Wednesday, January 30, 2008

moments of grace

one of the problems with having DID is that there is only one body, and all of those who want to do something that requires a body have to try to share it. that's a though to preface what may wind up being a really confused/confusing post, because even though i have things i want to write, i'm not 100% certain that i will be able to hear myself think through all the things the *others* are thinking, or that i will be the only one writing things down.

aimlessly finding an entry point to what i was thinking when i decided i wanted to write.... i (we? someone?) have noticed something. the more each of us in this system is able to differentiate ourselves from the others, the more we are able to integrate *ourselves*. which seems kind of backwards--achieving self-knowledge by separating more thoroughly from other parts who live in the same body? but hey, it's all in the name of greater mental health, right?

so, about me. recently, i got a "real" name, as opposed to something the others (or even i) used to refer to myself. my name is grace. i chose it in part because for a while, when i talked to our therapist, and she asked for a name, and i couldn't think of one, and she suggested just naming a color, and i knew for sure the color that fits me, the color pretty much all of us think of when we think of me... gray. anyhow, we were using the color gray to refer to me in therapy, but for a lot of reasons, particularly because of the reasons that i feel surrounded by grayness, i didn't want that to be my name, and the others in the system didn't, either.

so in part, the name "grace" is because it sounds pretty close to the word "gray."

but there's also the thought of moments of grace. i know how they feel, but i don't have words for them, not exactly. moments of grace... those points when because of something or someone or just random chance, when things get better. they don't last long, but i guess they don't need to. it's that feel of a spring wind in the middle of winter, that beam of light that reminds you that maybe the sun really is planning on coming back again. or it's that second when you look up, and there is a gorgeous moon, and you had forgotten how beautiful the world can be. or that morning when you bend over to put on your shoes, and find that for some reason, your back and hands aren't hurting so badly, and you can do this without pain. those moments that come out of nowhere, and then go right back into nowhere.

there's the religious thing, too. you are saved not by works, but by grace. like, no matter how much effort you put in, no matter how good you are, how well you follow the rules, it's something else that saves you. or it doesn't. and there have been a lot of times in my life where it's been pretty clear that i've gone solely by grace. because it's not like anything else was stepping in to save me, some of those times.

i wouldn't say i'm christian, and i know there are parts who are, and i know there are parts who are pretty badly scarred by our particular experience of christianity, and i know there are parts who just happen to have a more... broad sense of religion. but anyhow, christianity is my first language for religious things, so i'll talk about those moments of grace, with the warning that i don't mean it in a precisely christian way. i mean, it was by the grace of god that i was led to all those fantasy books that opened up my mind about what religion could be, and allowed me to reconcile my own experiences with the religion i was raised with.

okay, another transition. i'm not particularly good with transitions. it's one of those writing things i can't really manage.

for years, well before JA was diagnosed with DID, before any of us had even heard of dissociation, the others still had a name for me. that was "the hopeless one." because, well, that's a very noticeable part of who i am. i know it frustrates some of the others, because they find that things work out better when they can behave as though the positive outcome is going to be there. but oh well. sometimes, things can feel pretty darned hopeless.

the other name for me was "the suicidal one." i wasn't suicidal to begin with. heck, i was even pretty hopeful. i had a plan, and it seemed like such a good plan. i was going to put really strong protections around the part of my mind that was my *self*, and stick it out at home until i turned 18, and then i would leave, escape cleanly, and go to college, and live my happy, successful, fulfilled life. i would get therapy and neatly process through all the stuff that i knew had been problematic when i was growing up. and everything was gonna be ok.

maybe my mistake was not starting therapy as soon as i left home, but that didn't seem like the hugely important part, not to anyone who was out, at least. not that we knew about each other, except how we kind of did. i mean, we're all really used to kind of watching ourselves go around in the world, commenting on it, trying to figure out what's happening.

i can remember some of college, and most of it, the parts where it wasn't clearly me in charge, were weird. "hm, here i go, acting like a college student. i wonder how i know how to do all these things," i'd think. but i was used to that.

but then i guess collective-i started getting flashbacks. definitely started getting a lot of body memories, which none of us had a name for, but that we knew were... something not about how the body was working, you know? something that felt phsyical, but wasn't, and went along with distinctly uncomfortable emotions.

oh, yeah, and there were a whole darned LOT of emotion-memories coming up. flooding with despair and unhappiness and all of that.

