A Letter to Us

Dear younger parts and me,

I know things seem really scary right now. It’s okay to feel scared. I’m scared, too. You had to be scared in the past, because there were a lot of scary things and scary people. But you are safe now. We are safe. You don’t have to be scared anymore.

I know that mommy made you believe that you were sick. She told you that parts of you made you bad. I know she made that part of you hurt really bad. I know she made your heart hurt, too. I’m so sorry she hurt your body, and your heart. Little girls shouldn’t have to hurt like that.

I know you wanted so badly to be a boy. You thought that it would make everything better. You believed that it would stop mommy from hurting you, that you wouldn’t be sick anymore, that mommy would love you like she loved R. I’m so sorry you felt that way. But it was never your fault. You were never sick there. You were never bad just because you were a girl. Mommy was wrong. So wrong. There was nothing you could have ever done to make mommy love you. She was the sick one. She was bad. Not you. It was never you. You were always perfect. You still are.

I know you’re still so scared of mommy hurting you. You still try to protect yourself from her hurt. I’m so sorry you don’t feel safe. Little girls deserve to feel safe and loved and respected. Mommy shouldn’t have stolen that from you. You deserved all the love and respect and safety in universe. I wish I could have given it all to you then, but I can give you them now.

I know that mommy made you think that your body was not your own. She controlled your body and your mind. You had no other choice. I’m sorry she made you believe that lie. But you have choices now. Your body is yours. These are your toes, your feet, your legs, your arms, your fingers, and your eyes. This is your hair, your nose, and your mouth. And this is your vagina. It belongs to you. It’s part of your body, just like all of your other parts that make you, you.

It isn’t sick or bad. It doesn’t deserve to be hurt. It deserves to be taken care of, just like you. In order to take care of it, we need to go to the doctor. Just like the doctor that takes care of our lungs, and another doctor takes care of our feet, we need a doctor to take care of our vagina. It’s not bad or wrong to go to the doctor. All of those things that mommy said, they were wrong. She was wrong. She was just trying to scare you, and make you feel bad. I’m sorry she lied to you. You are not — and never were — dirty or bad. The doctor knows that, too. The doctor just wants to help us, and make sure we are healthy and strong. The doctor won’t hurt us. She won’t make you feel like mommy did. I promise.

I know you are afraid. You’re just a little girl. Mommy made you do things that children should never have to do, or see, or know. I’m sorry she did that to you. But you don’t have to do grown-up things anymore. You don’t have to hurt anymore. You don’t have to be scared or ashamed. Mommy isn’t here, and you can be you now. A beautiful, kind, loving, healthy, wonderful GOOD little girl. Mommy can’t take that away from you. She tried, but she didn’t know how brave and strong and courageous you were. She didn’t know the amazing little girl you grew up to be.

You can be that little girl now. I can take care of the big girl things, like going to the doctor. I will keep us healthy and safe. I will make sure that we are okay. I promise.

Thank you for being so strong. It’s my turn now.

Love,

KJ

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Who am I? I don’t know.

In many ways, I am an open person. I’ve shared my life. I’ve shared my experiences. I’ve shared my diagnosis with the world. But there are still aspects of my DID that I am just not that open about.

I’m a member of quite a few online DID groups. I don’t participate very much on a personal level; I tend to stick with answering questions, diffusing conflicts, and offering support. I think some of that is because I don’t feel like I belong, I don’t feel like my experiences are close to most other people’s.

People talk about their systems like they are a well-oiled machine. Everyone communicates, everyone loves each other, everyone has a purpose. Hell, everyone even has a name. It seems so perfect. It seems like the exact opposite of what I have. No one wants to hear oh yea, I am pretty oblivious to many of my parts, and there’s a lot of anger and sadness and stress and my parts are existing in chaos.

And then there’s the numbers. It’s so common for people to introduce themselves and include a number. My name is Bobby, I have five alters. There is so much focus on how many parts each person has. While I was contributing my writing to the book on living with DID, I was asked to state how many parts I had. I was the only writer that did not include a number, and that genuinely surprised me.

