Hello folks. I know I haven't been active in a long time, but I'm gradually coming back to myself. I don't know how long it will last as I still have some big anniversaries to get through, but for right now, here I am.
Anyhow, this journal is for Nullibicity
's Bare-All Project
. The idea is to share your story so that others can be inspired by it or at the very least, understand that they're not alone. I've shared bits of my story through every piece of poetry and non-fiction I've written, but here's my attempt to write it all as one big comprehensive life story. There's one aspect I'm leaving out, and that's for safety and sanity reasons.
I should warn you that the information below contains many triggering subjects. These include: child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, mental illness, bullying, miscarriage, forced miscarriage, disordered eating, discrimination, loss, self harm and suicide. I have tried not to be overly graphic in any triggery topic.
I was born the only daughter of parents who already had a son. 18 months later, my little brother was born as well, and we lived together as a family for another year before my parents split up. During this time, my father had already begun to abuse me, and the seeds of Dissociative Identity Disorder had been sown. My mother, either unaware or unwilling to accept it, saw only that he favoured his daughter at the expense of his sons, and took steps to correct this.
We lived in a caravan park for a short time before moving to community housing where I lived with my mother and two brothers for my childhood. Every second weekend we would go visit my father and my abuse continued. Meanwhile, my mother, trying to balance things out for my brothers, favoured them over me - an action that ultimately, while based in good intentions, lead to a great deal of emotional and verbal abuse; and also a small amount of physical abuse. It also allowed neglect and extreme abuse to continue on my father's behalf.
The abuse I was undergoing continued to escalate, often involving people outside of my father and many horrible punishments and abuses for perceived slights. The fragments that had split apart in my infancy began to become full personalities in their own right. At the age of 6, my father taught me to self harm. I made attempts, at this same age, to end my own life.
I loved school, but was (somehow) naive and innocent, and bullied fairly relentlessly without ever actually recognising it for what it was. I do, of course, now know what was going on, but back then? Oblivious-city.
When I was around 10, my father married a woman he'd met at a single parents group. She, as it turns out, was equally as cruel and abusive as my father. The abuse continued, and so did the self harm and suicide attempts. Meanwhile, the abuse, when not actually occuring, was locked away inside my mind to protect me. I knew I didn't like visiting my dad, but at the same time, he was my dad and I looked forward to seeing him.
By the time I was 12, I was a handful. I wasn't into drugs or anything like that, but I was very troubled and I acted out at my mother & brothers a fair bit. Once, during an argument, I shouted that I wanted to live with my father, so my mother called him and sent me to pack up my belongings. An hour later, I was in the car on the way to living with him.
Needless to say, the abuse continued, both by my father & stepmother and by others. I was, however, happy at my new school. When, two years later, I was given the opportunity to return to my mother's care, it was school that almost kept me where I was -- but ultimately, the chance to escape (though I didn't really understand what I was needing to escape from) won out. I moved back to my mother's and ceased almost all contact with my dad, except where my mother forced it.
Another two years passed. I was bullied at school - emotionally, verbally and physically - and I just generally had a hard time. I arranged to meet up with an internet friend who assaulted me in the park, and it set off a huge spiral of events. I gradually became aware of more details of my past; and got to know the other personalities that had developed inside this body. My self harm was discovered by my mother and I was diagnosed that year with depression and generalised anxiety disorder.
Things gradually calmed down a smidge, and I got in a proper relationship. We were back and forth for six months at a time, and on the off six months, I dated someone else. It was all very smudgey and awkward, but there was no overlap or cheating on either partner and eventually one of the relationships ended for good. The other partner proposed, at that point, and we eventually married.
Somewhere in the middle of all that, my grandmother died. Then, a year later, my grandfather on the other side died. A year after that, my last remaining grandparent also died. The year after that, though I watched my mother carefully for signs of impending illness, nobody died -- I breathed again.
Unfortunately, the marriage that I saw as an escape from a difficult life -- a life that I assumed would now be roses, having gotten all the bad things out of the way -- turned out to be a new way to be abused. It was subtle at first, and emotionally directed, so I didn't even notice it. By the time the marriage came apart (more on that soon), I was being abused emotionally, verbally, sexually, and physically. Still, I felt loved and safe and I wanted to stay with my husband.
I worked in the childcare industry, loving it like nothing else in life. It suited me well and I was happy in my job and my workplace.
At home, my husband and I began to try for a baby. This was what I got married for, this was what I wanted out of life -- being a mum. It took us over a year before I finally became pregnant -- and at about 7 weeks gestation, I miscarried. I was beyond devastated.
A week later, my husband told me he wanted a divorce and that he was glad I lost the baby. I fell apart.
My life continued on its track, more or less, for the next few years. There was another failed relationship, and I moved back in with my mother because childcare didn't pay well enough and nobody would rent to me. I continued to self harm and there were several suicide attempts in there as well. I stayed at my same workplace, though I was now travelling three hours a day (hour and a half each way), studying and working full time.
