Emma's Journey with Dissociative Identity Disorder

Transcript: Traveling Chaos


Epidsode:Traveling Chaos

Sasha speaks:

Oh, my goodness, you guys! This is a week where like, everything has gone wrong, except everything is okay. Do you know what I mean? Ohhh! I don't even know where to start.

First of all, we've been in a hotel for two weeks. So, I'm a little stir crazy, so forgive me if I am just not in the best mood today, because I'm over being a hotel. Not only have we been in a hotel for two weeks, but we have been a hotel for a week and a half with six children, and the rest of the week with two more children. So... ahhh! It's been crazy. I don't even know how to explain what happened.

I guess what started it was the weather. The snow, you guys... ah! I'm so done with the snow! Like real winter is A Thing! And real winter is cold! And real winter is icy, and snowy, and the polar vortex is like, out to kill us. Like, you don't even understand, I can't even tell you *laughs* I don't know how to survive this winter thing. We need to be back in Oklahoma where they just have pretend winter. And where it does not get cold. Like... ahh, who knew, and I know I keep talking about it, but this is how hard it's been for us. Like, it's pretty to look at, and that's fine, and I'm chill with staying in the house because uh, we don't leave the house anyway. But, being stuck in the snow? For… but not being able to leave to get to therapy, that is just unacceptable. *laughs* It is NOT okay.

So... so, here's what happened: once again, to beat the snow because they told us it was coming, we literally like, had to throw everything together really fast, and get out the door because if we don't get on the road before the snow starts, we cannot get to therapy. Therapy's on Mondays, and so, we had to leave like Thursday or Friday, I don't even know! It's... ohhhh, no no no no no! Okay! Okay, okay, okay... my mind is coming back to me. I know what day, it was like, Friday or Saturday, because we had that conference, remember? About like, dissociative stuff, or shame stuff, or something, you know, therapy-ness. Like, we had to do that first, and we couldn't leave town until that, that's why we were trying to beat the storm, because it was such a close window, and we were about to lose time. Not like, losing time-losing time, I mean like running out of time before the snow got there. So we had to skip the end of the conference to go, but it's okay 'cuz we threw out like, some postcards for "Here's our podcast!" on the table on our way out the door, so I’m sure that was irritating to them, or no one saw them because it was the end of the conference, but at least we tried, that’s the best we could do at being brave.

So, here’s my question: why was it so hard to find a therapist, if Kathy Steele herself can come to Kansas City, and talk about DID, and there’s like a hundred and fifty people in the room! Where were a hundred and fifty people when we needed a therapist?! Like, does no one check their email? Does no one return their phone calls?? I don’t understand where all these people were. Except, also, we really like our therapist, so we’re not changing. Although, here’s the thing: Kathy’s deal totally said in her presentation that you should not drive a long distance for your therapist. *laughs* She said it’s a “bad idea”. And I was like, you know what, you being on stage is now a “bad idea” *laughs* You need to get off and stop talking about this! No, she gave reasons about... things like uh, the weather, which is totally true. And things like, how much more expensive it is, which is true because, first of all, we don’t even have insurance. Well, no, we have insurance now, but that’s whole different story. If you don’t want your insurance... like, whether to use insurance or not, is its own tangent because if you use your insurance, like now, all of a sudden, we have medicaid, ‘cuz someone in the state was like, “Oh, you have all these children? By default, you get medicaid.” So, yay, this is a winner! We have insurance all of a sudden. That’s very exciting! It means we got new glasses because like, three different prescriptions, and anyway, I can’t even get to the glasses, like how is that a thing? Why does DID change our glasses?

Oh, my goodness, I’m like talking about like, seven things at once. Ahhh! So, okay, focus... we’re not talking about glasses today. We are getting new glasses though, but I’m not talking about it right now. So, anyway, we have insurance, but if you use it for therapy, which in our state it actually pays pretty well for therapy. Well I don’t mean it pays the therapist really well because therapists really don’t get enough money anyway. But at least it pays for the whole thing, and so, like, that would be a good thing, and it doesn’t limit our sessions, so that would be a good thing, like an amazing thing, compared to some states, or some places, right? Like we should be really grateful, but also, if you use your insurance, then it like, stays on your record, and can make other things harder, or, I don't know. And if Dr. E’s going to be a therapist herself, not like we used to be before we found out about DID but, like, ahhh! I don’t know, I can’t even...  I am not coherent ‘cuz this week has been so hard.

