Today, I’m pausing my discussion of the contributing factors in the development of Dissociative Identity Disorder to talk about Dissociative Identity Disorder and relationships. Navigating relationships may be the single biggest challenge I encounter living with DID. I see the havoc my disorder wreaks on my most intimate relationships and I feel helpless to do anything about it. I watch my partner in particular struggle with abandonment, loneliness, and the chaotic nature of DID and I know that more personalities doesn’t always mean more love.
Sometimes More is Less
I met a woman once who told me that ” … a pound of crazy weighs more than ten pounds of awesome.” It hurt to hear and that comment is a big part of why we never became friends. Even so, I see her point. Sometimes all the fabulous I can muster can’t compete with the destabilizing effects of DID. Loving me means accepting abandonment, making friends with loneliness, and strapping yourself in for a wild and sometimes nauseating ride. One day you’re loved and adored, the next you’re treated with cold indifference. Some alters see you as a comrade, but not a romantic partner. To some you’re a nuisance; to some a playmate. To others you’re a stranger, or even a threat. And it isn’t as though you can choose who you interact with or, as in my case, even expect the courtesy of knowing who you’re dealing with at any given moment. Intimate relationships are difficult enough without that degree of ambiguity and inconsistency. Love cannot live on sporadic nourishment, no matter how delicious.
Everyone seems to grow thin with me
and their eyes grow black as hunters’ eyes
and search my face for sustenance.
All my friends are dying of hunger,
there is some basic dish I cannot offer,
and you my love are almost as lean
as the splendid wolf I must keep always
at my door. -from Memoirs of a Mad Cook, by Gwendolyn MacEwen
Sometimes Less is Enough
My partner has learned to live with hunger. Parts of my system have worked tirelessly to push her away, with many near-successes. She’s in a relationship with someone who repeatedly leaves. Once she described it to me saying:
“Imagine you’re having a conversation with someone. In the middle of your sentence, they turn to stare out the window and they’re gone. You’re talking to yourself.”
This kind of small abandonment is part of her daily life. The loneliness that results is bound to be all the more frustrating knowing that somewhere in that body is your partner, but you can’t get to them. I vacillate between struggle to alleviate that loneliness and feeling resentful of it. I can’t make up for all the losses in my intimate relationships without incurring some of my own. So my partner and I try to accept the limits of DID. Fortunately for me, she decided long ago that ten pounds of awesome does in fact weigh more than a pound of crazy.
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