The influence my past has upon my today

Over the past few weeks I have found myself struggling as the past invades my present, my here and now. It came to a head when I received a letter from the hospital saying my psychiatrist appointment had been amended, I would no longer see the doctor I was expecting, instead a random stranger. I haven’t seen the original doctor for ten years, but the fact I knew he was ok had made my transition to the new team bearable, suddenly I was now being faced with a stranger, someone who might judged me and that triggered me.

 
I found myself hurtling back into the past and then came the tears, irrational thoughts and fears which culminated in me deciding I just wouldn’t go. Now if course on reflection I know not going isn’t helpful its just plain avoidance.

At the time I didn’t understand why I felt so terrified, so wound up and there wasn’t space to think rationally. I had thoughts of negative coping strategies which scared me too, but seemed the only solution. I really felt I was terrified of this person, that he was unsafe, bad even.
In the end once I had decided I wouldn’t go, the fear dissipated and I felt able to survive the day, but I couldn’t help wondering what it was I was really scared of. Using strategies I have been taught in recent times and speaking to my psychologist I began to think about why I reacted so badly, eventually I realised this was my past hurtling at full pace into my today. The fear wasn’t this doctor, it was the fact he could judge me and I hate being judged it fills me with horror and memories of my past.

You see in my past I was constantly judged, I wasn’t ‘good enough’ and no matter how hard I tried I didn’t hit the mark of perfection that certain people wanted. When in hospital I was reminded of this by professionals who didn’t understand me, who made assumptions that were often incorrect and then judged and labelled me – which caused consequences that impacted upon my life. Of course my reactions to the doctors back then, were influenced by my experiences as a child when no matter how hard I tried I seemed to mess up. So when I faced the thought of seeing a stranger who had the power to judge and label me, I was reminded of the past not just my previous experiences in hospital but those as a child.


I couldn’t stop my past racing back into my today and spewing my thoughts and thus my reactions, which looking back were illogical and very much out of proportion. But despite controlling in a fairly safe way the impact of this trigger, I felt wounded, drained even and so weak and vulnerable, it hit me with such force. In fact it’s taken me a while to recover not just from the event itself, but also from the reality that I am still so vulnerable to full on triggers. I think that has been as hard as the trigger event itself, coming to terms with my own vulnerability and accepting I still have a long way to go on this road of recovery.

I can recall a time not too long ago when triggers would impact at this force numerous times each day, but in recent months I had been coping much better. I really found this incident a huge shock, it reminded me just how vulnerable I can be and how unable I am currently to stop such events from happening. I guess you could call it a wake up call to my reality, the reality of a past that wasn’t great and that led to me having Dissociative Identity Disorder.

So I have tried to take more me time in recent weeks, I’ve been more gentle with myself. I have given myself time to think, to reflect and to deal with triggers as they appear. I faced a similar judgemental trigger last week and I realised straight away what it was, I just couldn’t stop my reactions or my tears.

I’m aware that I feel more sensitive and I have needed to accept I will be crying more often, to let out this mix of emotions racing around inside of me. I have sought advice about the upcoming psychiatrist appointment my first in a while, and I will be attending now. I’m no longer going alone though, I’m taking a relative to help support me and I have prepared a list of things I want from it and that I want to say.

I’ve been empowered to attend and take control of the appointment, so I aim to tell them I fear being judged before they start. You see I can either go in all meek and mild and let them control what is in effect my time or I can seize charge of this time. I’m not going to be bossy but I will be assertive, I will explain my condition and I will tell them that I fear they will make wrong assumptions. I also will tell them I know me better than anyone and all I can hope is that they respect what I say, if they don’t I have a right to challenge wrong assumptions.

I am afraid of the appointment but I’m also afraid of my past and I need overtime to stop this, my past has no right to control my life now. I’m slowly learning about the psychological theory behind my triggers, why they happen and what is going on in my brain. I’m finding ways to start to challenge this past as is hurtles into my life here and now, I realise in time I will hopefully manage to stop the past controlling how I react today.

