Letters of Import: Private Writings to a Psychoanalyst
We Chose Life 7
Written by Jennifer Kiley
Illustrations & abstract digital art by j. kiley
© jennifer kiley 2013
First Posting 03.19.13
Posted Weekly Early Tuesday Morning
Seventh Posting 04.30.13Tuesday, November 12th, 2007
I must bring this to your immediate attention. Last week, when I wrote to you in our usual letter, I included a poem. It was a raw and painful poem to write. I would really like to discuss some of it with you in this letter. I hope you don’t mind. It has been making me feel rather vulnerable, even though I haven’t sent you the letter yet. Someday, any day, might be when I do get brave enough and really write these letters with the direct expectation of mailing them to you or handing them to you in person. The second way would make me feel more assured that you received the letters personally and no one else touched them or might accidentally open them. I don’t think anyone at the counseling center would ever do something like that intentionally. But these are very private letters meant for your eyes only. Just thinking about discussing the poem I wrote is making me feel rather anxious. In fact, I feel like I am starting to have a panic attack. Let me take a Klonopin before we continue. After that I will post the poem and the paragraph that followed it. I want to discuss that along with the poem. I’ll be right back.
Here I am, back really quickly. It will only take about 15 minutes for the med to take effect. Well, here goes, this is the poem once again appearing in one of my letters I am writing to only you. If I ever give these letters to you, I must have your word that you will never ever show these to anyone else. No one must know what I am telling you. These have to be our secret. If you only knew how I feel inside.
How do I really feel about you Annie? Right now, I have no idea. Too afraid to go inside to find out what I truly feel. The whole of the world confounds me. It just makes me feel depressed. It just feels that I can’t hold onto the people I love. They just tend to die. It’s not like they’re even old. When you die in your twenties, I would call that dying “Forever Young.” Too many die FY. You’re not going to do that, are you Annie?
What do you think of my poem? If you read it now, how would you decipher it? I’ll play both of us. You go first, or should I? Let me pull out the first three lines. The writer, the lover, the thinker: isn’t something missing? Whose feeling anything? The lover is just sexual. You can do that without any feelings at all. The writer is mental but could be emotional with the words they are expressing. But I don’t think so. It’s cerebral. The thinker, existential separation anxiety filled with analytical theorizing until infinity gets exhausted.
Someone is missing. Someone who connects in a soulful way with people or animals. Who is that? Lets think about it. Send out feelings to find out who they are? You think a spiritualist. I thought I was one of those people. I believe in the spirit, the soul, the astral body, the separation from the physical. The soul is just carrying the weight of the body while its heart beats and air fills its lungs and the grey matter still is able to function to make the physical tissues of the body perform.
I was thinking tonight about Heaven Annie. As I made it up the stairs to bed and my cat always raced up the stairs before me. We play that game every night. I make believe I’m going to beat him tonight. It’s always the challenge. There’s no way in Hell that I can ever beat him. But he loves the game. You want to know his name? He goes by many. He has such a magnificent personality. We call him Sparky because he sparks like fireworks. It’s not his official name. That one is proper. We named him Higgins after the character in the great Broadway play Pygmalion. He responds to anything but Higgins and he rather prefers being called Sparky.
What the Hell are we talking about? Is it about making it through with some enjoyment and to try to forget about all the nightmares? Or are we suppose to face the nightmares? The soul tells me that we have to or we won’t make it. I have too many. How about you? What are your bad dreams? What tried to fuck you up? Any bad people in your dreams? You seem pretty together but anyone can put a mask on. Why do you suppose we all try to hide from everyone? We are all human. Our feelings fall somewhere into the human category. Are we afraid people will think we are crazy or too weird?
Back to the poem, the next three lines are pretty explosive. Feeling the fool for not hearing, the silence for not screaming and feelings trying to blow the whole thing wide open but being stopped somehow. What stopped me? You probably would like to know that. A good reason, how about one of the abusers threatened to kill me right at the moment I told him if he didn’t stop I would go to the police. Wrong thing to say to a nasty, mean pedophile. He tried to kill me but he stopped at just making me feel he was going to crush my head into stones like Stonehenge. He pulled back but not until he told me he would not only kill me but my whole family. Those other people who also abused me. For some reason I felt I needed to protect them. I didn’t care if he killed me. My life was ruined. They all in combination destroyed who I am. They crushed my life. I am dead. My spirit has been stolen from me. It’s like in Peter Pan, they stole my shadow, my reflection. I don’t have one any longer. I am invisible. That’s why no one can see me. Why I never get noticed except when someone wants to hurt me or make me feel more pain so that I really do want to be invisible. I just wanted to die.
