My name is Ann or Ann Marie and we start our first book as a multiple by introducing ourselves and the people we think of as important to our lives.
In 1980, we were married and had had our first son. We had our second son in 1982 and our third and last son in 1984. I had grown up in the midwest, but we moved to a bigger city once married. I had gone to a University in my home state for three years prior to getting married. Our therapy had started in 1984 with another therapist and another psychiatrist whom we had hired after becoming unexpectedly angry at our two oldest sons who were only two and four at the time. I was a stay at home Mom during the first 10 years.
We were diagnosed as having bipolar and severe depression. In 1985, we had a different psychologist who we maintained a relationship to for three years. His name was Dr. C and he had talked about people as having “characters” for example, a witch character or a judge character. He had thought all people have a hidden or protected an inner core that is the deepest center part of our very nature and resists all intrusions on our being. He was surprised many years afterward to know that we had Dissociative Identity Disorder. He had said that was most likely why we continued to regress where most of his clients might deal with an ornery child character, but it would then leave after revisiting the trauma, and then talking through the experience with a progression of care given.
Early in 1990, we were hospitalized by another doctor from a Hospital for depression and suicidality. After the insurance ran out 7 weeks later she said that I would need to leave the hospital. I was placed on state and federal support. The doctor recommended that we continue our plans to go back to school. By Thanksgiving of that year, we had gone back, but were again suicidal after our then husband stated if we went back to school, he would divorce us, lock us out from our home, and that we would never see the boys again. Fortunately, we avoided being sent to a state ward when our brother-in-law flew up to release us and bring us to a hospital closer to home.
Later in 1990, we met Dr. W. We stayed at the University near the kids on the psychiatric ward for two months and from there been diagnosed for multiplicity. Dr. W. was then the Chief of Psychiatry. It had been a long time before we were released, because the hospital wouldn’t let us go until we worked out a safer and separate residence other than living with our husband. I continue seeing Dr. W. for the next 7 years. The separation and divorce took approximately 4 years and I had custody over the boys throughout. My ex took me back to court for custody of one of the boys starting in 1996 and eventually the costs bankrupted me. We were then working full time and over time, but we were putting necessities like groceries on credit card to pay the attorneys. We had a divorce attorney, one for social security, one for the bankruptcy and another for selling the house. Dr. W. had helped us, but could not save us. We lost the three boys to their father, we lost Dr. W., we had to give up our pets, and sell the house. We ended up back in the hospital where our favorite nurse had said we had nothing left to lose so that we should go back to school, which is what we did. We lived in a homeless shelter and then we were moved to government housing.
We finished our BA degree in psychology in two years, but not without difficulty. We had been coerced into a sexual situation with one of our lifelong friends who was a Christian Brother. We ended up at the Mayo Clinic receiving shock treatments. There had been several doctors and therapists who saw us while we were in college, but the care wasn’t good. We were treated to our own detriment, especially by two women psychiatrists – the only in town, but who did not believe in dissociative identity disorder. We were very much supported by the head of the Psychology program at the University and he assisted us in finishing the work at hand. We also received support by meeting with women from the local woman’s abuse center. At the end, after we received the degree, our friend assisted us in getting back to the area where we would be closer to the boys and him. He felt protective and nurturing over us.
Dr. W. had retired, but he referred us to a young doctor just finishing his residency that he admired. Dr. M. began seeing us two times a week on Thursday nights at 4:30 pm and on Monday mornings at 8 am for one hour each session. We had gotten a position as a support person at a center that did day-training for adults with developmental disabilities. I have maintained that work position and treatment by Dr. M. for the last 11 years. Although we live in a suburb, we work in the big city where the university is located. I’m unsure of the official titles as to the kind of therapy Dr.’s W. & M. provide. Dr. W. originally studied at the Menninger Clinic. I was being regulated by some medicine, but there is no medicine for multiplicity. I was being treated primarily for anxiety, severe depression, recurrent post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), some obsessiveness, and then diabetes, arthritis and thyroid. We are still morbidly overweight although we went through gastro-bypass surgery.
