Communication… (how not to ruin your children)

Communication

This body is 35 years old. Like seriously, not even joking. While the body meets “adult” criteria legally there’s not a chance developmentally that we are there yet. We may never get there and that’s perfectly fine by us, but looking back over our life we started comparing how life now compares to life as a chronological child.

As a lot of our readers know, we are living a pretty normal teenage life right now. We have boundaries, guidelines, chores, and plenty of supervision. We also have a measure of independence but for the most part it compares to an average teenage life (especially since there seems to be so many unidentified system members lately… but more on that another day). Because of the way we live now I feel like we’re pretty qualified to compare how communication works here in this family versus communication in our family of origin. And I feel like that comparison will help some of us at some point. Because processing life, trauma, and feelings must happen and its easier to write about it than it is to force someone through a conversation about it.

Communication

Communication plays a large part in how we understand ourselves and each other. This isn’t any different for children, especially chronological children. When one generation misses this crucial lesson they tend to pass that deficit on to the next generation.

Where do you learn these vital skills? In childhood, of course. The family unit teaches you these skills.

Oh… wait…

There’s hundreds of small details we can tell you about this body’s childhood. We had a couple of cats, Minnie and Candy. We had a dog, Travis. The dog ate our Southwest Barbie doll. The sister had foot braces that connected together. The old console television. The Commadore 64.

What I can’t tell you is what conversations were like at home. Because there weren’t any. Our grandmother had this saying that she wholeheartedly believed. And this saying seemed to control every aspect of our life, even when she wasn’t around.

Children should be seen and not heard.

Children didn’t have thoughts or feelings. Children didn’t have conversations. Children did what they were told and kept their mouths shut. The child’s opinion wasn’t wanted or necessary. Most things were simply none of the child’s business. Even expressions of love were rare because feelings make people weak and big girls don’t cry.

Fast forward many years and we, the children that came out of that train-wreck of a childhood, get married. We seriously lacked communication skills. There was no ability to tell what was okay to tell and what wasn’t because secrecy was the rule. We were a system and we were churning. It wasn’t long before we were a hurricane on the path of destruction. Sadly for us, we married a tornado. A tornado that believed men superior to women. Women should be obedient and silent. Our opinion wasn’t needed or necessary. That marriage produced 4 beautiful children who never really learned to communication because we couldn’t teach them that and no one else around them would. They, also, learned that emotions were bad and feelings don’t need to be discussed.

Now we’re in a new place and a new life phase. We, and the 4 kids, are living under the guidance of two people who don’t believe any of these things. All of our opinions, including the 4 kids, are valued. Family dinners every evening consist of everyone talking about how their day went. Learning to talk, to share, to take turns, and to listen. It’s very common for an adult to ask one of the rest of us what we think or what we feel. The kids are flourishing with this new example.

We’re struggling. We can barely label our feelings, let alone share them. Most of us won’t even try to explain them if there’s a risk of hurting someone’s feelings or being told we’re wrong. We don’t know when we talk too much and when we don’t talk enough. When we do try and talk we spend more time trying to explain why someone’s assumptions of what we feel/think aren’t accurate then we actually do talking about what is bothering us. It’s become, over this lifetime, far too easy to let people believe what they want to believe.

For the first time since we started therapy, we haven’t done our therapy homework. We’re supposed to be keeping some kind of track of feelings we notice. Only when we stop to feel things it hurts and ends up getting someone emotional and we end up with a much bigger problem –  usually in the way of days of crazy emotions. We can’t function like that. Our default is numb. So far all we can identify in therapy is the states of cold, hot, headache, and tired. Those are all physical states, but she’s accepting it as a start.

Communication avoids all of this. We’re embarking on a journey to learn communication. 35 years later than we should have.

