to pity her way ahead of me kept it up, I was just about ready to lose my Christian Witness.

It was enough to be in such pain and not know if they would be able to help that night... the newness of the procedure was wearing... as was feeling like I had to fight grown-ups over basic concepts like waiting in line and taking turns.

We got there at 4:45. The oral surgeon didn't arrive until almost 7:30. I was the last of the four people they saw last night and it was nearly 9:30 before they could see me. The pain got so bad I ended up leaving Charlie (who gave up his need for mine) in the waiting room while I went to hide in the car. Actual crying is rare enough for me. Doing it in public wasn't an option I was willing to consider, so to the car I ran.

Now it's all over, I can think about how hard it was to get through last night... and next time we go back I'll try to remember that despite the long wait and how different it was, I've never been turned away or treated poorly there.

And I'll take a deep breath and get through it.

But I won't laugh at the concept of sameness again.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

All I Got

Trying to post every day... with limited success.


I've found it takes less energy to feel and process my pain than to suppress it and run away from it. - @brianmclaren, Naked Spirituality


This was posted to Twitter a few minutes ago. How perfect for this situation. I find myself hiding out on the computer playing hashtag games when I should be writing.

Petra refused to believe she was a girl. Her need to hide and be unseen was so strong, she never spoke above a whisper and it took Pat and Charlie ages to convince her she was more than a floating dust mote.

Can't quite figure out what is so difficult in writing about when Reese introduced herself to me.

I could take a drink but I tried that the other night and all it did was put me to sleep.

I refuse to surrender to medicating myself just to write.

But breathing while writing is still pretty high on the list of priorities.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. *sighs*

Safe Place

When I was a kid, Mum and Dad's room was an OFF-LIMITS place. I can remember maybe two times I was allowed to lie in their bed. Granted, one of those times I raided the hidden stash of Halloween candy... but that's beside the point.

While I understood the idea of keeping the parent's room strictly for the parents, that was something Charlie and I could never put into practice as parents.

When Krys was 18 months old, she decided she was Too Big for a crib. We know this because she spent several nights screaming bloody murder, rocking her crib and generally having a huge meltdown at bedtime. On the third or fourth night, in an act of frustration, I took her out of her crib, tossed the crib mattress on the floor and said, "Fine!" Okay, I wasn't exactly mature at 20.

Krys looked at the mattress, climbed right on it and snuggled up. I tucked her in and all was well. Two nights later, Daddy had turned her standard crib into a convertible toddler daybed. Krys was content.

Within a week, we had a new routine. Charlie and I woke at 5:30 am. Just before he'd leave for work, I would braid his then very long hair. It was around this time that Krys would come toddling in the room, dragging Mr. Bear by an arm or leg to say goodbye to Daddy. For a couple of days, I tried to encourage my bright-eyed, bushy-tailed monkey back to her bed. Pbfft. Soon enough it became standard for her to climb in my bed and we'd snuggle and doze until 8, when I got up for the day.

In the years since, we have spent literally hundreds of nights sharing our bed with little ones. Nightmares, Night Terrors, fevers, stomach bugs and once in a while a case of full blown flu... If they didn't feel well, they came to sleep with Mommy and Daddy... an arrangement that almost always ended up with someone's little feet firmly planted in one parent's back.

It wasn't just kids coming to us for comfort either. After Daniel's drowning, I kept him in our bed for a full 6 months, while I was waking repeatedly each night to check he was still breathing. It was a hard thing to decide to put him back in his crib at night.

John had Pertussis when he was a newborn. Though he was fully recovered by 3 months old, I kept him in the bassinet at the foot of the bed for another 3 months. I couldn't bear putting him in another room. I had to be able to check that he was breathing.

Our kids have always known where to go when they need comfort or reassurance. Even my now adult kids, when ill, will gravitate to our bed for a nap.

I find such joy in this. It's a wonderful feeling to know that when all is not right in their worlds, the kids still know they can come to us for comfort and a sense of security. Our bed has been crowded at times... and these days, I often have to kick out one of the kids to get my nap... but I don't mind.

