An empty house and a full head of emotions

Perhaps it was the perfect storm; the day before Mother’s Day, less than a week before my surgery, just two days after receiving a job offer for a management position. There was just a lot going on in my head. Until I woke up Saturday night in a puddle of my own vomit, so drunk that nothing could go on in my head anymore.

That was a low point for me. To be completely honest, maybe one of my lowest points. Even in my prior days of being a blackout drunk, I never found myself passed out on the floor laying in my own vomit. And to make it worse, it was the woman who took me in who found me. Everyone saw me, her husband, her younger son, in one of my worst states. But I didn’t feel the shame until the next day, because that night, I was too drunk to feel anything other than the urge to pee.

I thought I was handling myself quite well, considering. I had a few crying moments throughout the week, a few brief fits of rage whenever a Mother’s Day commercial came on TV. But it was all controlled, it left as fast as it came. We had a game plan for Mother’s Day. I wasn’t going to spend it alone. I was going to go and spend time with their family, a welcome distraction to me. It was going to be okay.

But I guess it wasn’t, and I knew it that night when everyone left the house to celebrate the oldest son’s prom. I was grieving.

It wasn’t grief about Mother’s Day or failing health or anything that one would assume would be the thing to grieve over. It was a grief I had been feeling for weeks now, only growing the more time I spent here, in my new home, with a new family. A grief I was not prepared for. A grief I never expected.

As the days go by here, I see everything I never had as a child. A safe home free of violence, two parents that love and care and support and talk to their children, children who have freedom to eat when they’re hungry, to leave the house when they want to leave, to do the things I never had the opportunity to do until now. But I am 31 years old. I wanted these things when I was a child.

And that day, as I watched the family come together to celebrate, I could feel the emotions come up again, I could feel the loss of my childhood smacking me right in the face. I wanted that. I wanted my family to be happy for me. I wanted my family to dress up and take pictures and celebrate every event with me. I wanted to feel special, as every child should feel, as every child deserves to feel.

That was my tipping point. The grief flooded me, along with all of the anger and anxiety I had already been feeling about everything else, my emotions took control. I hid in my room, trying (and failing) not to cry and ruin their night. Because I knew it wasn’t about me. I didn’t matter, in this moment or in others.

And then everyone left. An empty house, and a grieving, angry, emotion-ridden me. I didn’t want to feel anything. I cried and I cried and then I felt nothing at all. Like a switch had just turned off in my mind, with each gulp of vodka I drank, it washed away the emotions until I felt nothing at all.

But I wasn’t thinking straight. Instead of stopping, I kept drinking and drinking, even after the feelings were gone. I drank most of a 32-ounce bottle of straight vodka, not even thinking about how it was going to affect me, not even caring that my heart had barely been working right even when I was sober.

For a brief moment, when I first fell to the floor and realized the severity of how drunk I was, I contemplated taking my bottle of pills and ending it right there. I knew if the alcohol didn’t kill me (and that amount very much could have, even without my heart condition), the combination would have been certain death. But I couldn’t do it because even though I didn’t care about myself in that moment, all I could think about was this family finding me dead. I couldn’t do that to them; I had already done enough.

So I ended up laying on the floor for hours, in misery, painfully vomiting nothing but phlegm and bile because I hadn’t even eaten food that day. I knew they weren’t able to lift me. All they could do was make sure I was still breathing and not choking on my own vomit. Hours later, I was steady enough to make my way to the bathroom and pee

Hours later, I was steady enough to make my way to the bathroom and pee. I looked at myself in the mirror. Hair a mess, broken blood vessels on my face, a rash from laying in puke for who knows how long. I did this to myself. And this is now how the family saw me. The shame started to settle in

The shame started to settle in. I woke up in the middle of the night to clean my mess, but I knew there were some things I wouldn’t be able to clean up, for myself or for others, things that could not be forgotten.

I lost a lot that night. And there are some things I wonder if I will ever be able to get back.

Pink Puffer

I spent Thursday night in the hospital.

