“You know before you know, of course. You are bending over the dryer, pulling out the still-warm sheets, and the knowledge walks up your backbone.”
–Elizabeth Berg, from Open House
I know things, and I don’t know how I know them. It scares me somewhere in my core.
I’m not talking about random, pointless trivia I read somewhere in the fourth grade and somehow still remember. I do have a lot of that sort of knowledge, and when I share it, people look at me funny and say, “Why do you even KNOW that?” I can tell you, for instance, that wild boars increase in size as you move from western Europe toward the east, and you can sing any Emily Dickinson poem to the tune of “Amazing Grace” and “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” Knowing things like that doesn’t scare me.
What I’m talking about is knowing things about myself and my internal experience without being consciously aware I know it. That scares me.
I guess that’s normal in people who don’t dissociate–although I know a lot of non-dissociative people with no interest in the paths their minds travel. But I assume they don’t surprise themselves in the same way dissociative people do.
When I first got to the trauma unit, Dr. M asked me to map out my parts.
“How am I supposed to do that? I don’t even know who there is.”
“I’d like you to try it anyway. Just see what comes up.”
And suddenly I had produced this map, subdivided into several subsystems, with all these parts I didn’t know existed. It was in my handwriting, and I vaguely remembered doing it, but the knowledge didn’t feel like it came from me.
It scared the hell out of me. When Dr. M started trying to ask about it, I went into a dissociative trance or switched. She quickly stopped trying to ask about it. (We did, of course, still do parts work, just not with the map.)
I think the fear is that if I don’t know where the information comes from, that’s because I made it all up for attention. This was a major issue several times while I was there, once so bad it earned me “with psychotic features” tagged onto my major depression diagnosis.
I’d told Dr. M I had trouble with groups because I didn’t want people to look at me, and in therapy I often hid all or part of my face. So when I’d tell her I made it all up for attention, her response was, “Yes, because we know how much you like the attention.” Pretty much the perfect response, since trying to convince me I did have DID would’ve driven me farther into denial.
I guess I should’ve expected the denial and the fear of knowing to recur once I got home, but it caught me unaware. It’s frustrating because I have no idea how to deal with it.
I wish this were easier.