During the session there have always been very clear boundaries. Dr. M, always stayed safely on his side of the table. Periodically, we would check out something with him on his computer, but it was very slow and measured. He greets us at his door and still to this day we scurry past him blindly coming in and going out. We don’t tolerate closeness in the office without switching parts, usually to a more regressed frightened or angry self. For a long while we started sessions by having Dr. M. read our journal to catch up. Some of the highlights of our sessions with Dr. M. are that he is ALWAYS in a good mood and smiles often, but can be serious in a split second. He is 7-12 years younger than us and we were one of his first patients. The only time Dr. M. set’s the talking priorities is if there is official hospital business, such as billing to be covering or to warn us in advance when he would need time off. Otherwise the agenda is up to us. He asks a lot of questions such as “What do you think about that?” He usually highlights when we are being logical considering age appropriateness.
As to having parts in general, we have 20 though we say that one of our parts has died at infancy. We might plan what we are going to talk about, but we never have assurance of who will be talking to Dr. M. Dr. M. treats all parts fairly and sometimes he will “translate” something a part said in expression of thought or feeling if he thinks an older part can help out. For example, we might hear if KC has a problem with lack of ice cream because Sarah has us on a diet. It has always been our task to work it out. Dr. Marvin listens extremely well and helps us understand things that confuse us or causes us stress. His gift is not only his pleasant mannerisms, but that he’s so intelligent and has a very good memory for detail. Dr. M. allows us to send emails when necessary, but we wouldn’t expect more than a brief response sometime during that day or the next. There is an understanding that if we were to become suicidal and he wasn’t there, we would have to check ourselves into the hospital. We have currently been without a hospitalization now for 7 years. We are fairly stable. We have done phone visits, but this had to stop because we were using it to avoid coming in, which wasn’t safe or smart.
In the first chapter of our book, we list the parts by name and age, and further down the line, in the second or third story, we say a little more about the parts and what kind of early experience they had. It is not critical for the story to be elaborating on much of the abuse. Our therapy has been trying to help us live in the present and accept those responsibilities. We do not believe in integration nor has this been pushed on us by our psychiatrists. Our thing is about communication. If we pay attention to what a younger part’s needs are eventually she seems to need us or our attention less and less. If something were to occur that would trigger a part – younger or older, we’d deal with the situation as it presented itself.
We have always felt that if a part was needed to the degree of becoming, that we as a whole have no right to discontinue any of the parts space in this world. Our life is their life. We try to listen to the different parts without doing too much work to figure out the part’s separateness from “us” as a whole meaning we don’t often call out our parts by their independent name, although each part has a name. This might seem confusing, but in general, we know that each of our separate personalities have different capabilities, interests, priorities and such, but we do not stop to think through did Jamie say this or did Kate or Corey put out that last idea. If pressed we can “figure out” who said what and with a little more effort we can generally figure out why they said or suggested an idea – usually this is done by asking them a question, but it is too time consuming and divisive to pause and do this most of the time.
We incorporate all communications of the parts as belonging to the whole, so live with and as whoever is present. Nobody in our “outside world of singletons” is allowed to call for specific parts. We try to maintain a fairly adult cooperative presentation of ourselves especially when in public, but it’s inevitable in the presence of people we are particularly close to that they become more responsive to the individual parts. We all respond to Ann or Ann Marie. We believe that we have an inner core part, and we call her in this book “Dear Heart.” We felt it was important for her to know about us so that she might be encouraged to spend more of her life out amongst us though she generally adds a sense of confusion as if always trying to catch up. We touch lightly at the beginning of our story on our beliefs about multiplicity. It is my understanding that most multiples vary somewhat as to the way their system works, but that each has some kind of system, tribe, family, crew, etc.
As to our writing of this story and the ones that follow, we began formally writing in August of 2003, by starting an AOL Journal. The two months immediately preceding this start we had expended another approximate 2 months in a psych ward due to the depression and suicidality. Although it had been 3 years working and without a hospitalization, our father, step-mother and Godfather had all died within about 5 months from each other and it was too difficult for us. As we began to write, the names of family and friends were altered because we were unsure of the journal/blog allowance of privacy and about giving so many personal pieces of information on-line and to people who knew us directly, but did not need all the personal information. Eventually, some of the privacy slips away and we are not as guarded.
Our sons at the time of this story being written were by now 19, 21 & 23. The two oldest sons each gave me a grandchild and then later a third grandchild was born. None of the boys lived with me during the year this story is written. I lived in my own third floor apartment with my two cats. We do have relationships with the boys, but we didn’t see them very much that year. “Tanner” and “Macadam” the middle and the oldest were working together downtown in finances. They each had a child, but only Macadam was married. Tanner and “Jacob” lived together when Jacob was not at his University. When Tanner was 21, he earned several millions of dollars – true story – and he had purchased an expensive home where he, Jacob and their immediate friends spent their time. A lot of their time that year was closed to us and spent instead within the world of computer animated games, which was very hard for us to understand and cope with although it made sense developmentally that they be gaining their own identities in the generation they fell and aspired to.
