Living with a partner with DID
The strong Esther and mother
I got to know Esther as a strong and cheerful woman. A lioness who fights for her children. Esther is fully committed to her children, but also to the people around her. She is a support to many. And all with a radiant smile on her face. When we get to know each other better, she tells me about her nightmares. And of being raped in her youth by an uncle.
Esther's nightmares are enormous. She sleeps very restlessly. I can tell she's going through a lot at night. I sometimes try to calm her down during her dreams. More than once, I startle her. But sometimes she crawls against me, terrified. It often seems as if she is in pain. Other nights, she seems to be unconscious for hours. Because of this, she is also very difficult to wake up. But when one of her children calls out something, it makes her approachable.
Esther told me that she gave birth in the forest once when she was young. In the presence of her uncle. The baby was taken from her in a horrible way and killed on the spot. She can't quite remember how and where, she was still very young and thinking about it was unbearable. This touched me enormously. During the day, Esther remains the strong woman who seems to be able to cope with the whole world. She supports others, and that is so natural for her.
Esther suffered from a hernia a number of times, which even caused her to lie flat on her bed. Esther did not completely recover from the last hernia; the strength in one leg remains less.
Search for help
Esther desperately wants to get rid of her nightmares and she scours the internet for suitable help. Until she found someone who seemed to understand her. Together, we visit the therapist every other week. She doesn't dare go alone. The things she dreams are so extreme that I go along to support her. I can see from her body at night that she is not making it up; for example, I can see that she is having second thoughts about contractions. Afterwards, when I ask her about it, she tells me that she relives giving birth in the cult. Or that night when she suddenly turned her head to the side to relive a hard blow to her face. Bit by bit Esther tells her therapist more and more about her bizarre nightmares. She wants to get rid of them!
One time, the therapist asked me if the next time I had a nightmare I would ask her who she was, where she was and how old she was. That was quite a strange thing to do the first time.
Esther was dreaming that night. I scared her enormously when I touched her and spoke to her. I did my best to reassure her. When this seemed to work a little, I asked her who she was. This question frightened her again and she shook her head. Then I asked her where she was and she said very softly: 'in the forest'. And when I asked her how old she was, she said softly: "seven". I then adapted my way of asking questions to the way you would ask a seven-year-old. This made her carefully dare to give me some more answers. But she was so afraid!
At other times she gave different answers; about other places and other ages. How scared she was or wasn't is also different, I can hear that in her voice and how she reacts to fearful situations - a 4 year old reacts differently to a 12 year old. And if she manages to gain some confidence, she calls her name once. But that's not the name I know her by...
The therapist then tells us what DIS is all about. This was quite a shock but a lot fell into place. Especially for Esther.
The nightmares were there every night during that period. The big difference with just dreaming as I do is the enormous amount of details she can tell during the ''dreaming'' when I ask her about it. Esther doesn't dream like me. She really relives things at that moment. For example, the memory of being buried alive. The sand seeps into her face through the cracks in the coffin. She is terrified. Afraid that there will be so much sand that she won't be able to breathe. She turns her head back and forth to get rid of the sand. The tickle-bugs between the sand give her a huge panic. I talk to her and help her rub the sand out of her face. She feels my hand on her face and hears my voice. We talk about her re-experience and what is happening. But also about feeling my hand and hearing my voice when I touch her. I take her along to become aware of her surroundings in the here and now, the sheets of the bed, the pyjamas she is wearing. So, step by step, this part learns to realise that it is a re-experience and not really happening at that moment. The re-experience does not stop, but it becomes a little more bearable because she is no longer alone. And she manages to share more and more of what has happened.
The memories that Esther relives at night are shocking. It is too horrific for words. I can't believe that there are people who hurt children. But what she says here .... This is about deliberately torturing children. And not only that. This is deliberately breaking and destroying the spirit of a child ... Again and again I am completely shocked. It cannot get any worse. Just bizarre. That she survived this as a child ... how then????
But then comes the next memory...... Again I am completely shocked. This is even more horrible than the last time. And again and again. I soon learn that the cult uses a level of evil that is no longer human. I cannot believe that there are people who could ever conceive of this horrible way of torturing and mentally manipulating people. This is truly diabolical.
It certainly does something to me. It hurts to see Esther like this. Every night is filled with memories. And it's not just the dreams; her body is also experiencing things all over again. Like the primal force I can see when she relives childbirth and the gasping for breath when someone strangles her. Esther regularly jumps to the other side of the bed when something frightens her. But often she lies completely unconscious when she remembers how she was squashed so that she could not resist.
My heart cries very often. Sometimes we cry together. Because it is too much. Too much for a human being to bear. Here we find Jeshua. He is there. He shows the way. The way out. He shows the truth in this disgusting torture, trapped in lies. Again and again His love and patience is so healing.
Personal parts, reliving and processing
More and more, I get to know different parts of her. And more and more, Esther manages to share things internally between the different person parts.
By writing down her dreams in the morning, instead of putting them away. And telling them to me and her therapist, we got to know different parts. Also during the day different triggers come to light, reasons why suddenly one personality part takes over the body of the other. In the past during torture, but also in the here and now. An example of a trigger is a song, an object or a voice or face that is connected to a past trauma.
