Long Absence…Looking Ahead

I want to apologize to my followers for my long absence. Many trials and challenges have come forth in recent months, followed by many blessings. Some of them I did write about, and you can read at MaggieSlighte.com. Others, I kept close to my vest…which is never a good thing for people like me.

I have returned to northwest Washington state: The place I consider to be my home. I say it that way because as I frighteningly realized in the past week while filling out applications for services, I have been fundamentally homeless for over seven years. Since I left my first husband, I have been without a place to call my own.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t rented rooms here and there and paid my share of rents…but I have had no real “home.” IMG_20170213_181227210

As I embark on my last 5 weeks of my Bachelor’s program, I am also looking for a place to settle down. This will hopefully mean me finding a therapist who will be working with me. After I scared off the last one, that is a goal that brings with it much anxiety. Due to my strong religious beliefs (read more about them at SlightelyMormon), and several of my alters’ dislike of men, I have to find a female LDS therapist…near me. Or find housing near a female LDS therapist who has training in Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.) . Either way, just the idea of finding “her” seems daunting. So, I pray and I trust God. I know that He will lead me where I need to go.
I hope your lives are full of love and lighte!

 

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Coping with Trials and Changes in a Car

I reallocated my housing funds to travel. The goal? To attend my daughter’s graduation from University in New Hampshire on Mother’s Day (I will be walking also for my Bachelor’s). Doing so, made it so that I had enough cash for gas, but not for fancy things like motel rooms. So, I stay in my car. Back when I had a van not many people said much, but in a Volvo sedan it is harder to hide. The 1983 chassis also gets it’s share of attention from the public without it being my home. 20170328_180537_hdr.jpg

The dogs, Athena and Ruger Bear, are my companions and security. They make certain that no one startles me (us) or tries anything funny. In fact, one of my self-defense tactics is to go towards my car (with  the dogs inside) if someone is following me or won’t go away and leave me alone. I used that not too long ago and it worked wonderfully: The person that was talking to me and not getting the hint that I wanted him to leave (he acted like he was on some type of stimulant), promptly got the hint when I allowed Athena (half pit bull and a bark from her daddy’s side) to “bark him away.”

Not too long ago, I was given the fantastic blessing of staying with a local woman in her apartment for a few days. I’m sure she felt a little slighted when I chose to leave a day earlier than planned after a couple of unexpected trials hit my plate. There is no way she could have understood that I was attempting to protect her from me. Not in a physical or even any type of abusive situation, but I wanted to protect her from having to worry about me and my mental illness.

I know I don’t handle change well. I know that it is a HUGE trigger for me. It tends to trigger other “alters” to come out. I don’t have full co-consciousness of them at this point, so I don’t know what they might say or do that isn’t up to my standards. Especially not the standards I prefer to maintain when I am staying as a guest somewhere new. So, when the $900+ check I was expecting didn’t show and I got the notice that it never would, I wrapped up my visit and went back into my car: An environment I could control.

wp-1491262020664.jpgI hope my new friend didn’t feel too bad. She blessed me with several nights of sleep inside, friends for my dogs to play with, home cooked meals and a few showers to start with. She was looking forward to beginning a new job, and I needed to focus on my school work and writing. I wish and pray for all the best for her and her family. But I needed to focus on me. I had to have my car fixed (new exhaust pipe and new muffler) and counted on those funds to help with that. WIthout them coming, I reached out to the church in the area. They said they had no resources to help me. Instead, a friend ended up wiring me cash from her savings to help with the repairs. God blessed me with the help I needed.

What about the 30+ people in my head? Well, we went through a significant depressive period. So much so, that I wrote about it on my main public page and blog, MaggieSlighte.com, naming it after the suicidal ideations that I was struggling with: Fighting the Permanent Solution.  Was I classically “suicidal?” Well, parts of me were. Other parts strove to keep me understanding I am a daughter of God. Still other parts demanded I “sit still,” and not act in any way, using methods taught to me in Recovery International.  I also was kept in check by my companion and service dog, Athena. Even the puppy, Ruger Bear helped out.

20170330_173931_hdr.jpgComforted by being alone (with the dogs) in a familiar environment that I could control, we managed pretty good this time. I am learning, step by step what it takes to stay in control. I used methods learned at Recovery International meetings to help me “stay still” and not act impulsively. I noticed a few missing hours, but no catastrophes or missing days. That is a start of healing. Then came General Conference, and I felt my Lord and Savior’s peace fill my soul. Just the boost I needed!

