|Psychology and Mental Health Forum|
|Author:||Johnny-Jack [ Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:04 pm ]|
|Blog Subject:||The rise of Jack, or how is it a child alter became so powerful?|
I met two alters a couple decades ago but I just wasn't able to certify that what I had was DID or at least not a 'serious' case of it. When I began investigating that possibility again in therapy in fall 2010, I was scared to death in one way, resigned to the likely reality in another. I KNEW of Jonathan and Little John and liked both. But the idea of someone taking over my body -- and I recalled it happening two decades ago with Jonathan -- was just terrifying. I had no idea if I would ever come back and I'd been the sole "owner" of my body for what seemed like my entire life. Nevertheless, another crippling depression, which had happened every few years, was not an alternative nor was the emptiness and meaninglessness of my own life. I had a successful career, great friends at work, though certain basic things remained entirely unshared. Almost everywhere else, my life was a mess or at best, unfulfilling. In short, I didn't even want my life. Why would I want to hold on to it?
I had read about DID here and there but in 2010 I read voraciously, focusing on biographies. I needed to know what to expect. I read about types of alters I might expect to find:
* helpers (clearly Jonathan was one)
* child alters(Little John, no question)
* gatekeepers (I wasn't sure I had one but had a couple signs I might), and
* the dreaded persecutors (how in the world can you prepare for these?)
Somewhere in early 2011, I started getting reactions that I felt sure were coming from inside. I might state something that hypothetical alters might object to, like "I don't think there's anyone else here," and my body would start bucking around. Physically, it was like bouncing around on a roller coaster without a seat-belt. It was intensely uncomfortable and embarrassing in front of my psychiatrist, even though he was supporting my assertion I might have "other parts." Toward April, this reaction built, not just in therapy but at home. I would have sudden attempts at what I now know was a take-over but to me then just felt disturbing, unacceptable, and intensely creepy. Then the cackling began. It was me cackling at myself while I was struggling to suppress the "take-over" but it wasn't me. I don't laugh like that and I wasn't finding it funny at all. If this was an alter, he did not feel benign. I was in fact scared.
The name "Jack" floated around in my head and I mentioned it to my shrink one day, then immediately told him I knew I didn't have another part named that in me or I would surely know it. Next session, I sat there thinking "please ask me about Jack, mention his name, say it" to see how I (we?) would respond. And the shrink did. My body went haywire for the entire rest of the session. There was now little doubt left that I had an alter, one who cackled and felt really tough, and wanted OUT. On my walk home from therapy, I knew I had to let go. Whatever happened would happen. I could no longer fight him and at some level I knew it was stupid to try. Why was I going to therapy? Why did I read all that? Could my life be any worse than it is now? I hate my life and want to kill myself every single day.
So Jack took over on the walk home and he began ranting. Shoved inside, I recognized the experience from 20 years ago when Jonathan had briefly "replaced" me. Except this time I wasn't foggy, I was very aware of Jack's presence. His carriage of the body, his energy, his attitude, masculinity, vocabulary, grammar, and most of all, his accent -- oh, my god, that accent -- were just not me. He sounded like a complete redneck. Worse. It was terrible English and I didn't even recognize some of the grammar. "We's gonna have" and "don't nobody know" and "I might could"? Who speaks like that? As self-described intellectual, a teenage redneck persecutor, who clearly didn't like me and was furious with me, calling me all sorts of insulting names, was terrifying. But he was talking with me, engaging with me. A little test, his wanting to throw an empty water bottle I had been carrying into someone's yard yet not doing it because I begged him not to, indicated he would listen to me, consider my wishes, and not just act out.
With the arrival of Jack, who had to "punch" through my defenses and my control, I immediately knew I had DID. There was no other explanation. I couldn't mimic how he talked or acted, I tried. Naturally, for months after he came back, on occasion I felt sure that it was all just me making him up. But where in the hell could I learn to talk like that? He got many more words spoken in one minute than most people I'd ever met, so there was no way I could be inventing rational comments using some unknown form of English, maintain a young hillbilly persona, and make my body do everything he was making it do. And he knew things. Things that I didn't remember, yet started to click when he told me. And he claimed as his own best friend a fellow I "knew" was once my best friend but of whom I could remember virtually nothing other than snippets. He offered explanations for things that never made sense. And he was actively preventing me from accessing his memory. I knew very bad things must have happened to my body in order for my mind to create someone as radically different from me as Jack.