I was having a hard time breathing since Monday. I ignored it, because I didn’t have time to be sick. So it lingered and lingered.Then it got worse. But I still ignored it. I don’t have time to be sick. I have to go to program. I have to work. I have chapters to read, papers to write, articles to publish, people to help. I am not sick.

By Wednesday, it became an effort just to take each breath. I went to program despite my exhaustion, but I couldn’t hide my cough. I started running to the bathroom so no one would see me struggling to breathe.

I heard the nurse calling me on my way back. She seemed concerned. She said she didn’t even need to listen to my lungs to know that something was wrong; she could hear me breathing feet away. I told her I was fine. I’m not contagious, it’s probably just a mild pneumonia. I talked about it like it was a cold. Nothing major. I promised the nurse I would try to make it to the doctor, even though I didn’t really want to.

I wasn’t planning to end up in the hospital, but after three nebulizer treatments with no improvement, I knew I wasn’t going to make it through the next day. They started breathing treatments as soon as I got to the ER. No change. I ended up on a magnesium drip with IV fluids and Solu-Medrol. Blood tests, nasal swabs, and x-rays all came back clean. It wasn’t an infection. It wasn’t pneumonia. It was COPD.

I spent most of the night crying, eventually falling asleep only to wake up and cry again. I managed to get myself together enough to make it to PHP Friday morning. I made it through most of morning session just fine. Then I took a conscious breath and it all went to shit.

I don’t know if I can quite describe what it feels like. You take in a breath okay, but then it can’t get out. You feel like you’re drowning, but not in water, in air. I hurried out of the room to run to the bathroom again. I saw the nurse out of the corner of my eye, but I was coughing and wheezing so bad I couldn’t talk.

I spent several minutes in the bathroom trying to get back to normal. Shallow breaths. Just take shallow breaths and you’ll be fine. I went back to my group. A few minutes later, my therapist came to the door and pulled me out of group. Great. What did I do now? She took me to the nurse’s office and closed the door.

I sat there, surrounded, trying not to panic. The nurse sat across from me; my therapist sat on the floor. Oh, we’re all sitting. This can’t be good. Someone asked what was going on, if I had gone to the doctor. I told them I went to the hospital; that counts as the doctor. I tried to make it seem not-so-serious. They asked if it was pneumonia.

Before I could answer, I broke down crying. All the emotions came back to me again. The anger. The sadness. The hopelessness. I would have rather had pneumonia.

I didn’t want to cry. My tears did not feel justified. My pain wasn’t valid.

This diagnosis, it’s nothing new to me. I’ve known about the COPD for a while now. So why does it hurt every time I hear a doctor say it? Why am I still grieving? I should be over it by now.

It’s not fair. I went through hell. I got out. This was supposed to be my better life, my life without hurt.

Instead I ended up with this. I didn’t get a break. I got a punishment.

I could sense the concern in the room. I pushed aside my anger and stopped crying. They told me there were options. The nurse handed me a paper with quit assistance programs. My therapist said we could work out a plan. It doesn’t always have to be this way. It doesn’t always have to be a struggle to breathe. You are strong and resilient, she said.

I’m tired of being strong and resilient. It was the truth. What’s the point? Look where strength and resilience has gotten me. Look what I’ve become. A mess.

You need to take time for yourself. What’s that? I go to PHP from 8 to 3:30 every weekday. Then I go straight to work at 4. By the time I get home for the night, I have just enough time to put together a cohesive assignment for grad school. Weekends are full of more work, school work, articles, and errands. I don’t have time for myself.

I just want it to all go away. I want an easy life, even if it’s just for a little while. I don’t want to have to go to a program every day. I don’t want it to hurt when I breathe. I don’t want to be so tired all the time. I don’t want to struggle.

I want to pretend that I am healthy. I want to pretend this diagnosis doesn’t exist. I can breathe. This is normal. There’s nothing wrong with me. This has all been a mistake.