I just wish they made something bigger than a California King.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Flashback

QUIET ROOM QUIET ROOM QUIET ROOM

shit.


We were waiting for John's assessment for STAR; a day treatment program run by the MUSC Child Psychiatry Department. I needed to use the restroom and change Elena.

I was shown to the restroom with a changing table and got Elena squared away. She HATES changing tables and I couldn't leave her there so I took her back to the waiting room and walked back down the hall. At the end of the short hall from the waiting area, I stopped dead.

The open room in front of me was painted an odd pastel blue. It was a small room, totally bare save the half-ball mirror on the ceiling in the back of the room. The floor was linoleum. The door to this room had no knob... just a handle on the outside and a key only deadbolt. The narrow window in the door was made of meshed safety glass.

Images of all the rooms of this kind I've been in over the years flooded my thoughts. I broke out in a cold sweat.

I can't send my son to this place.

I forced myself to walk to the bathroom but found the door now locked. So I walked back to the Quiet Room and looked again.

I can't count the number of nights I spent locked in rooms like this one, nor the number days spent sitting in the unlocked rooms to "cool off" and stop "acting out".

These rooms were used as punishment. They were used to put you in your place and occasionally to humiliate.

I'm sending my son here. I can't do that.

The program nurse appeared and asked if I was waiting for the restroom. She knocked on the door then unlocked it for me. When I was finished, I averted my eyes on the way back to the waiting room... but when I met Charlie's eyes, I mouthed "They have QUIET ROOMS here". He instantly understood whatever striken look I had on my face.

I busied myself with the babies until we were called back for the assessment... for what I now realized was really the intake interview.

I'd managed to put on the calm, open exterior for this meeting but my head was spinning. At one point, we were left in the room and I dig in my purse for my emergency klonopin (after rachel's adventure, I only keep one in that bottle at a time) and prayed I could settle down.

Up to that point, I was on edge, feeling defiant and challenged. I can look at it now and acknowledge those emotions as stemming from the shock of seeing the room... not from any present situation requiring me to be on the defensive. I think I knew that on some level yesterday too but, again, the rational and the emotional were at war with each other.

We finished the intake and by the end of the inteview and tour of the facility, John was much more positive about attending the program. His reaction to the "Seclusion Rooms", as they are called in this program, was upbeat. To him, having a distraction free place to go with a door he can shut to give him some silence, such a room is his perfect answer to a meltdown.

I can see his point.

I was relieved to find the program has several "time out" steps, allowing a quiet place to collect oneself, before the rooms. I was further reassured by the knowledge they haven't had to use the lock at all this year. (I believe, I believe... it's silly but I believe)

John is not me. John has not lived the life I did. This is a day treatment program and it is voluntary. Charlie reminded John (and me, though he may not have realized) that he still has the veto power. If at any point he feels it's not helping John, we'll pull him out.

Knowing that each day, we will get a written report on how he did, with behavioral homework, was reassuring too. When I was in the hospital, my parents only heard what was up with me when they came to visit.

The teachers are nice, young and upbeat... not the old burned out hippies from my years. The place is bright and cheerful (save those rooms) and the general atmosphere very positive. The students I saw, who range in age from 6-14, were also positive. I was surprised to see genuine smiles. (John said anyplace that gives you candy at the end of the day can't be all bad)

It's not inpatient.
It's not a a locked ward.
He's getting the services and counseling he needs... he's not being shuffled off to a warehouse.
He's not me.

This will be good for him.

If, after a week, he can find nothing positive in the experience, we'll take him out again... but I know John. Even if something pisses him off and his day is a disaster, it only takes a little questioning for him to find what positive he can.

He knows this is therapy. And he knows from Mom that therapy means hard work. But he'll have the staff at STAR and his family.

