The mind’s willing descent into madness

I have found myself coming apart in a way I don’t understand this past week. I have had trouble functioning outside of taking care of my kids.

When I am away from my kids, my mind immediately starts its descent into madness.

My mind is drawn to an alternative universe that only lives in my head, but was built there during my childhood.

It is an evil world. It feels awful to go there, but I find my parts are drawn to it like a magnet. I think maybe because this awful place feels so familiar to them they want to be there?

This world is dangerous for me as it stops my rational thinking for myself. I start listening to the programmed messages that reside there telling me to kill myself. I can’t find my normal reasons for not even considering that option as I am hijacked into a world that shakes my brain dizzy until it can’t string together two sentences or thoughts that make sense.

I approached a dangerous memory last week. One in which I am certain outside people went to great lengths for me to not remember. I stumbled into it somehow, or someone inside decided to give me another piece of the puzzle.

The facts of this puzzle don’t make sense in a real world, but I didn’t grow up in a real or normal world.

Facts didn’t matter, as our reality was easily challenged by the adults in our lives. Our brains grew to accept this world and dismiss our own versions of reality.

My brain feels broken and battered this week. I always wonder if I will make it out of these situations as each time the beatings on my brain gets worse.

My brain is driven to go on a fact-finding mission in the depths of hell that exist in my brain.

My therapist tried to keep me from doing this, but we can’t keep going without understanding our abuse better.

She is right, it is too fast, too soon. We should be pacing looking at our trauma better, but we just can’t let go.

The magnet pulls us in and we get stuck viewing and feeling the horror of it all.

This is our life, and sometimes I really hate it.

Parenting with Dissociative Identity Disorder

I am blessed to have two amazing children, ages 6 and 12. My spouse and I adopted both of my children at birth through open adoption (when the birth parents choose who they want to adopt their baby).

Both of my children are happy, healthy, and smart kids. My life wouldn’t be worth living if I didn’t have them in it.

Neither of my children know their mom has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). The older child does know that I sometimes gets depressed, and that some bad stuff happened to me when I was a child, which is why I am so protective of her.

If you have seen the television show “United States of Tara,” my life is nothing like that. My parts do not freely and recklessly interact with my children, and there is a reason for that. That show makes me cringe from a parenting perspective, though I know other people with DID disagree with me about it.

Every person with DID has what we would call a system of parts (or some might call them alters or alternate personalities), and every person with DID has a very different system at varying levels of recovery, functioning, and beliefs about the world and how they fit into it. This writing is only about me and my parenting beliefs and choices.

I have been diagnosed with this disorder for 28 years, and I have made incredible progress in creating a system that is less chaotic and more cooperative than when I was first diagnosed.

My system is less chaotic in that I do not switch to another part without any control or knowledge of what is happening. Usually, I switch under extreme stress/triggers, or when in therapy to work on trauma my parts have experienced. I can control which parts of myself are out with my children through the internal cooperation we have with each other in our system.

I also have co-consciousness, which means I am aware of what is happening when another part is out. I may not have control over what the part is saying or doing, but I do know what is happening. Not everyone with DID is lucky enough to have this ability, and I didn’t when I was first diagnosed.

My system is cooperative in that everyone in it knows there are certain rules in place when it comes to the outside children. For starters, we don’t let our outside children see any of the many inside children that live in this body. I knew this would be confusing to my children, so I made this rule early on.

As someone who was terribly abused as a child, it is extremely important to give my children the stable and loving life I never had. And every part inside of me agrees with this goal.

I don’t want to give you the idea that my life is a bed of roses and has no affect on my children. My level of functioning fluctuates, especially more so over the last 3 years. I was out of therapy for many years until a series of traumatic events happened to me, which unfortunately destabilized my DID quite a bit.

I experienced a Major Depressive episode about 1 1/2 years ago, and as a result I spent the better part of 17 months in my bed unless I absolutely had to be at an appointment or one of the functions for my kids. My kids noticed this change, and we talked about it with them giving them limited, and age appropriate detail. We also had the ability to have both of the kids in therapy to deal with any anxiety or other feelings they had about it.

My children have experienced me leaving for weeks at a time when my DID, PTSD, and Depression became too severe and I went to a treatment facility. This caused them a lot of anxiety as they worried whether I was going to go away again because I had to do it several times over the last three years.

My children aren’t aware that I have suicidal thoughts on a very frequent basis. My system of parts who often argue that suicide is the best way out of the pain we experience, will not make a suicide attempt when they are reminded how much this would hurt our outside children.

There was a time over the past 3 years when the intensity of my pain and psychological distress was so great that I did self-harm by cutting into my arm in hidden places. My oldest child accidentally caught a glimpse of a scar on my arm that had the initials of someone who hurt me. I lied about it and told her it was a scar from something else, and she never brought it up again, and my system made the rule that we would never self-harm again in that way. So far, we haven’t.