I managed to push it all away for a while. I can smoke a cigarette, nothing is wrong with me. My lungs are fine. My denial was fully engaged, and no one was around to tell me otherwise.

Later on that day, I sat across from my psychiatrist as he waited on hold to try to change my prescription at the pharmacy. I felt the tightness in my chest again. I took a breath and started drowning. I leaned forward and tried to get the air out as best I could.

As I sat back in the chair and tried to compose myself, I heard the psychiatrist say so, you’re a pink puffer. I looked at him, a bit confused. I never in my life heard of a pink puffer before. I asked for clarification. Your breathing, he said. That’s a classic forced expiratory wheeze of emphysema. I don’t even need a stethoscope, I can hear it from here.  Doctors would call you a pink puffer.

I don’t know how much longer I can deny the truth.

Through the Eyes of DID

Yesterday, Grief Diaries: Through the Eyes of DID was published.

I was fortunate enough to be able to share part of my story, as I was one of the contributing writers for this book.

I had a lot of mixed emotions about being a part of this book. I actually changed my mind a few times before finally deciding to go through with it.

I still carry a lot of shame and guilt for what happened to me. I still believe, in some ways, that my childhood was my fault. I thought, if anyone reads this, they are going to think I was a horrible child. They are going to believe I am a horrible person. How bad a child I must have been for my own mother to treat me like that. How weak of a woman I must have been for allowing the abuse to keep happening. How crazy I am with this diagnosis.

It’s not like I haven’t spoken about it all before. I’ve been vocal about my trauma in social media. I write publicly about my disorder on my professional blog, under my real name. I write about everything on here, under not-so-anonymous anonymity. But this was something different. This was my life, attached to my real name, printed in a book, available across the world for anyone to read.

And then there was the issue of protecting the people who hurt me. I felt bad for labeling my abusers. I could have just said someone abused me. I didn’t have to name names. But who was that helping? Who was that protecting? It wasn’t helping me. It wasn’t protecting me. It was helping and protecting my mother. It was helping and protecting my father. And I didn’t owe them help or protection. I didn’t owe them anything.

I’ve held so much anger against the people who failed to protect me from my mother, and here I was doing that same exact thing — protecting her. The woman who stole my childhood. The woman who took away my innocence. The woman who broke me again and again. It’s bad enough to be abused, but to be abused by your own mother, the one person who is supposed to nurture, love, and care for you — that is a whole other level of pain. It’s a pain I want people to know about, because I want them to realize that it can happen to anyone. I want people to know that mothers can hurt their children, just like anyone else can.

So I did it. I admitted my mother abused me.

My biological mother was my main abuser. I call her my biological mother because it’s difficult to call her mother sometimes. I acknowledge that she gave birth to me, but her motherly qualities stopped there. For simplicity, I will refer to her as my mother, but I’d like to believe that real mothers don’t abuse their own children.

But that was not my only struggle in writing for this book.

In collaborating with the other writers who also had DID, I realized that I am just not at that level of acceptance yet. The other writers were so okay with announcing how many parts they had. They knew all their parts’ names and what purpose they had in the system.

And then there was me. How many parts do I have? Too many to count right now. What are their names? I don’t know. I know a few. But not all of them have names. I don’t keep a tally. I don’t keep an attendance sheet. Just the other night, I was kept awake by a voice inside that kept saying Sadie wants to color and all I could think was who the FUCK is Sadie? Because I just don’t know. I don’t know my parts. I don’t know me. I am a failure here, among all of these perfectly organized and knowledgeable people with DID.

I’m not going to lie. Seeing what others wrote made me feel like shit. I thought maybe I shouldn’t be writing for this book, because my DID is as chaotic as my life is, and that’s not the image that anyone else was portraying.

But then I remembered that I’m not supposed to be perfect, and my DID sure as hell doesn’t have to be perfect, either.

So I wrote my reality. I wrote of my shame in having more parts than I cared to admit. I admitted I didn’t know everything that was going on, inside and outside my head. I told of my struggles with drugs and alcohol, my suicide attempts, my fears about turning into an abuser. I wrote about how afraid I was of losing control and of losing my life. I opened myself up in a way I hadn’t before.

