So lately I’ve been receiving a ton of questions about “single parenting with DID” Questions ranging from the basic “Isn’t it tough?” to “Do you honestly think people like ‘us’ (those with DID) can actually raise kids without a spouse – single handedly and not fuck them up?” Even to questions as blunt as “Don’t you ever worry about your son’s well being especially if you experience “time loss” from time to time?” The amount of text messages, emails, phone calls, and other private messages that I receive on this topic has escalated drastically in the past week or so. Therefore, I figured why not lay it all out right here? LMAO For the ‘background info’ I will be as ‘lamens terms friendly’ as possible and will not be going into the DSM IV criterion but instead, blunt terms hat support -my- experience with it. If you’re looking for a thesis on the subject you’d might want to research elsewhere😉
So from -my- perspective what -is- “DID”? DID stands for Dissociative Identity Disorder. The key word being dissociative. Dissociation is… pretty much, an extreme form of spacing out. For me it was a coping skill/survival mechanism to handle extreme abuse I endured at a very young age. For a child that young, and the abuse I endured, I -had- to ‘space out’ to survive – my mind had to remove itself as far away from everything as possible. Now if dissociation is a form of spacing out, lets say I suffered a broken bone during the abuse – It’s very possible I might not have even felt a hint of pain – because I was that ‘spaced out’ (dissociated) In essence my mind (or I) was pulling myself so far away from the abuse that -I- was completely unaware of my realities or surroundings. What happened at that point in a manner of speaking, was that my mind began to ‘break off’ into several ‘chunks’ or identities – each to handle/cope with the world around me. Some part of my mind/someone had to be there to experience the abuse and interact with the abusers when it was required. This is a VERY rough and BASIC explanation of kinda ‘how’ or ‘why’ my other teammates ‘came to be’. DID is very difficult for me to explain – and quite honestly I’ve bypassed so many other points and details of the many other ways one could ‘become’ a multiple. (So I apologize to all my fellow multis reading this LMAO I was looking for the simpler way to explain so figured I would stick with only the way it’s affected me LMAO)
Ok, now for a quick (emphasis on quick) synopsis on some terminology. In my day to day life I do not say things such as “I’m DID” or “I have DID” For me, it seems way too clinical for something that I now experience as a natural reality of who I am. Instead, I say “I’m multi” (as in ‘I’m a multiple’) or “I’m a member of a team”. Now there’s much debate over what labels to give the other identities/people – and in all honesty it’s based on each individual system. Some use the terms ‘parts’ or ‘alters’ – I, and my team use the terms ‘headmate’ or ‘teammate’ (headmate being a spin-off of the word roomate) For us we work and live AS a team. Teamwork and cooperation (in our opinions) are ESSENTIAL to our ability to cope, function, and progress in the direction of OUR choice. Another word I threw out there was ‘system’ this is a word oftentimes used to refer to a multiple AND their headmates all at once – a system. But as I said for us, we consider ourselves to be teammates all working together to accomplish goals and objectives, it only feels natural to call ourselves a team rather than a system.
Ok, so now, basic 101 of how MY team tends to work. When I, Sally, am interacting with the world around me – ie. my son, my family, friends etc It’s called ‘fronting’. When I am front, I am the one controlling the body and using it to interact with, what for us is called ‘the outside world’ (as multi’s also have “internal worlds”). In my team, I am my son’s mother. I go by and have maintained the same name as that of the body (whether I like it or not LMAO) I was the one front when he was both conceived and born and I am who he knows as “mommy” I, solely, am ‘the mom’ Everyone in my team is aware of my son and aware that “the body” is responsible for seeing to his well-being, development, safety, security, and care. – Wow, I have a tendency to ramble in case you haven’t noticed😛 LMAO so lets see if I can’t get back on track here LMAO I picked out 4 questions that I thought were very well worded and very important to address. So here we go!😀
Question #1) “Do you ever feel like ‘being DID’ makes you a danger to yourself or others?”
~ Quite honestly, this one appalls me – but then I take a step back and remember it’s coming from someone who does -not- understand DID in the least other than what they see/hear in the media and movies like “Sybil” My answer is a firm hell no – It’s quite the opposite actually.
