It has been 36 years since I met and treated my first patient with MPD, Janette, whose story is in chapter two of Minds In Many Pieces. A month ago, I received an e-mail from her daughter, who was a preschooler at the time I treated her mother in Santa Cruz. She is now in her late thirties, with her own family, and still involved with her mother, who is still dissociated. From what I get with her, Janette is one of those women who was severely abused so early in life (before the age of six months) that she can never become integrated. Her Original Personality is too immature to ever be able to return to her own body and integrate with all the alter-personalities who have run it ever since. Her body is literally being run by a committee of alter-personalities.
Her daughter has been through her own experiences, as a result of being born to a “multiple” and her husband, who had his own problems. But now this daughter of Janette, whom I will call “June”, is interested in bringing her story to light and meeting other adult children of parents who had MPD or DID. (Remember that I have my own definitions of these two diagnostic labels.)
I am putting this out so that if any other children of parents with MPD/DID want to communicate with June and do what they can to help each other cope with the current demands of society, they can do so, through me via firstname.lastname@example.org. As far as I know there has been no research on the effects on the children of such patients, but now enough time has passed from the time I was doing therapy for some of them to show what has come of them. I have had some acquaintance with several adult children of my former MPD patients.
One daughter followed the paths of her mother’s worst alters and became an alcoholic prostitute. Two sons have done well vocationally, but neither of them have married.
Below is the letter June wrote to a daughter of a multiple who recently contacted me for some supportive resources.
You do not know me but we have something in common...we are both daughters of MPD mothers. I am sure you have had an interesting life. I am currently researching the resources available for family members about MPD.
“My take on it is this:
My mom is one of the most effective teachers in my life. Because of who she is, I have learned courage, spirituality, strength, patience, and faith. Of course, this was all learned the hard way, but nonetheless it has helped to shape me into a better person today.
“As a daughter I have had to be the mom at times, the confidant, the counselor (as best as I could for a child’s understanding), Mom's little helper, the big sister. We (you and I), too, wear many hats and have had to learn to roll with the punches. There have been times in my life where I felt that I could not bear things, but I managed to hang on. Suicide was never an option for me, but my mind went there a few times as I had my lowest moments. There was frustration, anger (why can't I just be a kid?), added responsibility in the home, bleak days (Mom would sleep for days on end), confusion about my role in my family, boundary issues and just plain confusion!
‘Mom, don't you remember that?’
‘Mom, who is that in the front room with you?’ as I heard the multiples speaking to each other.
‘Mom, you're scaring me...you're talking funny.’
“There is so much to share. There are bad memories, good memories, funny memories, paranormal memories, but my mom will not remember them all. Sometimes I tell her things, and she looks at me as if I do not know what I am talking about. Sometimes she speaks in different languages, and we cannot converse with each other. Those situations, looking back, were kind of comical.
“Life was nor is boring! I am sure you understand.”
When I asked June if she was willing that I put in my blog what she had written, so that we could find other adult children of MPD parents, she replied:
“I would like to share my story with others. My life is an open book, but I would of course like to keep my mother’s identity private until she makes the decision to share her story. Perhaps we can use just my first name.
“There are things that happened to me as a child, young adult that I am still putting together. Things have begun to make sense to me.
“There are dynamics that influenced me as a child that have had long term effects. For instance, I learned at a very young age that I could leave my body and come back, as I was abused by my father. I did not get my memories back until I was 36 – the big year of change for me. I learned to shut down my emotions in order to survive. I did not have a stable childhood where I could learn to live with my past. We moved often, and I learned to let go of friendships instead of forming long term bonds with others. It affected me to the point of being extremely depressed for not being able to have some sort of stability with others. In my twenties, I felt as if I would become like my mother. I was in a negative and emotionally abusive marriage. I felt that the only thing keeping me alive – suicide was not an option – was the fact that I was a mom, and I did not want the cycle to continue with my son. My son became my reason for living, and that is what I focused on to get through the hard times.
“The hardest part for me to figure out in my life was how to open up and truly love myself so I could love others. The love was hidden deep within me, and I always had it, but I did forget that it was there.
“My guides have always been with me. Even as a child when my mom was hospitalized, I would cry to myself and wonder if I would ever feel safe. Then I would hear the comforting voice of a man say to me, "Everything is going to be okay." I can remember hearing the voice as early as four years old. I thought it was Jesus speaking directly to me. It was audible and real, and, each time I heard the comforting voice, I saw bright pastel colors, and I felt immediately better. I have sketched the vision and the colors and gave it a title, "The Child" sketched Sept. 1, 2003. On the back of the drawing I wrote: "Love is the essence of art". Thus began my journey to self love and acceptance.
“My brother did not fare as well as I did. He is schizophrenic (according to many psych evaluations) and borderline sociopath. The cycle did not end for him unfortunately. He lost himself at the young age of four, I believe. There have been others living in his body, but the original boy is gone. He, too, endured abuse. We endured it together. We handled it differently. He became involved in drugs at a young age and has served time in prison for making and selling drugs. He writes poetry to express the torment he endured. My hope is that he too can have some sort of healing in this life.
“There is so much to share with others – the good, the bad, the ugly, but most of all the hope of breaking the cycle and finding inner peace.
Included in June’s writings was a Poem For My Father written on April 28, 2007. I had seen him with her mother during my therapy sessions and only knew it was a precarious marriage which broke up when they moved from Santa Cruz to Texas. Here is that poem she wrote, to her father.
“When I was a child and I thought of you, my heart would well up and the sadness was almost more than I could bear. I felt the emptiness inside of you...yet I could not explain where this empathy came from at the time.
“I knew that you did not have a childhood and I grieved for you. I knew that you did not have security...and I grieved for you. You were once a little boy who wanted more than anything to just be loved. Where was your love? Why couldn't your father give you what any child deserves? Why were you left to fend yourself? Abused, lonely, deserted... an outcast. How miserable you must have felt.
“I imagined your day to day existence...it was mere survival. You wanted to be loved, accepted, and protected. Yet you had none of these things. You didn't even have the basic things that are considered necessary. How embarrassing it must have been for you to have to take your only shower at school because you had no running water. Foraging for whatever food there was, working so hard at such a young age. You tried to protect your mother and sisters from the abuse, yet you couldn't. You must have felt powerless in your youth. You must have lost all respect for women at a young tender age. Where was your mother in all this? Why didn't she make all the madness stop? How truly sad this is. Did the tears ever reach your cheeks? Were you ever allowed to cry? Did you bury your childhood at infancy? My heart aches for your loss.
“Your father was truly a miserable, mean person. You saw things that you should have never seen. You experienced things that took your childhood away. I feel your sadness. You couldn't break the cycle. I KNOW your sadness.
“I could become bitter and angry myself and take the role of victim. I choose not to.
“There is sadness sometimes for what might have been. Yet the darkest days of my life have given me the most growth. I must thank you for the opportunity that you allowed me to grow. I have had to learn to forgive. I have learned to have compassion for those whose shoes I have not walked in. I have learned that my happiness is in my own hands. I am responsible for any and all successes and failures in my life.
“You are not a traditional father/teacher in the sense of the word. Yet I will have to say that you have taught me the most in my life.
“May your emptiness fill with love
May your anger subside
Forgive yourself because I already have
Forgive your father and his father before him
They, too, could not break the cycle.
“With love and peace I send this to you.”
So, if you are an adult child of a parent who had MPD/DID and you want to make contact with June, the daughter of my first patient with MPD, contact me at email@example.com.
Ralph Allison, MD