My appointment is next week, I will let you know how it all goes though I do feel better equipped than I ever have to attend such an appointment. I guess that’s a sign of progress in itself, I just need to remind myself of that fact, especially as the appointment approaches and the panic sets in as it undoubtedly will.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Therapy – what a difference 18 months makes

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This week marks the half way point for my therapy, well it’s half way through the agreed three years of funding. I sat in therapy on Monday and thought about how I feel at being at this point, after all when I first started therapy I had so many ideas of what it would be like. In fact I had ideas of what I wanted to achieve and it’s been weird really to see were I am now.
My concept of successful therapy has been changed and the possibilities that have been opened up have grown as we have progressed. When I first began treatment with my psychologist I had previously seen a psychotherapist, she had basically helped me to regurgitate my trauma. She did understand D.I.D. which made a change from other professionals I had encountered. However we had not really moved forward, we still had 24 hour care and I had no internal communication of any kind.
So when I started with my psychologist what I really wanted was to move forward, to just be less chaotic in my life. I thought I had to work through all my trauma in order to progress and to remember absolutely everything that has been hidden for so long. Well 18 months make a huge difference to attitudes, to beliefs and it’s made a huge difference to me as a person.

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I can so recall that first session when my psychologist told me that he had no magic cure, that he only saw me for 1 hour a week and that meant I had to work hard on my own the other 167 hours. I thought he was a bit forward and well I sat and thought I didn’t expect a magic cure, I knew I wanted to make it work so of course I knew that I would work hard.
I spent a few months trying desperately to check that I was working hard, that professionals knew I was trying my hardest – I guess that was my insecurity playing out. I didn’t believe that talking to myself, my alters, would make any difference and it sounded stupid and yet it’s being transforming. I soon began to realise the psychologist didn’t treat me like I was unequal, I didn’t feel like a patient in fact it’s often felt like I’m visiting someone who is an acquaintance or maybe a friend as we sit and have a brew and chat away as equals – I like that.
I think the first six months I was basically building up trust, that’s been hard for me and yet I did find myself being able to do the things suggested without much difficulty. I could say if it wasn’t going well and we rarely went into trauma, well not in any depth and that felt ok at the time. In fact I was afraid to discuss trauma and I was quite bothered about venturing onto that stage of therapy.

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Six months in and I realised I knew more about myself than ever, I realised I had low self esteem, a lot of negativity and lots of issues with my own self confidence and self belief. In fact I realised that because of my childhood I had so much learning and developing to do and I began to see that there were many things I had never done. When paddling was suggested I thought it was daft and I can so recall how it felt as we spoke about it, but I began to consider it and thought maybe just maybe I can do this. That’s why exactly a year ago I ventured to the beach and splashed around like a child, self talk however weird it felt was helping me establish links with my alters and so one of them helped me on that day.

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Building sand castles soon followed, painting and art became more regular, cartoons became a regular daily feature of my life and we even managed to have a barbecue picnic. I realised fun was a great way to get in touch with the alters; the other parts of me and I learnt giving them time was helpful to all of me. But with the fun times came the grief, that grief of knowing what I had missed and of starting to accept the trauma and the emotions that my alters carry.
We then began to do more stabilisation, so more progress with internal dialogue and understanding the alters better. I started to challenge myself when I was critical of myself and in sessions were before my psychologist would counter my negativity, now I was doing it myself. I think there was a period were I was dreading discussing trauma, dreading if I couldn’t cope and feeling afraid of it. But I guess my psychologist realised that and I was helped to feel assured and less bothered by it. In fact letting my tears flow in the sessions was hard back then, I have always find it hard to express my feelings. It has over time though got easier and now there are times I feel like a tearful wreck.
In the past six months I have continued to learn things about myself and I have continued to grow and develop, when I felt bothered by a session I was slightly surprised I felt comfortable to actually say – but I did. It was more than ok though, my psychologist was truly helpful at reassuring me. I realise that were as before I might have reacted very differently to such situations I am now able to think more rationally about things as I’m less impulsive, well except when it comes to booking treats which I do far more often – that’s because I now believe I’m worth it.
My ability to interact with other medical professionals has improved as I no longer see myself as insecure and lesser somehow, I feel I have a right to be an equal and to be treated as such. I can sit through a CPA without storming out in frustration and my adolescent part is now able to respond in a far better way. I am losing less time which is amazing and I’m learning so much more about myself and my skills and abilities.

