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Johnny-Jack's Musings and Some Alter Stories
Hi, all! I finally figured out a few years ago that I am multiple, having suffered yet to some degree succeeded in life with dissociative identity disorder. Like many with DID, there had been areas of and moments in my life that were confusing and dysfunctional but I could never figure out why.

I had periodic depressions and my memory was often poor. But I didn't experience the hallmarks of DID like losing chunks of time. I spent a small fortune on books, seminars, and therapists. I looked into the possibility of having DID many times, but the clues gave me no certainty and no therapist helped me focus on the potential root cause of my problems. Blocked awareness and inaccessible memories are how DID works. A blessing in childhood, problematic later.

Several years ago, trauma memories started coming to me in images and flashbacks, and alters "woke up" and communicated with me. It was easy to admit that I had DID -- I had always felt a bit like a counterfeit -- but really hard to fathom how the "good" parents I remembered were randomly monstrous abusers of me as a child, psychologically, physically and sexually.

I will never, ever, ever understand how a person can hurt a small, innocent, utterly defenseless child, especially their own child, and not once but hundreds of time. It seems contrary to every human instinct. But it happened. And though it wasn't necessary, I sought and discovered external proof it happened. Now I work in therapy and in life to reverse the damage these warped people caused.

In 2011 I began communicating with a teen with DID and, when it looked like he would become homeless, I hired him, knowing it would be a challenge, as a live-in personal assistant for cooking, errands and driving. We quickly began to rely on and support each other the way healthy families do, so a couple years later I adopted him. Really, I adopted them. Over the years we've learned how to attach to another person, safely and in a family context. The best revenge is living well.
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- March 2020
how we avoided an internal war
   Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:44 am

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Godwin, age 6. Alter #31

Permanent Linkby Johnny-Jack on Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:09 am

On December 30, 2014 I started musing again whether we might have a persecutor in our system. Alters who cause trouble deliberately for a host, other alters, or the entire system are surprisingly common. Their cause is usually an outside persecutor in a child's life, someone who deliberately, repeatedly hurts a child physically, sexually, emotionally, etc. A persecutor might tell a child they're evil and thus "make the persecutor" abuse them. Internalizing this persecution, being able to predict it and understand it, can at first be quite protective for a child.

We were noticing a pattern of limiting our own success, of deliberately stopping short of excellent results, and always, always dodging praise, tossing it back to the complimenter so they knew that praise was not welcome, not considered important. After a couple experiences of this, most people pick up that compliments are just not received. If all else failed, we would ignore the compliment, change the subject, downplay it as something anybody with similar knowledge in the same situation would have done.

Our reaction always felt off to me. It was obviously counter-productive and I learned to just say thanks sometimes and move on. A few people I knew were brazen enough with a comeback like, "you know, you really should just accept a compliment. Your reaction is kind of offputting." I already knew that but couldn't usually change my behavior. And I didn't have a clue why I did it.

That winter day, I started going into a head space that I knew meant something was coming up. I heard the single word "sour" deep inside, quietly. Then again and again, louder and louder until my mind was repeating the word fast and fiercely. This phenomenon had happened before and I knew To find the meaning. But what? Sour milk? Not quite, but close. Then sour grapes. Ah, yes, that fits. The mantra sour grapes continued a while but slowed because we had found it. But what was the association?

In Aesop's fable, a fox cries "sour grapes" because he wants to eat the juicy grapes high on the vine but can't jump high enough. He can't win so he claims the prize is worthless in order to save face. Our mother came into the mind next and we knew this was associated with her. And there was someone new in the body. He was young. Sphinx, as he does, confirms we have met a new alter because his "central nervous system" pattern is unique, unlike any known alter. Then the name Godwin floats up, the name of a great-great-grandparent. We sense this is a little boy, age 6.

Shortly we began getting images, flashes, of being punched, smacked, kicked in the crotch. It hurts. Our mother was often sick and cruel but this particular attack is different from the rest, it's a specific attack. She is angry and wants to generate pain, pain for a boy. She wants to bring us down. After a few minutes, we piece together that she is enraged from jealousy. Other people had praised us, some accomplisment had been recognized. It wasn't attributed to her or explained as the result of her "good mothering." The praise was for us, the little boy, leaving her out. The part of her who herself to be nothing flew into a rage. When we were alone with her next, she would beat us and, unlike other times, she went for the little boy Godwin's groin. She is a very sick woman.

To protect us in childhood, Godwin learned to stop us from doing excellent work that might generate any direct praise because to stand out led to a vicious, painful attack by the mother. Now he sometimes limits us because great success is dangerous and terrifying. Better to do well but not stand out. This kept us safe in childhood, but it's counter-productive in adulthood.

