It’s been almost 2 months since I have blogged. In this time, new parts with hidden memories emerged and coping with that has meant blogging went on hold.
I have half written blog posts that I want to post, the first being this one that took place in late March. At that time, the part called Faith was aware of another part that it chose to call Fiona. Faith deliberately chose a name she hates because she also didn’t like the shameful memories that part held. But the part called Fiona was aware that it was really two parts – a very young child full of curiosity and the desire to connect and an older part.
It takes about 35 minutes to drive to my appointments with Psychologist J. I ALWAYS find myself thinking about all my current issues/worries often to the point it makes me dissociate.
As I get closer to his office, I suddenly feel the younger part of Fiona inhabit my body. My body feels like a young toddler, I look at my hands and they seem tiny. And even stranger, I can feel my hands in a way I haven’t felt them since I was quite young. They don’t feel how they usually feel; dirty, predatory, sexual. They feel warm, alive, CLEAN. Suddenly as I am driving I am having a new memory. I’m exploring with my hands and the adult with me isn’t stopping me as he should. I remember what I always knew but didn’t want to know – why my adult hands feel contaminated.
I arrive early and so I walk around the area to pass time, but as I do so, I feel like I shouldn’t be able to walk, like I was too young to walk and yet here I am walking. Oh wow! I’m walking! I didn’t know I could do this!
I wander back into the building and then into his waiting room. I hear Faith and Jane arguing about who is going to do the session. Neither want but they both agree that someone has to.
When he calls me in, I sit down. I no longer feel certain about who I am due to all the noise of Faith and Jane arguing in my head “no you tell him.” “NO. YOU tell him!” I sit silently and stare at the floor. He asks me who’s present. I don’t answer but look from side to side as I often do when I’m listening to other voices. He talks to me though I don’t recall what he says because still the arguing is going on. “Well one of us has to talk!” “Well not me. I don’t want to deal with this!”
He notices I look distracted. “Is it noisy in there?” he asks.
“Yes,” I say quietly.
“There’s time for them all. Maybe we need one of those machines where they can take a ticket,” he says joking.
“No it’s the opposite. They don’t want to talk.”
“Can you hear them talking in actual words?”
“Yes,” I said because this time I could though other times I can’t make out the words when other parts argue or share information.
“No wonder it’s so engrossing.”
He starts talking about Jane and Faith and how he had read the emails they had sent and how there was a lot to come to terms with.
“I don’t understand. I don’t know who Jane is.”
“Are you in touch with either of them?”
“I know what they want me to say but they’re scared if I talk about it it will make them come here and be scared.”
“It’s common for parts to send other parts to speak on their behalf, to pass on messages,” he explains.
“They want me to talk on their behalf but I don’t want to.”
“Are you the part I met before?” he asks referring to a nameless part sent as a messenger in a previous session.
“No.” I pause and then add, “They feel scared. I don’t.”
“Can I talk to them and tell them something?”
“I don’t know.”
“Can you go inside and ask them?”
I look inside and I hear the voices still talking. They don’t want him to talk to him.
“They said no.”
“Say it anyway,” I say.
“They need to come to the front and talk about their stuff.”
“I don’t want to talk about their stuff. Their stuff is boring,” I say.
“Oh so they know they’re not being very helpful.”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you feel looked after?”
“Yes. I think so.”
“What does it feel like?”
Suddenly I feel unsure about if I’m being looked after and by whom.
“I don’t know. But I remember things and it doesn’t scare me but it scares them.”
“Why doesn’t it scare you?” he asks.
“Because it feels good,” I reply as though stating something that should be obvious to everyone.
“Do you – oh I was going to ask you a dumb question,” he pauses and leans away from me.
“Do you feel good things in the body?”
Perhaps it was that reply or perhaps it was something earlier in my mannerisms that let him know I am very young, I am the person who was just experiencing the kind of touch from a parent that is only starting to push boundaries. I’m too young to know yet that this parent is grooming me.
“How old are you?”
“Young. Maybe the youngest.” He nods. Suddenly I add “I was walking around before session and I didn’t know I could do that! It felt so strange.”
He smiles at me in a way that one smiles at a child and says, “Look at what I can do!” Then he adds “You’re welcome here. You can tell me whatever you like.”
“I promise I won’t be bad,” I say sensing Faith watching me in case I reach out to this man for anything. “They trust you but they don’t trust me.”
“Children are never bad,” he says. “Do you know me? Have you met me before?”
“Are you Fiona?”
“Maybe,” I say suddenly feeling shy and not at all ready to tell him that there are two of us in Fiona.
“You can choose your own name or have none. I don’t think its fair to have a name that Faith chose that she hates. A name just makes it easier for me to know who I’m talking to.”
“Um…I’m…um….” I can’t make the name Cassie come out.
“Oh! You’re the um um girl,” he says referring to other parts that say um a lot.
“No. She (meaning Faith) makes everyone do that,” I say not really able to articulate that Faith can stop other parts from talking.
Suddenly I feel a rush of bad memories and feel the urge to put the notebook on my lap down but feel unable to move.
“I want to put my notebook down but I’m scared,” I say feeling like if I move something bad will happen or I will be attacked.
“Do you want me to get it for you and put it down?”
“No. Will you move if I move?”
“No.” He says something about how it can seem confusing when a memory overlaps with reality. I slowly put the notebook down.
“Did you see? I didn’t move.”
Suddenly I feel another memory coming. I don’t answer him.
