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Saturday Stories #21 Being Seen as All of Us
Rediscover a love for fiction, because stories can change the world
These fiction stories are unedited, unfiltered, and written in 15-25 minutes. Please be aware that they may contain intense material related to emotional healing, trauma recovery, and redirected fears. The today’s insights section contains information and learning from our personal journey with multiplicity/Dissociative Identities while healing from complex PSTD. We bring insights from our perspective as a therapist interrupted who is bringing together lived experience and clinical information.
Written in personal creative writing practice August 27, 2015—Prompt: He called you by your real name
How did she know my real name? No one, not even my own mother knew my real name, but somehow, she knew me. She saw me. She knew I was here even though I tried so hard to remain hidden. The only explanation for this was that she must be a true psychic.
“What did you say?” I asked, for I was fully present now.
She looked at me, her blue eyes piercing mine. “I said, how are you today, Samantha?”
“But my name is Rose, why are you calling me Samantha?”
“No, I think we both know that your name is Samantha.”
I looked down not knowing what to say. “How can you know that?”
“I can see you, I see all of you.”
I knew this lady said she was psychic, but I didn’t really believe it, not really, when we came to see her. I didn’t know she would see me, see all of us. This scared me a little because even Rose didn’t know about me, about us. Now she was watching all of this.
“You have DID, there are many of you. Am I right?”
“Yes, uh, I guess.”
“Samantha, you are very special. You are very important to Rose, and it is time she knew about you so you and her can work together.”
“But…What? … I don’t know, how to do that.”
“It’s a process you will learn.”
“But, what if I don’t want to work together?”
“Then things will be much harder for you both. There will be more pain, more confusion.”
“I guess I could try.”
“Now what’s our fortune? Besides that you know about us?”
Maybe 5 years before I was diagnosed with DID I went and saw a pastor who worked with people who were “fractured”. During our conversation, I started talking about one of our teen guys. I had intentionally not used his pronoun and was shocked when she referred to him as he. I think I just stared at her open mouthed before stumbling around my words and asking how she knew he was a he. She said that she could see them. I think this was some kind of spiritual gift and I didn’t find out what this exactly meant. This was one of those moments that I hold onto when the doubt around whether or not we have DID creeps in. Don’t you love the pronouns in that last sentence.
Being multiple with dissociative identities as a result of trauma, while doubting the condition and minimize the abuse that lead to it is a very real struggle. This is why when people try to define what being multiple or having DID looks like it can cause damage. We do that enough in our own head. When a medical professional comes out publicly and gives a narrow definition of what DID can or cannot look like it’s dysregulating. While the DSM gives specifics qualifiers for the diagnoses itself, there’s a lot of diversity in how this plays out in real life.
Another topic this story brings up is that of being seen. I am out to almost everyone in my life, but it’s not many people who know our names, even fewer who can recognize them, and probably no one who calls us by our names other than our collective name Crystals. There’s a lot of vulnerability in being seen. It’s validating and feels good, but it’s also terrifying. There are so many ways that society and the medical profession have not been safe for people with Dissociative Identities. This has led to many people needing to hide and mask that they are one person.
For us, the path to increased inner communication is ongoing. It’s hard work, yet rewarding. When we work together things really do go better, but that also can look like a debate in our head or having to negotiate and compromise. It means I don’t always get what I want, when I want it because others inside have needs and wants. It also means that when they are doing better we are all more stable and happier. We are not alone and can have meaningful relationships with each other.
One last note, being DID is not all that makes us who we are. It’s a major part of our life, but not the entirety of it. I like that Samantha at the end of this story speaks to this by asking for the fortune. Just like any other diagnoses or disorder or way of being, there is more.
I hope this story has given those without dissociative identities or multiplicity a glimpse into some of what it’s like. For those who are plural/have parts/multiple/DID/OSDD I hope that you feel less alone, even if your experiences are different than mine or those you see, you and all of the others are valid and deserve to be loved and respected.
If you wish to continue the story in your own creative writing or prose you can answer the following questions for fiction to continue the story or answer the questions for prose that can be used as journal prompts, for essays, or poetry.
Write the story from Rose’s perspective, just learning that Samantha is another person in her collective and that she’s multiple
Write about the rest of the fortune
Write a conversation between Rose and Samantha about what it was like seeing the fortune teller and meeting each other
How are you more than your diagnoses or demographics?
What’s your view on those who can see into the future or discern what is going on with someone that isn’t seen? Do you believe this is possible? Why or why not? What feelings does this bring up for you?
What is it like to be seen? Are there parts of yourself or your history that you hide from the world? What would it be like for a stranger to notice something about you that your closest friends do not? Would this feel vulnerable, confirming, or both, or neither?
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