and we all fall down….

howard’s nose, because its cute. he’s a 1 year old black lab.

sometimes we fall down. a lot of times we fall down. maybe not so much literally fall down, more figuratively. but still, falling is falling, right?

it was walk time this morning. bella was out and mama suggested that bella take howard with her. howard is one of our family’s 4 dogs. he’s a beautiful and fun puppy and we adore him a lot. bella initially politely refused. she said she was too nervous to take him because she knows we zone out when walking and she didn’t want to risk us dissociating putting him in danger. mama said she was more worried about us dissociating than she was about howard being in any danger because she knows he’d keep us aware and grounded.

so bella thought about it and decided to take him. we had a dog that was our everything. she kept us safe and we were super attached. we had to send her to live in a warmer climate for her (she’s safe with someone we know loves her and will dote on her) and we’ve been hesitant to bond with the family dogs here since then because losing her was hard. it was right, but it was hard.

so anyways… bella leaves the house with howard. he’s a little over a year and he’s crazy and fun. he’s so good tho and walks really good so that’s helpful. about a quarter mile in, bella dissociates. howard responds by cutting in front of her and nearly tripping her. she told him he’s a good boy but said “maybe next time you can be a bit more gentle?” haha. i thought it was funny. they continued on and she talked to him the whole time but it happened again about a half mile in. this time he nudged and licked our hand. she praised him again. they went a mile and then called it good for the day.

bella, and all of us, realized that walking with howard was actually a lot safer for us. mama said she thinks its a lot safer for us too. we realized today that we really can benefit from bonding with him and he loves the attention and time and exercise. today howard was almost like a service dog to us. if we keep taking him out, it may get to the point where he is basically our service dog.

we are fine in the house by ourselves, especially with the dogs. the only time we lose time and dissociate is outside of the house. so at stores, socializing, at events, etc. we all get overwhelmed by sensory stuff really easily and totally zone out and thats how we end up getting lost or scared and stuff. mostly mama and daddy keep us in eye sight when out but when we go walking we go alone and having howard go with us lets us go alone and have everyone be a lot more comfortable with it.

cadie

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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

Balance Between Inside and Outside

Inside world is in chaos. We have shadows causing all kinds of frustration and discomfort. We have been battling this, or at least trying to manage all of this since Friday and its been intense and depressing.

Long story short, we have a baby in our forest inside. The baby is sheltered and safe but sleeping (think Snow White). Our internal guides and protectors have always been adamant that we never disturb the baby. The little ones are curious about the baby and want the baby to be loved and snuggled so they go check on the baby sometimes.
Up until the shadows arrived a couple weeks ago this wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t until last night that we started realizing (thanks to Mama) that the shadows could be trying to protect the baby. Sami got too close to the baby on Friday. It was like an explosion happened. Everyone except for 3-4 of us were suddenly asleep and our internal protector and internal guide were both knocked into somewhere they’ve never been and had to find their way back. Up until this morning we were missing our youngest gatekeeper after that explosion. We still have to figure out how to convince the shadows that we don’t want to hurt the baby. And to make them understand that hurting our littles isn’t acceptable at all.
Today we seem to be settling down, but seriously, its been hard. Harder still has been trying to navigate the outside world while all of that chaos was going on. We are blessed to have a fantastic family who do their best to understand and help. Most systems we interact with don’t feel safe enough to share their internal struggles with their in person support people. It makes us feel weird and self-conscious too but we we need to share or we isolate.

I don’t care if anyone here thinks its fake or pretend. Its real and the balance between inside and outside is what affects our functioning.
Jessa  ( I posted this in our group yesterday and decided to publish here but forgot to hit publish lol)