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Half way through and I’m totally amazed by how different I am, in fact others now see that difference too and practically I need less care. I am able to understand myself far more, understand the complexities of D.I.D and the things I need to do to make life less of a challenge. This week I even realised that I have skills and abilities I never realised were there, I cooked Sunday lunch last weekend for my family and yet a few months ago I couldn’t poach an egg without dissociating and losing time. That marks progress in a practical way, but there has also been progress on another level too in that I can cope far more with things that life throws at me, I cope better with flashbacks, thoughts of self harming, attacks of negativity and self doubt and I know I can cope better with the trauma too.

I realise that I don’t need to recall or process all the trauma, just enough and I can work with and accept these memories are mine- they are just carried by the alters. I also see that progress is possible in fact it’s evident already. I can see that life is moving forward, there is less chaos, I am growing as a person and that is far more than I ever imagined would be possible.
I still have much work to do and yes there are times when it’s hard and that it feels way too much, there are times when I feel I can’t cope but somehow I do. Most of all I now realise having D.I.D whilst it is a challenge each day is manageable, it is possible to live with this condition and the impact of my abuse – to have a life – now I never thought that I would be saying that, especially at the half way point.

 

copyright DID Disptaches 2015

When the tears won’t come 

 

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This week I had a tough therapy session focused on processing some baggage from my past, yet despite trying to face up to the difficulties of my past the tears were not that evident. Now I did get a little emotional, but the full force of the anguish evoked by the grieving process as I recalled memories from the past just didn’t come through. I really felt the tears were just on the edge and so as I left my session I did expect them to start flowing, but they didn’t come.

I had a couple of jobs I needed to do and well tears at that time would have been an inconvenience and a little awkward. I think I was trying to stem the tide and so focused on the tasks in hand and blocked any emotions, by the time I was nearly home still no tears had come. I felt awful I was deeply saddened by the mis-mash of feelings whizzing around inside, feelings of sadness, hurt and a deep anguish that was wrenching at my heart. Yet for whatever reason when I had time the tears still didn’t come and so at home with a PA in place I couldn’t just hide and let go.

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At home instead I tried to keep busy, I tried to push on and well I couldn’t cry in front of my new PA after all what would she think. I longed for her to leave, I longed for time to grieve and oh did I want to grieve. In fact I knew that grieving was exactly what I needed to do, you see remembering the horrors of the past, knowing it’s true, yet again seals in my mind that I can’t deny I was abused. I so wish my abuse hadn’t happened and I so wish I could deny that it did, but the more I recall the more I realise I can no longer pretend this didn’t happen to me.

I spent the majority of the day trying to carry on, being stoical if you like and putting on a brave face, yet inside there was a deep hurting that so needed to be expressed. When I was alone I truly thought the tears would flow and yet they didn’t come, I talked internally, I tried hard to reassure all of me that we could grieve and it was ok to do so, yet tears remained absent. It wasn’t like I didn’t need to cry in fact I felt as if they were just there on the edge waiting to flow at any second, except they didn’t flow, they didn’t come.

That night I went to bed early snuggled up under my pillow fort, my hope was the tears would come finally and at last they’d flow, but in the end I fell asleep and still I hadn’t cried.  The days since then have taken a similar path I have felt like they are just there on the edge but then they disappear. I have let out the odd few tears, just a few seconds here and there but not enough to really let go of the feelings deep within. The feelings of anguish and grief that so need to burst forth seem to be having trouble being expressed, it’s often as if the dam is about to burst and I think I will cry uncontrollably, that it then simply dissipates away.

