I have promised to write a series of articles on the ten stages to breaking free that I have gone through to get where I am today. It has taken me 28 years of hard work in therapy to reach a point where I am not overwhelmed by the symptoms of dissociative identity disorder.
I am not saying, nor would I ever say, that everyone experiences these stages in the same way or order. This blog article is only meant as a guide and as a tool of hope to those who find themselves caught up in the drama and trauma of recovery. I am not a mental health professional, so you can take what you like what I write on this blog and leave the rest.
It Has been a Horrific Struggle
Let me just say one thing, the peace I have today in my life wasn’t easy to obtain and cost me half my life. I write this blog and entries like this in some small hope that you can avoid spending half of your life struggling as I have done.
Breaking Free Stage One: Suspicion
Explanation: Suspicion—I began to suspect that the way I saw things and lived wasn’t “normal” and that something in my past had caused the lack of peace I felt.
My suspicion began young. I had many things happen to me that didn’t compute. My little friends would complain that I had done things or said things I just didn’t remember and I felt lost and alone. I would sit for hours and contemplate my behavior feeling puzzled.
My friends were so adamant that I had don’t those things, but the actions didn’t fit my usual self, and I just couldn’t understand. I spent hours at a time lost in my little world, spaced out so far that I was unaware of my surroundings. My teachers complained that I daydreamed a lot, but I knew I wasn’t thinking or fantasizing about anything during those times. I was just simply not there.
Adulthood Brought New Trials
Things got worse as I grew into adulthood. I found money and lost it; I’d see clothes in my closet I didn’t remember buying and many other things I just couldn’t explain. I decided I just had a lousy memory and thanked my lucky stars when I found something useful.
Then on cold December, I decided to attend a twelve-step group for children of alcoholics. I met a woman there who was a member of a recovery group in a nearby town led by a Therapist. I knew I had experienced some sexual abuse as a child, and decided to go to support my friend. That night we entered the room and sat around a big table. It was a speaker meeting, and a young woman got up to share her story.
She had only said a few sentences when I suddenly found myself lying on the floor in the fetal position with all the other women standing around me. The Therapist was kneeling beside me asking me if there was anything she could do to help me. I was frightened and embarrassed. What on earth was going on? She dismissed the other women for the night and stayed with me until she was sure I was myself again, then asked if she could please contact my therapist for me. I had been seeing a therapist for codependent problems with my mother and brother, and I told her yes.
The Beginning of My Healing
The next day I went to work and sat at my desk entirely engulfed in my thoughts and feeling very suicidal. I just couldn’t reconcile with myself what I had experienced the night before, but the evidence was piling up that something horrible was wrong. I went to see my codependent therapist that next day at her request, and she told me she had spoken to the poor therapist whose meeting I had broken up. She said that she was not qualified to help me then handed me a business card with a name and an appointment written on it.
February of 1990 I walked into the clinic where my new therapist worked, and my journey to life began.
That first step of realizing that I wasn’t like everyone else was traumatic in and of itself. No one wants to be “weird” or “strange,” but I knew I didn’t have “normal” experiences. It wasn’t until I had seen Paula for a while that I realized just how out there my experiences in life had been and how poorly those experiences had affected me.
I Am Living Proof
In speaking about the ten stages I have experienced in my finding of wellness, I have decided to always, always include positive words of hope.
Even though the times ahead are deep and dark, there is hope. I am living proof of this.
If you find yourself in this first stage of becoming whole, you know the pain and fear I experienced all too well. Finding out that the way you experience time, place, memories and so much more is not like everyone else makes you feel hopeless. Those feelings are human and must be acknowledged, however, remember that you need not and will not stay there if you persevere. The road ahead is long and dangerous, but the benefits are marvelous once you make it through.
You can’t go around the disorder and memories, and you can’t go under or over them. The only way is to face them head-on and acknowledge them as real and part of who you are.
Dissociative identity disorder is not who you are; it is a product of where you have been.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls the most massive characters are seared with scars” Khalil Gibran