Friday, July 27, 2018

Grief and Dissociative Identity Disorder

This is a post I've had saved for nearly a year now. I can say, with near certainty, I have had it written once already, but we scrapped and delete the entire piece because it wasn't sitting right. There were things missing and too much fluff. Which for those of you who know me, myself, you will understand why that was bothersome. I will not be discussing every loss, but at least one of us misses every individual within this post.

I've come back to this title stored on my laptop countless times over recent months and even back to the end of the last year; I never could get myself to find the correct words, that is, until it hit me that there likely are not "correct" or "incorrect" words. I wasn't failing, nor struggling (truth be told parts of me are). It wasn't the shortcomings of my internal thesaurus or a lack of ability it stringing sentences together in a coherent manner... No, this was something more, dark. Sinister. Consuming... A barrage of idiosyncrasies stumbling around my mind like cannon fire, yet I could not place a single coherent thought. That is, not until today.

Grief can be a challenge. How those challenges influence us vary, yet the struggle and impact is ever present in those of us who are left after a death(s). In recent years, we've come to know Death intimately. (I capitalize her name to show her the proper respect, I believe, she's earned. Though I admit my mind bends more towards twisted musings.) She has been ever present. We've lost friends, pets, relatives and family.

This image was taken by Bob a few years ago.
The onslaught began over four years ago with the death of my grandmother. The only grandmother I have. Keeping up appearances is exhausting, but therapy has been beneficial in that I can now rebuke the idea of the other woman who in a biological sense, is also a "grandmother," yet is so far from that she may escape even Dexter's grasp. He'd for certain need the devil's hand for assistance. If you believe in that sort of thing. To the topic at hand... My grandmother was taken from us via cancer. The all encompassing "C word," the c word I find most heinous given it's more substantial impacts on the livings well being and inevitable lack their of once Death summons her to an individual(s).

We were able to speak with her, in length, before she passed. Something for which, we will be forever thankful. I know I was quite 'switchy," but we were mostly silent- at the beginning- and let her speak. I know we expressed concern for her as well as our own well being after she passed. She asked us for promises, some we will keep and others we told her we would not...but without disappointing her we did tell her why we would not be able to. We expressed to her what we had learned the year before at the Mayo Clinic and in our follow up appointments. I disclosed to her my diagnoses and even the big one, I told her all of those missing pieces of my life will come together; I will work on it even though she would not be there to see the jigsaw that is me live in peace and all of the other adjectives that depict a "pleasant being." She was silent for several minutes and then seemed to let out a breath I hadn't picked up...She said simply, "I am glad some dumbass (doctor) finally found the answers that fit and now you can begin to live. < One reason we don't call ourselves survivors, but I now have the desire to live. We were married to Sean in her home in Chicago just under two weeks before her Death came...and then all hell broke loose.

Jynx & My Grandfather-welcoming him home from his Honor Flight

Me as a baby helping him blow out his candles.

My Uncle "J" an amazing man and friend
That same year we knew other loses, but were overwhelmed and consumed by avoiding behavior. It served it's purpose and we worked through some of it, admittedly we are still working on things especially in regards to my grandmother. We miss and think of her daily. My mother-in-law passed not long after and that was another blow and toll paid to Death. Then an uncle whom we were very close, but had lost contact with due to the unfortunate nature of relative relationships or lack there of within the tangled mess of branches that hold our family tree.

Losing my mother-in-law was and still is difficult. We visit her grave often, and specifically allow Jynx and another their time to grieve her. They were quite close for some time, but relationships die and things fester. So there was also a lot of hurt and anger surrounding this relationship. I'll keep some of the privacy's still, but she too was taken by the "c word." While in hospital we were able to visit her that final week. We went there every day to sit and chat with her. It was clear she wasn't leaving and she said as much, to us, but kept up appearances for her families sake. We had some wonderful chats and I can't imagine any of us who had that final opportunity will ever forget them. She was a strong woman and when final decisions were being made my father in law and husband (other relatives too) seemed to look to us for assistance. Jynx did what she does and got to work...planning and putting together the funeral for the mother she lost, but never had enough time with.

I don't want to get into every loss over our lifetime or the massacre of every life Death has taken from us in recent years, but the final one we will be sharing with you is the loss of the first person we were tasked with protecting. My little brother. One of my earliest childhood memories is of my great grandmother. I remember the sight of her, how she smelled and every crease on her weathered face and hands that stemmed from a long life. She was in a nursing home and my mother enjoyed visiting with her...most of the time. That was unless her 'mother' was present; which admittedly wasn't often but did occur on a handful of unpleasant spite riddled occasions. Pressing on... My grandmother was one of the kindest most sincere woman I had encountered. Which at that point in our life, was an uncomfortable surprise; given who her relatives were and specifically who we knew her child to be. This woman we didn't have the opportunity to know better through life because she passed away when I was quite young. But I remember the smell of licorice and hard candies. I recall her warmth and her frail body wrapped around my tiny big eyed frame. There was a massive discomfort with touch and still is, but she felt safe. One of the smaller weak physicality's on any individual we've seen to date, and yet strength was there. I don't know her specific diagnoses but do recall hearing "she isn't quite there," i.e. dementia. She always adored seeing me, and to my knowledge always recognized me and even had recognition for my mother... My little brother was born early and remained in hospital for some time, but upon his release we (our mother & us) brought the new baby swaddled in clean linens to visit her.

