You’ve probably, in some time of your life, reached out to someone who didn’t reach back. It can feel rejecting, isolating, and leaves an empty space where sadness sits to fester.
Having alternate identities and reaching out to Headmates, only to meet an eery, emotionless silence, can feel like shouting out into a void; never knowing if your words reached destination.
I’m Melissa. I’m part of The Bag System. In an effort to connect with my system, I have met triumph, small moments of success, and a bit of that void where I’m not sure where my efforts are reaching.
Alternatively, I also found myself overwhelmed with something of a flood of communication, revelation, conflict, and hurt feelings.
If you’ve been following The Bag System podcast, welcome back. We have some evolution in our story to tell you about. The tale unwinds, intertwines, and unravels, just a bit. As usual, though, we find ourselves at a crossroad of choice and realization. Though, it feels like mysteries are building, and remain brewing, while more bubble up.
If you give us a listen and you want to find out more, you can find us over at thebagsystem.com
We put a lot of work into the website; hopefully, making it feel like a comfortable corner of the big www dot universe. Feel free to stop by and learn more about The Bag System Headmates, to drop us a comment, or light up the review stars.
Melissa: I have alternate personalities.
Skittle: It’s so funny!
Melissa: What if none of this is real?
Imitation of therapist: How do you feel?
SpitFire: Would you just get her out of my face?!
Melissa: What if I’m not real?
I didn’t know if we had an inner world, as many systems had described such a place inside the mind where alters could interact. I knew that I could hear talking within the Headspace, but were they in a world that I could not access? Perhaps, but the mystery remained strong. Thirst for answers were left unquenched. It seemed, the more I remained within that thirst, the greater the drought, and the deeper I sunk into searches, rewarded with only more arid land.
There were periods, however, where confusing bits of inner conversations were overheard. Questions were met with hints that begged more curiosity.
I wondered when at first catching these phrases, if I were actually experiencing a form of psychosis, rather than Dissociative Identity Disorder. This was considered because the things that I was hearing were not facts of my life. The voices inside my mind were not always referencing my actual life events. I would hear something, then think, “What do you mean? That never happened? What are you talking about? This is bullshit. This isn’t real. I’m just crazy.”
I grew so consumed with a feeling of upset over this that I withdrew from trying to connect with them, and instead, pushed them away. A voice inside questioned the others, “How can we get her to believe?”
In our therapy appointment during that time, I told the psychologist that none of it was real. This was just a delusion. I did not have DID. I was psychotic.
She replied, “It’s not my impression that you have psychosis. It’s my opinion that you have Dissociative Identity Disorder and that these voices are alters.”
When I came back to saying I was psychotic and this was all a trick of the mind, she insisted that this was DID.
“Can this just be psychosis?” I nearly begged.
Her reply, “You know what? For today, it can be. For today.”
My Headmates felt perhaps too pushed away, or maybe, they were aware that it was too much for me to hear them. To protect me, or us as a whole, I wasn’t hearing them anymore for weeks. At first, I was relieved, but when calm again and less fearful, I reached out, only to be met with silence. It felt lonely, a bit cold, and even rejecting.
I thought of making an attempt to connect with the littles in our system by watching a cartoon. I selected a short video of birds interacting on an electricity wire. The humour and fun was awakening for the littles.
Skittle squealed with joy. We wiggled with anticipation where we sat with our blanket and the kids’ stuffed toys.
When the clip was over, we hugged the stuffies. I showed Katie how we could wrap our arms around her Butter Bunny. She began hugging him with me. It felt, in some way, like for the first time, I was hugging Katie in my arms. It felt like the most significant moment of affection and connection that we had ever shared. On sensing this, I didn’t want to let go of Butter Bunny, or of Katie.
I fell into waves of emotion at feeling her so near the surface and of experiencing her vulnerable, sullen presence. Tears quietly rolled down our cheeks and she pressed her nose against the nose of the bunny.
She responded to me by repeated her name in the Headspace, saying, “I Katie. I Katie.” She also told me, “I’m love Butter.”
I asked Katie that, if it was okay with her, and if it was okay with the Headmates who cared for her, would she let me be her Big?
I explained to her that “Big” is a term for grown ups in a system, and that I would love to be hers. The request was accepted, then I told the littles that I would be speaking with the older Headmates and that they could rest. We covered many issues that I felt were important to our functionality, and to ensure that I did not cross boundaries they might have in place for the littles.
As much as I was fond of my re-connection within, it came with its difficulties. When the silence crumbled out of quiet and into thunder, the storm washed me away and onto a lost island of mystery.
I can’t see our inner world, but I now know that it’s there. References to locations and activities within this world have been made multiple times, leaving me wishing for further connection with it. I’ve heard the unique voices of Headmates talking about a stairway they were in, a warehouse they would meet someone at, or a man they had married after moving out of one home and into another.
