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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Friends are everything

Tonight I feel alone on an island with no connection to any human. I am in a tunnel that is growing narrower and narrower. The view is nil and the ride is solo. My body feels broken from the inevitable tension throughout. My breath feels caught in my throat, and my mouth goes dry. There seems to be no place for relief.

Then I remembered my friend, with whom I watched Parks and Recreation episodes when we both got freaked out and anxious, reached out to me this week. I have a tendency to forget I have friends. Sometimes, I have to make myself sit and write down names of my friends to remind myself I do indeed have friends. Even so, I still forget! I emailed my dear friend and fellow Parks and Recreation fan a bit ago to say I needed to reach out because I was feeling alone in the world. And, even in the midst of her own difficulties, she emailed back to say she was thinking of me. I cried just reading her succinct email back to me. So short, yet so everything to me in that moment. She wanted me to know she was thinking of me, of us, all of us. Sometimes that’s all you need to get through the night.

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.