[Trigger warning: Non-graphic mention of child abuse and rape, multiplicity]
There are two parts of me that have been in a long drawn-out fight. I’ll call them Blue Girl and Pink Girl. They split and became separate people during a very tumultuous period in our life. The fight was fueled by a divide between parents, and a divide between misguided moral systems.
In one corner is Blue Girl. She tried her best to look normal to the outside world. She sought approval from the “non-abusers” in our life. She kept quiet. She disowned the parts of her that were sexual, that were inappropriate. Both the sexuality that she naturally had as a human being, and the acting out that arose specifically because of the abuse. She was called a goodie-two-shoes, and she was proud of it. She was constantly praised for being smart, creative, and well-behaved. None of her intelligence or creativity was for herself, though. She achieved things specifically for approval. To make up for everything she thought was wrong with her. She hid her femininity and tried to fit the boy mold, eventually becoming one of what we call the “boy fronters”—the put-on male facades that lived our day-to-day life.
In the other corner is Pink Girl, the one who reluctantly stayed with the abuser. She was brazenly sexual, didn’t care what other people thought, was loud and open about her feelings. Unabashedly feminine. She reluctantly stayed with the abuser because it was only in the space of the abuse that she was allowed to be a girl. She was shamed by others both for her femininity and for having any sexual thoughts or feelings whatsoever. She was labeled Bad. Because of how the allegedly “good” people in her life—the supposed “non-abusers”—judged her, she gave up on trying to be good and reveled in being “bad”. There was no way she could win, so she chose the route that allowed her to at least be honest about her feelings. She could be feminine. She could let out the confusing, overwhelming sexual feelings that resulted from the rape. She could find validation for her femaleness–albeit in really messed up ways, such as playing the role of spouse to the abuser. But it was validation. For all this, she became Devil Girl.
[Content notice: Vague mention of child abuse. Also lots of positive self-care experiences.]
Sometimes the child parts of me don’t know that things have changed since the body was their age. They were frozen in time by the trauma. I would experience something traumatic, that part of me would freeze, and a new part would take over. Because of this, instead of a single “inner child” I have many inner children, scattered across time.
Being displaced in time is a jarring, confusing experience that mirrors the neurological tearing caused by dissociation. The process toward integration therefore isn’t only psychological, but also spatial and temporal.
My inner children are now thawing out. Everything in their minds was preserved in exactly the same state as when they froze. This means things in the present get remapped in their heads to the stuff they personally know. Our current home becomes the Bad Home from childhood. Our bedroom becomes whatever bedroom belonged to that particular child part. Sometimes it’s the upstairs bedroom. Sometimes it’s the downstairs bedroom. Sometimes it’s the bedroom from the first house we lived in. Sometimes it’s the bedroom we shared with the Bad Man.
When this shift happens, the room’s appearance changes. Things don’t literally warp, but the feel of them warps, like how everything appears to recede into the distance after a long walk. The mind bends reality to its frame of reference.
[Content notice: Systemic economic oppression, health system abuses]
When I was applying for scholarships, I regularly got the advice from teachers and from websites: Don’t tell a sob story. Nobody wants a sob story. If you have a negative story, spin it into something positive.
Every opportunity for help seems to follow this attitude: We will only help you if you show the right attitude. Say the right words. Be uplifting and inspirational. Be functional enough you can impress us with arbitrary performance numbers and a long list of accomplishments. Otherwise, you don’t deserve help.
The end result is that those who have been through maybe a little pain, just enough to see the darkness but never really get sucked in by it, those are the ones who get help. The ones floating above the surface, the ones whose heads are out of the water because their feet are planted on the masses trying not to drown.
[Content notice: Discussion of kink, ageplay, and abuse recovery]
I received a question from raw-noize-slut on Tumblr, after writing about putting my hair in pigtails, and thought my answer deserved publishing here.
I’ve heard many Trans people talk about reliving childhood either because 1. Hormones are giving them a “second” puberty 2. They missed out on a childhood of preferred gender expression. I don’t really feel either of these and think my attitudes and behaviors lean towards what most would consider “adult” i.e. I cant see myself wearing pig tails; the exception being (and this complicates things exponentially) when I have clients interested in age play and although thats not a go-to fetish for my non-pro sex life, I’m definitely into the power dynamics. Do you think the general infantilism of Western women’s sexuality plays into your desire to explore your child self?
No. This is recovery work dealing with rape, and rape is not sex. The only time sexuality comes into play is re-discovering my sexuality from the perspective of my inner child. Just as I wasn’t able to go through normal developmental stages otherwise, I also had my sexual development completely obliterated by the abuse. The re-parenting process is often described as “learning to live all over again”, from the basics of walking to talking to everything else, and while that includes my sexuality as well, this is not akin to ageplay or any kind of sexual kink.