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Inside Where We Live (Josslyn)

image from google

hi im josslyn an im like, i dunno, 13 i guess. i usedta be littler but i was scared of everything and spent a lot of time under my bed or in the closet cuz i was always scared. but then i took a really loong nap, like from november to march and now im awake an with my twin sister parker and im bigger and not scared anymore.

my job is kinda to help watch stuff inside and to help feel fear. i see a lot of what the inside sisters do and how they act and i see and feel when they feel scared and i can mostly tell where the fear is coming from an why. i can find help, like tellin mama and daddy, or i can keep it to myself, or i can tell kaysie or bella or brina. they are the protector team. mama and daddy are on the protector team too but i don’t think they know that. some people think its weird that mama and daddy are only a few years older than the body but they raise us and treat us as our age but they don’t gotta live our life and its really not their business anyways so no one asked them.

i really like to color. i have a stuffed animal pony that is striped with all kinds of bright colors and i love butterflys. at our old house before this one i had butterfly stickers on the walls all over by our bed but daddy said they wouldn’t stick again so they didn’t get to move with us when sister peeled them off the walls. that really sucks a lot and i miss them cuz they were bright and fun.

we usedta have a husband. i guess we kinda still do. he hurt us a lot in the heart and on the body. we have a half moon burn on our calf that itches a lot today that he burned in there. he called it a brand and he spent weeks peeling the scabs to make sure it scarred real good. i still have dreams about that. it was scary. he has our dog and we have the bodys kids with him that we gave to mama and daddy because we can’t raise kids and none of us remember much about having kids and we didn’t even really want to but he liked pregnant girls and liked to keep us pregnant cuz we were easier to keep quiet an we were clingy. its hard to look at the body’s kids sometimes but mama and daddy help a lot an took over there and the body’s kids say giving them to mommy and daddy was the best choice we ever made for them and that we usually make bad choices for them so they are happy about this one.

i wrote a lot. i guess. oh well. thats me and what my job is an what i was thinkin about. oh an we have a butterfly tattoo i hate cuz its a property mark we were made to get. but its a butterfly.

love,

jossy

Shadow People in the Closet

Image Credit:  http://thehorrormoviesblog.com/2015/06/16/shadow-people/

I’m physically in the livingroom. My mom is with me. She’s knitting and watching TV and I am working on DID awareness stuff and keeping up with the support group we run on Facebook for DID. I’m coughing, clearing my throat, and gasping for breath, Mama mumbles under her breath.

“I wish I could break into the closet and strangle them”

I heard her. To an outsider this makes no sense, but to me she just said “I love you.” It takes a bit of the fear out of this scary situation. Mama is here. Mama is watching. Mama cares.

Our inside world has been through incredible changes since last August. One of these changes happened over the last month. It was the opening of a gate inside, a gate guarded by a sweet 3 year old. Olly had guarded her gate faithfully for almost 20 years, but time has a way of changing things. The gate opened when it was ready and we welcomed Olly, Sami, Trinity, Shiloh, and Andee. They are a group of sweet and fun little girls that we affectionately call the C-Continuum. They hold a lot of memories, triggers, and fears from the body’s childhood years. They were not alone though.

Also behind that gate is a group of shadows. They are people but no one, not even the C-Continuum has ever seen them. They arrived some time after Sabrina posted Olly at that gate and they “shut off the lights” and made it cold. When the gate opened, the littlest ones chose to come out and join the rest of us. The shadows retreated into a closet and locked the little ones out. Or locked themselves in.

From that moment we get choking sensations a few times a week. It happens around eating, strong emotion, or at seemingly random times. There’s never any actual lasting damage done, but it’s uncomfortable and hard to fight through. At first I believed they wanted the body dead. Sami agreed and said that’s definitely what they want. I had decided to leave them, and the entire closet, alone.

Over the last two weeks I’ve noticed an increase in posts in our group about “angry” or “challenging” alters and Brina and I have educated many about patience, love, and kindness when these parts don’t seem to want it. So I was reading yet another post a minute ago while regaining my breath when it dawned on me.

We aren’t taking our own advice. We need to show love, kindness, and patience. We need to remind them that the body is safe, our life is safe, and we are surrounded by love. Most of all, that they are welcome to join us and receive the safety and love.

-Kaysie

Childhood Sexual Abuse

Image credit: http://www.colorlines.com/content/what-you-need-know-about-childhood-sexual-abuse

The statistics in the image are heartbreaking and shock a lot of people. Childhood sexual abuse doesn’t shock me. It doesn’t stun me, and it doesn’t surprise me. I never wonder how it could possibly happen. I never have wondered. I never will wonder.