Not too much longer than having introduced our friends in the story, the friends seemed to have dissipated into thin air. I’ve always had difficulty maintaining 3D friends especially because of the time needed to invest in the relationships to maintain them. There remains some relationship with “Clear Sky” at work and a major relationship continues throughout the stories with “Forest Path” whom we call later in the book “our friend.” Our friend is not highlighted in this story, but it could be known that as of today we’ve been together in an intimate relationship since 1994. He had been a former boss. For most of these years, I’ve played the role of a mistress, though he has always insisted we go by the title of friend. We do not have contact with Dr. L., the psychology professor who helped us during those last years of college, but periodically we will talk to Dr. W. though just once or twice a year. We, of course, have an ongoing relationship with Dr. M.
Our boss/employee relationship with Sr. Tess was extremely important in this book though strained especially by the end. We will let that story tell itself. She appears to be the lead female figure in our life. I believe that she often represents to the older parts the conflicts we have in dealing with anger and especially angry women – both with our anger and the others’ anger. This is a by-product of our childhood. One person who is not mentioned throughout is our Mother. In 2003, that was an almost non-existing relationship. We may have been in contact once or twice throughout the year. I believe it was something that was being dealt with through the younger parts and their relationship to Dr. M. In a therapeutic relationship one often projects feelings that are difficult in real life onto the therapist, in our case our psychiatrist Dr. M. In comparison to Dr. M., Dr. W. did most the really hard work with child parts and trust, but Dr. M. still completes the roles of keeping us primarily in the present and more normalized.
If work were a character, I would say that that it was the real lead in the story. We spent a lot of time worrying over and fretting about it – sometimes it was like spinning our wheels and we often showed our obsessive-perfectionist tendencies. In our work, we carry a case load of about 24 individuals including running a group called, “The Thinking Group,” we train staff, we assist with the development of program, and we work on accreditation. The accreditation work is particularly trying and at the time was required for our center’s state funding. CARF was “founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, CARF International is an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services.” If we weren’t doing CARF directly we were thinking that we should be working on it. The accreditation cycle for CARF is three years and needs to be maintained throughout the time to assure that our agency if following the best business and program standards. The actual accreditation time when the surveyor comes out takes place in late spring of 2004.
It seemed that we had put CARF in an “an abusive role” that was near impossible to be dealing with. We felt great stress as if it were trying to hurt us rather than make us a better day training center for adults with intellectual disabilities. Both Dr. M. and Dr. W. talked to us about our catastrophizing. I believe this was done with CARF. We also had trouble getting parts who remembered what they were processing to be coming back to do the work. There was a lot of hiding by internal parts especially when things were hard. It seemed the harder we worked the harder we wanted to play, or forget. The parts did work though, and due to all the work it seemed there was a “recovery” happening after the CARF survey was over especially as to remarks that the surveyor made to us and to our boss Sr. Tess. Things seemed to turn on the CARF dime.
Another part of our world that was very big at the time of this story was the online social group we had met through AOL Journals. They became what are called our “online” friends and several of these relations have carried on over the years. Dr. W. had always considered the computer to be the optimal distance between us and people. For several years we didn’t talk to Dr. W. directly; we typed everything out on the keyboard in his office. This is a story for another time. I have never met in real life with the journal people although I did meet one online friend we had met in an online chat room for abuse survivors after we had lost the kids and house.
We considered the journals to be like a mini-blog. Blogs were a couple of years old at the time. The month before we found them, AOL beta tested their journals feature to be like blogs, but friendlier. There was a lot of excitement about writing online, because it seemed to fulfill a great need we had for writing and communicating. Each subchapter of our book was another days’ entry made to the journals. We wrote off-line with a word processor and then posted the entry. At some point AOL made it so we could post pictures, and that format changed over time. We eventually left AOL Journals with a big group of people discontent with the service when they started adding advertisements to our small piece of online real estate. AOL discontinued their journal service a year or two later and we lost quite a few pictures, but maintain them in later manuscripts using the online services of Blogger.
