Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Split Personality

A few months ago, I was talking to my mother and she hit me with a world-shaking revelation.  We were discussing my childhood and what a strange kid I was, especially after my brother Ian was killed.  It's common knowledge I went nuts for a while.  I was eight-years-old, he was nineteen.  I have a year of traumatic amnesia from that time, but for the last few years, bits and pieces have been coming back in my memory and much of it is extremely disturbing.  When my son was in rehab, my therapist had warned me that "trauma unlocks trauma" and that there was a chance memory could come back.  She was right.  I've remembered enough to realize what was going on during that awful time, but my mom's recent words shook the foundation of all of that.  We were talking about my aunt, her sister, who was a paranoid schizophrenic since the age of eleven, when she was gang-raped by a group of teenage boys behind the school.  My grandma never got medical help or any other kind for her and it was simply shrugged off in the usual redneck way: oh, she was a slut so deserved it.  If she didn't want it to happen, she shouldn't have been there and she shouldn't have been female.  My aunt was in and out of institutions for the rest of her life and diagnosed with a split personality.  I asked Mom what life was like for that poor shattered creature.  Was it like Sybil, where she'd wake up a year or so later and have no idea what was going on, or was she aware of the other personality?  Mom said she had two distinct personas.  During this conversation, I mentioned my own traumatic amnesia.  Suddenly defensive, Mom blurted out, "Well, you were nothing like her.  She had one good personality and one bad.  But you didn't!" 
Confused, I asked, "I didn't what?" 
"You didn't have a bad one.  Both yours were good."
"Both my what?"
"Both of you were nice.  You were a good kid no matter what."
This after calling me a slut at three-years-old only a week or so before.
"Are you saying I had a split personality?"
"Yes, but they were both nice. Even the boy."

At first I thought this was garbage, just rantings.  But as I thought about it, things fell into place to form a pattern that now made sense: dreaming I was a boy, walking and talking with people who weren't there, fainting all the time and waking up somewhere else... I had the spooky feeling there might be something to this crazy fish story.  I decided to try and find out.

Thus began my search for some proof of this allegation.  I wrote to the clinic where the pediatrician who took care of me worked until he retired.  He died decades ago.  My medical records, forty years old,  have all been destroyed, save for one immunization record when I was six months old.  My third grade teacher taught only one more year after I finished third grade and we're now trying to track her down.  Mom tells me that the reason I was in that teacher's class at all is that her father was my psychiatrist.  I don't remember any psychiatrist; the only medical treatment of any kind, that I recall, was getting my eyes dilated and they wouldn't go back to normal for over twenty-four hours. 

Since Mom now has Alzheimer's, fairly advanced, I have no idea if any of this is crap or not.  But there's a disturbing ring of truth to some of the other things she said; enough to make me start digging.  I wrote to Carol Sizemore, an old school friend, someone I now only hear from at Christmastime with a holiday card.  I finally got a reply a week ago.  Carol said she didn't doubt that I was diagnosed with split personality but didn't see any signs of it herself; just my being loopy sometimes and not remembering things we'd done together the day before.  She told me Mom had me on psych drugs, which she put in my food so I wouldn't know, but doesn't know which ones they were.  Her own mother told her.  That might explain the amnesia bouts, at least up to a point.  I was also gang-raped during that time; that might explain Mom's linking me to my aunt when we were on such an awful subject.  As to the reference to my being a slut at three, her exact words were, "Oh, you were a slut at three.  Men can smell it on you.  You can't blame them for taking what's offered when you stink of it."  Since then, she's made quite a few points of mentioning me at three.  That's disturbing too.  One of the really interesting things is, my father molested me when I was thirteen.  That I never forgot, so I know he was capable of anything.  He himself was molested from at least the age of five.  Frank, my other brother, who's still alive, told a story a few years ago: that he and Ian planned to kill Dad when Frank was twelve.  That would have made me three-years-old.  He said Ian and he were very serious, but finally gave the plan up when they realized they wouldn't be able to do it and get away with it.  All of this is background enough to get me going on finding out what I can about this new allegation of split personality.  So, my own creepy sleuthing has begun. 

One of the bizarre reactions I had right after Mom hit me with this news was overwhelming rage.  I was absolutely furious all day.  People at work eyed me sideways, wondering what was wrong with the usually sunny Rebecca.  A friend asked what I felt like.  I told her, "I feel like going to a bar and finding some drunken redneck sack of shit who's bothering a woman, pick a fight with him and beat the shit out of him."  That made my co-workers go pop-eyed.  I'm not like that normally.  I despise giving in to rage; it's as addictive as any other drug and I refuse to do it. 

I never went to a bar and I didn't pick a fight with anyone, but a friend looked at me after I told her this story and said, "You're going to hate this, but your initial reaction of going to a bar to pick a fight...sounds like something a man would do."

Wish me luck on my search for the truth.  We may never know.

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