For, what is order without common sense, but Bedlam’s front parlor? What is imagination without common sense, but the aspiration to out-dandy Beau Brummell with nothing but a bit of faded muslin and a limp cravat? What is Creation without common sense, but a scandalous thing without form or function, like a matron with half a dozen unattached daughters?And God looked upon the Creation in all its delightful multiplicity, and saw that, all in all, it was quite Amiable.
I spent most of my life trying to specialize myself. I went to theater school, film school, music school, mime school ... Finally, I was able to gather enough knowledge to build the confidence to create my own work, that goes utterly against the sense of specialization.
A kind of northing is what I wish to accomplish, a single-minded trek towards that place where any shutter left open to the zenith at night will record the wheeling of all the sky’s stars as a pattern of perfect, concentric circles. I seek a reduction, a shedding, a sloughing off. At the seashore you often see a shell, or fragment of a shell, that sharp sands and surf have thinned to a wisp. There is no way you can tell what kind of shell it had been, what creature it had housed; it could have been a whelk or a scallop, a cowrie, limpet, or conch. The animal is long since dissolved, and its blood spread and thinned in the general sea. All you hold in your hand is a cool shred of shell, an inch long, pared so thin that it passes a faint pink light. It is an essence, a smooth condensation of the air, a curve. I long for the North where unimpeded winds would hone me to such a pure slip of bone. But I’ll not go northing this year. I’ll stalk that floating pole and frigid air by waiting here. I wait on bridges; I wait, struck, on forest paths and meadow’s fringes, hilltops and banksides, day in and day out, and I receive a southing as a gift. The North washes down the mountains like a waterfall, like a tidal wave, and pours across the valley; it comes to me. It sweetens the persimmons and numbs the last of the crickets and hornets; it fans the flames of the forest maples, bows the meadow’s seeded grasses and pokes it chilling fingers under the leaf litter, thrusting the springtails and the earthworms deeper into the earth. The sun heaves to the south by day, and at night wild Orion emerges looming like the Specter over Dead Man Mountain. Something is already here, and more is coming.
I have often noticed that these things, which obsess me, neither bother nor impress other people even slightly. I am horribly apt to approach some innocent at a gathering, and like the ancient mariner, fix him with a wild, glitt’ring eye and say, “Do you know that in the head of the caterpillar of the ordinary goat moth there are two hundred twenty-eight separate muscles?” The poor wretch flees. I am not making chatter; I mean to change his life.
All at once, something wonderful happened, although at first, it seemed perfectly ordinary. A female goldfinch suddenly hove into view. She lighted weightlessly on the head of a bankside purple thistle and began emptying the seedcase, sowing the air with down. The lighted frame of my window filled. The down rose and spread in all directions, wafting over the dam’s waterfall and wavering between the tulip trunks and into the meadow. It vaulted towards the orchard in a puff; it hovered over the ripening pawpaw fruit and staggered up the steep faced terrace. It jerked, floated, rolled, veered, swayed. The thistle down faltered down toward the cottage and gusted clear to the woods; it rose and entered the shaggy arms of pecans. At last it strayed like snow, blind and sweet, into the pool of the creek upstream, and into the race of the creek over rocks down. It shuddered onto the tips of growing grasses, where it poised, light, still wracked by errant quivers. I was holding my breath. Is this where we live, I thought, in this place in this moment, with the air so light and wild? The same fixity that collapses stars and drives the mantis to devour her mate eased these creatures together before my eyes: the thick adept bill of the goldfinch, and the feathery coded down. How could anything be amiss? If I myself were lighter and frayed, I could ride these small winds, too, taking my chances, for the pleasure of being so purely played. The thistle is part of Adam’s curse. “Cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.” A terrible curse: But does the goldfinch eat thorny sorrow with the thistle or do I? If this furling air is fallen, then the fall was happy indeed. If this creekside garden is sorrow, then I seek martyrdom. I was weightless; my bones were taut skins blown with buoyant gas; it seemed that if I inhaled too deeply, my shoulders and head would waft off. Alleluia.