Even with my limited means, I am learning what I need to do to stay in control and manage my massive anxiety and the rest of my symptoms associated with the dissociation. One day at a time.

What is This Disorder: D.I.D.?

I have been writing on this site for almost a year about the realities of living with Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.), but I never really got into the diagnosis and what I am fighting against every day when I choose to live. Why do I say it that way? Because every moment that I don’t listen to the temptations to escape this world I am choosing to live. I am choosing to exist. But I know it is a choice every single minute.wp-1487886252433.jpg

While researching this disorder, I came across this quote, “DID is arguably one of the most misunderstood and controversial diagnoses in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). But it is a real and debilitating disorder that makes it difficult for people to function.” OH HOW I agree with that statement!!! Although previously thought to be a rare disorder, it has been found that 1 in 3 of the general population actually meet the criteria for diagnosis of D.I.D., making it just as common as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Also, not all personalities are obvious changes, it isn’t like the movies or TV shows that have been produced about multiples.

The most comprehensive description that I could find that really explained D.I.D. was on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website:

Dissociative disorders are characterized by an involuntary escape from reality characterized by a disconnection between thoughts, identity, consciousness and memory. People from all age groups and racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds can experience a dissociative disorder. Its estimated that 2% of people experience dissociative disorders, with women being more likely than men to be diagnosed. Almost half of adults in the United States experience at least one depersonalization/derealization episode in their lives, with only 2% meeting the full criteria for chronic episodes. The symptoms of a dissociative disorder usually first develop as a response to a traumatic event, such as abuse or military combat, to keep those memories under control. Stressful situations can worsen symptoms and cause problems with functioning in everyday activities. However, the symptoms a person experiences will depend on the type of dissociative disorder that a person has.

NAMI also lists the symptoms of dissociative disorders:

Symptoms and signs of dissociative disorders include:

  • Significant memory loss of specific times, people and events
  • Out-of-body experiences, such as feeling as though you are watching a movie of yourself
  • Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide
  • A sense of detachment from your emotions, or emotional numbness
  • A lack of a sense of self-identity

The symptoms of dissociative disorders depend on the type of disorder that has been diagnosed.

My particular diagnosis is D.I.D. which includes this explanation on the NAMI site:

Dissociative identity disorder. Formerly known as multiple personality disorder, this disorder is characterized by alternating between multiple identities. A person may feel like one or more voices are trying to take control in their head. Often these identities may have unique names, characteristics, mannerisms and voices. People with DID will experience gaps in memory of every day events, personal information and trauma. Women are more likely to be diagnosed, as they more frequently present with acute dissociative symptoms. Men are more likely to deny symptoms and trauma histories, and commonly exhibit more violent behavior, rather than amnesia or fugue states. This can lead to elevated false negative diagnosis.

wp-1487879827228.jpgThe way MY diagnosis was explained to me was that I began to “fragment” or split into “alters” when I first underwent trauma as a baby. My physicians and therapists agree that I was under 6 months old when this happened. Because I have a very intelligent and creative  brain, the way that my psyche coped with trauma was to create other sections that didn’t have to remember the trauma. When a trauma reoccurred, there was an “alter” to take the abuse, the main personality had little or no memory. The more traumas happened, the more alters were created. It is still my brain’s way of dealing with trauma: We split, creating another alter. One more name for the long list.

In the last 18 months since the diagnosis was confirmed, I have discovered the names to no less than 28 alternate personalities or alters. There is an overwhelming feeling that there are more that exist.

I have started a project, asking my “system” of alters in my brain what photos of myself or relatives that they identify with, attempting to give myself and my therapists a visual aid. This has proved difficult, but it is cathartic. It helps to look at a photo with the age that alter claims to be and see who those personalities feel they look like.

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Some of “The Littles”

I am about half-way finished with the ones with which I have any co-consciousness (I hear them to any extent).

Here is a representation of “the littles” or small children in my brain:

 

The only alter who has chosen a photo representation that was not a photo of me (so far), has been a “protector alter” named George. He wanted to use the photo of my grandfather, George R. Slighte. wp-1487879672434.jpgSo, I allowed it. I just want to know what THEY think they look like. It does explain why some of my little ones always get bruises on my arms: They think they are still little kids!

