Considering the forms of dissociation out there like, Dissociative Identity Disorder about which DeviantSuccumbus has written some great posts (here & here) that explains it well, mine is pretty mild. I don’t have multiple personalities but I do seem to have an ego state. This is different from a dissociative identity disorder, as when ‘a person merely influenced by a dissociated ego state retains an observing ego, which is simply the capacity to observe and evaluate one’s self.’ (Strout, p. 91) Following up my previous post, Miss Lois pointed out that I was aware of what was happening but didn’t appear to be able to do anything about it.
When this first happened when I was thirteen it felt like everything was empty. Suddenly I had no idea who I was anymore. The way I can best describe how it felt was that I wasn’t present. I was incapable of responding automatically, like smiling. I even had to tell myself when to walk. It felt like I had to be the puppet master of my own body, which is funny as I apparently identify with being a puppet kink wise? I mean… MLSlavePuppet…
I have also repeatedly mentioned that I had/sometimes still have to check if I’m wet in order to know if I’m aroused. My feelings are often absent. Especially in the first years, it felt as if my ego state was the only one that existed; I thought that was me. When I realised it wasn’t me I started feeling scared of it. I pictured it as a dark shadow me whose only goal was to erase me, but of course, dissociation is originally meant to protect. My ego state has been an asset, though I’m slowly attempting to convince it that I’m safe now.
However, sometimes dissociating is still very useful as long as it happens in a controlled way. I can use it to overcome nerves to hold a presentation or meet a person I’ve never met before. I have used it to start out wearing heels in the past. Following the Trying to Orgasm with Clamps on my Labia post, I wasn’t able to stay ok for a few days after taking that smiling picture of myself and this sparked another conversation with Miss Lois about my dissociation. It’s quite interesting because while a session could sometimes take me out of dissociation (wrote about that in part 1: Trying to Dig up Feelings, Fighting dissociation and part 2: Body Writing to Recognise my Slave Identity) this particular session did the opposite and caused me to dissociate.
She asked me what I’d been thinking of in regards to the session and the overwhelming feeling and memory that I had was my worry about having dissociated and thinking that this meant I had done something wrong. It made me feel like I had failed because I thought I hadn’t handled and coped well with the pain, and therefore had, in extension not managed to do what she’d asked of me. Additionally, dissociating always felt like a failure to me. To me, it meant that I wasn’t strong enough to survive things on my own.
She asked me if, when I dissociate, I can cope with more and if I became a shell. I guessed so? I wasn’t sure because it didn’t feel like the I, the real me couldn’t cope with much more because it meant I wasn’t there; I had fled.
Miss Lois: “So when you dissociate when I use you, you hand over your body and retreat the part of you that would hold you back from serving properly?”
That sort of sounded right but I couldn’t really see what she said for what it was.
Miss Lois: “So even if it feels bad for you, do you think you could have coped without dissociating?”
It’s important to note that it has been a real learning curve for me personally and also was for Miss Lois about what dissociation meant or what happened exactly when it was triggered. I understand it much better nowadays but wasn’t that far yet back then.
Me: “I don’t know Miss. I don’t know how it works or what I should be able to cope with without dissociating.”
She said that she thought I was too hard on myself. She thought that when I dissociate while serving it became a way for me to serve even past my current limit and that it was a talent of mine rather than a curse. If I hadn’t I would have had to give up and take the clamps off but instead, I dissociated and handed over my body for her to use as she pleased. Instead of not serving, she concluded, I served more than anyone else could.
I supposed that was true, but worried about the aftereffect of dissociating. When I did (and do) I often start feeling suicidal, which is bad and makes me feel as if I become a burden to her and anyone else, while the initial reason for my dissociation at 13 was to ensure I wouldn’t hurt or be a burden on anyone else ever again.
Miss Lois: “You would have stopped with the task otherwise, which would have been another kind of burden.”
Me: “I guess that’s true Miss. That would have been worse.”