And now it’s all out there. The life I hid for so long. The parts of my life that I am still hiding. The denial. The failure. The fear. The struggle.

I don’t want to hide anymore. I shouldn’t have to.

You know me as Kyra Jack, but I’m also Crystalie.

I have DID.

I am a human being.


I have some things for you from your mother.

He said it like it was nothing. He didn’t know it wasn’t nothing to me.

I wasn’t expecting it. I was having a regular conversation (over text) with my friend about something I wanted to do and out of the blue, he mentioned this. I froze for a minute, both physically and emotionally. I was numb. You could have stabbed me in both hands with a steak knife and I would have stayed sitting where I was, staring blankly at the wall, never flinching.

Then the emotions rushed in. I couldn’t tell if I was angry, sad, or both. I asked my friend what it was. It’s a letter, and some other things. At that point, I didn’t care about the other things. My thoughts danced around the letter.

I felt myself being swept away by hope. My mother is finally apologizing. She is finally going to say how sorry she is, how she never meant to hurt me. She is going to tell me how much she misses me, how much she loves me and has always loved me. She’s going to say she wants me back, that we are family. She is sorry and she loves and cares for me.

I sensed the joy of younger me, the excitement over the wish of family and of love coming true.

But I was crying, because adult me knew that those wishes were not coming true. This letter was not going to be one of love and caring. It was not going to be a letter of acknowledgement or apology.

My heart is breaking again. I am torn between the wish and the reality, the hope and the truth. Part of me wants to see that letter, to read my mother’s words, because there is still a small wish, a flickering of hope that my mother would be what I need her to be: a mother.

But then part of me knows that what I hope and wish for will not be fulfilled in that letter. Part of me knows that my mother will never apologize, that she will never be sorry for what she’s done because she believes she has done no wrong. Part of me knows that my mother doesn’t miss me, because she has pretended like I don’t exist. Part of me knows that she doesn’t love me now, and didn’t love me then, because a loving person would have never done the things she did. Part of me knows that I can never be a part of that family.

My mother hasn’t been a mother in the last 30 years. There’s no reason for her to change now. She won’t change. She will never be 1/100th what I need her to be. And her letter won’t be what I need it be. I don’t even think I need to read it to know that it isn’t. But I still want to read it. Part of me wants to know what she has to say.

I feel like I would have been better off not knowing this letter existed. I could tell my friend to throw it away, or I could take it and burn it myself. But then I would never know what my mother wrote, and I’m not sure I can manage never knowing. I also know that I could never handle reading the letter on my own. The mere knowledge of the letter’s existence has created an emotional storm in me that I am trying my best to weather. I imagine the its contents would let loose a tornado.

At first, I wanted to rush back to my home of origin just to get that letter; part of me still does. It’s that hope again, rearing its head in my consciousness.

But I am trying to focus on what is important to me here. I can exist without that letter. I have things to do here, experiences to celebrate. I have made it 499 days, without her and without her letter.

The Good Family

I want my daddy to come back to life so I can tell him I’m sorry. I don’t know what I did to be bad, but maybe he will forgive me.

I want to go back home to my mommy so I can tell her I’m sorry. I don’t know why I was always so evil, but maybe she can just love me.

I wrote those words one month ago and could not bring myself to post them. How could I miss people that caused me so much pain? How could I still want love from the people who broke me? Maybe they weren’t that bad after all. Maybe they were good enough and that’s why I still miss them. I want everything to be my fault. I don’t want to let go of the wish that I had a good family.

It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense that they were bad people. It doesn’t make sense that they were good people. I’m forever trying to rationalize a situation that was never rational.

My brother wasn’t hurt as badly. My mother loved him. He was allowed to have friends. He could eat most of the time. He had so many good things. But I didn’t get any of that. If our mother was really a bad person, then she wouldn’t have treated my brother so nicely. He would have been tortured, too, but he wasn’t. So then maybe I was the problem. Maybe my mother was a really great mother, and I was just too bad of a child.

