My name is Angora. I am one of the alters who writes or co-writes a lot of the posts here. There is a name for those of us who stay in charge most of the time, but I don’t remember it. Instead, I will say that my main role is managing the internal communications and strategies to maintain daily routines. Others manage the external communications; I only talk with outside people when necessary, i.e. protection from aggressive or potentially unsafe individuals and groups.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with anger. The other alters in our system have been remembering past experiences and not forgetting afterwards. Good for us because we need those memories in order to make good decisions for the present and near future. Anxiety and anger provoking because remembering means reliving and re-experiencing the trauma all over again without the usual safety nets in place. Negative coping strategies work, but bring shame afterwards.
More than anything, though, is my difficulty with frustration that turns into anger. I want for all of us to be able to walk outside and not fear running into someone from the past. I want for us to go into a small business and not get bad service because the manager or sales person is a former classmate from high school/college/grad school or a friend of someone in my family. I want to go into a bar or a restaurant or a club and enjoy the scenery (music, drinks, dancing, socializing) instead of acting hyper-vigilant because people are staring or feeling unsafe because places like that bring back bad memories.
Most important, though, I want my alters to have positive associations and experiences if and when they choose to come out and interact with the outside world. And that won’t happen for another few months when we move out of state. The downside to living in a small state with close-knit communities even in the city is that I can’t meet new people or start fresh without my past history getting in the way. A past history full of trauma and bullying that makes meeting people and socializing feel like walking on eggshells all the time.
And so often, these days I and the rest of the alters don’t recognize (not consciously anyways) those people. But they recognize me. I am blessed or cursed with youthful features and distinctive looks because of my Asian genetics and alopecia areata. In my teens, I looked like a child – as long as you ignored my body. In my twenties, I looked like a teenager. Now, in my early thirties, I look like I am in my early twenties. The point is, people recognize me and treat me according to what they remember or think they know about me or the alter they had most contact with.
Doesn’t matter that I/we hold ourselves/act/dress differently. Most of that just brings out envy and anger because we survived and am enjoying life as much as possible under the circumstances. They tend to react with shocked stares, disgusted looks, and derisive comments thrown out as loud comments to their social group as I walk by. Or they turn around and walk away with head averted to avoid me because they think I am going to approach them. Why would I want to approach the men and women who bullied and shunned me in high school and college?
And some, very few, try to initiate a vaguely friendly contact using the old name. Or look at me with recognition; then disappointment/anger that I don’t or won’t recognize them too. That brings fear and combinations of guilt/shame.
The fear because it’s usually a male with whom there was flirting or something going on in the past.
The guilt/shame for two reasons: 1) because I am not the other person anymore and can’t acknowledge the individual without explaining about the name change and the past; and 2) because I am ashamed of what I said/did during interactions with that person and can’t remember to reality test the truth of that shame.
When the alters and I decided to permanently change our legal name, we also decided to change our identity to match the new name. That meant letting go of the past and not using the old name or references except with close friends from the old life. It’s easier sometimes to ignore and let them be rude/angry/upset because I acted snobbish or whatever than to trust and open up even if doing that brings feelings of shame too..
Moving out of state can’t happen fast enough. Sure, there’s a whole lot of crap to organize and wade through before August. But it’s days like this, managing ok because of the work-from-home accommodation, that I really wish I lived someplace else so the triggers and fear wouldn’t cause physical problems that prevent me from going outside. Or sleeping. Or taking care of myself. Or doing something I enjoy. And prevent my alters from feeling safe, comfortable, happy, and confident in their coping strategies to get through this rough patch.
Living someplace where no one knows my past and treats me poorly because of it. Knowing that anyone who does act negatively around me does so because of a personality or lifestyle clash instead of a shared past relieves me and the alters of many triggers.
That is our dream. It’s been our dream for a long time. And soon that dream will come true. Thanks for reading