In January 2001, more than a year before I began therapy with Dr. L, or thought I needed to, he gave an autobiographical assignment to our meditation group that exposed my lack of any glue to hold my story together, and I objected to the project. I felt pressured to make sense of a swiss-cheese life filled with holes I hadn’t examined. The enterprise fizzled and more urgent concerns filled my days until well into my exploration of Parts eight years later. By then, I had begun to intentionally piece together memories, making bridges back to child Parts I had previously been unable to reach. “I think I’m constructing a narrative of my life that was blank before,” I told Dr. L, although I wasn’t writing it down yet.
Major memories were jostled in August 2010 when I re-visited Moline, my birthplace in Illinois. With the exception of a 1977 airplane stopover in Moline, I hadn’t been back since 1957. Steve and I took photos of my old home on 39th Street, St. Mary’s School, the woods, the Mississippi River, the creek. The house had changed but was still standing. It still had the power to bring up so much fear and sorrow.
When I returned home to LA I began writing, committed to creating my coherent narrative. I wrote of neglect and assault and denial, of my parents and my siblings and how whole families are affected by trauma, and everything I wrote about hit a wall. I finally had to acknowledge that I couldn’t tell my story without including my Parts. In fact, my Parts are my story, my only way to a coherent narrative.
I soon found that speaking of alternate identities in writing classes labeled me, and it was a lot to overcome, facing my craziness in new ways. As I found the courage to tell my story, I knew I needed considerable skill to get it right. When I finally allowed my conversations with Parts and their conversations with Dr. L into my manuscript, I knew I had a book that not only clarified my journey but that potentially demystified dissociative disorders, which are not always, (and maybe not even usually,) as sensational and dramatic as in the movies.