Part of me doesn’t want to see what that really was. That I wasn’t a bad child at all, and my brother was no more deserving than I was of good things. That my mother treated my brother that way because it was all a part of her game. That she used him to make me feel like I was the bad one. That my brother and I were both pawns in my mother’s sociopathic game — my brother the apath, and I the empath. It worked out perfectly.

My parents could have kept me at home, but they chose to send me to school. They could have kept me starving, but they always ended up feeding me. They could have let me bleed, but they took me to get stitches. They could have ended my life, but they chose to let me live. Bad people wouldn’t make those choices. Good people would.

Part of me doesn’t want to see the other side of all of that. That I went to private school because it fed their need to feel superior, not because I deserved an education. That I should have never been starving, because a child never deserves to go without food. That I would have never needed stitches had they not made me bleed. That letting me live only to continue to hurt me wasn’t really letting me live at all.

I don’t want to accept that reality. I want to live in my fantasy world, where my family was good and I was the bad one. Where I was the reason that everything happened the way it did. Where I was the cause of all of their problems. Where if I had just been good, if I had just been a better child, my parents wouldn’t have had to do what they did. 

That was the world they created for me. That’s what I was made to believe as a child, and I carried those beliefs right into my adulthood.

I still want that good family. I still want to believe that I can in some way erase everything that happened and make it all better.Maybe if I just apologize, if they can just see how sorry I am, they will love me and we can be a family again.

But my family doesn’t even want me. They never came after me. No one tried to make sure I was okay. They went on as if I never existed at all. I became a topic of conversation to be avoided, a topic worse than politics or religion. I offended them by escaping, just like I had offended them for existing.

If they really loved me, if they really cared, they would have looked for me. As much as I live in fear of them, I also long for their love and care. I want my mother to love me. I want to be the good child. I want the good family that children are supposed to have.

Sometimes I fantasize about my mother finding me. I imagine her knocking on my front door. I open it, and she’s standing there. She reaches out to hug me, and I start to cry. But she doesn’t really hug me, she stabs me in the heart. 

In that moment, I’m not sad or angry. As I stand there bleeding, I am happy. Because I know my mother cared enough to come and kill me. She loved me enough to end my pain.

And all I ever needed was her love and care.


“I don’t have DID today.”

It’s a line I give my therapist often. I don’t want to talk about my parts or the inner world or the dissociative chaos that is my life. I don’t want to talk about how broken I am.

But that’s not enough for her. She always has to push me further. Then I shut down. Completely. Because that’s what any perfectly normal person would do, right?

I know it’s not good to deny my reality. I know that by denying my DID, I am denying my parts as well. I know that makes everything worse. But I still do it. Deny, deny, deny.

Then, one time, my therapist asked, “well, how do you explain your symptoms?”

I thought for a minute, wondering what symptoms she could be referring to, since I have so many.

“Maybe I’m just schizophrenic.”

The voices I hear, they are not my parts. They’re just hallucinations. Those feelings of depersonalization? That’s just distorted thinking. My memory problems? The cognitive deficits of schizophrenic disorders. It all fits.

Except it doesn’t. The voices I hear are my parts, the depersonalization is part of my dissociation, and my memory problems are because my parts hold those memories for me. I know that already. I’ve known that since the beginning of my diagnosis. So why do I continue to deny it?

My therapist seemed perplexed by my answer. Why would I want a disorder likely more stigmatized, difficult to treat therapeutically, more debilitating to some? “You would rather have schizophrenia?”

“Yes,” I replied.


Then the truth came out. “Because then I wouldn’t have to acknowledge all of the trauma.”

Schizophrenia is largely chemical, an imbalance of dopamine that is treated with antipsychotics. It can happen to anyone.

DID, on the other hand, is caused by severe trauma. There’s no chemical imbalances, no pills I can take to make my symptoms go away. I am broken, a type of broken that can’t ever be fixed the way it should be.