How many parts do I have? Way too fucking many. I don’t count. I don’t keep track. That seems like the most daunting task in the world. Why do people need a number? Why do they need a list?

My parts don’t all have names. I may have a K and a Charlie and an Anna, but I’ve also got a whole lot of KJs and even more than that who are nameless. And some of them aren’t whole; some are pieces and pieces of pieces. I’m not Bobby with five alters. I’m KJ, and I’m a broken mess.

I go through life on autopilot. Who is running the show? I don’t really know, but it’s probably not me. I may wake up in the morning as KJ, but I can guarantee by the time I get to work, I’ve already dissociated at least twice, five more times by lunchtime, and a dozen times more by dinner. I may start a conversation with you, but 9 times out of 10, I’m not the one there when the conversation ends.

It’s my name on the paycheck, but it’s not always me doing the work. But as long as the work gets done, right? I play it off when my boss notices things. “Hey, your voice changed again!” I respond, “Oh, it’s because I’m not from here.” But I know that’s not the reason at all.

I don’t remember things. What I did last week. What I did yesterday. What I did ten minutes earlier. I try to fill in the gaps when I can, but it’s not always easy. People get frustrated. I just tell them I have a bad memory. How can I explain to them that I’m not always me? Hell, I don’t even know who me is to begin with.

I don’t know where I end and another part begins, or where I begin and another part ends. I don’t even know if I am someone, or maybe just a part. I know I exist, in the physical sense. But I don’t know who I am any more than I know who my neighbor is.

I’m so ashamed. I fear that if people really knew just how out of it I am so much of the time, they would know how broken and how out of control I am. They would know how much I have failed at my own life. I am too broken, literally and emotionally. To know that side of me is to know how much of a failure I am. So I try to hide it. I can admit I have DID, but I damn sure can’t tell you how broken I am. Let’s just keep pretending, please.

Who am I? I don’t know.

Who am I? Ask me again in five minutes or so. Maybe then I will know.

changed

Dear K Explained

After I posted the letter to K last night, I was emotionally exhausted. It was the first time I read the letter in its entirety, and the emotions I had experienced during the last three days of writing it had hit me all at once. I wanted to write more, I wanted to explain, but I couldn’t. I ended up crying myself to sleep, hoping that would be the last time that I had to feel it. But it wasn’t.

I didn’t want to write a letter at all. How do I write to a stranger? How do I write to someone who I’m not even sure is there?  I didn’t even really want to talk about K, let alone write a letter to her. But my therapist encouraged me to think about writing a letter to K after session last week, and since my therapist has yet to steer me in the wrong direction, I followed her suggestion.

I’ve had such a disconnect from K for so long, partly to protect myself, and partly because of the guilt I felt about her absence. Her loss is connected with one of the worst experiences in my life, an experience I end up reliving each time I think about her and what she went through.

I never knew K. She took care of my parts before I knew I had parts. She was there, protecting me and the others, as I spent my younger years in blissful ignorance of my DID. K was the reason I made it through childhood. 

But then K went away, on the night my father attacked me, the night I got beaten for being depressed. I don’t know all that happened. I still only remember small parts of that night. But I do know that’s when everything changed. That’s when the voices started. That’s when Charlie came to be. That’s when my life became chaos.

I learned who K was over the years, and I was able to put all of the pieces of who she was together. I missed her. I never knew her, but I missed what she did for me. My life before that night was vastly different from my life after. The difference was her.

I also felt an immense sense of guilt. She disappeared because of me. I couldn’t fight back my father. I couldn’t stand up for myself. I wasn’t strong enough, and I let her take all of the pain. I don’t even know what happened. That’s the frustrating part. I don’t even know why she had to go away.

I just know that, if that night never happened, K would still be here. If I just fought my father back, K would still be here. If I would have just acted normal, K would still be here. If I hadn’t been depressed, K would still be here. K is gone because of me.

