This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a conference on trauma and dissociation, it was an interesting event and very informative. As I sat listening to one of the speakers they said something which led me to think about myself, my past and my alters which I thought I would share.
When I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder initially I felt very perplexed, in truth it didn’t seem real, this diagnosis though it seemed right somehow sat uncomfortably with myself. It was I believe the fact that the lead up to diagnosis was chaotic and at times frustrating, people would tell me for example that I had done this or that and I knew very well that I hadn’t. I thought at the time everyone else was making these things up and suddenly I was faced with the dawning realisation that in truth it was me that had been wrong. Some part of me had been angry, some part of me had been drawing like a child, some part of me had skipped as we fed the ducks, I could no longer deny this reality that I was a person fragmented and with various parts, parts whose existence I had no idea of.
Following my diagnosis I called my parts names, I felt of them as separate beings because in all truth they do have their own thoughts, feelings and ways of perceiving the world. Therapy in the early years seemed to allow me to place the horrific memories of the past which had been unveiling themselves to me for a while by this point, on the alters, these memories belonged to them and certainly not to me, Carol.
As a multiple fragmented person, I was someone who had dissociated since a small child in order to avoid the pain and suffering inflicted upon us, the alters held and in many cases still hold that pain and those memories. It was therefore easier for me to allow there to be a very distinct separation between myself and the alters, it allowed me not to face the harsh reality that these dreadful memories belong to me. This denial allowed us a chance to live this rather chaotic life existing with D.I.D, losing time, switching uncontrollably and with a huge brick wall between me and my past. Of course I had no real control over this amnesiac barrier or the losing of time, chaos and switching which were and still are part of my everyday life.
Denying the memories as my own, allowed me the space to function at least in part and to not fall apart into an even deeper crisis. I convinced myself that whilst I knew logically the alters were a part of me the painful past was theirs to carry and not mine. Denial worked at protecting me from the heavy burden of the truth, the truth of my childhood.
Over the last few months through the work in my psychology sessions I have stopped being so blinkered and I now accept that the alters are parts of me, yes we all have our own feelings, thoughts etc but in truth we are a fragmented, dissociated person who has one body with lots of different parts. The alters well they carry my memories not theirs, yes they endured the pain and the suffering whilst I dissociated but in truth it was this body of mine which suffered those terrible things.
Today I now know that I dissociated multiple times as a child and that at these times other parts of me were created to hold the memories of that time for me. The other parts of me, my alters have taken the burden for years of holding those memories away from my conscious being in order that I could function. Function that was until my melt down over a decade ago when the amnesiac barrier began to break and those memories that have so far leaked through became part of my reality. Yet denial still allowed me to cushion myself in a way by thinking the memories were the alters, I knew logically they were mine but I wouldn’t accept that fully.
Now I can hear the sceptics amongst the readers of this blog saying, how do I know these memories are true. Well it would quite simply be impossible to make up the things I have recalled, and the way these memories have revealed themselves is a clear indication they are true. All my life I knew I had a volatile childhood, my home life was not stable in fact it was violent and chaotic.
I suffered psychological abuse from a very young age, and some physical abuse too and I, Carol had carried those memories in to my present, but it was the worst of the trauma which I had dissociated from. I have Dissociative Identity Disorder and that isn’t a myth but fact, fact that is backed up by a wealth of professional expertise and significant research and medical knowledge. If people wish to be sceptical about D.I.D then that is their choice to hold that opinion, all I ask is that they allow me and the many others diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder the right to hold our opinions.
Of course for me now I face the hardest tasks of all, 1, trying to communicate with and have some understanding of the other parts of me, 2, breaking down that amnesiac barrier one brick at a time and 3, accepting that the memories which have been locked away for so long are in fact mine.
These are no easy tasks, I have to learn to co-operate with my alters, I have to try and find ways to be able to control at least in part the switching and loss of time. I have to work hard to internally communicate with the other parts of me, and believe me this is both tiring and time consuming, it is ongoing and a part of each and every waking moment. There will be a need to allow the amnesiac barrier to be broken in order that the alters, my other parts can share with me the past they carry. Yet most of all I need to be able to deal with the pain of that past, the memories which for so long I have been protected from. I will have to face each painful memory one by one, deal with the pain it brings and that isn’t just physically pain but emotional pain too. I have to find ways to live in the knowledge that this body in its younger days was defiled, betrayed, mistreated beyond words and in many cases by people who should have cared for me an innocent child.
Accepting my alters are parts of me has so far not been easy, it’s taken me over 5 years post diagnosis to get this far. Now I face the hardest part accepting the pain and the past, I know this journey won’t be easy but that I am supported by a loving family, and have the help of dedicated professionals who will guide us on this path. I’m hoping I can conquer the denial which is such an intrinsic part of dissociation and find myself stronger, wiser and more capable from facing up to the past, my painful past.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2014