SYSTEM SPEAK: Season 1, Episode 1 (15 minutes)
CONTENT WARNING(S): dentist, therapy (no abuse), death
TRIGGER WARNING(S): N/A
[A soothing piano melody plays as introductory music, lasting about 20 seconds.]
SASHA: I guess in this first podcast, I mostly wanted to explain myself. I guess I can’t, really, that’s why I’m here. I watched a lot of videos on YouTube from different systems that shared their experiences of being diagnosed, or living with, dissociative identity disorder. I really appreciated these, and they were super helpful, but also, because of my lifestyle and things going on, I don’t actually have a lot of time to sit and watch videos, and so I was looking for podcasts that I could listen to on the go. But I only found a few, and most of those were episode-specific, not a whole series. I don’t know that I can do a podcast as expertly as they can do their fancy videos, but I thought I would at least try, in case there’s someone else out there like me, that needs a podcast instead of videos. And besides that, I figure [the] more information out there, the more helpful it could be to more people. [pause]
My name is Sasha, and I wanted to get something right for a change, so I got permission to do this, even though I really wanted to just do it on my own. There are things to share, to tell about DID, I guess maybe starting with what it is, but mostly it means there’s lots of us that live in this body. Emma thinks it’s her body, or maybe that she’s the main one, or the first one, but none of that’s true, but she doesn’t understand it yet. I’ve been around for a long time, and I know a lot more than what I will just say here right now, and I tell her things sometimes, but she doesn’t want to listen yet, or maybe she doesn’t know how. Maybe, if anything, this podcast could help her as much as it could help us, and as much as it could help other people like us. [pause] I don’t know. It was just an idea.
She’s 36. I’m 17. I remember pretty far back, maybe from the beginning, maybe not exactly the beginning, but pretty early. More than she knows. Life was pretty rough back then—it’s better now, and we’re mostly safe. We’ve had to go inpatient [sic] and learn all kinds of things, [like] about how to have boring meetings, and things that make sure that we’re safe. But for myself, I still have to write on my hand sometimes, or draw, or color on my skin, as one way of keeping me safe when I get really upset or have a hard time.
Until we found the groups this summer, I didn’t know that there were other people out there like us. I think it’s kind of cool, but it’s also kind of scary, and just because we’ve been through stuff, it’s hard for me to make friends, because, you know, I want to be sure people are safe and stuff. But I think I found some good ones, and that’s kind of exciting. I really appreciate the people who are further along in the process or already know so much, who have not only had the courage to share their stories, but have also been kind enough to reach out to me, or to support us and the others, to sort of help us all learn together. It helps us feel less alone in what has been a really scary world so far.
I don’t know what to tell you as we get started, and as you get to know us a bit. Emma’s married. She has kids, they’re young. [pause] There’s another one who works, and another one who mostly is the wife and mother. Emma doesn’t know them, but I know them. They know about the podcast, but they don’t want to be on it yet. That’s okay, though, maybe it can just be my own thing finally. Something I can do without getting into trouble. [pause] Taylor’s also here, older than me, not out right now, but kind of aware of what we’re doing, and she knows about the podcast. I don’t think she’ll come out, unless maybe I do something wrong, or something happens where we need her. She’s kind of a protector. I didn’t know that was a word for—I thought it was just being a bully. But I guess that’s not the same thing. So I’m learning about that still. Emma doesn’t know about her yet.
Sometimes it causes big problems, like one time, we had to go to the dentist—well, I mean, we have to go to the dentist a lot, but because of stuff we’ve been through, the dentist is really hard, actually. [emphatically] I hate going to the dentist. But one time, it went really bad, and Taylor punched him in the throat. I was kind of jealous she got to throat-punch somebody for real. [pause] Also, we had to get a new dentist. [long pause, about five seconds]
Emma doesn’t remember anything before getting married. I remember way back, but things I remember, she doesn’t remember. That’s part of having DID. I didn’t know it had a name. I thought everybody was just like this, or nobody was like us. She thought she was crazy. I’m the crazy [sic]. I like to have friends and I like to have people to talk to, and I’m more social than she is, but I don’t like getting in messes, and I hate drama. And sometimes it’s really hard to find people who understand you, but who also can take care of themselves without it only being drama. [pause] Like, I want to be healthy, I want to be a decent human being and have my own life where I can be happy. But that means trusting people in ways I don’t know how, and it means taking care of yourself in ways I don’t know how [sic].
We go to therapy every week, on Mondays actually, for us. She’s really good, and we like her a lot, except it’s always hard and I hate it. I don’t hate the therapist, I just hate therapy. It took us four years to find a really good therapist. [pause] I don’t know where our therapy journey started. I guess in college, maybe. Maybe before that. We had to run away when we were seventeen—that was me. I did the running away. There was a family that let me live with them as long as we took care of their kids, so that’s how we kept from being homeless and she was able to finish school.
But that lady [sic] took us to college and when we got to the college, she told the Dean of Women, who was also like the on-campus counselor, that we had nightmares and that we had been abused, and that we had told her things that I know we didn’t say, so I don’t know who told her, but she told the counselor all these things. It was really embarrassing, she did it right there in the enrollment line. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t go back to that house on break, we just stayed homeless during holidays. [pause] Later, I lived with professors sometimes, but that wasn’t always good, and actually complicated things later too, but that’s a different part of the story.