He'll be okay... and maybe, by seeing an experience so different from my own, I will be too.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I, Me, Us, We

When we got home from the assessment (entry on that coming up), I threw myself into yard work. 45 minutes later, the front yard was mowed and tidy and I was tired enough to take a nap. The urge to plow into a bottle of vodka has abated, somewhat.

It's funny. Yesterday, as Crane was setting my next appointment, he flipped through my chart to the last map of The Crew I did... back in '03 or so. He looked at the map, glanced at me and then nodding toward the chart, he asked "So, how's this?"

I shrugged, never really sure how to answer that question. "Fine. It's all me you know." (even as I said it, it sounded stupid)

"How are they?"

Again, thrown. "Um... It's quiet." From across the room Charlie snorted. I meant to say "No comments from the peanut gallery"... What came out was, "Bite me."

We set the next appointment for early June. The plan is to see him every two months for now.

The session itself was fun. It was more like catching up with an old friend than therapy. Last time I saw him Krys was a newlywed and I had no idea I was soon to hear I was going to be a grandma. Back then we had talked about closing my other diary, taking it offline and my frustration over an utter lack of interest in writing again. We also talked about the Cameron fiasco, from which I and the rest of the family were still healing. I unloaded on him the intense anger I felt for myself for allowing all of the bullshit to go as far as it did.

We also talked about integration... about how for the last year Cameron was with us, what had started as "I'm not her play toy and just because she's your friend doesn't mean any of us have to want to be around her." turned to no longer switching except for extreme situations (which were forced and created by must-be-center-of-attention-drama-whore Cameron and then pointed to as a way to try to manipulate by switching)

When I saw Crane last, I was still pretty full of resentment that instead of gradually and peacefully coming together... that instead of being able to take the time to truly decide if we even wanted total 'oneness', we had to rally the troops and become one just to keep from going insane when she finally took off the gloves and waged open war.

I was still bitter as hell that my family, the ones whose lives had been most touched by The Crew, were denied the opportunity to prepare for and have any kind of reasonable goodbye.

I told him about the night, while washing dishes, when I sought out Stephanie to ask why, for months, there had been no switching... why for those months, the only conversations occurred inside. Her words, which were the last I really heard, stick with me. "You can handle this shit on your own now. You don't need us."

I didn't tell her then, though I wish I had, that I didn't care if I didn't need them. I loved them all and they made me feel complete. I may not have needed them to step in when things got hairy, but I sure as hell liked knowing they were around.

Then standing in Crane's office yesterday... something as simple as saying "Bite me." when the pre-integration I would have said something more diplomatic, was enough to reassure me. Hell yes, they're still there. It's the seperateness... the need for me to 'go inside' while someone else was out... the struggle to maintain co-consciousness... those things are gone. But The Crew... they live on. Seperate enough to see them in my face, my words or my actions... but not enough that we can't all experience life, as it is, together.

Maybe next time I see him, I'll ask him what he means when he asks how they are. Or maybe, when he asks, I'll be able to just tell him.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Frustration

Was intending to do a companion post all about Levia (The Wall) but can't get focused.

Some of the handwriting from the last few days has disappeared. It was for a post about the first time Reese intentionally talked to the church group and the last post covering Feburary of 1999.

I hate when this kind of stuff happens. There was a time when Reese truly believed that if it was important to her, it would be the one thing to fall apart or be ignored. Seems everytime she screwed up the courage to talk to Lyn or Crane, something would come up and she'd miss her chance.

I can't tell if losing the papers I HAD MY HANDS ON 4 HOURS AGO is part of some self-fulfilling shoot-myself-in-the-foot thing or if it's an irritating coincidence.

On a random note, IE doesn't run the spell check in blogger posts and I'm now consumed with paranoia about the lack of squiggly red lines I need to check back on later.

I asked Pat once if she could help me fill in the blanks. She gracefully and kindly declined... an event that sent me spinning off into the shame spiral until I nearly made myself sick. Being reminded how much my illness affected others... knowing Pat was not at peace with it tore my heart out. I've asked another friend very much involved at the time and am trying to patiently wait for the answer.