I go to therapy three times a week to work on the trauma I experienced as a child. Some days I feel the feelings I dissociated as a child, and they are awful, so sometimes the best thing for me to do after therapy is to go to bed to take care of myself.

Some days my PTSD gets triggered so severely I can’t function. This can cause younger parts of myself to be “out” in the body. This is when my spouse and I have to work together closely as a team.

Noises are a major trigger for me when my PTSD is activated. Having two young children doesn’t equal a quiet household. My spouse is really good at trying to shield me from their noise when this happens. Fortunately, my PTSD doesn’t happen to this degree often.

I do have other parts who interact with the children. These are parts of me who are adult, and who most people wouldn’t detect as different, and would just chock it up to me being in a different mood.

Sadly, I have parts of me who don’t claim any relationship or interest in the kids. They stay far away from the kids, and usually don’t pay much attention to what is going on with them. By far away, I mean they don’t come out for anything that has to do with the children.

In some ways, my children are better off because they have me as a parent. They get a super caring parent who understands things from many different perspectives. They also get someone who will fight for them like nobody’s business, and teaches them to fight for other, less fortunate people in this world. They have a strong sense of justice.

I do realize one day I will have to decide whether to tell them my story, and this huge piece of my life as someone with DID. I imagine when they get older I will tell them my story, but it will be super hard for them because they will learn some horrible things about people they love, and would never dream are capable of such horrendous things. That is a challenge for another day.

Parenting is by far the hardest job in the world. I didn’t get to pick my parents, and they caused me great harm. My children didn’t get to choose us as parents, and I hope they will always feel grateful for the love and kindness we have given them as parents.

I believe loving your children unconditionally, and all the time, is the best recipe for happy, healthy kids despite what other issues are part of the picture.

Your Pity Doesn’t Help

I like to write about my Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) to educate people about the disorder, and because I selfishly hope it is somehow therapeutic for me to open up about the secret life I have lived my entire life. And I will forever be an advocate for those in need of help.

At times, in order for people to understand the origins of my DID, I have written about the horrific abuse I experienced in my childhood. It is unimaginable to most people, and frankly, sometimes overwhelming to them.

A common response I will get from people who have read about my history is pity. They feel so sorry for me, which is a hard pill for me to swallow. I don’t feel sorry for me. I feel angry and hurt and lost and sad.

I guess if I was still a child that pity might have meant something to me. Maybe.

I am a survivor now. I am way past needing anyone to feel sorry for me. Nothing can change my past. It is done.

As I sit here writing this I realize this kind of sounds rude, and I really don’t mean to. It’s just hard for me to hear someone have pity for me. It doesn’t help me.

I am fortunate to have survived a childhood that many children wouldn’t have. My DID allowed me to survive as a child. Now, as an adult, my DID threatens my survival from time-to-time, and definitely makes my life more difficult to say the least.

Still, I don’t want your pity.

I want your understanding of DID. I want you to be outraged how people with DID are treated in the world and by the mental health system. I want you to be aware of the severity of child abuse going on in this world, and likely even in your own neighborhood. I want you to save a child you suspect may be getting abused. And I want you to contribute to making the world a better place by helping people with DID get the resources they need to heal, or at least live.

I am fortunate to have many blessings in my life in spite of the DID. I have an amazing spouse and am blessed with two gorgeous children. I have had times when I have had really successful careers, and have felt good about the work I have contributed to this planet to make it better for others. I have a nice home, health insurance, cute dogs, and I live in a nice neighborhood with many loving people in my life.

If you read any of my other writings you will also know my life is not a bed of roses. But, I am making it through life anyway, and I am hell-bent on healing despite the odds and the naysayers.

For me, what matters most is the people behind me who aren’t as fortunate to have the resources and support I have. They are living in a daily hell, and they need all of our support, advocacy and love.

No one needs pity. When has pity ever helped anyone?

People who have been so severely traumatized as children their minds split apart so they could survive need so much more from you than pity.

Start with trying to understand, and follow with compassion. And hopefully the rest of my wish list for you will follow.

Not everyone deserves forgiveness

I was just speaking philosophically about the concept of forgiveness with a therapist, and I agreed with his perspective that forgiveness generally is to the benefit of the victim. But, I disagree that everyone should be forgiven no matter their crime, or that forgiving someone will always benefit you.

As a survivor of extreme abuse from my mother and many others, I told him I wouldn’t even consider the concept of forgiveness of my mother. It would serve no purpose for her or me. After all, when your mother is a sadistic narcissist, she does not see any reason for a need to be forgiven.

She doesn’t need it, and I don’t need or want it.

