Wait, who am I? – Dissociative Identity Disorder and Sex
Everyone has certain baselines, a sort of stable continuous state of things. There are baselines of mental well-being, of physical health, of how our days look like. And there is the baseline of who we are: our identity, our character, our personality. Of course there can be small deviations from that, depending on who we are with, in what situations we are in. You could be known as the professional and kind person at work, the strict parent at home, the fun and impulsive mate when you are out for a drink with your friends. Those are small deviations, everyone has them. But the baseline of who we are, our character and personality, people would always recognize.
I think it is kind of the same with sex. Depending on who we are with, and where we are, we might act differently with different partners. It depends on which kinks click, how comfortable we feel, our emotional attachment to the person, the level of trust we have with them. Small deviations, yes. But in general, what we like and how we behave when being in a sexual situation, is very much the same in all encounters. Well, that is not how it is for me. When you have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and want to have sex, it is a bit like playing roulette. And there is no baseline of anything.
As I have explained in other posts, I am diagnosed with a plethora mental illness, including Dissociative Identity Disorder, C-PTSD, Bipolar Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. While the others make things quite dysfunctional, it is the Dissociative Identity Disorder that seems to complicate my life the most.
For those who don’t know, Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder), is a mental health condition strongly linked to severe childhood trauma. A child is going through such severe trauma, that the brain engages a coping strategy called dissociation. The mind disconnects from the body, from pain, from overwhelming feelings. By not experiencing the trauma directly, the traumatized child is able to survive. But the memories, feelings and pain of that trauma don’t just disappear. They get stored in the brain, still disconnected from the conscious mind.
It is like placing it in a tiny neat box that the child has no access to. Now, the next time a similar trauma happens, the new memories end up in that box too. And if a different kind of trauma happens, a new box gets created. The child has no access to those boxes, and that is why the child can survive. A child’s brain is still in development and that is why it is able to create those boxes. The trauma must have happened before the age of 7 for dissociation to be engaged in such a way.
The boxes are called alters. They are fully formed personalities, with their own memories, behaviours, likes and dislikes, talents and skills, and issues. They are fully formed people, all co-existing in the child’s mind. As the child grows up, new traumas can happen, and even in adulthood, dissociation gets engaged and new alters might be created. All alters together make up a system. How many alters there are, and what kind of alters, is totally dependent on the trauma the body had to endure. There are some common roles and kinds of alters that most people with DID have (protectors, sexual alters, persecutors etc).
Every alter has the possibility to be in the conscious part of the mind and be in control of the body. That is called fronting. The alter that is mostly out fronting is called the host. They are often driving the ship, making decisions. Some DID systems can communicate with each other, or even be co-conscious most of the time. Others have no communication at all and dissociative amnesia sets in: some have no recollection of what has happened the last few days, months, even years, of their life. Someone else was fronting. Co-consciousness is like sitting in the backseat of the car, watching some else drive the car while you can only enjoy the view but not take action. When one alter takes over and pushes another alter into the back, it is called a switch.
Let’s just say it is a complicated disorder and I could write thousands of words to explain how it all works. It is a confusing, frustrating thing to live with. It is a constant reminder of that there has been terrible trauma in your past. It is something that I often don’t come to terms with. I don’t want it. But I also can’t deny it. More often than not, I wish I was “normal” and not just an alter of over 25 alters in my system.
Yes, you read it right. There are over 25 alters in this system. I am rapidly switching every day. Most of the time I don’t even know who is fronting. This can lead to funny, frustrating but also scary moments. My partner handles it all pretty well, to be honest. He is very understanding and patient.
He is in a relationship with some of us (can you call that polyamory? I mean, it is only one body), is the caretaker of some, and the buddy of others. Although he struggles with it all sometimes, he also finds it amusing at times. I remember sitting in a restaurant with him the other day. And he was grinning. And I said: “What the heck are you smiling at?” – “You just switched.” – “Yes. because she wanted to eat more of the tempura and you know that we can’t have too many carbs!”. DID can have its amusing moments, sure.