Today is the winter solstice. The planet tilts just so to its star, lists and holds circling in a fixed tension between veering and longing, and spins helpless, exalted, in and out of that fleet blazing touch. Last night Orion vaulted and spread all over the sky, pagan and lunatic, his shoulder and knee on fire, his sword three suns at the ready-for what? I won’t see this year again, not again so innocent; and longing wrapped round my throat like a scarf. “For the Heavenly Father desires that we should see,” says Ruysbroeck, “and that is why He is ever saying to our inmost spirit one deep unfathomable word and nothing else.” But what is the word? Is this mystery or coyness? A cast-iron bell hung from the arch of my rib cage; when I stirred, it rang, or it tolled, a long syllable pulsing ripples up my lungs and down the gritty sap inside my bones, and I couldn’t make it out; I felt the voiced vowel like a sigh or a note but I couldn’t catch the consonant that shaped it into sense.
In the forty minutes I watched the muskrat, he never saw me, smelled me, or heard me at all. When he was in full view of course I never moved except to breathe. My eyes would move, too, following his, but he never noticed. Only once, when he was feeding from the opposite bank about eight feet away did he suddenly rise upright, all alert- and then he immediately resumed foraging. But he never knew I was there.I never knew I was there, either. For that forty minutes last night I was as purely sensitive and mute as a photographic plate; I received impressions, but I did not print out captions. My own self-awareness had disappeared; it seems now almost as though, had I been wired to electrodes, my EEG would have been flat. I have done this sort of thing so often that I have lost self-consciousness about moving slowly and halting suddenly. And I have often noticed that even a few minutes of this self-forgetfulness is tremendously invigorating. I wonder if we do not waste most of our energy just by spending every waking minute saying hello to ourselves. Martin Buber quotes an old Hasid master who said, “When you walk across the field with your mind pure and holy, then from all the stones, and all growing things, and all animals, the sparks of their souls come out and cling to you, and then they are purified and become a holy fire in you.
The color-patches of vision part, shift, and reform as I move through space in time. The present is the object of vision, and what I see before me at any given second is a full field of color patches scattered just so. The configuration will never be repeated. Living is moving; time is a live creek bearing changing lights. As I move, or as the world moves around me, the fullness of what I see shatters. “Last forever!” Who hasn’t prayed that prayer? You were lucky to get it in the first place. The present is a freely given canvas. That it is constantly being ripped apart and washed downstream goes without saying; it is a canvas, nevertheless. But there is more to the present than a series of snapshots. We are not merely sensitized film; we have feelings, a memory for information and an eidetic memory for the imagery of our pasts. Our layered consciousness is a tiered track for an unmatched assortment of concentrically wound reels. Each one plays out for all of life its dazzle and blur of translucent shadow-pictures; each one hums at every moment its own secret melody in its own unique key. We tune in and out. But moments are not lost. Time out of mind is time nevertheless, cumulative, informing the present. From even the deepest slumber you wake with a jolt- older, closer to death, and wiser, grateful for breath. But time is the one thing we have been given, and we have been given to time. Time gives us a whirl. We keep waking from a dream we can’t recall, looking around in surprise, and lapsing back, for years on end. All I want to do is stay awake, keep my head up, prop my eyes open, with toothpicks, with trees.
Xerxes, I read, ‘halted his unwieldy army for days that he might contemplate to his satisfaction’ the beauty of a single sycamore. You are Xerxes in Persia. Your army spreads on a vast and arid peneplain…you call to you all your sad captains, and give the order to halt. You have seen the tree with the lights in it, haven’t you? You must have. Xerxes buffeted on a plain, ambition drained in a puff. Your men are bewildered…there is nothing to catch the eye in this flatness, nothing but a hollow, hammering sky, a waste of sedge in the lee of windblown rocks, a meager ribbon of scrub willow tracing a slumbering watercourse…and that sycamore. You saw it; you will stand rapt and mute, exalted, remembering or not remembering over a period of days to shade your head with your robe. “He had its form wrought upon a medal of gold to help him remember it the rest of his life.” We all ought to have a goldsmith following us around. But it goes without saying, doesn’t it, Xerxes, that no gold medal worn around your neck will bring back the glad hour, keep those lights kindled so long as you live, forever present? Pascal saw it; he grabbed pen and paper and scrawled the one word, and wore it sewn in his shirt the rest of his life. I don’t know what Pascal saw. I saw a cedar. Xerxes saw a sycamore.