Jonathan was quite serious, even stuffy, very different from me but he could pass as me to anyone except maybe my closest friends. But Jack could never do that. Jack was clearly strong-willed but over a couple days I realized he didn't seem as old as I had thought, nor did he even seem that angry. He was in fact quite reasonable as I spent time with him. His true nature appeared more and more to be mellow. And I shortly learned in a flashback that he was just ten years old. He was no persecutor. He seemed like a protector. I finally had an explanation for why, whenever the topic of being attacked or mugged came up -- and I lived in NYC for years so the topic came up a lot -- I said with complete certainty, "If I were mugged, I know I wouldn't do the smart thing. I would fight back, try to beat up the mugger, and probably get myself killed." I had told that to dozens of people, didn't understand it at all, yet felt sure something would rise up inside and want to do that.
Other alters began returning over the next few months. Yet Jack felt so key and I couldn't figure out quite why. Yes, he had led them all back into the body. He was the first to "make" me listen and admit that I wasn't alone. Over the next few months, my gatekeeper confirmed that Jack was so fundamental that he had considered replacing me with him the host in childhood, despite his having suffered sexual abuse from the father, despite his outrageous hillbilly dialect that would be incongruous for the son of a lawyer in a Midwestern town. What could explain a gatekeeper even considering such a switch in hosts?
I learned over time that although he was brought solely to endure abuse, Jack wasn't aware of that particular expectation. He was an alter and from "birth" he had an agenda and a will of his own. That's how we all came according to our memory: full people who suddenly appeared in the body, even if "designed" quickly just prior to arrival. Jack didn't want to stay inside the body or inside the family house so he didn't. He began stealing moments here and there, and because there was no damage and Jack was careful to "be John" when necessary, the gatekeeper didn't stop him. Then Jack started taking over and staying out all day long, making friends of his own far on the poor side of town, playing baseball, wrestling, fighting, cussing, yelling, running, getting filthy dirty, in short, doing all the little boys things that John and Jonathan were not allowed to do. Outside the abuse, Jack avoided the tyranny of the biological family because he wasn't part of it and barely knew the parents.
Many months have passed since Jack's return. Other than the host, Jack has spent the most time in the body. He is the most proactive in helping the youngest alters. Despite the fact that he was so abused, he is forgiving, emotionally well-balanced, and generally hopeful. Jonathan has far more capabilities and wisdom. Unfortunately, by his design, Jonathan has so far found it almost impossible to fight me. When Jack returned from his long sleep like Rip Van Winkle, he was a child jettisoned into a future loud urban world that bore no resemblance to his home town. He was painfully homesick and desperately alone. A young alter who speaks genuine Appalachian English in Boston finds it hard to make his way in a body decades older than he remembers.
But Jack is maturing. He still "feels" around age 11-12 in some ways but in other ways not at all. He is growing in his ability to make independent decisions that override those of the adults. He is challenging my time in the body because it must be challenged or we will never heal. He is beginning to drive therapy in certain directions although he's not old enough to comprehend it all. He is leading the way to change because other alters, who are hampered by design, youth, attitude, or experience (time) in the body, simply do not have the power.
Our future feels like it will be very heavily influenced by Jack, a young, unlikely hillbilly alter in the body of a middle-aged, jaded urban professional who had mostly given up on life because he couldn't figure out what was wrong with him and had always been wrong. I sensed something a year ago and chose the name Johnny-Jack for this forum. We started out here feeling much more like Johnny, the host (known as John by most inside). But we feel like we're becoming much more Jack and that his hands are heavily steering the wheel of our life.
If we do integrate, we know we won't be just Jack. There are extraordinarily valuable traits in each of us. But there's no denying that right now, Jack is powerful in the body and is exerting that power against my own lethargy and toxic addictions due to the abuse. All of us who can understand encourage his taking action because it's the best thing that could happen to us right now. And I, John, am writing this entry for all of us. Thanks, Jack, and keep up the good fight.
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