Melissa: I have alternate personalities.
Skittle: It’s really funny!
Melissa: But what if none of this is real?
Unknown: She doesn’t even like me!
Melissa: Where was I when that happened?
Melissa: SNAP back to it, man. Snap back to it.
SpitFire: Can she just get out of my face?!
Skittle: I want to watch a cartoon!
Melissa: What if I’m not real?
End Intro Reel
This episode of The Bag System podcast is the finale to season one. For a show that nearly did not go on passed its first episode, I’m grateful to ride these airwaves to ears of kind company. Without coasting to a stop, our sliding socks soar over continuing floorboards, or of storyboards.
This episode is another fiction short story, though, very much inspired by truth.
While there will be no traumatic or trigger specific descriptions, there is however an intense air filtering through these words that may evoke strong emotion.
This story is a walk-through of what Dissociative Identity Disorder is like, or can be like. While aspects are taken from recollection and experiences, the storyline is fiction; serving only to draw on a reality, that for some, is subtle, while also powerful.
This is The Bag System podcast. If you give us a listen and you want to find out more, you can find us over at thebagsystem.com
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Stick around to the end for shoutouts, acknowledgements, and a few closing thoughts
A whisper speaks my name. I’m startled that the voice, originating from inside my head, is not that of my thoughts.
“Is there someone else in here?” Fear rises, then pauses, only for it to be shrugged off. “No way… Not possible.” My voice is stern; like I command it to be so.
I fail to change reality. Awareness snaps like a buckle.
A whisper speaks my name…
I whisper her name from inside our head; the one she thinks is only hers. If I can sound out this identity, perhaps I’ll figure out my own.
I know she heard my voice, as now, I breathe her fear as though it’s mine.
“Who’s there?” are the thoughts accompanied by eyes darting around her, but not within her. While the question does reach me, my silence replies lies of her solitude.
She cannot see me, nor truly know to look for me. It’s always been so. We all live in the shadows of each other, canceling each other out.
The mirror never sees me. I’ve come to wonder if I even exist. Which of us is in the mirror? If only it could be me…
Our head tips down, then back up in a double-take. My features fill our reflection. Black, raven hair, cut short and poking out at the sides. My button nose, large green eyes, and dimpled cheeks fall behind a quick blink, as though my very person could wash away; replaced by long-blond hair and startled blue eyes.
Our hand reaches out to lay our palm over a cool mirror. The touch to surface feels real; more real than we feel we are.
Our gaze rolled in self-ridicule, then a chuckle escaped us, as Melissa feels silly and embarrassed. It’s as though she knows we are in audience to her thoughts.
We sighed, turned from any reflection, closed the lights and ran through the darkness as though it could chase us.
It’s late. We are tired. The little ones need to sleep. Will we?
The bed covers are a hiding place, while darkness closes in on us, drawing images that Melissa concludes are mere imagination.
Midnight wrestles through the window, and flickering moonlight pierces an old oak tree.
As an awakening, words once spoken to us haunt our mind like a recording on repeat.
The patterns of spaces between leaves dance over our bedsheet. While moments ago, the clock ticked, the fridge hummed, and branches rustled, now only a strong gulp swallows the pounding heart in our ears.
She’s going into a flashback, I worry. A tunnel of intermittent breath brushes over a fear-scrunched face.
We feel the warning wince. We need to calm down. I know how to bring the hush of sleep. I’ve done so before.
I rest perched behind the eyes that Melissa peers through. I take the reigns of breathing. I close our eyes from seeing the faint trigger to childhood memories. The upward curves of our lips form a famous painted grin of secrecy. While our heart slows pace, she grows curious of this sudden smirk, though, she concludes it to be her own.
I hum a melody that I’ve played for her since before we could speak. We are comforted in remembering this lullaby. Though, before the strings of my music take us from awareness, one of the littles begins to cry within, our eyes open in escape of safety, and memories flood back over the sheets. Mind and body divide, and a surge of youth in our veins draws for past and present to collide.
When the flashback subsides, the whimpering of the children within us finds the surface where tears break free. We reach for our stuffed bear, but we stored him away years ago. We step backwards in a minds’ time bubble; touching our long hair for which there’s no recall of the years in which it grew.
