When Paul announced that the topic for both the Carnival Against Child Abuse, and Expressive Arts Carnival would be “your truth”, I was excited. I struggle with what my truth is, almost on a daily basis; so saw this as a great way to explore my reactions and issues around the concept. Then the reality of writing about the topic hit me… literally. I published a post about my truth last week, which received some negative feedback, and all my insecurities came out and had a party. It became a fight about whether I would look more foolish keeping it up, or taking it down. I decided to take it down.
I consider truth to be an amorphous concept. What I wrote last week, was my truth at that time. What I write today, will be different because I’ve learned from last week’s experience, and gained more understanding about the situation. If I write another post on this topic in a week, month or year, it will be different again. Truth isn’t set in stone. Truth is derived from the understanding of our experiences… but that understanding comes from our perspective, bias, values, etc.
Truth also has political, economic and cultural importance. This is where I start to get confused – not because I think I’m of any great importance, but rather because so many people seem to have a vested interest in my truth…
- The False Memory Syndrome Foundation and DID deniers are vocal in their opinion and research that they say proves you cannot repress traumatic memory in the way that many DID cases are presenting.
- Extreme supporters of DID tell you to seek out each memory and believe it as the truth.
- My family don’t know what to believe, but they are tired of having a daughter who is unwell.
- Work doesn’t care as long as they get more than my contracted hours of work, and I don’t inconvenience them with my phobias.
- ACC accepts that I have issues related to sexual abuse, but would prefer this to have been “resolved” long ago so that they didn’t need to keep funding my therapy.
I find it impossible to ignore all of these conflicting messages and theories. In some ways, I think it’s dangerous to do so. Each group has something to teach us… FMS helped to place a check of poor therapeutic practice; our family show us how confusing our experience can appear to the outside world; and so on. But, I don’t think that it’s up to us as individuals, to get caught up in the debates and arguments. I think that we owe it to ourselves to be an informed consumer; to gain power over our own healing, and to play an active part in that healing process. But we shouldn’t hurt ourselves in the process.
I’ve read much of the FMS material. I’ve debated with the DID deniers. I’ve questioned the beliefs of the extreme supporters. Each of those interactions has come at a personal cost. I begin to doubt my truth. I become conflicted and destabilised. Opponents to DID, would argue that this destabilisation was due to the house of cards that I have built my life on, being threatened. The thing is, the intellectual part of me likes this reasoning. At times I embrace denial for all it’s worth. Events which I know occurred are minimised, or I detach emotionally from them.
But, this doesn’t explain how I continue to react to things. Even in the midst of my denial, I still avoid the smell of tyres on a hot summer day, I must have my back to the wall… the list goes on. I can appear bright, happy and be super-functional; yet internally I’ve compartmentalised the turmoil, and can dangerously self injure within the hour. This is where my intellectual/autobiographical truth, and the truth of my sensory memory collide. For me, healing comes, not from trying to uncover every single memory, but rather in coping with what I am facing in the present – it’s about symptom management, not chasing memories.
It’s my intellectual part that needs to know what happened to me; but this has never been where my healing has occurred. My greatest leaps in healing have always come from working through a trigger in the present. It’s shown the wounded parts of me that it is possible to be safe. Ironically, this safety has often led to more sharing of emotions, and yes, sometimes memories. But these were shared from a place of strength, not chaos. They didn’t have the power to sweep me along on an emotional tidal wave. That’s not to say that I don’t get swept away, I do. But I’m learning how to cope in the present in a more proactive way… a more emotional way. It’s uncomfortable, it’s scary, but the benefits are showing.
So what is my truth? I was hurt in the past by people who should have protected me. That betrayal of trust now influences my life in significant ways. I get confused, distracted and hurt by the controversy that is associated with the diagnostic label that a psychiatrist assigned me. I am trying my best to heal from the wounds of the past, understand the controversy, and (more importantly) live a life. Isn’t that what most of us are trying to do?
What is the truth… or are they both the truth seen from different perspectives?