Heroes

That’s the truth. We are just kids. The body may be 34 years old, and our littles may be more advanced in some areas than chronological children, but we are just kids. We range in age from 4-17 years old and we have some stunning lacking skills in the area of social skills and emotional regulation. 
But you see, we have had to become superheroes over time. I guess some of us were created to be heroes. Being a hero is a really big job, and had K and A not been hurt so badly when the body was little (and through most of the rest of our life), there would be no need for most of us and no need for kids to be heroes.
Our system, the huge bunch of kids we are, has done alright through life. Jessa has been an incredible protector throughout the years. Yeah, she’s made some awful choices (we all have) but she has been a rock and has been the first in line to help us navigate the murky and sometimes dangerous waters of life. She has been the first to slip out and take some of the worst abuse. She has had the worst things said to her, and has experienced the darkest sides of human nature and has never once held anything against the rest of us. She has been the biggest superhero this system ever had and she rarely misses anything.
Since we moved though, the terrain has been unfamiliar. No one has intentionally tried to hurt us or take advantage of us here. Dad has time and time again gone out of his way to ensure our happiness and our safety. He has made sure the littles know he loves them and thinks of them often… as is evidenced by…..
Real picture from the top of our shelves…
The unfamiliar environment and unfamiliar social setting has made things very hard on Jessa. Jessa, who has worked tirelessly in our life to keep us safe, is at a loss. Nothing she does here is right. Some of what is right feels really wrong (because it’s uncomfortable, vulnerable, and unfamiliar), and some of what should be wrong feels familiar. We came here expecting things to be a certain way, and when there was something new inserted into there we tried to fight the new element that we weren’t prepared for… and we lost. We lost big time. And while being expendable and inconvenient/unwanted isn’t unfamiliar at all, it hurts and we aren’t sure what to do with that pain. 
Yesterday was a day of several triggers, none of them small triggers. Jessa went into yesterday already struggling. She had weeks of feeling defeat on her shoulders. When the triggers hit yesterday and we had to work through them all by ourselves all day long, I think it may have broken something inside of her. There was an argument between Mom and the neighbor. The neighbor is Mom’s best friend. They had been arguing for about 2 days. It was actually, now that I think about it, the most time Mom has spent with just us since we got here. But anyways, the argument started loud and sounded aggressive. That was all it took. The trigger hit and we were down for the count in a blind panic. What do we do? Do we try and save her? Do we let her fight her own battles? Is there anywhere to turn for comfort? Does anyone want to comfort us? There were so many questions. We ended up with a shower and some TV. Mom and her friend worked through their argument with conversation and weed, which moves into trigger number 2. We are living in a state where that is entirely legal (for inquiring minds) but them high reminds us of our cousin on heroin. We watched her roll unconscious off of our toilet when she took too much one day. The treasures were home for that. The fear, the feelings, the having to make huge decisions, the inconsistencies, the conversations that make absolutely no sense, and most importantly the utter disregard for anyone else’s emotions or feelings are all shared between heroin use and weed use. Between the argument and the fact that they were high (which is NOT a problem for them… and only a problem for us because of triggers) and being alone all day (we were alone all afternoon due to an appointment Mom had a few hours away), I think Jessa broke. Last night, after Dad was home from work, Hayley came out for her 1 hour a week and Mom left to go hang out with the neighbor. Dad had left to pick up ice cream at the store so Hayley stayed home alone coloring pictures and sending pictures of her art work to Mom and Dad by messenger. Jessa felt like a complete failure as far as a protector goes because she hadn’t expected Hayley to be alone, so she wasn’t co-con or even paying attention. This morning K ended up alone all morning because Mom went to have coffee with the neighbor and they were smoking. One of the dogs went missing and K walked for 20 minutes trying to find her while running a slight fever and struggling to breathe. By the time her rotation scheduled was done she was convinced no one wants her and that she’s a bad girl. 
Jessa had the scheduled time after that. Mom was back by then and gave Jessa meds and snuggled her up on the parents bed with the remote to their TV and it was quiet and dark and peaceful, but Jessa felt like she had been put away because the neighbor was here and by now I think they all figure we hate him but the truth is, we’re terrified of him. His drug use and inability to have a coherent conversation (among other things) already had made us leery and threat assessment on him was very high but after yesterday we are really afraid of him.  
But see, the thing is, we have no reason to be afraid of him. He is NOT a bad person. He’s a good guy who has gone out of his way to help us more than once. He’s been patient, kind, and has even taught us a thing or two. He’s good with the treasures and even better with the dogs. I won’t even hold it against him that he likes all the other dogs better than ours… he’s still good to her.
After all of this… Jessa has decided she’s done being a hero. More specifically she’s decided that she sucks at being a hero and that we are obviously too much work, unwanted, inconvenient, and expendable. We are the ones that people feel fine about ditching last minute after making plans and something better comes up. We’re the ones that will still be there later so we can be safely ignored in favor of others. The littles hurting is more than Jessa can stomach and she no longer has any desire to fight with anyone about it. Because she’s learned that she can beg to talk all she wants, she’s going to be turned away. She’s going to be told that its not family therapy, that she needs to get a handle on her emotions, that she needs to back down, and that she needs to fix herself… that we all do. 
We try. We try so hard. We bought books about therapy and have worked hard at distraction, visualization, and even imagining a white healing light. We list everything we are grateful for every night before we go to sleep. We talk to each other near constantly, we remind each other to be good, to be kind, to be patient, to be fair. We analyze almost every action and word that comes out of this mouth to see how it could affect someone else. We walk on eggshells so that we can survive, like we have always done. And its still not enough. And Jessa no longer believes that we can ever be enough. 
Jessa posted on Facebook today in a group for systems like ours, specifically protectors, and asked if protectors can resign. She wants to be done with her job as protector and she’s decided we failed as members of this family. My heart is broken. It takes me a long time to attach to anyone emotionally and Jessa and are bonded. We are a bonded pair. I have always taken Jessa’s presence and activity as a definite. Now there’s talk about me taking over the primary protector duties and Jessa taking a break/going dormant. My heart is broken.
We’re just kids… we aren’t supposed to be heroes.
This is what happens when kids are expected to be heroes. 

