This guest post comes courtesy of a survivor I met through a blogging group, and when we got to chatting, he graciously offered to do a guest post here on SMP. Robert writes about his life’s struggle with DID, and how everything is a trigger. His honest, straight forward approach, combined with the use of poetry, portray’s his thoughts in a very unique way.
Trigger Warning – Please be kind to yourself as you read, especially if you also live with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
For all the joy I’ve experienced in my life, I am sorry that I was born.This is not a bid for sympathy. This is no statement of intent. This is the profound sadness of a man who has spent most of his life suffering hatreds that he did not understand, and punishments he could never have earned.
I will never understand the Southern Baptist man who called a five year-old a ‘Christ Killer” and physically kicked him down a flight of stairs. I will never understand the good Christian parents that told their sons and daughters to hold down a six-year old so they could cut off his eyelashes; they were too long for a boy. I will never understand my Mother’s brothers, who knew that she was too ill to take care of me, who knew that she was hurting me, but who did nothing.
Today I have a partner and a small group of friends who love me and believe in my work. It is odd to feel so grateful to people for acting on a standard code of civilized conduct. Civilized people do not inflict pain on people who are already suffering.
It is self-evident.
Thank you God, for delivering me to good people who can see that which is self-evident. I will never understand or forgive anyone who plays with the pain of another person.
I will never understand—or forgive them. Ever.
I am a typical trauma survivor. There is nothing unusual about the problems I face. They are the problems that face and confound most trauma survivors.My ability to dissociate is not unusual. Everyone does it. My brain responds to threats buy escaping into the mind.
I cannot always will it to stop. Every decision I make or small step forward often starts a chain reaction of internal conflict and pain. Anything related to my intellect and to intellectual achievement is especially fraught with conflict.
Whatever the trigger was last week, this week my life feels like chaos.
To leave my apartment is to invite the torture of panic attacks. They begin as a chill, a sense of going numb, a sense of blacking out, followed by a crushing pain in my chest and the feeling that I am smothered. The only way through is to place one foot in front of the other.
The panic attacks are a metaphor. They make me slow down. Whatever the trigger is it may have something to do with feeling too exposed. Maybe I’m just scared in general.
The blog must be a faithful journal of one man’s struggle to have a normal life with a whopping mental illness.
Every time I step out of my comfort zone I bump into this mess made of me. In a sense turning the blog into a faithful account of my life as a person with DID carries the same risk as confessional poetry. One’s life is open to inspection, misinterpretation, censorship and the out right demand by some people to shut-up.
I often wonder if the people who admire the poetry of Sylvia Plath understand that it is powered by rage and psychic pain (see image to the right).
There is controversy among ‘critics’ over whether the poem is confessional. “Controversy” is a one way to obscure the truth.
I read a blog post the other day about a guy that wrote a suicide note on his blog. He sounded dead serious. And now he’s dead. I was frightened by one of the comments.
It was something like:, ‘I hope St. Peter has them pearly gates all shined up when you get there.”
And I thought, I wonder if people know that their locations can be tracked by their IP addresses. I mean someone could have found out where he was and called the police. I mean–I wonder if someone tried?
I saw a guy on Valencia Street last Friday. He was wearing a filthy hospital gown, he had a couple of name tags on each wrist. He was scrounging for cigarette butts as a young couple passed him and politely didn’t look. His condition was so bad upon release that he was wearing huge filthy pants without a belt and a hospital gown.
I know that he was released, because you can’t get off of a locked psych unit without a nurse to open the door. You just can’t.
I fight with a past that I relive but can’t remember in a world that looks as frightening and as abusive as the world of my childhood. I have 14 points of view about everything and some days my head is full of debate:
“That memory can’t be real.”
“The World isn’t bad”.
It must be bad, if everything they say happen, happened.”
“You think everyone else is the enemy but it’s all you.”
“None of it happened.”
“Why do you stir shit up?”
“The world is good, you’re the one that’s bad.
They can’t all be wrong.
But sometimes it seems they are.
I get confused.
And that scares me too.
– from the Blind Owl
“In any event, I do not trust anything. In the past, I have seen so many contradictory things and have heard so many inconsistent speeches; the sight of my eye this thin yet hard substance behind which the soul abides has rubbed itself over so many surfaces that now I do not believe anything. I doubt the weight and permanence of objects, even the visible and manifest facts that belong to this very moment.
For example, if I were to touch the stone mortar in the corner of our yard and ask it, “Are you stationary and firm?” If it were to respond in the affirmative, I am not sure whether I should believe it.
Am I a distinct, singular being? I don’t know. But, when I looked into the mirror just now, I did not recognize myself. Without a doubt, the “I” of previous times is dead; it has disintegrated. There is no physical barrier between the two of us, however. I know that I should narrate my story. What I don’t know is where to begin.
All of life is made up of stories and tales.
I must press the cluster of grapes and pour its essence, spoon by spoon, down the dry throat of this old shadow. Because at this moment all my restless thoughts belong to here and now, it is difficult to know where to begin. My thoughts do not recognize any hour, minute or history.
For me, something that happened yesterday might be more ancient, or less effectual, than an event that took place a thousand years ago.
Perhaps the reason for the appearance of all these reminiscences is the fact that all my relations with the world of the living are now severed, past, future, hour,day, month, and year all have become the same. These stages make sense to the ordinary people, to the rabble—yes, that is the exact word I was looking for—rabble with two b’s. These stages apply to the rabble because, like the seasons of the year,their lives have recognized divisions and limits and because they live in the temperate zone of life.
My life, on the other hand, my entire life, has had one season and one state. Even though a constant flame burns in the center of my body and, like a candle, melts me away, my life is in a cold zone, in eternal darkness.” The Blind Owl – Sadegh Hedayat
People with DID are hyper-vigilant and I’m hyper-vigilant within the context of being hyper-vigilant. I apply the corrective lens of reason to everything, and that doesn’t always work.
Is something good or bad? I don’t know.
That’s the hell of DID. It’s not like Schizophrenia. It’s the torment of knowing that one was driven out of one’s mind. It’s the torment of being nearly sane because one’s emotions lend themselves to analyses and will sometimes yield to intellectual discipline.
I see that I am safe and know that I am encircled by evil. I see that life is beautiful and know that it is a nightmare with an ugly end. I can see the facts of things but I can’t process them. I can’t explain them to the parts of myself that can’t know anything – that little boy that haunts so much of my work.
The little boy, locked in remembrance of something that my have happened, but maybe it didn’t –and he doesn’t know, because no one can disrupt the reality of it all.
So now I know the answer to the question I asked myself a year ago.
What is DID?
It is relentless fear and confusion. It is a longing for respite. It is a cry of despair.
– Rob Goldstein
RG (c) 2015-2016