I -do- have many teammates that -can- be aggressive if us, as a team, NEED them to be. They are here to protect the team and the body and if we are faced with an abuser attempting to harm us or a dangerous situation, they will do just that. Protect. Nothing more, nothing less. They are not however, violent or abusive – they are protective. Whether they are protecting the body and team from an abuser or protecting the body and team from self harm, their main job – goal – objective – is to protect. Keep all of us and the body SAFE, in tact, and stable. An example of one such teammate of mine is a 28 year old male named Chris. He is “a protector” LMAO though don’t tell him that😛 he hates being called a “protector” He always tells me he prefers “teammate” over protector as he thinks safety and protection are based on team effort and not his alone. But yes, he is a protector, he is NOT however, violent or dangerous. He will act in self defense but is not a fan of it. He prefers precaution over having to act. Chris, alongside all our other protectors is EXTREMELY attached to those in our team and my son, as well as our friends, family, and allies. He would (and does) care for and protect our son and other people in our life with exactly the same amount of passion as he does us and the body.
We are NOT monsters or dangerous and quite frankly, (in my opinion) some of the safest people around. Here’s a little scenario for you. Let’s say that someone was pushing your buttons over and over to get you to ‘break’ and lose control of your anger. A singleton (a quick way to reference someone who is not a multiple) would eventually lose control of their anger and ‘flip’ – this is assuming that the antagonizing behavior continued most definitely to this point. For us, as a team, what would happen (and has on SEVERAL occasions) is that once things had escalated to a certain point, a protector would then pull whomever was front, inside to ensure they did not lose control of their anger. Then, that protector would front until either one of two things happened, the antagonist gave up, or another protector inside pulled them in and fronted. Self control has always been for us, and in reality, is for everyone multiple or not, vital to our survival. We do not “fly off the handle” – and we also don’t lose control of who’s front simply because we’re being instigated. We work as a team. In the past, during times of abuse, if self control and strategies were not in place and concretely mastered, our life would have been in jeopardy. So with that being said, do I ever worry that I or we, as a team, are or could be a danger to others? – No. Not anymore than anyone that does NOT have DID and quite frankly we have benefits that those without DID don’t have, we have each other to depend on and support in order to maintain safety, self control, and consistency. A singleton, when at their wits end, can’t simply ‘go inside’ and let someone else who is doing better at that point in time, front until they have calmed down or regrouped.
Question #2) “Do you ever worry that you as a team are confusing your son and disrupting his sense of stability and security?”
~ Again, my answer is a firm no. No matter who is front, his daily schedules, needs, and wants are met consistently and efficiently. No matter who is front, he is cared for and attended to & no matter who is front, he is fully aware that he is loved. At the current moment in time, the only one fronting besides myself is Chris. This is due to some knee problems we’re experiencing and the possibility of knee surgery. Therefore, many are staying -far- inside to both minimize the amounts of triggers as well as ensure that those who can’t feel the pain associated with the knee do not unintentionally injure it further.
Chris is very laid back and easy going so oftentimes he and my son enjoy watching movies or simply listening to music and hanging out/chatting while Chris helps me out with the household chores. He and I have also noticed a significant decrease in tantrums and negative behavior when he is fronting vs. when I am front. So it’s not uncommon that on days when I’m significantly stressed or when my son is having a rough day, for him to front the majority of the time as it seems to help my son remain a bit more calm and focused. This is also an example of, for us, how it’s actually quite the opposite of what many people seem to assume. Since I tend to be more high strung than Chris is, we’re able to use that to our advantage as a means of maintaining a ‘low baseline’ of emotional intensity levels in the household. And it’s not quite rocket science, that the lower the emotional intensity in a home is, on a consistent basis, the stronger everyone’s senses of stability and security become. Just as sometimes in other households, if a mom is stressed one day, it can be in everyone’s best interest to let the father (if he’s doing well) do more of the child related activities – because as we all know, children tend to pick up on stress and anxiety levels rather quickly which can affect their behavior – then it becomes a ping pong match back and forth of escalating levels of emotional intensity.
Question #3) “Many people with DID have ‘lost time’, do you experience lost time or ever worry about what happens during these periods of time and how it might affect your son’s safety?”
~ Ok, so first, what -is- “lost time”? Lost time is periods of time that are not accounted for – usually due to someone else fronting and the others not being ‘aware’. So lets say someone in my team fronted for two hours, then once I got to the front again and looked at the clock it was 2 hours later and I was unaware of who had been front and/or what they did. This is common with DID and therefore I do understand the concern although, it’s not one for us. My answer to this question: I am aware of the concern and the many problems that could arise – though I don’t personally ‘worry’ about it as my team and myself have great communication and cooperation as well as strategies to prevent and/or cope with the issue.
