Saturday, February 10, 2007

Tea set

We made the tea set today. W remembered to say "Can Michelle come play" and I DID and I got to paint the tea set and that was fun. And then we had a tea party with the dolls.

Sometimes I don't get attention cause I don't make a big noisy fuss like Ramona in the books does, but maybe sometimes its not a big fuss if you just tell someone you want to have attention. And this time no one forgot and I got to do something fun, and that was really great.

I read somewhere that people aren't sposed to ask for a different part to come out but I can't come out very easy and the other parts push and they getta come out and I don't so when W. asked for me especially then I got to come out so I think it's ok even if the people say it's not sposed to be like that.

We had a fun tea party and now the tea set is painted with polka dots like I wanted and none of the other parts really wanted a tea set anyways they just always like to come out. But I do too, and I got to.

This is Michelle.

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Friday, February 09, 2007


I've been paying attention to my silences lately--the things I don't say, the ways I don't speak.

Part of it has been realizing that some of the overwhelming panic I feel sometimes when asked my opinion, or what I want to do, is that I get altogether too much information from different parts. The information is not consistent--different parts believe or want very different things at any given moment. So the question "What do you want to do today?" brings up far more confusion than I think the asker intends.

And I don't yet know how to manage the negotiation required--figuring out how to let each part have their say and behave honestly, without feeling shut out and silenced. And, at the same time, I don't want to threaten the parts who feel intensely uncomfortable with perceptible inconsistencies, or looking like there's something different about me (as in me-the-group). We are/I am still working on letting go of the old "rules," and "don't answer to different names or in any way indicate that there are different parts working here" is one of the biggies.

Another part is simply the fear of behaving as though I think my problems merit consideration, care, concern, attention. I was raised to believe that because worse things had happened to someone else at some point in time or space, then I should not allow myself to be upset. And because other people had needs, mine could not be considered. And, besides, it is weak, lazy, inconsiderate, selfish, etc. to say that there is something wrong.

And then there's the covering up. I feel guilty and ashamed that I am not managing to overcome my "issues" with the apparent ease that allowed me to deal with things in my life for the first thirty or so years.

Beyond all of that, there is the fact that I just don't know where to start. When people I haven't spoken to in a while ask, "How have you been?" Well... even if they would be perfectly happy to listen, even if they are compassionate and caring, there's more to say than I can figure out how to get out.

So in a lot of ways, I just kind of avoid it. I don't speak, I don't reach out, I pretty much shut down. I've made a commitment to avoid denying things, but I'm not really skilled at it yet. Denial used to be my main job (as in me-the-part). And figuring out how to cope without it is kind of confusing, because I just don't know what to say.

Oh, and some internal thinking has gotten me to the point where I think maybe I should say right here that this blog is for all the parts, and we can each write whatever we want because no one has to read it if they don't want to, and maybe we'll try to get comfortable with signing our own names, too. Just fyi.

This post was mostly written by Cleo but the Teller reminded me to add that last paragraph.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

High Functioning

Someone recently got me thinking about how "high functioning" is defined.

By my own standards, I'm definitely not there. I'm able to do only the barest minimum of the things I used to do, or the things I would like to be doing, or the things I should be capable of doing.

On a good day, I can eat three times, and do a couple of routine tasks. On a bad day, I focus on making it from one end of the day to the other.

And yet, I know that in a psychological sense, I count as "high functioning." I'm not sure how this works, although I've seen people who don't count as "high functioning," and I can see that I'm different from them.

I suspect that for psychologists, it comes down to whether I am capable of living independently. And since I'm capable of maintaining a relationship with someone who is willing to support me financially, that counts.

In some ways, this is good, because I definitely don't want to be in a psychiatric facility. But in some ways, it's immensely frustrating, because it's hard for me to understand how I am unable to do so much, and yet, it looks like I'm ok.

So there's still that struggle to accept that there's really something wrong. I think a large part of my identity has been wrapped up in being high functioning. In being competent, and able to just overcome the things that should have held me back.

I mean, coming from a family where half of my siblings dropped out of high school, I not only went to a prestigious four year liberal arts college, but I also made it into an Ivy League graduate school.

And here I am, unable to jump that last hurdle. And whether or not I finish my dissertation, right now, I can't conceive of getting even a low-end retail job, let alone the kind of job my education should have prepared me for. There are just too many days when the absolute extent of what I can cope with extends only as far as feeding the cats.

But I still count as high functioning. And, what's more, I'm still at the upper end of functioning for people in my family. I remind myself of this, on the days when I start to believe that I must be making up the trauma.

It's still hard. Hard to believe that things I could successfully block out of my memory were that bad (because, yeah, people only block out happy memories). Hard to believe that the things I do know happened were bad enough to be causing the effects I'm coping with. Hard to believe that the people I know now would have done the kinds of things I remember. Hard to recognize that the things I remember happened to me when I was small--that I didn't have the resources and strength I do now, that my body was half, or a third, or less the size it is now.

And it's hard, on the days when I remember not to push past what I can cope with, to remember why it is that I have to be so careful.

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