When something stirs up my memory, reminding me of that period of time just before I began having kids, most of what I recall is depressing. The truth is, I've rather blurry memories of those times, and it's just as well. I was young (16), living across the country from my family with no friends, and the person I chose to begin a family with hurt me in nearly every conceivable way.
Sometimes it doesn't seem possible I even existed back then. Possibly I didn't for the memories are so ethereal at best. I get a sense of loneliness, for instance but not what I may have done to try to staunch it, or I remember the color of one room of our apartment, but not whether we had curtains at the windows, or matching living room furniture, or even if I bothered hanging things on the walls. I couldn't imagine now living without my familiar things, but I draw a blank when attempting to bring back a sense of what things I chose to have around me then. I know I was in the dark about my DID, but even so I must have felt the need for something to ground me. What could it have been, though? Was I merely a shell, existing without feelings about much of anything?
The odd thing about not remembering my environment is that I've always had near total recall of places I've lived. The smallest details have stuck with me, but not from this particular season of time, which lasted about 6 years.
My niece recently posted this photo of me on FB. That's my future hubby's hand on my shoulder; he's been cut out of the photo. I can't imagine that anyone but I would have done that. I must have cut him out and then sent her mother the picture.
I haven't seen this photo since it was first developed. What a shock to see me as I looked then! What I do remember is having no fixed opinions about anything, or if I did they were tucked out of sight where they wouldn't offend. I didn't rock boats, I didn't insist I be treated with respect. As bad as this sounds I felt like a thing. I took up space in the world, that couldn't be helped. I moved and breathed and quietly did whatever I had to do so that my movements wouldn't be offensive. I didn't believe I had any right to assert myself in any manner, and so I didn't.
Well, what struck me first about this photo (aside from the fact that it was taken so long ago that I didn't have any kids yet) is the fact of how happy I look. I know I wasn't. But look at me, standing there smiling, posing with my future hubby in his brother and sister-inlaw's kitchen where so often I babysat for them because they needed someone, but couldn't afford to pay anyone.
This is where we used to hang out even when I wasn't babysitting, the home we visited where fried potatoes were made often, evoking deep longings within. I'm not sure what those frying taters symbolized for me, but they sure made me emotional. Those are just about the only emotions I remember from that era, emotions of a keen homesickness, of longings to belong somewhere and feeling that I never would. The desire for a family of my own, and the love and protection of a man who would make up to me for every bit of pain life had so far dealt me.
The girl in the photo: what a long, hard journey she's had of it! How strange to think that she couldn't have known what lay ahead: for example, that she would give birth to 5 sons, and go through many marriages before she figured out she couldn't handle being with a man. And multiple personalities? Most days she wasn't sure she had even one! She sure couldn't have looked ahead into the future and seen the beautiful grandkids she'd end up with, or see that she would eventually adjust so well to not having a man in her life that she actually preferred being single.
I don't know who she is. She is me, but she's not. She's the one who interacted with the outside world, at least for a time. I don't know if she's still me, or if she in time was replaced with another. I just don't know. But I like her. I like her, and I feel for her for having experienced that well of loneliness, that sense of being hollow and not having even one thing worth sharing with another human being.
I just like her.