And under the cicadas, deeper down that the longest taproot, between and beneath the rounded black rocks and slanting slabs of sandstone in the earth, ground water is creeping. Ground water seeps and slides, across and down, across and down, leaking from here to there, minutely at a rate of a mile a year. What a tug of waters goes on! There are flings and pulls in every direction at every moment. The world is a wild wrestle under the grass; earth shall be moved. What else is going on right this minute while ground water creeps under my feet? The galaxy is careening in a slow, muffled widening. If a million solar systems are born every hour, then surely hundreds burst into being as I shift my weight to the other elbow. The sun’s surface is now exploding; other stars implode and vanish, heavy and black, out of sight. Meteorites are arcing to earth invisibly all day long. On the planet, the winds are blowing: the polar easterlies, the westerlies, the northeast and southeast trades. Somewhere, someone under full sail is becalmed, in the horse latitudes, in the doldrums; in the northland, a trapper is maddened, crazed, by the eerie scent of the chinook, the sweater, a wind that can melt two feet of snow in a day. The pampero blows, and the tramontane, and the Boro, sirocco, levanter, mistral. Lick a finger; feel the now. Spring is seeping north, towards me and away from me, at sixteen miles a day. Along estuary banks of tidal rivers all over the world, snails in black clusters like currants are gliding up and down the stems of reed and sedge, migrating every moment with the dip and swing of tides. Behind me, Tinker Mountain is eroding one thousandth of an inch a year. The sharks I saw are roving up and down the coast. If the sharks cease roving, if they still their twist and rest for a moment, they die. They need new water pushed into their gills; they need dance. Somewhere east of me, on another continent, it is sunset, and starlings in breathtaking bands are winding high in the sky to their evening roost. The mantis egg cases are tied to the mock-orange hedge; within each case, within each egg, cells elongate, narrow, and split; cells bubble and curve inward, align, harden or hollow or stretch. And where are you now?
I want to think about trees. Trees have a curious relationship to the subject of the present moment. There are many created things in the universe that outlive us, that outlive the sun, even, but I can’t think about them. I live with trees. There are creatures under our feet, creatures that live over our heads, but trees live quite convincingly in the same filament of air we inhabit, and in addition, they extend impressively in both directions, up and down, shearing rock and fanning air, doing their real business just out of reach.
You are God. You want to make a forest, something to hold the soil, lock up energy, and give off oxygen. Wouldn’t it be simpler just to rough in a slab of chemicals, a green acre of goo? You are a man, a retired railroad worker who makes replicas as a hobby. You decide to make a replica of one tree, the longleaf pine your great-grandfather planted- just a replica- it doesn’t have to work. How are you going to do it? How long do you think you might live, how good is your glue? For one thing, you are going to have to dig a hole and stick your replica trunk halfway to China if you want the thing to stand up. Because you will have to work fairly big; if your replica is too small, you’ll be unable to handle the slender, three-sided needles, affix them in clusters of three in fascicles, and attach those laden fascicles to flexible twigs. The twigs themselves must be covered by “many silvery-white, fringed, long-spreading scales.” Are your pine cones’ scales “thin, flat, rounded at the apex?” When you loose the lashed copper wire trussing the limbs to the trunk, the whole tree collapses like an umbrella. You are a sculptor. You climb a great ladder; you pour grease all over a growing longleaf pine. Next, you build a hollow cylinder around the entire pine…and pour wet plaster over and inside the pine. Now open the walls, split the plaster, saw down the tree, remove it, discard, and your intricate sculpture is ready: this is the shape of part of the air. You are a chloroplast moving in water heaved one hundred feet above ground. Hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen in a ring around magnesium…you are evolution; you have only begun to make trees. You are god- are you tired? Finished?
Shadow is the blue patch where the light doesn’t hit. It is mystery itself, and mystery is the ancients’ ultima Thule, the modern explorer’s Point of Relative Inaccessibility, that boreal point most distant from all known lands. There the twin oceans of beauty and horror meet. The great glaciers are calving. Ice that sifted to earth as snow in the time of Christ shears from the pack with a roar and crumbles to water. It could be that our instruments have not looked deeply enough. The RNA deep in the mantis’s jaw is a beautiful ribbon. Did the crawling Polyphemus moth have in its watery heart one cell, and in that cell one special molecule, and that molecule one hydrogen atom, and round that atom’s nucleus one wild, distant electron that split showed a forest, swaying?