As commonly found in survivors of child abuse, I struggle with blaming myself for the abuse that happened to me. “If only I wasn’t so bad, maybe it wouldn’t have happened.” It is really hard to get off that train ride of blaming yourself, if ever.

I have forgiven other people for betrayals because I knew by me doing so, I was setting myself free and letting myself move on. But, there is a big difference in hurting someone, and intentionally perpetrating evil on someone.

In the case of the evil my mother perpetrated on me, I will feel no better by forgiving her, especially since I don’t believe it is my job, or within my capacity to even consider it.

Where I stand today, I am not sure everyone deserves to be forgiven. I know there are many people who would disagree with me, which is totally ok.

Some things are bigger than the capacity to understand. For those, I leave it to God or a higher being to make that call as to whether they are to be forgiven or not.

In the case of my mother, she perpetrated such evil and intentional abuse that has robbed me of so much I should have had in life. There are long moments of feeling like she has ruined my life, and brief moments of taking that power back and trying my best to live a life that is still broken in so many ways on the good days.

I survived the woman who was supposed to be my mother. I wish I had a mother, but sadly I don’t, and never will. Even with my mother still alive, I would never want HER as my mother.

I have no desire to try to make amends or to fix anything. I have found when evil is nearby, it is best to step aside and let it keep going by instead of trying to tame it.

My mother will one day meet her maker, and will have to answer for her extreme sins. It hurts me to think of her possibly going to Hell, as I feel pity for her.

I was an innocent child who deserved a “good enough” mother. Sadly, she was far from it, and has no remorse for it.

I can’t imagine what went wrong in her life to make her into the person she became, but I still can’t excuse her, and I won’t give her forgiveness.

It was never ok what she did to me. And somehow I think if I contemplate forgiveness of what she did to me it says “it wasn’t so bad, or I am over it so I am going to let it go,” but that is never really going to happen. It will always be a part of my damaged soul.

Today, for me, courage is to stand up and say “I will not forgive you for what you have done to me. You have controlled and hurt so much of me. It is my right to never forgive you.”

And I know this is right today, because just saying that sends terror through me that you will find out I said it. A child should never be terrified of their own mother.

All I can say that seems appropriate is may God have mercy on your soul.

An Extraordinarily Brutal Life

I am just an ordinary person who has led an extraordinarily brutal life. My life between 0-11 was the most horrific of all, spending almost everyday being sexually, physically, and emotionally abused and neglected. It didn’t stop at 11, but that was the worst of it.

I have had the cruelest mind tricks played on me, which in some ways were worse than the overt acts of abuse I experienced.

My mother used to think it was funny to take me 10-15 miles from home in a beach town and leave me at some random place when I was 5 years old. I had no ability to do anything in that situation. I usually waited until nightfall when my father would find me and bring me home. So yeah, I have good reasons to feel an intense fear of abandonment.

My father never spoke of this abuse he knew my mother perpetrated on me, because at the end of the day, he loved her and wanted to be with her more than he cared for me.

So-called dignified people in my community had sex with me whenever they wanted, and my mother was so narcissistic and sadistic she helped facilitate this abuse, and I am sure got something out of it for herself.

I’ve been locked in rooms with our local State Farm agent and his children screaming at me that I must accept Jesus Christ into my heart if I wanted everlasting salvation. No matter how many times I tried to say what they wanted, it was never “right” because they were relentless in their brainwashing that I was, and always would be a sinner, doomed for hell. They always ended this special kind of torture by sexually abusing me.

My mom used me as a surrogate spouse when my daddy disappeared on a drinking binge for days or weeks at a time. What seemed like a special relationship with her always turned to a disgusting, sexual experience with her drunken passed out body on top of me.

When she wasn’t sexually abusing me, she spent her time hitting me for no reason, or telling me how much she hated me and how ugly I was. She was quite strikingly beautiful herself, so she often criticized me regarding just about everything that existed within me.

My mom used to make me go to our town’s most reputable pediatric dentist after school so he could sexually abuse me and torture me with dental devices. He used to drill me teeth for the fun of it, and I had no knowledge of what Novocain was until I was a teenager.

My grandmother used to give me to a cult called “The Way” when they came to town. I was driven with other children I did not know out into a dark wooded area where these cult members, mostly in their 20s, would drug us, teach us that we were supposed to cut our wrists and let all our blood out to sacrifice ourselves for Jesus, and then they would sexually abuse us around a big bon fire. Needless to say, I have some very confusing ideas about religion.

My older brothers were what people might have called “troubled” if they were using nice words. Since they were older than me, I really don’t know what they were exposed to to make them so out of their minds. Sadly, they were drug addicts and drug dealers at an unusually young age. This brought me lots of unwanted sexual abuse, torture, and violence.

My oldest brother was like my mom, sadistic and sociopathic. He would go out of his way to torture me with pleasure. He would rape me regularly, sell me to his friends for sex, and often try to see how close he could come to killing me without actually killing me.

