Adjusting to Home
“Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
Today is the two-week mark of me having moved back home to Mississippi. The timing of the move was to ensure that I was home for the holidays and that’s exactly what I did. I came home and was soon greeted by my little boys making the first week filled with love and happiness. Anytime you move from one place to another there is an adjustment period usually filled with frustrations and my time back has had those times as well.
For me there has been a mixture of emotions that I was somewhat prepared for but have also been surprised by. With my dark past in this small town and trying to get settled the stress of it all has brought tears to my eyes. The stress of being back in a town where there are some difficult memories to face mixed with the stress of getting new doctors, reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances, developing new routines and the death of a family member has left me emotional and a bit edgy. All-in-all I would consider the experience thus far normal.
In the best of circumstances, the stress would be a noticeable factor. But coming back to the place where all my trauma occurred with still very vivid memories has made the transition a little more difficult. The difficulties where they are uncomfortable are not impossible to overcome. My initial thoughts about moving back where that I would face a lot of judgment and harsh criticisms as I had in my younger years. What I have found is that I instead have faced people who still are supportive and who love me even knowing my past. And those who send their judgmental stares and comments my way have been drowned out by hugs and words of support and compassion. Me and old friends have sat while we all laughed and cried together with stories of difficult days from the past and the near future. And my aching heart is always soothed by the words of my children saying, “Momma D, we’re glad you moved back because we missed you.”
My spiritual life which has held a lot of contentment for many years has been met by people who just want to love and support me while I find my way here in small town living of the Deep South. And thanks to coach before leaving Texas I was already learning how to let people love me again. Likewise, I continue to be supported by my friends from Texas who only want to see me succeed as they saw me in the days of barely putting one foot in front of the other to keep surviving. The best advice I was ever given as a child and an athlete that’s kept me going was, “Never ever give up.” And the words I always tell coach is, “Don’t ever give up on me.”
Two of my hardest but most rewarding years of my life were spent healing in Texas. And it’s where I feel like I got my second wind in life. I love being able to smile a genuine smile today. I love feeling like I now have the capability to be a mother to my children. I love knowing going forward that my relationships with people will be ones that are genuine instead of superficial. And that they can be relationships that are healthy. I love knowing that my hard work has bought me something more rewarding than a degree could ever give to me……LIFE. And I love knowing that no matter how many times I wanted to nor how far down I got physically and mentally…. I NEVER GAVE UP. The miracle happened and I’m alive today to enjoy it.
My Parts And Change
“DID is about survival! As more people begin to appreciate this concept, individuals with DID will start to feel less as though they have to hide in shame. DID develops as a response to extreme trauma that occurs at an early age and usually over an extended period of time.”
― Deborah Bray Haddock, The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook
I don’t know why I’ve decided to write another blog so soon. Maybe it’s because I’m so eager to get back home that the loneliness of this room has taken its toll. But maybe it’s also because my parts are talking so loudly about the upcoming change that it’s hard to do anything else. I still hold true to my beliefs about the benefits of my two years of hard work and the spirituality that I hold near and dear. But to ignore what my parts are saying would go against everything I’ve learned. So, I’ve decided to give this some attention.
My child parts are like typical children. They’re excited to know that they will be able to play with Marshall and Copeland soon. They look forward to being around them again and to once again. And a certain little 5-year-old looks forward to being able to play with her chap sticks that have carefully been sent back home at an earlier date. They also long for a parent’s love to help ease the scariness of this new change.
My teenagers have a menagerie of emotions like most teens. Some are ready to go NOW and are having a hard time with patience. They all look forward to this scary but new life and experiences. My once loud and aggressive protector is the one who is surprisingly calm during this time of stress. She has always been the one no one could get close to. But through healing she has become one that knows her place and realizes that everything isn’t about a fight. The kid that she is longs for someone to simply hold and support her while this change happens. She’s not afraid to admit that she’s scared. But she also knows that she’s still one of the backbones of strength and courage in my system. Instead of being a part of aggression she has found and made peace with her trauma and now works with us all instead of causing chaos. She has become one of the hardest working parts in relation to recovery. And she holds tightly the words of our dear Sarah close to her heart.
She was hands down the loudest but most damaged alter I have. Her loyalty to our coach and our system is comes from a place that’s admirable and loveable. And I must admit that having her working with us for several months now is something that makes my heart leap for joy. Her heart is open and healed and has become one of my parts that I couldn’t live without. She one that has brought about the most change and has remained open to love, peace and happiness. My part that is her direct opposite and wise beyond her years is still strong with positivity. Very simply put she brings light to the darkness. The desires of her heart I won’t share but peace from within is what she exudes.
My athlete and student are parts that keep us all going. Having the respect for our dear coach they both repeat the phrase, “Stay the course and trust coach. She hasn’t led us astray yet and we need her right now. We trust her because she’s proven trustworthy. Listen and follow her guidance because she will help lead us home safely.” And I must admit that writing keeps “the student” occupied.
