Around the Fire Pit

I took this picture last night while being social! 

I was in the living room with Mama yesterday afternoon. Mama says “My friend is having a fire tonight and I really want to go.” I looked up from my phone long enough to mumble “Go for it. I’ll watch the other kids.” Don’t judge. I was bubble popping. Bubble Witch Saga is addictive, people. 

Mama sort of rolls her eyes and sighs. I clearly missed a point somewhere. Again, don’t judge. Bubbles… priorities. She says “I want you to make friends too. I want you to want to go places.” I put the phone down (I KNOW! It nearly killed me.) and thought about it for a minute. We had agreed to trust her. She’s worked hard to earn our trust. We had all agreed to step outside of our comfort zone occasionally. And to be entirely honest, a fire pit on an early summer night sounded like a really great idea. So I agreed. 
I was pretty nervous. I had no idea whether they knew about the DID, about all of us, anything. I was chatting with a bestie on messenger who said “Kaysie, just be yourself. Don’t worry about them not knowing about the DID.” I realized at that point that he was right. It didn’t matter, it still kind of doesn’t matter, whether they do or don’t know. Last night it was just me. Just Kaysie. 
The new friends have a beautiful home, a beautiful yard, and a beautiful dog. Like, I’m in love with their dog. The fire was bright and warm, the company was open and friendly, and the kids made new friends. Mama was relaxed. There was a lot of laughter, some nice conversation, and a general safe and comfortable feeling.
When I woke up this morning I realized something kinda huge. We were at a fire. Granted a fire pit, but still a fire. Most of our little ones have an intense fear of fire due to our childhood abuser threatening to burn our house down with us in it if we ever told. Not one of the little ones was scared last night at all. Some people were drinking and there was a fire. No one was even close to being out of control and the fire was contained and maintained. The entire situation was safe, comfortable, and really nice.
I hope we get to do it again. I really liked these new friends.
-Kaysie
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Hold Up….. Weight a Minute….

This entire system is plagued by absolutely horrific relationships with food. The vast majority of us can be divided between two categories. Binge eating, or bulimia. Body hatred is big in this system for a variety of reasons, most coming down to size. For years now my sweet sisters have toyed with trying to “fix” the body, but it always comes back to the same results.
Image Credit: http://www.helpyourteens.com/teens-body-image-and-eating-disorders

We have been with Mom and Dad for about 9 months now. When we first moved in with them we were almost 300lbs, hair was falling out, teeth broken and cracked, fingernails peeling, and skin cracking. We had some kind of weird awful cyst putting pressure on our spine and our blood sugar routinely ran in the 300s. My sisters complained about it but were met with a mental block every time they tried to make a change. Daily life was so chaotic that the body refused to respond to good interventions at all.

