Embodied Heart

In Flux

I shaved my head! It was an impulsive action spurred on mostly by a need to follow through on the idea once it popped into my head (honestly, this is how I’ve made most of my boldest moves in life). It coincided with a decision to be a bit more public about my abuse story in another forum. Since that time, I’ve found it harder to concentrate and settle myself into deeper reflections in writing. The sharing and the shedding took a lot out of me, and I feel in the in-between of something. What the something is, I’m not quite sure.

Most of the feedback about my new look has been positive and I feel incredibly comfortable, actually more like myself, in how I’m styling my clothing and inhabiting my body. There is a looseness, though, to my sense of self. Something between possibility and loss that moves every time I think I’ve glimpsed it. My sexual orientation has been fluid for many years. I believed that my gender identity was very defined as a woman but now I’m not quite as certain. I don’t know if this is what is bubbling up or if there is another aspect of who I am that is disconnecting from a rigidity I didn’t know I possessed.

My nature is to want answers, to problem-solve, to analyze, and to arrive at an end point from which I can make decisions. Living in the in-between disquiets my energy and drains my spiritual focus. I’ve always been here, really, given that I have dissociative identity disorder, but I come across to most people as a highly driven, consistent and deliberate person. My physical appearance, with a buzzed haircut, is a better representation of the off-from-center way I see myself, but it hasn’t quelled the inner turmoil of struggling to definitively commit to one way of being in the world. Perhaps I don’t need to commit, perhaps being in flux is who I am.

If you care to share, I would be interested in hearing ways in which you’ve felt in-between two or more ways of existing. To what extent do you pressure yourself or yield to pressure from others in order to decide who you are? Have there been specific acts of self-expression, like my shaving my head, that destabilized rather than solidified your sense of self?

Embodied Heart

Visibility as a Trauma Survivor

It has been very difficult for me to write here for several weeks. The reason, ironically, was because of opening up about my trauma experiences. I related parts of my story in a public forum outside of my blog and have been struggling with processing the experience. It was the first time I shared something that might been easily accessed by people/family from my culture of origin. I didn’t name names but I went into enough detail for individuals to identify themselves. I walked one step more fully into the spotlight and have been greeted by increased flashbacks and overwhelming anxiety.

I nearly perfected the art of invisibility when I was younger. I was the sort of girl who no one noticed nor remembered. I barely spoke outside of my house and obeyed adult instruction without question. I play-acted normality. I wasn’t bullied but I also wasn’t included in anyone’s close circle of friends for most of my childhood and adolescence. Through my actions, I hid in plain sight.

Being victimized by abusive parents at a young age meant that the shadows and edges of rooms were the only places I felt safe. The less I was noticed, the less likely I was to be harmed, as I surmised it. The problem with this approach to the world is that it leads to a life lived in isolation, fear and shame.

I elevated hiding to an art form by finding ways to be unseen while being noticed, namely, by dissociating internally. It’s cat and mouse but I so desperately want to be caught—I want someone to prove themselves capable of witnessing and supporting who I am behind the adult personas I’ve crafted to survive in the world. I periodically attempt to show my hidden forms only to collapse mentally under the weight of the fog I conjure daily in order to not spend my time clawing at the walls in sheer terror. I try to fix into a frame but instead kaleidoscope the closer anyone gets to my complexity.

I recently shaved off all my hair. It was a dramatic change and one that people have readily noticed. I absolutely love the result in terms of how it suits my appearance and am getting used to the glances and weird responses of others. I did it for the express purpose of making myself more visible. I’m outwardly singular now, someone likely to be labeled as “that bald woman” rather than forgotten. My physical form feels solidified even if my internal being remains in flux. I’m hoping to coax myself, from the outside in, to welcome being seen and to believe that some eyes hold genuine kindness.

I knew that in writing about my culture of origin, I would be tempted to retreat immediately and to add another layer of adulting in order to conceal myself where I felt exposed. I also recognized that this behavior runs counter to the deeper truth of who I am as a person. I hid out of necessity when I was younger, unconsciously biding my time. As I make myself visible, those whose determination it was to keep me in the perpetual darkness of moonless night will falter. I’m finding my power and, through it, I’m toes first stepping into the dawnlight.