It would probably be better to stop flipping out over some lost writing... but it took such effort to wring it from my memory and onto paper the first time. I really don't have the energy to try again tonight.

I could move on... but not really looking forward to the next year of time to cover. By this time in 2000 I was pretty much not talking to anyone from church and The Crew had gone into hiding.

Maybe it's time to screw up my courage and go back through the original blog hard copy. Some of what was written then may shed some light on what's so obscure now.

or I'll have that margarita Charlie keeps offering.




Q and A pt 3 for Frank

Some questions from Frank et al and a few others...

How did you come about figuring out separating the members of The Crew; or figuring out how many there were?

The simple answer there is mapping. That's the term for it anyway. Early, early on, when I was still in the "Oh hell no" stage of acceptance, it was suggested we try to figure out who was there and why. I basically sat at the computer and tried to remember all the different times and places where i just knew I wasn't me. If that makes sense. From there I tried to figure out what triggered it and what was the purpose.

I continued using mapping for several years. As my knowledge of The Crew grew, the map changed. The more they shared about themselves, the better able we were to understand their function within the system.

While I did have help with the mapping, I mostly did it on my own. For all my confusion, I know my mind better than anyone outside it. The Crew helped in this.. but I did have the support of a doctor and therapist.

Do you think it's beneficial if we try this (providing it doesn't involve a white coat...)

The thing about the mapping worked for us because in getting to know them and what their purpose was, we had a better understanding of how to work together. Don't get me wrong, just knowing someone was there didn't suddenly make her part of the team. It took years to convince most of them that working together to heal was the best option. Some refused to acknowledge they weren't the only one. Others quite literally only existed in a moment of time, as if frozen in place... for them, the rest of us (inside and out) worked to free them from that place and bring them to the present. A lot of it was convincing everyone that life was no longer what it was then and it was safe to be in freedom.

I guess it depends on your goals. You are clearly able to function and go about day to day life (most multiples do... the idea of the non-functioning cluster-fuck is incorrect for the majority of us) When you begin exploring inside, stuff gets stirred up. If you don't have some solid support in your life, functioning through it all may get harder... much harder.

How did you come up with ages?

Initially it was gut feeling. So and so was in such and such an age range. As they began to communicate, they gave their ages themselves. Over the years, some of them aged along with me. Others, Like Reese and Stephanie, found an age they liked and stayed there. Stephanie never could see the point of aging past 18 if it meant the world would insist on adult attitudes and behavior. She liked being a teen, thank you very fucking much.

With a couple of the younger ones, we let them "choose" their age. Amelia was 5 when we first came to know her. She later jumped to 8 because that was "big girl" age and where she wanted to be.

For the ones we call "Inside Helpers", they were more or less ageless. They didn't need a number to define their function or abilities. In my mind's eye, Levia always reminded me a bit of a younger, less severe version of the matron in "The Secret Garden"... long, black dress... no nonsense... had a job to do and that was that. But I could never quite look close enough to guess an age... because it wasn't needed.

There are NO rules to DID beyond the criteria you find in the DSM-IV. Certain things have to fit to be considered DID but beyond that, every system is different. The beauty of DID is that you have created within yourself a way to function and survive things that would make others go batshit. It can be whatever you need it to be to get through.

What is the most significant thing you gained from separating/categorizing your personalities?

Less confusion. Plain and simple. It cut back on the chaos. It also made it possible to develop relationships with each other. We were no longer contentious neighbors, existing side by side with different goals and agendas that clashed and made life hell. It added to the stability and made working together a possibility.

***

Okay, now the stuff scribbled in my notebook last night...

Still on the subject of separating them... I really was fortunate to have both a doctor and a therapist who had lots of experience with DID. Even if it did take blackmail and near force to get me to see them. *sighs*

Some of the girls just were. They'd been around long enough to have developed into completely distinct beings with their own abilites, memories, likes, dislikes, etc... Others emerged as specific emotions or memories came up in treatment.

On the subject of existing together...

