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Posts Tagged ‘losing time’

This blog entry completes a series of three on the topic of my experience of becoming aware that I had dissociative identity disorder (DID). You can read the other blog entries here and here.

One issue I wrestled with in the early years of healing from child abuse was how I could have had DID for my entire life without having any symptoms or signs. Once I took a retrospective view of my life, the DID was the missing link to many questions I had always had about my life.

I had the symptom of people knowing me who I did not know. I apparently bonded with a high school sophomore while I was a junior at band camp. I have no memory (other than what I recovered through flashbacks ) of attending band camp at all, although I was always aware that I had attended band camp. I have always remembered this sophomore going out of her way to say hello to me by name and being baffled by who this person was and why she thought she knew me when I did not know her.

I had the symptom of people having strong feelings toward me with no explanation as to why. In my freshman year of college, one student in my dorm HATED me and would harass me by leaving ugly messages on my door. My friends asked me repeatedly why this young woman hated me because – believe me – she was NOT subtle about her intense dislike for me. I had absolutely no idea why she disliked me so badly. I even asked her one time and tried apologizing for however I had offended her, and she was not receptive in the least. She said I knew darn well why she hated me – I truly did not.

In my sophomore year of college, my ex-boyfriend spread rumors that I was pregnant with his baby. Since we had never had intercourse (I believed I was a virgin), I was baffled as to why he would say such a thing and assumed he was just trying to ruin my reputation.

I would visit with my mother and have no recollection of what we had talked about immediately afterward. I would try to remember the annoying things she said to tell my husband, but I simply could not remember. I also thought I had blood sugar issues because I would feel very lightheaded whenever I was around my mother.

My husband would tell me about conversations – sometimes long conversations – that we had that I did not remember. I believed I was talking in my sleep, but he said I seemed awake during these conversations. I had no recollection of those conversations even after his prompting.

Yes, the signs were all there – I just wasn’t ready to deal with them. I was so determined to believe that I was a “normal” person who had not been abused that I found a way to lie to myself and hide an awareness of having DID.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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See my blog entry posted yesterday for the first part of this.

The other part of Midge’s horror seems to be the cybersex, which goes against the values of the host personality. Keep in mind that women have sexual needs that your host personality might not be fulfilling. My host personality was pretty passionless and boring in bed, but I had an alter part named Sassy who held a lot of my sexual passion. I invited her out one time for sex with my husband, and that was easily the most passionate encounter that we ever shared. My host personality could not relate to Sassy’s passion, but Sassy simply held an encapsulated part of my sexuality that I had been repressing.

Again, remember that these three alter parts who had cybersex with their boyfriends were monogamous with their chosen partners, which does sound consistent with who you are. One reason for cybersex could have been an outlet for your passion that is not otherwise being expressed. Another reason (depending upon the direction that the cybersex went) might have been a way to make sense of your sexuality since, as a child, your opportunity to explore your sexuality at your own pace was taken from you. Keep in mind that cybersex is a “safer” way to do this – it is only words on a screen (or possibly a video if you used that technology) rather than actual physical contact.

Rather than judge these parts for not complying with your host personality’s morals, invite these parts out and ask them what needs they have that are not being met. Then, work with them to meet those needs. Perhaps the time is coming to read a book like The Sexual Healing Journey to begin to explore your sexual needs that you have repressed.

Believe me – if I had discovered this about myself, my host personality would have been appalled as well. My host personality truly believed that I was a virgin until my husband, and that fact that we had intercourse three weeks before the wedding night convinced her that I was a complete slut who deserved never to enjoy sex for the rest of my life. (Never mind the fact that we had dated for 2-1/2 YEARS without having sex!)

Rejecting these parts of yourself, being angry with them, and/or hating them is counterproductive. They are a part of you, and they are just trying to get their needs met just as your host personality is. The fact that you still have a host personality tells me that you do not, as of yet, know your full story, so cut your alter parts some slack – they have been dealing their entire lives with painful memories that you (from the host personality’s perspective) have yet to face.

The sooner you reach out to these other parts in love and acceptance, the sooner you will be able to integrate your host personality back into your core. Once you do, you will have a much better understanding of who you are. I was amazed at the depth of my spirit once I integrated my host personality, and certain things about me did change, such as some of my taste in music (and, alas!, much more potty-mouth). You take the good with the bad, but you no longer fear what your body is doing when you are not present. You also experience your emotions, feelings, and memories from the perspective of the whole rather than in encapsulated segments, which helps you make better choices that meet your own needs without bringing you possible harm.

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Yesterday, I blogged about whether people with dissociative identity disorder (DID) are always aware that they lose time. My own experience was that I had no awareness of losing time. My multiple system was excellent and hiding those “lost moments,” and I only became aware of “lost time” through healing from the underlying trauma. Today, I am going to share some examples of ways that I experienced losing time without knowing that I did.

I would sometimes have people interact with me in a way that made no sense. For example, my memory of my freshman year of college was that a woman on my hall decided to hate me for no apparent reason. She was quite vocal about detesting me, but I had no idea why she did. I later recovered the memory of why, which I wrote about here. Obviously, I “lost time” by “erasing” that entire incident from my conscious memory, but I was unaware that this data was gone.