So yes, sometimes I wish I had schizophrenia rather than DID. Sometimes I wish all of the abuse I went through was just a delusion. Sometimes I wish I could just take a pill or three and quiet the voices and be able to get through the day in peace.

But I can’t.

Denial is making it worse, but accepting the truth is just too hard.

Trapped Air

I’m going to write several blog posts because the topics are so varied, and I really don’t want to mash them into one giant clusterfuck of a blog post.

I’ve been feeling kind of shitty physically lately. I assume it’s because I am adjusting to the new respiratory medications (even though they are not new, I’ve just been off medications for the last several months because I’ve been sans doctor). Or I could be getting sick, because one of the unpleasant side effects of corticosteroid medications is that they suppress your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. Isn’t that funny how that works?

Last week, my doctor explained to me how air was getting into my lungs, but wasn’t getting out – instead, getting trapped inside. For normal people, breathing out should not require any effort. For me, it requires a massive amount of effort, and even then, air is still trapped inside.

As I thought about this more, I couldn’t help but find it so similar to the rest of my life’s experiences. I took in trauma after trauma, and then it got trapped inside my brain and now those memories can’t really get out.

I was literally trapped in my house for most of my life. I was trapped in a family I didn’t want.

Why is “trapped” a recurring theme in my life? Trapped body, trapped memories, now trapped air.

I’m still in a little bit of denial. Once I moved, I just told myself all of my breathing problems were because I was living in filth. That was a possibility. My family was not clean. There was dust, mold, mildew, and bugs, aside from a menagerie of poorly taken care of animals (including five cats all sharing two small litter boxes). I was in and out of the hospital since my early teen years with pneumonia and unstable O2 labels.That was my norm. I thought that would all disappear once I moved. But it didn’t. Because it’s a disease. The damage is already done.

On a positive note, I have been smoking a tiny bit less. Still smoking. But less. In all honesty, it’s probably the medication at work, because I have not been making a conscious effort to do so.

On a less positive note, it’s really annoying to be talking to someone and randomly cough up a string of mucous.

The ongoing battle: Why I deny my DID and why I know that I have it

I’d like to think that, as I am now six months into my official dissociative identity disorder diagnosis, I wouldn’t still be struggling with accepting that I have DID. But the truth is that I still have doubts. Some mornings I wake up in complete denial. I try to rationalize my denial my pointing out the differences between myself and others with DID I’ve come across, even though I know full well that the dissociative spectrum is so diverse that no one’s DID is the same as another person’s. Yet I still try to convince myself that this all just a misunderstanding.

Reasons I use to tell myself I don’t have DID (note that I am not saying any of this is true for all people with DID – these are my irrational rationalizations):

Medication: I am not taking any psychotropic medications, and I haven’t since September. Every person I’ve ever come across with DID (and mental illness in general) takes at LEAST one psychotropic medication. I tell myself that since I am functioning without medication, I must not be ill at all.

Functioning: I function decently well. I’ve held jobs (and excelled at them), I’ve always been one of the highest achievers in my class (from elementary school through college), and I am able to live independently without assistance from anyone. I know many others with DID are not that fortunate. They are unable to hold jobs, unable to focus or stay present long enough to manage an education, and many are in supportive living.

No inner world: In my reading and through my participation in DID support groups, I’ve come across so many people speak of an inner world that they can actually picture inside of their minds – filled with different rooms and places for alters to go. I don’t have that. I find it difficult to imagine having that.

Trauma: This is difficult for to me admit, as I would tell a client to never compare his or her pain to another person’s. Yet I find myself regularly comparing my trauma to other people’s traumas, insisting that my experiences are minor in comparison to what other people have gone through. I tell myself I don’t have DID because what I went through just wasn’t that bad.

Lack of alter involvement: I realize in typing this out that it is one big oxymoron, because admitting that my alters exist actually supports my DID diagnosis. Many of my DID friends have actively participating alters: alters that use the computer and social media as themselves, alters that perform certain life tasks, etc. None of my alters use the computer (that I know of). None of them have their own accounts. As far as I’ve realized, I’m the one putting the work into daily tasks, not any of my alters.

