Masks and Alter Personalities

This week, Ginny Marie’s spin cycle prompt is “masks”. I saw this topic being announced a few weeks ago already, and immediately knew I wanted to participate. Now that I’m sitting in front of the computer, a thousand thoughts spin through my mind.

Throughout my life, masks have played an important role. Not literal masks, but the figurative masks people put on, or are made to put on, to appear like something they are not. In all honesty, I’ve worn and been made to wear so many masks that I don’t know whether at a given moment I was being sincerely me or was wearing a mask.

I have many alter personalities. They’ve come to play less of an important role now that I no longer carry the diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder, as I did from 2010 until 2013, but they’re still there. These alter personalities represent aspects of my life I feel forced to disown, either by some internal or external force. Two of them have always played the most important role.

The first one is Jane. She is a strong, independent young woman. She doesn’t need much help from others. She is intelliigent and she knows it. Her only negative characteristic is that she’s a bit distant and she would rather live alone than for example with my husband. Maybe it’s because she was formed when the least of my priorities was finding friends, let alone a partner. Independence was much more important. I mostly acted like her when in high school, doing overall well. If anything, I asked for help too little.

The other is Carol. She is a young woman too, but pretty severely disabled. She has trouble with self-care, engages in self-injurious behavior, has meltdown after meltdown. She can speak, but barely communicatively so.

There are others, too. Teens, like Elena, the cheerful one, or Brenda, the angry teenager. There are young ones too, like Milou, the curious eight-year-old, and Suzanne, the seven-year-old with too many responsibilities. Some represent hopes for my future, like Esther, who is a mother. Carol and Jane, however, are the most important in shaping my current self-image.

Many people, in today’s rehabilitation-based society, expect me to disown Carol and embrace Jane. She may be a bit schizoid, but she is intelligent and independent and that’s what matters. Many people not involved in my care see her as the authentic me, not realizing she is as much a mask as Carol is, and as much a mask as all the others are.

The thing is, all these parts or masks or alters make up me. I have learned over the years to stop having to put an alter’s name to my every action. That is improvement, but it doesn’t mean the alters weren’t there when I still dissociated significantly, and it doesn’t mean they’re not there now. When I go into a welcoming Mommy community, I’m still Esther. When I craft, I’m Annemiek. When I play with Barbie dolls, I’m Little. Yet I don’t show it openly or even covertly all the time.

I still have a very unstable sense of self. That may be why I wear all these diagnostic labels that I talked about in previous posts – they help me understand myself. So do all the alter parts. I may not be putting them on like a mask to the outside world anymore, which means I’m no logner diagnosable with a dissociative disorder, but I do still inwardly experience them.

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6 thoughts on “Masks and Alter Personalities

  1. You are a fascinating person, Astrid. You explain your alter personalities so well. It’s so interesting that using all those labels help you to understand yourself. I’m very glad that you wrote down all these thoughts and linked up to the Spin Cycle this week! Thank you!

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  2. You WISH you had “DID,” huh? You’re a severe borderline, Astrid. It would do you wonders to find an M.D. to treat you for your severe BPD: you would be amazed at what some M.D.s can do with BPD people.

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    1. You don’t have a clue what I wish I were like or what I have. I’ve always been genuine, but since you’ve cyberdiagnosed me as a severe borderline and you consider borderline to be “fakes another diagnosis”, you’re never going to believe me. That’s fine with me, but leave your opinion to yourself and let my doctor and therapist diagnose me and let me know myself. I have approved this comment, and due to my blog settings your future comments will be auto-approved, but I will delete them if you continue to troll around like with your last comment.

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  3. I wonder if we all don’t have some alter personas also. I’ve never really thought about it until I read your post. I have no answer, but it has gotten me to thinking about it.

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  4. It’s fascinating to me to read this. I’m new to your blog, thanks for Ginny’s linkup, and look forward to reading more of your work! I think many of us should wish to be as self-aware as you.

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  5. great post astrid. that was a really mean comment you got on your diagnosis. nobody has a right to virtually diagnose you. keep on doing what you doing because it looks like it is working. xoxo

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