The same thing happened my junior year of college. My ex-boyfriend spread rumors that I was pregnant with his baby but trying to pawn his baby off on my new boyfriend. I just thought he was being an @$$hole because I knew that we had never had sex. I later recovered the memory of him raping me. I also always remembered having a mini-period (bleeding) halfway through my cycle and being baffled by it. That was really the physical evidence of the rape that I hid from myself (from the host personality).

Another example I experienced was my husband having a different memory of a situation than I did. For example, my husband claimed that no matter how quietly he entered the bedroom to go to bed, I would wake up. I had no memory of this even though, according to him, it happened every single night. My recollection was that I would close my eyes to go to sleep and would not open them again until the next morning. However, my husband would tell me that we had even had conversations when he awakened me, and I had no memory of this. I chalked it up to talking in my sleep, but I was really losing time every single night.

While there are certainly some people with DID who do experience things like “coming to” in another city, running into strangers who appear to know them, finding clothing in their closet that they don’t remember buying, etc., this is not a requirement to have DID. It is all a matter of how your own multiple system works and how effective it is at hiding the truth from your host personality (the part you view as “me”).

It is quite possible to lose time, even on a regular basis, without having an awareness of losing time. That was my reality for almost four decades, and I definitely had DID.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I am writing this blog entry from the air on an airplane with no Wi-fi (Alas!), so I am going by memory about the questions I have received recently concerning dissociative identity disorder (DID). I know that I have received a few recently. If this blog entry does not address your question directly, don’t despair … I will get to all of the questions after I return home from my long weekend in Texas.

I believe I have received a few questions about losing time and DID. I have had readers posting about being aware of having different alter parts but who do not believe that they ever lose time. Their question is about whether they can have DID without losing time.

I am going to address this question from the perspective of someone who is healing from DID rather than as a mental health professional would address it. A mental health professional would point you to the symptoms required in the most recent version of the DSM and say that DID does not fit if you do not lose time. I actually take issue with this because losing time and having an awareness of losing time are two different things.

I first became aware of having an alter part in 2003. The angry alter part came out when triggered, and I stayed co-present. It felt like “I” was “shoved aside” as this alter part “stepped into my face.” I did not lose time, but I was definitely not the one driving my thoughts, words, or actions. It was a bizarre experience.

I had no question that I had an alter part, but I had no awareness of losing time. I did not find shoes in my closet that I did not remember buying. I did not look at my watch and find that six hours had passed in what seemed like an instant. I did not have strange people walking up to me who knew me but who I did not recognize. Nevertheless, I did have DID.

The thing you need to realize is that DID is intended to be seamless. The alter parts take over and protect the host personality (the part you view as “me” that is “out” most of the time) when triggered. For this to work in a way that will avoid detection by the abusers, the host personality must stay unaware of what is happening. So, you can become a master at hiding the “lost time” from yourself.

This blog entry is getting too long, so tomorrow I will share some examples of indicators that I lost time even though I had no awareness of ever losing time when it happened.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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On my blog entry entitled Do People with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) Know That They Have It?, a reader posted the following question:

Dear Faith, I was just running through this blog and am hearing about lost time which I have heard of many times before and never really understood what it meant in terms of someone’s experiences with it. Is it……

Is it 1.) Not remembering what you did yesterday or the day before or the day before who you were with, etc. or it being like a shadowy memory that the memory can be triggered if a friend reminds you sometimes, sometimes not.

Or is part of it having to 2.) I write everything down on my calendar, keep lists and journal to form a sense of order and compensate for severe memory problems or maybe losing time (not sure) and completely not knowing that I am? I would lose all sense of order and then I would really crack-up. I even write on my calendar what I did that day, when my bills are due, appt.’s etc. IF not I would be completely in the deepest dark. IF someone like Mother asks what I have been doing all week I can refer to the calendar. what is happening that day or what transpired in the last week. Otherwise I’d be running around in circles having no grip of time, place, events, people etc. I would just stupidly say, “Duuuuh….”.

This is only for the week. As far as memory retrieval for things in the recent past, my adulthood, things are really sketchy there too! My brother would say,” Remember when we went to LA and went ice skating?’…I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings even thought I didn’t remember and just say, “Oh yeah..”

As far as my childhood that is like a black out of sorts. Yet I am comforted to know that it is part of the disorder.

Does it go something like this in your own experience?? Or is what you can make out of what I am describing have more to do with memory problems than loosing time.
Any thoughts? ~ Blessings, Kim

I am sorry that it has taken me so long to get to this question. I wanted to wait to respond until my life calmed down enough to write a thorough response. As you can see, my life has been a bit hectic lately.

The answer to both #1 and #2 is YES. That has not necessarily been my experience, but it is a normal experience for someone with DID who frequently switches.

I used to believe that I had a great memory. That was just another lie I told myself to hide the DID and trauma from myself. I pointed to the fact that I had two vivid memories from age 2 (when my sister was born) and numerous memories of specific games that my sister and I would play together when I was 4. However, as I “woke up” to my reality of childhood trauma and DID, I had to face the fact that my memory was filled with holes like Swiss cheese.

