I don’t forget any more than the average person does. Though from the outside it quite certainly looks like I do. Worse than that, I imagine it can appear that rather than take responsibility for the things I do and say, I simply deny them. But I’m not forgetting. And I’m not lying. I just don’t have access to information that, by anyone’s estimation, I probably should.
In fifth grade I was in class one day when another teacher, a classmate’s mother, knocked on the classroom door and asked to speak to me in the hall. She was furious. I was confused and scared. “I know what you said,” she told me. I thought hard – what was she talking about? What had I said? She clearly believed I knew precisely what she was referring to and was playing dumb. Finally, after a lot of “I don’t know what you mean” and “You know exactly what I mean,” she told me that at a classmate’s birthday party the previous weekend I rudely said to her daughter, “You’re ugly like your mother.”
Not only did I have no recollection whatsoever of saying that, I couldn’t recall even wanting to say that, even thinking it. There was nothing in my memory to suggest we’d had a confrontation of any kind.
These sorts of incidents, from the trivial to the very serious, pepper my everyday life. Prior to diagnosis, I assumed these were misunderstandings and was genuinely perplexed as to why they happened so often. Even now, five years after having learned I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, I struggle to accept as possibility what others claim as fact. After all, misunderstandings do happen. And sometimes people do confuse one person for another. Not to mention that most of these occurrences are far more easily explained by misunderstanding or confusion than by DID. The most logical explanation is never DID.
Unless of course you have DID.
Failing to form a core identity, I instead developed a highly fragmented identity with amnesic barriers between these fragmented states. Which makes it not only possible, but likely that many of the things people insist I have said or done really did happen. There is a certain sinking feeling, a powerlessness, that accompanies that awareness. I feel a renewed sense of helplessness and failure each time I learn that , despite my best efforts and intentions, the fragmentation and amnesia have again caused what looks like chronic forgetfulness or lying. And, as in the case of the fifth grade birthday party, I often feel fear. What have I done or not done? Will someone be angry with me? What will the repercussions be? I don’t remember what the outcome of the birthday party incident was; but I am now certain it was not a misunderstanding. I know I didn’t say, “You’re ugly like your mother.” Even so, someone did.