To learn more about the dolphins, you’ll want to check out What’s with the Dolphins
To learn more about the dolphins, you’ll want to check out What’s with the Dolphins
Earlier this evening I read a beautiful tribute that a Facebook friend wrote to her mother; and it brought back to mind this tribute I wrote for my mother. It’s not what I planned to post, and it doesn’t fit with the things I have been experiencing these days; but the ache in my heart is nudging me to post this here today.
Beauty to ashes/ Ashes to Beauty
A memorial to Edna Ruth Richards by her daughter, Elizabeth DeAnne Bass
My mom was beautiful – just as true as the day is long. It wasn’t a stunning outward beauty that would catch a man’s eye and cause him to discretely follow her every move; but a kind, pure inner beauty that would cause a frightened child to know that there was nothing to dread from her. To be held near her heart and enveloped within her embrace was to be in a safe haven when life’s storms raged and tormented. Whether tiny and frail, young or old, sick or in sound health you need not fear; for no storm was strong enough to tear you away from her sheltering grip.
When I was a child I was frequently frightened and tormented. Frequently I sought out and found shelter in my mother’s arms, so there was no one more beautiful to me than my mamma. As I grew stronger and more confident, I watched her love work wonders in many people’s lives. I suppose that’s why I loved her so dearly and why I grieve the loss of her so intensely, even though it has been 30 years since her death.
It seemed impossible that anything could turn my mamma’s beauty into ashes, but cancer did the impossible. Her body betrayed her. Perhaps it rebelled against the frequent times she would look into the mirror and pronounce that she was fat and ugly. It always made me sad to hear her say those words because she reflected only love and security to me which was beautiful in my sight. Whatever the reason, her body began a slow, cruel process of eating her up from the inside out. To make matters worse, people who should have cared and helped were negligent and unwilling to do what they were able to do to curb the cancer’s appetite. They neglected to care for her properly when we entrusted her to their care.
This became very evident to me one night when I went to the hospital to see her. She didn’t want medication that would diminish her mental awareness, but the nurses insisted on keeping her sedated so that fewer nurses would be needed on the unit. The night I went to see her she was sound asleep and the IV fluid was empty, her blood had gone up the tube and it had been that way so long that the blood had dried in the tube. I was very angry but I knew Mom and Dad would not want me to say or do anything about it. I pushed the call button for the nurse; and when she answered, I told her the IV fluid bag was empty. She came into the room, woke Mom up out of a sound sleep, and asked in an accusatory voice, “Mrs. Richards, why didn’t you tell me this was like this?” to which my mother’s groggy reply was an apology.
I was furious! I wanted to storm the hospital and take the staff to task, demanding the professionals do what they could to help Mamma fight against this fire that raged within her and ravaged her body mercilessly. But Mom and Dad were not the sort of people to permit such action. They always assumed people were doing their best and needed pardoned for their shortcomings even when to me negligence was blatant and inexcusable. Besides, Mamma never wanted to be a bother to anyone. So the fire consumed her more cruelly and more rapidly than should have been permitted, leaving embers of horrible grief and compounded resentment to burn within my own soul.
When we brought her home to take care of her ourselves they were unwilling to supply us with the necessary knowledge and medications to ease her pain properly and help her fight the cancer. Although we did our best with the skills and equipment we were given, it seemed to me we failed her miserably with the cancer taking full advantage of our ignorance and limitations.
When death seemed the inevitable outcome but the cancer had not yet consumed her ability to think clearly, Mamma focused on what we would need after she was gone. It was her desire to donate her remains to the university to study and learn how to better fight this cancer in other patients in the future. My brother, Tim, and I expressed a need to have a final resting place where we could go to grieve the loss of our mother. So arrangements were made and legal documents signed for her ashes to be returned to us when the university was finished with her remains. Plans were made to take her ashes to the homestead in West Virginia and scatter them there. Grandma prepared a special place for this purpose.
Death came with brutality and heartlessness until the final moments when she simply took one final breath and was gone. Officials from the university descended upon us like compassionless vultures to remove her from our midst; and we were left to await the appointed time when Dad was to receive a call informing him that he could come and get her ashes. That time came and went without a word, but Dad was patient, trusting that word would come soon. What finally came was an impostor in the form of a letter telling us that Mamma’s ashes had been mixed with 30 other people and placed at marker #76 in Mount Peace Cemetery in the middle of Philadelphia. When Dad called to ask why this was done without first calling him as agreed upon prior to Mom’s death, he was told that he should have called to remind them of this agreement, leaving Dad to feel that he had let Mamma down instead of the university taking responsibility for their own breach of contract. The fire that had turned my mamma’s beauty into ashes burned on within my own heart and soul, ravaging me with unbearable grief and anger.