“Did I move?” he asks again. I feel a familiar feeling of danger and the pressure to answer a particular way, a feeling I later come to understand is the memory of constant gaslighting by my father. Suddenly I feel hurt and I say angrily,
“I know what you want me to say! You want me to say you didn’t do anything, you didn’t move!” I put my head down and refuse to look at him. As the emotional flashback intensifies rapidly, as it sometimes happens, I find myself suddenly gone.
Now I am Clara, the one frozen at the earliest age with no memories of trauma. I feel myself panicking because I don’t know where I am. I look around the room in confusion and start to cry.
“You’re looking around the room a lot,” Psychologist J says.
“I don’t know where I am!”
He immediately softens his voice, “this is a safe place. Do you know me?”
“Um…they’re telling me who you are. This keeps happening to me! I keep waking up!” I say unable to explain how I know I shouldn’t be aware. Asleep is safest. Consciousness is bad. “Something really bad has just happened! Everything is so dangerous! When she (Jane) reads that book (he gave me about having a dissociative disorder) I always suddenly appear and and have this memory of being woken up (to something awful I shouldn’t know about)!”
“Do you have a name?”
I hear someone inside speaking to me. Clara. You’re Clara. The way we were before he did those things to us. You’re the frozen perfect child. “Yes, they tell me my name. I’m scared!”
“You’re panicking,” he says concerned and starts giving me instructions to help me ground myself.
“I can’t do it! I’m scared.”
“Follow my instructions, it will help.” I ask him move to the chair on my left and when he says I should focus on grounding myself, I catch sight of the picture of the red panda he keeps in his room for Faith.
“I need the picture!” I blurt out.
“Of the panda?” he says. I nod and he gets it for me and I stare at it intently.
He is saying something about how his printer at home is broken so he hasn’t been able to print it in colour get. I keep my eyes on the panda. Suddenly I know who I am. I’m Faith. I look J in the eyes.
“I need to tell you something!” I start crying. He is reassuring me, saying it’s ok.
“Faith?” he asks. I nod. He’s still talking, telling me I’m safe, that we’re all working so hard.
“I can’t do this anymore! I’m so scared!” I feel overwhelmed by all the switching lately and emotions I feel that are memories the other parts held. As I cry he offers his hand and words of validation.
“I need to tell you something,” I cry.
“Each time that part Fiona comes, I remember more. I don’t usually feel scared but now I do. I don’t like it. I’m not used to these memories. She remembers them and she’s fine with them and I’m not!”
“Yes it’s disturbing to you and Jane.” He mentions an email I had sent him about what Fiona (Cassie and the other part) had recalled; an additional sexual act done many times that caused them to feel pleasure despite it being abusive. Then I tell him about how Cassie had remembered what she had touched with her hands as she drove over here. I tell him what was remembered.
“I don’t want to touch those things! She didn’t know they were bad! That’s why I don’t feel my hands. I don’t like touching things.”
“Ah, yes that’s why,” he says quietly.
Much of the conversation is lost to me. But I was holding his hand and crying.
“I don’t want to feel needy,” I say suddenly worried about how comforting it feels to be seen and heard.
“I don’t see you as needy.”
“It’s just that the safer I feel the more it brings Fiona alive.”
“Yes, its a real balancing act,” he says well aware of how Faith trusts J one week and then feels like she hates him the next. I’m still crying and holding his hand.
“You were helpless then. That’s why those memories are so scary. But you’re not helpless now. Remember your Giles analogy?”
I tell him about how Jane isn’t sleeping well, about a recent nightmare and how Jane is feeling overwhelmed because as the other parts share their memories, she experiences the memories and is feeling flooded and doesn’t want to be in the body and do her bit of keeping things under control. (Jane is after all the ordinary everyday me, the person my friends and husband know).
“Jane sometimes tells me to take a break and promises me she will keep Fiona under control but then she doesn’t!” I tell him that Jane is vanishing and relying on me more and more to be the one to be present.
“Yes you and Jane need to do more grounding. We need to do more grounding in future. That’s what will slow things down for her and you.”
“You need to talk to her. You need to tell her this.”
He addresses me as Jane and starts trying to bring Jane into the body.
“The present is safe Jane. Yes there are problems here too in 2021 but we can do things about them. But we need to know its 2021 and that you’re safe and a mother and a wife and friend and graduate.”
He keeps talking and suddenly I, Jane am present in the body kind of shocked at how the session has unfolded. I tell him that it scares me to watch myself speak and behave as other people talking about things I know nothing about.
“Is it ok to believe this is all real?”
“Yes. It’s called DDNOS (Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) if you want me to give it a technical term. It’s overwhelming because of the amnesia. But amnesia is part of early childhood trauma. I’ve never met someone with this disorder who hasn’t had it.”
“Have you ever treated someone else with it?”
“How many people?”
“In my career? 4.” For some reason I’m surprised by this low number.
“So you don’t think I’m less than you because I am like this?”
“No. I think of you as my equal. I don’t think of you less because you have this disorder.”
“Do you dread these sessions with me?” I ask wondering how on earth he remains so calm.
“No. These are all part of you.” He holds his hands up to indicate a small space and says “you were like this,” then he widens the gap “and now you’re widening your awareness so now you’re like this. It’s real, it happened, its all you.”
“It’s overwhelming because they’re all coming alive and I can’t stay out as one person. I’m just remembering so much so fast.”
“Yes, it’s very hard…Its like that.. what’s that book? Douglas Addams I think. It’s the dark night of the soul.