Voices of the Wee Ones

Mommy and Daddy were no good. They did things to hurt us, on purpose. Mommy wasn’t our real mommy so she didn’t like us anyway. Daddy said he loved us but he did lots and lots of things we didn’t like. We used to want them to love us but now we don’t care. We don’t talk to them or see them anymore. But if we did see them we’d tell them that they are just big piles of poo.

We’re little but we’re BIG. We won’t ever let them hurt us again, because now we know that we’re good and they’re bad. They shouldn’t be Mommies and Daddies at all. Sometimes we want to hit them hard and never stop hitting them. Sometimes we cry because we remember something bad. That’s when we throw poo inside! We have Poo Party Parade and we can wear our big shiny costumes and get on our riding rhinos and riding pigglies and run into the arena and throw lots and lots of poo on pictures of Mommy and Daddy. Bobby has a Puba that’s a tuba for poo and we have a Poo Bomb and swords that shoot poo.

Our memories are bad and we need to talk. We talk to Woof Woof and Jojo but sometimes we just want to scream and yell to everyone about what happened.

Narcolepsy and DID

I’m a multiple, and I could probably get diagnosed with narcoplepsy if I did a sleep study. I literally fall asleep sitting up at work and my muscles are paralyzed for an instant; I slump and then snap out of it, only to slump again and again. I even begin to dream before I’m actually asleep. Sounds like classic narcolepsy, right? Except it really only happens at work. When I was younger it only ever happened in the car. But in either case, it only happens when I’m bored and drifting. In other words, when I’m in a dissociative state.

I’m finding that when I get into this dissociative “slump” state of being half in the body, half out of the body, it’s because someone else is around wanting to come out. It’s about switching.

I believe that the body tends to not remain “empty” — if it was easy to leave the body empty, then we could just leave our bodies empty during abuse and no one would have to suffer at all. Instead, we switch and someone else takes control.

So when I get into a dissociative state at work, what can I do? First of all, with my job it is sometimes safe to switch. There are some responsible parts that can do my job, and my co-worker knows about my alternate personalities. However, in this case I don’t know who is coming into the body, whereas usually we’re aware of almost everything that’s going on. Lately it’s been a sign of someone “new” (unknown to us) coming out.

I try talking to the person, even though I can’t quite sense their presence. I try to explain what’s going on and why I can’t switch, and what they can do in the meantime (my inner world is awesome). Then I try to be more aware and mindful and present. I like to do this with music and grounding techniques. Grounding is so important!!!! I always think I don’t want to ground myself because I want to float and fly and connect with magical things. But in reality, you have to ground yourself or else it’s all a dream and you’re drifting into dissociation.

So: grounding techniques. I have a small rattle in my purse, it’s a wooden egg with some kind of beads inside that sound really nice, almost like a rainstick. So I connect with my surroundings while rattling super softly, just trickling really. I think about my feet being flat on the floor, and connect with the Earth. I imagine the sky, since my office has no windows and that tends to bother me a lot. I imagine nature. Then I look back at my surroundings and tell myself I am at work, and I am somewhat refreshed.

I need to be more present in the body if I don’t want to switch, so I have to open up to feel things. One technique is to go through your senses, listing 5 things you can see, touch, taste, hear, and smell — but at work I’d have to do a shorter, easier version of that. It really is helpful.

Another good tool is active inward-looking. I don’t know what to call it. It’s not dissociation but it’s like seeing into your inner world with great clarity, not “making things up” but really seeing it unfold before your mind’s eye. Why bother? Well, there’s tons of reasons why you want to know what’s going on inside your head. But the most alluring reason is because you can get a little high or thrill off seeing your world in action if it’s a happy and good place.

For instance, in my world, my parts are all outside right now, experiencing the clear, sunny sky and mild-but-chilly temperatures. There’s so much to do. Astra has a hang glider and is thinking of going up to her launching point…except she wants to feel not floating but falling for an instant. Some of the older boys are organizing a better armory and arena for our inner smack-downs. This is a regular thing that goes on — where we put up an image of our perpetrators and vent anger on them. Some of the personalities are gathering herbs and talking to the forest-spirits. Others are out with the wolf pack, running for the thrill of it. We have a mountain with climbing aparatuses and rope bridges on it, so a few people are there. Robert and his crew are maintaining the trails now that the Winter snow has pretty much melted. They’re tracking animals and getting a feel for how the ecosystem is doing. Phoenix is out on a horse with her Golden Eagle on her shoulder, nearly flying. It’s good for her since she’s been out so much lately, doing work and taking care of things. Pomona, a newly-found part, is with her, learning. There’s a group at our spiritual centre, a yurt in the forest, giving offerings and making it look nice for Spring. I could go on and on and on.

When I take the time to do this, I am at my best. For some reason, if I slip out of the habit, I forget how rewarding it is, and I’m not drawn back easily. It’s a discipline to keep it up, and I try to do it everyday by writing it all out in a special notebook. But once I start it’s like a vacation, it’s pure joy, and utterly refreshing.

So…some time has passed since I was sleepy earlier, and I’ve done some things to help, and now I feel better. But I can’t just stop, or it will come back. I’m going to keep at it.

What Is High Functioning, Anyway?

Things have been intense here. We actually took over a week off work, using vacation days for healing. And it strikes me how lucky I am that I seem super high functioning, but really I’ve just got the perfect conditions to support me.

I have DID — Dissociative Identity Disorder. I am a multiple and I have identified and named over 250 individual parts. How do I live and function like a singular personality? The answer is, I don’t! I don’t, at all.

