I’ve been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, or what most people would call Multiple Personality Disorder. I haven’t told a lot of people about it, because, well, it’s not an easy thing to talk about. And I have this constant fear of seeming like I’m seeking attention, and since I can’t prove it then it’s just kind of useless to talk about.
But there’s something that a lot of people don’t understand, is how nice being alone is. Because I haven’t felt lonely in nearly ten years now. It wasn’t as bad when I was a kid, but then things happened and it got worse. You don’t have to worry, I’m not some serial killing maniac, and I’m on meds now. But I haven’t even told my psychiatrist the whole story, and it’s only thanks to the anonymity of the internet that I can tell you guys.
I was by two people who definitely thought children should be seen and not heard. I wasn’t allowed to draw or sing or do anything that might be considered annoying. One of the few things I could do without getting yelled at was read and write. So I would come up with these fantastic worlds where I was a hero saving people from terrible monsters.
It was a really nice escape. Especially when mom and dad would start drinking. Mostly when they yelled or started hitting people, it’d be at each other. Which I preferred, especially since the other targets were me and my brother. I loved my brother, and any time we got scared, I’d put on a brave face, lock us in my room and read one of my books out loud until they went to sleep.
It was about when I was 12 that I first noticed that I wasn’t alone in my head. Maybe it was all the yelling, the hitting, and my overactive imagination, but I was really happy that I actually had a friend. Even if he was in my own head.
He called himself Vincent. I had never really heard that name before, but it was cool. He always sounded tough, and he made me feel tough too.
“Eh, you don’t need them, kid. You’re good enough on your own!” He was always so encouraging at the start.
I’d spend entire recesses just talking to him in my head. We’d find a nice corner of the playground away from the other kids and I’d tell him all about whatever book I read or how awful one of my teachers was. And he’d just listen and comment and tell me just how proud he was of me. That was something he’d always say.
‘I’m so proud of you.’
It went on until I was about 15. My brother was 11 and just about to go into 6th grade when my dad finally left my mom. He didn’t say anything, I just walked in one day and mom was crying over a picture of us from my childhood. Things turned worse after that.
Mom took up smoking too. And I’d find small burn marks on my brother’s body, and whenever I tried to confront her she’d say he was just getting careless with the stove or he must be getting picked on at school. I couldn’t prove anything, but somehow I knew that she was the one doing it. My brother was so small, and even today he’s hardly 5’5 and as skinny as a rake.
Mom didn’t try to hurt me after dad left, at least not physically. I was growing really fast and when I turned 16 I was already a foot taller than her. So she tried talking down to me, tried to make me angry or sad. But it didn’t work. Because after every single argument, Vincent would tell me that I was a good kid and I deserved better.
‘I’m so proud of you.’
It was about this time that I noticed that there were…gaps, in my memory. They were just little things, like my bookmark would be further in a book then I remember. Or my clothes would be on differently. I was a bit afraid, but Vincent told me it was him, and he was sorry. He said he couldn’t control it really, and he was just so curious about my life that he just couldn’t help but explore.
I was scared at first, but I just got used to it. People who have been in abusive relationship will understand that when someone who has so much power in your life does something weird or creepy, you just forgive them even if it’s the bad thing to do. And I guess I was just lonely and I craved attention, and he was willing to give it whenever I wanted it. It was nice for a while.
Then things just sort of snapped. My brother was home sick that day, he had a terrible cold and could hardly get out of bed. It was hard for him to keep solid foods down, and he’d thrown up a lot. I told my mom to stay sober for a single day and try to take care of him.
She was his god damn mom. She was supposed to take care of him. She was supposed to love both of us. Isn’t that what a mom is supposed to do? How could she do that to him? How could she do that to us?
There was a fire while I was at school. Started by a careless cigarette dropped on the carpet. Ruled as an accident, but even when I came home I saw that she was absolutely hammered. The fire department barely got my brother out in time to save his life. But he got severe burns. Even to this day the scars on his face and hands are the first thing people notice.
He is scarred for the rest because of that bitch. I tried to bring attention to it, I tried to do something, but no one would listen. No one ever believes me that no one I talked to tried to help. But you’d be fucking surprised at how much oversight actually happens.
I felt more hopeless that first night after the fire than I ever have. That’s when Vincent spoke to me.
‘I can help you. You’ve helped me. I can make you happy. Can I make you happy?’
I hardly cared anymore, so I just blacked out. We were in a crappy hotel, my mom asleep on the bed next to me when I went out.
And when I woke up, she wasn’t there. I thought she just went out to get more booze or to talk to the insurance people about collecting on our house. I skipped school and visited the hospital. My brother wasn’t awake yet but I liked to think that maybe he could hear me when I started to read to him again. I read his favorite, the Lord of the Rings, and I even made voices for each character like I did when he was small.
When I got home, mom still wasn’t back. Again, i didn’t think anything of it. I was actually relieved.
But after a few days, I started to get worried. I was kicked out of the hotel, I kept getting calls about insurance and my brother’s hospital bill and eventually the police came to inquire about where she might have gone.
I remember the officer that came to see me. His name was Officer Jackson. He had a very odd nose and a mustache that reminded me of a walrus.
“Son, do you know anyone who might have wanted your mother gone? Anything odd? Maybe someone said something threatening to her before she disappeared?”
I thought to what Vincent had said in passing, and I wasn’t even planning on saying anything about that. But that’s when Vincent spoke up again.
“Just say no.” I suddenly felt terrified. I told the officer there was nothing, but I was starting to put some pieces together. I think he knew something was up, but he couldn’t prove anything and just left me alone. I cried, after that. For the first time in a long time I was sobbing. There was the thought that I had done something, or that a voice in my head was doing something. Maybe I was going crazy. Maybe I was always crazy. Maybe I should just get some help.
But like always, there was Vincent’s voice. No matter what I did, no matter who I spoke to, he was there. Always there. Always encouraging me, and guiding me. Always guarding me. Always making sure I did the right thing. Never a single instant alone, because I always knew he was there, and he was always ready to remind me.
‘I am so proud of you.’
I’ll never be lonely again, and that terrifies me.