But the ashes are not the end of the story for Mamma or for me. Death for her brought sweet relief and comfort in the arms of her Jehovah Rapha – the God Who heals. Never again would she see herself as fat or ugly, because from that moment on she would only see her reflection in the adoring eyes of her Savior, Jesus Christ.
For me Mamma’s death set the stage for many years of trauma – years when other fires would fan the flames of Mamma’s death, never letting them fade to embers and cool. At times they threatened to consume me as well, but beauty has begun to rise from the ashes. It has taken a high toll but with much determination, effort, and help from good people, I have begun to heal and forgive. Like a forest that has been ravished by an all-consuming flame, little by little new beginnings of growth have emerged. Once mighty oaks are being replaced with tender young shoots that bend instead of break when the storms of life blow hard against them.
I am finding this passage of Scripture in Psalms 126:5 to be true, “They who sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing.” I find comfort in Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:4 (Amplified Version) where He says, “Blessed and enviably happy [with a happiness produced by experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace] are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted!” I have not only learned by faith but also by living out the truth that, “to everything there is a season, and a time for everything under the sun: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to reap what was planted…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance….And GOD MAKES ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL IN HIS TIME.] (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-4, 11)
Tears flow freely again as I revisit this piece. I will grieve the loss of my mother for the duration of my life; but now many of the pieces who are me have peace mingled with our tears.
Before writing about the new discoveries about our internal world changes, I feel it’s important to focus on how we make new discoveries and how we understand them. There isn’t anyone in our life who explains what is happening, or when or how or why. When we close our eyes, we see colors; but prior to the metamorphosis (which is how we see it now) of our internal world, when we looked inside, we would see the things we have already described – the Communication Room, the wood door, and the internal structures. In the past month or so we unexpectedly discovered that the internal world we have known in the past was gone, and instead we have the open space, the bright light with wings, and the fortress. About a week ago we discovered terrified little ones hiding in the shadows of the fortress, and realized that these little ones have never had the benefit of therapy or internal supportive relationships. Further more, they are extremely resistant to having any interaction with others (either others who are parts of us or others who are part of our external support). We now know that there is one who is willing and able to speak for these littles. We have actually been aware of her for months, but we didn’t realize who she was, where she was from, or what her role would be. We call her the Story Teller, because when she speaks, she begins by saying, “Once upon a time”. That was all she said until about two weeks ago when she started to say,” Once upon a time, there was a little girl.” We now understand that she will be the spokesperson for the newly discovered little ones who are unable to speak for themselves.
I’m guessing that those who read this are wondering how we learn about or gain understanding about these changes. Some of it is what we call “a knowing”. This is an experience at least some other multiples have in common. When a new personality comes out for the first time in a long time, there are countless things that are a necessary part of daily routine that the newly out personality isn’t necessarily aware of – like what the family routines are (who needs to go where and when for example; or how to operate the dishwasher or where the plates and silverware are kept, etc.). If you were to ask that personality to tell you about those things, they wouldn’t be able to answer because it isn’t registered in their brain space; but if they just move/go/do without trying to figure out in advance what was going to happen, the body/mind does what it is in the habit of doing. We call that a knowing. So, when the kids were in school, the newly out personality might be clueless about where the schools were or how to get to them; but if they just let the body do what it knows to do, turning when it feels inclined to turn, it will end up at the right place. It;s a skill that develops and the more often the knowing is correct, the more confident we become in trusting it.
So we apply this same principle of knowing to understanding what changes are taking place inside. For as long as I have been aware of our internal world, there has been these structures. When they suddenly disappeared, we made the best sense out of it that we could. When we discover something new about it, we adapt our understanding. So at first we thought the walls and structures were gone because we were on the verge of a mass integration (instead of being many separate personalities, we anticipated that perhaps soon we would be a few or possibly one personality). Our most recent revelation is that our structures have not been removed, but instead have been metamorphosed into two new spaces – one which will be called the Sanctuary (which will not have walls or individual ownership of space), and the Refuge (which is the structure we have been calling the fortress). And we know this through a combination of Spirit lead Bible study and knowing.
Here are some of the Bible passages that the Holy Spirit took us to in order to come to this new understanding:
Psalm 62:7,8 “With God rests my salvation and my glory; He is my Rock of unyielding strength and impenetrable hardness, and my refuge is in God! Trust in, lean on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people, and pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us (a fortress and a high tower).
Isaiah 8:14a “And He shall be a sanctuary [a sacred and indestructible asylum to those who reverently fear and trust in Him]
Psalm 63:7,8 “For You have been my help, and in the shadows of Your wings will I rejoice. My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You;”
Psalm 36:27 “How precious is Your steadfast love, O God. The children of men take refuge and put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.”
1 Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not discern and understand that you[as a whole] are God’s temple (His sanctuary) and that God’s Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively and also individually]?
There are actually 23 separate passages of Scripture that together God used to give us new understanding about our new internal world. We are still in a season of discovery, so next week we very well might have further revelation to share.