Let’s talk about the things I don’t do. I don’t drive: I never have, and I probably never will. It seems like an incredibly bad idea for us. I don’t have kids, and probably never will, but that’s just a responsible decision on my part. I don’t cook and I have to be reminded to eat. I don’t have much of a social life beyond my wife and our pets.  I don’t have a job that requires me to talk to people or act normal, either.

Instead, I’m blessed with this crazy job I’ve had for 10 years now, where I sit in a tiny basement office on a university campus, doing research and editing for a professor. I usually take three days off  a month — purely for mental health — and the boss doesn’t mind; I rarely see him anyway. My co-worker is a friend in whom I’ve confided about my multiplicity. She looks at it through the lens of Ethiopian spirituality and is excited when an alter comes to talk to her.  So I have the strangest work situation that suits me perfectly. I can manage it.

And I’m blessed with my wife, who is so wondrously amazing. She struggles with chronic illness and it’s hard. She deals with chronic pain, kidney stones, a body that doesn’t work right. I deal with body memories and a mind that stutters and switches and works different than others’. Us together should be a disaster. But us joined together — we’re a force to be reckoned with. Together we fly fast and easy, like swift sailing clouds. We don’t ask for much. We have lots of little animals that bring us joy. We go out for long drives (my wife, my perfect wife, loves being the driver) looking for deer and coyotes and foxes and skunks. And in the car we do therapy, hours and hours of it.

We have some kind of VIP status at the counseling agency we deal with. I say that because the two therapists who have helped us are fabulous and give us seemingly unlimited sessions, apparently free. We just keep going every week and after they heard our story they didn’t mention anything about having to pay or limit our visits. How lucky is that? Believe me, I don’t take it for granted. My wife’s on disability; I went bankrupt; we’re poor folk.

So that’s how I’m managing to survive and thrive. That’s how I can have DID, an abuse history, and still be happy for good chunks of my time. It’s just about working with what I’ve got.

 

Healing Body Memories

oh i know you will rise

when you talk about what they’ve done

oh i know you will rise

when you watch this house burn to the ground

*

Body memories bloom

soft petals on my cheek, somehow

more like bluebells

than a black eye. No one believes

how long ago that hand came clenched

against my skin, but then

no one ever believed

it happened, anyway.

I’ll wear old wounds anew,

honour them, respect them, dutifully record them,

because someone inside me wants

the world to see them

and my body wants a chance to talk.

 

My Kind of Survivor Story

I cannot describe the lives and work of 150+ people here in my head; I write poems instead. We’re real and we’re hardworking survivor-heroes like poet-kings waiting in the wings…

*

In us we have it all, we’re wild

country and deep root cellars.

Our fingers sift

flowers and light, we knit

sunbeams cast like scarves

for air, we ride

summer’s long shadows until the day

bleeds out and kisses

our newborn cheeks — hello, goodbye.

Raucous life lives here

in us, we have it all,

joined hands and stray strands

of hair streaming

long behind us all, telling

time another kind of tale, one

where we lift

up and know what we always were:

us the lovers,

us the heroes,

us all in us.

Bunnies!

We’ve been doing a lot of work in the system lately, which is exhausting, so sometimes you just have to sit down and play with the baby bunnies. It really makes the wee ones happy.

bunnies2

bunnies1

 

 

Whose Emotion is This, Anyway?

I’m slowly getting the hang of noticing how my own emotions (speaking as Owl), get amplified or overtaken by emotions from parts inside, and how to help smooth everything out.

For instance: today I’m stressed about finances, and particularly worried about car repairs. I was starting to feel more upset than the situation really warranted, and actually felt like crying. I couldn’t blame it on hormones, so what? I remembered my toolset and looked within my system for the answers. (This is a hard habit to adopt. It’s so easy to assume everything has outside causes, not inner ones.)

So I thought about how I was feeling, since that would draw me like a bloodhound to the part who’s causing or amplifying those feelings. I wanted to cry, I wanted cuddles, I wanted my blankey and Woof Woof….oh. That’s not me, that’s the kids. When I focused in on the kids, sure enough, they seemed strained and tense and worried. They wanted comforting.

From there it was a simple matter of giving them that comfort, which can be done conveniently enough inside my mind, in our inner home. Our inner house is a detailed and vivid thing, becoming more real-seeming every day. I went in (meanwhile Phoenix took control of the body) and I gathered up the wee ones and nuggets, as Willow calls them. We got into cozy jammies, and we all climbed into the Hippo bed (literally a bed that looks like a hippopotamus, with a great big mattress on its back, and a big mouth with room for kids to sleep in too). Then there were cuddles and snuggles and reassurances of love and safety, and the kids got soothers and bottles and stuffed animals and blankeys, all the simple comforts they wanted.

And we all felt better. It took about 20 minutes tops, and it was a much better solution than dissociating away my emotions. It left me feeling comforted myself, since I had taken care of the kids.

I always knew I was more than one person, and even before I knew exactly who and what my inner kids were,  I wanted to give them gifts and comfort. I would want to buy them toys or give them a soother, but I didn’t know how to do it because I didn’t have access to my inner world. If I bought a toy I was at a loss, because I myself didn’t want to play with it! I couldn’t connect with the kids directly or figure out how to nurture them. That’s why going inside is so important to me. Real work gets done there, it is not imaginary.

Never for you, Fuckface

This poem is

(not for you, fuckface)

a breath I thought I couldn’t take

in, or out, it’s

(never for you, fuckface)

a reason for everything I do, this beauty

I can create out of ugliness.

And I don’t care

(about you, fuckface)

much about the details

these days, I care

(less and less about your smirk, fuckface)

more about what I am doing, and will do,

with my strength. I’m so beyond

(you, fuckface, and

your little mind, fuckface,

your little world, fuckface,

your little life, fuckface)

what I thought I could become.