So Kathy Steele talked about that; of like, having to travel so far and it's more expensive. And it is true, because not only do we pay for our therapist, although she’s amazing, and has been very gracious, especially while our family’s been in crisis paying off the baby, and has given us two hours for one, which is huge! Oh my goodness... and honestly, that was beyond gracious. Like, probably the only way we've been able to stay in therapy because, literally, we have a six million dollar baby who has lived long enough to go through the terrible twos, and not be as cute... so, there you go. But… no, she’s totally cute…  when she’s not screaming at me... no, I'm just kidding. Yay, parenting! We’re actually going to talk about parenting next week with our friend, Megan, so that's exciting.

Here’s the point, Kathy Steele talked about that: traveling a long way for your therapist, and here's what she said. Number one, it’s more expensive because you have to pay for the gas to get there, you're paying for therapy anyway, and then, there are times like, it happens to us, where you get stuck and you have to pay for a hotel or something, plus food for all that traveling. How we are managing that is with Dr. E's office... they, like, you can win gift cards, and we used to always get the gift cards because we needed them for groceries for the family, to be honest. But now we get the gas cards because we can get gas, and that way our gas to get to therapy is free. And... then also we... when she does her speaking, and all those things then we get the points for the hotels, and so that's how we've been able to stay in hotels so many times. We do not have funds to pay for therapy, much less gas, and a hotel, or food all day. So instead of being all whiny about it, what we’ve had to do is like, step it up, and figure out how to be creative and, just like how we changed... just like how we changed our job, so that we could be functioning in a job where it was safe for us, and safe for our clients, but like, not being unsafe for them, or unsafe for us, and scheduling because of the kids and all their appointments, and the hospital visits, and things like that, and not losing our job because we can't actually work every day… ahhh! Like, figuring all of that out, we had to be super creative, so we’ve done therapy the same way. Like, finding extra work that it specifically pays to go into the therapy budget.

Why am I even talking about budgeting?! I don't know anything about budgeting. I don't know why this stuff coming out of my mouth. The point is, we had to be like, super creative to figure out how to do therapy because yes, paying for therapy is impossible. But, also, therapists work really hard. And our therapist like, not only has our appointments, also reads our journals, but she takes good care of herself, as well. Like, she does not work every day of the week, and things like that. I'm saying that like I know so much about her life. I actually know nothing about her life *laughs* But I know her schedule, because we’re in it, and she doesn’t work every day, so that seems like good self-care to me, ‘cuz I don't want to work every day.

So, anyway, Kathy Steele talked about it, that's what I'm trying to say. I'm really sorry I'm not coherent today.

Kathy Steele talked about it, and talked about the things that were hard, and she was saying it in the context of like, magical therapists who think they’re the only therapist who is helpful. That can be true, and I see what she saying about like, boundaries of like, you're not so magical and awesome, even though you're awesome, that you're the only person that can help somebody. That's totally true in some ways, but also our therapist knows the area where we grew up, so she knows what we're talking about, and that makes things easier. She knows some of the therapists that we had before, so that makes things easier. She's also just really good. This is stuff just pouring out of my mouth today! Like, not close, I don't mean like we were best friends, but we've had different encounters, so like, we've literally known her almost our whole life. Maybe even younger than that, I'm not even sure where it all overlaps, and I don't have it all untangled. And frankly... I just said “frankly”, what does that even mean? “Frankly”? I don't know a Frank, we don't have a Frank, I don't know why I’m saying things like “frankly”. *Laughs* This day is so weird!

Okay, weird day aside, we've known her for a long time, and there's lots of reasons like that, where those layers already overlap, and we already have a connection, but also this is our first time to have her like, as our therapist, much less stay in therapy for a whole year. Because, guess what? Like, next week is literally a year. Well, not a year since we started, but a year since we got our appointment, and were on the waiting list, and got in. So, like, that’s something we’re celebrating. We should send the therapist some salsa.