I desired to see this place, asked questions; nearly begged to know more.
A young girl introduced herself in saying, “I’m Zeta-Rose.” Zeta-Rose. I was immediately moved… and thankful to this Headmate for the kindness of reaching out, and with such a beautiful name. I longed to see her, and what I regret is how I attempted to somehow dissociate into the Headspace to see what sounds like a town in our mind.
There was instant panic within. I could hear fear in their voices and a rush to react. “Protect the protector!” was the call to action. As soon as I heard this, I was jolted out, grounded, and a bit rattled; perhaps somewhat offended. I was also remorseful for trying to hack my way in.
What did they mean by this reference of, protect the protector? Was I the protector that they needed to keep safe from knowing something that I should not? Perhaps not. What I more-so wonder is, was there a Headmate defined as a protector that I was not meant to see or access? Perhaps…
I grew somewhat bitter, but mostly sad, as I felt like I was banished to the outside of the mind, to live in a dingy apartment and facing difficult daily life, while they had connection with each other and a whole town. I wondered if it was a nice place to live, and imagined it likely was. Did the warehouse they spoke of meeting someone at have a big empty space with a neat swing in the centre, hanging off a beam? Was it full of supplies? Was it abandoned and now a cool hangout? Why was I not permitted to see? I’d love to see…
The issue was that I pried into the personal lives of my Headmates when this was not desired or invited. I was yelled at from within, though, within context of the story that I will not fully tell, they were right to be angry. I was overly curious and invaded passed boundaries.
I learned just how much these little windows of dissociative walls falling were causing me to hear bits of conversations, was unwanted and without intention. In their position, I wouldn’t want someone eavesdropping either. I don’t usually hear them on purpose, though I can grasp how these glimpses within would be unnerving to them.
I became overwhelmed with discovering this inner town that I was not previously aware of, and wondered what this meant in terms of how many we are in here. A whole town? New names kept coming up that I had not heard. New voices and new references to having children and relationships, homes, aspirations, disruptions, deceit, or even history of events were popping up regularly. I didn’t know how to keep track of one piece of information coming after another and another.
Eventually, after days that included trauma anniversaries and major triggers, we spun into a dissociative haze. Several days went by with an inability to function, prepare or eat food, brush our hair, or answer the phone. We phased out and found ourself in a long trance where we sat and stared at the wall or the ceiling; lost in the mind, or in some empty space.
The triggers led to a lot of upset in our system. Young Katie was co-fronting to the point where nothing I could type or think was my own. All our words were Katie’s; with the vocabulary and feelings of a sad and hurting two-year-old girl.
I found a way to reach out to our system, as I realized that when speaking aloud, my words were my own. Katie grows unsettled at hearing herself talk out loud, as it sounds grown up, when she is not, so she refrains from speaking audibly.
We had what I call a Team Meeting over an audio recording app. I reached out to Katie and asked her what she needed and why she was so upset. How could I help? How can we be functional again? Katie didn’t speak, though I could sense her think.
The conversation led to a series of outbursts in laughter from 4-year-old Skittle. You can hear her laughing in the intro reel at the beginning of each episode in our “The Bag System” podcast series.
I sense sometimes that Skittle is sent to the front to ease high anxiety or distress. She has a fantastic high energy attitude and loves to laugh. She is endearing, and I am so fond of her for how positive and seemingly untainted she is by our past. I love her happy squeal that is often mistaken by others as a tic from our Tourette syndrome.
I’m going to play a clip from our Team Meeting. It demonstrates our communication with each other, and shows how we can struggle to stay on the same page.
Melissa: We need to work, and we need to…
Skittle: I wanna watch a cartoon! (Laughter)
Melissa: We need to stop dissociating. Please! I’m not trying to be mad. I’m not trying to be mad. I’m not trying to be mad. I’m just discouraged and I’m worried and I’m concerned because the works not getting done and it has to be done.
When both SpitFire and I wanted to resolve the dissociation and emotionally overwhelmed state with taking it out on the body, Maggie took over and her positive energy carried us for hours until she got us some help.
I honestly feel that however upsetting or unsettling things can get, we all serve such a positive function as a system, working together. While some of us feel sadness, some anger, some guilt, others carry problem solving, intrigue, love of others, and absolute, innocent joy that completes the whole of who we are. We may be in parts, but by each owning a role in our divided self, we are unified in coping with daily life.
We are in this together; a team, and I will continue to work on communication.
Melissa: Okay. I think I’m gonna…
Skittle: Where are we going?! (Laughter)
Melissa: We’re going anywhere. We’re ending the recording, and we’re gonna ground for real. We’re not going anywhere.