It only been 19 days since my last post, but it feels more like three months. It has been a tough and hard slog through this stage of my journey, and there have been many surprises along the way. Some good, some not so good, but it is all growth, and it all adds up to having a better life. But like it or not, I am still in recovery mode!
I am surprised how much this trip into the underworld has taken out of me. I shouldn't be, but I am all the same. Then it came to me last night, I am still on my journey. Just because I am out of the hospital does not mean my journey or work is finished. Needless to say this came as a bit of a surprise to me.
I have recovered what I needed to from the underworld, I am now surfacing and as I said in my last post..."I have to do it slowly so I don't get the bends or burst my eardrums." But it is very slow, and this morning I came to the realization that I need to be just as careful coming up as I was going down.
This is hard to do when you realize something amazing has happened!!!
I have always liked music, and it has always spoken to me. This past year I have joined a community choir and am enjoying it. After high school graduation I earned a living playing on weekends in a 4 piece band.
When I was involved in music, I could hear it at the time, the nuances, instrumentation etc. But what I could not do was recall any of this at will. Even just before I started playing it, I could not hear the whole arrangement in my head. I could sort of hear the main tune, but not the whole piece. I remember being up on stage getting ready to play a song, I would know how it was going to be played- meaning the timing, the tune etc., but I could not hear in my head the whole arrangement with the whole band. I could not pull it up from my memory-even though I played the song a hundred times. Once we started playing I could hear all the parts, but again, once the song was over, I could not pull any of that up in my memory.
I could only pull up the memory of the music in fragmented parts, because it was a fragmented part of self who played the music.
Well, last week, I was thinking of a musical CD that I have been listening to lately, and something amazing happened. Not only did I think about it, but I could hear the songs in my head. Now, in the past, I had been able to hear the songs, sort of. Meaning I could hum or remember part of the tune, and then if I sung it, the rest of the tune came to me, but this recall is different!!! This time round, not only could I hear the tune- as opposed to it coming to me- but I could hear the entire song, without singing it, and I could hear the full musical score. I could hear the artist singing the song, and every note, and every nuance that makes him the singer that he is. I could hear the horn section, and the instrumentals for the entire song...it was amazing...I could hear all of this in my head...I had never experience that before.
Last night I woke up with one of my warm flushes, and as I'm going back to sleep one of the songs we sing in the choir came to me. But it was not just one line, I could hear all the sections, soprano, alto, tenor and base, all together at the same time...I have never ever been able to do this, and until last week did not know it was even possible!
It’s like listening to a small 45 rpm record on an old, cheap portable record player with a worn out needle, and thinking that's what it really sounds like. Then going to Carnegie Hall and listening to a world renowned orchestra live. This is amazing...It’s like having bland food all your life and you thought this was the norm, and then someone cooks it right, adds spices and salt and pepper and the flavors just pop in your mouth!
I'm assuming this is what explicit memory looks like. To be able to recall all of the event/music, to be able to pull it up when I want to, not just a thread of it, but the whole thing.
Because of the hard work I did at the hospital this time round, -which builds on all the hard work I have done there in the past- as well as all my therapy work-I am able to be more present- meaning the “whole me” is listening to the music, so the “whole me” will be able to recall it, and also I am able to build and access explicit memory. It’s like a switch has been turned on and that part of the brain is now working.
Is this what it is like to not be fractured?
Needless to say I am very excited about this, I have never experienced this before and I can’t wait to get out there and see what else I can do. But I am not finished my journey and to skip the next critical stage would not be a good thing.
I am experiencing life at a level I never knew existed! What I mean by this I am experience it as a cohesive, non-fractured person. I will try to explain.
Before, I would experience life in fragments, like one slice, then another, and another, but they were never joined, they were never one whole piece. Imagine a slide show where only a small piece of the slide would show, then the next slide, another small piece, but of a completely, non-related subject matter. Then not being able to recall the slide show, let alone remember you were even there.
Now, Imagine being in an IMAX theater. Sitting front and center, and as the movie plays-(experiencing life)-you are getting the 360 degree, surround sound, surround picture experience in all its glory. This is how it is for me now.