A big part of living and functioning with DID is communication and cooperation. I don’t believe that could -ever- possibly be stressed enough!! Roflmao The best way I’ve found to explain or think about a multiple is simply this: Many people sharing one body. For us, the body doesn’t exactly ‘belong’ to any of us. It’s simply the body we all live in/share. Almost like a ‘shell’ that we all utilize in order to interact with the world around us. But seeing as we all share the body, we HAVE to be able to cooperate and compromise. In order to do those things, whether you’re a multiple or not, good communication and communication skills are a MUST. In fact in order for us to handle these types of things we have “council meetings” on a weekly basis – or daily basis depending on what all is happening in our lives at the time. We also have mediation teams, daily support groups for everyone (based on age/gender/personal story etc) and specific people in our team that are responsible for ‘holding down the fort’ and intervening when they see something, whether it be an interpersonal conflict inside or a a rising conflict between those that are inside and the body’s daily/routine life (such as sleeping patterns getting off track etc).
Communication, cooperation, teamwork – it’s not a game to us.
If you are a multiple, lost time is something that can be minimized, handled, and even in some cases, stopped. For us it’s been a matter of getting to know each other, teamwork, and problem solving skills. The more of my teammates I learned about, met, and got to know, the more my lost time seemed to decrease. For many (in my team – as I refuse to speak for anyone else’s lol) lost time can simply be a matter of fear. Whomever is front might not feel safe, confident, or secure enough with the other teammates so they are able to ‘put up a wall’ making the front more difficult to access or be aware of for the others inside. This creates periods of time that for everyone else, can’t quite be ‘accounted for’.
At this point in time, I personally have not met or gotten to know all of my teammates. It’s up to them when they feel safe or comfortable enough to introduce themselves. However, others in my team, collectively, do know and are aware of the entire team. Because of this, I/we have developed preventative strategies to both handle and cope with the concept of lost time. The one that we have found works for us without fail, is that the front is always monitored. No matter who is fronting, and no matter what time of day or night, there’s always someone (one of 4 specific protectors) directly behind the ‘fronter’ monitoring what happens, what is said, and where we are at all times. This helps with many things like for instance, if my son wants something, or needs help with something, that whomever is front, for whatever reason, may be unable to do, the person monitoring the front would know immediately and be able to get front in order to help. Also, if by the time I got to the front and for whatever reason wanted an overview or summary of what was said/done while I was inside, the person who had been monitoring the front would be able to give me a ‘play by play’. One thing we’ve had to pay high attention to is confidentiality. So, as I mentioned we only have 4 protectors that run monitoring duty, that’s part of the reason. Those 4 collectively, are trusted by everyone, if someone wanted front but didn’t trust who was monitoring at that moment, they’re required to speak up and request the one they do trust so that our guidelines are still followed but also, they feel secure. The 4 guys that run monitoring duty are each held to the same vows of confidentiality as that of a counselor – that anything and everything witnessed, overheard, or shared remains confidential unless there’s a concern they may be a danger to themselves or others. They also, because they oftentimes witness many conversation between others of us and our many friends outside of the body, are under an (internal) oath to not disrupt the confidentiality assumed when ‘outsiders’ assume they are only speaking to the one front. But with this confidentiality in the mix, I have to be able to, and do, trust those 4 on monitoring duty, that if/when I ask for a “play by play” sometimes the response will be something to the tune of “Someone fronted and called someone, then started feeling better and has now gone back to sleep. Your son had some celery and an apple for snack and has been watching a movie, it should end in about 45 minutes” If that’s as much detail I’m given I have to respect it – details are not required unless safety or well being has become an issue. So what may be -to me- ‘lost time’ is never unaccounted for because whomever was on monitoring duty at that time would be able to fill me in 100% (aside from confidentiality constraints)
Also, if my son ever needed me when I was inside and unable to watch the front, whomever was on monitoring duty would either front at that time and tend to my son – or get me from inside and push me to the front. So for me/us, this is not something we ‘worry’ about because we are aware of it and have created strategies to handle and prevent it.
Question #4) “Does your son know you are multiple – have you told him – and if not, do you plan to and when?”
~ My son is 4 years old so I have not told him quite yet lol. However, he has figured -something- out. Children are a lot smarter and more perceptive than I think many people give them credit for. One thing I’ve noticed with some of my multi friends that have, or have considered having kids – is this fear that if you tell them you are a multiple, they will react negatively or call you ‘crazy’ – or maybe feel ashamed of you as their parent. That they might lose respect for you as an authority figure in their life, or possibly even reject you altogether. When I first began accepting the reality I was a multiple and stopped running from the truth, I had to face those fears as well. However, like the saying goes “learn from your elders”, I began to listen. I know so many multiples that for one reason or another didn’t tell their children until early or late adulthood. What I’ve learned from them is this, things like trust, relationships, and respect can be worked on, improved, even repaired – but the longer you wait to be upfront, honest, and open with your children – generally speaking, the longer it will take to repair that relationship. Also, it’s been my experience that as people grow, mature, and age, the more our minds tend to close up.