She always brightened upon our visits, there are photos of us assisting her in holding the new bundle and we cherish them, as we don't have many photos of her. I recall being in one of the nursing homes halls in a corner near the nurses' desk that held a few chairs when she teared up. She glanced around, gave a slight nod to those standing nearby and in a hushed tone she said, "Protect him. Protect him from the monster." I recall the physical feeling of my eyes widening, I was instantly pulled from my body (dissociation) and watching this exchange from afar, but clear as day my skin crawled, I became nauseated and those words will forever be ingrained into my brain. We failed her in a way and parts of me struggle with this deeply. She was kind and loving towards us, never a cruel word...again not directed towards me at least, and September last year that small bundle wrapped in linen died before he reached the age of 25. Death came for him, he lied to us.

An example of one of the countless IMG's I've found but not taken.
He lied by expressing countless times, "I can't die" or "It's like I can't die dude." The heavy implication of his unspoken words and our own failings in helping him weigh heavy. His clear silence of, "I've tried," still floats around my thoughts. After, what we view as failed attempts given conversations we had as adults. His own villains ran deep and he thought himself an evil upon the world, never taking a good turn. Not even once. These later conversations we had with him were painful to think back on, as some of my parts believe they could have helped him or we should have tried harder. She wouldn't have let my dad try and try again. We had a method, we've helped others, but the one person we were tasked with keeping safe, we could not protect from his greatest danger... Himself.

He traveled quite a bit and in the end he passed away - from currently defined "unknown causes"- in Florida with family. I am vastly aware that any relative that may one day stumble upon this post will hate it with unparalleled vengeance, but Death is funny that way. She takes, yet also gives piece to the taken. He was a heroin addict. On and off in recovery, the hard life he lived perpetrated havoc on his very thin, yet strong body. A difficult childhood full of secrets, turned to a rebellious angry teen and an inevitability fucked up adult life. Rehab never stuck long, and constant running and battling his own mind and people around him, took him before he really was able to live.

My parts spar with the constant guilty thoughts and I can't imagine that will ever completely subside, but maybe one day it can become better. We were only a little over 6 years his elder and protected him through childhood to the best of our abilities, but as stated, we could not protect him from himself and his own mind. Something some of us still try to decipher, but to no avail.

Death and grief are two different monsters that play off of one another's woes. Something they seemingly enjoy doing, as it is their purpose. I know Toon has cried heavily, onto the shoulder of our uncle. I returned to my parents house with Sean having just seen our new home with our realtor and after making the decision to put in the offer. We had spoken to my brother only days before about house hunting and he sounded well, pleased for us in the way he was able. Unfortunately, as every tale such as this goes it was the last time we spoke to him. I'm only pleased it was a short and "normal" sibling conversation. There was no wicked tongued fight from either side, it was simple. Standard. Enjoyable even.

My little brother & Jynx at Christmas
He always did better in Florida...For him the environment was pleasant and felt more like home, though I hazard the guess he never really felt that sensation of "home" anywhere, but amongst my parents and our younger sister. He enjoyed certain people, a chosen few, most of whom he met while in Florida. He chatted the night before with our uncle down there, bid his goodnights and went to sleep never to wake up. I do not know what his specific cause of Death was, but I have no misgivings that heroin played a part. Either directly or in that it wreaked havoc on his body and mind for so long that his flesh could no longer sustain him.

My parts have struggled with anger, fear, fear of additional loss, anxiety of the next person close either connection based or by proximity, and even hatred. Hatred of so many things and cast towards so many individuals within situations such as these. Trust has been broken all over again and that is not something we often give again, if ever.

I'd like to leave you with well wishes or hope as we often do with our more difficult musings, but I have nothing to give you. Dear reader, thank you for sticking with this lengthy fulmination. I detest the sentiment of "hold your- - whomever- - close because you don't know how long you'll have them," so I can't bring myself to say this. It is nonsensical to me and I've no need for nonsense in life. I have no 'but' for my previous statement, truly, I can't stand the statement. I can say, grief is for the living and only that is my envy of the dead.


  1. I am quite sorry for your loss. I don't feel you failed in your duty to protect him. I think you did your absolute best...all of you. Sometimes life does what it does no matter what we do. I think y'all were the bestest big sister he could ever have had.