Today I saw a caterpillar smashed on the sidewalk. She met her demise before she met her destiny.
Sometimes, I want to be that caterpillar. Pleading that my life might somehow end. This desire for eternal rest comes because emptiness has found her way back to me again. I try relentlessly to fill her but she remains unsatisfied. I have ignored her, turned my heart and my mind away from her. I have closed my body off to her countless times. What I know to be true but often choose to forget is, she is not my enemy but my preserver. Inviting me to live in union with heart, mind and body. But, it’s complicated.
Complicated because, I live with Dissociative Identity Disorder. “Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is the disorder that was previously recognized as multiple personality disorder. It’s characterized by the presence of two or more dissociated self states, known as alters, that have the ability to take executive control and are associated with some degree of inter-identity amnesia. DID is caused by chronic childhood trauma and is highly associated with post traumatic stress disorder.” *
I have at least eight alters that I am aware of. And we have decidedly different preferences, opinions, values, desires and attitudes. We even have different ages and genders. Only my closest friends and my husband know I have DID. I was mortified when my therapist first diagnosed me. Convinced there was something appallingly wrong with me, I told no one for over a year. I kept reminding “myselves” our therapist had said, “The reason you have DID is because you have a strong and creative mind. You are a survivor. If your mind had not fractured, you would be catatonic, institutionalized or dead.” It’s complicated.
I developed this disorder when the predators, the Death-Dealers took sovereignty over my life.
I was just a little girl who could not make sense of the world around me so I created an inner world to escape the chaos.
I was collecting personalities at the same time I was collecting Strawberry Shortcake dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids. I now believe that DID is a beautiful but messy gift. It is my personal belief that the mind shattered in an effort to protect the soul. Our soul is the fingerprint of God that unites us. Our soul is the one thing we posses that could not be destroyed.
I am often in a co-conscious state with one or more alter doing day to day life. I can tell who is around by the clothes chosen for the day, my wardrobe looks like it belongs to at least 3 different women and one dude.The music playlists listened to, everything from The Beastie Boys to Lauren Daigle is on our iTunes. The food consumed, some of us could live on gummy bears and potato chips others like kale salads and take fish oil supplements. With one or more alters, the biggest indicators of who is “fronting” are the voices in my head, the words that come out of my mouth and the actions displayed. Sometimes, I loose time. When this happens, I know another alter has completely taken over and pushed me to the back. It is often unsettling, but I understand this is always done in an effort to protect due to an actual or perceived threat to the system. No one on the outside would ever know I have DID. The “switches” are very subtle. This disorder is covert, created in an effort to protect and to hide. It’s complicated.
I live mostly in a state of ambivalence, with thoughts and emotions like dueling banjos. There are parts of me frozen in time, still too frightened to unthaw. I am covered in a constant feeling of terror like a heavy blanket even when I “know” I am safe. Shame is always swimming in my belly even when I “know”, I am blameless. I numb all my senses so I don’t have to feel the intensity of life then I seek adrenaline surging activities because I need to feel alive. It’s complicated.
There is irony in having a mind filled with 8 distinct self states while the heart feels intense emptiness. When I allow my emptiness to be embraced by Love, my emptiness becomes satiated. Love binds all of my parts together. Love gives hope that we will be made whole. Today, I am inviting my parts to join heart, mind and body to soul. Today, I’m going to avoid the sidewalk and fly on resurrected wings. Because, it’s complicated.
Willow’s passion for story began at a young age. Always enthusiastic to listen to a storyteller or be the teller herself. Willow uses writing as a stream of healing for her complex trauma. She is finally finding her voice after decades of being silenced.
Thank you for your vulnerability, Willow. Your words are stunning and you are a very brave warrior in this tempest. May you soar.
What a beautiful and heroic story. It makes me want to hold all of your selves in a warm embrace and thank them for saving you. I recently read Janyne McConnaughey’s account of DID called BRAVE: A Personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma. It was a beautiful and brace sharing of her story while teaching at Point Loma Nazarene University. May your soul and body continue to integrate and fill your precious life with meaning.
Beautifully complicated! Your story is courageous. May you fly on resurrection wings today!
Sweet Willow – Willow trees have the ability to withstand much wind and weather – they have the ability to bend when the winds are strong. Your mind was given the amazing ability to bend and create to help you survive the traumas of your childhood. I’m so glad and thankful that you are still alive and fighting for wholeness. I get the sense that you are a very brave warrior who has survived a battle I can only imagine. I pray that you will have the will to fight another day and to keep fighting for many more days after that. You are worth loving – your life has worth. Thank you for writing this beautiful, breathtakingly honest piece. God’s peace to you.
Thank you for your courage in sharing your story. Your soul–God’s fingerprint–shines through. I wish you an abiding awareness of God’s love for you.
Thank you for your story. Thank you for seeing all sides of it and allowing us glimpses to the complexity and heartache and gift. It was a stunning entry for ambivalence and complicated. Wow!
Thank you Willow for sharing yourself and your courage!
Willow – thank you for your openness and vulnerability. And thank you for the gift of a “peek” inside the complicated place in which your heart and selves live. It is an honor to read. I rejoice in your choice to fly and your invitation of your parts to join with your heart, mind, and body with your soul. Praise God!
Your beautiful vulnerability touched me, thank you. You express well the facets of life with the internal mosaic of 8+ alters, and it made me feel less alone in my own experience of DID with 10+ alters. Courage to you, dear heart as you travel the path through the darkness towards healing.
Willow, I came across a comment that mentioned my book, BRAVE: A Personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma and found this amazing blog post. You express so many things about DID perfectly! I am stunned to find this rare glimpse into an inner world so much like my own. Thank you for writing this.