I am very pleased to have Greyson Edwards on my blog today! She’s going to be tackling dissociation, which I also experience.
Trigger warnings: Abuse, suicide, alcoholism, paranoia
“Dissociation is a psychological term for a whole range of experiences. Put simply, dissociation is a disconnection of some kind. You can think of it as being unplugged in some area. Dissociation happens on a continuum, it can be very mild or all the way to very severe.” – https://di.org.au/about-dissociation/
I suffer from dissociation a lot, and in a lot of different ways. Sometimes it’s small things, common ways everyone dissociates.
However, I’ve come to learn that I dissociate in other ways that aren’t so common.
The biggest part of my dissociation is as I was growing up, I started to think of my future self as someone different. I’ve always hated my name, so I would pick a new name for my future self, the person I wished I could be, and when life was really hard I would get through it by telling myself that one day I would get out of the situation and be that person. She was stronger than me, spoke up more, was wiser and fought back. Most importantly, she wasn’t going through what I was at the time. I didn’t know where she was or what she was doing but she wasn’t here.
A few years ago I realized that I had separated the person I was, not just with my present and future selves. But also all these past selves according to certain times of my life, and they were separate from the person I was now.
All of these different versions of me are marked by different traumatic experiences, with just one being a ‘peaceful’ growth period;
Young me (10-15 years) – Living with a neglectful father, a verbally abusive step-mother and uncle.
Teenage me (15-17) – Living full time with my mum who had become suicidal, her alcohol problem starting and had been diagnosed with a chronic illness
Rebellion Me (18-20) – Rebelling against my parents, moving in with an emotionally, verbally and mentally abusive friend, discovered I had the same chronic illness as my mum and self-medicating.
Shell Me (the months after moving back in with my mum) – Became a shell of a person, dealing with what I had been through, discovering who I really was now.
Peace Me (20-22) – Becoming comfortable in who I was, becoming a feminist, discovering my sexuality, coming out.
The last year-now (23-24)- Siblings becoming toxic and abusive, my mum’s alcohol problem rising to the surface again, many traumatic family problems, things that had been brushed under the rug for years, demanding to be remembered or dealt with.
All of these versions of me are different people. But I am also aware that they are me as well. I have had to distance those parts away from myself in order to keep going.
I still think of a future self who I will get to be someday, when I leave the state I currently live in and get away from certain toxic family members. That future me has a permanent name now, its the name I use in the book world and on my blog, all the places where I am not tied to past mes because none of the people who know those versions of me are there. I’ve carved out small places in the internet where I can be her.
Right now it feels like I am the closest I have ever been to her, she’s right here but just out of reach. Sometimes it feels like she’s the only chance I have at being happy. Like if I could just get to her then I’ll be okay.
I am currently seeing a therapist and dissociation is the next thing on the list of things to talk through. I don’t really want to break down the walls between all my separate selves but I will if I have to, if by not doing so, I get in my own way of being my best self. I won’t give up my future self though, even if I never get to her, because she’s become the person who knows me best. She gives me courage, something to hold onto, someone I can trust completely. And when you’re as paranoid as I am, the only person I can truly trust is myself, even if it’s a different version of me.
If you want to know more about dissociation, I would highly recommend Hannah Daisy’s online comic, which can be found here. The title image contains one of the panels from the comic.