I am able to not only remember what I have done, but the event itself. I can remember talking to my family Doctor a couple of days ago. I can also remember the conversation we had, and I can hear his voice, his accent, and the nuances in his speech. The other day I received an e-mail from a friend, and as I’m reading it, I could hear his voice, as if he was there talking to me. This just amazes me!
Is it no wonder I want to go out and get back into life as fast as I can. But I have more work to do.
As wonderful as it is to experience life in 360 degree IMAX form, I am still in a healing stage, and I need to honor that. If I do not do the healing work, then this has all been for not.
In the past, I have worked on my healing, but it, like my life, was done in fractured states. Now, I need to heal in this new modality. This means that I am healing in 360 degree IMAX form as well. I am experiencing it as “one,” all aspects of me together.
This takes, time and energy and support. I am healing and dealing with my past as I have never done before. I was not able to. But as painful as this is, I know I need to do it.
Some people call this “integration”. I am integrating my past with my present, and it is very painful, exhausting work.
So, my present challenge and “task” is to watch my past in full 360 IMAX form, and also grieve it in full IMAX form, meaning not numb it, run or dissociate from it. This is hard and exhausting work. And yes, the thoughts of numbing or running from it come to mind, some days more than others. But I know this work is a much needed step. Grieving is very hard work!!
Because I am not dissociating distracting or running from it, I feel very raw, having nightmares. I am using my energy and focusing on this and I have little energy for anything else. But, for now, that is how it needs to be.
I have looked for literature on the process for “integration” but have found very little, and none of it speaks of the exhausting, painful, gut wrenching, crying, blubbering, snot nosed, I can barely do self-care let alone go grocery shopping, process that it really is. Of the “wishing I never knew this” stage, “why couldn’t I leave well enough alone” and “I wish I didn’t feel anything” stages. And I can clearly understand and respect why some people choose not to take this step.
The closest literature I came to was the process addicts go through when they stop using and deal with their addictions and issues. But, there are no support groups for people with DID, no daily meetings, sponsors, educational classes etc. I personally know of no one who has gone through this process of integration.
So, I am making my own support groups. I see my therapist, I am seeing my family doctor twice a week, and next week will move it up to three times a week. He did tell me I can phone the office anytime and come in at the end of the day. I did tell him it’s like I am back in the beginning, when I first started working on my stuff. If I got up, dressed and out of the house for 30 minutes, it was a successful day.
I have to focus on self-care, grounding, and bring “intention” into my day like I have not in a long time. I have to be careful of what I watch on tv, and what I read. I have to be super aware of what I am feeling and do body scans- to see where I am holding tension etc- throughout the day. And I need quiet and space.
I am calling on my friends and family to help, cups of tea and quiet walks. I have to remember to focus and be “in the moment” and not worry about what I will or will not be able to do a day, week, or month from now. It will take as long as it takes.
While I was in the hospital I e-mailed a dear friend and asked him who it was – Goddess-that went down into the underworld to retrieve what she needed. He told me it was Psyche, and that he has a booklet about it that I can borrow.
The small, easy to read book is called SHE: Understanding Feminine Psychology by Robert A Johnson. This book came at the right time.
One of the passages that spoke to me was…” The Best way to solve a dilemma is to stand absolutely still, and that is what Psyche does”….".If you have ever been dazzled out of your wits, if you have been knocked totally out of orbit, it Is best to keep still"…."A woman has a profound capacity to be still, perhaps, the most powerful act any human being can make. She is required to go back to a very inner center every time something profound happens to her. This is a highly creative act but must be done correctly. She is to be receptive, not passive”.
Being able to recall the music in its whole form has “dazzled me out of my wits”. Having all the memories-(they are memories as opposed to flashbacks) - come at me as a 360 degree IMAX surround sound has “knocked me totally out of my orbit”. So, I am standing still, getting the supports I need and doing the work need to do, and grieve.
This will take time, it will take energy, but it is so worth it. I know there will be a time where the memories, are that, memories, and that life will be lived in more vivid colours, sound, and like the music I will experience a richness I never even knew existed.
I will keep you posted
I wish you all well in your journeys
Cheers and be well