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Last night I thought it’s coming, at last I can rid myself of the desperate anguish trapped inside, but somehow I stopped those tears once again. When I feel like it’s ok to cry something happens and I need to stop myself, be it a phone call or a person walking into the room. I know I need to cry, I know part of me is worried about doing that and I know they are scared they have upset me. I’ve tried to reassure them and myself that crying is actually ok, that crying is an acceptable and appropriate response to have. Yet somehow the message isn’t getting through loudly enough and so I’m grieving in silence and I’m grieving without tears.

I know I need to grieve, it hurts to think this abuse happened to me, to know it wasn’t my fault and that I did all I could to stay safe. I know for a long time I used to think this wasn’t me, the abuse it happened to an alter not me. You see I truly felt no emotion, I had so limited a recall of that time, that in my mind the abuse didn’t happen to me. But as the amnesic barriers come down the emotions of that time are making themselves known to me, and now I realise that this, this abuse it happened to me. To come to terms with that is so hard, it’s so hard to grasp and so hard to take in fully after all I’d so rather it wasn’t the case.

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Accepting the past isn’t easy, accepting I can challenge those ingrained beliefs that crying isn’t something I’m allowed to do is equally as hard. Yet I know I need to do both and I know I so need to cry, to grieve, to let go of the emotions of the past and the anguish it evokes. But knowing and doing are two very different things and right now it seems doing is something I’m finding difficulty with.

Now I know at some point the tears will come, probably when I’m least expecting them and most likely at an inconvenient time. Yet I know they will flow it’s just right now that seems an impossibility  and so I’m left trying to find a way forward that allows me to accept and deal with these feelings inside. I’m left trying to accept that I need to not block my feelings or my tears anymore because when I do I end up in this predicament, when I so wish I could cry but the tears won’t come.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Learning more about one of my little me’s

Understanding how to parent myself better

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This week I’ve been thinking about the differences between some of my alters and what the characteristics they have tell me about my past. I am always conscious that my alters are parts of me, just these parts are fragmented from adult me by the nature of dissociation. I am learning as I continue to utilise internal dialogue more and more about these parts of myself and at times it makes me realise just what my life was like in the past. For whilst I still have amnesia of some parts of my life I am slowly realising what it was like back then through the character traits and emotions carried by my alters.

I have one little alter  who is probably aged around 5 or 6 she initially seemed quite upfront, forward, chatty and cheeky. I used to think she was super confident as she would speak loudly compared to the other parts and she let me know when she was around. There were times when she would find sharing cartoon time difficult and she would appear to be more precocious than other parts.  But these were my initial thoughts build over a few months of internal dialogue and sometimes being co-aware or as I call it side by side. Times when I would find myself watching as she was in control of this body we share, times when I didn’t lose time but didn’t have control either.

Then as time progressed and internal dialogue continued I began to notice little repetitive issues that I could see were part of her character. For instance if I made a mistake she’d tell me I was silly, pointing out the things I did wrong seemed to be a regular occurrence. I would then point out this wasn’t nice or that she was being cheeky and suddenly I could feel her fear, but this wasn’t normal fear.

Her fear was palpable it was so strong and I would feel like I was trembling inside, she would start  to apologise but in an over the top way. She became timid, so willing to please and seemed desperate to know I wasn’t cross. She’d often be filling my head with noise, begging forgiveness for being a naughty girl and saying she didn’t mean to be naughty. Of course I’d do all I could to reassure her, tell her she wasn’t in any trouble and that reassurance would have to be repeated many times. She was then often quiet and withdrawn and I’d not sense her around for quite a while afterwards.

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She would often be bothered if I was upset again displaying fearfulness and if I didn’t sense my teen part for a few days she would ask me to check she was okay. She gradually seemed happier with sharing time and activities and toys, always checking though that she wasn’t being bad afterwards. It was as if she needed to know that she wasn’t getting things wrong as that seemed to really concern her. If she thought other people in the external world were upset or angry with us that would really bother her too.