As I progress in therapy and in this process of recovering from the trauma I underwent as a human, not just a child, I will be sharing more when I learn it. I appreciate your support and your interest. Thank you.

 

All of MEs on the Road

This last month has been one of the biggest challenges for me since my diagnosis. I will admit I did not behave perfectly, but I know I did my level best. Going through a divorce  for a marriage I was wishing never happened was only one small component in my January excitement. The car that ran on prayers got an oil change and was loaded up again as full as it could get with Athena and her 3 month old son, Ruger Bear and all of my possessions. Then I asked a friend to come along.wp-1485991832896.jpg

I have had a few companions in my travels across the country over the last seven years. They are usually the age of my adult children or younger, the perfect age for a road trip. My current companion, Jacob Larsen, is a professional photographer who had most of his life limited to the great northwest until “Miss Maggie” got a hold of him and took him to the Grand Canyon for his 19th birthday about five years ago. I’ve been wanting him to join me for a bigger adventure ever since.

Jacob has known me since LONG before I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. He was one of the few people around me when my best friend first voiced his suspicions that I might be a multiple. He was even with me the first time I ever watched United States of Tara (DID as interpreted by Steven Spielberg). With Cub (Jacob’s nickname) along, I am much less anxious about my changes. It helps to have someone who can joke about it along the way.

wp-1485992316494.jpgThere has been an interesting development: I have discovered that even when I have changed into a younger personality I still get impressions from the Holy Spirit about what I am doing (although, in this circumstance, I am curious if I switched because of the impression). During our travels through California, on highway 99 running southbound, the road was AWFUL. I got what at the time I interpreted as an “icky feeling” and asked Jacob to drive. Not 5 miles down the road, the muffler fell and was hanging on by a wire. I am normally totally freaked out and triggered by car problems. Thankfully Jacob was driving and my anxiety stayed in check. The “little” alter went back in her place in my brain by that time and Cub easily slid under the car and fixed the exhaust and muffler by the side of the road without incidence. It was to be the first of the minor repairs that have had a major effect on this trip.wp-1485992309385.jpg

This is a different type of trip. I am beginning to learn what I need to support my brain. Before I left Arizona, I was given the most incredible Priesthood Blessing by my Branch President. The words that I heard have strengthened my faith and given me hope. I was blessed to visit the Snowflake, Arizona Temple the day before my divorce hearing with a dear friend who knew exactly what I needed. Then I was able to visit the Houston Temple less than a week later. God is keeping an eye on me and I on Him, during this trip.

Deadlines and Switches

Thursday night I had a deadline in a class at school. I wasn’t here. Not that I wasn’t PHYSICALLY here. but I wasn’t the primary personality. In fact, I have very little communication with that personality. It’s not that she is a “bad” person, but I had switched.wp-1483743967307.jpg

I experienced a trigger. Many triggers in fact. I had received a negative report about what my car needed to be functional while looking ahead at a cross-country trip. Then,  I had met with my mom after a long day of stressors, which included having my doctor refuse to see me for my asthma when I was 15 minutes late (after a 2.5 hour drive). It wasn’t a good day. It felt good to relax and sit down with my mom. Sometime during the conversation, I switched. I didn’t switch back to my primary personality until this morning.

Who was I? That’s always a good question. There’s usually a trail of digital breadcrumbs I can follow, as well as any journal entries that may or may not have been made. Now comes the “recap” phase. Now comes the debriefing stage.

This particular alter I have some, but not complete, co-consciousness with. That essentially means that I was aware that I had a deadline in school, so she was aware of the deadline. Instead of “giving up” consciousness to me, she did the assignment. What’s the problem in that? Well, SHE made some posts on the discussion board of my class that were not of MY “voice.” I also didn’t have complete memory of what was written under MY  name.

wp-1483744081348.jpgYears or even month ago, I would have panicked: I would have just quit the class and given up. I was in enough of an anxiety attack, I both emailed, then called, my disability advisor and asked her to look at the posts for me to make sure had inadvertently written something that was offensive or hurtful. I still haven’t had the “guts” to look at what she wrote. That’s next.

Then comes “clean up time.” I’m glad she knew how to drive.

