One Among Many
a survivor's report on healing and dealing
by Joann and Crew

It's really strange how the mind works. In order for me to live, I completely forgot everything that happened to me as a child. And when I began to remember, it was like a light in a house being turned on in each room. I started out by remembering (through others inside) what it did happen to me. Not the experiences, but that it did happen.

The abuse has destroyed everything in my life that has been of value. It has prevented me from living a comfortable emotional life. It's prevented me from being able to love clearly. I know that everything that I don't deal with now is one more burden I have to carry the rest of my life.

When I was first asked to write this, I was very reluctant. How could I write an article on "Pride" related to Multiple Personality Disorder? I have no pride!!!

When most people think of MPD/DID (Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Idendity Disorder) they go "YIKES" or think it's a hoax. The media, with its exaggerated projections on MPD have not helped but in fact harmed. The outside world thinks we are making it up; the person is just "crazy"; that the symptoms are used to get attention; that a person who is multiple is just trying to get out of something done and not remembered; or that this is a way to make an excuses for "odd behavior." But it's not that simple. Abuse does happen and those of us who survive abuse in this way are very real.

When I thought about MPD/DID (before I was diagnosed) I was just silent and not sure. I just didn't go there! But when my therapist "informed" me I was MPD/DID, I thought: "YES! Someone finally heard my cry and I am not crazy!!" There was finally a name. And yet at the same time, I was backing away from me and saying "NO. This can't be. Make it go away. ... Stop I don't want to hear." And I just knew people could see the monster that I felt inside me.

At that time, I was treating me (and others inside) as I see the outside world treating people who have MPD/DID. I now think of being many as a "gift". In fact, a very special gift from God. Had I not had the ability to split and become many, well, I wouldn't be here today.

After I was told...

it was difficult to sleep.

I felt like my mind was racing and I couldn't stop.

I felt a lot of panic and fear --- overwhelming at times.

There seemed to be an urgency but I didn't know exactly what about.

I felt tremendous pressure from inside and outside my head.

The emotions I felt seemed to rush in without warning and leave just as fast.

It felt like my body was being tossed about in a storm.

At times it felt like my heart was beating so loud and so fast that I could hear it outside my body

My breathing became almost none to very rapid.

At moments I felt a high surge of energy or almost unable to move.

I wanted to run as fast as I could, or curl up in a little ball

or I wanted to live and I wanted to die

or I wanted to learn and I didn't want to know.

It was difficult for me to understand what my therapist wanted me to pay attention to. I was looking and listening for something new, but actually he wanted me to be aware of what was going on now and had been always going on all my life: How I felt like my whole life was taken from me. How I didn't get to be who I could have been. How I hid behind my husband, child, drugs, food and work. How I didn't make contact with other people. And how I found self-worth in doing for others.

When I was abused my boundaries, my rights to say no were violated. I felt powerless, isolated and alone. I had feelings of being bad, dirty or ashamed. I felt like there was something wrong with me inside. That if people REALLY knew me they would leave or wouldn't like me. There were times when I felt self-destructive and I just wanted to die. I hated myself. I still have a hard time taking care of my needs.

During the physical and emotional abuse of my mother (and others), anger meant beatings or things thrown across the room. So I learned to block out physical pain because it was too devastating therefore at the same time blocking out any feelings of love or affection from others.

I have trouble expressing my feelings. I have struggled with depression and panic attacks. I worry a lot about going crazy.

The building blocks of intimacy, giving, receiving, trusting and being truthworthy are learned in childhood. As I was abused, I grew up with confusing messages about relationships between sex and love, trust and betrayal. Sexual feelings became linked to feelings of shame, disgust, pain and humiliation.

I find it difficult to trust anyone and to have close friends. It is hard for me to receive nurturing. I feel lonely most of the time. Sometimes I find myself clinging to the people I care about and I expect them to leave me.

I have a tremendous attachment to things going my way. Whenever I can maintain control I do it. Why? Because there were so many places, as a child, where I didn't have control.

The experience with telling other people about me has been more negative than positive, and very painful. I can start out by explaining being abused and they are very sorry and seem to understand that concept and are interested. BUT when I begin to talk about MPD and others inside most people stepped back a few steps, with something like "oh really," "why didn't you know before" and "now, how did this happen?" The most devastating part of this has been to watch those I thought were friends to just leave. Then there are people you think care, only to find out they just wanted to "get the gossip" and then leave. Each time taking a part of my heart and being. During this process I have had a few people who understand as best they could and have stayed for the journey and that has been worth it all!

I have found that the workplace is not kind to a person with any kind of mental illness, or to a person who is many (MPD). They are fearful of what they do not know. In my struggle, trying to be honest, I had my therapist talk to co-workers at my place of employment. It seemed that the more knowledge they had did not turn out to be beneficial to me. I found them instead becoming watchful, judgemental and wondering if I were safe around other people! Under these circumstances it's hard to function, to go to work, to think, to smile and to perform. It's even hard to eat or sleep.

With the help of a good therapist I am beginning to find out who I am. That I do deserve to live. I realized that I was not alone and that someone believed in me. That I had felt dead all these years and now I have been born.

I am learning it is ok to be angry and to have feelings. That it is safe to have friends and they won't leave. If I had continued to keep my wall up to block out the bad things then at the same time I was also making it unable to receive the good feelings. I have learned that if you don't accept the gift then you don't accept the giver.

I found out while writing this that I do take pride in the fact that I'm MPD/DID. That I did indeed survive! That slowly but surely I am believing that I do have value as a person. Do I feel this all the time? No. But the further I get in my journey, the stronger I become. Do I fall down? Yes. But I/we pick ourselves back up and continue. I will NOT give up. I will continue to fight until I have peace within. This journey is not easy but neither is life.

Now I see a glimpse of HOPE where in times past I had none. I take PRIDE and join hands with other abuse victims, to speak out and say that the abuse of children must stop now. We must listen.

I do take pleasure and satisfaction in the fact that I am taking control of my life. No longer are the abusers going to control me. I am winning and they have lost the battle. My journey is not over but I am still walking it. And yes, I do have a cause: To help others like me understand and walk their paths a little lighter.

NOTE: For further readings on MPD, DID, and living with multiplicity, visit Rainbow House, and discover the collection of arts and writings by persons with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Text © 1998 by Joann and Crew
Original Graphic © 1998 by
Jim Davis-Rosenthal

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