As time progressed I began to realise that her precociousness is just her being a typical little girl and I also realised her fear was genuine terror filled fear and its origin stems from our past. I now find myself offering reassurance to her at regular intervals, letting her know things are safe and okay. I try hard to encourage this part of me, trying to build up confidence and personal skills, such as her assertiveness and sharing skills. She is slowly learning to help me cook; she can make brilliant toast, she is learning she can share safely and that its okay to show feelings. Hence when I’m upset or another part is thats not a danger, it’s just us expressing our emotions.

I learnt this week in psychology that her negativity is deep within and it’s something I struggle with too, in fact I often put myself down. I have a low self worth so it’s no wonder she is saying similar things, she is repeating the behaviours she observes in me.  As my psychologist said yesterday its time I practice what I preach, I need to stop making disparaging remarks about myself if I want her too.

I also need to think of better ways to respond to her instead of creating increased anxiety and fear, I need to think of better ways to parent myself. In the future when she puts me down or says a disparaging remark its important how I respond. The same applies to when she is cheeky and perhaps a little too forward because if I create fear in her I’m not parenting myself well. So currently I’m trying to learn to respond differently to her but it is a steep learning curve for me and so I expect this will be a case of not always getting it right. This morning when she puts us down I stopped myself from saying ‘that wasn’t nice’ and instead said ‘ why do you think that’ as conversation ensued it became clear she things she’s silly and stupid too. I spent time reassuring her she isn’t and pointing out her good qualities.

My little me is frightened little girl who is confused and unsure about the world around her, that can only stem from our past. My job now is to counteract those negatives and build up all of me to be collectively the person we had the potential to be, had we been given the right parenting and care. I can’t change the past but I can change me going forward, so I guess it’s time I did practice what I preach to my alters and stop putting myself down too.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

 

 

 

Its not easy being me 

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Sometimes it’s not easy having DIssociative Identity Disorder, or being a survivor of child abuse and there are times when you just wish life was different, that it was somehow that little bit easier to deal with. I have been trying to collate data from my old medical records in recent weeks and that has involved trawling through case notes one page at a time. Reading some of the information about myself has not been easy, especially when it relates back to the time I was most unwell.

As part of this work I came across some old psychological assessments and they both perplexed and upset me, there in stark print was the assumptions of one clinically qualified person. I felt annoyed when I first read the document, was I really as bonkers as the report seemed to imply and if so why. I took the report to my psychology session today in the hope of gaining a better perspective and in truth I gained from doing so.

I found out that much of what had been written about me was accurate, the tests used are good tests to analyse someone psychologically and most of all its a fairly accurate assumption of me, my traits, my personality and my deficits. The tests were not designed to describe positive characteristics like kind or caring, instead they are meant to identify those things I find difficult, being avoidant or overly compliant for example. Talking it over in my session I felt tearful, but like I often do I batted away the tears and carried on in my non emotional manner. Except this time it hurt for me to do that and I was much more conscious of doing this, this act of blocking feelings, this act of suppressing my tears.

I had a logical reason to block things, I’d gone with a list of issues I wanted to discuss and I felt I needed to get through the list, not get sidetracked by emotions. But as I travelled home my tears began to flow, I couldn’t stop them in fact it felt like I was never going to stop crying, but of course I did eventually. I realised that I wasn’t crying because I am someone who is overly compliant or a person who has clearly got a plethora of psychological traits that are negative, I was crying with grief. Grief at what an impact the past has had upon me, you see I can sit and read this report and understand why I do the various things it states I am more likely to do, than your average person.

I am overly compliant for example because I lived in fear as a child and I learnt it was safest to comply with the demands of my abusers. I’m someone who has a low view of herself because for years I was told daily what a pathetic child I was. I fear people thinking I’m bad or no good because as a child I was told the fact I got hurt was because I was bad. These traits are basically the psychological legacy of being abused, neglected and hurt.

