So I’ve already done this once…With the two managers who needed to know, the GM and the one who does the scheduling. But that GM had stepped down months ago and a new one had replaced him.
We were nervous. We knew we still had one manager left who already had the information. Yet we knew we HAD to tell this new store manager because they may be the only one there at the time we are having issues.
I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him. None of the others were aware nor did they care what he did or did not know. That’s how most of the others are, just living their life. We had told at least half of the staff we work with about us and Dissociative Identity Disorder. It has made us feel a lot more safe. I have found, in feeling safer internally, that I am actually the one who is out more.
I also feel connected, and less dissociative. This is a new feeling. I am not sure if I am healing or if I am becoming more numb. Like I think I am less dissociative, but what if I just completely dissociated a part I am unaware of, and that is causing me to feel……well…..happy. I’m not “happy” all the time. Yet I found myself feeling happy. Something I usually could not do without one of the others having some sort of negative vibe, at least far off in the back ground, at least a grumble of disagreement or countering argument. Yet, I felt nothing like that in the incident I felt happy.
As Mother’s Day is coming up, and since my child is no longer legally my child, I usually begin to break down up to the day. Yet these past few weeks, I was finding moments to feel happy. I have felt less fear. I have slept better. I am not sure the cause. I have some theories. I believe it’s because of my “coming out” as a multiple with dissociative identity disorder, and the way I’ve been treated. It’s one of two responses, either emphatic encouragement and sympathy for my story, or it’s complete indifference. I know that second one may seem negative at first but it’s perfect. The point is, they never reacted with fear or meanness. They didn’t try to withdraw from me and ostracize me. In fact, they just seemed to just not think about it at all and treat me the same. Except for the few that had 101 questions. Which, we also love and welcome that, because we really enjoy raising awareness about our disorder, hoping to make it a safer place.
Yet here we were, with the new manager, afraid to say something. What was it about him that was different. Well, I pinpointed it – we really REALLY liked him. The new GM was gay and that is a plus, when you are a person “not so straight” yourself. Haha ( we are a queer system I guess you could say. With a mix of alters who are bi and trans and asexual and agender)…Plus, he’s funny and well dressed and a good looking really interesting man. Well, so, we were also intimidated by him and afraid of being rejected.
I felt weird feeling this as a 34 year old woman. Why do I care if he likes me? I’ve enough friends and this is just my place of employment. This is what I’m thinking. With the work internally we have done, I was able to go inside and figure out it was the children who were upset. It was being connected with them that causes my feelings like this. Which makes sense why I was having these feelings that didn’t match up or seem like I should be feeling them. Which is, basically what dissociation is like. I managed not to feel shame about the immature feelings this time too. So that’s a plus.
It was a silly thing, but I did my best to work through it. We were triggered back to childhood, when a cool new kid started school and we’d try hard to befriend them but as soon as they “heard about Jess” they would reject us like the rest…Oh yes, we grew up not really having any friends and being socially awkward and never really understanding why. Funny thing though, when coming across fellow classmates as adults, they were quite different toward us. That’s another story though…
About my manager…Well, since Mother’s Day was coming, I knew I’m setting up for a possible break down again, like last year. I was scheduled to work, a double shift all day. I knew that a few people left and that we were short handed and there is no one to work but me. Everyone else will already be there, on such a busy day. SO, it seemed I had no choice but to try to tough through it. As I said, I had been feeling surprisingly well these past few weeks, which was as encouraging as it was unnerving. Was I better or was I worse? Was I healing or was I burying again? Well, I was going to try to go with the positive choice and work. But, the new manager would be there and have no idea of what to do if I should have a break down. So, I knew this was the time I had no choice but to finally tell him. I could feel the whole team standing by, all “eyes on me” waiting and listening for what was going to happen, ready to do their best to work together and make it through this.
The conversation was something like this (I said so much and memories kinda jumbled):
(Walk in to work, see manager, Waving I said “Hey” but he just thinks I’m saying hello. He smiles and waves and walks off. I caught up and got his attention)
- Me: Hey, when you have a moment, I need to talk to you about something important and kind of serious.
- Boss: Okay sure
- Me: (looking around at the open room and panic rises with feeling “exposed” in everyone’s view) Is there some where we can sit and talk about something serious away from people?
(we sit in a booth)
- Boss: So what’s up?
- Me: (starting off very calmly) Well, I need to talk to you about my disorder. I know you’ve worked here many months already and I should have already talked to you, I don’t know why I didn’t. I just need to tell you now because this weekend. This weekend is Mother’s Day and it is really hard for me. I don’t have my daughter…..because she was taken away from me because of my disorder. Well, not “taken away,” I was abused by my ex husband and his mom to get me to sign legal guardianship.
(and with a deep breath and feeling the pulse quicken…)
-I have a dissosiative disorder.
- Boss: (nodding) okay.
- Me: You may have heard me say something about it before or seen me seem a “little different” some days or maybe seen me talking to myself…. I actually have Dissociative Identity Disorder. I am 18 different people. I am not crazy. I am not delusional. It’s just my memories are separated and that’s just how I perceive things and comprehend myself with those memories. It just means sometimes I remember different things. At worst I may not know where I am, I may not even know who YOU are, and I may be afraid.