I was in no tent under leaves, sleepless and glad. There was no moon at all; along the world’s coasts the sea tides would be springing strong. The air itself also has lunar tides; I lay still. Could I feel in the air an invisible sweep and surge, and an answering knock in the lungs? Or could I feel the starlight? Every minute on a square mile of this land one ten thousandth of an ounce of starlight spatters to earth. What percentage of an ounce did that make on my eyes and cheeks and arms, tapping and nudging as particles, pulsing and stroking as waves?
It looked as though the leaves of the autumn forest had taken flight, and were pouring down the valley like a waterfall, like a tidal wave, all the leaves of the hardwoods from here to Hudson’s Bay. It was as if the season’s colors were draining away like lifeblood, as if the year were molting and shedding. The year was rolling down, and a vital curve had been reached, the tilt that gives way to headlong rush. And when the monarch butterflies had passed and were gone, the skies were vacant, the air poised. The dark night into which the year was plunging was not a sleep but an awakening, a new and necessary austerity, the sparer climate for which I longed. The shed trees were brittle and still, the creek light and cold, and my spirit holding its breath.
Those people who shoot endless time-lapse films of unfurling roses and tulips have the wrong idea. They should train their cameras instead on the melting of pack ice, the green filling of ponds, the tidal swings…They should film the glaciers of Greenland, some of which creak along at such a fast clip that even the dogs bark at them. They should film the invasion of the southernmost Canadian tundra by the northernmost spruce-fir forest, which is happening right now at the rate of a mile every 10 years. When the last ice sheet receded from the North American continent, the earth rebounded 10 feet. Wouldn’t that have been a sight to see?
Say you could view a time-lapse film of our planet: what would you see? Transparent images moving through light, “an infinite storm of beauty.”The beginning is swaddled in mists, blasted by random blinding flashes. Lava pours and cools; seas boil and flood. Clouds materialize and shift; now you can see the earth’s face through only random patches of clarity. The land shudders and splits, like pack ice rent by a widening lead. Mountains burst up, jutting and dull and soften before your eyes, clothed in forests like felt. The ice rolls up, grinding green land under water forever; the ice rolls back. Forests erupt and disappear like fairy rings. The ice rolls up-mountains are mowed into lakes, land rises wet from the sea like a surfacing whale- the ice rolls back.A blue-green streaks the highest ridges, a yellow-green spreads from the south like a wave up a strand. A red dye seems to leak from the north down the ridges and into the valleys, seeping south; a white follows the red, then yellow-green washes north, then red spreads again, then white, over and over, making patterns of color too swift and intricate to follow. Slow the film. You see dust storms, locusts, floods, in dizzying flash frames. Zero in on a well-watered shore and see smoke from fires drifting. Stone cities rise, spread, and then crumble, like patches of alpine blossoms that flourish for a day an inch above the permafrost, that iced earth no root can suck, and wither in a hour. New cities appear, and rivers sift silt onto their rooftops; more cities emerge and spread in lobes like lichen on rock. The great human figures of history, those intricate, spirited tissues that roamed the earth’s surface, are a wavering blur whose split second in the light was too brief an exposure to yield any images. The great herds of caribou pour into the valleys and trickle back, and pour, a brown fluid. Slow it down more, come closer still. A dot appears, like a flesh-flake. It swells like a balloon; it moves, circles, slows, and vanishes. This is your life.