My heart goes out to you, dear reader. This is a whole lot to take in and understand. I can only pray that God will help you as you try to grasp all that I have included in this post.
The Bible was my lifeline long before I entered therapy of any kind; but I want to start this post with the first time I heard the words,”Multiple personality Disorder”. It was very early In my relationship with Dr. Hann. He asked me if I had ever heard of it. I didn’t know what he was talking about but the only thing that I could think of was schizophrenia and I was very sure I didn’t have that. The idea that he might think I did was frightening to me but he assured me that wasn’t the same thing.
A few weeks later, I experienced something between a dream and a vision. I’m pretty sure I was awake but this was very much like a dream that I couldn’t stop. In the dream, I was stuck half way down a laundry shoot. There were people in the room above me and the basement below me who were trying to get me. I was desperately trying to figure out the best way of escape when suddenly I was four different people, each with their own ideas about the best next choice of action. they were different ages and they looked very different from me and each other, but I knew that they were all me.
I was shaken by the experience and when I told my husband about it, he suggested that I call Dr. Hann right away. When I described it to him, he wanted to admit me to the hospital. Most of that week at the hospital went by uneventful until the night before I was to be released. I was part of a small group who were to plan my discharge.The group consisted of Dr. Hann, a social worker, a nurse, and me. What happened next is hard to explain.
We all stood in front of the door to a private room used for this type of meeting while Dr. Hann unlocked the door. The next thing that registered in my brain was the four of us sitting around a table. I had no sense of the passing time – it was like one second we were at the door, and the next second we were at the table. (That experience of loosing time happened frequently to me, and when I was expected to know what happened during that time, I had become pretty good at picking up clues, asking questions, changing the subject or moving the focus of the conversation away from me, or just faking it. It was embarrassing and it made me feel dishonest but I didn’t understand it myself so I couldn’t explain it to anyone else.) The first thing I noticed was everyone looking expectantly at me. I figured someone had asked me a question and they were waiting for my response. I apologized and asked them to repeat the question. Instead, Dr. Hann asked me to look at the clock. Twenty minutes had gone by since we entered the room, and I had no idea what was discussed during that time. Dr. Hann explained to me that they had been talking to a nine-year-old personality named Ellen. He could have told me that the room turned upside down – I had no idea how to react to that. I was stunned and quite honestly, I don’t remember what else was said during the rest of the meeting. The discharge was postpone. Since it was evening, I went back to my room and tried to grasp what had happened. A multitude of emotions and questions prevented sleep that night. Before the meeting ended, Dr. Hann told us that he didn’t want me to get any information about MPD. He didn’t want me to read or hear about it and then show behaviors suggested by what I learned. During the following weeks He was careful not to tell me what he was looking for. Obviously, he wanted me to establish communication with other personalities, but he didn’t tell me how it would happen.
I was already of the habit of writing in a prayer journal every day. But after the meeting that was supposed to be about my discharge, I would be writing in my journal and pause to think about what I wanted to write next, and during that pause for reflection my hand would write something without any connection to my thoughts. I would just let my hand be relaxed and I would read what was being written. At first that was a frightening feeling, but gradually I started asking questions in my thoughts and letting my hand go so I could read what someone else was writing.
I couldn’t get information from any outside source, but inside people were writing to me through my hand. Clearly there were other parts of me, or at least there were other beings controlling my hand at times. I sought to find answers in God’s Word. The only thing that I knew I would find there in which there were more than one being inside one body was demon possession. I looked at every passage in which demons were discussed or described. What was happening to me didn’t resemble any demon activity I could find, but, not surprisingly, I also didn’t find anything that resembled my situation either. That is when I called upon my Bible study skills I had learned over the years. Starting with a heart-cry prayer for God to lead me to truth, I started searching with a heart open to be taught through the Old and New Testaments. I was looking for anything that could validate what I was experiencing.
First came a promise: John 8:32 “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” These words were spoken by Jesus, and they repeated in my spirit over and over. I knew I would find answers if I kept looking.
The passage that turned a corner for me was Ecclesiastes 4:8-12, “Here is one alone – no one with him; he neither has child or brother, yet there is no end to all his labor…Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor; For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie down together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A three strand cord is not quickly broken,”
There it was – the principle of multiplicity. When one is injured and alone, unable to get help or be rescued, unable to tell anyone about the trauma they are experiencing, God has built into our brain the ability to sequester the trauma so that one keeps the trauma and all of the impact it can have on the mind, body, and soul; and that makes it possible for the other to live totally free of that trauma.
I read the verses all around the passage to be sure I wasn’t making it say something different from it’s intended message. I went to a man who was doing his Ph D in Hebrew and asked him if I was understanding it correctly; and he confirmed that I was.
