The word Mother brings to mind a woman sprung from a nineteenth century novel. She supports the whole family and creates a safe haven within the home, always patient, always smiling kindly. She does her best to carry life’s burdens so that they do not reach the shoulders of her children. In grief, poverty or fear, she puts on a brave face. When the end comes, all her children flock to her grave carrying beautiful flowers. Sorrow makes it hard to speak, but someone manages to say: There was no one like our mother.
I have held off writing this post for some time. It is a heavy subject. I felt so much fear and confusion during my childhood – without being saved by mother. She did attempt to save me sometimes, but her efforts always got thwarted. From what I have read, many dissociative persons are excellent parents. My mother was both excellent and very dysfunctional – depending on who was in the body and what the circumstances were. I really don’t know how to write about this, so I’ll just make a list of the many mothers I encountered a child.
The kind, compassionate and sometimes distressed mother:
This is who I feel my mother is at her core. It is why I love her and want to be in her life. This alter (which is also her front alter) is mostly kind, if sometimes anxious. She listened to me whenever I was sad and always put me first and took my side in conflicts. She took me outside to play, read me great adventure books, sang lullabies and strived to put food on the table. She says she never let me ”cry it out” when I was a baby, if I sounded the least bit sad she would lift me up and carry me.
She had the best intentions, but sometimes the heavy traumas that she’d repressed crowded in on her. Then she couldn’t sleep or think. Her head wasn’t working – the words written on a paper stressed her out, she couldn’t make sense of them. Household chores were exhausting, going outdoors was impossible, cooking was pure torture. All sounds upset her, so the house needed to be completely quiet. She felt so weak she thought she was going to die soon. Her heart hurt, her head ached and she believed she was not long for this world. It didn’t cross her mind that it’s inappropriate to tell a young child she is dying (especially without having a diagnosis). I spent much time worrying about her health.
The dissociating mother
The dissociating mother appeared whenever the kind mother was faced with anything that could trigger abuse memories from her childhood, or an insight that her own daughter was being abused. Sometimes the kind mother got a head start on the dissociating mother, and managed to lift the phone to call the police, but she never reached finish line: before she could ask for help, she sunk to the floor. The she started sobbing and rocking back and forth, holding on to her knees crying ”No! No no no no no, nononono!” After that came the dizziness, and she said felt as if she were going to faint if she didn’t lie down. So she laid down and sleep overtook her.
When she woke up, all the disturbing memories were wiped. She didn’t remember the things that happened before she fell asleep. Instead there was a time gap of hours, days – or even months.
The kind mother says she would Never forget if anyone hurt her daughter.
The little girl
The little girl was scared and used to hide in corners. She didn’t know that she herself was a mother, only spoke a few words and couldn’t comprehend most things happening around her. Our abusive relatives would trigger this alter in my mother, so that they could get access to me when I was a child.
The teenager shut herself out on the balcony, furiously smoking a cigarette (none of the other alters smoke), in order to escape from the crying child that claimed she was its mother. ”I AM NOT YOUR MOTHER!” she screamed, ”Go back to your parents!” It was too much to bear really. This strange apartment is not her home, and whose is the tiresome child? A voice inside her head would tell her that the child belongs to her father and that she must call him and hand it over to him. Something must be very wrong with life, she must have been through some kind of huge ordeal lately. Because her face in the mirror ain’t right – she’s a young girl, too young to have a child, so why does she look like a woman?
The kind mother says she would never say ”I am not your mother”, because that is a very bad and hurtful thing to say, and parents that say such things are mean.
The inquisitor (the teenager in disguise?):
She is convinced her daughter is sin personified, a slutty temptress out to seduce every man within a ten mile radius. She accuses me of flirting with her father, her brothers, my male cousins, and most of all, her boyfriends. So what did I do? Did I pout my lips, dance suggestively or attempt a striptease? No, I covered myself in baggy clothes and climbed trees. I drew castles and animals. I talked animately about history and literature, stole cookies off the table and ran around like a savage lightning outdoors. But the inquisitor knows every man to be innocent, and the girl to be a supreme corruptress. To be fair, I did consent to an affair with a man as a teenager, but I feel I earned it after suffering so many mindless rapes as a young child. For once, I made a choice and enjoyed it – the last thing I wanted then was to suffer a derogatory inquisition.
The kind mother says that sexual abuse is always the fault of the adult, and the child is never to blame.
The scary man (interject of her father?):
The scary man is the one who screams at me whenever I do something bad I’m not supposed to – like calling my mother foul words or destroying things. My mothers voice changes completely, it drops more than one octave and becomes a baritone. The voice change in itself is horrific, and it often comes combined with hard yank of my arm, tearing me away from whatever it is I’m not supposed to be doing. Afterwards my mother does not remember the insulting things she said to me, and wonders where the bruise on my arm comes from.
The kind mother says she would never hurt me or scream at me.
Phew. Something needs to be said of the frequency with which the personalities appear. The kind mother is there most of the time. The little girl and the teenager appear the most during my early childhood years, when we are still living in the same city as the rest of our relatives. The child alters almost never come forward on their own. They are trained to appear when triggered by cues given by our abusive relatives. The dissociating mother seems to be a mental defense against realizing that she’s buried up to her chin in an abusive cult. The scary man shows up very seldom, but scares me a lot when he does. To be fair, he did save me from getting hit by a car as an adult – he yanked me backwards and shouted ”NO”! in that terrifying voice of his.
I will give my mother flowers every mothers day, and the day she dies I will tell the world there was no one like her. If you can not comprehend this, it is because you do not have the larger picture. Only in the pitch black darkness of our large family, is it possible to see that my mother shone like a light for me.