It’s why I never talk about her much. I feel at fault. She existed because of me. She left because of me. Why couldn’t I just be better, stronger, and more courageous? Why did I have to be so weak?

As I started writing the letter, all I could think about was how sorry I was. I was sorry she had to exist. I was sorry she had to work so hard to protect us. I was sorry she had to endure something so horrible that she had to go away. I was overcome with so much guilt that I couldn’t see anything else. The first sentence I wrote down was not a “hello” or “thank you”. It was “I’m so sorry.”

It took me three days to finish that letter. The emotions were so overwhelming for me that I had to step away several times so I wouldn’t break down completely. I felt sadness. I felt guilt and shame. I felt a sense of loss over someone I didn’t even know was there. I felt for my parts, too. They lost a mother. Really, they lost two mothers; one I caused to go away and one I took us away from.

I thought I had got it all out. I thought that once I wrote those words down, the feelings and emotions would disappear. But they didn’t. As much as I wanted to read the letter to my therapist, I worried that speaking it out loud would make the feelings all come back. And they did come back, stronger than ever. Guilt. Shame. Sadness. Confusion. Loss. Hurt. Pain. I cried for her. I cried for my parts. I cried for me.

I didn’t understand why she left us. Why did she have to go?

I still need her. I can’t be her. I can’t love. I can’t nurture. I can’t be caring. I can’t protect anyone. I’m not K. My therapist says that I am all of those things. Those qualities were K, but they are me, too; they always have been. But I just can’t see it.

K was all of those good things. K got hurt and went away. I am not any of those good things. I wasn’t the one who got hurt.

K is not me, and I am not K.

I can’t be.

Dear K

Dear K,

You know me, but I don’t know you. Or at least I don’t remember knowing you. But I do know of you. I know you were there when I was young. I know you watched over me, over everyone.

Sometimes, I try to think about what you were like. The others said you were caring and kind. You were always nice and loving. You took care of everyone. You were like a mother, protecting everyone and keeping them safe. You were the mother they never got to have. You gave them all of the things that I couldn’t give to them. You gave them safety in a situation that was anything but safe.

I wish I got to know you. I wish I realized that you were there. I used to wonder why you never told me anything. Then I realized it was probably better that way. It would have been too much for me to handle. I was just a child.

You did so much for me. You kept things hidden from me that I wasn’t ready to face. You kept me from hearing voices I wasn’t ready to hear. You kept me from breaking apart into pieces I could never get back. You kept me safe, even when I was surrounded by danger.

It hurts me to know that you existed to keep me alive. If I had never been hurt, if I had never been broken, you wouldn’t have had to be there. It would have been just me. But that’s not what happened. I was broken into hundreds of pieces, and you were there trying to keep the pieces together.

It must have been so hard for you. You took care of so many of us, but no one ever took care of you. You deserved to be taken care of, too. But you were selfless. You endured the pain. You held it all together, and you gave all that you could until the day that you couldn’t.

I couldn’t fight my own battles. You helped fight them for me. You kept me alive. I didn’t know it at the time, but you were always there for me. You took the pain from me and hid it away. You won so many battles for me, but you didn’t win that last battle. None of us did.

I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to deal with life on my own. I’m sorry you had to watch over the others for so long because I didn’t. I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you the night that you went away. I’m sorry I didn’t fight him back. If I did, maybe you would still be here. Maybe you wouldn’t have had to go away.

Everything changed. You went away and there was no one left to care for everyone. I lost you. We lost you.

I don’t know what I’m doing, K. I can’t even care for myself, let alone all of the others. I’m not you. Charlie isn’t you. I know he tries, but it’s not the same. I think ne needs you. They all need you. I need you.

I miss you. I miss the peace in my head. I miss believing that I was okay. I miss how everything was before that day. I miss everything that you did for me, and for us.

