In Sex, Love and Obesity Part 24 I discussed a relapse into my pleasure-seeking behaviors that happened while I was at a weight loss convention in Portland trying to deal with all the loose strings that existed in my life.
Think of the life you live as a sweater that you wear. Mine had a lot of loose strings. If I didn’t find a way to deal with them surely one of them was going to cause the entire sweater to come unraveled. And, albeit unintentional, I had returned from Portland with two new loose threads.
Unraveling is a very good word for what was about to happen.
Looking back at it all now, I can see what was happening more clearly. Hindsight 20/20 and all that. At the time, I didn’t recognize the pattern at all. If you read my blog Dissociative Identity Disorder – My Super Power, you might remember me talking a little bit about when I was first diagnosed with DID.
It was the boom of the internet and chat rooms. The anonymity that allowed me created a situation where several of my alternate personalities were able to spend their time logging into chatrooms. At this point, they were talking to different people and establishing relationships with different men. As a result, my mind was fragmenting in many different directions. Different parts of me wanting different things. Wanting to be with different people.
As each part of me fought for what they wanted, a struggle for presence and control took place in my mind.
This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened in my life. It was just the first time that the consequences of it were so severe it gave me a reason to stop and ask what was going on with me. For the first time, I was aware that the loss of time I was experiencing was happening during times that my “friends” and “roommates” were around. It was the first time that there was proof that perhaps my “friends” and “roommates” where not actually friends and roommates.
I’d had some similar experiences in my teenage years.
It was around the time that my parents first put me into therapy. I was going through severe depression and expressing thoughts of suicide. Self-mutilation had become a problem for me. I was hurting myself on purpose and if you asked me why, I didn’t really have any answers for it. Most the time, I didn’t have any recollection of doing it.
For quite some time, my parents had been aware that I had a problem with “lying”. We came from a family with a profound history of lying and me constantly “lying” to them was by far the signal worst thing I could do. “Why can’t you just tell us the truth?” they would ask me repeatedly.
This time, my “lies” had landed me in therapy. My parents began experiencing concern when they became aware of a situation where I was “lying” to a boy I was talking to on the phone. I made up a person that didn’t exist and spent countless hours talking to him on the phone as this person. His family became uneasy about the time he was spending on the phone talking to someone that never actually wanted to meet him. They had misgivings about the time he was investing in a girl that didn’t show up for dates. Somehow, it had all spun out of control. As a result, his family was angry. Unsure of what was happening myself, I went to my parents trying to explain and asking for help.
When I couldn’t explain what was happening, I was a liar.
Trying to explain that my “friend” Stephanie existed, and that it wasn’t me talking to Nick only made things worse. Nobody understood. How could they? It didn’t make sense. I couldn’t answer their questions about Stephanie. Who was she? How did I know her? Where did she live? How did I communicate with her? What school did she go to? I didn’t have any of those answers. So, to my parents and my therapist, I was a liar.
Not too long after that another similar situation happened. I was dating a boy named Chris. The first guy I had brought home to meet my parents. While we were dating Chris had gotten a phone call from my “friend” Jessica. As a result, they became friends. They talked on the phone when I wasn’t around. Got to know each other. Their conversations were usually about me. About Chris’s relationship with me. Chris often suggested to her that she should meet his friend Frank. So, one night when Frank was over when Jessica called, they began talking as well.
Before too long, Frank and Jessica had become a thing. Frank was obsessed with a girl he had never met but spent countless hours talking to on the phone. We didn’t have cell phones back then. We had beepers. I was at a party one night when a beeper went off in my purse. A beeper I didn’t even know I had. It just so happened that Frank had just beeped Jessica so he could talk to her and try to persuade her to come to the party.
I didn’t understand what was happening. But again, I was a liar.
Why did I have Jessica’s beeper? It led to the same sort of conversations my parents and my therapist and I had about Nick and Stephanie. I couldn’t really explain any of it in a way that made sense. Once again, I sat there trying to explain who Jessica was, how I knew her and how I communicated with her. None of my answers made any sense to anyone. So once again, I was a liar.
I wasn’t a liar though. These people existed. I just couldn’t explain what was happening in a way that my parents and my therapist could understand it. They decided I was a compulsive liar, and that I was making up other people to get boys that wouldn’t normally like me to talk to me.
They thought that because I was heavy and had issues with self-esteem, I created people that boys would like in order to not have to be myself and face the probable rejection.
I fought against this diagnosis. It wasn’t the case. I was dating Chris. I was happy with Chris. He was my high-school sweetheart. Chris and I were going to move out together, get married, have babies. Why on earth would I intentionally ruin all of that by making up Jessica and having a relationship with one of his best friends. It didn’t make any sense.
Chris and his mother tried to help me.
Even though they didn’t really understand what was going on with me, they tried to help me. They had each seen the way I fought with my mother at home. They were aware how volatile and violent those arguments got. His mother, Sandy was the principle of a middle school. She had seen firsthand how messed up kids who had been horribly abused were. She tried to talk to my therapist and explain that she thought there was more going on then met the eye.
