Before I get to the writing exercise, I want to ask if anyone else has watched the TV show "The United States of Tara"? It is a fictional portrayal of a wife/mother with DID.
This program has been on for two seasons now, but I had never seen it before. I few nights ago I heard an ad that the entire second season of the show was available "On Demand" for free so I decided to check it out.
There are a lot of things that could be better researched in the program - some very dissappointing lazy writing in my opinion - and not all of them are about DID.
For one thing, in an episode I watched last night there is a tornado coming (the show is set in Kansas). Since the creators of this program are on the West Coast, they have (obvoiusly) very little understanding about how tornadoes work. They were showing tornado warnings on TV for apparently hours before this "storm" hit - and each time they showed them it was sunny outside. Then the event itself went on for a long time and when they came out after the storm, it looked like a bomb had gone off, and the sun was shining again.
What they portrayed was much more like a hurricane than a tornado. For those who don't know, one generally has very little notice if a tornado is going to touch down nearby - if you get ten minutes you're lucky. Tornadoes don't usually come when the sun is shining. The distruction from a tornado is usually very localized - not spread for miles as they seemed to indicate. I suppose what they portrayed is possible but it would be a very uncommon event.
And then there's the DID issue. Tara's DID is not like mine, that's about all I can say for certain. She turns completely into other people, incuding a man and a famous therapist.
My understanding of DID - from my own experience - is that it is not actually about developing a different "personality" or a whole new persona. For me, it is more like this:
I don't think I'm ever completely aware of all of my memories and experiences. Compartmentalized memories only exist for certain sides of me. So, when I am aware of one set of memories and experiences, I behave like a person who has only experienced those things. I am still behaving like me, but I am behaving like I would if only those experiences were real.
I can become very anxious, depressed, even suicidal, or very angry orcompletely calm depending on which aspects of my past I am aware of. What is most intense is when I begin to integrate these compartmentalized thoughts and have conflicting feelings and reactions. That's when it's hard to know who to "be" - but always it is me. Sometimes it may be me at age seven or me at age twelve or me that is maternal and has no concept of an abusive past or me who is completely wrapped up in the ugliest memories... but it's always me.
I was being triggered some, last night, when Tara was having flashbacks to some event from early childhood which took place in a basement. I was reacting to her fear and the little glimpses of a small girl who was afraid and made to feel ashamed (even though we don't know what has caused the girl to feel this way, yet).
Despite the various issues I have with the program, I'm addicted to it and I can't even identify what it is about the show that is capturing me, yet. If anyone has comments about this program, please feel free to leave those here as well. Maybe your thoughts will help me reach a more enlightened state as to what it is about this show that draws me in.
Writing Exercise Two
As promised, here is another exercise for anyone who would like to take a brief intermission from life.
At our meeting last week, several images (which had been torn from magazine pages) were placed face down on the table. We chose one at random, and then wrote about the image for about twenty minutes.
What does the image suggest to you? Write about the picture in any format you choose - poetry, short story, essay, emotional reaction, an event from the past that this reminds you of, random ramblings or even a rant... the choice is yours. The idea of this exercise (like most of the ones we do in my writer's group) is to open up to a freer way of writing. Let yourself go and put down whatever this reminds you of, then go back and change things around a bit if you want to. Sometimes I'm surprised by what comes out when I let myself write whatever pops into my head.
Post your writing in the comments.
I will be removing submissions from the comments and re-posting them along with what I wrote about the image in another post, on Tuesday. I look forward to reading what this image suggests to you and sharing it.