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We With Dissociative Identity Disorder: Two Minds, One Body

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Normally when writing, “I” is used because only one person is speaking. For those who live as multiple, this is not always the case.

We have decided to write something together in the hope it will help others to have insight into what it is like to socialize, have relationships and fall in love when being multiple — or having dissociative identity disorder (DID).

We weren’t always multiple. We are 24 years old now. For six years Luci has been around, but Beth couldn’t admit it or acknowledge her. Beth locked her away, tried to kill her, ignore her, pretend she wasn’t there and silence her.

We were triggered by someone with a knife almost nine months ago. The sheer panic meant Beth could not keep Luci locked up any longer.

Since then, we have had many approach us — privately and in public — asking if we are doing OK. They say things like:

“You don’t seem like yourself.”

“You seem off.”

“You used to be so bubbly, what happened?”

These questions are meant well and we know this, yet we never know how to respond. On one end, “I” am acting far less extroverted than “I” used to. “I” seems more touchy and needs more quiet physical attention from loved ones at social events.

We understand how this could look like something is wrong with us. After all, Beth used to bounce around parties before Luci came into her conscious thought. Beth is a fully fledged extrovert, Luci is an introvert. Sometimes, Beth still bounces. Sometimes, Luci needs to retreat back into the parts where she cannot be seen or heard and Beth is able to resume her flitting and flirting. Friends see this and say:

“I’m glad to see you doing better.”

However, we wince at that. Does better mean without Luci? Does better mean when Beth has all the say?

Is one of us better than the other?

When we disagree on something, it’s not a simple matter of valuing pros and cons like it used to be. Now, there are two sets of pros and cons to weigh against each other.

Normally, between us, Beth can make most of the decisions. Luci doesn’t care much about day to day activities. Luckily for us, this meant transitioning from being single to multiple did not have much impact on Beth’s professional life.

When out socializing, however, things get complicated. Some people who Beth is happy to talk with make Luci uncomfortable. Some people Beth wants to kiss, Luci wants to rip into pieces, slap and kick. Some people Beth loves, Luci despises. We do not want to violate each other’s consent, but how can Beth be with someone and not leave Luci feeling violated?

The answer is, she can’t.

We are more limited in what our body can do now if we want to respect each other’s desires. This makes forming romantic relationships quite complicated.

People who used to expect a kiss now receive awkward body language and a somewhat regretful peck. People Beth used to hug deeply now get one armed squeezes while we look for the nearest person we can flee to. Beth is not good at telling people she likes “no” and thus has difficulty stating the fact, “Luci doesn’t like you, so I can’t kiss you right now.”

The people we are both happy to be with, thus, end up being clung to when Luci is close to the surface. Beth does most of the talking and presentation while Luci watches, comments and learns. If Luci does not like the conversation, she edges Beth to leave it, to find something more to our tastes than hers. If Luci is enjoying the person, she begins to want to do the talking for a bit. However, switching who is controlling our body mid-conversation is awkward so we look for our next way out. No matter what our feelings are, we end up wanting to return to our partners and familiar people because dissociation requires so much constant explaining to everyone we meet.

This is because Beth is not better than Luci. She is not more important than Luci.

The fact she was born into this body as singular, while Luci was made multiple, does not make Beth’s wants and needs more valid.

No one sees this internal conversation, however. They don’t understand or know enough to realize we are unable to carry a conversation with them because we’re having one of our own. They see “me” being anxious. They think they have done something to offend and they either cease trying to be my friend or they redouble their efforts to find out what is “wrong.”

Is Luci “wrong?”

We are working to figure it out. Our loved ones are aware of this and are prepared to be with both of us in the event of dissociation. We are aware this is not exactly a fair thing to ask of anyone. However, our reality cannot be changed.

Even before Luci had been given any sort of right to direct our body’s decisions, people were questioning us. We began to hear people commenting,

“Your life sounds like a movie/reality show/documentary” or “Someone should make a movie/reality show/documentary about you.”

We don’t know how to feel about this. On one hand, it’s flattering people are so interested. We’ve been open because Beth wants support and Luci wants acknowledgment. On the other hand, we’re not all that special. We are not the only multiples in the world, not even in our community. We’re more vocal about it and more visible than most, but the aggrandized commentary on our life feels as though it mitigates the fact we are just people. We are two people, but people nonetheless.

It feels isolating, as though our life is something so unique it requires education to relate to or that it is so bizarre it is entertaining.

Online, we are asked how we can consent to sex or relationships at all. How can we be trusted? Why would anyone want this kind of reality in their relationship?

We don’t know.

Despite this, our closest friends have been open and wanted to be with both of us. We are not used to this because of the above responses we have been hearing and receiving.

Luci is wrong.

Luci is bad.

Beth is better.

Beth is more desirable.

And yet, these people tell us otherwise, which is unfamiliar.

We are learning, slowly, to play off each other instead of against each other. Beth is more able to let Luci have control.

This gives us hope. We are not be able to have as many causal relationships as we used to. Parties can be more exhausting. Meeting people is more intimidating, but we now have proof we can do this. Even if the relationships we currently have come to an end, there are people who can love us.

And through the anxiety and the internal debate, Beth will try to correct those who say she seems off, or better, or worse, or weaker, or whatever opinion they have of us.

Because she is the one who will most often speak to them, she will try to say:

“We are who we are. We are different, but we aren’t worse off for it.”

And we will go to the people who already love us for comfort in the meantime. We will hope others will learn to accept and respect us as well.  

While we work and we wait we will remember there is no “I” anymore. Only “we.”

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Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: January 27, 2017
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