so my clever plan had some flaws, and i had absolutely NO idea what to do next. general advice: college counseling centers are not necessarily the place to go if you're highly functional but suffering from a fairly major nervous breakdown. so the counselor i saw somehow missed the nervous breakdown, and saw just this person who was a "little" unhappy (despite being TOLD by my friends--and i admitted it was true--that i hadn't eaten more than a few bites, if that, for about three or four months). so her advice? "decide to be more cheerful."

which, i admit, is advice i'd given myself in high school. to decide what my moods would be, and cause myself to feel that way. well, looking back, to create a part who had the traits that would let her feel that way. but given that the reason i was in counseling was that that had failed to work any more... i felt like i'd given it my best shot, like i'd done absolutely everything i could think to do, and nothing was helping. so that's around when i got completely suicidal.

not sure where i was going with that, but ok. oh, right, moments of grace, and the grace of god. so, by the grace of god, i do have parts who didn't ever want to die. so they are probably the reason that the majority of my suicide plans are things that would be likely to fail.

and it was sheer unadulterated grace from on high that i suffered no physical ill effects from the one time i overdosed except for a lingering gag reflex when presented with the particular brand of medicine. and maybe it's even grace from on high that no one found out about that particular incident until much later, because it meant that instead of getting stuck in a hospital, the other parts could show up and take over, and go on as though nothing had happened. which, given the results, might have been the best outcome for then.

anyhow. the other thing i meant to write about in this post is how, as we parts grow more distinct from each other, we also find our-individual-part-selves growing more integrated.

because it turns out, i'm not just, or only, despairing or suicidal. i never was *only* suicidal. i'm also one of the ones who loves to read. i like to do puzzles. i like to go for walks, or color. i loved to ride my bike.

a lot of the time i am present, but none of us were aware it was me, until we started working on being aware of who we were. and as each of us is able to say, "oh, that's me" or "oh, that's her" we're all learning that there is more to each of us, and always has been more, than the labels we first had.

not sure what my point is. and i know others had things they wanted to say, but i think by this point, we're all tired, or tired of writing, so that's all.

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Groovy Girls

I am writing about Groovy Girls. They are really super toys. They are not too big and not too little. They have VERY friendly faces. I am getting a whole COLLECTION of Groovy Girls. Mostly that is because we cannot find the clothes for sale, but we can find the dolls.

One good thing about Groovy Girls is they come in almost every single color that a person is colored. And they can all be friends. That is why they are a good toy if somebody might feel bad about what color THEY are, because then they can see that all colors are very good, not just some colors.

Also they are good because they are just the right size to play with.

If you know a girl who needs a present, then maybe she will like to have a Groovy Girl. They are the same age as a girl, and not a grown up like Barbie is. Also, they are not too expensive. They cost only ten dollars or something. So if someone gets an allowance, then they could save that allowance for just a few weeks, and then they could get their OWN Groovy Girl.

That is all.

From Michelle, but also Jewel and Rain like this post too. We are sharing. Kara did not help because she is still very little.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

stupid fibro

not sure why it's been so bad lately. that is, i can't tell if it's that the adults have been a little closer to the surface, and they do have worse fibro, or if it's that i'm fighting off an illness.

all i know is that, pretty much whoever is out, we've been totally exhausted.

it's hard to remember that, let's face it, i'm not a nap person. hardly any of my parts are nap people. according to my mother, i stopped napping around the age of six months. but lately, it's been a couple of naps a day. just sheer exhaustion.

and when it's not the exhaustion, it's the pain. usually, fibro pain just makes me kind of crabby. i can't tell for sure whether this pain is worse, or i'm just more whiny about it. i do know that there have been several times in the past week when i found myself whimpering a little to myself over the discomfort. it feels worse than the time i broke my tailbone (of course, when i broke my tailbone, my body was so kind as to provide me with some endorphins, and those definitely take the edge off the pain).

the main issue i'm coping with is that even though there are a ton of things i want to be able to get done, mostly what i've managed is resting, resting, more resting... and going to therapy, which does take priority over getting the apartment organized, if i'm prioritizing what little energy i have. i'd just rather be able to get a bit more done.

or, if not that, i'd like to stop feeling guilty for not getting more done.

(this is several of us simultaneously, i think. ellis writing, but others concur.)

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Support for Supporters

At the last meeting of my DID/MPD support group, we *finally* managed to get an OK to send out an email to our list announcing the fact that people are starting a support group for supporters. So if you are a supporter of someone who has DID/MPD or another dissociative disorder, and you live within easy traveling distance of NYC, you may want to check this out:

Support for Supporters:

Some partners and friends of people with DID or other dissociative disorders would like to start a peer support group for people who are supporters of those with DID/MPD or another dissociative disorder. People who are welcome include partners, friends and supporters of those with DID.