Children are very imaginative and accepting of new ideas and concepts, and it’s my belief that just as we instill the morals and values in our children that we hope to pass onto them at a very early age, we should also spend time introducing them to who we are not only as their parents but as people as well as some of our realities. I think this improves the relationship as they are able to learn and understand us before they are introduced to false concepts like “crazy”. I also think it will prevent feelings of exclusion – as if we as parents (when we tell them later in life) have excluded them from our own lives for so many years and prevented them from getting to know who we really are.
Even though I have yet to sit down with my son and explain these things to him, he’s already figured ‘something’ out LMAO He already knows many of us and so far, 4 of us (including myself) by name. At times when I am fronting and … for example… Chris is directly behind me, some of Chris’ characteristics (such as voice, posture, or terminology like specific nicknames for my son he uses that I don’t) will show through. My son recognizes these changes and often walks up to me, gives me a hug, and says “What’s your name?” This tells me that 1) my son -is- very attuned to those sometimes very subtle differences and aware of something of a concept like ‘mommy is lots of people in one’ or ‘mommy is different’ and 2) that he is accepting of it. As far as ‘when’ I plan to tell him ‘officially’ lmao I don’t honestly have a specific age or time in mind other than maybe around age 10-ish or when I believe he is cognitively mature enough to understand/grasp such a concept as well as be able to voice his concerns, questions, and any possible fears related to it.
If there’s one thing that I could say I’d vowed to myself before he was ever born it would be that he never has to know of the horrors of my past either directly or indirectly. It’s my belief that these are my demons to face and recover from NOT his to grapple with. If however, he were a grown man with a family of his own or the age to be, and confronted me with specific questions, I would not necessarily ‘lock him out’ or dodge them, but I wouldn’t be giving him all the graphic details if I could help it. I say this because I anticipate questions such as “Why are you this way?” I do not intend to nor will I respond with anything even close to “I was abused” or “Mommy was hurt by lots of bad people” Instead, I intend to respond with something similar to “You know how when you’re upset, you take a break, or cry, or run and dance? – Well, mommy’s brain used to make other people inside her body instead” –Is it 100% accurate? Maybe lol Maybe not lol And to be honest, I’m still mulling over, as time goes by, exactly ‘how’ I will tell him and explain it in terms that a child can understand without having to even go near telling my son about my past. But as far as today Is concerned, that’s where my thinking is.
Another ‘handy’ tool I have and will probably utilize are the littles in my team. The term “littles” simply refers to the children (little ones) that I share the body with as well. I could speak to them and ask them “How would you explain to someone your age about us?” That might actually be better in all honesty because they think and communicate just like other children their age. LMAO For about a year now I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a children’s book for other multi parents as a means of having a ‘starting point’ to read with their children and then discuss what it ‘means’ if mommy or daddy is a multiple, now I’m beginning to think that may be a rather wise idea lmao.
I hope this wasn’t too confuzzled😛 LMAO I tend to be a very open person – or at least strive to be😛 lol So I’m never against answering questions or explaining things –as long as I’m able to lmao I do not believe in ‘stupid’ or ‘ignorant’ questions and am not offended easily. I believe questions to be a doorway to understanding and consider part of loving others to be putting ‘touchiness’ aside in order to listen and learn with the other person. If you have to ask a question, the only reason is because either you’ve not had anyone willing to answer/explain it for you yet OR you haven’t found anyone willing to work with you and break it down in a way that makes sense to you. Having very easily hurt feelings in the process of trying to help is never useful ;) What DOES offend me, is a refusal to accept others and judgments that are tied to a refusal to make an effort to learn, grow, and understand. This was partly my reason to write this entry – as well as all the questions I’ve been receiving recently.🙂 It truly saddens me that multiplicity is so oftentimes deemed ‘crazy’ and even ‘not real’ as well as the fact that society doesn’t have the correct information and understanding of it. We’re not monsters, we’re not crazy, and we’re not dangerous – anymore than you or anyone else is – or could be😉😛 But, unfortunately, those differences seem to be awfully frightening to those who are unable to relate. It is my hope that through honest and open communication as well as resources and personal accounts such as this tiny little one, some of these fears can be laid to rest and a true understanding can be achieved.❤
The following song (as you’ve probably noticed by now that I like to attatch a related song to each blog if/when I can) is a bit of a stretch – but I believe it does actually apply. As the song says,
“The truth is kept secret, it’s swept under the rug, if you never know truth then you never know love – Where’s the love y’all!!?”
I’m simply trying to assist the truth in getting out. Truth – Respect – Love – These are ALL stronger than fear.❤