I am getting to know different parts of the personality better and better. Each personality part in itself has to get used to me and learn to trust me. Then it is possible to let this personality part feel the difference between what is here and now (when I touch her) and what belongs to the reliving of that moment. So it happens that a personality part that tells me during the day what has been "dreamed" that night tells me things that I already knew because I was there during the dreaming/experiencing.
What also happens is that Esther feels the physical symptoms that fit with the re-experiences in a night, also in her body during the day. Painkillers help, but it only really goes away when the memories are told and processed through therapy.
Dealing with pain
Physical complaints are also not always shared with all parts of the person. For example, it can happen that back and/or shoulder complaints get worse because not all parts of the personality take this into account when they use the body. But it can also be that one personality part completely blocks the pain. And then the back pain seems to be over. But then, of course, the hernia is still there. In the past, this has made it difficult for doctors.
Different adult personalities
The differences between person parts during the day are subtle. All parts try very hard to resemble each other so that differences are not immediately noticeable. The differences that do exist are, for example, the things that Esther likes or dislikes. One time, she doesn't like sweet things at all: no pastries, no biscuits with coffee. Another time, she suddenly makes apple crumble cake to go with her coffee: "I've been craving that for so long!
But I thought cream cake was a common denominator. I had never seen her eat it in six years. Esther doesn't like whipped cream. Until suddenly she says "oh yes, a piece of whipped cream pie". I look at her in surprise for a moment, but we enjoy a piece of whipped cream pie. And a week later, when it comes up, Esther knows nothing about it: "I never eat whipped cream pie! This gives many funny moments and we have fun together.
There is also a noticeable difference in Esther's driving style. On the motorway, she drives slowly and mostly on the right lane, no hurry. But that can change into driving nicely, just a bit more than allowed and overtaking other cars whenever possible. But it is also possible that "Race Beetle" takes over the wheel. This one is driving fast and actually has enough of the left lane.
What I have also noticed over the years is that Esther is better able than others to do several things at once because inside she is with more than one person. Esther is communicating with her therapist on phone a, but on phone b, she is playing a game while waiting for an answer to the app on phone a. The moment she switches from one phone to another, I see her whole posture and appearance change. Even the way she breathes changes.
On phone a, she is huddled up, with a strained expression, appending herself. Her breathing is short and rapid. Her body is tense, her shoulders tense up and her knees raised. Then she switches to phone number b. The shoulders drop, her head lifts. Deep, relaxed breathing follows. When she sees me looking at her, she gives me a sweet smile and continues with her game on phone b.
The moment a new message comes in on phone a, the tense attitude returns as if it had not been away and the game on phone b is completely ignored. So far so good for everyone I think. But this often happens at a time when I am watching a nice film with her. And then you shouldn't think that she misses much of the film. She can also follow the film completely at the same time. Just like driving and using her mobile phone. She can do this at the same time.
Many people do it, which is really dangerous. But I often see with Esther that her two eyes are separately focused. One eye on the roads and one eye on the phone. Bizarre yes, but I have seen it.
It has become a habit for me to tell Esther things that have happened in daily life again a number of times, because later on there may be another part that does not know yet. But when Esther is stable inside, this is a lot less necessary, because then there is more consultation between the personal parts inside her.
In the beginning, when I got to know more and more personalities, they really needed to feel welcome. It was/is necessary to tirelessly repeat and name that. I also got to speak to parts that had never had a casual/equal relationship. And some parts have never even had a safe environment.
There is a personality part that communicates with body language. I have made agreements with her as to which body movements mean yes and which mean no. She sometimes tries to make contact with me while I am verbally talking to another personality part and this gives rise to funny moments. She then suddenly gives her own opinion during a conversation, by responding in her own way with a yes or no. And then it's funny that she doesn't agree with the verbally speaking personality part at that moment. And the three of us have fun.
This is a consequence of growing closer together and of sharing. So that person parts can be present at the same time. And then, in this case, talk to each other through me for the first time.
The intolerance of foods that not all parts take into account. At some point, after examinations, it became clear that there was an intolerance to certain foods. Excluding these things prevented many complaints that had existed for years. But before all parts knew and believed this, it took some time.
Because of this, we had many funny moments. Because not everyone who eats also goes to the toilet. So the part that takes the food doesn't have the abdominal pain or doesn't see the diarrhoea that results. Maybe this is one reason why food intolerances are only discovered now.
In recent years, many traumas and corresponding personal parts have passed in review. There were always new memories, which brought deeper hidden parts to the surface. Getting to know each other and allowing all parts of the personality to just be there was an important point.
Different personalities no longer have to hide their traumas from each other or from the outside world. Because of this, the different parts of the personality were able to grow closer to each other and now most things can be done together more and more. Because of this, it is no longer necessary for me, for example, to repeat things more than once. The triggers of the day can now usually be dealt with together by the different parts of the personality.
And not so long ago, Esther said to me for the first time. "I trust you." It was a very special moment for me to hear this. Esther, because of her past, has such an enormous right to never trust anyone again.
I hope very much that Esther's story may be an example to many. Anyone who, like her, has heard their whole life and been proven wrong, that getting out of this enormously violent cult is impossible. I hope that Esther's example will give them the courage to seek help. And I also hope that care workers who read this will be touched and be willing to help many people like Esther.