Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Deconstructing Tara: Pilot Pt. 3

"Why can't she just stop?"
That line, uttered by Charmaine, was enough to nearly send me over the edge. I already knew the character was going to be my least favorite but... seriously?

I guess it makes sense to include someone who makes such asinine statements. Anyone who has battled an addiction or unhealthy behavior pattern has probably heard that question. The same could be said of anyone dealing with mental illness of any kind. I've even heard "Snap out of it." in regards to depression. It wouldn't be remotely believable as a story without someone questioning the validity of the protagonist's struggle.
Didn't stop me wanting to reach into the tv and throttle Charmaine.

One of the biggest battles multiples face outside their own mind is dealing with the overwhelming degree of ignorance there is related to DID. Even now, jokes that confuse Schizophrenia and DID simply piss me off. I still fight the urge to get in the offender's face and set them straight. I guess ranting about that topic is what subtweets are for...

After Charmaine's conversation with Max, the show jumps to later in the evening with T trying to seduce Max. I can't intelligently address that particular hazard (in relationship with a multiple) because I was blessed to avoid it. The Crew was, for all intents and purposes, asexual. There were a few times when others came onto Charlie but most of the time it was about shocking him or pushing him away.

There was one... A teen who was never named, who assumed sexual favors in exchange for kindness was the expectation. To Charlie's credit, he was never tempted. Some how he managed to put all the Crew but me into the emotional category of being foster children. He only ever wanted me, Marisa, no matter how seductive the behavior of another.

All that said, the scene between T and Max came off as plausible and well handled... especially the direct jealousy expressed with regard to the amount of "airtime" others were allowed. We not only went through that often over the years but as a former deejay, airtime was a commonly used term for us too.

I love the idea of a shed or other such place for an alter to go cool off. Despite my issues with seclusion rooms, it would have been nice to have a place to send an unruly alter. It's the equivalent of sending her to her room. The closest thing to that for the Crew was going behind the back fence at our old house.

Kate reminds me so much of Krys in her anger, sarcasm and defiance... Also in her seeming preference for asshole guys. (Mikey, Krys' ex, will come up later) I hope when my kids talked about my others (which they weren't supposed to do but did anyway) their friends were more supportive than Kate's douche bag.

Max's "Welcome back" when Tara joins him in the shower is so familiar. It still amazes me how much truth and reality was put into this show. For those living with DID in their lives, it could be hard to separate the entertainment factor from the reality factor... as I frequently saw on message boards and forums dedicated to USoT. Multiples and loved ones would enter debate about realism while those who had no direct experience would shout that it was just a tv show and who cares about reality!

I can't think of any other program where reality and entertainment were so artfully intertwined.

"I want to thank you for being such a strong, supportive kid."
"We're lucky, Mom. Because of you, we get to be interesting."
I had countless such conversations with all of my kids over the years. The most memorable with Krys when she compared our intact and loving family with all the broken, addicted or violent families of her friends. Like earlier in the episode when Kate points out the implants her boyfriend's mom has. Every family has its shit and my kids were quick to point out their preference of our particular brand of insanity over that of other families.

I'll try not to spoil that assurance by mentioning either Marshall's possible undercurrent of sarcasm or my own fear my kids were suffering a form of Stockholm Syndrome.

"Am I high?"
For all the seriousness of DID, there is a reason this show was billed a comedy. At this point, in part because writing about out is helped by playing it at the same time, I've heard this line more than a dozen times and it still makes me giggle. In my situation it was more often realizing I was drunk put hung over... but I can relate all too well... and let's face it... it's better to laugh about it than to cry.

Speaking of waking up...

Yes, I'm skipping Tara and Max's moment from the night before. It will come up in future entries... No pun intended. Also, do you really want to read my every single thought about 36 episodes? It could go on forever. I'll spare you for now.

The quiet exasperation on Tara's face as she wakes to see her freshly painted black toe nails is brilliantly done. The wide range of emotions displayed in that wordless few seconds is brilliant.

When Tara is delivering the costume for Kate's recital and sees the boyfriend treating her roughly, her reaction, to me seems like that of any mother in the face of a jerk treating her daughter in a rough manner. Between the anger Tara must feel and the reaction of an embarrassed Kate, it's no wonder Buck appeared.

He didn't jump right in and take over... first he got away from the situation and made an effort to  decompress by planning to go to the gun range. In typical Protector form, it never occurred to Buck to tell Max what happened at the school, nor why it was Tara wouldn't be around for the recital. Protectors don't ask for help... they can take care of things on their own, thank you very much.

Despite the apparent selfishness Buck displays here and his asshole demeanor, he was really only looking to let off some steam for Tara's sake.

