It has been one year now that I have been free.
In the beginning, I didn’t think I was going to make it this far. I had limited finances, no job, no family, and no friends. I sat in my room the first few days and just got lost in my thoughts. I told myself I would enjoy freedom as long as I could, and then kill myself once I ran out of money. I had very low expectations, a lot of fear of the unknown, and a lot of anxiety about the world.
Many people don’t understand it when I say I ran away from home, that I escaped. Regular people just move out when they change locations. But I never had that ability. I ran away and ran towards freedom.
But even then, I could not run away from my mother’s programming. Even though I was physically free from her, I carried the same beliefs about the world that she had trained me to believe. She wanted me to believe the world was a scary place because that is how she kept her control over me. And when I moved away, I still thought the world was out to get me.
As the weeks went on, I started making small achievements. I took the bus all by myself. I crossed a busy highway. I went to the mall. I had conversations with strangers. I went to the grocery store and picked out new foods. I sat on my porch at night and looked at the sky. While these all sound like everyday things, they were not to me. They were things I was never allowed to do by myself.
Within a week, I started therapy. I already contacted my therapists before I even made my escape. They were ready and willing to help me. Therapy started out fine, and then all hell broke loose. After one month here, I dissociated so badly that it took two therapists to bring me back. That was when I got my official DID diagnosis, and I’ve continued therapy ever since. It’s been a couple hundred hours, thousands of dollars, and a whirlwind of emotions, but it has allowed me to be where I am today.
Within two weeks, I got a job. I had a couple of interviews lined up, but I decided to go with the first place that wanted me. In the long run, that ended up to be a great decision, because the people I work with are some of the most understanding, amazing people I have ever met in my life. The night before my first day at my new job, I ended up in the hospital. My PTSD was severe and I was admitted to the psych unit for a few days, without a phone and without a way to contact my job. I thought for sure that was it. I missed my first day and I was a no show. But they understood, and within 24 hours of being released, I started my new job, the job I still have today.
Within six weeks, I finished my thesis on mother-daughter sexual abuse. I received the highest grade of 99. With that, my undergraduate career was done with. I graduated with high honors and a 3.9 GPA.
Within two months, I was hired as a writer for a mental health website, writing about the disorder I was still in denial about. It was a challenge for me in many ways. Taking the position meant that I had to be public, and up until then I was completely untraceable and off social media entirely. It also meant that my name would be tied to DID forever, and that my diagnosis would be public record, so to speak. I decided to go for it, and even though there have been some trials, I am happy with my decision. I have grown a lot through my writing, and have learned so much from others as well.
Within six months, I got accepted into graduate school and started my first semester. I went on to take the CPCE and score above the national average. I ended my first semester attaining a 4.0 and a lot of praise from my professors.
Within six months, I also started PAFPAC. I knew it would take a lot of time and effort, and even though I wish I could be doing more for the organization, it’s there for those that need it. I haven’t been able to do much as far as advocacy, but our Facebook support group continues to grow and helps survivors connect with others.
It hasn’t always been good and easy. I also broke my foot (which did not heal correctly and still leaves me in pain), I was hospitalized a few times (PTSD and panic attacks), I quit a job after four days because I had an emotional breakdown (I couldn’t handle seeing so many happy families), and I had to drop out of graduate school because someone reported my mental illness, via links to my blog.
Looking back, I can’t believe all of this (and more) happened within one year. I never expected to be where I am today. I am still standing. I am healing. I am helping. I am writing. I am telling my story.
And I am free.
I celebrated the day in my own way. I baked brownies and shared them with my coworkers. My getaway driver came down and we went to the movies and went out to dinner. My roommate got me a bouquet of flowers. I ended the night by deciding, on a whim, to get a fish.
I named him Freedom.
We’re both in better places now.