Dr. Diepold used to coax the strongest part of me out by saying, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.” It always made me laugh, which was the whole point.
Cat is the nickname for the part of my personality system that always came so the rescue when things got really bad.
At first there were about 5 separate cats; there was fun cat, sex cat, sun cat, and I can’t remember the others. They were just cat-like helpers.
Like all the different parts, or compartmentalized aspects of personality, Cat was formed in trauma.
If there was trauma, no problem, I knew how to make it all go away. I could find something to fix my attention on till it was a teeny tiny point, a disappearing dot, an imaginary number like the square root of negative one while the rest of my mind did whatever it had to to survive without involving me.
The problem is that solving trauma by splitting, or dissociating only works temporarily. It actually compounds the real problem. Imagine having a blender that you used to chop up a tomato. It works great for the first one. But if one keeps using it over and over, adding tomatoes and carrots and watermelon and never cleaning the blender or actually using the produce more than a spoonful at a time, guess what happens.
I had no control over the chaos, nor could I process everything that was happening; I couldn’t make sense of it. I couldn’t even put it into a story or a picture or a sound that made sense or matched anything my mind had seen in the world that other people accepted as normal, so my brain made the traumatic events unreal; I’d turn them into a cartoon. People got killed and mutilated in cartoons yet the band played on through peals of laughter. How many times had I seen violence in cartoons for which no body blinked an eye? So that is kind of what my brain did because there was nothing else I could do. I didn’t consciously decide to create a cartoon-like experience, it happened spontaneously.
This is where I think the Fourier Transforms, which act as a sort of centrifuge, might come into action. In my case, it seems as though a switch was flipped and my brain did its magic to whirl apart the components of the experience, but instead of reconstituting it exactly as it was, the experience became something easier for a child to live with and a cartoon land sprang up. Boing.
So, the first Cat was the version I used to call Fun Cat because she was and is strong and has developed past her immediate function into a jokester who loves science and language and is just plain playful. She does not go into cartoon land anymore, but if there are ever any signs of that happening “we,” collectively know to call for help because it means the situation is dangerous.
Sun Cat’s special ability was to close her eyes and bask in warm places. I’m not sure how that started–something to do with the meat locker where stepfather hurt the kitten that day, but I don’t know and I don’t want to know the actual trauma. All that matters is that cats like to close their eyes and stay warm in sunny places. I could do that. It made me feel far away and dreamy; I could float like a dust moat in a sun beam.
Sex Cat is easy to figure out. Enough said.
These days there is a mostly integrated version of all the different parts. It took a lot of heart work. (Notice I didn’t say hard work.)
Living through the trauma was hard. The kind of work that healed me was tender and loving.
Dr Diepold did what he could, and it was a lot. He brought all the fragments into the open and helped me get a functioning work force together. But it didn’t keep me out of the hospital.
I met Elaine Prendergast Paulson during one of the hospital stays. She made a difference right away and appealed to the yogi in me. I had been doing yoga since I was 12, so at 35 I was more than ready for a therapist who could teach yoga as a part of recovery also.
She used another mind/body modality that was extremely helpful and that was called Focusing, developed by Eugene Gendlen.
There is much to be learned about how the body splits or compartmentalizes traumatic events. One of the things I hope to explore, based on little more than armchair physics and from my felt sense of what it is like to switch into an altered state, is Fourier Transforms as a way to explain or to help us discover an organic mechanism within the body/brain that spins our experiences into its component parts and then reconstitutes them to suit our current needs. All this happens at the blink of an eye if my experience holds true
In the early days of therapy, when the switching between mind states was still rather dramatic, I could feel my eyes roll in a hard flutter, up and back as I went from one personality to another and from one set of memories or another. That does not happen now that there is a free flow of information between all the parts of my personality. In fact, there is much less distinction between parts.
Everyone has some distinction between parts of personality. We have the part of us that goes to work and the part that goes to the party afterwards. But as we find peace with ourselves we are spontaneously authentic, wherever we are, finding that we can fit ourselves naturally to any occasion.
I believe heartfelt mindfulness restores wholeness.
Today I had a minor setback because I thought I had screwed up a really fantastic opportunity to work with two highly talented writers and genuinely cool people. I spiraled in the FT blender but came out laughing with a funny blues song.
It gets easier. If I lose my sense of humor I can just say, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.”
Please look for upcoming post on the Fourier Transforms and the Mind of the Heart as I delve into the phenomenon that makes it possible for human beings to withstand unimaginable trauma in imaginative ways.