Archive for April, 2012

This blog entry continues from here.

I was the one who raised the topic of child abuse with my sister. After spending a few nights at my mother/abuser’s house with my then-two-year-old child, an alter part came out and stayed co-present most of the time. I did a lot of research on alter parts and dissociation. It didn’t make sense to me that I would have an alter part because I had read that they are caused by child abuse, and I was absolutely certain that I had never been abused as a child.

I finally reached a place where I was ready to know. I was accepting that I must have been abused as a child, but I didn’t know by whom or how. (I didn’t think it was physical because I had no medical history of physical abuse.)

I called my sister (she lives out of state) and told her that I had a suspicion that I had been abused as a child, but I had no memory of it. I asked her if she remembered anyone abusing me as a child. At first she said no. I asked if it could have been our father (because it always seems to be the father in the made-for-TV movies). She said, “No. I don’t think it was him, but I have always had this bad feeling about mom.”

I immediate experienced my first body memory. I could feel my mother sexually abusing me and knew with absolute certainty that it was true, even though I had no idea what a body memory was.

From then on, my sister was great. I could talk to her about anything, and she could “open the box in her warehouse” and confirm or clarify a memory. She helped me work through some of my memories by adding a different perspective of the same event so I could figure out things that made little sense from a child’s perspective but were clear through adult eyes with her added information.

The only issue we have run into is that sometimes she will inadvertently trigger me by talking about a memory that I have not yet recovered. Because my sister has always had access to all of her memories, I never seem to trigger her. It’s worth the occasional triggering to have someone to talk with about all that happened. So many of my recovered memories (particularly the ritual abuse ones) are so “out there” – it was incredibly validating for her to share the same memories from slightly different perspectives.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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On my blog entry entitled Realizing that I Had DID, a reader posted the following comment:

I am curious… maybe at some point you could post about whether or not your sister also has DID, if that isn’t too personal or invasive to share. Also, how you and your sister came to talk about the abuse and when/ how that happened. My understanding is that many siblings are driven apart when the subject of abuse comes up or they tend to avoid it altogether. You and your sister have a unique bond in that you can and do share your experiences and feelings surrounding this.

I emailed my sister to make sure she was OK with me talking about her on the blog. I also gave her an overview of how I planned to represent her (based on things she has told me in the past) since I am talking about her experience and not mine. She is 100% supportive and might even write a guest blog at some point to share her point of view.

My sister has not been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID) and does not relate to DID. Her diagnoses are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder. She and I endured most of the same abuses or similar variations of the same abuses.

Despite my sister not relating to DID, she does sometimes say things that, to me, sound in the ballpark of DID/being a multiple, such as asking me one day if I ever “feel short.” Yes, I do sometimes “feel short” when a young alter part comes outs. She does not relate to an alter part “coming out” but does experience “feeling short” or feeling as if she was physically different for no apparent reason.

My sister’s internal experience is quite fascinating. I haven’t heard another child abuse survivor describe it quite in this way. She says she can best describe her internal experience as a warehouse. All of the memories are stored in boxes so she doesn’t have to view any of them if she doesn’t want to. She might not know in the moment what is located in each box, but she knows the general organization of the warehouse and has the ability at will to open any box and view any memory – she simply chooses not to unless she feels a need to “go there.”

Unlike me, who truly had NO IDEA about the childhood abuse, my sister was always aware of being a child abuse victim. As a young child (around age six), she wanted to be a call girl when she grew up. Even as a little girl, she thought that she might as well profit from what was being done to her.

I’ll share about our relationship tomorrow.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Since last summer, I have been feeling pulled toward letting go of the need to be in control. Recognizing that this is the direction I need to grow and actually doing it are two completely different things, though.

I have been having one epiphany after another over the last week or so about letting go of control. First, being in control is just an illusion. I can plan out my day as thoroughly as I want, but unexpected events are always going to arise, and I need to remain flexible enough to accommodate them. Flexibility has never really been in my vocabulary, but adaptability has. If I view my goal as becoming more adaptable, perhaps that will result in being more flexibile.

Second, I have always viewed being in control as synonymous with being responsible. However, I have friends who are very responsible parents to child with multiple special needs, and they manage to meet all of their children’s needs without any sort of schedule at all. I do not view them as irresponsible, but I also confess that I have no idea how they do it. I am still in the process of trying to wrap my head around the reality that I don’t have to be in control to be responsible.

Third, I believe the inability to be in control is at the root of my anxiety, which is causing my stress-related issues, such as reflux and period insomnia. If I let go of the need to feel in control, I suspect that my anxiety levels will drop dramatically, which, in turn, will cure (or at least ease) some of these other issues.

I completely understand why I have always felt the need to be in control. As an abused child, I had absolutely no control over my life, so I grew into a teenager who tried to take control through obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and an eating disorder. I grew into an adult who lived and died by a schedule. [For those of you who are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the first time I took it, I ranked 26 for Judging (needing to plan everything) and 0 for Perception (spontaneity).] I would actually “plan to be spontaneous.” There was no room in my life for anything that wasn’t written down in my Day Planner.

Then, life sent me a kid with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The child is as impulsive and spontaneous as they come. Adapting to living with someone who is so polar opposite to me has been interesting.

I don’t think it is coincidence that my son came into my life. I think he came, in part, to teach me how to let go of control. Believe me – there is no “controlling” this kid.

I haven’t mastered any of this yet, but I am trying to be mindful of all of this and am making an effort to take a deep breath and let go of any illusion of being in control. It’s not easy.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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