People who aren’t dissociated seem to think that being in parts is like playing different roles in life—playing the working stiff role, the mom role, the comedian role when everyone seems to need cheering up. I think it isn’t like that. I think it is more like when you are really upset and do something very impulsive and later you wonder, “What the fuck was I thinking?”
I think being in parts is a lot more about having jaggedly discontinuous emotional states, except that you might not actually feel all of the emotions. You might simply act, maybe not obviously differently from your normal self, but differently enough to yourself that you never feel you know who is “you.”
The parts are a way of coping with the leaking of intense emotions through a barrier of denial about them. It’s like saying, “Nope, still not me.” And it’s also a way of giving them a frame when have you formed your idea of yourself in the absence of everything that would make those emotions make sense. Why would someone who is not me feel this way? And you begin to imagine that other person. That imagined person becomes a frame for placing those emotions or that situation into context when you cannot make it make sense within yourself.
That’s what I was thinking today. Who knows if I am correct.
It’s a holiday today, which has been rather nice. The place is pretty much emptied out. Maybe they are on picnics or at the Holy Site. I don’t know and I don’t care. I just know I got a day of almost total silence and quiet and I really needed it.
I had an optimistic thought in the afternoon. I thought that maybe integration is really about process—an approach to life—rather than a product. It isn’t perhaps a coherent personality, although I presume that will happen, so much as it is a habit of managing emotions in a way that means you aren’t going through life in these jagged emotional states. I mean, it’s calming down enough so that your emotions are within that “warm” range that allows you to still think and it’s having the habit of doing that: I have a feeling, I am noticing whether it’s out of range or not, and I am bringing it back within range. If that’s the case, then I’m doing that. I’m getting that habit. It doesn’t happen all the time yet, but I can do it sometimes.
Then it got dark. Well, after dark, I can’t do it. There are knives in my stomach. I kind of think that’s probably fear. I could ponder the reasons I get scared after dark, but I’ve been through that before. It doesn’t bring me back into range.
Instead, I do this drawing. I have been drawing the last few days. We had a French artist visit our art club and he introduced this technique for making an abstract painting that’s really simple and can be adapted very easily to white pen and a black marker. It’s calming and it helps me process.
You start with five lines on the paper. The lines are about an inch or three cm long. You scatter them over the paper. It doesn’t really matter where. Then you draw a somewhat larger square someplace, then a circle that’s somewhat smaller in diameter than the length of the lines. After that, two crosses of different styles. This puts something on the paper to work with. If you want you, you can put a longer curve in there somewhere, but I have decided I don’t like the curve.
Finally, you begin to draw lines between the elements you have put on the paper. If you want, you can put some large polka dots about the size of your thumbnail. You can fill a few of the shapes. You can add a few more circles if you want to. You can put stripes through some of the shapes your lines make. It’s up to you, and it’s up to you to decide when you have completed the drawing.
I did one of those and I got kind of switchy and had some other emotions, but the knives remained.
I have been thinking again about the worthless feeling. It felt so wretched to have no value to my father and to other men. I cannot put into words how dreadful it is to be a commodity to human beings. It is agony. I cannot think of a greater agony, actually. There is no grief that is more painful, no horror more overwhelming.
There was nothing worse than being a kind of breathing sexual experiment to my father. There was nothing worse than being of so little value to him that he felt no obligation to protect me from other predators. Quite the contrary: he saw a business opportunity.
For anyone who has been sexually abused or assaulted, I know how it feels to be seen by someone as having so few rights to autonomy and well-being that someone robs you or cheats you or manipulates you out of your right to control your own body. It is agony. It is terrifying and it is agony. And I am sorry that happened to you.