Oh, wait, we did! Did we tell that story?! We have to tell you the story about sending the therapist salsa. John Mark sent... *laughs* John Mark sent salsa to the receptionist because she's so sweet, and so awesome, and there was one day we texted her about like, appointments, or something, I don't know. And, um, because we’re deaf, right? So texting is way easier than email or calling... I mean, than calling. So texting or email is easier, and we had her text number which we don't abuse. Like, people are going to be like, “Ahhh! Boundaries!” But no, like, we don't abuse that at all, but because of the cochlear implants, it's easier to just text her. Anyway, we texted something, and somehow we had a brief conversation, which we don't usually have, but it sounded like she was having a really hard day, and she was super busy and swamped, and it was just crazy sauce for her. And so we felt bad because she's so kind, and so attentive, and nothing fazes her. And like, on days when it's so-and-so, and they are not going to be talking to her before therapy, she is not intrusive. And the other days, when it’s like, me or John Mark or Cassie, and she’s like, “We can just chat it up until it's finally our turn for therapy. Like, it's fine.” So... anyway, so she was having a bad day, and so this is when we were coming back from Florida, ‘cuz we were in the airport. We were in the airport, and from the airport in Florida, John Mark got on our phone, and used the app for food delivery... like, to have food picked up and delivered... and ordered chips and salsa from every restaurant in that town. Like *laughs* And so, for like two hours, she had chips and salsa delivered to her like, every ten minutes! *laughs* And it was awesome! And it was really funny. The reason I know this is because when we landed, and we got off the plane, and could turn ourr phone back on, and all of that, like, my phone is just like zzzt! Zzzt! Zzzt! Zzzt! Just buzzing with all these pictures she sent us of the salsa every time it got delivered! *laughs*

Anyway... gratitude works! You need to be grateful! Food karma is a thing! Be kind to the people who are helping you: your therapist and their office staff? Be kind to them. You don't have to get them salsa, but you need to be kind to them. Also that like, used of John Mark’s salsa allowance for 2 months so he's getting kind of desperate, and we have another four weeks to go *laughs*

Oh my goodness! Okay, I don't even know what I was trying to talk about today. So Kathy Steele talked about the things that are hard about having a therapist who's long-distance: the money, the time and energy, the safety... like, we almost hit that deer that one time, and also, there's a lot of processing going on, so sometimes it takes us like nine hours to get home. Because we have to keep stopping to write, or stopping to get grounded. But we are safe. Like, I feel like as a system like, we try to be safe and grounded when we're driving, and we always text the therapist when we get back, to know that we got home safely. And we stay in touch with the husband. But usually what works best for us, honestly, if you want to know our little behaviour pattern after therapy is: we drive like, one hour where there's a very quiet, like why is it open? Because no one is ever there, but a very quiet sushi restaurant, where we go in and we get edamame and rice. Because it's one meal that is very easy for us to get down, like we talked in another episode about food being a thing like, we have really a lot of problems with food. But we can get rice and edamame. And so, we stop, and we get rice and edamame, and we eat there, and write in the journal for like, four hours because no one bothers us there. Because *laughs* I don’t know why the restaurant is actually open. Maybe it’s like the front for some creepy business or something, I don’t know why it’s open, I’ve never actually seen other people there. But it's there, and we can do that for like, $4. So again. why is it open? Because we can get edamame and rice for $4. We don't eat anything else, we don't have like a big giant meal. And sometimes, if we don't even have $4, which happens when you have six kids... I can't even tell you. Like, there are times where they’re like, “We have a field trip tomorrow, and you need $6”, I’m like, “Well, you're staying home because we don’t have six dollars to send you on a field trip.”

