I’ll Keep Your Broken Edges Sharp for all Eternity (or at least until we can find some glue)

When my system first discovered my location innerworld, I fought them the best way I knew how.

I told them that I would self-harm. I told them that I would destroy our apartment. I purposefully shared flashback memories without their consent.

At work, I told them that I would jump off the top of a ladder onto the concrete floor. I made graphic, violent jokes in the hope that they would take them at face value.

And I did all of this so that I could drag the subsystems who had been discovered with me back to semi-dormancy.

Sounds terrible, right? Terrifying things to put a newly self-aware system through, and for a scary and controlling reason?

Yeah, that’s fair. But I’m not exactly sorry. And I want to explain why.

I always used to view my headmate Lothair as my older brother. As far as a lot of people in our system knew for most of our life, he was Literal Jesus – a voice of self-care and reason to counter both of the extremely legalistic versions of Christianity that we grew up with. 

But I knew that he was an alter. I knew that I was an alter. I didn’t need him to pretend to be Jesus for me to protect me from the concept of a jealous god. And, besides that, I’ve been an agnostic, animistic, folklore-focused pagan since before I knew what to label it.

Most of the alters in our system saw Lothair as a source of comfort and peace. This wasn’t even because of the religious aspect, though he made a very convincing Jesus substitute. He took everybody’s emotions seriously and encouraged alters to sit with their feelings and process them. Because of him, we’ve essentially been doing EMDR-lite since before we knew EMDR existed. Willingly.

But I knew the real Lothair. Since before he changed his name – both times. Since before we became polyfragmented, when our world was small. Hell, I probably used to BE part of Lothair.

You know that part in Sam Raimi’s second Spiderman movie, where Peter Parker stops the train with nothing but his own stubbornness? He passes out and loses his mask, and all the people on the train are shocked because “he’s just a kid”.

That’s the Lothair that I know. 

Our superman trauma holder was a literal child when he took on this Jesus role for our entire system. His subsystem took on SO MUCH trauma to keep the other alters from having to do the same. And I know why he did it. 

Our earliest abusers were teaching us, essentially, that the only way to love people was to be Prince Myshkin from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. You know, the guy who was so kind and selfless and altruistic that he had a mental breakdown? (spoilers, I guess)

I’ve spent significant time around a lot of different kids who grew up similarly to me. I’ve met psychopaths who protected me from abuse and psychopaths who dished out unfathomable sadism. I’ve met lawful good assholes and angsty-chaotic spreaders of hope. And I can tell you this. You cannot force kindness into a child. You cannot change somebody without empathy, even by showing it to them. And you can’t put the abuse you cause on a pedestal and credit it with creating goodness.

Lothair would be kind and selfless without any of our abusers’ “help”. The only thing that they accomplished was making it near-impossible to convince him of this. 

What a lot of members of our system didn’t see was that, while Lothair was protecting them and their emotions, he was trying to do the same for all the other kids we met, even if that just meant giving them space. Especially the younger kids. And, wouldn’t you know it, we ended up growing up right alongside the most sadistic person I have ever seen in real life. And she was younger than us.

You can probably see where this is going. 

We were going through continuous abuse growing up. We were splitting and re-forming into new alters all the time. But we had methods of managing it. Subsystems, usually, split off fragments but kept their general sense of self intact.

I will never, ever forget the day that Lothair’s former subsystem split, in its entireity, into multiple different subsystems. So many, in fact, that we are still finding the pieces. And it happened fifteen or sixteen years ago.

This sadistic, opportunistic piece of shit told our Lothair that our now-spouse killed themselves.

I will never forgive her for this. Just a few months ago, we found a subsystem that had split from Lothair who still didn’t know that this was a lie. STILL. It fucked our entire system up in a way that we have not yet been able to comprehend. And Lothair was in the center of that explosion.

Now, Lothair and I are both trauma holders. Our subsystems fronted for some of the worst of the worst. But he had way more in-system power than me, and I couldn’t get him to share the load evenly with me, even by force.

But after he split, his in-system authority and powers no longer functioned in unison. I took full advantage of this. I gathered up all the pieces of him that I could find and I essentially locked them up innerworld.

From now on, if anybody in our system had to front for abuse, it was going to be me.  (Well, aside from the kind of stuff that James and Moira fronted for, but that’s a different ballpark entirely. Let’s just say that I couldn’t handle their trauma and they can’t handle mine and leave it at that.)

This is why I don’t regret turning into a persecutor. Lothair is too important to me for me to apologize for it. I’m glad that we’re safe now and that I don’t have to scare my headmates anymore, but alters like me don’t turn out that way out of nowhere.

The song I’m putting at the end of this post means too many things to me for me to be able to recount all of them. There’s the way that all of our abusers have reacted to the bond that our spouse and us had since childhood, to the point that both sets of parents separated us as kids and one of our abusers told us they were dead. There’s my system’s relationship with and reliance on Lothair. There’s the way I relate to Ivan from The Brothers Karamazov saying that he doesn’t want to live in Christian paradise if we have to forgive people who abuse small children. (Especially with the line “I won’t cry for you/I won’t crucify the things you do.”). And, while nobody in our system is Catholic, we have been called “Bloody Mary” by highly uneducated bullies for reasons that I am apparently still not allowed to divulge. Even though I think it’s fairly blatant at this point.

I guess I should just let it speak for itself.

-Jennifer

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