I also thought about the fact that God Himself is three separate persons yet the three together are One. I thought about an egg, with it’s shell, white, and yolk, so here again is the concept of each being very different from the other parts, each part having a different purpose to fulfill, yet together they are one egg.
There were other passages of Scripture and examples that I saw in nature so that I became thankful to the parts inside me. Together we worked hard to build understanding and cooperation among us. There would be a lifetime of learning and adjusting; but we have not lost our reliance on Scripture to lead us into better understanding of our internal and external worlds.
Originally we had six different structures with different levels and different rooms. With the exception of the Abode, each of those structures existed prior to receiving any treatment for multiple personalities. (The Abode was added as a safe place for personalities who were so angry that it was important to keep them from being able to come out when we weren’t in therapy.) I have a map of my internal world available here on this website.
For a long time we have understood that there were reasons we had our structures. Each personality had a room either by themselves or with one other personality, except for the infants and toddlers who shared a nursery. The walls provided a place where each personality could feel protected and safe. Personalities who were attached to one or more demonic spirits had walls to prevent those spirits from having access to other personalities. There was one time when a professional tried to combine two personalities who were separated for safety reasons, and the results were disastrous. We learned that spirits had to be kept separate because if they could link up together they increased their power to cause trouble.
The main structure was really only one room. It was the only way that a personality could go in or out of control of the mind and body from any other structure. It was called the Communication Room. There was a large bulletin board where notes could be posted to share important or immediately needed information.
The structure that was directly attached to the Communication Room was the Dwelling. It had three levels. The entrance level had the nursery and large community rooms where personalities could get together. Between the communication room and the Dwelling there was a very large, heavy door made of rugged wood. Prior to entering treatment for Multiple Personalities, we would switch places by going through that door. On the second floor there were halls and rooms that either held a traumatic memory or a personality’s personal space. The Lower Level was down a flight of stairs located on the left side of the Communication Room. It was dark, musty smelling, and cold. There were seven personalities housed in that space; and each one of them held memories of traumas that were life threatening.
The Abode was attached to the second floor of the Dwelling. A lot of thought and planning went into the creation of this structure. It needed to be strong enough to hold powerful, incredibly strong angry personalities. It had to be pleasant for the personalities who stayed there -it wasn’t intended to be a place of punishment. There were safe ways for the residents to express their anger without injuring themselves or anyone else.There was an intercom system that they could turn off or on depending on whether or not they wanted to know about what was happening in the outside world.
The Homestead was where the personalities who experienced family related trauma stayed. They held secrets that they guarded carefully. They felt closely connected to one another. They were the family for each other that each one needed. The homestead was somehow connected to the second floor of the Dwelling because there were ties between some of the Dwelling personalities and the Homestead personalities; but the connection was mysterious for everyone who didn’t need to know.
The final structure was called the Shelter. It was located on a hill that was distant from the other structures. It looked and operated like a mining shaft. There were 13 layers. All the personalities housed here were connected to satanic ritual abuse. This is very hard for us to reconcile with the lives of those of us who are housed in other structures. We know very little about their traumas. We must accept these personalities as parts of us even though their memories are foreign to us. They have gone through the experiences of healing just like the rest of us, and their lives have been transformed dramatically through therapy and conversion to Christianity.
Recently a spontaneous event occurred. All of our structures and walls disappeared. Above us was an intensely bright yellow light that lit up the entire open area. It’s very hard to see, but there are wings extending from both sides of the light, spread open to provide shelter and security to every personality. In the middle of this wide open space is a castle-like fortress, complete with mote and draw bridge. The light shines into the fortress through small windows, creating shadows where the walls block the light. We are all adjusting to and learning about this new internal world.
In just the past couple days we discovered that there are very young personalities crouching in the corners of the fortress. They are hiding in the shadows. These are little ones the rest of us had no idea existed before now. They have not had the benefit of any therapy. They are very frightened and scream in terror if anyone tries to approach them. Until we made this discovery, we assumed that the structures disappearing meant that we were through all the trauma that made the walls necessary. We assumed that massive integration would soon occur. We already were referring to ourself in the singular tense very naturally. We assumed or understood (I’m not sure which) that the fortress was there to reassure us that we would have secure protection if the need ever arose. When we first realized that there were personalities hiding in the shadows, it was natural to assume that they were overwhelmed by the open space and needed the security of the fortress walls while they adjusted to the new internal world. It has only been in the past couple days that we discovered the level of distress these personalities are in. We understand the amount of hard work and time involved in bringing personalities to a point of trust and healing when they are starting at the very beginning of their healing journey. Most likely the fortress is there as protection for all of us in a crisis, just as we thought; but now we see the needs of these little ones are another reason the fortress is there.
We were excited about finally reaching a point in our accumulative healing that we no longer needed walls. This new realization is very sobering. Now the near future doesn’t seem so bright. We reached the end of a very long tunnel only to discover there is another one just ahead, and it’s too dark inside to see how long this next tunnel will be. If not for the bright light and wings above us, we would be dearly tempted to loose perspective.