Ahhh! We’re trying, you guys, and things are way better than they used to be now that she's out of the hospital. Anyway, so sometimes we just take soup with us, but then we still have to stop at a park and write for a while. But here’s what you can't do; you can’t just stop and journal for a couple hours at the park when there's snow on the ground. So like, literally, we will leave therapy and it's like 60°, and then by the time we get home, it's like 10 below zero. Like, how can just four hours make that much difference? I don't even know! So I agree, the point is, I agree with Kathy Steele about those are the hard things about traveling for therapy. But also, we had already started with that therapist, and also we did twice, not me, but somebody else who did not want to engage in therapy... I'm just going to tattle... like, they tried twice to get a local therapist, where we live now, and not one time was our phone call or email returned, except for two people who did not actually work with the DID, even though their page said “trauma”. So, like, we tried really hard, like, contacted more than 75 people. Apparently that was only half of them, because in that room there were a hundred and fifty people! But some of them work at hospitals or agencies, and we're trying really hard to stay out of the hospital actually, by living in hotel rooms! Like what kind of pretend, partial hospitalization is that?! Let's go to a hotel room where we can stay safe, and where there is a free breakfast, so we know we can eat at least once a day, and journal for 12 hours a day, have nightmares all night, and then journal some more... like, what kind of masochist are we?! This is not cool! Ahhh! But this time, we were in a hotel because of the children. The children! There are so many children... especially in a hotel room. When you have six children at your big old house, it's loud and there's a little bit of chaos, and you have to let the ones who parent do the parenting, because no way can you handle it. Like, if we go to the park, I can babysit for a little while, tops! Little while. But I can handle that. But in the house? Oh my goodness, it's chaos and loud, except it's not, because she can handle it, and she knows how to do it, and that's fine. That’s great. Mom power to you! But, you know what? I can't. And you know what is not the same? Those same six children in a hotel room. Oh, my goodness!

But we did interview them, as you heard, and we did swim with them, so that was good, and passed the days. But here's the problem: the youngest, who's on palliative care... so much medical drama... different story. She totally coded! Which I know sounds super scary, but for her it's a thing. It’s a thing she does: “Yay, I'm a baby, and I'm going to...” (I say “baby”, she's not a baby), “Yay, I'm a preschooler and I'm going to run around and be cute and happy, and now I'm blue and falling over. So, it's a thing that happens. I don't like it, nobody likes it, she doesn't like it, but it's part of our life. So, like, we know how to do CPR, or how to resuscitate her, and how to do all that, and there's like, four of us that, meaning inside, who are adult enough and been through the classes, that we know how to do. And any other time that littles would be playing with them, it would be only play, and it would be someone only who knows how to get to John Mark, who could get to any of the four of us. Does that make sense? So those of you who are asking about parenting, that's a good example. We also, the four of us, all know how to do her oxygen and her g-tube. I think John Mark knows how to, too, but we don't let him, he just tells us when it's time, but I think he could if he had to. But again like, we know the scoop, we know the drill, we know what to do.

But it meant that we went down on Friday or Saturday with the children, because they were out on spring break. So we went down Friday or Saturday with six kids in a hotel room by ourself, and did a lot of swimming and played, and we handled it... we handled it! It was so overstimulating, and it was so hard, but we did, and we did a good job. No screaming. No short tempers. Trying to be patient, and let them do their thing… ahhh, swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming... so much playing. The other thing is, where we stayed was in the same town as the husband's parents. So for three days in a row, we've sent two of the children to the parents, so we really only had four kids during the daytime. And from the morning to afternoon, the grandparents had two kids. And so they got to rotate visiting the grandparents, which was great for them, and for them, felt very normal. Like an actual spring break vacation of playing, and swimming, and visiting the grandparents. And then finally, on Monday, we had therapy, but the grandparents cannot watch all six children. Because they have better boundaries than we did as foster parents, and they're like, “No, there should not be six children here.” *laughs* So... they only kept two of the children on Monday, the youngest two, and we had to bring the other four with us to therapy. And they were actually super quiet and really good, until someone else, who is also on a snow day, had to bring their child, and then that was too much newness for our child, who has autism, was like, “Oh! Now it's game on because I forgot how to be good because there's another child present”. So, then things got loud, but they were still trying. Like, it worked, it was okay, but we had cut therapy a little bit short, but here's what was amazing, was Em, who's like the Mom, right? She got to stay... she got to stay for like, a whole session for the first time, but it's because we could hear the kids, and knew the kids were there. What?! So, that's the way we really did totally exploit our kids, because *laughs* not really, I'm making a joke, because they said that at Christmas time and that was terrible thing to say. But we used that experience to let her have a session, and she was able to stay, which is good. But what was bad, and what was hard, is that meant like, we talked about our parents for the first time, and later she was like,  “What have you all been doing in therapy for a whole year, if you're not talking about our parents??” *laughs* I don’t know what we’re doing in therapy, playing football… *laughs*

No! We have working hard, I promise, but like, here’s the thing, stuff is starting to turn into like, a puzzle. It's like her having a whole session in therapy somehow like set up the picture on the box, and now we can see the picture, beginning to end. I don't mean all the pieces but like, see, I don't know how to explain it. Like, for the first time, pieces are starting to fit together differently than ever before.