Yet I also knew the tears related to my fear that I’m bonkers, and I began to think why am I fearful about this, then it kind of all made sense. You see as a child when I was first referred to psychological therapies I was terrified, the fear then was as a result of being told it was because I was mad, which was all my fault and if I didn’t improve they’d lock me away. Mad people get locked away was a mantra I learnt so much as a young adolescent. My brothers had previously seen psychological services and I was informed it would make me be just like them, except my brother was an abuser, he was the last person I wanted to be like. So confused I remained terrified of the child psychologist for years and in my adulthood when things did get worse, I ended up hospitalised and I was demonised by some staff who I encountered. Staff who failed to understand me, or the reasons I was unwell. These negative messages had a big impact upon me which was aided by the negative put downs of my mother and brother who still had contact with me at that time.

My fear I guess is that if I’m bonkers, or more to the point if people think I’m bonkers will I get locked away, will I become like my brother the person I fought desperately to not be like. So the tears I cried today were tears of grief at the fact I do have a number of personality traits as a result of the damage inflicted upon me as a child. Plus I worry that I will be viewed in a way that isn’t fair or true, and that people will not understand but instead judge and berate me as happened in the past. But most of all the past infiltrated my present when the fear of being just like my abusers filled me with dread.

I know it was wrong today to stifle those tears of mine, I should have let them flow inside the therapy room where I could work on resolving issues. Instead by blocking them I now face them at home and the fears that I held for a thousand days or more come flooding back.

I’m trying hard to tell myself it’s ok to grieve, it’s ok to have these traits because many people do and it’s not my fault. I’m trying hard to remind myself that I’m not bonkers just because I have some issues, I’m not mad or bad, just me. These traits don’t make me like my abusers, in fact I’m anything but like them and I succeeded in breaking the cycle of abuse that often infiltrates families generation after generation. I broke those chains I didn’t become an abuser, I chose to walk the right path.

It’s often a painful journey trying to work through the damage that has been left, my traits including having a Borderline personality disorder are part of that damage. I know I need to talk through the feelings I encountered today, to talk through the reasons I think they came to the fore and my fear of being a bit bonkers or skewed in some way. I also know I need to face the grieving that I have to do in time, my childhood wasn’t perfect it’s left a painful and difficult legacy. I’m determined to find my way forward to overcome as many of these traits and difficulties as I can, to break free from them in time. But today if you see me crying please understand, it’s not easy being me sometimes.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Returning to my roots

Things often catch you unaware and yesterday was no exception, I travelled along a road I have been on many many times before and yet it caused a shiver to run down my spine as the past collided with the present. Something had changed, something so simple and yet so significant that it’s impact upon me was huge. Building work has exposed a dwelling I once lived in and that building holds a place in my life which I’d rather had never happened.

This weekend as memories flooded back and I felt that shiver run down my spine, I knew instantly what it was about and yet I felt helpless to deal with it. I think it hit me hard because I really wasn’t  expecting the emotions I had encountered and I wasn’t aware the building work was going on. It was also a surprise because I’ve recently dealt with this particular building in therapy and yet I realise now there’s clearly more to confront about the time I lived there.

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You see I returned to my roots at the weekend this is not an unusual thing for me to do, I try and visit quite often as I have both friends and relatives still living in the area. People I choose to visit and stay in touch with, and who in general know about my past, my childhood and the abuse. But this area is also were some of my abusers reside and as you can imagine I do not wish to meet these people at all. It’s odd to go back knowing there is always a master plan in place in case we meet those we’d rather not, an escape route and plan of action if you like.

I restrict were we go, choose routes carefully and plan ahead always and I limit going alone, in fact I tend to rarely go there on my own. I avoid the area near my abusers homes and places where I think they might go, that does restrict us but my priority is and always will be safety. I also avoid driving past any of the homes I have been abused in, I might get close at times but never past. Part of my thinking has been that these houses hold memories and therefore triggers, so avoiding is clearly the most sensible option. So when I passed along the road close to a house, it was a surprise to see it far more exposed and visible than I expected.