Memory: Although I don’t remember everything, I do have memories of quite a few traumatic experiences I have endured. I tell myself that if I really had DID, I would have dissociated during these events and blocked them out from my memory. Why didn’t I dissociate all of the time?

Reasons I use to counteract my denial:

Medication: Funny how I use this both as a tool for denial and a tool for acceptance. The fact that psychotropic medications don’t affect me actually supports a dissociative diagnosis. DID cannot be treated with medication. The symptoms that may coincide, such as depression and anxiety, can be treated with medication, but DID itself must be treated through therapy. It explains why anti-depressants never helped me, and why even the strongest anti-psychotics never stopped the voices in my head.

Outsiders have met my insiders: When I told a good friend about my DID, there was no sense of shock or surprise. In fact, my friend had suspected something long before I even realized it. When I asked why he never said anything to me, he said it didn’t matter to him – it was just who I was. I even found out he had met one of my younger parts. My therapist has also met several of my parts, even before they were comfortable enough to come out to me.

Recognizing differences: Two weeks ago, I had a disagreement with a coworker. We were discussing an issue with boxes that needed to be shipped out, and I insisted that I didn’t pack and label the boxes. I couldn’t recognize my own handwriting. As I stood there vehemently denying that these boxes were mine, my coworker reminded me that I was the only one who knew how to do it, and no one else would have written those labels out. He was right. It could have only been me. But that was not my handwriting. Someone else had taken over for me, and it wasn’t the first time. Over the years, I have come across many notes that were not in my usual handwriting, but I knew that they must have been written by me. These differences are never subtle, either.

Ending up with things I don’t remember buying (or liking): I’ve been known to carry around a pink and white polka dot bookbag. My therapist commented on it once, and I mentioned how I hated the color pink. And then she asked me why I had a pink bag. Truthfully, I don’t even remember buying it. I don’t remember buying a lot of things I end up with.

The voices in my head: I can’t ignore it. Hearing voices is not normal. Yet I’ve heard them for years. Sometimes I can understand what they are saying, and sometimes I can’t. Medication doesn’t make them go away because they are parts of me. They are not auditory hallucinations. They are my alters.

Memories: There are entire chunks of my life missing from my memory. Sometimes I can’t remember what I did last week or what happened in therapy. These are clear indications of dissociation. When I am present, my memory is exceptional. There is no other reason for my memory to be that shitty, even with the drugs and alcohol I’ve taken in the past.

Trauma: This is another dual-purpose tool for both denial and acceptance. I know through my research and involvement with other survivors of mother-daughter sexual abuse that the incidence of DID seems to be much higher with survivors of this type of abuse, so inevitably my risk is higher. I also endured physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse by both of my parents, increasing my risk factor for developing DID even more. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I had a traumatic childhood and early adulthood. Saying that my life was fine won’t change the fact that it really wasn’t.

As I sat in therapy last week and insisted that I never went through any trauma, my therapist reminded me that that just wasn’t the truth. She told me that if I continued to deny my experiences, I was also denying everything that my parts went through, all of the trauma they endured. It’s not just about me; it’s about them, too. I realized that I was doing the same thing to my parts that other people had done to me: denying the reality of my/our experiences.

Sure, I wish I didn’t have DID. No one wants DID and all of the shit it comes with. But for every reason I come up with to support my denial, there are even more reasons that support my diagnosis. I can try to maintain my dissonance, but that will never work in the long run. Maybe one day I won’t have to fight myself anymore on this issue. We’ve done enough fighting already.

17 weeks

It’s been a tough week. There have been a lot of emotions and a lot of memories coming back to the surface, and I’ve been struggling with managing it all. But, as usual, I pulled myself together and got through it.

