What is it like to be me? What is it like to be the me that is me-not-you, different, alone, DID? You – in my minds you are you-not-us, but who am I to you? Can you know me?

Each day me – tip-toeing through life (your life, your world, your complex unknowable system of rules and experiences), a desperate yet futile quest to hide my oddness. I smell urine when you do not, feel blood trickling when you see none, shiver with cold when you are warm – and all the time a compulsion (need or die) to HIDE. Shame – thick, black, tar-like, slithery shame – that I am not like you and I don’t want to admit why. Shame – because someone (all of them) chose me to hate, me to humiliate, hurt and revile, and you might join with them (why wouldn’t you?) and react with tummy-sick disgust at my foulness and evil.

Shadows: a ghosting of fragment-memories that are true/not-true (how true I cannot know), images – flitting, wraith-like, colour-blanched – that make me gasp for breath and are gone, or replay in sadistic slow-mo in the terrifying here-and-now sense of what you as therapist/husband/friend will say was THEN.

I hear noises (threat, alarm, signal) that you barely register and I am ashamed that I do. How can I be like you? I am tense, overalert, strained and uncomprehending; your gaze is gulp-dangerous, a torturing touch. Your presence is threatening, your absence death. When you leave, I cannot remember you: you are not. Sometimes you are happy (no screwed-up tension of dread) – you smile and I sicken with fear; kindness rims with suspicion; so I hide-hide-hide the terror in my eyelids of sights and sounds, all fragments of horror that I cannot explain, must not speak of, cannot escape. I smuggle it away or the dread-shock nausea of what I am will so repulse you that this one brief moment of un-aloneness will flee like every one always did when pain and hurt and yuk and evil was better (always better) than the nothing of no-one and I am not.

How can I tell you about pain? – the shrill-shriek scream of unbearable burning, ache of twisting, writhing, molten-metal-in-me pain. How can I tell you of terror of night, of sleep and sleepless darkness and dreams of brutal, chasing, hurting, abandoned void of me? You sleep and rarely even dream; my nights stretch out across an interminable lagoon of unspoken pain. Then the flood-rush scrabble in my head of voices, of parts, of fragments of me: cacophony of ego-alien memory-shivers that hurt like hurt should not hurt. Burrowing, burning pain in me that I cannot remember – why is it there?! why won’t it go?! – and morning comes and normal life comes (your normal) and I hide the stretched-out exhaustion of night because I HATE ME that I cannot even sleep.

And doubt. I do not know who I am; I cannot begin to construct who I was. My head is an album of bleeped-out memory blanks and reconstructions (nice mummy, good mummy) and a threatening frown of no-don’t-look. Have I made it all up? Memories? – but snatches and half-sequences of dim-dark horror and bodily reactions and a terror I cannot explain, a knowing what I cannot (dare not) know, but nothing fresh-firm or solid or real. Just shadows and voices I hear speaking – they tell of unknown horrors that I know to be true. Then from others: denials – fierce, furious, the couldn’t-be of a four-bedroomed upbringing, parents who threaten and blame with sinister anger. What happened?! My witness-therapist knows more than I do. I mustn’t know. I mustn’t know.

Gang-rape, photos, sadism, murder: is this the now-me? – the Next-dressed, decaff-coffee, ensuite-shower me of children’s homework, cheese and onion crisps me? And the parent-accomplice: cut-glass, bowls’ club, shampoo and set, library-book mother? The frightening ordinariness of extraordinary evil in a Marks and Spencer’s cardigan. Or have I made it all up? I don’t know who I am.

I don’t know how to show you what I am because I am not you, not like you, never been like you, never will. The torture, pain, torment and fear of a little girl all naked and hurt is nothing compared to the differentness of me that I cannot communicate: alone-in-myself, chasm of abandonment, the me-not-you that just wants to tell and be heard and not be different any more.

 

© PODS 2008

About the Author

Carolyn Spring Google Plus

Carolyn Spring is Director of PODS and developed dissociative identity disorder (DID) as a result of organised abuse in childhood. After studying at Cambridge University, she worked for a number of years in Children's Social Care supporting at-risk families and caring for children who had suffered abuse and neglect. She also has a background in business, having been involved in running small businesses for a number of years, with experience in marketing, website design, IT and training.

Carolyn is also Director of START (Survivors Trauma and Abuse Recovery Trust), the charity running PODS, which enables people to recover from childhood abuse and live healthy lives, both physically and mentally. She is also author of Recovery is my best revenge: my experience of trauma, abuse and dissociation.