"I pray that one day I'll be whole again"

From Women's World, circa 1990

When you look at me, you only see one face. But looks can be deceptive. Behind my blue eyes and underneath my blond hair, Alice is hiding. So are Donna, Brenda, Alexandra, Corrine and Susan. You see, I have seven 'people' living inside me.

For 20 years I didn't know my body housed others -- even though they all knew about me and even each other. But now, at age 42, I finally do know and I am doing my best to make them part of my own personality. It's my only chance for sanity.

I suppose knowing that you've got a problem is the first step toward fixing it, but mine seems so incredible and bizarre I'm not sure I like knowing.

Maybe it was better when I believed I was just being forgetful or had epilepsy. Starting in my early 20s, I'd black out a lot. I was a divorced mother of two young girls back then.

When I told my doctor about my forgetfulness, he prescribed tranquilizers and sent me home.

But I had more and more blackouts. Sometimes I'd find myself roaming seedy neighborhoods without any idea as to how I got there. Once my face was covered with bruises and I hadn't the vaguest idea as to how I got them. Was I going crazy?

I was so scared about what was happening to me that reluctantly I sent by two young daughters to live with their father.

For 20 years I lived in fear, suspecting I was insane but too scared to ask a doctor for help.

And then one morning, I woke to find a strange man in my bed.

"Who are you?" I screamed.

"What's the matter with you? I'm your husband," he answered and then showed me the marriage certificate, already a few days old.

Although I had the marriage annulled, I was in a panic. Still I continued to avoid doctors because foolishly I was petrified I'd be labeled insane. I lived this way for a decade. I married again, divorced and then married again.

Then four years ago, a good friend of mine died of natural causes in my home. He had been living with me and my fourth husband Evan. When I stumbled upon his body, my head began to ache and I blacked out.

When I awoke, I found myself in a mental hospital. I was told I was admitted after trying to stab Evan and his daughter with a kitchen knife. I had no memory of any of it.

In the hospital, I continued to black out. The doctors began to ask me about an Alice and a Donna and a Brenda. I told the doctors I had never heard of these people before -- yet I was told I had at times introduced myself as Alice or signed my name as Susan. Alice, I now know, is the me who is most dangerous.

It's easy to fool Jennifer. She's such a weakling. I, Alice, hate her. I know Jennifer is afraid of me. I suppose everyone is afraid of me. That's good. I've done some pretty outrageous things.

I won't let the world step on me the way Jennifer does. When things get bad, I just quash Jenny girl and take over and have a good time. A few drinks, a couple of men.

Maybe I am a bit dangerous. So I tried to OD on pills but I did call the ambulance before I killed us all.

After a few weeks in the hospital, a diagnosis was made; multiple personalities. "It can't be true," I cried over and over again.

But then I was shown videotapes taken of me as Alice, Donna,Corrine, et al.... My head reeled. I wanted to cry, shout, hide, run. But instead I felt as if I was paralyzed. I could barely speak or move.

During the ensuing months, I underwent hypnosis and learned so many things about myself and why I had developed seven other me's. I've created them to spare me from the memories, the pain, the horror that I could not -- still can't -- cope with.

Corrine is me at age five.

Help me now, Mommy! Please don't use the knife! Don't hurt the kitty! Blood! The ropes hurt me. Can't you hear me? It's me, Corrine. Can't you see I'm crying? Please untie me. Please let me put my clothes back on, I'm so cold. I'll be good. I promise I will be.

Stop! Stop! Don't pour the kitty's blood on me. The blood is in my hair, my mouth, my eyes. I can't see. Oh, please, no more blood.

Who are these people, Mommy? Why are they chanting? Are they going to kill me? Are they going to chop off my head and eat me as they did the kitty? Please, no more blood!

Therapy has helped me uncover what I had tried so hard to bury. My parents, Satanists, forced me to participate in their bloody, sadistic rituals. Often they'd beat me and my older sister and brother mercilessly.

Brenda's the me who has never forgotten the terror or the pain.

Don't touch me. Get away. I want to be left alone. Quick! Close the curtains and lock the doors. Did you hear that? I, Brenda, have heard something. I don't want them to come for me. I'm scared.

When I was five years old, my father died yet my mother continued to beat me and my siblings.

I spent many nights fantasizing a normal childhood. The me who is Alexandra still fantasizes.

I'm almost 10. Do you want to play with me? Corrine lets me play with her dolls and toys.

Sometimes I like to play tricks on Jennifer. It's funny! I hide cans of food in the freezer.

I never told anyone about the beatings, the rituals. I just wanted to forget them. The me who is Susan has forgotten. For Susan, the world's just a great big love-in.

I just want us to love each other the way people did in the 60s. Especially Alice, she's so angry. Alice believes fighting will stop the pain, but it won't. Only peace can stop the hurting.

I'm trying to become whole. But that may take years. I'm on prescription drugs and in therapy. But still I black out. Sometimes I can even hear the others talk and it terrifies me. The me who is Donna is lonely and searching for love.

I'm Donna. Jennifer and Alice may say I'm naive and gullible but they're wrong. I'm just generous.

Once I gave my boyfriend a lot of money, our TV and all of the silverware. When the others found out, they were mad.

I feel -- am -- so alone. My mother died 15 years ago, and my brother and sister have turned to drugs. My daughters, now in their late 20s, are afraid of me and don't see me.

My life has been shattered. I can only pray that some day I will be whole again. Jennifer and only Jennifer.

Uploaded Sunday, June 08, 2003 1:37 pm

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