August 28, 2018

Split Right Down The Center

By In Diary

Writing has been something that I’ve wanted to do. I would always start out passionately as I hammered the keys, but as I got to the end, hammering turned into light tapping. So to anyone who has said they read the first part of my long diatribes, but didn’t make it to the end, you pretty much read the best parts. 

This is something I wish was limited to writing, but I’ve noticed that this pattern has taken hold in many parts of my life. I hate it. What good is starting off strong if you end on a whimper? Maybe worse, I’ve been starting things and then not finishing them. Maybe this is my age catching up with me? 

I’m about to be 35 in October, which isn’t as scary as I thought it would be. The desire to still be in my twenties has passed. I have a lot of life experiences behind me, I’m not as naive, I’ve got a better understanding of the world, and I’m looking forward to yelling at the kids on my lawn. Plus, it does help to not look my age. I also don’t see myself acting it in the near future either. 

My real problem with getting older has more to do with stripping away past ideas of myself. That I’ll need to explain. Have you ever met someone who’s always talking about their glory days, pining to go back to them? Their goals always seem to be about getting back somewhere in the past, not heading toward something new. They’re constantly competing with a younger, better version of themselves, so they’ll never win. Now, if they accepted that the past was behind them, they could start to build a better present and future version of themselves. Unfortunately, life is like Super Mario Bros.; you can only move forward in one direction.

When I analyze what has weakened my forward momentum, I see a lot of anchors to my past. I have just enough slack to get a good start, but then the chains snap me back. I’ve been running in place for so long, thinking that I’m headed in the right direction, but actually just wearing myself out. 

Let’s not do that anymore. How about we dare to dream of an even better version of ourselves. A more honest, interesting, beautiful, provocative, alluring, intelligent, and enjoyable model. It’s okay to be inspired by things in your past, but how do you improve upon that concept? For me, I also have to re-separate two parts of my ego that I thought needed to fuse together. I have my masculine(ish) side and more feminine side. For the last few years, I’ve tried fruitlessly to make the two sides one. I’m not really talking about esthetics with this, but rather two distinct personalities. 

I made a friend a few years ago who was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID for short. It was formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, and to many still is. It’s not well understood by most people, usually Cybil comes to mind. Here are some actual facts about it. People diagnosed with DID generally suffered traumatic experiences at a very young age, causing the mind to fracture. This can only happen until you are 5-6 years old. These identities carry difficult memories that were too painful to be remembered by the central identity. Each identity is called an Alter and can have different names, ages, genders, sexualities, species, and even be inanimate objects. Some Alters can be more prominent than others and can either share control of the body or push the central identity to a comatose like state. These shifts in Alters are usually caused by stress or other triggering factors.

With that all shared, there has been a question in my mind if I have DID. After my friend with DID got to know me, she told me that she could see these things to a degree in me. As far as I can recall though, I don’t have lost time, my friends have never told me they were speaking to a different person, and I’ve seen no evidence of a separate life being lived without my knowledge. As I’ve researched deeper into it though, I’ve learned that there are different degrees and levels in which you can experience an identity disorder. 

As a child, there were a few very traumatic incidents that happened, which I believe fundamentally shaped the person I am today. One when I was a child, maybe 2 or 3 years old, I remember my mom trying to say goodbye to me as she was leaving to move to California. I knew she was my mother, I was devastated that she was leaving, and in the moment I was actively blocking out the situation. I sat in my grandfathers rocking chair, zoned in on the television, until I saw the taillights of her car going down the driveway, then my emotions exploded out of me. This memory is vivid for me, but I only remembered it a few years ago as I started to transition.

Talking to my mom about this event, she confirmed it for me. I never put it together at the time why I was only remembering this then. Even stranger, when I would enter into my feminine side, I started to recall memories with a different perspective, or certain details that were omitted. So I’ve never felt that someone else has taken control of the wheel in my mind, but I have come to see that when I become more feminine, I’m not quite the same person.

My best “fiend” as I like to call her, she confirmed this detail about my personality shift. She actually does look at my feminine side as a different person, co-habitating in one body. It’s not that I’m not all there, but the way I speak changes and my energy is different. I have a confidence and a care-free quality that’s usually not as present when I’m not her. My wit changes and I become more extroverted. When it’s really broken down, there are traits and qualities that each side has, that the other doesn’t. 

Are they two separate identities? I don’t think so. Perhaps the best way to define it is the Batman Villain “Two-Face.” There are two sides working together as one. Both sides aware of what the other is doing, but different in many ways. Every once in a while, one side has to take the lead over the other. I wish I had realized this earlier, but like so many things in my life, it took me a little longer than most. Maybe as well, letting too many people inform me of who I was, how I should be, that didn’t help. Also, spending all this time trying to define myself with definitions and terms, thinking I had to live as a single entity. It’s no wonder why my confidence to be feminine in public has disappeared. Ele doesn’t know how to strut in heels and shake their ass down the street, but Elle does. Elle is what I’ve started to refer to her as. Extra “L” and she’s a little extra. 

Coming to terms with this new revelation about myself, I feel like two new people. There’s also this relief that you experience at the end of a war, my own personal Cold War. You’ll always have struggles, but the struggle should be to just be and not be something. And that may just be the worst sentence I’ve ever written, but I hope it makes the point. 

Henceforth, it is my goal to live life on my own terms, not looking back to the past as a destination, but rather inspiration. I won’t be bogged down by others definitions and terms. I won’t be cubed and cooped up to fit into some social construct that suppresses me. I’ll be damned if I let anyone or anything hold me back from being myselves. So in the words of Kylo Ren, “Let the past die, kill it if you have to.” Life is too goddamn short not to live interestingly.

Escape The Ordinary,
Ele Nichols

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