One day, a picture that was drawn was taken to my therapist. I didn’t remember drawing it. However, I could look back and see my hands actually drawing. I didn’t do that! I can’t draw a stick person well! This picture had faces, many of them, with expression. It was quite good. It was so upsetting to me that I was afraid NOT to take it to him.
It took him another two years to tell me that he’d actually diagnosed me with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I found out my diagnosis when he was making a call to our local sheriff to report the abuse that I’d sustained from my older brother as a child. I didn’t understand why abuse that happened over 20 years ago would be reported. I was 37 years old for pete’s sake! I didn’t understand how he had grounds to make such a call. I didn’t remember much and what I did remember wasn’t that bad! My therapist maintained that he was mandated if he felt the person could still be a risk.
So, DID was what I was living with? I needed to know what that was. I needed to learn about why I was the way that I was. I read some online and found an online community called Healthy Place which had actual people who dealt with the same thing chatting there. I wasn’t alone! I wasn’t crazy! If I was like these people, I was all right. Talking there helped me to see myself a bit more clearly and learn more about my experiences and my diagnosis.
For the next couple of years I would go to therapy and sometimes remember, and sometimes not. I was getting used to it. I learned what caused the formation of DID and was scared to know what I couldn’t remember. When I would remember, or I was able to finally “own” something, it was very important to me that I validated it to the best of my ability. I was able to validate most everything that I learned through my mother, younger brother and documentation.
The dissociative walls were finally starting to come down. I was able to “view” parts of childhood, even though I didn’t own it or have any of the emotions connected. This went on for quite some time until I was able to view in one large movie, my childhood. However, it wasn’t mine. It belonged to parts of my mind who experienced it. These parts are who held the emotion.
My therapist and I were both becoming frustrated that I couldn’t get past the point of viewing and then reporting what I viewed. My therapist learned the severe childhood trauma actually changes the brain physiology and that it wasn’t my fault! The intellectual brain actually has a separation from the emotional brain and the necessary “bridges” aren’t there for the appropriate connections. It wasn’t because I wasn’t trying hard enough or dealing with some kind of denial. I, physically, couldn’t do it.
In learning that, we also learned that one way to build bridges between the intellectual brain and the emotional brain was by physical stimulation…actual triggers. What? I was going to trigger myself? Yep, I was and I did. That was the beginning to the most incredible journey!
With my therapist there to gently guide me, and keep the childlike parts of me safe enough to talk, we were able to build some bridges and make some connections. What’s more, I was remembering! Sometimes it wouldn’t be played back for me by whatever part of me was there until later, but it was definite improvement.
Today I’m almost whole. Through time, care, exploration, consistency, and a good therapist, my entire childhood is at my disposal. The parts of me that held it have decreased to four, and my lost time is next to none.
I’ve learned to understand my reactions in this world, take no medications, and may experience one panic attack per year. I’ve learned that people can be trusted and that they were never lying about me. I simply couldn’t remember.
I learned that a sweet, creative child chose a way to survive the unthinkable. I learned that seeing a man dead on a city road began a fear that led the child to say, “I don’t want to be here,” and “I want to go away.” I learned that she did just that. I learned that the subsequent abuse of her older brother, and his threats of death that she already feared so much, allowed her to create an inner world where she could find safety.
Most of all, I learned that this child saved us. Today, after a rough journey, she’s finally learned that she’s safe. Yeah. We’re finally safe.