We remind ourself that we are in a new, brighter space than ever before – the fact that there is more hard work ahead doesn’t take away from that. Now we are in a phase of discovery and change. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. The evolution is not complete. I guess the best way to conclude this post is to say, “Stay tuned. There is surly more to come.”
In an age when there is so much confusion about gender identity, it’s natural that the question arises about personalities who are parts of me and who identify as males. I can’t speak to the many complex and confusing issues surrounding sexual identity in this society, but I can talk about how we as a unit understand and experience distinctly male personalities in my female body.
Like a sponge soaks up water, we, as a total unit, soak up Biblical learning and apply it to our experiences and identities. Our male personalities relate closely with male personalities in Scripture. They display masculine traits, have masculine mindsets, and respond to things in a typically masculine way. Basically, they think, reason, and behave like a man.
Some of the passages of Scripture that are integrated into our personalities apply to all of us. Two passages that are core to our beings are Isaiah 43:1 in which we read (God speaking), “He Who created you, O Jacob (birth name), and He Who formed you, O Israel (his God given name): Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine”
and Psalm 139:1-3; 14-16 “O LORD, You have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me. You know my down sitting and my uprising. You understand my thoughts afar off. You sift & search out my path and my lying down, and You are acquainted with all my ways. … I will confess & praise You, for You are fearful and wonderful & for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret & intricately & curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery]. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.”
As alter personalities, these passages (and others) speak to the validity of our presence. From it we understand that God knows each one of us by our names. He knows all about us – how we were formed in secrecy in dark and mysterious places. For our male personalities, it means they aren’t a mistake. God has a plan and purpose for creating them in this female body.Their sexuality is part of the unique design God created in them.
They are secure in their identity. They know the truth that they are created by God with masculine qualities to their character for the survival and benefit of the corporate me. They have freedom to express their views and preferences. They are secure in the knowledge that they are a valuable part of our whole with a unique role to play in our life.
All this is true, but it doesn’t negate that God chose to create them as part of a female person. They are no more and no less important than our female personalities. They are not confused or mislead about their identities, their personalities, their masculinity, or their roles in the survival of the female person they are a part of.
I don’t know if this helps anyone to better understand male personalities and how their masculinity affects our sense of wholeness. It’s important to make clear that every multiple has their own unique way of expressions of themselves. I hope that an awareness of how our system sees ourself, and how we deal with gender differences, may help another multiple (or a professional who is working with multiples) gain insight into their own sense of selves.
Sleep has been an elusive phantom for us for our entire life. It might have started when I was 5 months old and my parents dropped me off at someone’s house in the middle of the night. They were on their way to take my brother (who was two years older than me) to a different state for necessary surgery and rehabilitation. My caregivers were people my parents trusted, and it never occurred to them that a five-month-old baby was capable of understanding that they were going to be gone a while but would return. However, when I went to sleep in my own crib and woke up with strangers in a strange place, I was deeply and profoundly traumatized.
A logical question to ask: How can I possibly remember a trauma that happened when I was so young? I can’t answer the question of how. I only know that the memory was so vivid, I remember exactly what those people looked like, I remember where the furniture in the kitchen was and what the wallpaper looked like. My father has confirmed that these memories are accurate. I have struggled with fear of abandonment almost my entire life. I can’t say for sure that the trouble with sleep started then; but it makes sense.
Other traumas throughout childhood, teen years, and well into my adult life added to the complexities of getting restful sleep. There were times when I would wake my parents up, seeking out the comfort of their presence and reassurances. Most of the time I endured quietly and alone. In my late teen years I experienced my first clearly manic episode. I was a college student and I was taking a huge overload of classes. I excelled in all my classes while getting about 2-3 hours of sleep half the time and no sleep at all the other half. Twice a week my parents drove the 45 minute jaunt to take me out to eat because most weeks that was all I ate. I wasn’t diagnosed until many years later, but the creative juices had me on a constant emotional high that is so characteristic of manic.
I wish I could say we no longer struggled with sleep, but that would not be honest. We have, however, developed several strategies to cope better. There are two that I rely on pretty much every night currently. One is listening to Christian lullabies as I try to go to sleep. They are mostly based on Scripture, often word for word passages set to orchestra music. Sometimes it actually interferes with falling asleep while they are playing because I’m listening so intently to the music and rhythm.
The second is Bible passages that cause our heart to sing with reassurance and still our soul in peace. Here is one example: Psalm 16: 1,2,5-9 “Keep and protect me, O God, for in You I have found refuge and in You do I put my trust and hide myself. I say to the Lord, You are my Lord; I have no good beside or beyond You…The Lord is my chosen and assigned portion, my cup; You hold and maintain my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good heritage. I will bless the Lord, Who has given me counsel; yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my inner self] rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety.”
