Many of the flashbacks I’ve been having involve things that happened to my mother, not what happened to me. It was easier by far, to me, to take the beatings rather than watch my sister or mother get hurt. I stood in place of my sister many times and helped my mother as often as possible. It wasn’t some great self-sacrifice; I just couldn’t stand the sights and sounds of their being hurt.
In therapy, the first traumatic memory I dealt with involved my father beating my mother. I couldn’t get that image out of my head. I always felt so helpless when she got hurt. She took it well, as she was trained to do, but she still felt it physically and mentally. Unlike me, she never developed the ability to remain stoic while that was happening. I still hear her screams and see the look of absolute horror on her face. It sickens me. She deserved better.
She’s been on my mind quite a bit lately. I miss her, particularly when I allow myself the time to stop and actually feel the grief. My parents have been dead for seven years, but it’s been very infrequently that I’ve paused to deal with the feelings surrounding their deaths. Grief is a strange beast. It causes fear and panic in its intensity, even though it is something everyone will face eventually.
The deaths of my relatives affect me differently. Losing my sister tore away the foundation. She was like my child. I had no idea how to rebuild life for my mother and me after that. Four months later, my brother’s death brought confusion. I was the middle child, so it was odd to think the oldest and youngest were gone. My father’s death was just odd. He died so violently, and he had been so happy just moments before. My daughter’s death was, and will always be, absolute hell.
When I learnt of my mother’s death, some lines from the Del Amitri song ‘Evidence’ immediately played through my head: She took away the daydream leaving nothing but daylight. She took away almost everything, but if you look you’ll find evidence she left behind.’
Our relationship was strange. My brother-of-choice says I raised her, and she raised me. That is a perfect description. Because she had DID and absolutely no control over it, she had times when alters popped out at light speed. I never knew if I would come home to a baby, a child, or an actual adult. There were times when I thought my mother had gone away permanently. My taking the role of parent for my sister brought another dynamic entirely. I’m sure resolving my grief over my mother’s death will involve grieving for various parts of her, and for the unique relationships I formed with her alters. Complicated grief at an extreme.