The only reason I stayed alive was I loved my grandmother. The funny thing about it all, my grandma, she had an accident shortly after this and went into the hospital. She never went home again. I saw her once at the hospital. I climbed into her hospital bed with her. Under the oxygen tent, we hugged. I held her so close. Her arms used her strength, as much as she could and held me close. Then it was time to go. I gave a bunch of kisses to say goodbye to her. I didn’t know I would never see her alive again.
She died in protest. They wanted her to become one of the forgotten. She wasn’t going to let them do that to her. She told them that it was something she would never do, going to a nursing home. She stopped her breathing and her heart from beating. She left me behind. I stopped living when she stopped, too.
“The feelings trying to explode…Where was the awareness?” I was clueless on what or who to, if anyone, to talk to. I never talked to anyone back then. Words were not my companion when spoken out loud. Not something I even knew how to do. Didn’t know how. Had no practice. What would have been the right words to say anyway? I didn’t know them to say or to even write down on paper. I am only learning now how to connect my words with feeling.
“We say ‘Welcome to the surface.’ It should have been Welcome to the circus. “Now what needs to be done?” We need to find someone new that we can really talk to. Someone who will listen and really hear what we are saying. Not judge us. Try to understand. And not constantly criticize us and try to put us down. Diminish who we are. That’s been done all our life except in college. For some reason I mattered when I was in college. I felt important and wanted. The same happened when I was part of the Women’s Center when I lived in Connecticut. It’s not so much I want to feel important. I just want to feel like I matter. Everyone I think needs to feel important in some way.
“Releasing the energy ensnared for decades amongst twisted webs…” I have been so blocked. My thoughts and feelings didn’t have an outlet. And I didn’t know how to say the words. I was made my own prisoner eventually, out of fear. Demons possessed me with fear. All the demons from all the years of abuse and made to feel like I was nothing, a nobody that had no worth or purpose.
“The voice is seeking freedom but holding onto multiple secrets.” We have a central voice but we also have multiple voices. With all the alters, we have to listen to all their voices and all the needs they tell us that they have. It’s hard to keep track or remember. It is really confusing inside our head sometimes. But we were working with a woman therapist who had her moments of quality therapy but she had her problems. I have an obsessive alter who was in love with her and obsessed with her. Let’s call it quite dependent. We were attached. We needed her. She was the first therapist that figured out what was going on inside our head. She figured out the DID. I have to admit when she told us we has other personalities, it really freaked us out. Kind of went into shock and some heavy denial. No way could that be possible. She said the psychiatrist agreed with her after he tested me.
That was the big secret. We thought realizing we were Gay was enough of a shock but being MPD was more difficult. Coming out of that closet was worst. It took us a while before we could tell Scottie and we had been together for a long time at that point. Almost 15 years. When I found the courage to tell her, her reaction was: “Oh, I already knew.” I asked her why she didn’t tell me. “Because you needed to figure that out yourself.” Of course, she was right. It wasn’t easy. Like I usually do, I bought or borrowed every book I could find on the subject of MPD. I learned it all. Enough to get a degree.
There is so much more to discuss in this poem. I packed it with a great deal of exposure of my past. I need a break. I may try to answer more of the points in this letter or carry it over to the next letter.
It’s a list of some of the confusion that smashed into our life. It started when we were really little and didn’t stop. The abuse continued when we were adults. No was the word that meant nothing to anyone who wanted something from us. Our body betrayed us. We couldn’t stop anyone from forcing us. Some didn’t even realize they were forcing us but they were. If we shut down inside we became frozen. We couldn’t stop what was happening. This started when we were little and continued into our adult relationships. It was all on some degree of force. We weren’t there in our bodies. We left or went deep inside or floated on the ceiling until it was over.
It wasn’t consensual. It was a form of rape and abuse. We wanted love but not sex. We didn’t want to be sexually aroused because it would always end with us disappearing and our bodies would shut down. It was like turning the keys off in a car. The engine would stop running and so would we. Eventually we created an outside person, a human robot, who faked our life like a computer. She would accumulate data. And learned the expected behavior and that would be hos she would perform. We were safe inside while she was out there living a fake life as a fake person. A puppet represented us. She hid in plain sight. No one would find us with the puppet self having a controlled pattern of behavior, always asking questions to improve her performance do she wouldn’t be detected.