There are so many passages of Scripture that speak to the troubles and blessings of the heart and or soul. Sometimes I look up specific words in the concordance in the back of my Bible and read passage after passage. It’s like taking a shower of blessings and praise. In them I find the comfort to quiet my souls and the courage to release all my concerns. I encourage you, dear reader, to let your mind & heart read those words again and feast on the assurances that are there.
I’m so glad to have the opportunity share about my multiplicity to a new group of caring curious readers. I haven’t written posts that speak to my journey or how we function as a system in a long time; so I think it’s time for a refresher. The personality who is writing right now is Betsy, so my version might be a bit different from what someone else has written.
Hopefully I will soon learn how to better utilize the features that Word Press has to offer to make this website much more appealing. I’m watching some tutorials they offer, but honestly it sounds like Greek to me. Janice (another personality) attended all the business classes we had in high school so hopefully she will either come out or show me how to make use of this technology.
When we write to people who aren’t aware of the multiplicity, we try very hard to refer to ourselves in singular tense. But when we write about our multiplicity, we are apt to take some liberties with the English language in order to communicate clearly. For example, when we are speaking or writing something that applies to the whole system (all the personalities), we may use the word “ourself”., or use plural terms. Over the years we have applied other terminology to express what is happening internally. An example of this is when we are switching personalities very quickly, we call that “Rolodexing”. Some other words common to multiplicity include “alter” (personalities other than the birth personality), “switching” (changing who is out), “out” (who is in control of the body and who’s mind is engaged), “in” (personalities who are not out. They might or might not be able to communicate or share conscious awareness with who is out),”dissociate” (the mind is separating from the the body awareness. It can involve the experience of leaving the body, floating above the body and watching what is happening from above), “exiting life” (going so far from conscious awareness that nothing happening is registering or creating memory. Usually this is for an extended period of time. When someone who has exited life comes back to conscious awareness, it takes time and educating to make them current about what has happened in their absence, including personal history, world history, technological advances, changes geographically, growth of children, and just about everything.They bring back physical symptoms that were present when they left, so it is very important for the Primary Care Physician to be aware and familiar with how different personalities affect the physical body.)
There are more but this is the basics. If we say anything that you don’t understand or confuses you, please ask so that we can clarify. We only ask that we reserve the right to say when we don’t feel comfortable answering a specific question.
There is one other thing I need to add. If you want to know which personality is speaking/writing, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask, “Who’s out?” If that personality knows his/her name, they will tell you; but you need to be aware that many of me have lost their own name, Early in treatment for MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder, but the diagnostic term has been changed to Dissociative Identity Disorder -DID), we went through an experience of deliverance from demonic influences but the man who did it used unethical, known brainwashing techniques for two weeks. He believed all personalities other than the birth personality were demons and used our journals to identify each personality, The result was that we spent 5 months in a psychiatric hospital deprogramming one at a time. The long term affect has been a loss of a sense of self and no connection to any name. We know that we aren’t demonic and that we belong together, but having a name is a total blank for some of us, and choosing a new name can feel too vulnerable. So if someone answers your, “Who’s out?” with, “I don’t know” please accept that answer and move on to whatever you wanted to say.
I hope you find this introduction helpful. Please don’t hesitate to make comments and/or ask questions. We have been in treatment for more than 3 decades, and during many of those years we have spoken publicly about it. Your comments and questions aren’t likely to throw me.
My dad was the personification of true humility. At times, he also seemed to me to have low self-esteem, so it was easy to confuse the two traits.
Nurturing a positive self-esteem was a major focus of the early childhood training I received in college. I understood the importance of recognizing personal worth in the healthy development of a child’s psyche. In my personal study of Scripture, I found countless passages that validate both the virtue of a humble spirit and an awareness that each individual has extreme value to God. It’s hard to imagine someone with low self-esteem being able to nurture high self-esteem in someone else, but in my experience it’s very possible.
In my home growing up, my parents were my heroes. They both lived lives characterized by service to others. A whole book could be written about their self-sacrificing generosity to the church and community. In their own non-showing way, they met the practical and core needs of the people who most needed to experience God with flesh on.
My Dad had a very strong spiritual gift of mercy. There seemed to be no limit to the times he took on the challenge of tenderly caring for the unlovable, the forgotten, and the people that the rest of the world had given up on. Twice he pastored a church on the brink of splitting because individuals and groups within the churches were polarized in their views and beliefs. Under his leadership these churches were able to extend grace and forgiveness to their members and grow stronger as individual Christians and as a church. This is only one of literally countless situations where Dad’s gift of mercy brought healing when it seemed impossible; yet he never sought credit or praise from any one of them. There were people who noticed and admired his Christian faith and service, but for the most part he quietly lived a life of faithfulness to his Lord without any fanfare or recognition. He wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. When I was a very troubled teenager and unable to sleep at night, I would quietly get up and see him in a chair in the living room, deep in prayer or Bible study with his Bible and journal in his lap. I never once got up after 4 am when I did not see him there. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was the only person who knew he did that.