Godwin learned subtle distinctions. Good grades were okay because they're just letters and not direct praise. She could use our report card to suggest to others, who after a while didn't want to listen to this woman, how her early work...

[ Continued ]

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Ryder, age 40. Alter #34

Permanent Linkby Johnny-Jack on Thu Apr 02, 2015 3:09 am

Discovered just 3 weeks ago on the way to therapy. Not long ago we had labeled almost jokingly what who we are when we're most effective at work as "work guy." I had always wished I had a work alter, someone who could just switch out and do all the boring things that might trigger me and do them willingly and well.

A friend of mine who knew nothing about my DID once jokingly said she wished she were multiple so she could relax while somebody else did the work. A work alter, one who does difficult or unpleasant tasks effectively and without argument, would be anyone's desire. Alas, it is not quite that easy in some cases although we're working on it.

When we started distinguishing the negative internal observations about co-host John's overly emotional, fatalistic thinking and hear about the same time critical comments about the amount of time and energy wasted by other co-host Johnny's socializing and nurturing collegial relationships at work, it seemed clear someone other than John or Johnny would be having these thoughts. And they were from a much less warm place than John and Johnny are used to. None of the three of us knew there were three of us. Unlike with the others we can actually hear each others thoughts--mostly.

Until a few months ago, we all saw each of us as the same. Rather, we went along in life noticing differences but didn't identify these as separate alters since we're all adults. It's easy to distinguish a child or teen alter, or onewho talks slightly differently or carries the body differently.

He didn't have a name and unlike virtuallu everyone else he wasn't looking for one. "Work guy" was perfectly adequate and descriptive. It was precise, clear. But others, particularly some littles, wouldn't stand for any of us without their own name so the name Ryder was just there.

He's masculine in his thinking, just wants to keep interruptions to a minimum so he can focus, nose to the grindstone, and work through the task at hand. Anything taking mental focus and concentration: designinga process, analyzing component parts of a system to look for inefficiencies. Emotions ad concerns about someone might feel about changes he's envisioning don't belong and if they begin to rise in the mind, he has to squelch them or vacate.

Interruptions must be brief and his responses to those interrupting us are mechanical. He's the opposite to Johnny who'll chat warmly with anyone for any reason of he's out. But he's also the opposite to John who thinks through the ramifications of how people will feel or whether all the effort is worth it in the end.

Ryder feels callous though he bears no one any ill will. He prefers not to dwell in the human realm beyond taking human needs into account so a process can be improved realistically. We need him but we have to figure out how John and Johnny get out of the way, way out of tye way, so he can work unencumbered by us.

We are too often triggered, paralyzed by lists, planning, forms, and other aspects of paperwork. We didn't know he actually likes organizational, legal, or official work IF my penchat for being triggered can be turned off somehow. The trauma about paperwork is held by young Kent but John is host and he's the one swamped by the triggered terror. We'll have to figure out how to help work guy, Ryder, do what he does best. We need his skills desperately.

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Matt, age 7. Alter #35

Permanent Linkby Johnny-Jack on Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:22 am

We met sweet little Matt in the most unexpected way last week. We had a repeated flash of an unbearable imagined stabbing of our mother's face with an ice pick. I both couldn't understand what was the big deal, it was just an angry thought, but also could not deal with the extreme desire actually to do this. It was clear I had imagined this quite graphically as a child and the memory of the image replayed in front of me as if it had actually happened.

What led up to this was we were trying to figure out in therapy how, at work mostly but also elsewhere, a very bad pattern we've had is we will just not do something we need to do, no matter the cost. So we're supposed to get something done at work, it's part of our job, people are counting on me, and I just can't and won't do it. Or I procrastinate until the 59th minute of the 11th hour, then rush to do it and cover my procrastinating tracks, if I can. Always asking myself why, why do I foolishly put myself through this absurd, painful, purposeless unnecessary avoidance/delay again and again.

There might be a momentary flash of awareness that quickly fades, an inkling that this stubborn refusal to act might have be associated with a person connected to what needed to be done. They might have assigned it to us, handed it off to us, mentioned that they'd already gotten theirs done, made a snide comment about the usefulness of the task, whatever. But it just wasn't clear and anyway how could some mild annoyance generate such dangerous, stupid, costly, anxiety-producing, potentially humiliating behavior. What was wrong with me.