Therapy was difficult this week, but I was a lot better than I was the week before. Writing a letter to my therapist beforehand actually made discussing things much easier. We’ve been talking about some of the issues I have with my father; there’s a lot of shit to muddle through concerning that topic. I’m having trouble believing that my feelings towards him are valid. There are even times when I’m not even sure how to identify my feelings at all.

During our last session, my therapist suggested that I write a letter to my father. I actually knew that was what she was going to say before she even said it – I would have suggested the same thing to one of my clients (I guess I may not be so horrible at being a therapist after all). She said I can bring in the letter on Monday and we can work through it. I haven’t written the letter yet; I will probably write it tomorrow once I am done with work. I am hesitating a little because I know that I tend to let it all out on paper. At the retreat in April, I wrote a letter to my mother during a letter-writing session and I ended up having a mild breakdown. I had written so many things that I didn’t even realize until I read it over. Then I felt like a horrible person for thinking and writing the things that I did. I don’t want that same thing to happen when I write this letter to my father. I want to be able to handle my feelings without feeling guilty. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m also still struggling with the DID diagnosis. My therapist asked me in the beginning of our last session to ask my parts if they had anything that they needed to say. I couldn’t do it. One reason was because it meant acknowledging that my parts exist, which is an ongoing back-and-forth for me. The other reason was because of what happened on Tuesday; I didn’t want that child to come out and talk about missing our mother again. My therapist could tell that I wasn’t comfortable with it, so she didn’t press the issue any further. But I also wasn’t honest with her about why I didn’t want to do it.

I was having a rough time Thursday night. I had worked all morning, went straight to therapy, and then came home and had to process everything. Something happened that put me over the edge and I just had to go outside and breathe to try to gain back some stability. I ended up sitting outside for over an hour, contemplating whether or not I should cry, light something on fire, or go back inside and go to sleep.

As I was sitting outside, I decided to e-mail my therapist. She had e-mailed me a link to an article on DID disclosure after our session that day. As odd as it is, I am okay with disclosing the DID to the outside world. Because of my work with HealthyPlace, my name is now permanently associated with DID. I am less okay with disclosing the DID to myself. Internally, I am finding it difficult to accept, even though I know that I have it. I am trying to be in denial while at the same time being fully aware that I am trying to be in denial despite the reality. Denial doesn’t quite work out so well when you are aware of it; it only creates dissonance. I also have a tendency to tell myself that I failed somehow and that is why I have DID, that it’s just another one of my many failures.

I also revealed what happened with my younger part the other day, and why I was so afraid to get in touch with those parts during therapy. My therapist wrote back that even though it is unnerving to be able to sense their feelings and hear their voices, that it is actually a good sign. She also wrote that I may not have been ready to hear those younger parts before, but now my consciousness is allowing it for a reason. I know that she’s right. but it still scares me. I feel ill-prepared. It’s just been me and Charlie for so long, and I wasn’t even handling that relationship well. My therapist is going to work with me on how to respond to my parts, because I told her I don’t think I know what to do and it overwhelms me, like it did on Tuesday. I need to get myself to a point where I can just accept my DID and my parts, and realize that this is not an indication of failure. I feel horrible for not being able to protect all of my parts from their traumas, when the reality is that I have these parts because they were protecting me.

With all that’s been going on these last few weeks, I put grad school preparation off to the side. I have just over three weeks before the application is due. I am going to need to make it a priority to get everything finished. This is something I need to do, not only for financial reasons but because deep down, I feel like I have a purpose as a therapist. I feel that a lot of what has happened has happened for a reason. I moved to this specific location for a reason. I was chosen to write about living with DID for HealthyPlace for a reason. I started this blog for a reason, and it has evolved into so much more than I intended it to be. All of these things have helped me to grow, even though I have trouble seeing that sometimes. I think grad school will also help me grow. It will give me more purpose.

Thankfully, I’ve been given extra hours at work this coming week. It will help keep me busy, and I’ll have more money to pay my bills. I’m just hoping that I will be able to handle the extra work, and the blog, and the grad school prep, and therapy. It’s draining, but it’s what I need to do.