My mother was one of my greatest cheerleaders. She often praised me for my artistic expressions in writing, music, painting, poetry, and even in my work with children. However, she was her own worst critic. She thought she was fat and ugly; and she had a hard time receiving well deserved praise for her own creative expression and skills. I learned from her to see myselves as special; but I also learned from her to negate the praise I received from others. I greatly admired my mother, but the lessons I learned from her were conflicting and confusing. Her praise and encouragement fed my hungry soul with affirmation. It gave me courage to express my creativity and grow in my skills of nurturing others. But I also learned to reject and criticize myself when no one but God could see or hear me.
Watching and learning from my parents challenged my understanding of what humility and self esteem were really all about. A casual look at the two can give the impression that they are opposites, incompatible with each other. So far as the humility goes, it was clearly lived out in my parent’s lives and was reinforced in the study of the Scriptures. My parent’s affirmation of my skills and abilities, coupled with passages like Psalms 139:13-14, “For You did form my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well.” and Matthew 6: 26 which concludes with, “Are you not worth much more than they?” – together they affirmed to me that I was worth a great deal to God.
Gaining clarity was a process that has taken time and effort. I believe I now have a clear understanding of how they work together. God’s affirmation of the many of me is all the security in my self worth that I need. I know with certainty that it is God Who orchestrates my lives and blends them into a beautiful masterpiece. He has done (and continues to do) great things. He is the Potter, the Creator, the Savior. He alone gets all the credit and all the glory. Praise be to God!
I’ve often said that I believe my multiplicity developed more out of a life of extreme paradox rather than extreme trauma. To be sure, there was extreme trauma in my early life; but there was also tender loving care. It wasn’t a matter of my parents being hypocritical. They were consistent in their demonstrations of nurturing affection and care. But they weren’t there to protect me from extremely traumatic experiences that wounded me deeply and severely. It wasn’t their fault, but that didn’t make the traumatic experiences less traumatic.
I simply could not reconcile the good and trustworthy with the violation and injury. My world was irreconcilable until it became more than one world. Having two worlds gave me the freedom to laugh and play, to grow and mature and enjoy the many blessings that come from living in a secure world. It also let me anticipate and guard against the evil that I knew would return as soon as I let my guard down. In that world I was constantly afraid and insecure; but my mind could create spaces of hiding and shelter where I could run to when I felt afraid or when danger reappeared.
Have you ever heard the saying, “I’m my own worst enemy? That saying epitomized my early and mid teen years, at least in one world.
In one world I flourished and grew in my faith. I had very intimate encounters with my living Savior when I studied Scripture. Every day I opened my Bible and it was as if Jesus Himself was unfolding the words and causing them to penetrate deep into my soul. I kept a prayer journal in which I poured my heart out to God, and I knew with certainty that He was right there with me, revealing Himself to me and leading me into a deeper, richer relationship with Him.
That was one world; but a very different world co-existed with it. In this other world I was full of self loathing and hatred to the point of being suicidal. I felt such rejection of myselves that I didn’t think I could stand to continue to live another day. Food was my enemy and eating was torture. I developed a very complex and diverse relationship with food. I regularly engaged in self harm, but I kept it hidden. It wasn’t a cry for help. For me it was an outlet for unbearable emotional pain. Physical pain, if it was severe enough, would temporarily be a release valve for the emotional pain that was so intolerable. Countless nights I cried and sobbed all night long. In a space in between conscious and unconscious thought I was aware that my desperate cry was an appeal to my Creator, but those cries were far too vulnerable to reach a fully conscious level.
As I entered my senior year of high school, and then as I was a college student, I gained more distance from my injured souls; and from all appearances I matured physically, mentally, and spiritually. I discovered that I had a highly tuned sensitivity to young children, especially those with special needs. When I worked with them they grew and flourished beyond what other people thought possible. I instinctively knew what they needed and how to best help them achieve it.
I studied and received teaching degrees in Early Childhood and Special Education. I completed in four years what normally would have taken five years. I excelled in my studies, and worked while going to school to avoid having to take out loans to pay for my education.
But the clock struck 12 in my Cinderella life when my mother got cancer and died between my fall and spring semesters of my senior year. The day she passed away I had a physical collapse. That fall semester I took 18 credits, did my student teaching, and helped take care of my mother. When she passed away I had no physical reserve left. Even the nutrients that are stored in the marrow of my bones had been completely depleted. My doctor was emphatic that I not attempt to take the final 18 credits I needed to graduate that spring; but it was so important to my mother that I complete my education that I couldn’t give heed to my doctor’s instructions.