Happy? Holidaze

It feels like I am in a daze. Much is happening that I can’t and won’t share. Not mine to. But it all has an effect. Two days before Christmas, it feels nothing like a holiday.contemplative my hair looks blonde in the sun

I made a mad dash from Arizona to Grand Junction, Colorado, then to Washington, to deliver my dog’s litter to their new owners. I made a priority to home the pups where they would do the most good, not asking for any re-homing fees and taking upon myself to provide all but $40 of the gas required to get us where they were to be delivered. That trip took a tremendous financial tole.

All in all, I think I incurred about $250 JUST in bank fees for the privilege of outrunning 3 storms coming two different directions on my way from Arizona, then Colorado, to Washington during the end of November. The storms took my alters in places of anxiety and fear that had me shivering and crying on more than a few occasions. The ride in the dark valley from Price, Utah in a blinding storm had me praying out loud constantly when the wipers froze to the windshield after the heater fan died on the poor Volvo.

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Xena, Camo & Mr. Pringles – All in Mr. Floyd’s care

Today I got the paper in the mail confirming that my request to appear by telephone at the divorce hearing was denied. Who knows why, it wasn’t included. My soon-to-be ex-husband is happily celebrating all the holidays with his new girlfriend and her family. I’m not sure if he has completely abandoned my animals out at his mama’s property in the bitter cold and storms, but I can’t afford, emotionally, to think about that now. He had a restraining order to keep me away from the animals I adopted and loved… while he poisoned and neglected them… now to leave them die cold and alone. It will be a long time before I trust again.

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Life is Always Clearer in the Rearview Mirror

 

And then there are the comments from friends and family. All of the “I never liked him” “he said for years he was planning to take advantage of the Mormons; he has talked about how they are an “easy mark” for years” “we saw what he was doing to you, how he was treating you was not okay”…. ad nauseam.

It does help, in some ways, to hear that I am NOT insane, that I was “gaslit” and taken in by a complete and total fraud. But I am ready to be done. I am ready to begin healing. I am NOT ready for a holiday. But the holidays are here, and the divorce hearing won’t be until January 19th of next year. Now, to plan my trip back to Arizona.

I am thankful to be in the company of friends right now. I fear what would happen without them. And the gentle counsel of my Bishop. This is a tough time.

 

Waiting for the End

I sit here, welcomed in a friend’s home, waiting to hear from a court to find out if I may appear telephonically at my divorce hearing.

The last six months have been eye-opening. Crazymaking it is called, when a person se0118151643i-mixts out to abuse another by causing them to believe they are “crazy.” This can be complicated when one partner has a mental illness. According to very reputable and supportive friends and professionals around me, I have been made a victim by a fraud who wanted everyone to disbelieve me, due to my “craziness.”

I long to be free of every bit of that relationship. The end was punctuated by me being confronted with the fact my husband had taken upon himself to begin another relationship with a single woman, calling her his wife to members of the community that didn’t attend our church after declaring himself “single” when I went on a preplanned trip to visit grandchildren.img_20160804_163237565

I am thankful that Heavenly Father showed me the person who was beside me before I had invested any longer in the relationship. The fraud he perpetrated was punctuated when it became apparent he attended therapy with me for the sole purpose of learning my triggers for his own use. That felt like the ultimate betrayal.

I sit here, waiting for the divorce hearing. Then, perhaps I can get on with the rest of my life. I look forward to that day. I want my last name back.

Then, I need to find a partner therapist. Soon. Very soon.

Confronting Drama with ALL of MEs

Breaking up is NEVER easy.  When one spouse has been diagnosed with a mental illness, it becomes extremely easy to use that illness as an excuse to treat that spouse with disrespect and humiliation. Unfortunately, that is what my soon-to-be ex-husband has now stooped to.

When I reacted to him not understanding that I meant “no” when I said it, with him on top of me… even though it took FOUR iterations of that word… the NO word… for him to get off of me, my husband left me. As a multiple rape survivor, that incident and the actions he took (or rather failed to take) set me off emotionally when I awoke the next morning. The “attack” I alluded to in the post I made while we were attempting a reconciliation, was an alter of mine standing up for me (verbally) and getting off the eggshells we had been walking on for the majority of this ill-fated marriage.

IMG_20140214_164003_503In January 2013, when Keith proposed to me, it was after he had his hands on my head in church to perform a Priesthood blessing. I didn’t know at the time that he had NEVER been ordained, and he did NOT have the authority to do so; he lied to me and the elders in The Church.