The group will initially meet in Manhattan, at the same time as New Landscape, but in a different location so as to insure privacy to everyone in both groups. The person you support does NOT have to attend the New Landscape group in order for you to attend the supporters' group. The supporters' group will make its own decisions as to meeting guidelines, etc., once it gets going.

If there is enough interest (and there already is), the 1st Partner's Group meeting can start next month! If you or someone you know might be interested in attending this group, write us back for details.

~New Landscape

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008


sometimes i am afraid that if i admit to myself or anyone else how hard this is, then i won't be able to keep on coping. that i will just fall apart and everything will come crashing down around me.

things are hard. i am managing to cope, but they are hard. a lot of memories have been coming up recently. parts who have new information.

some of it is good--being able to figure out why i react with panic in some situations.

and some of it is just hard. hard. hard.

it's easy to go with a level of denial--like, how could i POSSIBLY have not remembered that? that was a BIG thing, not just something small.

and it's even harder, when i have a different version of the memory, something that's easier to cope with. how can i remember part of something, and not the whole? how could i re-write something as it was happening, and erase the parts i couldn't cope with?

but logic intervenes--do i benefit from making this up? not so much. there is no real gain from making up these memories. i don't feel better. i don't get more sympathy from other people, since what i do remember is bad enough to get all the sympathy a person could want.

so what do i get from it? sadness, hurt, remembered pain.

what do i get from looking at the memories? a measure of relief from panic and body memories.

so logic says, probably these things are real. probably these things happened. that doesn't make it easier. even though i know that remembering doesn't make me less of a survivor, it's still hard to allow myself to remember, and to examine the intensity of what happened. i am afraid of becoming one of those people who spends their entire life complaining about how forces outside their control ruined everything.

i was successful in high school and college and afterwards in part because of the denial. if i could make myself believe... not so much that it wasn't happening, but that i could keep it from affecting me, then i could go on with my life, and take control.

if i focused on the things that were under my power, i told myself the things that i couldn't control just didn't matter, they were separate from me.

might get it together later to write some memories, but this is hard. it's just HARD.

my therapist asked yesterday whether i would be interested in doing a double session on tuesdays instead of a single one. i think this is in addition to the sessions we have on thursdays. so three hours a week of therapy. doesn't seem like much, until you consider the degree to which therapy can knock me out. it's exhausting, even when i'm talking about superficial things.

but maybe it's not such a bad idea. it scares me, though. i'm afraid of being too dependent. i'm afraid of being too needy. and i'm really afraid of getting into these memories, and stirring things up.

i know that dealing with memories isn't entirely incompatible with living my life. but it's hard. it's overwhelming. i would rather pretend that everything is okay now, that we can do a few little mental exercises and **poof!** everything will be okay.

i'm afraid that instead, i'll fall apart entirely.

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Monday, January 14, 2008


So, there I was, innocently reading the paper this morning. And there was an article about how Cymbalta was approved for use with fibromyalgia.

But could they just leave well enough alone and talk about how fibromyalgia is finally getting recognized and treated? Oh, no. They had to keep on quoting doctors talking about how it's all in our heads. Especially because the doctor who initially created the diagnosis now regrets it.

Yes, there was some good information mixed in there. And it did make the front page of the New York Times, above the cut even. But it makes me furious that so much of the article was taken up with casting doubts on the reality of fibromyalgia.

The main thread in the denials was this: giving the illness a name means that people focus more on pain others would just tolerate or ignore.

Let me tell you this: yes, I do focus more on it, and stop ignoring it. Does this mean the pain is new, or the attention to it increases it? Well, let's think about that. About two years before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, my hands and feet started hurting really badly in the mornings when I woke up. I ignored the pain.

About a year later, I noticed that one of my feet continued to be mildly uncomfortable (compared to the morning pain) throughout the day. Also, it was swollen enough to make it difficult to get my shoe on. I finally went to the doctor, who at first dismissed it, and then sent me to an orthopedist, who diagnosed the BROKEN FOOT. So I have it on very good evidence that the pain from fibromyalgia is subjectively greater than the pain of a broken bone.

Fibro pain has distracted me from the pain of a broken tailbone, and from the pain of badly abscessed teeth. The fibro pain is objectively worse than things that are generally objectively deemed quite painful.

I personally think this: saying that diagnosing fibromyalgia makes people feel pain is like saying that me learning about racism is what made my family racist. As though they were perfectly normal before, and now I just see racism everywhere.