One of the areas where it can be very complicated is sex. Now, I wrote a post on DID and relationships which touched upon sex a little, and another one that was more of a retelling of a sexual situation where different alters expressed different needs, I never really discussed in detail how fucking complicated sex can get!
The Body and Physical Sensations
We all share the same body and we can all dissociate from the body in sexual situations, meaning we feel nothing. That often happens during vanilla sex. The softness of it makes us uncomfortable and we turn it off. That is of course not very giving for us, or our partners, hence, we don’t engage in vanilla sex anymore. We need strong sensations to be able to even feel what the body wants. Yes, we, I, see the body as not the same as who we are, or who I am. I see the body as a shell I inhabit. It is the medium through which I can experience physical sensations. But I am not the body. All of the alters in this system have chosen a name for themselves, but I want to keep myself and them safe, so I am not going to mention any names.
The weird thing with DID is that every alter experiences physical sensations differently. There are studies that show that different alters can have different allergies, different blood glucose readings, react differently to medications, have different resting heart rates. It is quite fascinating. But it makes sense, a lot of our physical sensations and blood levels are driven by hormones, and the concentration of hormones in our blood is affected by our emotional state, and the trauma someone has endured too.
Physical sensations. We need strong mental and physical sensations to be able to enjoy sex. That means that BDSM sex in a consensual D/s context is the best way for us to go for it. There are about 12 alters that are old enough to have sex. Well, that I deem old enough to have sex in a safe and consensual way. Some of those are asexual and they never come out during sex. Others are hypersexual. And all of those that want to engage in sex with my partner (our partner?) have different needs, kinks and experience things differently. There are primarily five that front during sex and it can get quite intense when someone is out who can’t take pain, or one who needs pain is only getting degradation.
Those of us who have sex
The right triggers and sensations push out the one that enjoys whatever is happening right now. And most of the time it really works well, especially when the body is aroused. Other times, not so much. What one alter loves having done to the body or the mind, makes another alter scream in pain. What one alter loves, might make another later yawn in boredom. The alters that engage in sexual situations are a sassy degradee older teen, a hypersexual slutty young adult, a bratty young adult who likes to physically wrestle for control, an adult who enjoys pain a lot and loves being driven over the edge, and then there is me, the host. I enjoy a little bit of everything, but when it gets too extreme, I allow one of the others to take over.
Sometimes the asexual adults take over and sex is almost impossible then. We have all agreed to be submissive to our partner, and he can use the body whenever he wants to. But when there is no reaction from the body or the mind, it can get weird.
“Littles” and Sex
One area where it becomes the most complicated is the littles in the system. Littles are alters who are stuck in the age of when the trauma happened, they are literally children. They are not a roleplay, or a pretend. They are literal children who either have very warped concepts of sex (because of trauma) and don’t understand consent, or who have no idea at all what sex is. I know that a lot of systems allow their littles to engage in DD/lg scenarios, and if that works for them, and there is a strong understanding of consent, then that is great for them. Every system is different.
I don’t allow the littles to come out during sex. There are two alters that make sure that they are not able to front during sex. There has been an agreement that littles don’t get to use the body in that way. In the beginning of our relationship with our Master, we hadn’t really found that understanding yet and things got very icky, with triggers and very uncomfortable situations. But now boundaries are set. There is one little, who is a sort of protector for the other littles, she has no set age and has the mind and understanding of an adult. I think in DID terms she can be described as an age slider. She is the only one who is allowed to front during sex, and it can turn into silly DD/llg stuff.
Don’t get me wrong here. Our sex life is pretty amazing for the most part. It is the best sex we have ever experienced. Amazing! But it is not easy for us, and definitely not easy for our Master who constantly needs to read our reactions. But it is also fun, and I am sure that the kind of sex we are having, is very different from the kind of sex other people are having with each other. That makes us feel special, and that is a good thing!