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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Perhaps the start …

Inexplicably, for years there have been moments when a particular face from the far off past will appear in the crevices of my memory for no apparent reason. I would just see his face in a flash. No explanation as to why, and I have no ill memories of this person. But, recently the flashes have become more frequent. I did this complicated web search in an effort to retrieve his last name because it was lost to my memory. I had lived next door to his sister in the early 90’s. She was an accountant, but I couldn’t remember her last name either. I threw her first name, the word “accountant” and the city where we lived, and surprisingly got few hits. I recalled her last name was unusual, and recognized it as soon as I saw it. Then I did a Facebook search and found her profile along with her brother as a Friend on her profile. With my DID, the way I figure out if people from my past are safe is to look at their picture and listen to my system. If there is unrest, the person is likely bad news. This is especially helpful when I know someone is from my past, but don’t remember them.

As soon as I saw his picture I knew my system didn’t like him. My stomach flipped, and I felt myself hold my breath for a second. A cascade of disconcerting feelings came over me. I lost my grounding and floated away for a bit. I know something, and I know nothing.

One never knows what comes next

This southern city is not my cup of tea. It’s no Earl Grey latte, hell, it’s not even a Starbucks hot black tea. Still though, I cannot ignore the fact that I’m getting signs from the universe that I am right where I should be.

I landed a job in my field. Pays abysmally less than I made in my prior job with the same experience. But, I’ve met some great people, and become great friends already with one of my colleagues, another proud member of Rainbow Club*.

With some trepidation, I managed to find a DID therapist. She’s crazy expensive, but I can tell she knows what she’s doing. That job I got is not giving me hassle about working from home one day a week so that I can easily go to my sessions. And I can just feel that I’ve reached a new place in my therapeutic process. My last therapist was incredibly supportive of me, but she had no DID experience. I tried a few times to find a therapist in my last city that had DID experience, and it did not go well for many reasons. I sense that it’s time for a new phase in my process, and I’ve found the right person for it. And I am in the right city with the right job and with the right wife to make it all possible.

And, yet, despite all this, I’m aching to ask my new therapist, “It’s all a mistake right, I don’t have this DID thing after all?” The feeling that it’s all made up, and all for attention just permeates my sense of being at times with no warning. It just pops out like a bad, obnoxious pop-up shop on the street with never ending noise and confusion. Then the feeling goes away like it was never there, until it is again.

*Rainbow Club is my own way of describing those of us that identify as LGBTQIA.