Our hiding place was discovered by this woman therapist. She saw through the facade. She was tricky and scary to us. She got to close. We started to care too much. She opened up the rawness in us. She made us need people. Specifically, she made us need her too desperately. We felt so close to her. But more like the fox in Le Petite Prince by Antoine de St. Exupery. She tamed part of our wildness. She made us want to be loved by her. Being loved and wanting to love in return puts such a control on you. I began to develop an overwhelming need for her. It was driving me mad. Everything started falling apart. My life felt out of control.
Our hiding place was revealed. There was no place to go except into madness and wanting to commit suicide. Suicide has always been a part of our life. It is a part of our breathing. It is always an alternative to the divine madness. We can escape that way any time we chose. But it is not an answer we can choose. Not with all that we are responsible for. Our life needs us to be in it. Everything has changed. We are learning to begin to live. We have found a purpose. It is delicate and sometimes difficult to balance but we are giving our new life all that we are able to give it. We know and are learning what we are able to do. We are able to write. We are able to be creative. Our artistic nature is starting to blossom. We are letting it be free. It likes that. It feels like are trusted to let the muse guide us. She always seems to be when we need her. We don’t push it. We let it be a natural flow. We like, no we love where we are now. It does have its difficulties with the mentally creative activities that bombard our brain. But we work hard on that more with our doc then with Mr. Xxx. He is about as helpful as a dead skeleton. His sense of warmth and communication I’d to tell stories that do not at all relate to what I am feeling or going through. He doesn’t help me at all except to give me reasons to escape my life. He lets me run away. I know I have my weaknesses but I need to find my life before I die or I kill myself because I can’t live with the confusion any longer or the depressions or rage.
I want to say that I am here and I want to stay alive. We want to be here. We choose life.
We fought through them trying to destroy us. They didn’t succeed. We are still alive. No matter how many battles. No matter how many nights we have to fight to make it alive til morning gets here. Therapy, knowing my psychoanalyst is there is so reassuring. It means at least one person is out there in our Universe that knows we are alive. That we exist. Being alive is a higher grade than just existing. The artist that lives inside of us makes it all matter. Otherwise, nothing else matters. If I didn’t have my art, my animals, the women I love and the men who are decent that I love. A good home and family who I love and who love me. The special people who know who they are. They are part of what make this life I live matter. But that involves some major time tripping. I am having visions of a future in my life, but I must be patient and wait for that time to happen. It is a good sign that I make it to that future. Others do not.
Here in 2007 I have you Annie. I am focusing on that. Your presence is beginning to mean something more to me than I even understand at this moment. We will see where that takes us.
Until next time.
MadisonI attach this to the letters I write to you Annie to assure the strictest of confidence.
At this moment I am not trying to be a coward, but I feel if I hold back now or never send this to you, then I am freeing myself up to write whatever I wish without need of censorship. Maybe someday, when I am feeling more familiar with just who you are and what you might mean to me, this parameter will be altered and a copy of this and future letters will be relayed to you. For now I want to maintain secrecy, to protect you, Annie, and to protect myself from over testing the boundaries between us and to record the development of our relationship.
I want Annie Haskell to trust me. I want you to know I am trying to protect you and also myself from any humiliation. Writing to you in this way frees up my words as I speak them onto the page. Some future date, if I feel trusting enough, I will release to you what I have written in honesty. Right now, I will keep my words confidential. On my honour, no others shall see these pages, I promise you that.
the labyrinth called “wandering wonderland.” it is where madison, scottie and their cats, patrick, sparky and toker love to escape to
madison’s “woods of imagination” where she takes long walks to reflect. it starts just past the labyrinth
QUOTATIONS from: LETTERS of IMPORT: Private Writings to a Psychoanalyst
The beginning always starts out with a dream.
It is all a dream
And we are all players
In our own nightmares”
— Madison Taylor
“For that fine madness still he did retain,
Which rightly should possess a poet’s brain.”
“Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?”
Christopher Marlowe for “Hero and Leander”
“A therapeutic relationship is often more psycho-emotionally intimate than a marriage, or a romantic attachment. I know things about my patients that they would never dream of revealing to their spouses or families. Why is that? One word — trust. If you do not have a connection with a therapist, you cannot trust them. If you do not have trust, you will not expose yourself, and if you do not expose your innermost being, what good is the therapy?” — unknown but ask any great therapist
“Men have called me mad, but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence…whether much that is glorious–whether all that is profound–does not spring from disease of thought…” — Edgar Allan PoeQUOTATIONS on LIVING:
“There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive. This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame…” — Jack London
“There are two kinds of people. One kind…they congealed into their final selves…you can expect no more surprises from them…the other kind keep moving, changing… They are fluid. They keep moving forward and making new trysts with life, and the motion of it keeps them young. In my opinion, they are the only people who are still alive…” ― Gail Godwin