And so, we left therapy with the children on the snow day, went back to the hotel with the other kids, and picked up the other two from the grandparents. And when we got back to the hotel, we were swimming, and then the combination was just too much for her. Someone smoked in the hotel room next to us, which I am not at all a hater on anyone who smokes like, we love everybody, even if you smoke, but we have a medically fragile baby who cannot be around the smoke at all. Like at all, anything that irritates her lungs... like, we can't wear perfume. Oils are okay if they're legit, actual organic oils, not just scented things selling as oils. That's okay, but nothing that at all irritates her lungs, because her airway is so small, there's no room for anything to go wrong. So, someone smoking in the hotel room next to us, and swimming, and the exertion of swimming... she's had a special swim class for like, what do they call it? I don't even know... restricted airway swim class, and so she's a little fish, even though she can't breathe, and we're trying to stay away from the trach. Like, I don't know... but anyway, all of it was just too much for her, and her body just stopped. Like she just turned blue and fell over. Which, for her, is  a thing, like I said that, okay. So, that ended up getting her in the hospital. And so the husband came down to meet us, hung out with his parents overnight, spent one night with us at the hotel with the kids, and the next day, he took the other four kids home, because they have to be back at school, ‘cuz they're not on spring break until this week. But the two in the deaf school were already out. So they stayed with me, while we took care of the youngest, and her medical appointments, but then, by the time all of that was done and she was ready to go, she still wasn't cleared to drive in the car for four hours, ‘cuz it’s actually hard for her to breathe in the car seat. And so, even though we had oxygen with us, she wasn’t cleared to drive all the way home. So, we had to get a different hotel because our days were up in that hotel, and go an hour further south so that we are just back in our regular hotel across the street from the therapist, and stay until therapy today. And now we've had therapy today, the youngest, who is now a preschooler, and will be four in three weeks, she's finally cleared to make the drive home, as long as we stop every hour which is always what our safety plan is. So now, while she's running around playing, getting air back in her lungs, I am talking on the podcast and completely incoherent and boring, because I've been in a hotel with six children for two weeks! Oh, my goodness!

So this is why I'm going to talk to my friend Meghan next week about spring break and parenting because uh-uh, uh-uh... but today, because the youngest was in the lobby... like, we could not stay a whole two hours while she just waited around. Like, for a three-year-old, she was amazing trying to wait while we had our turn. And she had an older sibling with her, there were other adults around... like, she was safe, but she was not impressed with having to wait so long, and wanted to go play. But she tried really hard, and so we took them to the park, and we’re going to take them to eat, and get our drive home.

But, this week has been super intense, and then in therapy today, she did the same thing! Like, she's getting all sneaky… not “sneaky”, like, I guess that's derogatory, but, like, she lathered up in the oils, and made peppermint tea. Which is gross, by the way, like why would you dri... I don't know, right now peppermints are working really well for us for grounding, which I appreciate if I'm the one with the peppermint, but we could not even get out, hardly could even spy on what was being talked about, because of the peppermint oil. So, like she’s figured out how to stay in therapy, and stayed for her whole session, even though it was cut short today, for like, almost the whole time. So I don't mean so much as “tattling” on her as much as “sharing”, because it's a big deal for her to stay. And it's a big deal for us to talk about our parents like, at all. But we did. She talked about like, I don't know, like, just boring stuff, of like, what our parents were like, and what her parents siblings were like, and what her parents’ parents like, grandparents were like. So I don't know if that counts as therapy, but it was a big deal, and probably like, informational? I don't know, it seemed helpful, I guess.