Upon learning about his deception about the Priesthood, I attempted forgiveness. It was difficult. Since Keith had lied about being ordained to both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood, it also meant that he was not eligible, nor would he be for many years, to go to the Temple. That broke my heart. But I persevered.

We have been married for almost three years. Every month I lived with my husband, he went through both of our medicine supplies by the 10th of the month. The rest of the month he spent digging out the hidden stashes I had and complaining and begging his mother to send him money. Which she did on several occasions.

This last spring, I was fed-up with not having plants growing when he had promised me that we would. So, I soaked some seeds and planted them. Mr. Floyd’s Farm AssiIMG_20160614_151449581.jpgst followed a month later with a few seeds of his own. I asked him to do the favor of tending my plants while I was gone, and he accepted. Apparently his yields aren’t as good as mine usually are, the entire yield for the plants in his care was 5 measly buds. I have never witnessed any plants my husband has grown that haven’t been covered in bugs or mold or both, so frankly I wasn’t surprised. I was very disappointed.

Disappointed and sad is how I feel about this entire relationship. The fact that he has stooped as low as he has, and I as low as I have, tells me that we are not paired well together. I only hope and pray that we are able to finalize this divorce and go our separate ways without hurting too many people in our wake.

May your life be full of Love and Lighte: That is what I seek.

 

Twin Tears

The trip to return to my home state of Washington was full of setbacks, until I actually hit the Arizona border. From there on out, it was smooth sailing. 1334009706095

That’s not to say that I didn’t experience my share of anxiety; I always do when driving. However, the drive was also full of time for me to constantly conference with my MEs. We had a long talk. Actually, several of them.

I arrived on the afternoon of my twin granddaughter’s birthday. My mother (who I’ve been having a rough time with) was just leaving and was shocked to see me. I was glad I wouldn’t have to share my time with the girls, with her, considering the current rough state of our relationship.

3727423539945Our visit carried on into the evening with me promising to return the next day. I attempted to get photos of the girls with me, but there was a bit of contention in the air between the twins, and the photo idea was scrapped when they wouldn’t stop pinching and hitting each other behind my back.

When I returned the next day, I gave my extra wi-fi only camera phone to each one of the girls to capture pics or videos of themselves or each other. The girls LOVE to look in the mirror, so I figured having them make selfie-videos might be right up their alley. 1405134202423_cr

Unfortunately, not all the adults were on the same page. Their Poppa thought that one of the girls had taken his camera without his permission and responded with angry words and grabbed it out of her hand. He realized his mistake before only a few moments had passed, and returned it to the upset twin.

Her tears and big gulps of air as she tried to stop crying were all captured for perpetuity in digital. Yes, this Grandma saved it. However, we had to move it to an archive due to the empathetic triggers that it caused.

Just watching the video that my dear precious granddaughter recorded brought back so many memories of my own tears that I can’t bare to watch it. But it seems important to keep.

3665625995045He didn’t hit her. He just barely raised his voice and grabbed it out of her hand. A quick jump to the wrong impression. Easy to do. It happens every day.

But her big tears on her little face and a tiny voice that kept whispering, “mama” when I know her mama isn’t one, but she is being raised by her other grandma, broke my heart. And the littles inside cried with her.

 

My Littles are Screaming

The little people inside my head are screaming. Uncontrollably. They don’t like change. I am not sure how many there are, but there seem to be at least 4 under the age of 6.IMG_20130226_131124_cr

Personalities that are still little. That don’t understand why the body is so huge and clumsy. They tend to walk the body into corners of door openings. They don’t allow for the whole body as it is now.

The littles don’t like change. Not one bit. They weren’t sure about having a husband here, but now that he isn’t here usually, they don’t like the change.

We are getting ready for a trip. There are a lot of uncertainties included within such an adventure. Many of my personalities not only enjoy, but CRAVE such travels. Not the littles.

IMG_20130226_133236_crMy littles have to make sure their needs are met on a trip. Are there going to be enough stops to pee? We don’t want to get a belly ache about peeing, because that will mean bad triggers.

We are taking our service companion, Athena. She will help keep me/us centered. She is good at that.

But the littles are still screaming. How do I comfort pieces of my brain?