11 October, 2006

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day, which got me thinking about the different ways that I can think about coming out.

Obviously, most people who know me know that I'm a dyke. Coming out as a dyke has never been much of a challenge for me: if I get a decent sense that the person in question isn't likely to do violence, then I don't bother to hide my sexual orientation (I may not bring it up unless it's relevant, but I don't hide it). I often don't mention the specifics of what I do in the bedroom, but much of that is because 1, what I do in the bedroom involves my partner, and I prefer not to share things she'd rather not have shared, and 2, what I do in the bedroom rarely has any bearing on, say, whether I want my produce bagged in paper, plastic, or not at all.

There are other kinds of coming out. I am comfortable in many situations being "out" as a pagan; I've had to become comfortable being "out" about having an invisible disability (and in making it more visible so that I can, for instance, get a seat on the train, rather than getting glared at for falling down).

It's harder to come out about things like having grown up poor (although I've gotten more comfortable with my "white trash" roots as I've gotten older. Kind of. In a theoretical way.)

It's even harder to come out as a survivor of childhood abuse, especially because when it comes down to it, in a weird and twisted way, I'm FAR more ashamed of things that are presumably not my fault than I am of things that I have done of my own free will. I struggle with both denial and shame. (Is it a hope that I made everything up and it didn't really happen? Is it the fear that it was all my fault? Is it just believing that either I'm a horrible liar, or someone who is so flawed from the experience that no one would ever like me, or something I can't even put my finger on?)

And then, having come to various degrees of peace with the ways that I've needed to out myself, life throws in one more. Two weeks ago, my therapist "officially" diagnosed me with dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder).

On the one hand, it's not like it was a surprise. I have been working at not covering things up in therapy, and I'd been suspecting something of the sort myself already. Certainly, as a diagnosis, it makes far more sense than me being Borderline or bipolar. I have the symptoms, and it explains those little quirks that sometimes make life difficult for me.

On the other hand, if shame and denial are a struggle just with accepting that I experienced abuse, they're a much larger hurdle with accepting this.

I've been lightly passing off my struggles this past year as "being crazy." In some ways, this is true, if you go with the first definition of crazy--being cracked, precarious, fragile, falling apart. But I can also recognize that dissociation is perhaps the most adaptive way I could cope with what happened (whatever happened) in my childhood.

I know that I'm on the high-functioning end of the kids in my family (given that I haven't been able to cope with a job for most of the year, or with routine things like eating, this is a sad statement; I'm still on the high-functioning end). So, obviously, there was something going on, and none of us are crazy in the same ways. But all the various ways that we're crazy point towards abuse as the cause.

I'm rambling, mostly because it's difficult for me to manage to write anything at all, but I realized it had been a very long time since my last post, and this seemed like a time I would be able to manage to get something written.



As a PS--I finally got fed up with Verizon, so I'm switching my email address to a gmail account; and since someone else has "Dyke Grrl," I'm using jigsaw.analogy {at} gmail.com.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dyke Grrl,

We care about you for who you are. Those words can't define you. You are so much more than a clinical diagnosis.

Welcome back! It's really good to hear from you again.

Hugs,
Bonnie

HealthStudiesGirl said...

Dyke Grrl,

Welcome back!!

I am a huge fan of your blog, and it is a delight to see that you have returned!

Bonnie's right, you are much more than a diagnosis, don't let that get in the way of anything you want. Now that you have a diagnosis that makes sense, hopefully things will start to get easier to come to terms with, in as much as your quirks and how they affect your quality of life.

You may not always feel "high-functioning", but it sounds like from previous posts you are incredible, both as a student and in your relationships with W. Often times, we use perfectionism as a mechanism for self-worth - but once we let that guard down, and realize we don't have to be perfect, we can relax. Don't blame yourself for things out of your control.

Thank you for your blog - yours is a voice that should definitely be heard.

Once again, welcome back!

With warmest regards,

Becky

Dyke Grrl said...

Thanks to both of you. I appreciate your support, and I'm glad you find something worth reading in my blog (especially since, to me, it often seems like nothing but talking about myself, which I always thought was boring for other people).

I think it's not so much the diagnosis as it is the fact that the diagnosis is a part of a "coming out" process. And it's harder than coming out, to myself or others, about the other things I've had to come out about. I think it's because most of me has been so deeply invested in hiding the different parts for most of my life, so it's hard to admit they're really there.

Natty said...

Yay! Dyke Grrl -- er...Jigsaw Analogy is back (who's the bitch you took your name?! lol)!

it often seems like nothing but talking about myself, which I always thought was boring for other people

Most blogs are about talking about ourselves. And that's what is so fascinating about them - including and more certainly - yours. :-)

I've missed you. Been praying for you and thinking about you. Thrilled and relieved to see you back. ::hugs:: :-D

I found the way you linked the traditional gay coming out narrative with "coming out" about sexual abuse and DID intruiging. On the one hand, it's so wonderful that sexual orientation or disability or even socio-economic background (lol -- the single wide I was born in was repossessed, my family is so white trash it hurts!) are things people can feel quite comfortable with or at least maintain some level of acceptance about these days. Yet I think it says a lot about just how horrifying childhood abuse is that it never gets particularly managable to talk about or even *think* about and is then compounded by having to confront the damage that it's caused. I dunno. I'm doing a lousy job of trying to explain what's in my head so I think I'll just shut up. But the comparison you're making is definitely something that's given me some food for thought.