I didn't realize it was connected with what Godwin went through with the mother. His being physically punished for others' outside the family of origin praising me for something I did or was. What I saw was the many cruel or petty or deliberately hurtful things my mother would say. Mostly it was her face, that smug snear, the haughty dismissal, the wild rage, the arrogant looking through me to let me know I meant nothing to her. The neverending mid games when her nastiest alter was out, for my mother had DID too, And some of her did evil.

I feel that Matt held this inexpressible but necessary rage toward the mother and he played out in the imagination how we could get back at her. But why did that not twist him into rage himself? He knows she is long dead. But I'm not sure he ever felt the rage himself. He's just seems to be the kid we were who allowed himself to feel the rage and imagine responding. I was shocked at how unacceptible the images were to me in the present, though the rejection felt anachronistic. Of course, my mother was horrible to us so of course I would feel that rage and imagine revenge. But I'm thinking with an adult mind. It wasn't okay to me/us as a child. It was terrifying and wrong to want to kill your own mother with an ice pick. He didn't but he imaginedit, seemingly from age 5 to 7 and somehow escaped becoming the rage.

He ambled along homeward today just like any 7-year-old. A jet flew low overhead and he stopped dead on the sidewalk, his head gawking skyward, unable to take his eyes off it until it disappeared into the clouds and he said "cool." He's a good kid, a normal boy, with a wild imagination that he never let consume us.

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Casper, age 4. Alter #32

Permanent Linkby Johnny-Jack on Sun Jan 11, 2015 1:03 am

We met Casper in therapy on 1/6/15. Before that day's therapy session, as suggested by my T, I asked myself a series of questions, beginning with...

Why do I stay up late playing games (which are not fun) or doing obsessively repetitive things instead of going to sleep?
Our alter Cole should want me to wake up early to go outside, so why does this run counter to his need?
Is there any abuse at night, like in the morning, do I get awakened out of bed?
Is this the only time of the day that's mine?

I write more but none of it seems to click. In therapy though, as stuff starts coming up, my T hands me the stims to begin EMDR and everything accelerates.

I am in bed but not asleep. I am young, my body very small in my childhood bed. My father and sisters sound like they're asleep but I remain awake, alert. I hear my mother tiptoeing in. I am a boy and someone inside her doesn't like boys. Boys need to be punished. She begins to slap me. I hold my hands over my face but she is strong. She pulls the sheets partly over me, to hold my arms down and to muffle the smacking sound.

The little boy who has come to rescue me has to block the hurt somehow. His face stings so bad but he can't stop her. Whimpering makes it worse. Like so many of us, he leaves the body, dissociates, to escape. He imagines if he were a dead boy, he couldn't feel it. Isn't that what dead means? The burning still breaks through. If he were the ghost of a dead boy, he wouldn't even have a body to hurt at all.

As I re-witness all this I learn his name. Casper. My whole body begins to cry because we instantly know what this means. He took his name from the cartoon but he doesn't look cartoonish. He is a dead little boy and you can see through him because he is no longer among the living. He can't run or play or move or speak. He endures this randomly for two years.

We realize now that for decades he can keep us from sleeping if anyone not known to be safe is awake nearby. Perhaps he also makes us go numb, dead, when things become too overwhelming or painful, not physically but emotionally. We have much work to do to heal him.

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Pip (Phillip). Alter #33

Permanent Linkby Johnny-Jack on Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:04 pm

We met little Pip yesterday noon. He is almost 4.

I got a haircut and was doing errands before taking a bus home. I felt a littleness in my body so stepped aside to make room. A boy slipped in front, confused and nervous but not fearful as most others arrive. We grew up in a small town so the busy city is daunting for everyone new. He wanted to sit on a nearby bench and I encouraged him.

As we shopped, we switched back and forth a bit. When I wasn't making adult decisions, like which light bulb to buy, when we were just walking from point to point, it was him.

Sphinx confirmed he was previously unknown but I had no sense of his being traumatized. Names began floating by, like an old rolodex flipping, and the name Phillip was there. Then I heard Pip and that was a lock too.

What I think we learned. Pip was the one who from age 2 to 4 planned running away. As an orphan who lived with mean relatives (the parents), he was detached enough to justify leaving. I once journaled that we planned our escape many times but never recalled my doing that.

Pip's long trudge home on foot felt like running away had begun. Passing strange buildings, the cold snow blowing in his face, he was alone, an orphan. It was real but he wasn't so afraid, just determined to figure things out. How to survive here, how far to go before finding food and shelter, who looked safe, what lies to tell so they couldn't send him home.

I told him we had sort of run away. I said we lived far away from home in a new town and had our own house. He asked who I was and where was I talking to him from. I said inside and after a while he seemed to accept that. Children live in a world of full of wonders, like disembodied voices guiding them to safety.

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