In my last (first) Blog, on feeling like a Shell without Identity, I mentioned Mecca.
How did I come to find I had a spider for an Alter? And why is she named Mecca, and why a spider?
I believe I have OSDD from early childhood trauma. I think Mecca came to exist when I was maybe 4 years old.
I remember the first time I had the nightmare: I’m in bed unable to sleep and ready to go flip through my Winnie the Pooh books to help with my insomnia like I normally would, and I look up at the ceiling. There is a gargantuan spider the size of a kitchen table in the corner of the wall on the ceiling, directly over my bed, hanging over me. Still. Just watching me. I freeze while feeling intense fear, dread and terror.
Those eyes on me felt like they stared straight into my soul.
The dreams came on occasion over the years, always in a nightmare taking place in my house, and exactly as terrifying when I’d first spot the arachnid. The spider was always alone, impossibly huge, it never moved, and its appearance changed in each dream. Often its abdomen was crazy eye-catching shapes and vivid colours, all of them incredibly intriguing. But at the core, arresting and terrifying to me — they looked like they signified danger. The dreams usually re-hashed family trauma, and after I realized the spider was a recurrent figure, I initially thought the spider was just a recurring symbol of the trauma.
In one of the earlier nightmares (before I was a teenager), I attack the spider, trying to stomp it to death with all my might. It was dinner-plate large, thick and meaty, a lustrous black against the red shag carpet of our basement. It didn’t try to hurt me or move from my attack. But I can’t squish it; it’s seemingly made of rubber, like a Hallowe’en prop decoration.
Over much time (I am 36), I found myself less scared of the spider and more curious. The initial fear would overwhelm me at first sight, but dissipate. Slowly, I was getting closer to look at it. The familiarity of seeing a spider in the house made my dream-state become more of an investigative lucid-dream to learn more about the spider in the current dream. In doing so, I realize the nightmare was the dream, usually a re-hashing of family trauma, not the spider.
And then I learn the spider isn’t symbolic of the trauma…
One of the last dreams, the spider is on my front yard. This is the first time it is not in the house. It’s small, though still baseball-sized. The initial emotional terror of seeing it is now just a heightened state of arousal and emotional reaction. Its abdomen’s back is the design of a yellow happy face, and it has the word “HI” on it.
I clued in throughout the years that the visitation of the spider in my dreams seemed to be trying to achieve something; watch in on my dreams, support me in an experience of familial terror, maybe something else. Clearly it was trying to get my attention, and wanted to communicate in a friendly manner by saying “HI.”
Slowly I began to feel the memory of discovering the word Mecca and its definition appear in my adult mind (it happened in 1st or 2nd grade), and thus the feeling Mecca had of finding a name and an understanding of what she was. The amnesia starts to lift. And slowly, after the “HI” dream, I began to realize she (Mecca) was the spider, witnessing my trauma with me, holding my emotions for me. It made sense that a spider was her form.
Many webs, legs, eyes… spinning webs and Alters, always wise.
It occurred to me yesterday, perhaps Mecca is somewhat of a Fictive in form. As little children, we’re taught to sing “Incy Wincy Spider,” and learn how it survives by starting over again… we learn about the tale of “Anansi the Spider,” using cunning creativity to outwit and outsmart opponents, and I always had a soft-spot for “Charlotte’s Web” about the gentle spider using communication to relate to the world and care over Wilbur the pig.
Interestingly, the general symbolism of spiders is often to do with death and rebirth, which is what my OSDD was like; one day an Alter just stopped being, and a new one took over, because Mecca saw the current Alter wasn’t thriving and was suffering, and designed someone new who would better suit our life’s demands and our human needs. A semi-transparent amnesia barrier would be placed, and a new “Me” was there, ready to take on life.
I wonder if these positive fantasy folk spiders are what Mecca’s form was based off of – would that be a Fictive or an Introject or both, or not entirely given the specifics of Mecca’s role in our System? I don’t know enough about the terminology.
I remember pretending I was a spider at my Aunt’s house when I was maybe 4 or 5, playing in her white metal clothes drying rack, like it was my web I could hide in.
The very last time I dreamt of the spider, the last one after the “HI” dream, I was brave enough to touch it. And it was just a prop; harmless and beautiful. And my dread vanished, and instead I felt an emotional connection to the spider. That was when I started getting the understanding of Spider = Mecca = maker of the Alters.
So why do I think I have a spider alter named Mecca?
I remember when I was young, feeling like a part of me was separate of the body that would come to take over it. To watch. To plan. Critical of how I was. Thinking of how I could be better. Envisioning a future Alter with a different personality and traits. When I first learned the word “Mecca,” ‘that part of me’ knew it found her name or an understanding of what she was. Mecca functions like a spider, in a sense. She has a web that connects her to all the Alters she constructs. She means no harm, but is predatory-minded; she constructed Alters based on the conundrum of the time. Be it, “This current form is too shy. This current form cannot do ‘x, y, z’ that is required for life to go smoothly. This current form would be better if entirely different as a person…”
I believe she weaved my OSDD Alters as survival mechanisms. Like life was a game or a battle, and different Avatars with different abilities were needed to get through the stages of life.
That is why I use some of what Mecca does in the past-tense; her technique stopped working as we became adults and struggles became more diverse. The toll of being a ‘functioning task-doer for survival’ left us feeling empty with depression, loneliness, anxiety and a lack of authenticity as a human. We were only good at knowing how to do a career or a job. We seemed to live to earn a paycheck. We weren’t fully alive.
Where is Mecca now?
Since that last dream, where I touch the spider, I have not dreamt of Mecca. That was maybe 3 years ago now. And I feel no fear around arachnids anymore.
Considering I started therapy around 4 years ago, I think this makes a lot of sense. There has been a ton of Integration and Fusion of parts, and a ton of learning to trust authentically, and heal more authentically for myself. (Of course, that’s just an observation about my own healing path; not a commentary on anyone else’s experience as a System.) What I mean to say is, I think I had Fused enough of the main Identities, and am now kind of reborn as a unique Individual.
I wonder if Mecca is still around. I don’t feel like Mecca is Fused with how I experience myself now. I am not good at feeling or communicating with parts of me, if they’re still around anymore. I wonder: am I a Shell, or am I past that and just too scared to discover how to really live as a more fully-formed, healed, unified Individual? I’ve wondered if Mecca is doing her usual: building a new Alter deep below the surface of my consciousness, to be awakened when the time is right and when she’s ready to debut the new Alter. Always an interesting experience, to just wake up one day as a new Alter.
I do remember the maternal-esque feeling of Mecca’s presence and intents. I miss it, and if I never experience Mecca again, I just want it to be known that she was a big important part of me.