Having said that... I HATE the way Buck talks to the kids. Much was said about my kids to others, usually Charlie and people in the treatment team, but my others didn't make the kids of disparaging comments Buck makes to Marshall. I have no idea how typical this is in a family with a multiple... but I'd have gone batshit if I found out Stephanie treated any of my kids the way Buck does Marshall here.

If I try to be objective, I can acknowledge Buck's attitude as being an expression of what makes him him. The badass, vietnam vet (Stephanie had her own history too) who believes in me being men, blah, blah. Still, it annoyed me.

I do love the idea of the gun range being "guy stuff". In different ways, we had things like that for the Crew. Midnight runs to Wal-mart with Krys were a time for Reese and Stephanie to hang out with someone their age. Saturday mornings were Cartoon time with Daddy (Charlie) for the littles, etc... It's good to have that for a system. It gives the personalities a sense of belonging that can be valuable in learning to cooperate.

"I did watch him. I watched him leave."
All I'll say here is Bravo to Marshall. While it happened often enough for us, I always hated the idea of having the kids basically "babysit" my alters. It's an unfair responsibility to put on kids. The need parents, not to be parents.

There's plenty of time later to go into stories about when Stephanie stood up for my kids, so will just say I adore Buck for taking on the boyfriend. It is why he had no intention of stepping back and allowing someone else to go to the recital. He was going to take care of things. Marshall sticking up for his sister reminds me very much of my kids.

The Crew all had an unspoken pact to, as far as was possible, not give themselves away in public. They only identified themselves to people the knew (or believed) the could trust. So a very public situation like the one with Buck never happened for us. According to the girls, they were never publicly embarrassed by the Crew. Seeing Buck at the recital makes me VERY thankful for this.

Later, at the bowling alley, you get a glimpse of Buck's ability to be responsible. He doesn't allow Kate a beer. He tries to give her advice, in his backwoods goofy way. He also makes an effort to bond with Marshall, in his unique, Buck way.

The beautiful irony of the last scene shouldn't be expanded upon. I'll just leave it as it is...

"It's weird how Buck's a lefty and none of the others are."
"Yeah, that's one weird thing."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Deconstructing Tara: Pilot Pt. 2

Picking up with Tara's alter "T" and her daughter Kate.

"T! This is why I love you the best out of all the alters!"
 Ugh. I'm not sure I even want to tackle all the ways DID gave the kids an opportunity to get away with things I would never have allowed. I was certainly grateful the kids had a good relationship with those they knew but thank GOD we haven't used credit cards since we became parents. I can't even begin to imagine the level of debt we'd have acquired if Stephanie or one of my kids could get their hands on charge cards. Then again... Stephanie never really liked hanging with the kids. Not until the girls got into their teens. Yeah, the Crew, my kids and credit cards would have been a disaster.

And shame on Kate for being so quick to take advantage. As I write this, I hear "Kids. Can't live with them and can't hug their necks until the snap." Pretty much sums up having teenagers, right there. With or without DID in the picture.

When Max gets home and spoils the potential shopping trip, we hear the first indication that he and Tara have tried to set rules and boundaries within the system. Max to Marshall: "Hey, don't coddle her. She's gonna eat with us, she's gotta cooperate. We talked about this."

We also set up rules for the Crew. Stephanie wasn't allowed to drink around the kids. She wasn't allowed to drive drunk... a rule she broke frequently and often in the first 2 years of treatment. She was also the only one allowed to drive and ended up having the keys hidden from her when she insisted on driving after alcohol.

She finally had an ah-ha moment when Charlie lost it on her. Yes, we share the body. Yes, you kill someone driving drunk, we all suffer. You wreck, we're all hurt. Worst of all, anything bad happens, Charlie and the kids end up paying too. Stephanie may not have acknowledged liking the family at that point but she recognized that a Protector protects the best interests of the system... that meant protecting my family too. That was the point when she began to grow up.

Every rule we set over the years was intended to provide safety, foster cooperation with the system and the family and to attempt to keep the level of chaos below a category 3 storm.

Charmaine, Tara's sister:
I love* how Charmaine sees T and immediately assumes there is a family crisis. (*sarcasm) Marshall's defense is sweet.

"It's really hard for me to see my sister like that." Yeah, because it's all about YOU. Bitch. I don't doubt it is hard to see but from the outset, they show how self-centered Charmaine is. For those who have an understanding of family dynamics, it's no surprise to see that if one sister is sick, the other probably has issues too. She's portrayed, right off, as clueless, jealous and focused only on herself.