So all of that nonsense to tell you, like, here we are, officially at spring break. So it's like the test to see if we really made progress because we will not have therapy for two weeks. So like, Operation Spring Break begins! Not just parenting crazy kids at home, but like, dealing with it, with missing a week, and how can we be functional, and maintain, and not freak out for not having therapy? So, we are going to try.

One thing that’s really helpful are the emails that we get from listeners, so I'm going to read a few more of those because they're so encouraging, and helpful, and I'm really grateful.

Here's one from Dona, who said, “I came across your podcast when you had Jane on.” (I love Jane. We've become really good friends, actually, and we're going to talk about ACEs, the Adverse Childhood Experiences? We’re going to talk about that pretty soon on the podcast, so listen for that.) So Donna says, “I came across your podcast when you had Jane on, and I've been listening to episodes since. Watching The Many Sides of Jane was so emotional and educational, at the same time. I find myself listening to you all, and noticing how your voices change when others take on the podcast.” (No way, that's crazy!) “Sasha, I have to say you crack me up *laughs* And today, when you were answering your own question and realized, it was wonderful.” (Ahhh!) “I love therapy breakthroughs, you know, they're so breakthrough-ish... (*laughs*) My heart goes out to Emma as I listen to her try and do the podcast, and can feel how hard it is for her, but good for her for doing it.”

Yeah, that's a big deal, right? And Em's done one now, too, and they listen to them, so it's good. And, in fact, that’s part of my struggle today, trying to do this podcast. I know it's a little bit blurry and incoherent because I still feel Em really present, and that's like, a new thing for us. And I think it's because the kids are playing on the playground... like, I'm parked in my car literally right next to it, and there's no one else around, they’re ten feet from me. And so I played with them before, and I'll play with them after, but um, like I didn't record... like you listen to it all at once, but I don't record it all at once because, you know, children. But I think that's part of why she's so present, but still just a function and get us home safely. I needed the process of it, so thanks for letting me ramble and it totally impacts us when another one is close to the surface like that? Which is now a phrase I know, and a new thing that's happening with us sometimes. So I don't know if that's the same thing as co-consciousness or not, or if it's just something we're learning, and maybe we'll get there, but it's definitely a new thing.

Donna said, “I just want you all to know you are being heard, and I thank you for sharing and educating us on DID.” How sweet is that? Thank you, Donna!

You can email us on our website at www.systemspeak.org, and on the website there's a form where you can submit emails, and so that's the way you can email us. If you're wanting to connect that way, and we won't share your personal details on the podcast, but I do enjoy reading parts of the letters because it's so helpful to others who feel alone out there. You can also mail us at our PO Box: PO Box 3792, Bville, Oklahoma, 74006.

Here’s another email. This is from Britt, who says, “Thank you always for your podcast, and we, too, have DID, and are deaf. Thinking of you all. Thank you.” Aww yay! More deaf people! Shout out to deaf people who listen to podcasts *laughs* Thank you, technology! I don't know. That's a big deal. Even hearing aids now have a different Bluetooth attachment, that make it way easier for people who are hard of hearing, or are deaf but with assistance, able to listen to things we never could before. Isn't that amazing? I'm really... I'm really excited. Yay, Britt! Yay, deaf people!

We also have new listeners from Austria, and Romania, and the Czech Republic, and Venezuela… which is actually really struggling right now, you guys, you need to be paying attention to that, and think about how they're doing. And… and then also Brazil. So, shout out to new listeners there, and also to our listeners in Japan and Thailand. It’s super fun to have you out there, and I love when your stats show up, so thank you.

And then I also got an email from Kelly, who says, “I just listened to my first podcast to the description of how DID happened. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I cried my eyes out for my daughter.” (Aww, that's so precious! Good job, Mom, way to be present, and just understand and respect that experience. That's amazing.) She says, “I have a couple of questions. Not about diagnosis, just for understanding.” Oh, and then she asks questions about her daughter, and how she's had nightmares and some other things for a long time, so I don't want to read all of that, but I will email you back, and I'm so glad you reached out. And I hope you able to find a good therapist for her, or she's able to find what she needs, and that you were able to find the podcast. I'm so glad! Take care of you.

