Us. It’s an innocuous little word, isn’t it? Meaning two, together, joined somehow, whether by friendship or work or family…
In my case, I never realised that there was an us. I thought it was me. Me and my voices that hurt, belittled, derided and abused.
I feel sorry that I didn’t understand earlier that I was in a collective, four wrapped into one. I wish I had learned that I was not alone, in the strangest of senses, far earlier.
I am, of course, referring to me, the younger ones (14 and 15) and nineteen.
It’s become very much apparent that in going to therapy, I have deprogrammed these so-called hostile voices into real, distinct personalities. I have learned that to shout at them provokes a hurt, terrified reaction- much like shouting at me does the same.
I don’t fight them now. We talk to each other, and we do sometimes still argue, but it’s the sort of arguing that takes place between families. I have asked them about things we want to do, choices we have made, and where to go next.
This is what changed when we made our joint decision about what to do, three weeks ago or a little more, when the Dutchman walked back into our lives and turned 14’s head. She was the first to fall, the first to point out to us how we really felt about things. Listening to her would have been wise then, but to start with I reacted as I would before realising that I was multiple, and tried to tell myself that I knew best.
Eventually, we had the conversation about J and the Dutchman. Endurance, distance, waiting… but such fun whilst there? Or the vlinders, the fire, the rush and openness of someone I was good friends with?
Sadly I had lost that spark with J this year. It had been present all last year, the year where I ran continually to him and he let me stay near. I wrote about him with such tenderness, because it was there. This year, I have had to run off memories and scrambled Skype calls and a week-long silence. The younger ones are so triggered by silence. 15 in particular can’t stand it, and she does go down really hard when these things happen.
Asking the younger ones what they really thought that evening on the couch was like fighting a war in my head. 19 was trying not to get involved, although secretly wanting me to just make up my mind already, as she didn’t want to be with J as much as she wanted to be with the Dutchman. 14 was, like I said, head over heels, and fifteen knew that she was confused. She’d sneaked her head out and talked to J a couple of times, and enjoyed herself, but she really enjoyed all the fun she’d had with the Dutchman. She didn’t like the time when J had got angry at the traffic when we were in the car with him that time, and she knew that I loved J too.
With all that in mind, I had to choose for myself. I really really didn’t want to hurt anyone. I wanted this to be a choice made with time and patience. However, the more time I spent with the Dutchman, the more I knew that the choice would have to be made soon. The spark was being kindled, and it was certainly a fire.
Choosing was all of us involved at once. I knew personally that I wanted something that had been in plain sight for two years, but never really realised what it truly meant.
All of us wanted this. All of us were united when we bridged that gap, and cast our lot in favour of a fire that was beginning to blaze.
We have never been so united before over anything else.