"Why can't she just stop? I mean it's not even a real disease."
Like Max says, she grew up with it. She should know better than anyone.

Unlike Tara's family, mine is spread across the country and no one lives local to us. That's probably a good thing. I know I told members of my family about the diagnosis. I tried to explain it to Mum, Rick (Oldest brother) and to my younger sister Nora. Rick was cool about it and accepted it as a reasonable reaction to my childhood. He was awesome in how he tried to see the good and the humor in it all. He was a real support.

In retrospect, I wish I had trusted my family more with their ability to understand DID. It wasn't until Rick's death in '07 that I really discussed it with anyone else in the family. Across the board, they all agree with looking back on what they remember of me as a child, it made sense.

I'd like to say that part of the reason I didn't share was to protect them. I was loud and angry in my teens and early adult years about being raised in an "abusive" home. I didn't want them to think or feel I was blaming them for the DID or my current struggles. I'd like to say that's the only reason... but it wasn't. I was embarrassed and ashamed to still be the screwed up one in the family and hated feeling the weight of that self-imposed stigma when I spent time with my family.

I let them all deal with the worst parts of my struggle... the hospitalizations and other things... but never allowed them a part in the journey to recovery. I don't know if it would have made a difference or if I'd have let allowing myself to be closer to them be a stumbling block. Sometimes, it would be really nice to know what it would have been like had I made different choices.

I promise not to spread every episode over 3 entries but last time I worked on a partial from my phone, I accidentally deleted half of it. I'll stop here and pick up the rest later at work.

To Be Continued... again.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Yay, Pepper Spray!

Given the drastic rise in crime here the last couple of years, I'm almost surprised it took more than 8 months for someone to attempt to rob me. Funnily enough, it happened the same week I decided to stop worrying and running potential scenarios in my head.

10 year old boss's daughter took the order. I think I was subconsciously suspicious from the call. They placed a $47 cash order from an apartment we'd not delivered to before, in a crime ridden area, giving a number that didn't match our  caller ID. Had anyone else taken the order, they'd have confirmed the phone number before handing it off to the cooks.

Like I said, subconscious, so I didn't speak up then.

I left the restaurant with the order and a much smaller, credit card, order from a regular in the same complex.

When I deliver to houses, I often leave the engine running and the car unlocked. For apartments, even the nicer, safer ones, I turn off the engine and lock up. Either way, I usually leave the phone in the car.

Last night, something said to keep the phone on me.

The older gentleman who answered the door said they had not made an order. I showed him the receipt and confirmed it was the right address. I thanked him and apologized for the interruption then headed back. To the car.

I unlocked the door, set the bags in the driver seat, leaned back against the open door and started dialing the number on the receipt. I heard leaves crunching in the wooded area behind me as the gentleman from the apartment came out of the building. I assured him I would get the mix up taken care of as the phone played the "not a valid number" recording. The gentleman went back inside.

I turned to move the food to the passenger seat while simultaneously calling the restaurant. That's when four kids between 16-19 came out of the woods and headed towards the building. They split up and surrounded the car as I was stepping in. I hit the lock then shut the door as my co-worker answered the phone.

As I was explaining the situation, two of the kids came to the passenger side, blocking me from backing out. One of them knocked on the window while trying the door. "Hey, you got food?"

I turned to him and shouted "No!" then told my co-worker someone was trying to get in the car. They saw the glow of my phone in my hand and took off running. I hung up, backed out and saw the two who didn't approach the car leaning against the building, just around the corner.

I rolled down the passenger window and asked if they had placed an order. I got an emphatic "No ma'am!" in response.

All this happened in the space of maybe 2 minutes. It wasn't until Charlie informed me he wanted to ride shotgun for the rest of the shift that it hit me how serious it could have been.

Boss said next time call the police right away. We've made some policy changes in hopes of preventing a similar situation. Charlie wants to join me after 9 on the weekends. We picked up pepper spray this morning and he's chosen a 1.2M volt Tazer (not a stun gun) to purchase next Saturday.

Given that nothing ever happens when I'm worried about it, I have to admit I'm praying that learning to use these safety devices and being prepared means I'll never have need of them.

Either way... at least I'm a bit more prepared.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Deconstructing Tara: Pilot

I like the way they open the episode with Tara doing a video journal entry. It gives the viewer a chance to meet the title character and journaling of any kind is helpful for someone living with DID. It helps fill in the holes and gives a place to deal with tough emotions, like the discovery of your 15 year old daughter's sexual activity.

Oy... Krys was the same age as Kate when I found out about the sweaty, skanky, teenage sex occurring... under our own roof, no less. I was mortified, angry and a little hurt that Krys hadn't trusted me enough to discuss it. We only found out when I hacked her myspace after admitting her the hospital for self-injury, depression and drug use.