But this Dean of Women, we saw her for a while—she wasn’t licensed, though. I didn’t know then that that was important. But she didn’t have a license, and she was just doing it for the school. We had to journal a lot, and we had to write, and she said we couldn’t stay in school if we didn’t keep seeing her. [long pause, about 5-10 seconds] [angrily, emphatically] Do you know what she did when she found out there were others of us inside? She made a list of the people she could figure out, and names she had gotten, and wrote up paragraphs, like describing us, like on our bios on the website, except without our permission, and she sent them to all of our professors. It was horrible. It was horrible and it caused all kinds of problems, inside and outside. [pause]
She also mailed our journal home to the parents. We hadn’t even seen them in two years. It was maybe one of the most violating experiences of my life, and I had already been through a lot. I was so angry. [long pause, about 5 seconds] But the one who was in school, she wanted to finish school, and they said we couldn’t stay in school if we didn’t have therapy, so they sent us to some kind of trauma specialist that was out of state, and every week, one of the professors drove us two hours for therapy and then back. It was so boring and it was awful and it was not good, and that therapist was not any more helpful, and then everyone knew our business and it all just escalated.
That was my first experience with therapy. What it did do, though, that was helpful, was we got away from the family. We needed that, just for safety, so I guess it wasn’t all bad, because we did learn a lot about safety. That’s also the first time we went in the hospital—like I said, I don’t want to talk about that today. [pause] We saw that therapist for several years, but then we moved for grad school. We tried to get a different therapist then, but it was hard to find somebody who understood trauma, and it was hard to find somebody who understood DID. We still didn’t have a name for it, we didn’t understand what was going on exactly, but we had gotten closer than when we started with the crazy lady at the college. [pause]
So different times in life, when things got hard, we sometimes went to therapy for help from different people, but never found a good match really. [pause] But then like five years ago, the parents died, both of them, also another story, also not what I’m going to tell today. But when they died, we really needed help, because it brought up lots of layers, and there were lots of complications for that, obviously.
Through a crazy chain of events, we were able to find a therapist, maybe about three years ago? [pause] I don’t know. Time gets kind of fuzzy. [pause] She didn’t know anything about DID, but she did know about trauma—well, trauma for kids. But there wasn’t anyone where we lived that could work with trauma in adults. That doesn’t even make sense to me. Also, I’m not an adult—but I am—but I’m not. This therapist did sand tray [sic], so we had to play in the sand every week. There were some things that were good and helpful, like being able to show some of what happened to us, but there were other things that were not helpful, at least for us. Like, we never really processed it, or got to talk about it, or say anything about what it meant. [angrily, emphatically] We just went every week for a year, made the same sand tray every week for a year, and then left. Every week for a year, and nothing ever happened, we never talked about it, we never said anything, there was no processing at all.
Other things also weren’t helpful, like, she was always hot, so she left the door of her office open, like all the way open, right into the waiting room, so it was really hard to get comfortable to say anything, even if we did get the chance. She also spent all of the sessions playing on her laptop, and printing things, and getting ready for her child clients. [pause] She didn’t like it if we didn’t talk, but she also didn’t help us talk, so we never really figured it out and it was just kind of a bad match. [pause]
The one who’s a mother and a wife, I wish I could just say their names—I’m working on it, I’ll try and ask permission. I mean, I have asked permission, but they’re not ready yet. But, it would be easier, even if they don’t want to be in the podcast, if I could at least say their names. But anyway, the one that’s the wife and mother, she tried for that long to work with this sand tray lady, because she at least knew about grief and trauma, which is what she thought she was going [through], because her parents died. But they weren’t even her parents, and she still doesn’t understand that. [pause] And the therapy was terrible, so we finally left.
Now, we have a really good T [sic], who has lots of experience with DID, and she’s amazing! I wish I could explain—maybe some of you know what it’s like to have really bad therapists, or go through really bad therapy, or wait so long to find a good one. And we’re so grateful we finally found this one. [pause] But she’s four hours away, and so every Monday, we get up at like four in the morning and drive four hours to be there by ten o’clock. And then we see her for two hours and come home that afternoon. [pause] It’s exhausting, but if any of you have had that same search for trying to find a good therapist, you know why it matters and why it’s worth it, and why we still go. [pause]
That’s a little bit of our background. I guess we’re to the point now where Emma knows that we have DID, and the husband knows that we have DID, and they both kind of understand what it means? But only like in a “reading a worksheet on a page” kind of understanding, not in a “they get me or understand what it’s like to be me.” That’s another reason I wanted to do the podcast. Anyway, so that’s a start. My first effort. We’ll see how it goes, but I would like to keep talking. What do you think? Is it helpful at all? Is there anything specific we should talk about? Mostly, I just want to share things in full to kind of record our journey. Because maybe it’s more helpful if she can listen, and maybe it’s more helpful for someone like me who really needs those videos that are amazing out there, but can’t always have wireless or always have, um, like, time to sit and watch videos. And so, someone else like me, maybe needs a podcast too. So we’ll put it out there and see. [pause] But don’t be haters, guys, because we don’t want to upset Taylor—haha! [long pause, about 5 seconds]
Thanks for listening! Your support really helps us feel less alone while we sort through all this and learn together. Maybe it will help you in some way, too. Connect with us on Facebook in some of the survivor groups, or on our website, systemspeak.org. Thank you!