Last year I had a very unusual experience. I was awake, with my eyes closed, when I had a dream. It was a small dream about time. I was dead, I guess, in deep blank space high up above many white stars. My own consciousness had been disclosed to me, and I was happy. Then I saw far below me a long, curved band of color. As I came closer, I saw that it stretched endlessly in either direction, and I understood that I was seeing all the time of the planet where I had lived. It looked like a woman’s tweed scarf; the longer I studied any one spot, the more dots of color I saw. There was no end to the deepness and variety of dots. At length I started to look for my time, but, although more and more specks of color and deeper and more intricate textures appeared in the fabric, I couldn’t find my time, or any time at all that I recognized as being near my time. I couldn’t make out so much as a pyramid. Yet as I looked at the band of time, all the individual people, I understood with special clarity, were living at that very moment with great emotion, in intricate, detail, in their individual times and places, and they were dying and being replaced by ever more people, one by one, like stitches in which wholly worlds of feeling and energy were wrapped in a never-ending cloth. I remembered suddenly the color and texture of our life as we knew it- these things had been utterly forgotten- and I thought as I searched for it on the limitless band, “that was a good time then, a good time to be living.” And I began to remember our time. I recalled green fields with carrots growing, one by one, in slender rows. Men and women in bright vests and scarves came and pulled the carrots out of the soil and carried them in baskets to shaded kitchens, where they scrubbed them with yellow brushes under running water. I saw white-faced cattle lowing and wading in creeks. I saw May apples in forests, erupting through leaf-strewn paths. Cells on the root hairs of sycamores split and divided, and apples grew spotted and striped in the fall. Mountains kept their cool caves and squirrels raced home to their nests through sunlight and shade. I remembered the ocean, and I seemed to be in the ocean myself, swimming over orange crabs that looked like coral, or off the deep Atlantic banks where whitefish school. Or again I saw the tops of poplars, and the whole sky brushed with clouds in pallid streaks, under which wild ducks flew with outstretched necks, and called, one by one, and flew on. All these things I saw. Scenes grew in depth and sunlit detail before my eyes, and were replaced by ever more scenes, as I remember the life of my time with increasing feeling. At last I saw the earth as a globe in space, and I recalled the ocean’s shape and the form of continents, saying to myself with surprise as I looked at the planet, “yes, that’s how it was then, that part there was called France.” I was filled with the deep affection of nostalgia- and then I opened my eyes. We all ought to be able to conjure up sights like these at will, so that we can keep in mind the scope of texture’s motion in time.
Were the earth as smooth as a ball bearing, it might be beautiful seen from another planet, as the rings of Saturn are. But here we live and move; we wander up and down the banks of the creek, we ride a railway through the Alps, and the landscape shifts and changes. Were the earth smooth, our brains would be smooth as well; we would wake, blink, walk two steps to get the whole picture and lapse into dreamless sleep. Because we are living people, and because we are on the receiving end of beauty, another element necessarily enters the question. The texture of space is a condition of time. Time is the warp and matter the weft of woven texture of beauty in space, and death is the hurtling shuttle… What I want to do, then, is add time to the texture, paint the landscape on an unrolling scroll, and set the giant relief globe spinning on it stand.
Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery. The surface of mystery is not smooth, any more than the planet is smooth; not even a single hydrogen atom is smooth, let alone a pine. Nor does it fit together; not even the chlorophyll and hemoglobin molecules are a perfect match, for, even after the atom of iron replaces the magnesium, long streamers of disparate atoms trail disjointedly from the rims of the molecule’s loops. Freedom cuts both ways. Mystery itself is as fringed and intricate at the shape of the air at times. Forays into mystery cut bays and fine fjords, but the forested mainland itself is implacable both in its bulk and in its most filigreed fringe of detail.
