The last few weeks have been especially challenging. I’ve been learning how to communicate with, and care for, the family of alters that are as much a part of me as I am. Five nights in a row I slept poorly and had night terrors. I was exhausted and was becoming afraid of sleep again but my kids were with me so I did my best to go about life as though things were normal.
Then, the night before my therapy session, I woke at 3 am with terror and paralysis. As I mentally pulled against the feeling of being bound, a memory came to me from my 7 year old little. My father had crossed her arms over her chest, was holding her down and lying on top of her. I was furious and I flailed about until my body was under my own control once again. Adrenaline was coursing through my veins and I was covered in sweat. I punched the bed because my father was not here to physically punch. I was soaked with sweat as I shook with the rage I felt for the little within who had to endure such a heinous trespass against her body, mind and spirit. I felt this little present with me and I reached out to her and held her close. I spoke, out loud (as I often do when I’m physically alone), and told her:
You are safe now. Our father isn’t anywhere near here and if he were, there are 100 people in line to kick his ass. I’ll kick his ass if comes anywhere near us. I’ll keep us safe.
She was confused and I had to explain that she’s here with me, in my 48 year old body, with 3 kids and our dog. Living in this beautiful town with mountains and a creek behind out home. I felt her settle a bit.
Eventually, I was able to get out of bed and literally stumble downstairs to make a cup of coffee. I realized how unsteady I still felt and while I waited for the kettle to boil, this little and I talked about what we could do that would feel good and comforting. She likes the Miyazaki movies I’ve raised my own kids on and she asked if we could watch one. Wasn’t quite what I had in mind for my quiet time before my kids woke up but I could feel that it’s what she needed. Experiencing her memory of my father holding her down had also evoked deep empathy. I wanted to soothe her. Coffee in hand, we went back to my room, grabbed the llama stuffy I’d bought her the previous day, and set up Pom Poco. I had watched it with my youngest son pretty recently and expected to not feel engaged in the story. I was surprised to find that watching it with this little inside my body meant feeling her joy when the raccoons did something particularly cute.
My little shared another memory the following night. This time, she was some place public after my father had abused her and she was seen by some adults. She had been crying and couldn’t understand why these adults didn’t stop to see if she was ok. Again I felt incredible rage and sadness. She felt abandoned by all the adults around her and all I could think of was how fiercely I love my own children and how I would kill anyone who brought them so much distress. She asked if she could have a reishi cacao drink (she thinks it tastes like hot chocolate) so we made some and watched yet another Miyazaki movie. She settled and I went back to sleep until 5.
I was becoming concerned that the sharing of these memories at 3 am was going to become a regular thing and my therapist had suggested I talk to this little and figure out a bedtime routine that would put her at ease and allow me to sleep through the night. I reached out to my best friend, who has been actively working with her DID for several months. She suggested I ask invite this little to sleep with me in my bed. That night, when I got ready for bed, this little was present and we tucked her stuffies under our special soft blanket and snuggled down to listen to a sleepcast. I slept until 5 for the first time in 10 days!
The relief I felt at having had good sleep brought its own emotions with it. Why should I have to feel so grateful at having good sleep? Shouldn’t I just be able to sleep well every night and not have night terrors and flashbacks? And there was the rage again. Yet another thing my father has taken from me. The fury that arose left me shaking and sweating again but this time, instead of hitting my bed, I decided to search the internet for an email where I could immediately write to my dad. I found something even better. A website for a company he co-founded and still works for. There was no direct email for him on the website but there was a ‘contact us’ button. There was no way for me to know who would read this message I was about to write. Maybe there’s an employee who vets these messages, or perhaps his own partner. Maybe he reads them. My hope was that someone other than him would read it and pass it along to him. I opened Spotify, pressed play Ice T’s No Remorse, and wrote:
Message for (father’s name): Tell my father that when this pandemic is over, I will be filing charges with the (place I was born) Police Department. Tell him I will expose him for the child rapist he is. Tell him, that within the confines of the law, I’m coming for him & I will take everything he holds dear. He will pay for raping me as a child.
And then I hit “submit”. And I felt so powerful. For a moment I understood that rage can be a tool. I was sweaty and shaky with adrenaline and so full of Kali style darkness. The kind of darkness that breaks over the heads of the evil and brings righteous vengeance.