From what little I remember of my childhood, I can see I was highly, highly dissociative. I think one of the reasons I’m so high-functioning now is that I was aware that I was missing time and in a fog, and gradually figured out how to adjust for that. I was classed as gifted in grade three, but school baffled me. I blacked out sometimes. I often said I had a headache and just put my head on my desk. Lessons that clearly were routine, like spelling tests done in groups of two, always seemed new and strange. I was out of it. I never read the books but scanned them for important information and wrote what was minimally required, with some spark of cleverness that would get me through the grades and keep me in special education for gifted children. I didn’t understand the world around me.
Five years ago, I would have put all this down to things like ADHD and autism spectrum disorder. But now I realize that there’s a reason I always feel like I’m waking up more and more, like I’m becoming more aware of the world around me and things are falling into place year by year. I was suffering from multiplicity and dissociation since early childhood.
My earliest childhood memories — which have been suggested by relatives to have occurred when I was just 1, but who knows — are of watching myself from a distance. Seeing myself on a chair, as if I’m behind myself. Seeing myself trying to navigate the bars and equipment of a hospital bed, again from an outside perspective. It’s strange.
I had odd nightmares of things beyond my comprehension at 6: people crucified to the sides of office buildings. Shadow people speaking to me, following me. My family being murdered. My school writing journals are a disaster — a 7/8 year old’s story of a shadow man coming into my bedroom at night. Drawings of him with blood dripping off him. Constant mentions of injuries and even concussions.
Several times my mother took me to school late, covered my ears in front of the teacher, and explained (I could still hear her) why I might act “strange” that day. Her stories weren’t always true.
I have clear memories of trying to run away many times, or begging my older sister to kill me. But I don’t remember why I was so upset. I was usually clueless and cheery, except for when I’d hide somewhere and punch myself in the head a few times, on a regular basis. My teachers remarked how well I was taking my parents’ divorce, how unconcerned I was at 9 when my mother moved away with another man.
After grade 5 and sex ed, I always assumed (without much reason except for self-exploration) that I never had a hymen. But the idea of vaginal penetration sounded too painful and terrifying to think about much.
Around puberty I became more and more self-aware, probably to keep myself out of trouble. I was hyper-vigilant. At 15, I suddenly became an outright mess. Whereas before I could win school debates and even take the starring role in the school musical, or audition for an improv comedy team, I very suddenly couldn’t look people in the eye or speak in class. I started to hide. Everything became about hiding and keeping quiet, low-profile, and not making mistakes. I wouldn’t take off my winter coat in class, to the point of getting fish scales all over it during a lab dissection. Teachers were generally kind to me but suggested that my coat made them nervous.
I hated myself for being so mentally foggy and tried to discipline myself in insane ways. I got rid of my bed and slept on a hardwood floor. I got very little sleep at night, getting up to study, and took (often unintended) naps during the day.
I had anorexia. I had wild philosophical ideas about life and the universe. I wouldn’t wear shorts or anything that showed any skin. I wouldn’t even drink for days. I started cutting myself. I wanted to die. I had a complete disinterest in boys, and barely convinced myself I was interested in girls either. There is so much more I could write. Times I got triggered up and didn’t know why.
I should mention that very few people paid any attention to any of this, and certainly not my parents.
So I thought I had just been born sick. Weird. Different. I had “perverted” thoughts. It didn’t matter that my biological father admitted to some limited child molestation, and was accused of much more. No hints I could remember mattered. Surely nothing had happened to me.
The denial stops here.
There were reasons, causes, and affects.
I remember now. And I am still remembering.
I’m not sick. I’m dissociative, but I’m regaining my life. And none of this was my fault.
It’s all HIS fault.
I’m not hiding anymore.