Laurie, yes, the abuse has killed my hope.
There’s something I must tell you, before I go further. This is humiliating and painful to share. I am diagnosed with DID― Dissociative Identity Disorder―commonly known as Multiple Personalities.Please, don’t think this means everything I’ve told you is unreliable. I’m almost always aware of what’s going on, and although I don't have control over what The Others do, I know their characters and personalities. This is such a vulnerable thing to tell you, and I’m afraid you’ll no longer believe me. Please, tell me if this changes your opinion of me and makes it uncomfortable to talk to me. Please don't just discontinue our conversation, please be honest. Ana
Dear Ana, thank you for daring to tell me about your diagnosis of DID. As a psychiatrist, and also as a psychoanalyst, I’m quite familiar with DID. Though I don’t have this diagnosis, I do dissociate at times. During the entire ten years of my abuse, I was split into two selves and neither self communicated with the other self. I wasn’t aware of this split, but because of it, I was able to live a completely double life during the time of the abuse.
Dissociation, of which DID is one form, is a way to remain sane in a world gone mad. I believe what you’ve told me, and will believe what you will tell me. I won’t stop writing. I’m a very direct, open, and honest person. After what you’ve been through, you’re courageous to write as you’re writing. My Best, Laurie
Laurie, thank you so much. I’ll tell you what my therapist said, which started the "trouble" between us. I wrote about it in my journal. Writing something out is often helpful for me in making some sense of what happened. I would like to share this journal entry with you, as a way of explaining in more detail.
The Day Everything Changed
That day in Julia’s office, started out like any other appointment. Julia was loving and kind when I came in, embracing me in a warm hug as usual. She asked to talk to Meagan. I don’t remember why she wanted to talk to her, but I knew Meagan would be thrilled to be included. I felt the familiar tugging, as if being pulled back into a tunnel, as the room faded before me. I’m not completely unaware when one of “them” takes over; I become a silent observer. I’ve described it as watching a movie in which one becomes so engrossed in the action on the screen, only that story is real; the dark theater, and one’s presence therein, seem to disappear. I disappeared, and Meagan became present in the room with Julia.
A recurring theme when Meagan talked to Julia, was Meagan’s belief in her own evilness. Usually, Julia would encourage Meagan to talk about her feelings, and sometimes they would discuss the traumatic event that had fixated this belief of “evilness” in Meagan’s soul. When I was attending college, a friend of mine saw evidence of The Others and decided it was demon possession. He tricked me into going through an exorcism with a group of so-called pastors. I was 19, the four men were much older. I felt defenseless, alone, and scared. It was physically and emotionally violent.
Of course, there was no demon, but how could I have convinced them of that? They were determined that even my denial was evidence of the evil within. It was a horrible experience, and I carried guilt and shame for years because of it. More accurately, Meagan carried guilt and shame … for me in the theater, sitting in the darkness watching the events of that experience long ago, it seemed to have happened to someone else. Meagan had taken it all and protected me.Julia was the first person I ever told about it.
That day, as Meagan and Julia talked, the subject of the exorcism came up. Something was different, however. I didn’t understand … Meagan certainly didn’t understand, but Julia was different. She was impatient, agitated, and slightly angry. Meagan, in complete trust, opened her heart and talked about her feelings and memories, expecting the gentle and loving response she usually received. Instead, Julia said, “Meagan, I simply don’t want to talk to you if you’re always going to be so sad and depressed. I’m tired of it, and I would like you to leave.” Meagan sat in stunned silence.
It’s not often one of them dissolves into another. Usually, I’m the common denominator and the bridge. But not that day. My protector, Maggie, must have sensed something was terribly wrong, and she appeared when Meagan crept away. Whereas Meagan had felt humiliated and crushed, Maggie, being Maggie, was absolutely fine and started chatting away about this and that. Julia abruptly stopped her and asked, “Maggie, you don’t think Meagan is evil, do you?”
Maggie thought for a moment before answering. This question had never been posed … we had never considered how we saw each other. Within the system, what is, simply is! So, Maggie responded, “That’s a complicated question, Julia, and I need to think about how to answer.” Julia immediately got furious. “I’ll take that as a Yes! How dare you think that, Maggie! I would’ve thought better of you! You of all people! I can’t believe that’s what you think of Meagan. How dare you. I’m so angry at you I can’t even stand to look at you!” During this outburst, Julia had stood up and was looking down at Maggie, berating her physically as well as verbally.
She told Maggie she was too angry to even be in the same room with her and left, slamming the door behind her.
One must understand that Maggie refuses to admit she has a heart. Of course, she does, but it’s a point on which she won’t budge―it’s her armor and protection. Maggie sat in the office by herself, refusing to care about what had just happened. She sat in stony indifference until Julia returned about five minutes later. Julia was calm and icy. She sat down and stared at Maggie. Finally, she said, “Do you want to know what evil is, Maggie? Evil is thinking about Meagan, and treating Meagan, as you think about and treat her.”
“So, I guess I’m evil then?” Maggie asked, her voice even and unemotional.
“Okay.” Julie replied, as she continued to stare coldly at Maggie.
They sat in silence for many minutes and then Julia got out her lunch and started to eat. I didn't know when Maggie left, but I was no longer in the dark theater―I was sitting in uncomfortable silence with Julia. I'm not sure if she knew it was now me, but she continued eating her lunch without speaking. I was devastated. The little ones inside were devastated. Maggie was gone, really gone. My world started to slip, and everything seemed unreal.
After Julie finished her lunch and methodically cleaned up, she asked to talk to Meagan again. I was glad to leave and let Meagan fill the space. When Meagan opened her eyes to look at Julia, it was with fear and dread. What in the world could she want?
Julia then did something that was the most wounding thing she did that day. She stood up and came over to Meagan, sat down, and took her in her arms. Meagan started to cry as Julia soothed and cradled her. Julia told her she was so sorry The Others treated her the way they did, and that she had no idea things were so bad for her.
Meagan sobbed while Julia held her, but not because she was sad about The Others, her life, or the way she was treated. Julia simply didn’t know what she was doing to us. In those moments of trying to comfort Meagan by criticizing and belittling everybody else, she was tearing apart the internal structure of my being. Everybody started to hide, to retreat into separate corners, and pull into themselves. Never had such loneliness and fear existed as in those moments, as Julia tried to love and comfort Meagan. My world would never be the same.
… Laurie, Maggie was devastated. Everybody within was reeling that this woman who had become a mother to us, would say we were evil. Everybody would have answered as Maggie did, because everybody's self-image is simply accepted as true. So, the evil assessment fell equally on each one of us.
I tried to bring this up some weeks later, but my therapist said she was drawing a boundary around it, and I couldn’t discuss it … if I insisted, she would ask me to leave. I told her I was hurting because of what she had said, and she replied, "I’ve prayed about it, and the Holy Spirit hasn’t shown me that I did anything wrong." I then felt even God was against me. I was crumbling inside; she had sought God’s counsel and He didn't care enough about me to communicate to her that she had done anything wrong.I didn’t even think it was necessarily wrong, but it created chaos inside, and I needed to talk and work through it. This was the beginning of an extremely difficult and heartbreaking year. Ana
Dear Ana, your therapist had no idea what she was doing ...
Excerpted from "Mending the Shattered Mirror: A Journey of Recovery from Abuse in Therapy" by Analie Shepherd. Copyright © 2016 by Analie Shepherd. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.