I don’t know if you can hear me. I don’t even know if you’re still there somewhere. But if you are, and if you can hear, I want to thank you. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for protecting my parts. Thank you for keeping us all alive. I needed you. I still do. 

We didn’t kill daddy

I have been handling my father’s death quite well. I didn’t really grieve at all. I think the majority of my grieving was done long before my father died. I didn’t need any time off, I didn’t need to memorialize him in any way. He’s dead. Alright then. I’m going to go home and watch TV now.

With that being said, I tend to forget that I am not just me. I am many. While I am handling my father’s death just fine, younger parts are not handling it well at all.

Someone thinks the police are coming for us. Every noise, every knock, every police car we walk past on the way to work is the police coming after us. Why? Because a little one thinks that he killed daddy.

I have to stop and explain that we did not kill daddy, that daddy was sick for a long time and that’s why he’s gone. It’s not our fault he’s gone. We didn’t do anything wrong. The police aren’t coming after us. We are not bad. And I go through the same speech so many times and the paranoia is still there, the need to internalize blame is still there.

And then another part keeps asking to go the heaven to be with daddy. So then I try to explain that we can’t go to heaven because we are here on earth, and we have things to do here first. I really want to say that daddy is not in heaven, because daddy is a horrible person, but I have to remember that I am dealing with innocent younger parts whose beliefs don’t always align with mine. They don’t understand things on the level that I understand. They don’t really understand loss the way I have had to learn to understand it.

I’m already exhausted as it is, and this inner chaos just adds to it even more. I’m not good with people. I can barely handle myself, let alone a bunch of other parts. I can’t soothe myself, let alone soothe others. I don’t know what else I could say to them to help them understand what really happened. I don’t know how to keep it together for them when I can barely keep myself together.

How do I parent children when I have no idea how to parent?

Polyfragmented

I have been avoiding my DID again. Sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. In therapy, the topic has barely been brought up because I always have so many issues going on, that managing my DID drops down on the priority list.

I think that it is clear, given the events of the last few weeks, that DID is a problem, and a problem that isn’t going away.

My therapist used a metaphor of a daycare to explain what was going on inside. There are some daycare centers that are clean, organized, running on a schedule, and everyone knows what to do. Then there are daycare centers that are a mess, with no planning in place, children running around screaming, and poop on the walls (I contributed to that part).

My system is like that second daycare. There’s no order, just chaos. My parts are running around, confused and out of control. The caretakers have left the building. It’s a mess. My system is a mess. But it doesn’t have to be, and I know that. I am just so incredibly exhausted from life that I don’t have any energy left to work on myself.

My therapist asked about my long-term goals, if I wanted integration or to live as a multiple. The choice was completely up to me, and my therapist has worked with people successfully on both sides. I hadn’t really thought about it enough, because I still like to wake up and tell myself I don’t have DID, so then I won’t have to think about these things.

I just want to be normal, but I’m pretty sure that ship has sailed at this point.

At one point, my therapist asked me how many parts I thought I had. “Dozens, hundreds, thousands?”

My immediate (denial) reaction in my head was well, I don’t have any parts.

I found myself say out loud, “hundreds…”, but not as an answer. I was surprised that hundreds was even an option. Why does this woman think I have parts at all?

Before I could finish my thought statement, my therapist confirmed, “Hundreds? Okay.”

She said it like she wasn’t surprised at all that I would have hundreds of parts. She confirmed it like it was a normal, expected answer.

I quickly jumped on the defensive. “No, no, I don’t have hundreds of parts. I’m not polyfragmented. I’m not that bad.” Polyfragmented DID results from prolonged, systematic, severe trauma. I didn’t go through that. My life wasn’t that bad. I don’t have any parts. I am not broken. Having that many parts means you are just that much more broken. I’m okay.

I can’t help but wonder why my therapist was so quick to accept my statement as reality. Does she think I am so broken? Does she know more than I do?

I don’t want to be fragmented. I want to be whole.