This essay was written by a member of our system who cannot yet recall their name, age, or identity, but who has been silently witnessing this life that we lead, and would like a chance to express themselves.
Sometimes I hesitate to look back at previous essays I have written. I notice that sometimes I disagree with myself—with what I had written before, even recently before. This just happened, in fact. I was looking over an essay that is about a month old, and shaking my head at a particular passage and wondering how I could have worded something the way I did. Then I remembered that I have Dissociative Identity Disorder. This is essentially a condition in which I disagree with myself. Fundamentally. Constantly. Painfully.
But I don’t mean to.
And I was not the one who began the argument.
The argument about who I am and what I trust began long ago, maybe months before my conception. I was designed to be a slave, and I was designed to be loyal to what hurts me. I was designed to take actions that make my spirit shake its head in concern, and that make my heart grow weary. I was designed to grow shame like a tree grows fruit. I was designed to provide clarity to those who own me, but writhe in my own inner confusion. And I was designed to live at a temperature that every thermometer in the world would register as Stockholm Syndrome.
Every day, I uncover a little bit more about the depth and the breadth of the programming and the deception that exists in the space between the conscious thoughts, actions, and feelings that I observe in my system, and the very heart of myself that lies buried underneath it all, and somehow still beats.
It may have been born with some spontaneity living in it, before it was flattened and shredded into strips. And maybe some spontaneity actually made it through all of the machines. I don’t know. But I do know that I have a fundamentally organized and goal-oriented way of addressing myself and my world.
In recovery, I have noticed that sometimes I am not very open to the spontaneous possibilities that a day can bring. For one thing, I was not designed to engage in aimless activity. Actually, I am designed to experience pain in response to the stimuli found in a regular day in a regular life. And because my trauma is so complex, my current environment does not offer me proper resources or solutions for my problems, and knows no way to help me recreate my fundamental design.
Stepping away from the perpetrator group that created and abused me is designed to hurt. Living without them is designed to get worse by the day. Meeting regular people is designed to be alarming, confusing, angering, or painful. Receiving help is designed to induce guilt, or to compel me to create more conflict. Being in nature is designed to make me burn or fade away. Walking along hills calls up torture in my legs.
Seeing the rainboots of young children brings up memories of the unprotected little feet of my own.
Where am I to go? What am I to do? There is no step forward I can take without reinnervating the memory of a step taken backward.
Having nowhere safe or simple to turn, I retreat inward much of the time, to quietly be with the countless contraptions that were designed out of me, and that are so sharp and painful now. After all these years, internal spikes have grown longer. Desolation has grown weary itself. The wounds and longings of the little infants that I once was, whose hearts now live inside my fingers, have dulled their throb. Their eyelids are beginning to narrow. Confusion has taken over, and it isn’t sure why it doesn’t care.
In recovery, I have noticed that even when I do not appear to have any options, there is always one option that I do have. I have noticed that when I cannot move in any direction, I can choose to stay still, and to be with the pain. After all, it is not me who needs to move—it is the pain’s longing to finally shift out of its dark and stagnant state, after all these years of waiting, waiting for just enough space and freedom. A chance to finally move out of a state of conflict, and to become natural, to become whole, to become processed pain that can then rejoin the rest of us, who have been waiting for its arrival, like a critical missing part of our fractured heart.
How do I live outside of a goal?
How do I live outside of a goal, when my basic needs are not being met?
How do I live outside of a goal, when other people’s basic needs are not being met?
How do I live outside of a goal, when my creation was a goal in and of itself?
As I type, I pause and my gaze falls on the vacuum cleaner leaning over a piano keyboard across the room. I wonder to myself about what a fun day in its life might look like.
It was designed to clean. Eventually it runs out of energy, and then it stops cleaning. But it also ceases to observably do anything else, except exist—maybe lean over and fall. Some young kids inside my system wonder if maybe it gets its fun depending on what it cleans up. Maybe the different sizes and shapes of the litter and dust bring it intrigue. Maybe it plays a game with itself, counting the colors of the particles sucked into its mechanism, and deciding what the results mean.
But these are all just things we did to pass the time, when we were young, when we were forced to be a human vacuum cleaner for abusers’ cruel enjoyment, or forced to be a chair, or to be a pet, or to be still for hours or days. But unlike the vacuum cleaner that lives with us now, it was not acceptable for us to fall over.
What I am trying to say is, because of my design, I am not sure that someone could teach me to have fun like a person. I spent the first years of my life being designed much like a computer, and I don’t remember where my spirit went, or to whom my heart beat at that time.
It almost feels cruel now, when others expect me to step out of the organized, process-based, goal-oriented way in which I live my life.
Live my life? Maybe I should say, spend my days. I don’t think I was really given much of a life to live. I can certainly concede that I don’t know how to live what life I have.
My own internal design tells me to address pain, conflict, stagnation, confusion, and anything else that stands in the way of truth. I think that is okay. That has worked for me, so far. I’m not sure what living more of my moments aimlessly would look like. Maybe I will one day.
Right now it feels as though there are too many slaves, too much silent weeping around the world, too many untethered fires, for me to be able to free whatever desires I may have for living a life in which the result does not matter.
I don’t know what you are. Life: a continuous existence on a planet that isn’t forthright, and is mired in layers of deceit, forced labor, implosion, and war, much like I am inside.
I don’t know how to end this essay, because I don’t believe that I’ve really learned anything from describing my suffering. I am not at the end of my story yet. My goal is to heal, and maybe at some point I will come to understand why not every person fronts with that goal in mind.
I don’t know what kind of person I would be if I weren’t taught to care about everyone. I don’t know how to fly a kite while other people are suffocating under the ground, deprived of sunlight, or experimented on. I’m not saying that kites should not be flown. Maybe when I more fully understand myself and the world around me, I will understand why some people still fly kites. Or maybe I will ultimately come to believe that kites should not be flown while slavery and deception flood the planet, at least unless those kites are flown with awareness. I sometimes feel forgotten when I see the wind take them away. I don’t want to be one of those people who allows a kite to drift.
So even if, as a child, a kind grandfather had taken me up on a hill to fly a kite one day, I would not have known whether to smile or to fret. I would have been in a state of internal conflict. I would have taken a deep breath, or I would have forgotten to breathe.
Actually, I do remember what I decided, long ago, my hair moving with unpredictability in the wind.
As long as my happiness is part of the goal.
As long as my happiness leads to chains coming loose, both mine and those of others. As long as my happiness can rest in the interconnected web of the departed victims who never knew material wholesomeness and warmth, and can experience it through me. As long as I don’t become amnesic with every stride back down the hill, and forget about the beating hearts of the unregistered ones behind locks and doors and metal bars. Then I can smile.
And I did smile.
He smiled back at me, while the kite fluttered above us. And today, my eyes close and I see the cloudy sky at dusk. I strain to see the kite, and to see his face, as the wind blows again in my quiet room. I remember my grandfather, and these few precious moments we found in the natural world, and it helps.
Without that experience, maybe I wouldn’t have as much hope to share with the world now. Maybe I would be longing for just one day with a kite, and feel unable to go on with things so miserable such as this life, day-to-day. Like the spontaneous movement of the kite, the possibilities move in front of me, singing, maybe, maybe, maybe . . .
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