This image was inspired by my feelings of being weathered and beaten by my recovery efforts, but still holding onto it all for something worthwhile. Through my hard work, my inner child lives on.
The way this image came into being is a bit unusual. Read the rest of this entry »
[Content notice: Negative effects of mental illness]
I have phases where my mental illness is barely noticeable. My PTSD comes and goes like the tide, except these tides last for months. I have long stretches of time where the tide is low, and I function like any “normal” human being. During these periods I do as much work as I can. I start projects. I collaborate with other artists. I take on long-term responsibilities. Life is beautiful.
After a few months, however, the tide rises. Simple tasks become impossible. Practically everything triggers a panic attack. I can’t even bring myself to check my email, because it suddenly feels like a spike trap waiting to kill me. My artistic collaborations fall through. My long-term projects wither. I feel unreliable and worthless. I feel disappointed in myself. I feel like I have let everyone down. I fear everybody else labels me as unreliable and lazy.
Disconnecting from my escapist habits means being Here. And Here is Home. No matter where I live, Home is the place I grew up, the abusive home. It’s terror. It’s trauma. I’m still that little girl escaping hell by going on the computer and living a disembodied life. Losing myself in daydreams and imagined events. Except now it’s 15 years later and I’m living a completely different life. On the outside, at least.
Inside I haven’t moved an inch. It wasn’t safe for me to exist in the outside world, so I left the physical world and locked myself away in my imagination. That wasn’t safe enough, so I went deeper and deeper into my imagination. I didn’t feel safe until I went several layers in, living within a dream within a dream within a dream. But I needed somebody to live my life on the outside, so I created a persona to live it for me. The imaginary person became real, and I became imaginary. I lived that way for so long that my compass flipped. When I’m present and grounded in reality, it feels like I’m in a lucid dream. When I’m actually deep inside a dream, everything feels real.
This compass is reversed for the imaginary person. Many years ago they realized something was wrong, and started digging. They tried to find their true self. They dug deeper and deeper into the dirt, until they heard a voice. That voice was me, trapped deep inside my imagination all this time. We communicated through thick walls for years, neither of us knowing who or where the other was. Neither knowing our own origins or our history together.
I think I’m ready to dig my way out through the remaining barriers. I grew weak from being locked up, though, so I need help. I think trying psych medication again will help me break through this final barrier. My core is ready to leave the dream. I’m ready to stop pretending. The persona is ready to retire.
The following is a piece I wrote several years ago after reading Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto. I was just coming to grips with dissociative identity disorder and my abusive history. It’s fascinating to look back and remember this period of my life. I think older selves make for great teachers.
PART I – A New Definition of Technology
Now that humans can engineer life, the old definition of technology is obsolete. A new paradigm is needed to explain our purpose in the world and the nature of what humans create. The only difference between a computer and DNA is individual chemistry. Our technology is merely an echo of god. We mirror the inherent life-potential of the cosmos that created us.
Now at peak of scientific knowledge, we are but mere teenagers playing at maturity and abusing our new found agency. Like most teenagers, we think we know it all. We act out while inflicting massive damage. Our work is amateurish compared to Nature’s engineering. Evolution has created astounding technologies that operate on the smallest scale and use a tiny, non-toxic subset of the periodic table. Quantum mechanics have given old stand-byes of the technophobic aesthetic a new twist: birds navigate the earth by magnetic fields using quantum entanglement in their beaks. Plants convert sunlight to chemical energy more efficiently by using coherence. The latest tools of the tech world were mastered by nature millions of years ago.
Natural technology evolves randomly from chaos and the playing out of physical forces. Because its existence is rooted in the creation of the universe itself, it develops from the bottom up. Its story begins with energy and ends with matter. After the Big Bang, energy condensed to form matter. Stars and other celestial objects formed, crushing atoms into new forms and heavier densities. Galaxies developed, giving way to life-bearing planets. Atoms combined to form organic molecules. Those molecules interacted until they could perform the basic functions of life—reproduction, passing on of information, metabolism. Those elements evolved to produce fully living cells, those cells developed into multi-cellular organisms, and so on.
Arguably, the peak of this evolutionary process lead to humans. Our technology’s story begins with matter and ends with energy. It has evolved through careful observation and deliberate action, from the top down. It began with the creation of primitive stone tools. As hunter-gatherers we dominated other animals. Agriculture allowed us to domesticate animals, manipulate plants and reshape the soil. Science and industry allowed us to manipulate the environment further, first on the chemical level, and now on the atomic and even subatomic level.
We are not speaking of nature and technology, natural and artificial, original and imitative. We are speaking of unobserved technology and observed technology. Their respective trajectories are unobserved evolution and observed evolution. With the dawn of synthetic life, the process has come full circle.