There were, at times, groups who were aware of things at the same time. They call this co-consciousness. Having that shared consciousness is a good thing. If we had complete amnesia every time there was a switch, I'd be missing more than 3/4 of my life... at least. Sure, there were times when I lost awareness but it was less and less as we got to know each other.

In my teens, Reese, Stephanie and I existed side by side, though I was not aware of it then. All I really understood was that I was sometimes a spectator in my own body. It wasn't until I accepted them as needed parts of me rather than enemies (and the same for them with me) that we would intentionally work together.

We ended up building sort of a sorority house inside. Everyone had their own rooms and the common room, or where we'd be when we were "out" was the kitchen. If you were in the kitchen, you could see and interact with the world outside my head.

On support systems...

Mine has been pretty erratic over the years. Charlie, being my only constant. These days, I have my immediate family but haven't seen the doctor in 18 months or more and the therapist since 2007 or so. My childhood family are all aware of the DID but I only ever really talked about it with my oldest brother (he passed away in 2007). I took the chance to talk to the rest of the family and while they accept and agree DID is the only thing that really makes sense, they remain guarded against things they would all prefer to leave firmly in the past.

The support in my life now comes from the incredible family of people I have come to know online. Some of these people have been with me since the month I first started blogging in '02. They walked with me through the whole journey.

When my husband was rushed to the hospital last month, my church family prayed and provided meals for the family... but it was through facebook that I had the support that kept me from crumbling in my what ifs and fear. Of my best and most trusted friends, the nearest one still lives some 500 miles away.

Something I wanted to clear up about The Crew's blog...

Only the entries that have italicized notes at the top were written before I restarted this process a couple of weeks ago. The period from 1998- June 2002 has been largely a blank to me. Going back to those early years and acknowledging them is, for me, part of laying the past to rest and completing this journey in recovery.

In your We Freak Out post, you wondered why I had so many and you so few and if you were normal.

DID isn't that simple. There really are no rules. It's your mind and it functions as you need it to. Having more or less personalities/alters/states of conciousness/blah blah doesn't make you or them more or less real. You are.

I've known people who continued to split well into adulthood. Chris Seizmore (of Three Faces of Eve) never had more than 3 at a time... but every few years, the three would "die" and three others would take their place. She's in her 70's or 80's now and still living as a trio.

I didn't want to live like that. I didn't want to be defined by my brokeness. I refused (once I knew I had the power to do so) to create someone new with every new overwhelming crisis. I could have. It would have been easy enough to excape myself that way... but I wanted to heal.

You are no more or less normal than anyone with DID. You are unique in who you are and in how you have dealt with the shit in life. That's okay. The few people I've met (and you'd be surprised how many) who fit some cookie cutter mold of DID were usually Munchausen by Internet. Their mental illness wasn't DID... it was their compulsive need to be interestingly
and attention grabbingly sick.

In other words, screw normal. You are the person and people you are because that's how you kept from going hopelessly insane when you were a kid. You utilized the most intelligent and creative coping mechanism there is. Yeah, it ain't exactly healthy or easy... but you've gotten this far because you were born with a special set of gifts that enabled you to grow up and not become a sociopath.

We are highly intelligent, creatively gifted and imaginative people. That's not normal, with or without the DID. So again, I say screw normal. I don't want it.

Hope this helps.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Q and A pt 2.

I'm going to assume that the alters that Tara had are kind of generic alters that most multiples have. Did you have an equivalent of Buck, Shoshana, etc? I'm assuming that "Chicken" is like Amelia/Roo.

That was one of the things that initially irritated me about the show. The alters are all extreme examples of 'categories' and the wardrobe change for each switch annoyed me to no end. But then I remembered that early on, I changed my entire wardrobe to consist of jeans/khakis and t-shirts/polos to prevent everyone having their own set of clothes.

Stephanie is a protector. On the show, that's Buck. Someone to manage and feel the anger, hatred and don't you dare fuck with me stuff.

No Shoshana, though I can't quite figure out a 'role' for her. The only ones primarily functioning in logic almost never stepped outside of me to share it.

and yes, Chicken is a little.

