This is how I feel lately. I wouldn’t have understood it a few years ago. I would’ve felt defensive … Perfect??? In a world where we murder children and attack entire races simply because of the color of their skin? Bullshit. I would’ve thought that to laugh at the sky one would have to ignore life’s horrors. I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to ignore anything. I wanted to be someone who wouldn’t look away. I wanted to be, if nothing else, a witness.
Witnesses don’t laugh at the sky, I would’ve thought. They’ve seen too much for that.
But one day not long ago I woke up laughing and I haven’t really stopped since. Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress … it’s all still there; I still have Dissociative Identity Disorder. Perhaps I always will.
And somewhere in the world right now people are suffering. In many somewheres actually. Right now and right now and now and now and now man is demonstrating his own inhumanity in new, ever crueler ways. I didn’t think it was possible to know that and also know that life is beautiful.
My God, though, life is beautiful.
Pretending is part of navigating life successfully. And by “successfully” I mean “in a way that is palatable and non-threatening to others.” For the most part, those of us with Dissociative Identity Disorder are naturals at pretending. Making believe that things are not as they are is, when you get down to it, the essence of DID. But that also makes this socially acceptable dynamic – pretending something doesn’t exist, or isn’t what it is – an extremely unstable one for us. So when I read this email from Dan Kline, I wasn’t at all surprised:
First some background. I am 42 years old and have been diagnosed with the following limitations, DID, complex PTSD, manic depression and anxiety. I have had multiple unsuccessful suicide attempts and have been hospitalized 4 different times in 1 year for them. So now I will get to the meat and potatoes of what I am posting about. Continue reading
I wrote an article titled Why The Courage to Heal Isn’t on My Recommended Reading List with full expectation that some members of my primary audience, i.e. those with Dissociative Identity Disorder, might take offense to my criticisms of the book. Bearing that in mind, I made a concerted effort to present a balanced, respectful commentary. It never occurred to me that anyone might suggest I wasn’t being critical enough. But someone did. And as I read through his second comment, I realized that I hadn’t just tried to show respect, I’d edited my thoughts on The Courage to Heal to some degree. Why? Because I know firsthand what happens in the survivor community when someone questions the integrity of books like that, acknowledges that false memory research has a valuable place in discussions of trauma and dissociation, and expresses anger at the pain and suffering misguided approaches to memory have caused. I’ve seen compassionate people vilified and treated like mouthpieces for the False Memory Syndrome Foundation simply because they voiced their opinion that memory isn’t as reliable as Bass and Davis suggest. In an attempt to shield myself from that same response, I held back. In doing so, I misrepresented myself.
And so I learned the following lesson about vulnerability:
Choosing my words carefully out of respect for others’ sensibilities is one thing. Doing the same thing out of a desire to protect myself from vulnerability is another. The former has merit, the latter is pointless. Particularly when you consider that if you make an argument, take a stance of any kind, someone somewhere will perceive you as disrespectful.
On any given day I can be wrong about a hundred different things, depending on who you ask. I get that that’s probably true for everyone. But it’s clear to me that most people are more comfortable with that reality than I am. I know Dissociative Identity Disorder complicates this for me, along with the haunting echoes of the causes of DID that seem to permanently fuck with perceptions of right and wrong. I don’t want to do the wrong thing, make mistakes, offend someone, or give a bad impression. I know, I know … no one does. But is everyone so terrified of being wrong? Does everyone need alters to set and enforce boundaries, be the heavies, be the assholes, because they’re too afraid of making someone angry to do it themselves?
I don’t think so.