My DID and it’s related handicaps and challenges will never matter as much to anyone else as they do to me. This has become painfully clear to me. I want it to matter, I want others to be outraged by what I must live with every day as the result of the warped legacy left to me from an abusive stepfather and unprotective mother. The reality is that everyone is so wrapped up in their own struggles it’s all they can do to keep their own heads above water.
I’m not sure just why I long for a degree of understanding which simply isn’t possible from singletons. This need for compassionate understanding resonates deep within. I suppose it’s that age-old human longing for the intimacy of knowing and being known. When I have especially hard struggles, I want those around me to be quick to pick up on the fact that I’m going through a difficult time. I want them to sense this without my having to say anything. I want, in short, for everyone to be mind readers.
But that’s not the end of it. I want someone–anyone, everyone!–to care that I go through this life feeling battered and bruised; want them to see that I feel that way every single second of the day, even when nothing in particular seems to have happened to cause emotional pain.
I want all this, but at the same time don’t want my hand held or to be treated as some kind of an emotional invalid. It’s that tension most of you know so well between longing to feel and act normal while at the same time knowing you’re not and resenting indications from others that this is so. Be gentle with me, goes the refrain of my thoughts, for I am so weary that sometimes I can barely stand and I have miles to go before I sleep. And, conversely, a different refrain lilts through my head: don’t treat me like there’s something wrong with me! I’m not a freak, I’m not a cosmic joke, I’m human like everyone else.
And so it goes, the legacy of abuse bequeathed to me trickling down into my 5th decade of life, tainting everything I think and touch and do. There is no escaping it. This legacy is like an unwelcome guest who won’t leave, besmearing everything he touches with slimy, grimy hands. And just when I think he’s fallen asleep so that, thankfully, I can have at least a few minutes to myself, there he is wide awake again, with a smile that looks more like a grimace than anything else. He tramples my furniture, picks his nose, mocks my tears, taunts me with childhood nicknames, twists my arm behind my back every time I make an effort to try something new, and hisses in my ear, “You’ll never amount to anything, you’re not like other people, you can’t do anything because you’re stupid, unloved, and ugly!”
There is no escaping this uninvited guest, and so my energy is depleted every day in trying to refute his lies and dodge his groping hands. He is a part of my emotional landscape with which I’ve become way too familiar. He smells, he sings off key, he leaves a black ring around the bathtub when he bothers to bathe at all. He belches foul odors after feasting on food he was never proffered. When I climb into bed at night, there he is with that maniacal grin, shredding the sheets with his raggedy cave man toenails, greasing my pillowcase with his rancid hair oil. He’s a bed hog, a leech, an instigator of nightmares, a tattle-tale, a shiftless couch potato who does only one thing well, and that with exquisite precision: he tears me down at every turn, mocks any good that he sees, and convinces me, time and again, of my own unworthiness and unloveability.
Because this legacy of mine never signed his John Henry on the lease for this house, I have no means of evicting him. In fact he seldom shows himself around others, especially around people I consider authority figures, such as my landlord. I can’t file a restraining order against him down at headquarters, for he is invisible to everyone else. Besides, for such a slob he sure is good at covering his tracks. Any evidence of foul play on his part (and everything he does is most certainly foul) he manages to lead right back to me. I end up looking like both the victim and the instigator of all trouble in my life.
I suspect that this legacy of mine, this unwanted house-guest, has many relatives. Some of you may be very well-acquainted with his brothers, cousins and long lost uncles. You have winced under their unrelenting diatribes against your character, blushed with shame at their recitals of your unworthiness as a human being. Maybe there’s some way to rid ourselves of these nasty little hangers-on once and for all, but I haven’t stumbled across it yet. One thing I have discovered about my own legacy is that he hates to be talked about, or even acknowledged. Doing so seems to weaken him to some extent. So maybe if we all talk openly about our hated house-guests, we can diminish their capacity to terrorize and rule our lives. It’s worth a try.
(My legacy is always mocking me.)