I still need to add basic 'categories' to the glossary on The Crew. Add that to the to-do list.

Max reminded me a lot of Charlie. I hope that is a fair comparison. I immediately loved Max.
Minus Max's infidelity (or Tara's for that matter) I love Max. He is Tara's Charlie. When you get to the last scene of season 2, you'll cry. It's almost an exact recreation of a conversation Charlie and I had early on.

Did any of your alters get into fights/dislike any of your family members? Kate and T get into a physical altercation the one time. Buck consistently makes homophobic remarks towards Marshall. Did any of your alters act like that towards Charlie or any of the kids? Did any of your alters have the hots for your husband? (Like Alice/T/Shoshana did with Max?) Likewise, did any of your kids dislike any of your alters the way that Kate disliked Alice?
Reese and Krys had a few disagreements but nothing violent. Stephanie took no shit from my kids but never raised a hand to them. After we got past the whole "These rugrats are NOT my family" thing, Stephanie pretty much lived as protector to them as well. She once reamed a school psychologist for trying to stick Daniel in a box labeled learning disabled.... and she did it in front of 5 other people.

I had no one like T. No hyper sexual alters... okay, not strictly true... One part (not around long enough to have a name) did try to seduce Charlie... and Pastor R and Doctor C but never got anywhere. Eventually, she understood sex wasn't affection, it wasn't a tool and my husband is so completely faithful he wouldn't even TOUCH another part of me in a sexual way. To him, it would have been cheating.

The kids didn't all like everyone in The Crew but it was mostly Stephanie that pissed people off. She wouldn't take crap form the kids. Stuff they got away with when I was out never flew with her and she had no problem calling them on attempts to play with Mom's head.

How did you explain the whole having DID thing to your kids? I was struck by how immediately the kids/Max were able to recognize the alters and sort of not react. Is that accurate?
The first part of this question will have to wait. It was answered in the original blog.
Yes, the family got to know several of The Crew well enough to know just by the look on my face. It was only Reese, Stephanie, Amelia and Suzie who built relationships with any one on the family besides Charlie... but the kids knew them and knew them well. They did learn not to react to switching. It was what it was and they went with it.

What sorts of things trigger a transition? How often did they happen? Did you ever have family meetings like the Gregsons did to sort of catch up on what you did?
Family meetings, yes... for awhile until I began to share more awareness with them.
Triggers could be anything. Tara does it pretty accurately in that switches are usually triggered by an event or emotion that is too overwhelming to handle alone. Switching happened more times a day than I can count sometimes. There were times someone would be out for days and other times when I didn't switch at all. The only times I went for a long period without switching was because the girls were all hiding in reaction to thinking if they 'went away' my life would somehow be easier.

As we learned to work together, switching leveled off to a few times a day. We tried for a long time to make sure everyone had whatever time they needed.

I loved, "Then Buck came out and...I kicked some ass?" hahaha
In my case, with Stephanie, it was usually "Oh shit. What did she do now?"

Did you have co-consciousness? Was it as if you were out of body, watching one of the others do something? Are two alters ever able to talk to each other and be "out" at the same time?
Yes, yes and yes. Stay tuned for answers and examples to be posted in the other blog.

Is it possible for one alter to be "called" out? Like, if Reese was out and you got a phone call, would she come get you?
Yes. It took practice and at first I hated it. I felt like a freak in a sideshow. I hate, hate, HATED switching in front of anyone not family.

as an aside, when John was 5, we found out that whenever he didn't like my answer to something, he'd call out Amelia and the two would do whatever they wanted until I caught up.

If you had a meeting or something to go to, were the alters aware that the body belonged to you and that people expected you? Tara's alters refused to respond to the name Tara.
Yes, later on. Early on, heck no. There were a few people to whom Stephanie and Reese would refuse to answer to Marisa.

I found out a few years ago that my best childhood friend knew Reese and Stephanie both. That was incredibly freaky to find out long after the fact.

