Mommy, there is a man talking to me in the bathroom

There are only a few memories between the time my father was taken away til about the time I was in the fifth grade. I can make out one here, and one there but that is about the extent of it. By this time, I realize now that my growing population of other personalities was increasing fast. With every scary situation, even simply uncomfortable situations spawned a new alter. I still am not aware of all of them, at least not in detail. Not only did I have several other people inside of me at this point, but they were beginning to fight inside of me, fight and argue…loudly.

Again, I do not recall my age, but it was after my father left. I began hearing…and seeing a man while I took baths. I was terrified by the sound of his voice, firstly because I had no idea where the voice was coming from and secondly because his voice was so harsh. He was tall, skinny, had black hair and eyes so black I couldn’t tell if he had pupils. The way he glared at me scared me so badly I would freeze in the tub and dare not move. Even when I tried to scream in hopes that my mother would hear me and come save me, I literally could not get any sound out.

I soon learned that his name was Frank. He would talk to me, and as I cowered, I couldn’t help but strain myself to make out everything he said. I hung on every last syllable that left his lips. I guess I was hoping that if he was a ghost who needed help, I could help him and then he would leave me alone. Something about Frank made me think of my father.

After a few experiences with Frank, and the increasing screams of other voices inside my head I finally found the strength to come to my mother and tell her what was happening. I went to her one night when she was working in her office downstairs and said to her, “Mommy, there is a man who talks to me in the bathroom.” She looked shocked, scared even when I told her. She responded with, “There can’t be anyone there honey.” I tried to argue with her, but I think even at that age I somehow realized how strange my words must have been to her. Finally she suggested that I start listening to the radio when I took a bath. I followed her suggestion religiously.

The ritual of listening to the radio while in the bath or shower went on until I was in high school but never kept the voices silent, instead it fueled them like lighter fluid to a flame. Every night I would lay awake in bed until it was nearly time to wake up for school listening to each voice, trying to determine how many I heard, what they were saying and wondering why they were there. Soon I even started entertaining the thought that I was insane.

Even in Elementary school as I would lay there in the bed unable to sleep listening to the voices I could feel my heart palpitating hard in my chest to the point it hurt and made me dizzy. I tried telling my mother about this too because it was so frequent that when it didn’t palpitate, and I couldn’t feel my heart beat…I thought I was going to die. Severe, relentless anxiety took control of every aspect of my life.

The hand washing behaviour started, then the flicking of my fingers literally thousands of time a day, counting the hockey sticks in the pro shop while my little brother played hockey, holding my breath until we passed a cemetery, and many other odd obsessions and rituals began. I found myself doing these things every day without fail, in terrible distress because I believed strongly that if I didn’t carry out these actions my father would return and kill my mother. Imagine being a child, being tortured every moment of everyday with these intrusive thoughts and feeling completely responsible for your mother’s safety. It was beyond difficult and caused me to become an insomniac and suffer from terrible migraines, stomach aches, and even constipation.

My friends even looked at me strangely when I would do these rituals…but I couldn’t help it! I believed I was protecting the only person I ever believed loved me. I couldn’t lose her, she was all I had. I even couldn’t stand sleep-overs with friends, or going to school. I would come up with creative reasons for why I couldn’t go to school. I remember one time sneaking into my mother’s bathroom and putting her blush on my face so it would look like I was red. I was very artsy with it too, it wasn’t overdone at all. She believed that I was sick until later that day I was watching television and looked fine.

As time passed, the rituals grew more frequent and spawned into new ones such as having to find and read a word like “life” or “live” as fast as I could following reading one like “death” “die” or “kill”. The voices continued to grow louder and more jumbled, overlapping each other heatedly like on a debate going on on the news channel. I wanted to die many times because I couldn’t bare the stress and anxiety. I even fantasized about how I would end my life, but I held on to that belief that if I died, no one would protect my mother.

During this time my siblings and I had some contact with our father, we would visit him sometimes and two weeks during the summer. This added to my constant severe and unrelenting anxiety and pure fear. I would be shaking uncontrollably before he would come to pick us up, begging my mother frantically not to make me go with him. Simply the thought of being in my father’s presence scared me deeply. I was fearful that he would kill me for calling the police on him.

Despite my intense fear of him, deep inside I desperately wanted my father to love me, be proud of me, but I knew that he never did, didn’t at the time, and never would.

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