I am going to describe my experience of having many, many voices in my head: why I have them, and what it is like.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of messed up people in the world who would rather dismiss this whole phenomenon as fake or psychosomatic. It is in fact recognized as a real disorder by psychiatrists, and called dissociative identity disorder.
But because DID is caused by extreme, ritualized abuse, people want the whole thing to disappear. When a group called the “False Memory Society” manages to get a lot of high-profile people on its side (like Dr. Phil), you have to wonder what’s going on. False memories, if real, would deny everyone their claim to remember anything, because anything could be a false memory. To me, the idea that ritual abuse exists is a lot more believable than the idea that false memories exist. Just think about ISIS and things that happened during the holocaust. Think about the worst, most sadistic things you’ve heard people in power were able to do. Is it really so hard to believe when someone says that they’ve been abused?
So, without too many gory details, I will lay out my truth. I was abused from a very young age. It was a complex thing, because I was surrounded by bad people who had different motives. My fuckhead father basically just wanted a sex toy, and his new baby girl (his only child), was perfect for that. My so-called mother is a hateful creature full of bitterness and anger. She either neglected me completely, or wanted to destroy me. I lived in terror of her.
I used to dream about going to an orphanage. I knew it was supposed to be a bad place, but it sounded so much better.
The voices started from the beginning. That’s how it works. You hurt someone young enough (say under three years old) routinely enough, and the brain can develop a stunning survival mechanism. Dissociation is something everyone experiences — it’s like a spectrum. Most people have felt some degree of zoning out in front of the TV or highway hypnosis where they’ve been driving for twenty minutes but can’t really remember doing it. For me, dissociation is extreme.
I used to be in a haze. When I was in grade 1 or 2, things that were routine (like a weekly spelling lesson) felt like I’d never done them before. I’d “wake up” in class and have no idea what we were doing. I’d just try to play along. I also blacked out. I’d pretend I had a headache so I could put my head on my desk. When I watched a movie, I never remembered most of it. Even today, movies I’ve “watched” a hundred times have lots of parts I feel I’m seeing for the very first time. I can never tell you the plot line of anything. Just pieces.
I experienced life in pieces, but no one would notice because if I was dissociating, someone else was there taking control of my body. Someone else was watching the movie. Someone else was going to school. I split my life up into a thousand pieces. So someone else would get abused, and I wouldn’t have to know it.
All these other pieces have a voice of their own. The trick is to stop dissociating long enough to notice it.
When Willow rescued me, a lot was still going on. My boss of 10 years knew my father, and it was no coincidence. I was being used. People really can be that cunning and sick. It’s not really that hard to believe, it just hurts so much to believe that people would rather say I’m lying.
Willow patiently helped me see my dissociation, but it’s taken years to get to a point where I feel clear on everything. The voices are loud now — they don’t go away, they’re real people who have memories. I’m letting them be who they are and have their truth, and not trying to shove it all down. Right now, letting them exist separately is less dissociative than trying to take it all on myself, because ultimately I’m not ready.
What is it like? It’s like having your inner child jumping up and down constantly right beside you, wanting to play. Wanting a snack. Wanting to roll around on the floor, like kids do. It’s like having 10 year olds and teenagers telling you what they think about everything you’re seeing and doing, and suggesting you build a tree fort in the yard or go paint your nails. Constantly. All the time, unless I tune it out. And tuning it out means dissociating, which I am learning not to rely on. My parts talk to me like separate living people. And I listen. This is the thing that heals me.
I function well because I have a lifetime of pretending to be normal. But I don’t need to pretend anymore. I’m free to live as vibrantly as my parts and I want to. And we all want to be known. We all want to be heard.