It took the first 2 years to convince everyone it was better to work together than not... but for most multiples, I'd wager that most alters go by the body's name when necessary. Part of the point of multiplicity is to keep the memories and the existence of others a well guarded secret. If they all run around identifying themselves, that can't happen.

I guess sort of piggy-backing on that, did your kids' friends know about your DID? If they were over, and one of them called you Mrs. Feathers while Reese or someone was out, would she pretend to be you or insist on being called Reese?
Some of the kid's friends knew. Most of them didn't. It was such a normal part of our family life that Daniel's kindergarten Mother's Day card to me included a mention of the littles.

We did try to get the kids to not make it public. These days, I don't mind who knows.

Were your alters noticeable to others? If a friend of Krys was over and Reese was out talking to Charlie, would they be able to realize it wasn't you?
It depended on how well the friend knew the family. Our next door neighbor when we first moved into the old house figured it out pretty quickly. I ended up having to explain it to her.

Hope that helps and no, I do not think you're being nosy. :P



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why Now?

I've been tossing this question around since I made the rash decision to embark on reopening our old blog. So much so, I put in a call to Dr. C today to schedule a brain check. Haven't seen him in well over a year so it's time to have the neuroses changed and a general check up, just to make sure I've not COMPLETELY FREAKING LOST IT!

I'm really wrapped up in "what ifs" right now. What if this is too much? What if I turn into the zombie who spends every moment at the computer again? What if the kids end up living on PB&J because I'm too wrapped up in me to remember trivial things like food? What if this turns into a big blog? What if I run into some asshole like the Abnormal Psych Prof on "Tara"? What if all I can manage in the writing leading up to where the old blog began comes off looking like a caricature? What if I've identified as many for so long that I'm bored with just being plain old me (DON'T LAUGH)? What if someone reads the really triggery shit at the beginning and it totally and utterly screws them up? What if the only way to fill in the blanks of those first years requires actually ASKING Stephanie, Reese or Amelia? What if pushing to do this makes me crack all over again? What if all this shit matters to somebody and makes a difference?

I could go on. I'll spare you.

And maybe try to answer some of these for myself.

The big one is what if I have to ask them for help? It's been rolling around in my head for days and I sucked up my courage and posted a tweet about it earlier. What if I'm not whole enough?

Dancing around it I kept coming back to the quick and dirty definition of dissociation. It's self-hypnosis. All those days (weeks months) I spent sprawled across my bed fighting the noise, I was letting myself go, even if I didn't realize it at the time.

Stephanie, Reese and Amelia still have memories I don't. Stephanie has all of them. Had. Has.

I have a hard time, still, referring to them in the past tense. I know they are there, even if not separate because I see and feel them all the time. There is a reason Floppy still lives on the bed. There is a reason it took me weeks to convince myself that all the little's toys should be inherited by the grand children (okay, most of them). There is a reason certain things still intimidate me to try. Reese was the artist. She could draw. My stick figures look deformed. What if I didn't get it when she blended with me? I didn't get all the memories.


I know what Crane would say... "they are all you". and to that, Stephanie would say "fuck you."

I asked Charlie once what would happen if I split again... if life got too hard to do it on my own... if I needed to hide and let someone else deal with life for a little while?

He said, so be it. You're you no matter what.

I was not comforted.

I'm terrified of breaking again. Sometimes it's even an attractive idea. I miss Stephanie's cleaning sprees when she finally stopped pouring her anger into alcohol. She could clean AND get the kids to help without bloodshed. She could organize like no one I know and I don't seem to have inherited that ability.

Crane would say, it's all there. I just need to learn to access it.

So back to the self-hypnosis thing.

Quiet time in this house is at a premium. Quiet time when I'm awake enough to make good use of it is even harder to find. Today, I grabbed my notebook and hid in Rachel's room for a few hours. I threw myself across the bed, closed my eyes and practiced breathing until the what ifs started to drift away.