That shiver I spoke of earlier ran deep and instantly memories came flooding by, but most of all came a ache of deep anguish. Anguish and hurt the result of the events of the time I lived there, of the abuse I endured and of what that house means for me. My mind instantly remembered a little girl sitting on a wall posing for the camera, a sibling by my side and also an abuser.

 

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I calmed my thoughts as best I could, tried to reassure internally and tell myself we were safe and ok, but I could feel the tears welling up inside me. You see I have many memories of my childhood abuse now, but this house holds a specific point in all of them. It’s a house that exists in a small northern city at the corner of a two terraced streets, and to all who pass by it seems so unassuming, so normal. But to me it’s anything but normal, it means so much to me, I can still visually walk around that house, see the faces of the people of that time.

You might think well why go there, why visit, but it’s simple if I ran away from all the houses I have lived, all the places I was abused I let the past win, I want to be free of my past, well at least the heavy painful burden it holds over me so I can’t hide forever. I can take precautions and safety measure which is what I already do but I can’t stop going there, it isn’t something I’m willing to do.

But passing this house was tough it wasn’t easy at all, in fact it has caused a whole host of emotions to race through me in the last 36 hours.

The house we saw, holds a pivotal point in my childhood, its not full of loving memories instead it’s hurt and pain I recall there.  You see it is in this house that I have my first full memory of being abused as a child, that moment when I guess I stopped being an adorable, loved little girl and became an object to be used. Now I know I can’t be certain other abuse didn’t happen before then, but I just don’t recall it and I can’t be certain I was loved prior to that date either. In fact if I’m honest it’s most likely I wasn’t loved or adorable in the way I hope but I was innocent, and to me it was that innocence that was robbed from me in that place.

 

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Moving forward from this point will be a toughie, I need to reassure the other parts of me and let everyone know we are safe. I need to ensure that I don’t let the past take over or let it ruin my present either, instead I need to deal with my emotions and the feelings evoked by this latest encounter with these memories. Most of all though I need to find a way of moving forward so that I can learn to pass along that road again and nor dissolve in the way I did. I guess it’s a case of accepting it’s just a house, bricks and mortar, walls and windows, the memories it holds live in my head not in the fabric of the building. I can choose how I let those memories affect me, whether I let them control me or not. I guess that’s part of the ongoing trauma work I’m doing, so this past weekends event will need to be processed and dealt with at some point.

If I have learnt one thing this weekend it’s that just because I think I’ve dealt with something that doesn’t mean all of me agree. That’s just another part of living with Dissociative Identity Disorder that I’m slowly uncovering, another part that surprises me and confuses me all at the same time. No one said this was a easy journey to make and I guess I learning that but having DID is a part of who I am, and my job now is to learn to live as a multiple more effectively.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

2 envelopes 8 years apart – from suicidal to survivor mum 

Trigger warning : please exercise self care. 

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This week I came upon an envelope, on the outside were handwritten instructions of desired funeral arrangements and the envelope was addressed to three young teenagers. Shaking I gripped hold of this envelope as thoughts raced through my mind. Was it wrong to read it, would it stir up memories and emotions I wouldn’t be able to deal with or was it best to leave this well alone. Yet as I sat transfixed my eyes focused on this emotional heartfelt letter I knew what I needed to do, it was time I read the words that I once had written to my own three dear children.

As I carefully unsealed the envelope I examined every word written on the outside, it hit me that these were my funeral plans, plans I had at one time felt so vital to record on paper. I hadn’t wanted my children to have to make those difficult choices so I told them simply what I would like. The letter was long, it started with an apology, and those familiar words of I love you, I am sure many people will never understand the thoughts that raced through my head when I had written this letter, but 8 years ago when I wrote it I didn’t feel like I could survive.

