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.

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?

Please, no

I’ve spent the last hour laying in bed crying, trying to block out the flood of memories that have been bombarding me off and on since this morning.

It all started in therapy. My therapist and I were going over the stages of treatment worksheet I had done last week. We got to the section on medical care, which tends to be an issue for me, but I’ve been working on it decently the last couple of months. Primary doctor. Check. Dentist. Need that. Gynecologist. Initiate panic.

I started feeling sick. My stomach was queasy, my head was spinning, and I felt my chest getting heavy. I didn’t want to talk about it. Please, no, don’t make me go. The panic got worse, and then the memories started flashing before me. I tried to make them stop but they wouldn’t. I remember crying and then I drifted away.

I knew what triggered the memories. It’s the same reasons I’ve avoided going to that kind of doctor. I connect it with what my mother did to me. She said I was sick there, and she needed to help. But she didn’t help at all. She hurt me. Over and over. And it never got better.

The thought of someone being in that position with me is mortifying. I can’t deal with it. Fuck, I can’t even handle it in therapy. Imagine if I was at an appointment, what would have happened. I can’t. It’s not going to happen.

My therapist wants to work on it together a little bit at a time. But I’m scared. I’m so damaged. It’s not even going on anymore but the damage is done. I can’t erase the memories, I can’t forget how it felt.

And if that wasn’t enough, the memories have kept coming, even hours after my therapy session. Don’t tell anyone, they won’t understand. I’m just trying to make you better. I didn’t tell anyone. I was a good girl. So why did it keep happening? Why didn’t I get better?

Daddy is standing there. He’s holding my hand. But it still hurts. Why is he letting her hurt me? Does he know I’m sick there, too? I don’t understand. What did I do? I keep saying please, no but no one is listening. My voice is gone. I close my eyes but I still feel everything.

I don’t want to remember anymore. My heart hurts.

I’m just a passenger

I have spent a good portion of the last few weeks as a passenger in my own life. I’m not in control. I’m not in the driver’s seat. I can see everything that’s going on, but I have no control over it. I’m just an observer. I’m just a passenger.

This happens a lot more than I care to admit. Yesterday, I realized I was (literally and figuratively) out of my own control. I found myself involved in a situation in which the ways I was acting and speaking were not my own. I knew it was me, and I could see and hear everything that was going on, but my responses were not me. As everything was going on, I felt like I was sitting next to myself. I would say something, and then I would ask myself where the hell that just came from. I would never say this. I would never do this. I don’t want this. Yet there I was, saying it, doing it, and apparently wanting it.

It concerned me, because this situation is something I very much don’t want to be involved in. I told myself, maybe I’m just crazy.  I don’t even know what’s going on. I don’t even know how to explain it to someone else because I don’t even understand it.

I wanted to bring it up to my therapist, but it felt so awkward and uncomfortable. Oddly enough, I had a therapy assignment from our session earlier in the week – the stages of therapy. I looked over the sheets and crossed out the things I didn’t have issues with, and circled the things that I felt I needed help with. Next to relationships, I wrote “making questionable decisions”. I was hoping my therapist would read it and ask about it so I didn’t have to bring it up myself.

And she did. So I explained what happened yesterday. I told her how I felt disconnected, but not entirely disconnected because I still had full awareness of what was going on, but I just didn’t have control. And I thought she was going to think I was crazy and not making any sense, but she didn’t. She understood what was going on, and suspected what I had suspected as well – another part coming through, a part with completely opposite wants. Great.

I sort of have been hiding some things from my therapist, not just about relationships, but with other things as well. Not purposely, I just didn’t feel like they were important. But most of the things I had been pushing away seemed to come up with that assignment today. One of the things I crossed out was ‘drugs’. She asked about it. I said I haven’t used in a while, and that I even threw away all of my pills last month. Then she asked why. I don’t really know why, I just know it happened during one of my regular crises.

Then she asked if I remembered doing it. No. I hadn’t remembered doing it. I only knew because I went to throw away my trash weeks ago and noticed a bunch of pills fall out from my bin and into the trash bag. I don’t remember doing it, or why I did it. But clearly I did it.

And as we went on, I realized there was a lot of occasions that I don’t remember. I’ve just been telling myself it’s because I’ve been so tired lately, that’s why I can’t remember shit. But it’s more than that. And that worries me. I know I’ve been under a lot of stress, especially in the last month. But it’s concerning because I am in the midst of making some pretty considerable life decisions, and I don’t know if it’s 100% me making those decisions.

I have been in a dissociative denial.

Why I Want(ed) to be a Counselor

I have been in and out of the mental health system for the last 15 years.

Let me be totally honest; the system sucks. I could go on and on about just how badly it sucks, but I just don’t have the energy for that right now.

I’ve had quite a number of therapists. Most of them have been horrible. Some of them, I seriously question how they were (and likely still are) allowed to practice counseling.

My first therapist enjoyed talking about herself more than about me.

My second therapist avoided any topic that was mildly serious. You self-injured? Oh. How is school going? 

My fourth or so therapist: Your mother loves you. You’re just overreacting.

The social worker assigned to me after my first hospitalization: I think you have an attachment disorder. You can never leave your family. You should try drinking wine (knowing I had a history of alcohol abuse). Your mother loves you. She’s just overprotective because she cares. I get it, I have problems with my mom, too. All children have problems with their parents. It’s okay to be suicidal.

I could go on about this woman. I had been telling her for weeks that I felt something wasn’t right, maybe it was my medication or what, I don’t know. But I told her that I was suicidal and concerned about ending up in the hospital again (or worse). That’s when she told me it was okay to be suicidal, and basically ignored my concerns. For the record, I ended up hospitalizing myself shortly after that, and my medications were changed.

Unfortunately, they sent me right back to this woman. I used to refer to her as SSW (shitty social worker). It had gotten so bad by that point, that I sought out a therapist just to help me cope with SSW (I didn’t want to risk missing my appointments with SSW and being re-hospitalized). I dealt with her for a few more months.

During what would turn out to be our last session, I told SSW of my plans to run away and leave my family behind. She immediately shot me down, telling me I could never leave my family. You can’t abandon your family. They are your family. What? How could you tell me this, knowing my history? I was so angry, so filled with rage. I knew I couldn’t go back to her. It was not healthy. She should not be a counselor in any capacity. She is dangerous.

That was my final push. I told myself I needed to become a counselor because people in need should not be subjected to people like her. Victims should not be invalidated by therapists. Clients should not be put in danger. Clients should not be ignored. I wanted to be everything my previous counselors were not. I wanted to change the profession. I wanted counselors to know that mothers abuse their children, and that they need to acknowledge that it happens instead of telling the person they are just misunderstanding their reality.

I wanted to be a counselor to make a difference in others’ lives. I wanted to go on that journey with them. I wanted to witness their growth and transformation. But I also wanted to initiate change and make a difference with a larger impact. I wanted to change the way counselors were being educated. Why aren’t they being educated about female-perpetrated abuse? Why are they not being educated or trained in dissociative disorders? Why is the system continually dropping the ball when we are perfectly capable of being better?

That is why I wanted to be a counselor.

But things change.