This email is from Laurie, who says, “I found your podcast from Jane Hearts Instagram.” (Yay, Jane! Love my Jane!) “And have been absolutely riveted. I've binge listened to all weekend” (*laughs* Oh no! I hope you got some sleep during the boring ones *laughs* This one can be one of the sleeper episodes...) “Thank you for sharing your lives and thoughts so generously. While I do not have DID, I have been in therapy for the past year to work on my own past trauma.” (Good for you!) “Hearing the different perspectives of your system has been incredibly helpful.” (Aww, I’m so glad! Oh, she wrote to all of us! Well, she wrote to different ones.) She said, “Sasha, thank you for taking the initiative to do the podcast” (Ba-bam, you're welcome!) “You are legit awesome” (Yes, I am!) “And I hope you feel safe enough to speak with a therapist” (*laughs* No, that’s a big ole fail… mostly it’s about taking turns…) “I hope you feel safe enough to speak with a therapist about all the things you've been discovering. She will not fire you.”

You know what, I think we're over that, at least for now. Ask me again in two weeks when we haven't seen her for two weeks. But, we're almost there… um, but I can tell, like, we've had a breakthrough on that, and it's been good. Thank you for asking about that. “Dr. E, your intellect is extraordinary” (Bleh!) ”as is your work ethic” (Ugghh!) “Thank you for sharing the academic, clinical side of the DID story with your insights and invited speakers.” (Boring!) “John, not only are you stinkin’ smart,” (Ahh, that’s from the therapist! I mean, she didn't email us, but that's where that came from… the therapist says that.) “You are pure goodness, so capable and caring.” (That's legit, he's sweet.) “Thank you for being a superhero with the rescue missions and newsletters. I wish I could give you a million badges.” (Don't worry, the therapist has that covered *laughs* Oh, of my goodness, the badges!) “Em, I am in awe of you. I live alone, and in a month only accomplish a fraction of what you do on a day. You are juggling so much with the outside children, and you are doing a phenomenal job. Please be as kind to yourself as you are to them.” Aww! I will cut these out and put them in our journal so everyone sees them. That's so sweet!

And she also wrote to the Emmas, “Thank you for sharing your history so the listeners could gain a better sense of the system's experiences during that time period. When you feel safe to do so, it would be great to hear more about your time living abroad.” (Oh yes! Living everywhere was an amazing, amazing thing.) “Taylor, thank you for your vigilance and keeping everyone safe.” (Some of the Taylor ones really is Cassie, I’m just going to say that. Like, the Taylors... that's like a whole different episode… like huh, we’re not even going there in therapy.) “As you continue to build trust with a therapist, would you consider helping her and John with more rescue missions? Together you would make a formidable team.” (Ehh, pass! *laughs* Just kidding.) “Molly, thank you for stepping up to help rescue the girl and clean up the attic. Are you and Em able to connect? Your chaplaincy skills would be a great help to her.” (They don't connect yet, Em is just now like, even acknowledging us. So that’s why therapy the last few days was such a big deal. But we're working on it, and Molly has been super awesome, even if it's annoying to me, I will totally concede that.) “The husband” (Awww, she wrote to the husband!) “I'm so glad they have you, and that includes the outside children. In a world that seems to have so few truly good men, you are an extraordinary example of compassion and strength.” (Awww! I will read this to him because that is legit. Like that’s very true. He's amazing. I will admit that. We are so, so lucky to have him.) “And to all of you, including anyone who has not spoken on the podcast, thank you for the knowledge, courage, and kindness that contribute to your inner and outer worlds. I look forward to following your journey. All the best, Laurie.” Aw, how sweet!