Fast forward 9 months and the body is now 245lbs. Hair is growing back, teeth are getting fixed, skin and nails are much better. Blood sugars are under 150 more often than not and there’s no more weird cysts. Logically we all know these things to be fact. The clothes in our closet are a size we don’t remember wearing before. Mentally, we can’t see the change. 
All of us are self sabotaging on a regular basis, especially when it comes to carbs. There’s some kind of self protection program running that’s refusing to allow us to make real progress in the way of weight. Over and over again we can hear F’s voice telling us that we are fat and ugly and no one will ever want us. Maybe if we stay fat and no one still wants us, then we run less risk of getting hurt again. Maybe we feel like we deserve to be ugly and huge. 
I want us to be kind to this body. This body has carried us through some incredibly awful events and somehow managed to keep us alive. This body has given birth to the 4 boogers that have made it possible for Mom and Dad to be parents again. This body has found courage and hope where there wasn’t any and has fought off an angry gall bladder in order to save the youngest’s life in utero. This body has done amazing things. It deserves our kindness, and no, trying to sabotage it to protect it from pain is not a kindness.
We all seem to share the all or nothing trait. We want to do yoga to the point that we physically hurt, or we don’t want to do it at all. We want to walk 5 miles or 0 miles. We want to eat 12 cookies or no cookies. We want to test blood sugar 10 times a day or we don’t test at all. There’s simply no happy medium with us. 
Some of my sisters seem to have a tendency to use exercise to cause the body pain. Those same sisters will make poor food choices for much the same reason. They don’t necessarily enjoy the pain, but they believe we deserve the pain. Some of the rest of us want to build strength in the body, while yet others don’t want to risk any pain to the body at all. To people outside of this body it looks like laziness, enablers, and a general not caring. Most of us will agree with it and say thats exactly what it is because it becomes too hard to explain and our attempts at explaining end up sounding like excuses.
And still yet, it could also be parts of our addictive personalities showing up. Some of us are addicted to pain, some are addicted to nicotine, some are addicted to being hurt. Sadly, none of us are addicted to being happy. All of these emotions, thoughts, feelings, wants, desires, and needs pile on all day long and quickly become overwhelming for the emotion regulators (Jenna and Mia) to keep up with. The outside becomes challenging and we can’t figure out simple things like what to eat or how to eat, or how to prepare what to eat. It’s a conversation Mom has with us a lot. She, like many others, view it as laziness. It frustrates her because she knows we have the skill set. We are completely capable of cooking macaroni and cheese, or following recipe directions, etc. We just end up with this massive mental block and it becomes emotionally raw and almost impossible. Like words scramble in our head and we stop understanding the simplest of instructions. It’s frustrating. Especially when we know we KNOW this. 
So today, today I made a protein shake (protein powder and almond milk) for breakfast. I’m drinking water. I did 40 minutes of yoga this morning. Our muscles ache. I am out of brain power and feeling pretty defeated in terms of body image/help/etc. I feel like we are letting down our family who knows we are capable of better. I wish I didn’t care what they thought. 
Sabrina

Inside Where We Live (Arabella)

I really have nothing pressing to talk about. It’s my turn to write… well, I haven’t written in a long time but we don’t really have turns. Mostly We write when we feel like it. I could spend some time introducing myself though.

I’m going to be honest though, introducing myself seems risky. I’m one of the protectors for this system an I worry that being as open as my sisters have started to be is a security breach. Kaysie is our main protector, however, and she feels that being this transparent and open is actually safer in the long run. I suppose she’s right.
So hello. My name is Arabella.  I am about 17. Inside I am usually in white tiger form. My main role inside is protection of the little ones. The number of sisters under the age of 13 is nearly twice that (if not more) than those over 13 so that in itself is a full time job. I spend most of my time inside with the children, but I do enjoy my time in the outside world. I especially enjoy technology, our new family, and yarn. I very much enjoy yarn. I guess that might be the feline side of me.
Until recently I haven’t been spending any real time outside. The outside world can be challenging for me and its harder for me to be sure the children inside are safe if I’m hanging out around here. Mom helps out with that a lot. 
I have experienced some of the body’s trauma, but nothing significant. My job has always been to bring the sister who experienced the trauma inside and nurture and comfort her. There’s a serious lack of trauma here, so I’m having to find new ways to keep myself busy and still feel useful. This project we are working on to be more open and fight stigma is helping a lot with that.
So that’s me, pretty much in a nutshell. I’m around and always willing to say hi.  
Bella

Inside… Where We Live (Alayna)

Image credit: Values.com

Last night Mama was talking to Cadie and she said that we have suddenly all stopped communicating about our inside struggles. We haven’t been using our secret group to communicate with each other and the blog has been all but ignored. We rarely post in our own group about our struggles but we always have time to support our friends and group members. We have pulled ourselves inside and we are proverbially circling the wagons. We are not sharing at all what goes on inside, and we barely talk to anyone about what goes on outside. We have thrown ourselves totally into supporting others.

Mama said it has to stop. That we need to value ourselves and talk about how we are doing. She’s right, the best way we can think of to help others is to share ourselves. So now we are going to work on really being open. No hiding.