A few of my adult parts looks forward to helping Mel raise the boys. They also bring about nurturing and grace on a daily basis. They look forward to being role models for my children that will help me to be the mother I need to be. I have other desires of my heart but none more important than the ones that foster my being able to take care of myself instead of having to be taken care of. I look forward to being able to take care of myself instead of being trapped within myself and frozen with fear.
All these parts make up me, Dana Landrum-Arnold. I’m proud of who I am now and what I can become as a person in the future. My heart longs for many different things. And I’ll admit that I’m very nervous. But when I look back on the days of Texas, I can say that it has been the most rewarding and difficult time of my life. I have worked harder for this resolution of my trauma then anything else. The scars of my story are evident on my arms and my heart. But the peace I’ve fought so hard for is written all over my face and heart as well. I now see myself as one who has discipline, courage, strength and love to share with anyone who will accept it. I am a good person who a set of individuals tried to destroy a little at a time. What I was blessed with was several parts of myself who fought my battles and took care of me for many years regardless of how maladaptive the behaviors were. And now I’ve grown to the point that it’s time that I take care of them and my responsibilities as Dana. They helped me to survive and now I will help them to thrive. My name is Dana Landrum-Arnold and I have a story to tell.
I laugh a lot, but no one sees
How much these visions torment me?
Fight as I may, I have yet to win
Screaming loudly, “No! Not Again!”
God might frown but the devil smiles
He knows his influence on this broken child.
Forward I still go but no one sees
My limping, hurting and the pain that pushes me.
How do I succeed whilst in his mouth of flames?
I’ve tried and tried with very little gain
Can’t anyone plainly see?
How my demons are killing me?
I say, “Yes!” and they say, “No!
We will beat this crazy and very useless ho.
But try as I may spilling heartbroken tears;
All this happening year-after-year.
Prayers are spoken but no one sees
This desperate girl inside me begging Please!!!
To help me stop this destructive path
How many more times can I survive their wrath?
The people who help have grown weary as well.
How can I continue to drag them through my personal hell?
All the while I silently scream, “help but don’t leave!”
The message is constant “Then let us help you please!”
I don’t know how to let you love me and teach me knew things
Please let me be the puppet on a string.
I listen and try the best that I can
Can I start over and learn to let people love me again?
Answers unknown and fears cover my heart
Can I possibly let you mold me like a beautiful piece of art?
This little girl desperately wants to live
But how much more can I take and are you still willing to give?
I’m not greedy and want everything from you.
God, the universe, The Great Spirit says I’m not through.
Don’t give up as everyone has and I apologize for
being such a hardheaded jackass.
Compassionate and caring more than anyone has ever been
Please try drilling through my thick skull once again.
By: Dana Landrum-Arnold
Lessons From A Squirrel
“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though.
That’s the problem.”
― A.A. Milne
Today when I got home from therapy I went immediately to the patio and sat like I often do. I was looking and listening for movement that I could watch while half-heartedly searching eBay and trying to decompress from the latest session with coach. I began to hear a popping sound that I begin looking for the origin. I look up and one lonely and might I say hungry squirrel was sitting and eating the kernels off the corncob that I had thrown out into the yard. Apparently, like most other humans and animals the heat has drawn us mostly indoors except to go to the grocery store which this little squirrel was certainly doing to the best of its ability.
As I watch closely, I start to see a similarity between the way he eats and the way I eat. Animals, being part of a food chain, instinctively watch for predators as a way of survival. We, on the other hand, can fix our own food and sit and eat with or without company. I’ll take a little bit of food and feverishly try to get the pieces of food eaten before anyone notices. I will also build forts out of menus to give me privacy if eating in public or I’ll just leave.
This squirrel was simply eating because it knows that it needs fuel for survival. It doesn’t care who’s watching it eat if you’re not a predator. And trust me, the backyard wildlife DO NOT fear me even though I’m considered a predator. They somehow seem to know that all they’ll get from me is Pandora songs and singing. They’ve become so comfortable with me, in fact, that when I go out on the patio sometimes, I have a visitor sprawled out on its belly looking at me like it’s on “The Biggest Loser” desperately wanting a snack.
I look at this little squirrel and say, “Do you have eating disorders too?” It raises its head as if to listen and then calmly lays its head back down.
The squirrel just simply wants more food without another thought about how it’s eating or who’s watching and what I might be thinking. I, too, long for the day that I can eat a meal to enjoy it for its flavors and the feeling of being satisfied without feeling the want and need to purge as a way of self-sabotaging my health. Until then I’ll continue to fight these ugly eating disorders and the horrible words and actions that caused them to form. I, as a human being, have the right to enjoy food and the action of eating without any torment. And I will make it happen because I don’t want to live my life as a squirrel or any other animal waiting for someone or something to attack it.
“Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.”
I Matter Now
You forced me to listen and now it’s my time.
Your abuse has made me feel like I can’t be real in life.
You destroyed parts of me that once thrived
And you sucked me into your grasp by being very kind.
Once everyone was gone you made your first move.
Showing me the side of a human that most have to prove.
You dehumanized me in so many ways
Until I’ve learned to live life mostly in a haze.
But your days are over, and my days are here.
Oh, and the truth that everyone can hear.
About your venomous actions forced on children, teens and adults.
All you can do is sit back and sulk.
I won’t be sad because you hurt me so
But what you shoved into the ground has begun to grow.
With growth you need water and those are my tears I shed.
While I try to undo everything, you convinced me of in my head.
I went to everyone looking for help
And it made it all worse and you hurt me more until I yelped
I didn’t know it then because I was just a kid
Because I matter now, and you never ever did.
“Hey Pot, This Is Kettle”
“I decry the injustice of my wounds, only to look down and see that I am holding a smoking gun in one hand and a fistful of ammunition in the other.”
― Craig D. Lounsbrough
One thing that most people will tell you about me is that it’s hard to have any kind of a relationship with me unless you have thick skin or can separate behavior from the truth. Why is this? Well, I can only say what I believe to be the truth. I most often self-sabotage relationships in order to keep from getting hurt. This doesn’t mean that the person I sabotage the relationship with did anything wrong. Sounds odd? Trust me it is.
So much of my life has been about wearing masks that being on the hunt for my authentic self is proving very difficult. Everything about relationships scares me. I fear people leaving and/or dying. And I also fear people hurting me. Not so surprising if you take note of my trauma history. Confusing for me and other people yes. What makes me angry is that before all the chaos in my life began relationships held very high priority for me. They were never replaceable. The relationship that I had with that person was as individual as they are.
When this sabotaging happens it’s because I’ve gotten scared. Either the person has seen someone other than “the clown.” When people begin to see me as someone other than that friend they like to hang out with and laugh I get very scared. Because in my experience those that see the nice side of me first might leave me at the first sign of trouble. I fear judgement. And I fear their rejection if they don’t like the truth. So, instead of just waiting to see the outcome, I control the outcome.
I had good relationships at one that that once they saw the effects of abuse on me, they run. Once they’ve seen the scars, been around my extremely intense mood shifts and paranoia they leave. As a result, I bought into the belief that “I wasn’t worthy of good relationships because everyone leaves eventually.” This in turn adds fuel to the fire of self-hatred and my self-harm escalates. Next relationship the cycle continues until you get tired of the painful emotional toll that it takes, and you become a prisoner of to your home to keep from having contact with people out of fears. I then sabotaging through self-harm and isolation further worsening my condition. This then leads to more depression and anxiety and lack of social stimulation. Therefore, anytime I try to be around other people, in public, the overstimulation is just too much because I live a rather bland existence.
This is something that coach and I face with me. Not to mention the scared alters always paranoid and looking for danger at any turn. But I continue to work towards a more permanent solution so that I can keep meaning relationships in the future. First, I must get used to being in public around people and all the different verbal and visual stimulation of everyday life. Fingers and toes crossed that this goes well. I can promise you that I win the “Most Harded” award every year. Not something to brag about but always true. I always chuckle when I tell someone that they’re being hardheaded. Their response, “Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?” All I can say, “Why yes, it is.”
The Girl In The Closet
Enjoying school and playing sports
Dripping with sweat on shirts and shorts.
A dollar bill would be burning a hole in my pocket
She was only a number, but she was also the girl in the closet.
Most knew her name but not her number
She made them laugh even before Tumblr
The teacher never smiled, and we never knew why
Was someone mean to her? Did they make her cry?
The evilness she shot through her eyes made them want to vomit
She was only a number the girl in the closet.
The clown she was in those days
That happiness quickly became dark, ugly hate.
That closet was to teach me lessons.
And lessons it did…I learned how to drink, take pills, cut on my arms and put on gauze dressings
Because I was only a number and the girl in the closet.
Please!!!!I cried for someone to get me out of there
But they were being told different stories and I started pulling out my hair.
How could you not see that which was in front of you?
You questioned my parents and they questioned you.
What’s happened to my child and why is her heart so hurt
But I was just a number and the little girl in the closet.
They all knew and could see my spirit breaking day after day.
The hate would develop with words she would hear between September and May.
She was being changed from the inside out
She always had a practice where her aggression could be let out.
Her pills were quite the comfort and the razors were too
Because she had certainly learned some less and she hates herself and wants to turn blue.
She can’t breathe without thinking that finally someone must listen to what I say
The mental torture that continues day after day.
Now it’s my turn to tell you how we will play.
You didn’t even remember my number only that “I was the girl in the closet.”