Oh, and then she asked some questions: “Does your system have a name?” So some people online have named their systems. So like, online... like The Entropy System is one group that does videos, or The Stronghold System is our friend, Sarah, or um, the Chris's. We also did group with the Chris's. They have a system name. And so those were the examples she gave. We don't have a system name, I don't… I don't know why... we're new to acknowledging that we’re system. Also I don’t want to be on a system *laughs* So no, we do not at this time have a system name. The husband often reminds me that we're all a team, and that just makes me crazy, so like, I get it, we're making progress, but no we don't have any kind of like, team name or whatever. And then her next question: “When you can't travel to therapy due to the weather, can you do your session via FaceTime or Skype so you don't miss out?” That's a good question, and actually is something she has offered in the past. Initially when the weather first started, but we declined. We don't do that, but it's not because of the therapist…. it's not because of the therapist, we don't do that because with us. Um, there are particular triggery issues that make talking on the phone or FaceTime really hard, and even when we do our interviews on the podcast, they're done by Skype with our special Bluetooth equipment. And also because of our ears, it's really hard to hear, and on the interviews, we can fake it pretty well enough to get through and then go back and edit, and listen again. But it's just a hard thing, and part of, like, even the last two weeks being crazy, part of what was good is that it kept from stirring up other things, because before the therapist is gone, when we're not going to see her for two weeks, we don't want to stir up a lot. And so, it's just not the time to stir things up, and so we are not stable enough yet, I think, for that to be a check-in kind of thing that's helpful, as opposed to a “now I wish we could see her and we really can't” when we really need to. Does that make sense? For now, denial is still easier because of the ears, it's easier not to, and then because of some triggering issues, we're just not there yet. She offered, which was very kind of her. Like, the husband and the therapist are seriously the best people on the planet, and we are so grateful that we have them in our lives. But that doesn't mean we're good at participating in that advantage. *laughs*

Umm… “When did the body first gain the ability to hear? Your speaking voices include many different nuances and accents. Any idea when they were picked up?” I don’t know… I don’t know how that works. We had hearing aids for a while that did not help. We didn't qualify for cochlear implants until 2010. We got cochlear implants in 2010, and like, one on one side, and then six months later, the other one. So we’ve had it for a while. One thing that caused a problem was that the speech therapy program online that they enrolled us in was from Australia. And so like, we learned first with a very thick accent because of that, and then also because of our travels living in other places. So, it's just a confused accent, and not really a strong accent at all, I don't think... I don't know.

“Can alters borrow the abilities of other alters? For example, could John ask the Emmas to borrow their ability to speak French, if he needed it?” Yeah, no. I don't know about other systems, or later in therapy if things, like, if we're able to work together more, if that becomes a thing? But I don't think that's a thing right now. The closest thing I can think is learning from each other, like how I talked about learning how to do that preschooler’s, our youngest daughter's g-tube. But all of us have learned from nurses at the hospital, and went through the training for that individually, besides just learning and watching from each other. So I don't think… I don't know, if that's a thing, we're just not that far yet. But anything's possible, I guess, right?

So that's all their questions, but those were really good questions, so a shout out to Laurie for some awesome questions! Thank you!

This is from... this email is from The Cambria System. They say, “We just wanted to thank you for making such a great podcast. It has resonated with many of us in here, and so, yes.” Oh, and then they added... someone else inside added, “I wanted to tell you all that you are rad, and we all love listening to the pod even when sometimes it can be tough. So, you rock.” Awww, that's awesome! Thank you, Cecil, thank you, Clara, thank you Cambria System, I loved it. Thank you so much for your email! It's so encouraging and helpful, instead of just being afraid to connect, or thinking you're alone in the world. Like, we don't do videos when you can interact or have comments, or live things, right? So, it's very isolating to do a podcast, which in some ways feels protective, but it's good to get your emails and feel that encouragement. Thank you!

Here's one from Mads and Allison: “I want to thank you all for doing this. We have recently decided to explore ourselves a bit more after a traumatic event, and we split again, and finding your podcast has helped the two of us immensely. I can't thank you all enough. What you're doing is good and wonderful, and I can't wait to learn more about your experience, and in turn, learn more about the two of us. From The Mountain System.” That's so kind! So that's an example of what Laurie was asking about system names, so The Cambria System is the name that given to their whole system, and The Mountain System to their group of altars, this other email.

So thank you for your emails! Thank you for your encouragement! I'm sorry it was a crazy week and we didn't have any podcasts up, but we are grateful and excited for next week. Thank you.

Thank you for joining us, with System Speak, a podcast about Dissociative Identity Disorder. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify, Google Play, and iTunes. Or follow along on our website www.systemspeak.org.

Thanks for listening!