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 out of my face?!
Skittle: I wanna watch a cartoon!!
Melissa: What if I’m not real?
Within the intro reel that just played, you’ll have heard the angry words, “Would you just get her out of my face?!”
These words came from a Headmate who hates me rather distinctly. She saw my reflection and grew irritated.
Those who have Dissociative Identity Disorder are often viewed with an air of psychopathy. We are most commonly brought up in movies, or the news, as perpetrators that can turn on those around them at any time. Though, should alternate identities be considered synonymous with violent nature when the condition in itself is due to subjection to trauma, and not causing it?
I have listened to other podcasts regarding DID. I grew uneasy and saddened when in some of these discussions, the examples of real-life stories were mostly those of murderers claiming innocence due to the disorder. Why might we be seen in such a criminal and damaging light?
In this episode, we discuss what DID is and is not in regard to an aggressive nature. We talk about what is considered a persecutor alter and the important role they play in our protection.
Stick around to the end so you can hear a transition switch between our persecutor alter and myself.
While it isn’t uncommon to have a Headmate that is referred to as a persecutor alter, this might be viewed more-so in a comprehensible light.
If you’re always the last one to go down, or as the one who endured the most, you might not find yourself backed against the wall to the end. How many times do you need to get punched, then kicked when you’re down, before your defences kick in?
Some of us feel more anger than others. Perhaps, because some of us have more reason to be angry. At some point, fear kicks self-defence into gear, and all we have left is a bit of spitfire to push back with.
I do not know the true name of the headmate that is considered our persecutor alter, though, with her permission, I called her SpitFire.
In learning more about what motivates her, and in considering her experiences and feelings, I am compassionate to the validity of her anger.
We do not yell at those around us. We do not hurt them. We do not throw things or punch walls to make an aggressive point.
When this body was 16, while not all of us were, we spent 45 minutes in determination to catch a house fly in a jar so that we could put it outside. This, to keep it from being smacked with a swatter. Our compassion was strong. Our need to protect was heightened by experiences. While some may return violence for violence, the strongest weapon that was ever used against us, was our love for them.
In our bottomless chasm of loving to the point of pain, we turned the hate we may have felt against the person who hurt us into deepening our compassion for others, which could only be achieved by lessening our respect for ourselves.
We turned the blame inward; made ourselves the guilty ones. The only way to sit across the dinner table from our greatest source of pain and survive it, was to blame ourselves to the point of loathing.
If someone with Dissociative Identity disorder, or someone who claims to have it, takes a life, it certainly hits the news and gathers media attention far into the future.
If I have DID, and I am creative, loving, and an advocate for animal and human rights, I probably won’t make the news, but the news will be a defining element in the course of my existence.
When the mentality is to highlight criminality and paint us with a bloodthirsty brush, then what chance is there for acceptance when we come forward?
While many of those with DID have no idea that they live with it, those who are aware will often hide in fear of discovery. With movies like Split making it to mainstream, those who may have stepped forward prior were silenced by the damage caused by the misrepresentation.
When I was first told that I had Headmates, I feared for those outside of my family to know. When I was on the verge of admitting it, there were some who had already figure it out. I was quickly labelled a psychopath and met with aggressive harassment. It became clear to me, that no matter the good I have ever done, no matter my devotion to others, I was nothing but the interpretation and stigmatization of those who perceived the disorder with a sense of fear.
We grow afraid of what we do not know. I found myself as the result of trauma that built dissociative walls, and as the product of a society that simply did not know any better, as fear is a wall as well.
If someone is terrified, they require coaxing, time and seeing their surroundings, and the truth within it, in order to take a step out of their corner to verify safety.
While I understand those who hate due to fear, I request a moment, just one, where those who fear might hear my voice. Hear me; hear us.
I caught the fly when I was 16. I succeeded. I let it outside and it flew up into a white sky; freedom. Life, respect, love, compassion, are so significant to me that I would stretch my resources for another. I will tare myself down in order to build another up. Hear my voice, or know my words. There is no place for hate in me, but that of the hate that I feel for myself. Will you still call me a psychopath?
If you do, let me tell you this, I’m sorry that you feel this way. I take it as my own failure to be seen as protective and loving. I will do better. I will find a way to help those with this fear to grasp how a child who loved so deeply did not grow from this seed into hate.
While we cannot always look at ourself in the mirror, this remains our most clever adaptation of survival. In taking on the blame for what we faced, we allowed ourself to grow up feeling like those around us were good, while we needed to be a better person to resolve our guilt.
A persecutor alter is one that serves a significant function. If you have DID and you find it difficult to cope with such a Headmate, or if you cannot understand why they act, or react in a persecutory way, then perhaps this next part can be for you. In a way, it can also be for them, as the hope is a path to inner understanding, and perhaps, some mending.
A Headmate that is aggressive towards you or others in your system is often not only considered a persecutor, but also a protector. When your back is against the wall, that flare of gumption can be the defining element that releases you from danger. When you may be about to make a compulsive mistake, that voice in your head from this Headmate that may sound cruel is the only way they know to protect the system from harm. They learned aggression through what was done to them, and they may not know how to resolve an issue in another way.
An impulse in this relationship may be to feel upset or overwhelmed, perhaps even angry at being the subject of hateful speech, but there may be an alternative.
Let me not merely explain, but also demonstrate.
SpitFire; I call you this as I do not know your name. I feel that you have gumption; more than I ever did. I thought you were intimidating; I now find you poised. I thought that you were hateful, and I feared you; I now see your protective intentions. You must have lived such difficulties. It’s incredible, and admirable of you to have held on in those circumstances when none of the rest of us could. You remained on the surface so that we did not have to. You protected us with this courage. I see now, your motivations were of love, because there is nothing stronger. You prevented us from living what you endured. While you may now express this love in lashing out to keep us safe after all you were put though, I feel a strong need to thank you. So, thank you.
My guess was that SpitFire would not take this message well. She is used to existing as the target and the one to be at the forefront when we are met with danger.
My hope is that if you live with a persecutor alter, that you might take a moment to consider their side; to attempt communication, and to keep trying with tact and kindness until understanding and resolution can be found. Anger is often a mask for fear. If that fear is addressed, it can be coaxed down from a heated moment.
If our own love was the greatest, most significant weapon to be used against us, then this powerful force that has only grown can certainly be a far reaching means of mending ourself.
Call us a psychopath… one… last time.
Did you believe yourself this time?
During the recording of this episode, SpitFire fronted and began reading my notes in a mocking tone. I will play part of the clip where you’ll notice her tone turn from bitter to somewhat impacted by the words that she was reading. She fades out while reading, and I work my way back to presenting the episode for myself.
SpitFire: This remains our most clever adaptation of survival. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…
It’s the only way they know to protect the system… from harm. They learn aggression… though what was done to them, and they may not know how to resolve an issue another way. An impulse in this relation while… (Fades out)
Melissa: A persecuto
A persecutor alter is one who serves a significant function