(Which is probably why I dissociated because I desperately didn’t want to fail the task.)
Miss Lois: “It is my decision to push you beyond the brink when I want to or not. And in a dissociative state, are there any limits for you?”
I didn’t know the answer to that. It didn’t make sense to me that there wouldn’t be a limit; there is a limit to everything. Yet, at the same time, it felt like I would have continued the task for as long as Miss Lois told me to. (Another reason why it’s very important to choose the right Dominant I guess otherwise imagine how dangerous it would be if someone abused this power!)
I added that dissociation didn’t make it any easier though. If anything it seemed to make it more difficult to keep on doing it.
Miss Lois: “But it is a different difficult. It is difficult to hand on to reality to understand and execute the task, not to execute the task. And did you feel the urge to take the clamps off more or less because of dissociating?”
It had felt like the urge to take them off and to leave them on had changed every few seconds or so.
Miss Lois: “Is that because you didn’t dissociate completely? Like oscillating between dissociating and clinging on?”
I supposed it was. It was my current theory, at least. I knew that when I had self-harmed in the past I couldn’t feel the pain as much compared to if I’d been present. Therefore, in theory, if I fully dissociated I should be able to cope with pain better.
She wanted to know if I had self-harmed in the past because I was dissociation or as a result of the dissociation. It was the former. I guess it was some sort of attempt to feel, which is also why people that suffer from depression might try and self-harm, to feel something other than the numbness. Additionally, when I dissociate I’m not myself and I would never self-harm if I didn’t dissociate. That’s also why dissociation can be dangerous for me, as it’s only then that I feel like I desperately want to kill myself.
This can be explained in the sense that, dissociation is meant to protect. When I break down, all the incredibly intense and negative feelings wash over me and they’re super overwhelming to the point that it’s paralysing. It’s feels as if there’s a whirlwind destroying my room while I sit in the middle of my bed paralysed from the internal pain I’m feeling. My mere existence is painful; breathing is painful; registering life and items around me is painful. I dissociate and if that’s supposed to protect me the answer to protect me from this terrible feeling is to take my own life. It’s a little bit of a broken system.
She asked me if I found it scary that she could make me dissociate. You’d probably think my answer is quite strange as it didn’t scare me. The only thing I felt afraid of was being able to fail. And the feeling of the fear was so strong that it overwhelmed me so I dissociated in that sense too.
I asked her if she had expected the dissociation and where she had meant to go with the clamps. She said that she hadn’t but thought it was an interesting effect. Again she said that she thought it was a talent of mine rather than a curse, which is also what my counsellor keeps on saying and I suppose it’s true; I just need to control it.
Miss Lois: “Being able to put you in that state feels very good.”
That surprised me. I was happy to hear that it made her feel very good but I didn’t understand why. She said it was because it gave her a lot of power over me, which I realise, of course, now. She added that she thought it would be interesting to explore me while I was in that state.
Evidently, I saw dissociation as a very negative thing and still do in a way, but I liked that Miss Lois saw something positive in every situation, no matter what it was. She said that she was trying to teach me to see myself more positively. She recognised that dissociation was something I struggled with but thought that the less I feared them, the less I would get into that state. We ended our conversation on that note.
Nowadays, or quite recently, really, I have been able to go less down the deep end when strong emotions wash over me and I dissociate. I am able to believe that this is just a moment that won’t stay, rather than only being aware of it, and it helps me come down from it sooner. It also means that it has less power over me nowadays, though I recently told my counsellor about a new trigger I discovered.
It’s a very strange trigger. It happens when I look out at the sea for example or am walking in nature. You’d think doing these things would be very peaceful but somehow it instantly causes me to disconnect from myself and then starts looking very strange; nothing seems normal. As of yet, we have no clue why this causes me to dissociate but I’m sure we’ll figure it out eventually.
Xx Marie Louise
Part of SB4MH topic on Dissociation
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