Tonight I write for me. I write to remember the gifts that God gave me in my childhood and in my healing. I write because I am struggling and I need to remember. I write to acknowledge that dissociation is a beautiful gift from God. It saved my life, and though my mind is mostly whole now, I wholeheartedly bless those years of fragmentation and dissociation. They are a beautiful testament to how God rescued me in the midst of torture.
There is this place I used to visit. It was way up in the mountains that surrounded my childhood existence. I say existence because that is the sum of my childhood. There are no happy memories there. Only shattered, disjointed and intrusive pieces of pain that jut into my brain like shards of glass from a broken mirror, shattered into thousands of tiny sharp pieces that can never be pieced back together again. It is a futile effort anyways, because even if all the pieces found their rightful spots and the mirror came back into a whole piece, it would be unusable for its original purpose. A while ago, I stopped even trying to look into that mirror.
To this day, that’s the state of my brain when it comes to my childhood, and I am ok with it, for the most part – except for when other people talk about their childhood and this person or that person, or what they did, or how they took that trip and Aunt so-and-so did this or that. I get impatient and irritated with those stories and start sighing loudly and rolling my eyes and making up excuses about needing to go do something else – anything else that will stop the irritation of knowing that my story – my history – is not worth fully remembering.
But I digress. So this place up in the mountains. It wasn’t real. I mean, I’m guessing that there are places up in the mountains like that, and for all I know the place in my imagination was actually a real place that I had been to before, but who knows? For me, it is a place mapped out by my mind; a beautiful place where there is just a cave with rock walls and a dirt floor and quiet. It is just me. I am safe there, and I am alone – except for Grace. More about her later. This is the place where I found safety, way up high in a mountain cave, above all the chaos and evil that happens on the ground. If I could get there fast enough then I could be safe from all that was happening below.
This dark, lonely cave is a representation of true beauty to me. It was my escape. It was my mind’s way out of an impossibly overwhelming reality over and over again. It is my only peaceful childhood memory. When I was there, it didn’t matter what was happening down below in the real world – to my real body. I don’t remember where or how I found it – but I know that it was a gift to me from God. My beautiful brain was created to split so that I could hide there in that cave while my beautiful small body was being tortured. My beautiful brain was created to split so that half of it could live an alternate reality, safely tucked away from the world, while the other half of my brain participated in the forced actions and words of my abusers. My amazing God made my beautiful brain split to save my life.
And it was there in that cave that I found Grace.
Grace was a kid. And an angel. A kid angel. She found me in that cave, hiding and alone. She talked to me and played with me and brought peace to me in that lonely, dark cave. She kept me alive many, many times by breathing life into me when I couldn’t breathe and my life was fading. She could see everything that was happening, but she kept me present with her in that cave and wouldn’t let me look down. She distracted me with her games, and when I was too sad and lifeless to play them, she sat and just held my hand.
Later in life, I had forgotten all about Grace. Actually, I had forgotten all about everything. But when the dark, horrific memories came crashing into my conscious mind with an unstoppable force, Grace was there in the midst of them. I couldn’t find her at first, but then there she was. Still there, still ready to meet me at the cave and talk to me and breathe life and hope into me. She couldn’t keep me from knowing – from remembering – anymore. Instead, she showed me the miracle of my survival – how she had been sent to save me when I was a child. She was a gift from God, and so was that cave….and so was my beautiful brain that split so that I could find Grace in that cave.
Tonight, I could use a little Grace.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1