Within the next several months America Online opened. Chris and I started going online and talking to people in chat rooms. He became interested in someone else and broke up with me. When the first month of the AOL bill arrived and Chris and I together had racked up somewhere near $3,000 in charges his mother was responsible for, she decided that helping me wasn’t cost beneficial to their lives anymore. That was back when AOL cost $9.95 a month. They gave you 5 hours free per month and after that you got billed $2.95 per hour plus the long-distance charges of whatever phone number you dialed to connect.
Shortly after Chris and I broke up I ran away from home. First, I went to live with my biological mother. When that didn’t work out, I moved back in with my parents briefly. After that I met a boy named Eric online. I ended up moving in with him about a month after we met.
Things in my life were normal for a year or so.
Eric and I had a good relationship. He was a gamer. My relationship with Eric began my introduction to things like Warcraft and StarCraft and my focus began shifting from being online trying to find someone to have a relationship with to being with him and doing nerdy things. He helped me get a job at an internet service provider. We both made lots of money, we had lots of cool toys. Things were copacetic.
I don’t recall why or how that relationship started to falter. We got engaged. We had a pregnancy scare. At some point I got laid off and I don’t remember why, but I wasn’t looking for another job. It didn’t really matter. Eric made enough money that he could pay all the bills. Maybe the newness of the relationship wore off and the sex started getting boring. I really can’t tell you what triggered it. But as that relationship began faltering, I got back online and back into chat rooms.
A chain reaction started. I started losing track of time again. My “friends” started coming around again. Eric worked a graveyard shift. He was working from 11pm-9am every night and he was sleeping for 8-10 hours during the day once he got home. There was about a 2-hour window on days that he was working that we spent time together. Maybe I felt neglected. Maybe I was experiencing boredom. But that was when I started exploring BDSM and sex chat rooms.
This was when I began realizing that something was wrong with me.
There was a point that Eric began asking where I was going all the time. But I didn’t have an answer for him. I didn’t remember going anywhere. Apparently, I was disappearing for days, weekends, sometimes weeks at a time. Then showing back up with no memory, recollection or explanation for my absence. Eric thought I was doing drugs. I wasn’t. But I didn’t have any explanations that made any sense. I had no idea what was happening.
Eric confronted me with chat logs he had found on my computer. Logs of me talking to several different men, claiming to be several different people. I tried to explain that my “friends” must have been using my computer when they came over while he was at work. He accepted that momentarily.
Shortly after that Eric’s own layoff sent us spiraling into financial problems. Before to long we were moving out of our apartment and moving in with his mother. Everything goes black for me after that.
A few months later, I woke up in an apartment I didn’t recognize at all. It was like three months of my life was missing. I was living with someone new. I had no idea how I had gotten there. In an absolute state of panic, I began trying to piece together what was happening.
The way the story went, he was dating one of my roommates. She had suggested that both of us should move in with him. He had relocated to California from New Hampshire to be with her. But she had never actually shown up yet. Emergency family situations had kept her away and he was still waiting for her to arrive. That’s when I finally knew that something was seriously wrong with me.
There’s about a 5-year window of my life that is all vague memories for me.
They were full of similar experiences. I’d lose track of weeks and sometimes months at a time. Suddenly wake up not knowing where I was or how and why I got there and start asking questions trying to put all the pieces together. Luckily for me, my Godfather was a prevalent part of my life. He got me into therapy.
Even after we finally knew what was happening to me, therapy wasn’t easy. Because learning to live with Dissociative Identity Disorder, learning to manage it and control it was a long drawn out adventure. There were times I was in outpatient therapy. Other times I was in inpatient therapy. There were times I voluntarily committed myself. Other times I was committed against my wishes because I was considered a danger to myself.
I was about 20 years old when I was first diagnosed and about 25 by the time I emerged on the other side of therapy as a cooperative multiple that could function in the world. Not long after that I met Jason, and from there, Dissociative Identity Disorder was just something that was normal for me. I knew how to manage it. How to control it. I didn’t lose track of time or lose consciousness or awareness. For nearly 13 years everything I had learned in therapy allowed me to live a normal life without my Dissociative Identity Disorder causing any interruptions.
Then Peter came along and everything broke.
I wasn’t sure why yet. It would take me working with my therapist more to figure that all out. To understand how and why the relationship with Peter had triggered this highly dysfunctional dissociative state. But the most important thing at that moment, was figuring out how to stop it. How to put it all back together and get me back to a place that I could function. Back to a place where I wasn’t experiencing this internal struggle for control.
I was not aware of how much the unhealthy relationship with Peter was contributing to the problem. But it seemed apparent to me that it was happening because different parts of me were in conflict about who we were having a relationship with. There were too many people in my life and all the different parts of me were fighting about it on the inside.
This time was a little different from the others though. Because, this time, I understood what was going on. I didn’t know how to fix it. But I did recognize what was happening. I needed to get all the pieces of me back in a cooperative state with one another. But, I was clueless as to how to go about doing it.
One part of me wanted to stay with Clark. One part of me wanted to go back to Peter. The rest of me disagreed with both of those choices and were actively looking for other alternatives. I had way too many loose threads and if I didn’t figure it out how to come to a united decision soon it was going to get worse before it got better. One of those threads was going to get pulled and the sweater of my life was going to unravel.
Which is exactly what happened next. Everything came unraveled.