I am sitting here, you are sitting there. Say even that you are sitting across the kitchen table from me right now. Our eyes meet; a consciousness snaps back and forth. What we know, at least for starters, is: here we- so incontrovertibly- are. This is our life, these are our lighted seasons, and then we die. In the meantime, in between time, we can see. The scales are fallen from our eyes, the cataracts are cut away, and we can work at making sense of the color-patches we see in an effort to discover where we so incontrovertibly are. I am as passionately interested in where I am as is a lone sailor sans sextant in a ketch on an open ocean. I have at the moment a situation which allows me to devote considerable hunks of time to seeing what I can see, and trying to piece it together. I’ve learned the name of some color-patches, but not the meanings. I’ve read books; I’ve gathered statistics feverishly: the average temperature of our planet is 57 degrees F…The average size of all living animals, including man, is almost that of a housefly. The earth is mostly granite, which is mostly oxygen…In these Appalachians we have found a coal bed with 120 seams, meaning 120 forests that just happened to fall into water…I would like to see it all, to understand it, but I must start somewhere, so I try to deal with the giant water bug in Tinker Creek and the flight of three hundred redwings from an Osage orange and let those who dare worry about the birthrate and population explosion among solar systems. So I think about the valley. And it occurs to me more and more that everything I have seen is wholly gratuitous. The giant water bug’s predations, the frog’s croak, the tree with the lights in it are not in any real sense necessary per se to the world or its creator. Nor am I. The creation in the first place, being itself, is the only necessity for which I would die, and I shall. The point about that being, as I know it here and see it, is that as I think about it, it accumulates in my mind as an extravagance of minutiae. The sheer fringe and network of detail assumes primary importance. That there are so many details seems to be the most important and visible fact about creation. If you can’t see the forest for the trees, then look at the trees; when you’ve looked at enough trees, you’ve seen a forest, you’ve got it. If the world is gratuitous, then the fringe of a goldfish’s fin is a million times more so. The first question- the one crucial one- of the creation of the universe and the existence of something as a sign and an affront to nothing is a blank one…The old Kabbalistic phrase is “the Mystery of the Splintering of the Vessels.” The words refer to the shrinking or imprisonment of essences within the various husk-covered forms of emanation or time. The Vessels splintered and solar systems spun; ciliated rotifers whirled in still water, and newts laid tracks in the silt-bottomed creek. Not only did the Vessels splinter; they splintered exceeding fine. Intricacy then is the subject, the intricacy of the created world.
This is the time for every artist in every genre to do what he or she does loudly and consistently. It doesn't matter to me what your position is. You've got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world, not about finding a villain. This is no time for anything else than the best that you've got.
That is the problem with repressed memory and dissociative identity disorder. Your mind represses certain traumas for reasons of pure survival. And then you learn that to survive as an adult, you must uncover the memories, find the parts, and relieve the traumas. The contradiction is almost too much for the mind to comprehend and for the heart and soul to endure.
How do we find words for describing levels of betrayal and emotional, physical, sexual and spiritual torture that fragment and destroy a child or cast and case traumatic shadows over the whole of adult life? We might, as a society, slowly find it possible to accept that one in four citizens are likely to have experience some form of emotional, psychical, sexual or spiritual abuse (McQueen, Itzin, Kennedy, Sinason, & Maxted, 2008), in itself a figure unimaginable and hidden twenty years ago. However, accepting the way a hurt and hurting parent or stranger re-enacts their disturbance with a vulnerable child or children remains far easier to digest than to consider the intellectually planned, scientific, methodical, procedures of organized child-abusing perpetrators-in other words, torture.
Rikki looked over at me.“Why now? she asked, looking back at Arly. “Why is this happening now?Hard to say. Arly [therapist] replied. DID usually gets diagnosed in adulthood. Something happens that triggers the alters to come out. When Cam's father died and he came in to help his brother run the family business he was in close contact with his mother again. Maybe it was seeing Kyle around the same age when some of the abuse happened. Cam was sick for a long time and finally got better. Maybe he wasn't strong enough until now to handle this. It's probably a combination of things. But it sure looks like some of the abuse Cam experienced involved his mother. And sexual abuse by the mother is considered to he one of the most traumatic forms of abuse. In some ways it's the ultimate betrayal.
What daily life is like for “a multiple” Imagine that you have periods of “lost time.” You may find writings or drawings which you must have done, but do not remember producing. Perhaps you find child-sized clothing or toys in your home but have no children. You might also hear voices or babies crying in your head. Imagine that you can never predict when you will be able to have certain knowledge or social skills, and your emotions and your energy level seem to change at the drop of a hat, and for no apparent reason. You cannot understand why you feel what you feel, and, if you are in therapy, you cannot explore those feelings when asked. Your life feels disjointed and often confusing. It is a frightening experience. It feels out of control, and you probably think you are going crazy. That is what it is like to be multiple, and all of it is experienced by the ANPs. A multiple may also experience very concrete problems, even life-threatening ones.
As an undergraduate student in psychology, I was taught that multiple personalities were a very rare and bizarre disorder. That is all that I was taught on ... It soon became apparent that what I had been taught was simply not true. Not only was I meeting people with multiplicity; these individuals entering my life were normal human beings with much to offer. They were simply people who had endured more than their share of pain in this life and were struggling to make sense of it.