I asked myself, since Charlie was NO help at all today, what happened the night we told him? And I stayed there, totally absorbed in my mind, and waited for the answer. The best way I can describe it is that it's like looking into a pensieve. It's a mass of swirling, foggy memories. But if I can relax enough to take a look, it get clearer.

So maybe the dialogue isn't word for word... but it was there. The memory. There are others, that I wasn't precisely there for, that I can see clearly now.

Maybe asking them for help is as simple as letting myself relax enough to listen to my own brain.

And why would I want to do that?

It's time. For once and for real and for crying out loud it's about freaking time, it is time. As much as it's taking out of me, with every entry I come to peace with a little bit more of the past.

It never made sense to me that after all this, the part of my life which terrifies me most is those first couple of years getting to know The Crew. Seriously?

John made a comment about The Crew being the best friends he ever had. Mine too.

The Crew made it possible for me to survive long enough to meet Charlie. They kept me from stubbornly staying on those railroad tracks over night if I had to. They kept me alive when I was ready to quit. They made life interesting in a variety of ways. They opened up the doors to my past and shared with me the truth about something I was afraid to know. Were it not for The Crew, I may have lived my whole life believing my dad did something I know damn well he's not capable of doing.... thanks to 'professionals' assuming everything started with incest. Morons.

It's time to go back and look at that time because they've been my first and best friends my whole life... even when they weren't. It's time to go back because when we did become one, our family was still reeling from the fuckosity of C&K and no one really got their closure. My family deserved and deserves their goodbyes. It's time to go back because The Crew deserves to be thanked, remembered and recognized... never, ever forgotten.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

"You need to know that you've been through this and come out on the other side. Yes, it hurts to write. It hurts as much as it did then. But can't harm you anymore."

Thank you Charlie.

You're right. It might hurt. It might feel like being right back there... but I'm not. I'm here. I'm safe. My family has come through with me and we've done better than survive it.

We are where we are because of where we've been. Yes, this will be exhausting. Yes, the old headaches... the ones I used to associate with trying not to switch, they will come back as I fight not to succumb to the emotions this creates... but I'll learn to cry again. Charlie is here to listen and there's no reason to keep it from him. He's a good Wooden Indian and able to sit quietly to listen, then hold me when I've worn myself out in the telling.

I am not doing this alone. Charlie, the kids (who are wonderfully supportive) and friends who have walked with me through the journey are all still here. God is with me and is my strength when I think I can't do it.

With that kind of support, I can't honestly see that I can fail. Even if I fall, there are loved ones to catch me or to help me get up again.

A friend wrote today about the simple value of remembering to breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Keep writing.
Repeat.



And Not the Good Kind

The hardest part of writing is the echo of emotion it brings with it.

Pushing through labor pains is easier than this.

It's fine when I'm composing in my head but the moment I sit at the keyboard, it's the shakes, the tight chest and the stomach knots that make my priority continuing to breathe... not writing.

Grrr.

Someone asked about the therapist I was seeing when the last split occurred. It's at least as important for me to acknowledge it as it is for anyone to read about it.

One day it won't hurt to write about my life. Today is not that day.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Second Guessing

I've managed to ignore the existence of this third season of United States of Tara until an insomniac channel surfing attack tonight. Tossing crap around in my head I've done my best to ignore for 12 years... Wondering if I'm doing the right thing... Do I have the energy and support to really look at that first nightmare year?

Okay, support I know I have. Energy is iffy. Intestinal fortitude? Not so sure.

In the middle of all this, with Charlie blissfully sleeping by my side, I remote flipped right into a discussion between Tara and her husband about her going back to school. "I don't want to be known as the woman with DID." That was a gut punch. Then she made a comment about "finally being able to contribute to this family" and the response was physical. I literally curled into a ball, hit mute and tried to talk myself out of sneaking glances at the closed captioning.

Yeah, okay... self-control still not high on my list of strengths.

At some point here I need to...

You know what? Forget it. I'm not going to try to write what's going on in my head right now. I'm going to go wake Charlie and tell him.