Alter Post: feeling conflicted

**Disclaimer: all thoughts, feelings, opinions and expressions here are from the perspective of one or more alters in our system.  Not anyone else**

First post today.

We have been lax about posting.  Thursday and Friday this week were busy with family and coping with unexpected challenges.  Different parts of our system are still victims.  Others are survivors. Some are thriving instead.

But all of us are struggling with how to interact with our relatives and certain friends.  We are struggling not to fall back into old patterns.  We are struggling with automatic switching.

In the last 24 hours 15 of us switched places and talked to our friend – who we traveled to visit and stayed with as a guest – and did not tell anyone it happened.  Our host self did not even know it happened.  Since we all have the same voice as adults (and the child parts and mimic that voice too) that came to some awkward assumptions (her about our whole self) and repeated, but useful reminders and advice to deal with the current coping challenges (next post).

Our host self sounded like she was talking about herself a lot.  Very self-centered and not interested in others – absolute untruth.  She also seemed wound up and stressed out; true.  And she appeared to be back in the victim mentality based on how she tried to explain what was really going on – but we wouldn’t let her tell the friend we were hijacking her voice and sharing our fears and frustrations instead.

Our host self, who is actually okay with and able to handle the relatives well, hardly spoke to the friend.  We know this friend is safe and accepting of our past and present situation.  We could talk without fear and used it to speak our thoughts instead of asking the rest of the system for help coping with our triggers.

When our friend pointed it out today, we loosened the reins and let our host self explain a little about alter personalities, but not much.  Not the most important piece: that our friend wasn’t talking to the adult host self who is caring,  empathetic, okay with small talk, and more interested in listening to others than herself.

She knows that when the conversation gets to be a lot like therapy or the words coming out are mostly “I” statements,  then we are taking over her voice and talking.  But she doesn’t tell others.  She just lets them think that she is selfish and self centered and stuck in the past.  Or using therapy strategies for expressing feelings and setting boundaries in conversations instead of typical social conversation language.  The second option is typically used on the hotline only to help us work through an issue and find the best way to verbalize it in a conversation. But sometimes one of us will ask friends for help and then use this technique with them too.

The problem was, none of us told our host self we were doing this.  And we didn’t tell our friend either.  We just fell back into old patterns and then embarrassed our host self.

Now we have to figure out how to fix this for her and everyone else in the system.  Otherwise, it will be a very long week.

p.s. This post aas written on a smart phone, so please excuse the unusual formatting, etc.

thanks for reading.

DID Posts: Communicating With Outside People/apartment hunting/being me

Beware this is a long rambling post…

Being watched – paranoia or reality?

One thing I as the host often say to people is that I feel like people are always watching me.  And no one in my circle of friends really challenges that.  Except for the people in my new home state; they challenge me on this often because no one here really does watch me the same way as before.  And in spite of knowing about my past, they really do believe I am worrying too much about what others think of me.

From their perspective and experience, it’s true.  And without the added trauma history of my past, I’d agree with them 100%.  But, and this is a big BUT, even though my perspective may be skewed (I always appreciate friends helping me adjust perspective and kicking my ass when necessary), the origins of these feelings are real.  I can’t always verbalize these thoughts in a way that makes sense to outsiders.

So both perspectives are true.  And each perspective matches alter personalities in our system.  In general, I lack confidence in speaking to people because I never know what’s going to come out of my mouth.  Then I worry about offending other people (trigger from past experience) with my opinions.  Where I live now, I am not being watched by other people except in the usual sense.

Never Alone, always observed

But, sometimes I feel like I’m being watched.  And in a conversation today, I realized that I am being watched.  Not by outside people, but by my alter personalities who are observing and protecting me as I start to relax and be more myself around lots of people.  They are feeling hyper-vigilant while the adult parts of me are ready to let go, relax, and show confidence in socializing and communicating verbally with people.

Sounds strange right?  But maybe not so much to someone else with DID or who is close with an individual who has DID?  It feels strange that right now I am my own worst enemy towards moving forward.  At the same time, it also feels right and true because the parts of me who are scared and feeling hyper-vigilant are also the ones who were abused, shamed, criticized, and humiliated in public/private/around family/in the community all the time.

They are trying to protect the system (aka us) from experiencing that again.  In doing so, they focus on everyone else’s communication and behavior while ignoring how we are appearing to everyone else.  And my attention as host is split.  Then other alters try to help by taking over and socializing or communicating.  And if many of us try to communicate at the same time?  Well that never ends in a good place either.

Stress of Communicating with Family While also Apartment Hunting

So this week was full of strangeness.  I had to communicate with various family members – trying not to play favorites – and also spent a lot of time interacting with strangers as I went apartment hunting.  In my world – talking to people = untold amounts of stress.  I can only do that comfortably for short periods of time after a lot of internal preparation.

But I had goals to accomplish this week.  Lots of them.  One goal was to nail down an apartment I could call home for many years.  Another was to go out someplace new and experience peripheral socializing.  i.e. find someplace outside of my apartment where I could relax and maybe write blog posts or read or research information for the Resources page.  I kind of did both by apartment hunting.

Now my choices are narrowed down to two options:  

Option 1 offers a lot of amenities, but is kind of pricey.  The space is large enough to accommodate my home office and living space while still small enough for me to feel comfortable.  And it’s an open plan studio in a new construction building.

Option 2 is a smaller open plan studio in a renovated boarding house with less amenities and a price well within my budget.  The space is open plan and has built-in shelving to help utilize the space in the best possible way.  I’d have to think creatively and work with the owner, but can definitely fit office and living space.

 

 

Hiding Behind a Shield of Insecurity

I’ve spent a lot of time downplaying my skills and experience, hiding my natural strength and confidence under layers of shame or abuse-induced insecurity.  Slowly but surely, those layers are being peeled away.  But it’s at times like this – when I get wrapped around and twisted inside those memories without even realizing it – that I am holding myself back because of fear.

All I see is the negative.  All I see is how people are reacting to me.  All I feel is blame and responsibility for offending those people with my lack of (whatever) and inability to stay focused on the conversation during the interaction.  I fear miscommunicating – being misheard and misunderstood – more than anything else.

DID makes following a conversation difficult sometimes.  I switch unconsciously when I feel safe and comfortable.  My alters and I all share thoughts and speak with the same voice and face most of the time.  Only when feeling scared or angry do physical changes manifest.  So most people don’t know if I am speaking to them or myself, and I’m not even sure sometimes.

It’s like living in a crazy-making world where everything I say is twisted around until I get into trouble.  Past triggers meet present.

If I remember the conversation, great I can cover up alter opinions as thinking out loud or reflecting on information.  The times when I don’t remember or when I switch because I feel threatened during social interaction or conversation are the ones that cause the most trouble.  And also the experiences that cause my alter personalities to “watch” or “react to” everything with hyper-vigilance.

Conclusion

As I settle in to my new home, I find myself more and more frustrated with this insecurity about communication.  For some reason, I feel more scared in the summer than I do any other time of the year.  Yes, I deal with worsening symptoms, body pain, flashbacks, and so on other parts of the year.  But I never feel as scared and mute then as I do now.

I chose to live alone, to be alone.  And I enjoy my current lifestyle.  But I feel so much anxiety and discomfort socializing because of internal expectations I never knew existed.  As my alters share these expectations with me, we all realize that they are the foundations for this fear and insecurity.  Something else to work on in therapy.  Thanks alters for finally opening up.

Thanks for reading today’s ramble.