As a therapist, I have many avenues in which to learn about DID, but I hear exactly the opposite from clients and others who are struggling to understand their own existence. When I talk to them about the need to let supportive people into their lives, I always get a variation of the same answer. It is not safe. They won't understand. My goal here is to provide a small piece of that gigantic puzzle of understanding. If this book helps someone with DID start a conversation with a supportive friend or family member, understanding will be increased.
I believe the perception of what people think about DID is I might be crazy, unstable, and low functioning. After my diagnosis, I took a risk by sharing my story with a few friends. It was quite upsetting to lose a long term relationship with a friend because she could not accept my diagnosis. But it spurred me to take action. I wanted people to be informed that anyone can have DID and achieve highly functioning lives. I was successful in a career, I was married with children, and very active in numerous activities. I was highly functioning because I could dissociate the trauma from my life through my alters. Essentially, I survived because of DID. That's not to say I didn't fall down along the way. There were long term therapy visits, and plenty of hospitalizations for depression, medication adjustments, and suicide attempts. After a year, it became evident I was truly a patient with the diagnosis of DID from my therapist and psychiatrist. I had two choices. First, I could accept it and make choices about how I was going to deal with it. My therapist told me when faced with DID, a patient can learn to live with the live with the alters and make them part of one's life. Or, perhaps, the patient would like to have the alters integrate into one person, the host, so there are no more alters. Everyone is different.The patient and the therapist need to decide which is best for the patient. Secondly, the other choice was to resist having alters all together and be miserable, stuck in an existence that would continue to be crippling. Most people with DID are cognizant something is not right with themselves even if they are not properly diagnosed. My therapist was trustworthy, honest, and compassionate. Never for a moment did I believe she would steer me in the wrong direction. With her help and guidance, I chose to learn and understand my disorder. It was a turning point.
Those of us who work in the field of trauma and abuse, whether psychologists, psychoanalysts, social workers, doctors, counselors, or psychotherapists, have been provided with beautiful tools for understanding the impact of trauma. We become adept at understanding the dynamic of why the messenger is always shot and broadcast the Bionic insight of why the visionary is not bearable to the group.However, when it comes to military mind control, abuse within religious belief groups or cults, and deliberately created dissociative identity disorder, we enter the least resourced field of all.
Identity confusion is defined by the SCID-D as a subjective feeling of uncertainty, puzzlement, or conflict about one's own identity. Patients who report histories of childhood trauma characteristically describe themes of ongoing inner struggle regarding their identity; of inner battles for survival; or other images of anger, conflict, and violence. P13
The lights became stars, which became streaks in the grayspace, and then networks of fading shimmers
In this chapter I restrict myself to exploring the nature of the amnesia which is reported between personality states in most people who are diagnosed with DID. Note that this is not an explicit diagnostic criterion, although such amnesia features strongly in the public view of DID, particularly in the form of the fugue-like conditions depicted in ﬁlms of the condition, such as The Three Faces of Eve (1957). Typically, when one personality state, or ‘alter’, takes over from another, they have no idea what happened just before. They report having lost time, and often will have no idea where they are or how they got there. However, this is not a universal feature of DID. It happens that with certain individuals with DID, one personality state can retrieve what happened when another was in control. In other cases we have what is described as ‘co-consciousness’ where one personality state can apparently monitor what is happening when another personality state is in control and, in certain circumstances, can take over the conversation.
I am truly crazy, I told myself. It's over. I am not fixable. I cannot tell Tom. I cannot even tell Francisco. So I won't tell anyone. My brain seemed out of control. Tom does not deserve a crazy wife and my children do not deserve a crazy mother. I finally get it. This is not just repressed memory. This is dissociative identity disorder.
It was soon after that I, overwhelmed with the implications of that memory, overdosed - well, somebody did but as it was my mouth and my stomach that was involved I had to take the consequences. Somehow or other (did an alter ring him?) Bruce (from my support group) got to know, drove over and took us to the hospital.
Our future can be brighter. We know that with the right help, continued treatment, and support we can potentially aim for partial or full integration. Yet even if this is not possible, whatever happens we can move forwards. We can live with the multiplicity of being an us and not a me, a we and not an I. We know that, as we are already living that life.