I began to hallucinate. I began to drink. My self harm got worse. I all but stopped sleeping - 8 hours would be the week's total, if I was lucky. Another suicide attempt landed me in hospital, and without thinking, I told my colleagues and my boss where I was. A rumour went around work that I had overdosed *at* work, and my boss shared that information with Head Office without checking with me. I was discriminated against and recommended for a transfer to another workplace. I vowed that this time I would not share my mental health status with my new colleagues.
During my hospital stay, I was this time diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
A month later, while walking to the train station on my way home from work, I was hit by a car and fractured my right knee (the official term was a fractured tibial plateau). I required surgery, including a bone graft & the insertion of a plate. Luckily, as the transfer had not yet been officially completed, my new workplace was happy to remain on "hold" waiting for me to return to work and transfer over. I spent six weeks in bed, not allowed to put any weight on my leg at all, before I gradually began the slow process of weight bearing again, and eventually transferred to the new workplace.
It was while I was still working that I was hit with a bolt of knowledge and memory that floored me. The baby I had lost with my husband, a child I had decided was a girl and named Elyssami Faith, was not the first child I'd miscarried. It seems strange, that I could so completely 'forget' a pregnancy for so long, but I have since been able to piece together that when I was around 13, in amongst all the abuse from my father and his "friends", I became pregnant. Terrified and confused, I had told my father. In a ceremony, attempts were made to kill the unborn baby inside me, and I later went on to miscarry. I named this child Mykelti Noah many years later.
My new colleagues and boss were far more understanding than the previous, and I did eventually confide in some of them the truth. They took it well and my new boss was very accomodating. Unfortunately, I was so unwell by that point that I found myself unable to work. I went on the disability pension.
Because I was living with my mother, contact with my father had been reopened and I was forced into situations where I would see him. Whenever I had contact with him, the abuse would continue, though scaled a long way down. It was enough, though, to send me into tail spins.
I attended DBT therapy, despite threatening to quit due to the presence of a man in the group. We later became friends...
I continued to self harm, and the scale of my self harm escalated rapidly. I drank frequently and heavily. I began to require skin graft surgeries to treat burn wounds I gave myself.
I travelled to the United Kingdom, spending three and a half months overseas. I visited England, Ireland, Scotland... and Sweden. It was magical. I learned a great deal about the world, about myself, and about people. I would do it again, though by the end of it I was losing my mind -- lack of appropriate medication (thanks to the medical team who took me off all my medication because I "just" had BPD) was responsible for an extreme downhill slope that I skiied down.
When I got back, my ever-distorted eating patterns became the sliding slope into an eating disorder. I lost a full third of my bodyweight within a 3 month period. I exercised up to 6 hours a day, and I ate more to pretend I was eating than to actually feed my body.
Towards the end of all this, with several more hospitalisations under my belt and far too many scars, I was also diagnosed with depersonalisation disorder and Dissociative Identities Disorder.
Last year, the father-figure who'd taken myself and my child personalities under his wing passed away.
That's the past. Let me tell you about the present. I want to start with the things that maybe aren't so great, because then I can finish on a positive note.
Things aren't perfect. I still struggle with my diagnoses. I'm not well enough to work, still. I struggle with personal hygiene, social contact and many other aspects of my illnesses. There are times I can't drink because I can't trust myself to do it for the right reasons. I have literally hundreds of scars and I still self harm sometimes...
But despite all of that, I want you to know, no matter what-- there is hope.
I have two children. They may not be with me to hold in my arms, but I hold them forever in my heart, and their presence there enriches my life even when I am grieving. This is true also of my father-figure.
I have a great team of folks inside my body who are learning to work together and work towards recovery for all of us.
I have two nieces, a nephew and a half nephew, that I adore.
I have many gifts and skills that I can use to help myself and to help others -- and what's more, I do use them for that purpose. I am active in animal rescue, I support women's rights, feminism and victim's rights. I speak out against rape culture. I speak up for the underdog.
I have some truly amazing friends, with whom I've been through amazing things. Sometimes those amazing things have been good, and sometimes they haven't. Sometimes they've been heartbreaking. That's okay, because all of those things have strengthened our friendship and ourselves.
More than that, I have friends who are family - friends whose homes welcome me as much as my own does.
And then there are the things I never thought I'd have/have again.
I have a wonderful husband (who owes me a ring, even if he won't give me an official document) who genuinely cares about me as a person, and about helping me be the best person I can be. I, too, care about him in the same ways, and work to help him be the best him he can be. Together, we have a fantastic little dog who I adore.
I have the opportunity to try again for a baby.
I have time self harm free. I have a body that has only scars and no fresh or healing wounds.
Most of all, I have hope... and I hope reading this has given you some, too.