As early as any of us can remember, this body was used sexually. We have hints of memories prior to the age of 3 years old. We have definite memories as early as 4 years old. It started so early and went on for so long that we grew up believing it was normal. Our abuser was in the home daily. Outside of the home he was a devout church member. He sang in the choir and was a deacon in the church. Friends love him, other kids thought we had the coolest step dad ever. He always seemed to be wonderful. He fixed bikes, went camping, took us on vacations, and videotaped all typical childhood events. To the outside we had the perfect family.

He never paid for what he did. The mother worked hard to defend him. The police said there simply wasn’t enough evidence. Our case never made it into a statistic. The above statistic doesn’t include us. If it doesn’t include us, how many more cases like ours are not included? What are the actual numbers? How many children are being broke, split, and shattered because of not reporting? How many are being taught that help isn’t coming because of not being believed?

Its time to pay closer attention to the world around us. You can make a difference to one child if you can save that one child. Had any family member really paid attention, we could have been saved too. Its not their fault, they didn’t know. I just believe that a little more diligence, attention, and time can make a huge difference to a child. We don’t have to save all children, but we can all save one. We removed our children from a situation that was abusive in other ways. They are now supported, healthy, and growing. We are here with them, yet we are not raising them. We have no ability to raise children. We are still small children ourselves.

Alayna

When the Parents are the Monsters

I found this image on Pinterest when looking for writing prompts. It is incredibly tempting to create a beautiful story to go with this quote, but it hit a nerve and so this won’t be some made up story.
You see, there are those of us in the world who can understand and relate to this one.
From the age of 3, the monsters in our life were our parents. More specifically our biological mother and her second husband. He entered our life right after the bio-mother forced the bio-father into leaving. Possibly even before then. Those two had a long history, dating back to the bio-mother’s teenage years when she babysat his children from his first marriage.
From what we can remember, the sexual and emotional abuse and manipulation began right away. Years later, while trying to process everything, I believe we have come to terms with the fact that we were an easy target and quite possibly the only reason he married her. We were 4 when they married and we were someone else’s child. Bio-mother was so intent on having the picture-perfect family that she kept bio-father as far away as she could, and she turned a blind eye to the things in her life that didn’t fit into her perfect family. She was all about appearances.
Even at 4, (I’m going to use “we” here. It’s more comfortable for me.) we knew that we weren’t good enough for bio-mom. He told us that on a regular basis. He groomed us to be available to him and he made sure we understood that we had no hope of her ever loving us. By the age of 6 we had been told that she hated us. She hated us, and would be jealous and hate us even more if she knew we were getting his attention. We didn’t know… we had no idea that this wasn’t happening in every family. We didn’t know there was only supposed to be one of us. We had no idea that anything was wrong on a conscious level.
On a subconscious level, we knew. We were a** full-blown bulimic by the age of 9. By 12 we were hugely overweight and made to weigh ourselves in front of the family so that he could tell everyone how fat we were. He was sure to tell us that no one would ever want us, we had no hope at a family, marriage, love, or children. We were expendable and not wanted and the only reason we had a roof over our head was that he pitied us. All of this was being fed to us while he abused us sexually. She – bio-mother –  was rarely home. She went out with friends, went to school, went to work… she talked to us on the phone after school every day but that was simply to tell us what chores she wanted to be done. When we were alone, the bad things happened. To this day we feel rejected and struggle with nearly paralyzing anxiety when we are alone. We lose time badly and often forget the children are here and rarely remember where they are or what they are doing.
At the age of 14, we told. We told a camp counselor, who told the camp director. We were at an overnight camp for a week. They reported it all to social services and then sent us home. Bio-mother told us all about how our report was going to cost her the house and her cars. She told us to “shut up about it”. She told us that we weren’t the first girl it ever happened to and that we probably wouldn’t be the last. She told us all about her anxiety, and how her feelings needed to be protected, and how she needed us to give her space to deal with her emotions. She made sure to tell us how hard her life was and how she needed her space. It was 3 years before we heard her say she loved us. As a matter of fact, aside from necessary conversation she pretty much ignored us.
She didn’t leave him. We were forced to continue to live with them. It was the early 1990s and reports weren’t handled like they are now. She wrote a letter asking social services to close the case and made us sign it (she says it didn’t happen like that). They closed the case and left us with them. We spent some time in counseling but that ended when bio-mother was done taking us.
We left that house at 17. And I wish I could say that was the end of the abuse, but we left there broken. Broken and split.
How I wish there had been a monster under the bed to protect us from them.
** I understand that there are some issues grammatically.  It was done intentionally and in a way that makes sense to us.
Alayna Jade