Before the flashbacks, I had no memory whatsoever with either parent in it until I was in seventh grade. That’s not normal. I had memories about them, such as being angry with my mother for saying no to something I wanted, but I had no memory of either of their faces.

I did some research into what is “normal” memory. What I learned was that, starting around age six, most people can remember at least one basic fact about that time period from both home and school. I can remember specific details about school, such as all of my teachers’ names in elementary school, but I can recall very few memories of home from elementary school (when the worst of the abuse was happening). Most of those memories are about being at the horse stable, not in my house. Once again, the memories are only with my sister, and I cannot place them as being from one year versus another.

My memory is spotty (but less spotty) into adulthood. I will think that my memory is good because, again, I have a great recollection of certain events, but any memory of being around my mother/abuser is missing. For example, I know that I got engaged right before Christmas (when I was 23) and spent Christmas at my mother’s house with my sister. I remember going out to buy a wedding gown (even though my mother was along – I remember her creeping me out with something she said about “being a woman now), and I remember getting very angry with my sister for leaving on Christmas day. I was there a whole week, but I can recall nothing else. That is not normal memory.

The last time saw my mother (December 2003), she and I drove for four hours round trip to meet my sister for lunch and a short visit. I remember thinking how much she was irritating me and how annoying she was, and I remember feeling very lightheaded and dizzy. When I got home, I had a very difficult time telling my husband anything my mother and I talked about, even though we kept up a steady stream of conversation the entire time.

I told my therapist that I had to write down what he said in therapy because I frequently “forgot” what he said after the session. He said that I am dissociating because it is so hard to talk about, and that is normal. I also told him about my shoddy memory from childhood. He said, “That’s because you weren’t there.”

That is what I suspect you are doing as an adult, Kim. You don’t remember because that part of yourself wasn’t there. Whenever you don’t feel safe, your alter parts take over. If you rarely remember, it is because you rarely feel safe. I am not a therapist, so I cannot diagnose you, but I can tell you that your experience is similar to the experience of others with DID or DD-NOS (Dissociative Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified) who lose time.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I recently posted a fabulous video that talks about extreme forms of child abuse. This video mentions abusers continuing to abuse children into adulthood. They take advantage of the fact that the person has dissociative identity disorder (DID) and continue to abuse the child parts of an adult, and the adult has no memory that the abuse is continuing even into adulthood.

This was my biggest fear upon recognizing that I had DID. Well, actually my biggest fear was that I could be hurting my kid or allowing someone else to hurt him (which my therapist assured me would never happen in my situation), closely followed by the fear that I was blacking out while others abused me. I thought I had finished recovering memories after recovering abuse at age 17. I was already kind of freaked out that I could have been attacked at age 17 and have no recollection of it the next morning.

Yesterday, one of my fears came true. I recovered another memory of a date rape, only this memory was in adulthood. I was 19.

A couple of years ago, I had to accept that I had lost time in adulthood. I have no memories of any Christmas with my immediate family through age 23. It was freaky to realize that I had lost time when I was as old as 23.

Now I have to face that I was raped as an adult (at 19) and that I had no recollection of it immediately afterward. This was by a boyfriend. I have yet to deal with the specifics because I am currently reeling from it happening at all. I will deal with the specifics as I am ready.

But so much makes sense now … why he said that he would “always be my first” when I broke things off for good … why he spread rumors that I was pregnant with his child (I thought, “Whatever. Kind of hard to get pregnant without having sex!”) … why I gained a ton of weight that year … why I ran directly into another unhealthy relationship when I did not want a relationship at all. It is all making sense.

I suspect that he would not remember it as a rape. Our pattern was that he would take, not ask, and I would not stop him until it came to intercourse. I would do the “no, don’t” weak woman thing, and he would just keep on taking anyhow and read my continuing the relationship to mean consent. However, when it came to intercourse, I was completely firm. I always said no.

I suspect that he continued his pattern and “took,” and I blacked out, leaving a child part to be raped. He probably saw this as me finally giving in to having sex with him, only for me to dump him immediately afterward. (The details of how I finally ended it with him are fuzzy.)

What scares me is what else might be lurking in my subconscious about other rapes or abuses in which I just blacked out and allowed another person to do whatever he or she wanted with my body. I know that this does not change the value of who I am. I know that I am okay today, so no matter how much @#$% continues to surface, I still won. I know that I was programmed by “professionals” to flee my body, and I cannot hold myself accountable for dissociating and leaving my body to be raped. I know that I am going to be okay.

With all that said, I still cried pretty heavily yesterday, and I simply feel lousy. I am trying not to stuff the pain down with food, alcohol, or other means. I am trying to allow the pain to flow out of myself so I can process yet another trauma and move on with my life. I just wish there was an end to the trauma. I want to move on to healing and stop finding myself back in this place of having more @#$% to process. And yet, I know that I must accept all of my truths to heal fully.

Sometimes healing just plain sucks.

Related Topic:

Trauma Thursday: Risk of Date Rape for Sexually Abused Adopted Child

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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