Our age rewinds to 16. The room shifts and a poster on the wall is a yellow smiling face that we painted ourselves, with the words, “Be happy. Eat Ritz,” etched in pen lines below it. The radio played a long forgotten song. Melissa covers our ears, though the vocals refuse to quiet.
She doesn’t know when we are, or even where. Sweet 16 left a bitter taste; lingering now to the year 2021. We cannot let her know what happened back then, or that we are here. We all need to be safe; including from ourselves.
A dissociative wave runs from replaying memories. Melissa sees herself leave before she rises to go, then follows her own footsteps in toe.
Where is she going? To safety, is the obvious answer as she reaches for the doorknob to the outside with thoughts of the swing-set down the block from years gone by.
“Stop.” A voice of tall stature and authority closed our minds’ lightning gap with a thunderclap.
Panic subsides with the speed of the first letter to the word, “stop.” A calm stole the night where the refrigerator found its hum, the clock beat its drum, and our heart soothed to peace.
“What did you just do?” The surprise I wear equally adorns the speechless features of those who dare to peer out our eyes from our perch in the mind. “She heard you; felt you.”
“The signs of our presence never caused her to see or know,” are the wise thoughts of authority for which we always relied.
A sharp intake of air down our chest cuts our calm, and Melissa’s voice escapes barriers that meet our own ears. “Signs? Of what?” Melissa wishes to know.
“She heard? She heard.”
In glancing to our faithful comrade who put a stop to our hiding place with just one command, the words now collapsing reality bear the wisdom of Alfred Tennyson, in writing, “Authority forgets a dying king.”
Our eyes combat from falter by force of will; not willing to meet the end of the word, “Stop.”
“Tell me your name,” Melissa speaks aloud in podium to our inner gathering.
We offer silence despite the impactful volume in our exchanged looks.
“This can’t be.” “What will happen now?” “Nobody say anything.” “This isn’t happening.” “I’m scared.” “Quiet.”
My eyes narrowed at her obvious introduction while I bowed my head, only to realize, the body bowed its head while eyes narrowed. I wear the body; merely for a second, then rush back inside to peer from the safety of my perch.
“Hi.” Melissa greeted me with a calm mind, as she continued to stand in halt over the urgent authority within a kind and soothing request to stop. “I think we’ve met before. I’m not scared now. I don’t know how you did that, nor why, but thank you for helping me calm down from how terrified I was.”
Fear that Melissa left abandoned now finds a home in the rest of us. We aren’t ready. We can never be ready.
“Is anyone there?” she questions us. “I know you can hear me. I’ve heard you before; felt you before. I was afraid; not of you, but of what it meant for me.”
The room is still through a long pause, and suddenly, even silence grows warm and welcoming. I profoundly long to tell her my name, though I cannot.
“That’s okay.” Melissa concludes. “I’ll ask again another day.”
We softly carry bare-feet over the kitchen floor, down the hall, into our room, then climb into a safe bed, where age matches body in the year 2021.
It’s Melissa’s turn to whisper. “Goodnight,” is the parting farewell to a moment, and a greeting to find us tomorrow.
Despite her will, our dissociative walls are built strong, reach deep, and are a fortress of necessity.
Even while a king may pass away, his authority carries continued weight. Closed eyes now rest toward the morning, and toward absolute… forgetting…
Though we are not to be remembered in the wake of morning, I wish, that while I’d had the chance, I’d whispered her my name.
In closing thoughts to this first season that defied expectation, I sense a transition, perhaps not to greater things, though, to heightened perspective. I sometimes appear found, when I am lost. I search for answers, and yet, they call my name.
I’d like to acknowledge the fading of a fear of perception of others, the growth of confidence that I recognize to be won as an inner team, and a connection to self-awareness not found in upward-thrust victory cups, but in progression of the human element that brings every relatable breath to equal level.
Shoutout to every ear who’s ever met our sound-waves. Thank you for playing even a single record-skip duration, or, if you’ve soared on those breezy sock bottoms from the first tile, we will ride this tide together in our upcoming season of 2022.