Surviving the Fire of the Past

In this article, I want to share with you what happens when a therapist believes in and bands with their client.

The Beginning

On September 4, 1980, made a pact with me that I would die by suicide on my thirtieth birthday. It was a sincere promise to myself that I fully planned to implement. I was severely depressed, working in a dead-end job, and tired of living. I was only twenty years old.

In December 1989, I began having severely disturbing flashbacks that were horrendous. I thought I had gone insane and was desperate to find help. I’d known all my life that I had been sexually abused by a family member but the memories that were attacking me were worse than I remembered.

I just couldn’t figure out why I would make these horrible memories up not understanding that they were only the tip of the iceberg.

That December I had my first appointment with Paula, a psychologist working in a local clinic. I had no idea what an adventure we both were about to embark on.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Paula took her time examining me over the next few months. She was in no hurry to give me a diagnosis. In the meantime, I had begun to experience blackouts worse than ever before. I’d had things disappear and reappear before, but my life suddenly became out of control with doing and saying things I didn’t remember.

After speaking with me for three months, Paula diagnosed me with dissociative identity disorder (DID). I was shocked but relieved that my diagnosis had a name. Now that I knew what was wrong, I assumed, I could quickly conquer it and make it go away.

As most of you know, healing from DID doesn’t work like that and I was to spend the next thirty years in therapy attempting to overcome what had happened to me.

Remember, I had a suicide pact for my thirtieth birthday. I had not told Paula about it on purpose because I didn’t want her to talk me out of it. On September 4, 1990 I turned thirty in Paula’s office. I told her about my suicide pact, and she asked me, with one hand on the telephone, what I was going to do.

I told her that for the first time I felt there was hope for me and that I would stick around to see what would happen.

The Rocky Road to Healing

Over the course of the next eight years, Paula and I worked diligently to help me overcome the effects of dissociative identity disorder. I don’t think I need to tell you the horrific pain and suffering that goes along with going down the road less taken.

In February 1996, I made a serious attempt on my life. I had grown so weary that I just couldn’t go on and overdosed on my meds. I nearly succeeded and was in the intensive care unit for almost a week.

After my attempt to die by suicide, I found that surviving the suicide was almost as hard as the attempt itself. People were angry at me thinking I was trying to do something to them. The only person who did not show any disdain toward me was Paula.

In 1998, I lost Paula to a bankruptcy against the clinic she worked for that was a for-profit organization. This event was to send me on a nightmare spiral that eventually caused me to live in a psychiatric facility for seven years.

My Healing Journey Accelerates

While I was living inpatient in the facility, I learned a lot about myself and who I am. Nothing will make you think about your life more than being confined without total control over your life.

I learned that I didn’t want to remain sick all my life that I wanted to have a writing career and graduate from college. I knew I couldn’t do that living where I was and since I was a voluntary admit, I decided to check myself out.

I first moved into a group home so I could learn to live again. That group home got me started on my new life in a great manner and I would highly recommend them to anyone who finds themselves struggling.

In July 2012, my brother asked me to move into his home and I began a new journey to complete my education and make a career out of writing.

In the summer of 2013, I began seeing Paula again! The clinic she worked for had gone nonprofit and wrote off my old bill and did not charge me for any of the appointments I had afterward.

I remember that first visit after fifteen years well. I sat in my wheelchair sweating because I wasn’t sure what Paula would think of me because I had changed so much. I had been walking when I saw her last and weighted a considerable amount more.

Our reunion was joyous for my inner kids as they jumped for joy at seeing her again. My head was so loud that I could hardly hear Paula speaking and had to tell them to quiet down. Paula was the same supportive person I had known before, but I had changed. I decided it was time to make a serious effort to put behind me the events of my childhood.  

Moving and Looking Forward

Paula and I worked together for another three years until she retired in September 2016. I miss her horribly, but I know that she is happy in her retirement and as active as she chooses to be in group and political activism.

Because Paula believed in me when I could not and never gave up on me, I am alive double the years I had intended to live. A miracle took place because she cared.

Despite having breast cancer in 2014 and enduring two surgeries, I went on to graduate from Lake Land College in the spring of 2016. I also began this blog and began working for other people selling my writing. I have written numerous books on DID and even a few children’s books.

I Am Still Alive

My healing journey has been a very long one. Not everyone who gets into therapy for healing from DID takes as long as I have, but I was a polyfragmented mess when I began down this road.

I am now in the fusion stage of healing and realize how few have made it this far. Too many of my friends in the DID community have died either by suicide or from the physical ailments caused by their childhood trauma. Fusion is a subject I’ll write about again soon to help you understand that it is not the death of the others. Instead, it is the incorporating and honoring of them.

Today I ghostwrite for a living making fair money. I’m not getting rich, but I truly enjoy writing. I’m proud of my accomplishments and my resilience that has brought me this far. I will probably need support from a therapist for a while yet as I roll down the road less taken, but I know I am alive, have outlived my abusers, and I am doing fine.   

I hope this piece has inspired you. I understand how difficult healing from the childhood trauma that kept your mind from coming together as one is and I know how dangerous it can be as well.

Never, ever, ever give up. Keep your chin up. If you find yourself growing too weary to carry on, go into the hospital for some respite. You deserve to be taken care of because you are valuable and worthwhile.

I believe in you.

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