Journaling provided for us and others the sense of being a part of a community. AOL provided access through links to others who were also writing. The group fell into normal group dynamics as having ups and downs. There were leaders in the community and people who appeared to be creating specialties. One might talk of kids, another living on a boat, another for photographs and maybe another for journeying across the US. I don’t know how many thousands of people wrote in journals. AOL had only allowed the writing of 2000 characters for each journal post which separated us from the credibility most bloggers knew in the bigger blogosphere. With entries only 2000 characters long stories were shorter, so there was more time for visiting other journalists. I’d often press up against the word limits, and then sometimes we’d start new entries during the same day to get around the natural limitations. Eventually AOL went up to 25,000 characters. I appreciated this like most journalists, but the bad part was that with the longer entries it became unmanageable to be reading all the journals we had been reading in the time we had available. Many journalists had a linked list of 30 or more people they would read about fairly often. If you wanted to be read, good manners required that you go out and do the same.
The most important relationships seem to be between us and Dr. M., our friend, and Sr. Tess. I was surprised when I went back and read the entire story again to find how little we actually talk about what is going on in the treatment relationship with Dr. M. Talking about that situation will happen more in future manuscripts. He is our one constant other than the boys and our friend. At the time of this book, we had known Dr. M. for 5 years and trusted him to the extent we were able to trust anyone at that point. He has a relationship with all our parts, and they trust that he will protect their privacy even from other parts. The older parts still have to be responsible for younger parts so Dr. M. does some apparent negotiating. We try to develop trust so that we can understand their circumstances, which in no short order affect us. The idea at the time was that if we gave them time with Dr. M., they would give us time at work. We believe as well you are only as strong as your weakest link, and that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
Finally, we would like to make a comment as to the title of our book. We do believe that our life is like being a world separate, but next to others. The part where we say, “Regular, No Cream, No Sugar” is a reference toward our belief that multiples do not need to sensationalize their work for their work to be sensational. We wanted to tell a story not based on the elaborate and the gritty, but on just the day to day regular thoughts, behaviors and emotions of a person who happens to be a multiple. I relished the day my youngest son told me he had been in a psych class at his university when the talked about multiples and showed a movie. He became defensive and stood up for us saying that’s not way it really is at all! Good Jacob!
We did a review of 47 books that were written primarily by multiples as autobiographies or memoirs. It seems in most books there is a crises of terrible horrible abuses and trauma, and then the multiple goes on some kind of a journey sometimes aided with a therapist or healer- type person. At least 25% of the time integration seems to be an ending point, but not always. Most times I could find in the product description some kind of drama that was particular to the story like being abused while sleeping, being suicidal or having affairs, having some other mental illness or running up against the occult or other psychic phenomenon or being filled with religiosity. There then was some eye-opening catch such as being interviewed by a journalist or that the multiple became a great writer, or teacher, or business person, won awards or pursued a degree. In all cases the multiples went through some journey to survive, to cope, to become more transparent, to devote their time or perhaps just to live more normally. Most multiples end their story by saying they were triumphant against the odds, gained insight, enabled or gave support to others, and overcame the issues to the degree of communicating outward.
Basically, if you’ve been through abuse, you want to help or protect the next person from going through it, or you want to perhaps convey to the abusers that this could be the result. In general, this is the statement that can be said if all the multiples contributed just a small part:
Childhood abuse can be extreme, psychological, sexual, physical, emotional, ritual, and violent. Children who grow up to be multiples have often been abused, traumatized, assaulted, raped, neglected, victims of incest, and kept in line often and are derogatorily considered as just “women.” Abuse situations can also involve beatings by hand or with whips and belts, being held at gunpoint, cleansed with chemicals, and could entail the occult. Childhood abuse is the face of tragedy and is Hellish, dysfunctional, willful, humanly depraved, nightmarish and insane. Victims and survivors suffer from these punishments and are left to feel terror, horror, absolute powerlessness and hopelessness; they suffer from being degraded, bullied, tortured, mutilated, and humiliated. Children feel angry, bitter, shamed, afraid, sad, and in pain and although they may try to deny, they remember.
But our story takes place after having been in therapy for abuse for over 25 years. You won’t get too much of the traumatic by this point, but you will see the struggling day to day and sometimes the finding of new surprises on our quest to unearth a place of sanity for ourselves in this world; to find a space with warmth, understanding and meaning.
Please continue then to read and to expect many books to come. We are in our 8th year so in all practicality … we are just now starting our 8th book. Good wishes and God’s Speed to you then in catching up.
Ann Marie Garvey,
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