Rose and I are away again, house sitting in the hills with Zoe. It’s bliss. Yesterday friends visited for fire baked spuds and card games. I’ve spent today sleeping or reading in front of the fire. Rose is spoiling me. Last week was busy, I’m still embroiled in tax paperwork, my cert 4 in small business management started and there were some stressful emotional days. By Friday night I was teary with exhaustion and pain was making me short fused. The effort of getting out of the house, especially with the dog crate and so on for Zoe, was almost too much. But we did it, and it’s been wonderful.
I was thinking the other day how normal it’s become to be multiple. When Rose I go shopping, and I switch to a little kid in the lolly aisle, we are both so unconcerned. Mostly people don’t notice, and we don’t draw attention to ourselves. But we’re not afraid or ashamed either. Those who do see something different probably assume that I have some kind of intellectual disability or delay. I’ve long stopped being distressed by that or feeling ashamed of being seen that way. So what? In some ways, I am ‘delayed’ at that moment, by about 25 years. 😉 I’m not afraid of being thought of as disabled because I don’t think about disability the same way any more. Me switching is so normal for us, not a big deal, not a source of shame or anxiety. (I switch many times a day, and my system ages range from 5 up and cross various experiences and expressions of gender – most who don’t know me well would not be able to tell that I’ve switched – Rose usually can)
This is such a difference from the years I was terrified of someone else finding out, from my first disclosures where people reacted so badly. So different to being diagnosed with a “terrible disorder” that would prevent me ever getting work, that would ensure I spent years in and out of psychiatric facilities, that would wreak havoc on my relationships and require thousands of excruciatingly painful hours in therapy for any hope of peace or happiness. I feel like someone who was told they would never walk again who goes dancing on Saturday nights. They got it all so very wrong, and I’m so glad I didn’t listen.
So I’m different, in some ways that people can’t see, and in others that are at times visible. So what? Welcome to the world, it’s a very diverse place. I’m not a freak show, and I’m not scared of a conversation about dissociation with a checkout operator either. I am so blessed, so at peace. I don’t live like a spy in a foreign land any more, watching everything I say, always concealing some truth of my identity that would destroy everything. How much of what we put down to the ‘mental illness’ is the stress of this way of living? The loneliness of it, the chronic, grinding fear? I’ll never forget having new members to Bridges, the group for people who experienced dissociation and/or multiplicity that I ran for several years, weeping when they first attended, because it was the first time in their lives they’d met anyone else like them. I’ve been lucky to know and care for and love and learn from so many people, and so many fellow multiples over the years. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve lost a few along the way, but I’ve learned, I’ve been humbled, I’ve tried to take the lessons with me, the hard won wisdom whether through success or terrible disaster.
I feel set free from those old, dire prognosis, and I hope my work, my choices, the way I live my life, also helps to set others free. My life is not without pain, I live in chronic physical pain, I have experienced extreme emotional anguish. My story includes grief, darkness, suffering. I live with ghosts and old wounds that are very deep. I am not ‘recovered’. But I’m also not waiting to get better before I feel alive, or at peace, or hope. All lives touch pain, tragedy, disability, loss. Some more than others, yes. I don’t have a good life in spite of multiplicity or illness. I have a good life because I’m here, present in it, drinking it in, the sorrow and the joy, the pleasure of driving myself hard at work, and the bliss of a day reading by the fire. The warmth in the arms of my lover. I love and I am loved. It is my heart that is the source of my greatest pain, and my brightest happiness, and in matters of the heart I have been fortunate indeed.