It was a Friday night, mid-April of this year. Floating in on a cool breeze from the open window above my desk, the fragrant scent of springtime bulbs attacked my senses. Dampness seeped through the sill off the California Lilac hedge from the rain that had just stopped. I had just finished another step closer to getting Stage 1 of my website up and running. My iPhone played its ‘new message’ tune. With that text message, my summer disappeared. The details faded and everything felt surreal.
Weeks earlier, a new friend became a part of our life. Our histories paralleled in uncanny ways and it was wonderful to have this platonic friendship. His childhood mirrored mine with abuse, though I spoke little to him about the details.
His text message said he hadn’t had sex with his wife for the past 30 years. Yep, the line. Not only did it upset me, but it also triggered us. I have Dissociative Identity Disorder. The DSM-IV criteria for DID can be found from my page, The Medical. My system dove into a tailspin causing me, Lisa, to leave, for the better part of the summer. Gone were the days of our great conversation. Now, everything we discussed had sexual innuendos. He told me I had beautiful breasts and talked of the latest porn sites he had visited. More than once, I vomited over the images his new topics had brought up.
I haven’t talked to a woman, yet, who hasn’t experienced some form of this line in her life. I wasn’t as much surprised, as I was disappointed. In the time it takes a text message to transpire, my happiness turned into a lie with potential ultimatums full of deceit and hurt.
In early August, I mentioned to my doctor the weather had been horrid all summer. One day would be hot then followed by three days of rain. She informed me we hadn’t had a drop of rain all summer, it’d been hot and humid and we’ve been fighting forest fires for the past three months.
I felt sucker punched. After 27 years of knowing I switch and lose time, from Dissociative Identity Disorder, it is still a shock to me when it happens. I’ve worked my website, social media, and computer programming this summer. However, I also know I let my “friend” trigger one of my parts into responding to his sexual by-play.
Control. I’ve spent years in therapies dealing with control issues, in fact, once, in a residential women’s treatment facility for addictions, my entire focus was control, yet, I left having no clue what that meant for me. Until I learned, I was multiple, months later.
Multiplicity is all about control. As child victims, we split into other inside people (alters) to control any potential harm to ourselves; we control the majority of us from feeling pain. As survivors in therapy, we try to control our sessions —who will speak and when. What will be revealed and when. Who will be in therapy that day. In the outside world, we fight to stay in control when speaking to others, pushing our inside people away.
Initially, we don’t want to be multiple as its enormity is overwhelming. We threaten and sometimes hurt our alters by self-harming. Then we reach a point where we are relieved we had the creativity and intelligence to create inside people and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), even though we had no idea what we were doing, because we know we would not have survived any other way.
I’ve spent the past few weeks reorienting myself to the here and now. I’ve tried to understand why that part of me had to do her job, as she had been dormant for quite a while. Moreover, I’ve taken responsibility for my role in the situation. It’s an important lesson for all of us to remember our parts need to come out in safe, healthy ways. We need to remember like us, our alters have needs and keeping them locked away will cause them to take executive control at the first opportunity. We need to listen to the inner cues and act upon them in healthy ways.
It is for them we owe our health, sanity and our lives. Our alters took the brunt of the abuse when we couldn’t and now, 50 odd years later, it is up to us to give them a chance at life. They can come out and feel the cool air on a fall day, the warm sun upon their faces and the sharp tang of snow in the air. These are simple things we can let them have. If you think about it, and be honest with yourself, I wonder if you, too, will agree your alters need safe time out. Are you meeting their needs?
When the last time you let your kid alters play, your teenagers do a craft, your adult alters paint, write, or anything they want to do, that you don’t want to.
The next time you have the urge to color, swing on a swing, play with your daughter’s dolls or go crabbing on a beach, do it – you could be making an insider happy, in turn saving yourself a trigger that could take precious time away from you.
…Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing~ Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.