One of the byproducts of my divided mind is the divided pieces and parts of the life I lived. Compartmentalization is a natural offshoot, if not a necessary one, when you have multiple distinct personalities living within yourself. While my life today is spent almost exclusively in the compartment of “isolation for the purpose of integration,” in the past I’ve had friends I would pour my heart out to one week and wouldn’t know the next, clothes I would hind hanging in my closet but couldn’t imagine wearing, conversations I had on Tuesday but couldn’t recall on Wednesday. I guess this isn’t really “compartmentalization” as it would normally be used in terms of how a person partitions off their mind and life. Actually…maybe it’s exactly the same. I just googled “departmentalization as a defense mechanism” and it was defined there as “Psychologists define compartmentalization as a defense mechanism that we use to avoid the anxiety that arises from the clash of contradictory values or emotions.” Huh….go figure.
One of the ways in which my separation of the parts of my life was highly evident was my writing spaces. I had two free wordpress blogs where I would write my thoughts and often wondered why they were so different from each other…one that my family and the friends of my small hometown knew about and one they didn’t. One of the thoughts I’ve had so often in the past year is a wondering of how I could pull these together somehow…a way to let my past writing coexist with my present in a known way…kinda like what I’m trying to do with my integration therapy. But part of my struggle in these thoughts is that the majority of what I wrote in the past wasn’t authentic. Each story was based on a kernel of truth but comprised mostly on a public relations spin…a way to explain myself and my behavior in the event I found myself needing a cover story for another big lapse in “cover” from the story line I so desperately needed others to believe about me. While my goal here on this blog is 100% authenticity for the purpose of telling myself my own true story, my old blogs were 90% spin for the purpose of creating a fictional (but believeable) narrative for others. To say the least…they are cringey to read now.
The more prolific blog of my two past writing spaces was the one I created after last husband kicked me and my son out of his house and left us homeless. It was created largely as an effort to share my thoughts with my soon-to-be-ex but was dressed up as a cathartic adventure in healing from his betrayal. Over time, as I fumbled and fucked my way through a messy four years in my tiny home town with a malicious rumor mill and cold societal rankings in which reputation was everything, it became my alter ego…a calculated dressed up image of self to distract the ever watching eyes and repurpose the ever wagging tongues. But as I go back now and read through my stories, I can see so clearly the lies within them and feel the need to expose them and own them…to myself. So here is the first, of what may be many, expose of my past lies…
I wrote many stories about my “Peace Sanctuary.” a 9 acre timbered hilltop I purchased in the Missouri Ozarks immediately after my youngest child’s graduation from high school. I wrote stores about how beautiful it was, how hard I worked to get the home on the property cleaned up for living there, how happy I was there and my “wonderful” neighbors. The dangers in telling all the lies and half truths that I told, in my blogs and in conversations with others, is that I would start to believe myself. Even today, despite what I know deep down is the truth about my short time on the Ozark hilltop, I find myself missing it…not missing the real experience but missing the fictional one I created. I find myself wishing I could still hear the birds, smell the clean air, mingle with the kind neighbors and revel in the peace and quietness of it all. But…none of these things actually ever happened and it’s time that I told myself the truth.
I had bought the property in one “mood” and moved there in another – once again following behind myself trying to act like I understood my own decisions and was totally on board with it all. My time at my “peace” sanctuary was filled with suicidal ideation, regret, betrayal, and general unpleasantness. I bought the property the same day I saw it…determined to find a place to run to to escape my hometown. I took along with my my “recovering” meth addicted step-cousin with whom I had previously had a completely whack sexual fling. Once we were there, he pressured me for sex and money and after only a matter of weeks, he left me there alone and returned to our hometown to smoke his pipe. His grandpa showed up shortly after and visited a couple of times to “check on me” but eventually ended up sitting too close to me on the couch and getting handsy. Shortly after I ended his welcome, I met my three organic farmer neighbors who seemed great at first but quickly revealed themselves to be flat earthers and Trump loyalists. The property was infested, like literally infested, with ticks, chiggers, spiders, and horse flies and I was terrified to go outside. Most of the time, when I did, I set on my tiny little front steps and chain smoked cigarettes and despaired at dismal view of my yard that received very little sunlight. My dog was literally allergic to everything there and almost died until the local veterinarian put her on an expensive daily dose of steroids. The contractor I hired to remodel the home turned out to be a drunk misogynist who, despite being married, decided he wanted to make a life with me and refused to leave the property until forced. Once he was gone, the well pump died and one of the contractors who came out to give me an estimate on fixing it threatened me because I hired someone else. My dog died. I left almost everything I owned behind and became homeless again…eventually selling the property for a loss only two years after I purchased it.
What I have so faithfully called my “Peace Sanctuary” for so many years was actually one of the most painful and confusing experiences of my life. I’m still homeless and have been traveling around the US couch surfing and staying in Airbnb’s. I haven’t landed anywhere since my unfortunate landing on that hilltop and I’m starting to realize it’s because I never want to land wrong again…that my experience in the Ozarks scarred me so deeply that the idea of settling into a new home and being trapped there has left me wandering. Despite all of this, I can also see the good that has been redeemed out of the bad. Without it, I would never have reached rock bottom and asked myself “why does my life keep falling apart?” I never would have accepted my DID diagnosis and started integration therapy. I never would have found….peace.