 

In a Land Far Far Away….

we have a story. a long one. doesn’t everyone?

my name is cadie. i’m a member of a well established DID system. the body is 33 years old and the mother of 4 children under the age of 12. our system is made up of 10 of us, including the original. we have been hiding for a very long time and recently that has changed. we no longer have to hide.

for the first time in about 30 years, we are somewhere completely safe and with people who are determined to keep it that way. we are getting help parenting, and learning new skills, and learning to make better choices. in order to do this we had to move 2200 miles from the place this body was born and raised. all of that happened about 20 days ago.

there are 10 of us in this system. im cadie and im 12-14ish but im also an age slider so i end up all kinds of ages, but never over 15. the 10 of us consider ourselves sisters and are pretty much like your typical sibling group. we fight, argue, and irritate, but we protect fiercely.

lexi is 3. she’s can’t read or type so she won’t be contributing here. truthfully she doesn’t care about much except the color yellow, toys, and snuggles.

hayley is 4. she likes pink, and unicorns, hello kitty, and snuggles from mommy and daddy.

bri is 5. she likes unicorns, blue, and stickers with her daddy.

kenzie is 6. she’s the core/original. she hates her legal name and refuses to have any part of it. she likes to be safe and feel loved.

josslyn is 9. she loves butterflies.

lyssa is 12. she’s emotional, argumentative, and confusing.

jenna is 15. she’s nurturing and calming. she takes on too much and overthinks everything.

layna is 16ish. she’s the secondary protector. she can be cold, hard, and immovable. she often makes people wish they had never met us. she can be completely compliant, or completely definant/rebellious and there’s rarely a good explanation of why.

jessa is 17. she’s the main protector. up until recently she had no real emotions and no real use for anyone outside of our system.

many of us will probably be writing here. we’ll be doing it more for our family and each other than anyone else, but we welcome new friends. see, our recent move, and the circumstances that led up to the recent move, seem to have shaken the system in a huge way. the move is a good thing. the best thing for us, but change seems to hit us hard.

we’re finding that not having to hide, while being a relief, is really really really painful to adjust to. its something we need and desperately want, but it’s like being in the dark for years and then stepping into the sunlight. its warm and welcoming, but its blinding and painful.

we are living with mama and daddy. they adopted us and are teaching us all kinds of things we should have learned forever ago. they accept and love each of us, and all 4 of our babies. they are amazing people with infinite amounts of patience, while keeping control and structure in place which is something we have never had. the structure and rules are comfortable like a hug. the organization here is intriguing because we’ve never experienced anything like it. the whole experience has almost been surreal so far, and is almost too good to be true. their neighbor is a goofy guy who has fallen into the “manny” role with surprising ease.

too good to be true.

we are terrified of fucking this up. we are so afraid of screwing it up, in fact, that we’re an emotional disaster. to be fair there are other reasons for the emotional chaos right now too but that’s a huge one. we don’t deserve anything like this. we don’t have a history of being good girls or making good choices. what right do we have to such an incredible life?

im having a hard time centering my thoughts i think. earlier today jessa fell apart and her emotions are affecting me a lot. she’s afraid that she’s messed up a lot of stuff and momma left to go run errands and jessa was scared to be alone…. she was sure she was going to fail at her job protecting us. right now we kinda don’t need a protector because we’re well protected and i think that’s actually a huge part of jessa’s problem. she’s wondering what her role is. we’re all wondering where we fit in and if we actually belong because we don’t seem to have a purpose and we definitely aren’t very useful here. when jessa freaked, layna went to comfort her and now we have no idea where either of them are and that kinda sucks and is really scary because we were alone and because we love them both so much and jessa is our gatekeeper. i don’t think she realizes how good she does.

jenna has been with the littles, keeping them calm. they were really scared. a lot of this is scary but not in a bad way. its hard to explain. i just lost my train of thought tho and this is really long enough right now.

~cadence danielle~