Learning to Listen

I started attending a group for people with dissociative identity disorder back in June of this year. It was quite a process just to get into it. There was an intake, an extensive intake, of which I was quite resistant with many of the questions. I was asked the ages of my parents and whether they were deceased, to which I answered, “No idea.” When asked to describe my relationship with each parent I said, “Terrible, and don’t care to elaborate today.” There were 16 possible boxes to check under the Family Psychiatric History section. I checked 12 out of the 16 boxes. I was asked to elaborate on all the boxes I checked, and I replied, “Don’t care to do so today.”

The intake form, 3/4 of the way through asked me to talk about my strengths, and I answered by stating, “Not robotically answering questions on an intake form.”

It’s a small wonder I was allowed into this group. I think it may have helped that one of the facilitators was not meeting me for the first time.

We will meet for something like 36 weeks, and we are 8-10 sessions in (I’ve not kept track of the exact number). It’s become one of those things that I look forward to every week, and, at the same time, I don’t want to turn my check in because it’s a lot of money that is not covered by insurance. I know it’s rare to have such a group for DID folks, and I am grateful and always do math in my head each week when I turn in my payment.

It’s hard to run away from this condition when you’re talking about the challenges with having parts every week. Sometimes I feel myself start to slip away during the group, but I can see I’m not alone with the struggle. I’ve known before I started the group that it’s important to listen to my parts, and have consistent communication and collaboration. I’ve learned that one can know that, yet not do it any consistent manner. I’ve found myself in the place where it’s easy to listen to the part or parts that are usually near the front. Those voices at the back get drowned out, and they start to come out sideways because when a part is not heard that is when I start to feel off. But, I don’t usually think to inquire or listen to see if a part needs something when I start to struggle.

I bought a notebook for my homework in the group. I found that parts also liked just writing in the notebook. However, I quickly learned there was conflict among parts as to where each part could write. Now everyone has their own tab and area within the notebook to write. All parts seem to be content with this solution. It surprises me that I still find content I don’t recall writing, but now with the tabs I know who’s writing! I always appreciate clues. Should have implemented this solution years ago.

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The Black Car

I have found my own modern day hermit’s cave, which I call The Black Car. I work, only because I must. And on days when I have to bring the magic in my job I have one of my parts do the heavy lifting. I’ve stopped answering most text messages and phone calls. There are a small few people whom I will reply to or answer calls, but its often painful for me to do so, and I’m usually itching to cease the communication.

Last month I had memories start to come forth, though only slivers of clues that beg further questions. Though enough has come forth that I am constantly stupefied by memories that pour out of my brain at moments when I need my full concentration, usually at work.

I tried explaining to one friend in particular this afternoon why I had been isolating and strugggling. When I told him I had been struggling with memories he just looked at me, and said nothing. And then after an uncomfortable silence he changed the subject altogether. I felt silly sitting there in that sushi restaurant with too many sushi rolls between us, and the cloud of discomfort in the air. The interaction confirmed my instincts for staying hidden away from most people to the extent possible.

I walk around only seeing what is directly in front of me.  An old friend saw me in the tea shop yesterday, and she had to wave me down and say my name loudly to get my attention. I honestly did not see her sitting in close vicinity of me.

I have days where I can fake it very well, when my dear Sabrina can fully come out at work and bring the magic. And then at the end of the day The Black Car is waiting again, and Sabrina has left when she senses that she is no longer needed for work.

The Black Car is a dependable old girl, and she’s always there patiently waiting for the next ride.

A Letter To My Boss

I have dissociative identity disorder. You do not know this, and cannot know this. If you did know this, the pieces of the puzzle would finally fall into place for you. Alas, I cannot tell you. It would be too scary for both of us.

I lost the run of myself yesterday. One of my parts leaked out sideways when I became upset with one of our attorneys who causes me to have more than a few face palm moments. His thoughtlessness brought on an anger in one of us that rendered the me you know to the backseat of my system. I felt like a spectator to myself watching me tell you in a very demonstrative manner how thoughtless he was, and how the office had different standards for him, and I vehemently disagreed with you about changing the date of the event because of his carelessness. I don’t remember all of it, but I do recall I felt crapped upon by him, and was quite angry about it.

Later you came back to talk to me about it, and, initially, I didn’t know what you were talking about. I must have shifted again. When you started talking about what happened it all slowly started coming back to my consciousness.

I asked you what your experience was with the interaction. You said you wish it had gone differently. I’m with you on that sentiment. Sometimes I think you may suspect the DID because you asked me if I remembered certain parts of the interaction. We had a good conversation about it, and you asked if you could suggest to me in the future to take some time to myself when you sense I’m getting emotional. I said it was a good idea, except that I’ll always assume I’m in trouble. And then you suggested that you could say to me to take some time for myself, that we’re good, and to come talk to you when I’m ready. It’s a very kind and understanding suggestion, and I have to tell you that I feel broken that you need to make such accommodations. I wish I could be the girl wonder employee I used to be long ago in 2007 before my PTSD and DID came rolling out of me like a broken hot water heater.

These days I try to hide it all, to no avail. It all inevitably leaks out. I’m sure you notice the vacant look I sport when I’ve had a haunted night of nightmares. Days like that I usually also have “second day hair.” No amount of dry shampoo can completely fix that with my naturally oily hair.

Thank you for the undeserved kindness. I wish I could tell you all this about me, but it’s not a good idea to do that. And, so, from afar, I’ll appreciate you, and try to be better.