A few weeks ago my 13 yo asked me if I ever knew anyone with Multiple Personality Disorder. I sort of blew her off and changed the subject. Where in the world did she get that??? My 15 year old is in a psychology class in high school.... It just came out of nowhere.
Since we moved to a new house, she has sort of dropped it. I felt bad that I sort of blew her off when she asked me. I was caught off guard when she asked me at the time. Now I have had time to think about it, so if she brings it up again, I will be more prepared and can talk about it in some way with her. I don't plan to tell her I have had it, but we will talk.
My kids know that I have a trauma history. They know that both my husband and I grew up in circumstances that were difficult. They know their grandfather is an alcoholic.....not that I needed to tell them that. They do not know about the sexual advances he perpetrated on me. They do not see my father hardly at all. We live far away and only see him once a year, although this past year we saw him more since my mother was sick and died. Even when we lived in town years ago, they only saw my father at Christmas, birthdays, and trick-or-treat. I admit to trying to shelter them from the incest while they were young. My father does have a good side. He is extremely funny and perpetually young spirited (like Peter Pan). It was always my hope that my kids could reap the benefits of what good he had to offer without incurring the bad, and so far I have succeeded. My oldest two daughters ask a bit more about my experience growing up, and as they are older I have been telling them more, but never details because it is MY stuff, not theirs, and I don't want to expose them more than I need to.
They know my mother was rather "cold". She was that way with them too, but it did not affect them the way it did me. They just accepted that was the way she was, and they related to her on a different level. They had a good relationship with my mom. It was different for me because she was my "mother" and I wasn't getting the love and affection I needed as a child. For my kids, they were getting the love and affections, support, etc. from my husband and I. They had their fill of love, and so if their grandmother wasn't all lovey dovey that was ok. Also interesting to noted.....my mother never told me she loved me until she was dying. However, she would tell my children that. Why? Because my children took the initiative and said, "I love you, Nana" and she would say,"I love you too." My children are growing up in an environment that supports that. When I was little, it NEVER occurred to me to tell my mother that I loved her. It was just an exchange that was totally unfamiliar to me.
My kids know that I experienced dating violence. Again, I don't give details, but I use it to help educate them in the hopes that they will not experience it, and if, per chance, they find themselves involved with someone like that, they will recognize warning signs that I missed and get out. They know I had medical trauma. They also know I was hit by a car when I was 5. They know life was rough for me growing up in various ways.
They know I have PTSD and depression. I think the depression has affected them the most, so I have been most open about that. It also caused me to be hospitalized numerous times from 2007-2009. I think they have some understanding about he DID. They make comments....
I think I have really turned out to be overall a great parent. I have a really good relationship with my kids, and they have grown up knowing they are loved without a doubt. I have always enjoyed spending time with them, and it is obvious to them. I am very different from my mother in that I communicate my feelings for them through words and actions. I say I love you, etc, and I'm quite affectionate.
The DID has been evident to some degree obviously. The really young parts never really did surface in a recognizable capacity except in sessions where they knew it was safe. If they happened to emerge in daily life, they were very, very quiet. That is how my husband always knew (I would get quiet). I think "we" as a system learned early on that having the littles out was not accepted, so we kept them quiet. My kids are aware to some degree that I have "states". Like they know when Mommy is like (blank), we can (blank). It is more akin to knowing your mother's moods. The alters they mostly have come in contact with have been teenagers who by the grace of God are very competent with the kids. The biggest issue I had with the teen parts is the girls learned quickly that they love to shop and would buy them things. Others things were not a big deal. The kids have also been in contact with an alter called The Teacher Me, who they don't like quite as much. Not that that part wasn't kind, loving, supportive, etc, but that part is more structured. Yes, structured is a good word. They also came in contact with The Counselor Within, which was nearly indistinguishable from the true me. Occasionally they came in contact with Lion Heart, which was a protector part that really wasn't a "full part" (more of a fragment) as he would only come out if suddenly triggered. We called him Lion Heart because he almost roared. It was rare that the girls came in contact with him, and each time he would discover it was just the kids, he would pull back. A common scenario would be if the girls came up behind me and covered my eyes (as kids tend to do), instantly Lion Heart would call out and turn around rapidly. Then upon seeing the girls would retract and go away. It sounds bad, but to the kids it was more like a sharp "Ack!!!" and an obvious over reaction on my part. I always talked to them about it afterwards and told them I was sorry, they scared me, and that Mommy has trouble with people coming from behind her. It was ok.
A lot of times my kids comment that I am very different from other parents. When I ask how so, they say that I talk to and hang out with them more than other parents do, and I don't dress like other parents (because I wear "skinny jeans", etc.). They also say other parents don't listen to the music I listen to because I like current pop music and hard rock, like Evanescence. They also say sometimes I act like a kid, but they don't see me as literally "switching." They say sometimes I can get excited about a little thing and jump up and down like a kid. Or most recently my 8 yo remembered the song "I Love My Boots" from the Dora show, and she started singing it. I joined in, and we held hands and jumped a little dance while we sang. My teenagers, were like,"Uhhhh, ok.....", but that is pretty normal, and I was not switched, it's just me and who I am.
In high school and college people have just always thought of me as "colorful." It was expected and liked that I sort of beat to my own internal drum.
I think, honestly speaking, the issue of mine that has affected my children the most has been depression. Periodically, I dealt with some mild depression issues while pregnant because I got off my medication during those times. Then three years ago, my antidepressant quit working on me and I fell hard into ongoing, recurrent major depressive episodes. I was hospitalized 5-7 times. I honestly lost count. It took 3 years of tweaking medicine to get me stabilized. Three of the hospitalizations were long term (3 weeks) where I went to Timberlawn in Dallas, TX to the Collin Ross trauma program. That was the most helpful, but it was also the hardest on the girls. My oldest felt abandoned when I would leave. I would tell her I was leaving "for" her, so I could get better and be, again, the mother she knows and deserves, but of course she didn't get it. In retrospect, she gets it now. I HAD to take care of me in order to take care of her. It was my care and love for my kids that pushed me to fight the depression.
My children know I have a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, that it is very chemically driven and I need antidepressant medication. For me not to take it, is highly irresponsible. Even under the best of life circumstances, if I pull off the meds, within 4 months I am depressed again to some degree, and within about 6 months a Major Depressive Episode is highly likely, if not nearly imminent. They also know I have been diagnosed PTSD. They just do not know I have DID.
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