I was settled in for one of my first neurofeedback sessions. Although the session involves watching a video or tv show, my preference at the time was YouTube meditations. My eyes were blinking, the images I saw in front of me were not what I saw previously. I had a sinking feeling – I thought I might have been sleeping. I checked in with my psychologist who reassured me I had not been sleeping based on the data from that session.
When I was a teenager, one of the men who molested me was a family friend. Our family went to dinner with the man and his wife. During the dinner he started to sing to me. First I felt flattered, then I was confused. At the same moment a young couple were at the restaurant with their infant. The infant started to cry. I loudly said the young couple should spank the infant to give it something to cry about. It was enough to bring silence to the entire restaurant. My parents were embarrassed, yet never said a word to me about it.
This was a helpful experience. I’ve gotten better at recognizing when I’m dissociating. Some dissociative events are more subtle than others. Most of the time I’m not aware that it is happening until it is done.
I start to do something and just keep doing different things with no idea of the amount of time that’s passed. I loose track of time as different aspects step in to do the task they want to accomplish. Sometimes this is quite productive, but other times I have a bunch of tasks started and left before they were completed.
I go to start a conversation or to deliver a message or make a point about something, I open my mouth and have something I hadn’t been aware of come out. Sometimes this works for me, one of my aspects is good at making unpleasant things sound lovely. Sometimes it is a disaster. One of my aspects starts a conversation and disappears – I have no idea what I was saying or worse yet, know what was said and am left holding the bag for something awkward or an inconvenient truth.
When I’m overly tired the exhaustion is bone deep. It hurts to think. It hurts to feel. It is hard to stay focused and aspects jump in and out willy nilly. This is the time when it is most difficult to appear normal. Inside thoughts are outside. The Aspect I call ‘Go Away’ is muttering ‘Don’t like it’, ‘Go Way!’ The Aspect I call ‘Angry One’ is short tempered and taking offense at anything and everything, another Aspect is whining ‘I just want to go home’, Aspects known as ‘The Administrator’ or ‘The Observer’ are cajoling ‘Just a few minutes more. Almost there.’ Things seem surreal and take forever.
In the past:
Meals were a dining room table thing with my family. Breakfast during the week was an a la cart thing my siblings an I did. Breakfast on the weekend was my favorite because my mother would cook a breakfast meal and serve it family style. Dad was busy in his newspaper or occupied with his thoughts of the day. Lunch during the week was a brown bag meal. I don’t have many non-school lunch memories, except for the days when we had homemade soup or something dad called Polish spaghetti. Both of those are favorite meals. Lunch typically didn’t involve a lot of interaction with dad, except in the making of the meal. Eventually we ended up with a tv in the kitchen and he would watch tv.
Dinner time though, those were awful experiences. Our dinner meal was the time of day when Dad would berate my siblings and I or be ugly to our mother in front of us. Our parents never really fought with each in from my siblings and I – but dad would snipe and pick at mom. Mom never fought back, she tolerated it never quite ignoring him. One typical night I recall blinking and noticing my brother staring at me. He sat across from me at the dinner table. When I asked him about it, he said I had been staring at him first. I don’t recall doing that.
Meal preparation was done by our mother until dad retired. Then he took over making meals. I, as the oldest, would help with cutting/chopping or turning on/off the stovetop or oven. It was inevitable when I was helping dad I would get nervous, he’d give instructions, I would forget them and have to ask again earning a frustrated growl, mistakes would happen or I would mis-remember, dad would yell. It was a nightly predictable pattern.
As an adult I have kitchen anxiety and I hate to cook. When I am in my father’s kitchen one of my siblings does whatever’s required. I hate potlucks or being obligated to prepare meals for people. I resent them.
One of my aspects loves to cook – alone in a quiet and clean kitchen. If this aspect fixes a meal for someone it is an act of love.
After school afternoons were typically chores and homework before play time. Mostly chores, we didn’t get a lot of homework until high school. When dad wanted to talk to me about some transgression, he would stop me as I walked through the living room. Dad watched a lot of television, the tv was always on. He would tell me to sit down and the lecture would begin, the tv would remain on. Whatever program was on tv would catch my eye; my eyes were on the tv and my mind was just static. One day dad caught on that I was not paying attention. He turned off the tv. I remember blinking before returning to the conversation. To this day, it is impossible for me to walk into a room when the television is on and remain focused on anything other than the tv. My preference is not to watch television. If there is a program I want to see, it is a conscious act of focus to watch it.
Less Subtle Dissociative Anecdotes
As an adult, my ex-husband was talking with me about the aspects that he had met. One of the aspects, he says, is quite mean and knows a lot about art. He got into an argument with her while she was washing dishes. The aspect attacked him with a steak knife. Although he was surprised, my ex-husband says she was easily disarmed. I don’t recall any this. Nor have I heard of any other acts of violence by an aspect.
Update: November 24, 2019
I became aware that one of my aspects was ranting ang raging. I listened to her for quite a while. She was angry at the way one of my co-workers was behaving. The only time she was happy was when my co-worker was obviously unhappy. I started to use some of my personal growth tools from the 90’s in an honest attempt at conversation. In the end the raging aspect faded away. It was like changing a channel.