Life spun crazily out of control. I got married and moved to a different state the weekend I would have graduated. A week after the wedding my husband erupted in rage towards me. That was the start of thirteen years in a severely abusive marriage. Oh, the long, long list of catastrophes that piled up is too extreme to recount. That sounds like it surely must be an exaggeration but it really isn’t. I was in survival defense mode all the time, especially as children were born into our family and my defenses had to protect them as well as us.
The story is long – far too long to continue here; but it feels like dropping it here is not fair to the reader. Please stay with me while I turn the corner.
Romans 8:28 (Amplified Version – “We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” is so familiar and I share it here because I want to say that He has redeemed every trauma I have ever experienced. During the trauma and the struggles it caused, God was my ever loving Abba Daddy and constant companion. He has transformed those experiences into bridges to other suffering people who can relate to them. They find courage to face their own hurts and wounds, and overcome the barriers that hinder their growth and healing. I have the privilege, honor, and joy of being a part of that.
Isaiah 26:3,4 (Amplified Version) You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].
Hope is elusive at times. It’s easy to loose track of it when circumstances and distractions pile one upon another to bury it in a heap of discouragements. Sometimes we have to toss aside those cumbersome concerns and dig deep to reclaim the hope that is there, just waiting to be rediscovered.
Memory can go a long way towards hanging onto hope. When we can look back at times when we have been discouraged, blinded by the pain, fear, and loss we were experiencing in that moment – then remembering God’s faithfulness to bring us out of those times gives us courage to hope in His provisions in the here and now.
Many times in Israel’s history, the people were told to remember God’s faithfulness to meet their needs in the past in order to build up courage to face the new challenges that awaited them. They were told to remember His covenant with Abraham, remember His miraculous deliverance from Egypt, and many more instances of His faithfulness, protection, and provision. Psalm 77 is a lament of desperation in which the only hope came from remembering God’s faithfulness in the past. Psalm 78 begins with a challenge for God’s people to listen to the teachings of old, “which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but we will tell to the generations to come the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.” (verses 3,4)
During these times of uncertainty due to the pandemic, the world is crying out in desperate need for reassurance. Our world has known great tragedy and devastation in the past, but previously it was in specific areas or territories. This time the whole world is suffering and seeking for help & hope. When we look back at previous times when plagues threatened to wipe out large populations, we see that it was the Christ followers who stayed in the disease struck areas to minister to the sick and bury the dead. Many paid with their lives, but because of their courage and faithfulness, many others survived.
Today the world is looking to science and/or government to rescue them, but as time goes on, it is becoming more and more clear that they are very limited in what help and hope they have to offer. It seems like every time a new vaccine comes out, a new variant is discovered that isn’t responsive to the vaccine. Those who get a vaccine are finding that they need booster after booster to continue the protection. I just learned today about a dear saint friend who has contracted COVID a second time. People are afraid. Science and government are making unreliable statements and promises that cause more confusion and fear.
I would like to suggest that it is time to remember God’s faithfulness and provision in the past when the foe being faced was seemingly unbeatable. I believe it’s time to call for the repentance of our nation, our world, and ourselves. Like Nehemiah, we need to cry out to the God of our forefathers. Nehemiah 1:5-7 “And I said, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, Who keeps covenant, loving-kindness, and mercy for those who love Him and keep His commandments, Let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to listen to the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You day and night for the Israelites, Your servants, confessing the sins of the Israelites which we have sinned against You. Yes, I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, statutes, and ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.”
It may seem that I have altered the focus of this post, but not really. Hope doesn’t hide under the covers when tragedy strikes. Actually, hope throws the covers of fear off and declares that there is a way to find courage and healing for our souls. It’s an ancient path that we can only follow when we remember what has taken us so far astray, and Who has brought us back in the past, and Who will bring us back again.
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”Jeremiah 6:16a
For years I have heard and embraced the belief that it starts at conception; but recently I have been reading and listening to things that have changed my mind. What have I been reading? What have I been listening to? I’m so glad you asked.
I’m reading Scripture and listening to lullabies based on Scripture. The passages of Scripture are not new to me. I’ve read them and meditated on them for many years. Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 22:10; Ecclesiastes 5:15; Isaiah 49:1; Luke 1:15; Galatians 1:15; and my favorite – Psalm 139:13. The lullabies are written by Jay Stocker (music and lyrics), and the titles are Hidden In My Heart, Volumes I, II, and IV. I purchased them from Amazon. The music is full orchestra and the lyrics are simple and repetitive – perfect for shedding the thoughts and fears that seem to flood my heart as I am trying to go to sleep. I have also found them to be helpful to naturally flow into prayers for people I am concerned about.
I’ve come to the conclusion that a baby is born in the heart of God even before that baby is physically born, even before he or she was conceived. God already has a plan for that baby’s life, no matter how long or short it may be, and He cherishes each one.
I don’t know about you, but I find that to be immensely comforting.