Inside we have a resort, a main house, a lake, gardens, a huge forest, and several different places where some of us hang out. It’s nearly impossible to translate into words so at some point we may take it one section at a time, but mostly what I’m trying to say here is that our inside world is vast, comfortable, and a real place.

Most importantly, inside is our sanctuary. It’s not always a cool place tho. I mean crazy things happen up there as we deal with things on the outside. And its so so so hard to explain it when it all sounds like some crazy imagined soap opera all of the time.  That’s like a huge part of the reason we started looking for Facebook groups to be a part of, because we needed a place to be around others like us. What we found instead, for the most part, was judgmental systems calling each other fake. And if you think Facebook is bad, you should see Tumblr. All of these places that could be so cool end up being drama and we have enough inside drama to last several lifetimes, we don’t need more from places that should be supportive and fun.

I wanna tell the world about us. I wanna make the world understand that this body is simply a shell holding one huge beautiful fucked up chaotic world. That the world inside of us needs to be cherished, blessed, loved, and protected. That world, the inside world, is what saved us during almost 30 years of abuse. The body is 34. My oldest sister is 17. The rest of us are all under 17. The outside world can’t seem to understand how this works, but that’s okay.

Inside I am a purple dragon hybrid. My name is Alayna Jade. I am 15 years old-ish in human terms. I have no idea where I came from or how. I just remember showing up here. Mama says I’m a pretty typical 15 year old who has no impulse control, a serious attitude problem, and a strong desire to do what I want. My favorite pet outside is Howard, the black lab. Inside I really love flying over the fields and mountains. I have a long history of starting fires and causing mayhem in general in the inside world. Due to that, I have the pleasure of being supervised by the largest dragon I think I’ve ever seen. His name is Dae, Dae and his mate, Lianna, guide a rather large brood of young dragons. They provide some internal protection as well as supervision for me haha. Not long ago we found our sister, Shiloh, and discovered that she’s a 4 year old baby blue dragon. She’s sweet as hell and I totally love her.  Its become my job (with Dae too) to teach her flight and to keep her safe. She’s got the dragon attitude and I love it so much.

I have a bedroom in the main house. I also have a cave in the Dragonspan. I can be either dragon or teenage girl. I hate how this body doesn’t reflect me in either form. Lots of times I threaten to eat my little sisters if they annoy me.  I love with my whole heart, on the rare occasions that I love at all. I will walk all over anyone if I’m not convinced they are stronger than me. I have no idea how to cook, how to pay bills, how to raise children, or even how to decide what to eat for myself (turns out the outside world frowns on dragons eating other animals…..). I struggle with remembering that the outside body matters, and matters a lot.

I feel numb to most of the outside world but emotionally I’m a big open gaping wound. And when all of that gets too much, I have been known to cut and self harm. Daddy has forbidden self harm which was kind of a dick move really, but I’m allowed to (and supposed to) talk to him and Mama when those feelings take hold so they can help. I don’t do that often enough.

I kinda think I’m around inside because dragons are safe and good protectors. I’m a horrible protector for the most part. I do, however, think I’d step up and do some real damage if I ever have to, in order to protect my sisters. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, but I do love them.

That’s me, inside and out.

Love,

Alayna Jade

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

Memories of Mothers

Alayna woke up this morning. She was awake for about an hour when she realized that Sunday is Mother’s Day. Our adopted mom is cool and we adore her and this will be our first Mother’s Day with her…. but our bio mom doesn’t inspire great thoughts or warm fuzzies. It was only a few minutes after thinking about it when Layna became overwhelmed and the posts and memories started coming. After hours of her reliving memories she made the choice to call our bio dad and talked to him about everything. He listened, as he always does, with patience and compassion. He had no part of the abuse, and no way of stopping it. He offered to help with remembering and dates. From there the rest of our day has been intense memory work, placing together times and years and people. 
Emotions are all over the place. Memories are in pieces. Pens and papers are everywhere. This headache is unreal.