You see back then my trauma, my past were destroying me and I felt I could take no more, the turmoil and anguish I felt were basically consuming me. Each day was a torment, painful and soul destroying, it felt like I was being abused over and over again, as the flashbacks consumed every minute of every day. If not the actual flashback, the fallout from them filled every day and I couldn’t take anymore of this anguish. I can recall the feelings of desolation I had felt at that time, and then the decision which seemed like a rational, sensible one to me was made. I’d end my suffering, I’d end everyone’s suffering and instead of being the nuisance to my family; that I felt I was, I’d give them a fresh start. They wouldn’t have to worry about me anymore, they wouldn’t have to watch me being consumed by the past or see my torment; which was the result of my memories. Suicide I had felt gave me the best solution, best for me and most certainly best for my children.

That was my mind set the day I wrote lovingly to my children, fast forward 8 years and here I was sitting with this letter I had written them. I digested every line, each word and I sensed the anguish and the torment I had been in when I wrote to them. It seemed somehow to seep out from within the pages, it was palpable and so clearly evident that I was suffering. I recorded the distinguishing traits of each one of the children, the things that made me proud and their individual strengths. I told each one how much I loved them and why this was the best outcome for them. I apologised numerous times for all the pain I had caused them and how I just wanted to make things right for them and I  begged for their forgiveness. By the time I had finished reading it all, tears streamed down my face and my body was shaking as I sobbed and sobbed uncontrollably.

You see I know how close I had come, how close I was at that point to no longer being here with them. I had planned so much, it wouldn’t go wrong and yet somehow it did and somehow I’m still here looking back retrospectively at that dark time. No longer in that dark unforgiving place, that once overwhelmed me and made life seem impossible to live.

I couldn’t help think of all the things we had done as a family since that time, all the highs and the lows. This was written before my stay in forensic psychiatric care, before my being sectioned under the mental health act. But it was also before any of them had graduated, before I even began to study for my degree and before they had celebrated milestone birthdays. There is so much we have done since that time, so much I so nearly missed out on.

I have had the joy of watching these teenagers grow into amazing adults, seeing them all receive their degrees and feeling such motherly pride as they did. We have shared so many Christmases, birthdays and holidays together, things that I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on. I’ve enjoyed learning to have fun, to laugh at myself especially when I splash in the sea and I now gaze in awesome wonder at the beauty that I see in this world all around me. I appreciate it from a different viewpoint today, as I see things from the perspective of my little parts of me.

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But when I wrote that letter I didn’t see any light, I didn’t see any hope, just pain and I thought it was best for us all for me to not be here. Now looking back I see that whilst it hasn’t been an easy journey and I have a long way still to go, I’m aware that I’m stronger than I ever believed was possible. I’m now aware that you can with the right help overcome those dark days, learn to live with the pain of the past and carve a new way forward. I’m learning the skills I need to cope with my life, with the damage that was once done to me.

Looking back isn’t easy, but it was important to do, it reminded me of how far I’ve come and of how much I have achieved. It’s allowed me to reflect and be glad that I’m still here, that I can tomorrow open other envelopes this time address to me and not my children. These envelopes will contain cards to celebrate Mother’s Day and I have no doubt that I will cry with joy as my wonderful children’s card tell me how much they love me.

Their words mean so much to me, because they know how close I came to not being here, they know we so nearly didn’t have this day. They have been through this nightmare with me and we have had to rebuild our relationships after the prolonged periods of my hospitalisation. I’ve kept the letter I wrote it’s hidden away in a box, I think one day when my treatments over I will burn it, till then it’s there and it’s my reminder of a time that once was desolate but now has beams of hope shining through it.

If I could have written to myself back then, it would have said quite simply ‘hang in there, it’s not going to be easy but you will get through this, you will get the help you need one day. Most of all you have a future, you will laugh again and even when you cry that’s ok, because often they will be tears of joy and of motherly pride.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015