We all got through that time, more or less better off and a fraction wiser... but like Tara, my initial reaction was to want to "SEW HER UP!" Seeing Tara's reaction validated for me that however crazy things were in our family, some things were "normal", like a mother's natural reaction to a child becoming *gasp* sexually active.

Tara's first switch (in the show, they call it transitioning)... First off, it is not always that obvious. Alters don't always rush off to change clothes either. For the sake of viewers, most of whom were probably getting their first look at realistic DID, those visual clues were important for following the changes. It also brings up some questions...

When I was first coming to terms with the diagnosis, I had no clue what I looked like when I switched. The idea terrified me. For a good year or so, if I felt my emotions getting beyond what I could bear or if I had a sense a switch was coming, I would try to get alone so no one could see. Over time and with lots of encouragement from those who had seen it, I learned to relax. I didn't always see a switch coming and it was a little, um, controlling on my part to attempt to control the when and where.

Unlike Tara, the Crew didn't all have their own wardrobe. We did buy things specifically for them at times... but what ended up happening was I gradually changed my wardrobe to consist almost entirely of denim and knit tees and polos. It was less expensive to only own what most everyone was comfortable in. It also put an end to my tendency to stand, dazed, in my closet for half an hour or more a day.

Man, less than 10 minutes into Ep. 1 and this is threatening to become a novel. Most of my writing these days is done on my phone which is limiting and slow. For the sake of publishing regular entries, I'll stop this one here and allow time to work on the rest of the entry. To be continued...

Thursday, January 26, 2012


(Written 5/3/11- Only now getting published... fits with what I'm trying to do right now)

I can't remember.

And it pisses me off.

You know when you wake from a dream and it's so clear when you first wake... but the more time passes the more completely it fades until you're left with just an echo of emotion and maybe, just maybe a shadow of what the hell seemed so intense only hours before?

That's January 1999-2005. The only reason I remember anything from those years is because I started blogging in 2002. I can read through the entries and get some pictures of what I wrote... sometimes even pictures of what the others wrote... but overall, it's a fog.

I have no basis for what's normal. I'm certain no one remembers every detail of every day. I'm sure much of life is reduced to highlight reels as the years go by... but SO much happened in those years and most of it is contained in someone else's notes. Crane and Lyn have more of a written record of my life than I have... and I'm not sure I really have the guts to ask.

I sit down to write in The Crew diary only to end up playing video games or randomly surfing the net. I can remember endless amounts of useless bits of trivia... recall them in an instant. I can walk through a room with a television on and if I've seen it or even heard it, I can identify what's on screen often without even looking.

That questionable 'talent' makes Charlie nuts. I can remember names and dates and even story lines of things I saw on screen as a toddler but I can't remember exactly why I ended up in emergency rooms and psych units as recently as 8 years ago. I can vividly recall the emotions at seeing my young kids and wondering who they were and where they'd come from when I was pretty sure I was still a teenager and where the hell did the years go? I remember episodes of "I Love Lucy" better than I do my own life.

And I'm frustrated.

I want to be able to pick a month and remember with some degree of clarity SOMETHING that happened but it's like chasing a mirage.

I hate the idea of asking others to tell me about my own freaking life.

I want to remember and I no longer care if I have to sob and snot and hyperventilate my way through writing them out... I want to be able to look back at a period of life and know it was more than a dream that has slipped away.

Life is not meant to be lived in a fog.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Deconstructing Tara: Title Sequence

(Learn To Love) The Ride

Open up the sky this mess is getting high
It’s windy and our family needs a ride
I know we’ll be just fine when we learn to love the ride
I know we’ll be fine when we learn to love the ride
I know we’ll be just fine when we learn to love the ride

Love the pop-up, picture book look and the way they use it to introduce you to the alters who are part of Tara's system. Especially the end where it's just her and she opens her eyes. Years ago, Reese drew a sort of self-portrait that included all the known alters in The Crew pictured within a silhouette of me. The title animation reminds me of that drawing. So much so, I can often imagine seeing a silhouette of Tara's others in her eyes.

The song, written and performed by Tim DeLaughter just for the show, goes no further than these few lyrics... but oh the lyrics. So few words yet they say so much.

The first time I heard the song (Second episode but still a worthy topic for starting this series) I burst into tears. Charlie and I used to talk all the time about the concept of loving the ride... long before this series... heck, long before diagnosis even. We knew that life can sometimes drag you through the muck and mire but there's still a lot to hold onto. We learned early on how important it is to find the fun or even the dark humor in things as a way to stay strong when life is hard. Had we not been able to laugh together, and at each other, I'm not sure how we'd have come through it all intact.