Except when we don’t. Because we are a family and we are real. And lately, we do “leave people out, hurt feelings, yelling, door slamming, frustration, and unrealistic demands of each other”. Awesome, huh?
We’re a new family. We are still transitioning and learning how to be a family. Every single person in this family… from our system, to the parentals, to the youngest of the treasures…. has issues they are working through. It’s like a sea of damaged people coming together and trying to mesh to become this thing called family. Only most of us have no idea what family is or is supposed to be. We all have these ideas in our head that should be good enough but they don’t mesh with other ideas and it causes tension and problems. Everyone in this house is trying to learn their place, the rules, the routine. Everyone in this house is struggling with poorly set expectations, dealing with major triggers on a daily basis and being expected to be fine with that, and trying to be what each other needs despite the chaos and lack of communication. Everyone is expecting things from each other that simply can not be obtained… not because anyone is lazy or refusing, but because the skill set isn’t there and full trust isn’t there yet.
To most, this would look like a recipe for a serious disaster. Honestly, it kinda felt like one for the last few days.
But it’s not. It’s real. It’s raw, its messy, its painful. It’s hard and its complex. Without love, it would be doomed. But there’s love in this house and in this family. None of us ever give up. We make it through and we come out better for it. We all learn. We all grow. 
This family will make it. Failure isn’t an option here.

I just now finally found this blog again. Not one of us could remember what the name was. I’m glad we found it because we badly want to write and we couldn’t figure out where to write.

Figuring out what to write isn’t hard. It’s a pain using the phone to write but right now it’s what I’ve got available.  We are currently visiting Mama’s parents 5 hours away from where we live and it’s been a great visit. Hung out with the aunt, the treasures played with their cousins and Mama and Mia went for a drive. It ended with Mama getting angry at us but to be honest most things do lately. We are far from good enough.  I’m ready to go home now. I miss our Dad, Lulu, Sophie, and our bed.

One good thing that came from Mama being mad was that it gave us motivation to ask Mama for some self help materials. She said yes and they’ve been ordered and will hopefully be at the house on Monday.  We looked up support groups in Denver but couldn’t find any geared to DID. We did find a hospital with an outpatient program if it gets that bad. I don’t see it getting that bad but it’s an option and it’s good to know.

This weekend has been a bit tough as far as external social interactions go. We had a heated discussion with our bio mother over text message and then our neighbor got mad at Mama and he’s behaving exactly like our bio mother does. The trigger there sucks.

I have a massive headache. I want to write more and write about Mia’s awakening but autocorrect is pissing me off and my head hurts so bad I can’t put my thoughts in order.  ~Jennaleigh