My middle brother sexually abused me to around age 7 or 8, but one day he was the first to tell me that you are not supposed to have sex with family members. He never personally had sex with me again, and would try to protect me from my oldest brother when he was around. Still, he could not even put a dent in the madness and abuse that came my way from all sorts of places. Though he is probably the most troubled in our family now, I imagine that is because he had a conscience and suffers from extreme guilt and sorrow over what happened in our family.

The strange thing about our middle class family is that all the kids in our “community” had sex with each other from a very young age. This was an all the time thing, and sanctioned by our parents. This was our normal, and usually involved group sex, but not always.

I’ll never forget spending the night at one of the boy’s houses when I was about 7, and he was having sex with me in his bedroom, and his mother came in and put the laundry away while it was going on. It was as if nothing was wrong, and nothing needed to be said about it.

I would venture to say that by the time I was 6, I had more sex with people than most people do their entire lives.

Why I chose to survive this life I was living is often a mystery to me. A life where no matter how “good” I tried to be, I was repeatedly abused, neglected, tortured, and exposed to mind control and religious craziness.

I didn’t survive because I was so strong and could see me making a better life for myself one day. I survived because my mind split off over and over to deal with my reality. I didn’t intentionally do it. It is supposed to be some lucky source of creativity and intelligence in my brain that allowed me to do so (which I don’t fully agree with).

The splitting of my brain has left me as an adult with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly called Multiple Personally Disorder. It is not fun or interesting to have DID. Maybe it is fascinating to those who don’t have it. My life is an absolute cluster f*ck on most days.

As someone with DID, I have more parts of myself than I can count. I am so screwed up that half the time I don’t even know myself that I am not the personality that is “out front” talking to someone. My brain is seriously impaired memory wise. It is like having dementia since I was 21.

I can’t remember huge and significant parts of my childhood, and even positive memories of my adulthood. It is all a mystery that I continue to strive to figure out and fix.

Honestly, I don’t really know if there is a “fix” but since I have kids and won’t kill myself because of this, it leaves me with little else to do but to try to fix myself, and help others who have suffered similar plights.

In psychiatric, psychology, and other mental health schools, they teach that this is a rare condition, and spend virtually no time teaching people how to recognize and treat it. It is by no means rare.

So many children are abused at this level to create this disorder. I know people don’t want to imagine abuse on this level, but it is true. People just don’t end up with this disorder without suffering extreme abuse or trauma at a very early age.

For the fun of it, you can visit the endless pages of survivors who have DID on Facebook. You will see this is not isolated to a few of us, or isolated to any one country.

DID is real and awful to live with, and those of you who care should be doing more to help the most wounded of us.

Do you realize if we go to an emergency room and tell the people we have DID, we will likely be completely discredited as crazy and possibly put in the psych ward even though we are coming in for a medical issue?

Do you realize the majority of mental health treatment facilities refuse to treat those of us with DID? Heck, the majority of therapists in all countries don’t want to treat DID, and thus refuse to.

People like to think of us as dangerous and scary, but in reality, people with DID are often the kindest people you will meet. But, we can’t change the Hollywood version of DID that is probably the only knowledge most people have about DID.

In a world where there is so much injustice, I guess I can’t expect you to care about this abuse of DID people as adults. But if you do care, I hope you will help me make the world a better place for those who are most wounded amongst us.

Stand up for what is right. Stand up for the most wounded.

Searching for life

Many days I find myself wandering, and wondering what I am doing and whether there is any real purpose to it.

Sometimes these journeys searching for my life take me far from home. Many of the times they have been clearly for nothing, and have just left me with the feeling of being further lost than when I started.

I keep searching for my life, and just can't let go of the idea that one day I will find me, and get to live that life that has been missing.

I read and study and talk and write about my search for my life. So often it seems pointless for me, but I stay inspired because I know I am slowly putting enough pieces together that I can help other damaged people suffering from severe trauma find their way back into the lives they were meant to have.

Being lost is lonely and pointless. Today I walked 7 miles along the beach and busy touristy streets, and did not really have a connection to it all. In fact, I had no idea I was even going to do it until I had done it. I still don't know why I did it.

My whole life I have been lost, and never meant to find my way. Living in confusion land protects me from feeling my pain, and the herds of people who abused me.

There are moments, though few and far between, in which I can reach through the depression and despair and believe I will find answers for myself and the others who come behind me.

We all deserve hope, but I realize sometimes it is just not there.

Each day I choose to wake, I know I still have a little hope. This little bit of hope keeps me searching for the answers for those of us who are lost and need to be found.

I am closer to the answer. Hang in there with me, and together we will find our missing lives.

The pieces to the puzzle are coming together. Have hope because I am going to put them together for us.

Then we will have life.