Back to the lyrics... There is something so poignant and real in such a few words... even now, they grab my heart with the depth to which I can relate.

Even after the "Big I", life can still be messy. It is for everyone. As long as we hold on tight to each other, we can get through it and maybe even learn to love the ride.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Deconstructing Tara

After rewatching the series "United States of Tara" last week, I thought it might be fun to watch the series episode by episode and sort of break it down from my own personal perspective and experience. 

For the uninitiated, Tara was a series on the Showtime Network. It was about a woman with a marriage, family, career and DID. It only lasted 3 seasons. A shame as it had some of the best characters, actors and writing on TV. Another Kardashian casualty... but the craptastic nature of popular television is a rant for another day.

Anyway, if you are interested in seeing the series, all 3 seasons are now available on Netflix and a good half dozen other viewing sites online. I'd recommend it, in part because it's excellent tv and Toni Collette is phenomenal, and in part because these entries will be chock full of massive spoilers. Besides, I doubt my writing will do it justice.

For me, watching the series the first time was hard. I was months into integration when it first aired and it could be incredibly triggering. I spent quite a lot of time in tears and asking my family if it hit home for them as much as it did me. To be honest, watching it the first time was a heck of a lot like poking at a rotted tooth to see if it still makes you want to rip your own head off.

The second time I watched through it (Thanks Alanna for telling me the series is now available), I found myself remembering some pretty cool things. Things like family and therapy moments from the black hole between diagnosis in 1999 and beginning my first blog in 2002. That period of 3 years or so has been a blank up to now. Not all the memories are exactly "cool" but they're mine and that means something. If writing about Tara and watching the series again can unlock some of that time, I'm all for it. Maybe writing will be useful for someone who comes across this but I'm certain it'll do me some good. Kind of a win/win.

This is your notice: Watch it, experience it through my eyes or both. Your choice.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I hate resolutions. Never do them... but this year I'm making a resolution of sorts. It's coincidental timing that my little moment of clarity the other day happened around the beginning of a new year.

I need to lay off myself.

It's funny how much time goes into telling others to give themselves a break... telling them to stop expecting absolute perfection from themselves... and yet I live day to day in an anxiety induced paralysis because I can't do everything exactly as I believe I should.

Such an old running theme... but since that moment of clarity I have been going out of my way to be more aware of my thoughts. Doing that and then choosing to speak aloud to contradict the "can't do anything right" thoughts has made a difference. I've been more relaxed and gotten more accomplished this last week than since I started working full-time back in May.

The really good part of this is I haven't gone totally crazy in trying to do everything at once. If I get one big job around the house done each day, then it's enough. If my body doesn't cooperate and it's near bedtime before I can move enough to do it, then so be it. I have no set goal on when I'll achieve any specific goal. Only to take it one day at a time and do what I am able to do and accept it is good enough.

I don't know what tomorrow brings but today, I'm enough as I am.

Oh, and I totally cheated yesterday-ish by posting a draft from April of last year... but at least a post was made... so there. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Processing Schmocessing

can't sleep...how awesome is it that my youngest child has only good memories of #TheCrew? To him, it was Mommy's gift. I'm awestruck. #DID
From Twitter a few nights ago.

John was reading an entry from The Crew over my shoulder. The entry was about talking with Charlie about the possibility of DID/MPD. He got to:
This isn't something we can tell to go away. It's in me and I hate them. They've ruined my life. Why is everyone so freaking happy and relieved about this? and asked me why I hated them.

"I love The Crew. They're the best friends I ever had."

I love that kid so much.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Title Goes Here

There was a post here earlier but it was deemed entirely too whiny and was 86ed... But at least there was writing where lately there has been none.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Never Enough

This entry was almost a whiny post about feeling like I can never do enough right... A long running and tired ass theme of my life.
Driving around on my last delivery, it hit me... Like many a struggling television show, I've finally jumped the shark and tried carrying the same old story line long past reasonable believability. Even I'm tired of tuning in for this predictable dreck.
"I see you having grace for everyone but yourself." Those long ago words of Papa Crane have risen from my buried box of "important truths about myself" to offer the same head slap as when they were first spoken.
Really, Marisa?
You learn by doing. A fact you've been going on about in your work frustrations, but how many times do you need to repeat this lesson before it's rote and ready so you can avoid systematic withdrawal and pathos as the conditioned response?
I'm not usually one for resolutions but maybe I should be making an effort to get off my own back.
Self-flagellation is pretty all consuming. It's no wonder I stay so tired.