Because if I hadn't learned about racism, I wouldn't have thought that telling someone they only got into college and graduate school because they were black (rather than, I don't know, intelligent and hardworking) wouldn't have been racist if I hadn't learned about racism.

Because the pain that kept me from noticing I had broken my foot wouldn't have been a problem if I hadn't been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Think about it.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Needs and Wants meme

KatM at Finding the Light in the Darkness tagged me with the "Needs and Wants" meme from Survivors Can Thrive.

Rules of the “Survivor Needs” Meme:

Please link back to the originating meme at Survivors Can Thrive, so people can see its origins, get ideas for their own self-care list, see who’s already been tagged, and maybe we can track how far this meme goes.

=> List 25 needs and 5 wants. Try to restrict your needs list to things that have to do with being a survivor of some sort of abuse, assault, etc. Your wants list can be anything you want!

=> Use this list to remind yourself to get your needs met this holiday season and in the New Year.

=> Pass on this meme and tag five people to play this meme with you.

25 Things I Need

1. Basic subsistence: safe housing, food, shelter, medical care, clothing.

A good support system, which includes:

2. Friends who accept me as I am.

3. A therapist who is competent and ethical.

4. People I can call when I need support, or am lonely, or just because.

5. "Community" in the sense we used when I lived in Portland; people who are working together on activist causes, who also support each other and making sure to have fun in the midst of trying to help the world.

The ability to understand that:

6. My life is in my own hands; whatever happened in the past, my future is what I choose to make of it.

7. Things have changed, and I am no longer in a dangerous situation.

8. Not all people are untrustworthy.

9. It is good, and strong, and right to ask for help when I need it. It is ok to ask for help, even if the person I ask to help me isn't able to help in the way I ask them to.

The courage to:

10. Fail. Yes, the courage to do something even if I don't succeed. The courage to accept that I have not done what I set out to do.

11. Try again.

12. To face my past.

13. To face the future, and accept that it will come.

14. To speak my truths.

15. To be as open as possible about all of who I am.

16. To trust other people, and to believe what they say, rather than what I fear.

Time to:

17. Play.

18. Do healing work.

19. To learn new things.

From myselves I need:

20. Patience with the healing process.

21. The willingness to go slowly instead of trying to force myself to get "better" on someone else's (or my own imposed) schedule.

22. Cooperation amongst my parts, and a willingness to listen to each other.

23. Patience with each other, remembering that we each have our own issues to deal with. Even when it means continuing for a while to carry burdens we'd rather let go.

24. A commitment to each other, and to keeping the promises we've made to each other.

25. Self-awareness and distinctness for each part, because it really does seem to help us to heal.

Five things I want
1. (More) friends who live nearby; particularly, friends who are coping with some of the same issues.

2. A playgroup for littles, where they could spend time with other kids who are their age, without all the problems connected to someone in an adult body playing with external children.

3. To be able to help others, and share the things that have helped me.

4. A DID/MPD/Dissociative disorders visibility/awareness/activist movement. I want to know I am not alone, and to stop feeling as though I absolutely need to hide who I am. I want to stop feeling ashamed, and seeing others like me feeling as though they need to hide. (Note: I'm not talking about being "out" in every single situation; but, like many visibility movements, I've seen acceptance increase as people are able to be more visible. I want that.)

5. There are a lot of things vying for this last spot, but I'm gonna go with "To win the lottery." Because most of the things vying for this spot require a substantial amount of cash (living in a co-housing community; creating a community space for people to hang out and do projects and have gatherings; having a second-run movie theater that will show good movies even if I miss them when they are in theaters; having a huge playroom with room for all the littles' toys; having the ability to do all the travel I'd like to do; plus all of those crass material wants most people have.)

I want to add here that many of the things on my "needs" list are things I do have, to one degree or another. Not necessarily all the time, but I am exceptionally fortunate in the people who surround me, and in the life I have. It's sometimes hard to believe that these are things I've chosen, and brought into my own life, but they really didn't happen accidentally. And while some of it was luck, some of it was the result of life choices I made when I was in the middle of growing up. I'm grateful to my earlier selves for everything they have done to get me where I am now. And I hope we're able to continue to help each other through this new phase of our lives.

Okay, so let me think of who to tag.

Definitely Fallen Angels, at "A Safe Place"

These others, well, I don't know if you've been tagged yet, but I'd rather post this and get on with my day, I didn't see you tagged in the places I checked, so:

Roses on the Moon.

Village of Many.


Ophelia at "Welcome to the Twilight Zone." (I know your blog is friends-locked, but I figure it won't hurt to invite you to do the meme!)

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