- (Boss still nodding to encourage me to keep talking. I was loosing my ability to hold eye contact here, I could feel dissociation wanting to kick in…)
- So, Mother’s Day is hard for me because I don’t have my daughter. My ex husband and his mom were abusive to me, took advantage of my disorder, were telling me lies, making me afraid, trying to make me think I was crazy. I didn’t know if I was a danger or not to my child. At this time we were living with his mom and she kicked me out. I was homeless with no help. I signed legal guardianship because I didn’t understand what was wrong with me, not knowing if I was a danger, and I didn’t want my daughter with my ex husband because well, he’s a sociopath and he’s a danger. His mom isn’t much better but she doesn’t do drugs and she is responsible. This was supposed to be only temporary until I got my disability and could figure things out. Well, he and his mom told me not to give money, and just one year after legal guardianship they sued me for not giving money. Which, there was no way for me to defend against. They also had a lawyer where I was alone, 3 against one. I had no chance….
(taking a breath here i think for the first time, I had to take a moment to calm myself. I look down and off to the side like I often do when I’m listening to others inside. I said to the others who were all rushing at me questioning me, “I’m okay.” I actually said this out loud as I usually do to make them feel acknowledged and also to state my position as “one who is fronting.” So then I look up at my boss and say to him, “Maybe I’m not as okay as I thought I was, now that I’m thinking about it and it seems to be affecting me” as I’m looking down at my shaking hand, and mentally noting the tears burning my eyes and my increased pulse and and the strain in my voice)
(…continuing talking to my boss about my situation…)
I lost rights to my child forever after just one year of legal guardianship… I was still seeing her on the weekends. When she’d let me see her.
This woman was abusive to my child and my disorder made me block some memories out but then I got back some memories. And well, I went a little “crazy.” I didn’t threaten her, I just kept texting her about the abuse and she kept ignoring me so I said I was going to show up at her house to talk to her in person. Then she called the police to lie and say i was threatening her and they called me to tell me never to contact her again or try to contact anyone to talk to her for me…This basically happened right before I started working here, so really the whole time I’ve worked here I haven’t seen my daughter. I’ve had some therapy and it has helped—Well, now my therapist doesn’t take my insurance so I’ve been sort of doing therapy for myself these past several months–but anyway I find I am feeling better. Getting stronger…
I’m scheduled to work Mothers Day and I feel better than I did last year so and I know you don’t have anyone else to work, so I’m going to TRY to work it. I just thought you needed to know in case something happened. See, because I have complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and something may trigger me and I just thought I needed to let you know….well I needed to let you know anyway but definitely now….
- Boss: What are you scheduled to work?
- Me: I am hosting. I’m a double, I’m your host all day…I know you have no one else and I am feeling better so I think I am okay to try to work—-
- Boss interrupts: —You can have the day off. I got it covered.
- Me: What? Wait… Really? Oh, but that wasn’t my intention. I just wanted you to know what may happen if something happens. You have no one else to w—-
- Boss: —I got it covered. Take the day off.
- Me: Wow. Okay great. Thank you!
Well, that’s as best as I can remember. I do remember after I talk to my GM, I talk to another co-worker, Sophia, who was probably the first person I told at work about us and having Dissociative Identity Disorder and how we came to be. So I just kind of disclose every update to her because she’s followed since the beginning. She was 18 and now is 20 and she is one of many in my on-going support system. Sophia has done well to actually remember what I tell her and continues to be part of the reason I can have confidence to keep speaking out. People CAN listen and learn, and CARE. As more and more people listen since the first day I decided to stop hiding, I heal more parts of me. Some things get easier.
During the time I’m talking to my boss, I’ve totally lost the ability to keep eye contact. My visions blurred, I’m floating in dissociation. The more I say the words, the more it brings the memories to surface, and the more it brings the re-lived experiences with it. I reassure myself, and the others, I am strong. I’ve survived this before, we can do this again. The problem is, I know the person listening as I am telling is feeling it too. It becomes harder and harder to keep eye contact. When I do, I see the tears people try to hold back as I’m trying to tell my story. It really is something that is hard for even the toughest of men to swallow. No tough guy can leave dry after hearing my story. I have parts of me that don’t like people feeling sad for us, and I have parts of me that want those same people to hold and comfort us. This just leaves me with an uncomfortable feeling and confusion not knowing what to do.
Anyway, so you see, I just kind of blurt it all out in a ramble, but it works. There may have been a few other things said, but I do know I dissociated for a moment or two and came back hearing myself still talking, don’t know what was said. Anyway, this turned out pretty good. So here I was, just trying to explain who we are so he would be able to know how to react, and boom I get a freebie “mental health day.” I do feel stronger, but it’s probably not safe to say I can work anyway. This is the hardest struggle I have to live with, making it to the day I can be allowed to legally talk to my daughter again and confront the woman who abused us and forced us into a situation of duress in order to take advantage of us. What kind of person breaks a mother and swindles away her child?
Well, I’m not going to waste too much time thinking on that anymore. My only concern is, how do I get well and find the strength to get help to my daughter who has suffered the most in this mess.
I am thinking I feel much better now having finally told my new general manager what my condition is. It seems the more people I tell and the more positive (and neutral!) reactions I get, the safer we all feel inside. I see signs of me improving but I also see some other aspects worsening. Maybe it’s just because our reality has been usurped with new information that was actually OLD information hidden, and now its a swirling chaos until we can make a reality make sense again. Like, have to get worse before it gets better.
I don’t really know how much more of the “worse” i can handle. Ha.
Anyway, there is a lot of ramble here, but the whole gist of it seemed to take a short period of minutes to take place. I just wanted to give you guys an example of what it’s like for me, and how I have my “coming outs” within my place of employment. Really, you just have to close your eyes, take a breath and just let go, let it come out, however it comes out, and don’t even spend another second on the words once they’ve been said. Eventually, you get your story told and the ending is a new beginning, and a positive one at that.