“I miss her, you know?” Miki said over her shoulder as she wandered around the room, picking up discarded baby clothes, empty mugs and other household detritus that had collected in the room during the course of the previous night and that Saturday morning.
It took me a while to answer her. I’d just taken Kai and Ryder shopping with me; always a finely balanced dance of curbing their impulsive, I-am-the-center-of-the-world behavior, and getting them out of the house and letting them have fun – the real purpose of the morning’s excursion. We’d only been out for an hour and a half, but it felt more like four hours, and I was reclining on the bed, about to settle Kai for his midday nap.
“You mean your mom? I know you do, sweetie.” Without any context to her statement, other than that single sentence, I automatically assumed she’d been talking about her mom – she always missed her.
She looked at me and shook her head. “No, that girlie.” Her accent had taken on a strong Coloured inflection. The Dragon was present.
“Oh, you mean Taya,” my mind changed gears completely.
She smiled resignedly as she walked out of the room to deposit everything she’d picked up, in the kitchen.
The Dragon and Taya had been in love. The Dragon had spent many evenings and weekends running out to be with Taya. She wanted to look after her, and care for her, and she had for quite some time. Even Miki and Emma had assisted: firstly, helping her out by paying for her to stay in a hotel when her family kicked her and her son out; then finding her a place to stay with Andrea, the lady who worked for us; several times paying for her son, Dylan to see the doctor when he became ill; and regularly sending her money for food, petrol, airtime and other necessities. The Dragon had even pushed Taya’s car down the road when it broke down one morning after taking Dylan to school. She’d then paid for the replacement parts, climbed into the engine with the mechanic and spent the rest of the day getting completely covered in grease while the two of them fixed the car. I don’t think The Dragon knew much about how to replace a broken clutch cable, but this petite little had shown there was nothing she wouldn’t try and do to look after her girlfriend.
But The Dragon and Miki – and Emma, for that matter – were one and the same person, and Miki had warned both Taya and The Dragon that under no circumstances would she tolerate any sexual behavior between the two of them. Miki and I had always agreed that neither of us would ever tolerate any infidelity in our relationship. She seemed to have set the boundaries for Taya and The Dragon at emotional and physical. One could argue that emotional infidelity was just as destructive to a relationship as physical infidelity, but in a world of multiple Alters inhabiting the same body, the lines weren’t quite that clear.
In any event, The Dragon had been honest and upfront with me about her growing emotional attachment to Taya right from the start, and as I’ve written previously, I’d intuitively understood her feelings, and had been OK with them. But I’d warned her right at the beginning that it would either end up sexual, and, or with both of them getting heartbroken.
Miki’s warnings to Taya and The Dragon were her way of limiting the possibility of the first occurring. It seemed to work. They’d developed an emotional relationship which stayed at that level, and which had benefitted both of them. For a while, at least: Taya and The Dragon were both BP’s and their relationship had become very tempestuous. As Taya’s personal circumstances had deteriorated, she’d started to rely more and more on The Dragon for support. She had become more demanding, and less grateful for everything The Dragon did for her. As Taya’s sense of self-worth had deteriorated, and her constant need for assistance from The Dragon had further contributed to her lack of self-esteem, she had become possessive, clingy and very needy. Taya was scared, for herself, her future, and her son, Dylan, but instead of admitting her fear, and sharing her feelings with The Dragon – being vulnerable – she had responded, quite commonly as the case is, by attacking the closest person to her, The Dragon.
This is common behavior for people, and particularly BP’s. Miki had done it to me years previously when she was afraid and confused. Their arguments escalated. Taya would push The Dragon, demanding more and more affection, accusing her of not loving her enough, and even go so far as to accuse The Dragon of looking at and wanting other women. The Dragon wasn’t emotionally equipped to handle this, and her responses were quite brutal. In most cases, she’d just shouted at her to stop crying but one evening she’d lost her temper completely and thrown a glass of juice at her while they were arguing.
They broke up and made up a few times over the course of a month or two. The Dragon had told me she was struggling with Taya’s behavior, that she didn’t understand it, and that she didn’t know what to do about it. She didn’t ask me for advice, just told me what she was going through. I had reminded her that Taya was a BP, and that she might be able to identify with that, use her experience with her own BPD to empathize with Taya and provide her with the compassion that she clearly needed but couldn’t articulate, or didn’t even realize. The Dragon didn’t really understand what I’d meant though and she’d just battled on as best she could.
One day – the day The Dragon played mechanic on Taya’s broken car – Miki had missed her session with Simona. I’d texted Simona to say I didn’t know where Miki was, that I thought The Dragon was present, and I’d apologized for missing the session at the last minute. The Dragon hadn’t been very communicative that morning, and I’d honestly not known where she was, or when, or even if she would be coming home. Simona had suggested that perhaps The Dragon was actively sabotaging Miki’s therapy. The Dragon read the reply from Simona, and initially she’d been very angry with Simona and rubbished the claim completely, quite loudly and quite rudely, but the idea that her behavior was undermining all the Alters’ treatment had taken root, and the fact that her relationship with Taya seemed to be the cause of this behavior started to weigh heavily, albeit privately, on her mind.
The Dragon broke up with Taya for the last time on the Friday before Kai was admitted to hospital. Taya had texted her repeatedly that Saturday but The Dragon had refused to return her calls. It turned out that Dylan had become very ill, and had also been admitted to Red Cross, the same hospital that Kai would be admitted to on Sunday. When Miki presented sometime on Sunday, she contacted Taya to find out what was wrong and when she found out that Taya had been desperately trying to get hold of her because of a medical emergency with her son, Miki felt quite bad. She texted me during the Sunday to tell me, and asked me to send some money through to her because Taya was alone at the hospital, starving and completely broke. I asked for Taya’s number so that I could find her, and see if she needed anything else. Unfortunately The Dragon stonewalled me completely; refusing to give me her number, or the ward Dylan was in. Miki wanted to help, but The Dragon was completely non-cooperative at the time.
The Dragon sauntered back into the room after leaving everything in the kitchen and dropped down onto the bed next to me. After a few minutes she leaned over and rested her head on my thigh. I gently started to stroke to hair; an old soothing technique that worked for all the Alters.
“Some days are better than others,” she said, resuming our earlier conversation. “Some days I don’t miss her, and I feel OK, and then other days, I miss her terribly and feel really depressed.”
“Why did you break up with Taya? You never really told me.”
“Everyone thought our relationship was sabotaging the Alters’ therapy,” she replied softly.
“So, you sacrificed your relationship with Taya for Miki, for all the Alters?”
She nodded her head wordlessly.
“Did you tell SC that you were in love with Taya?” I wasn’t quite sure if she had told Simona or not. When I’d suggested to Miki that she discuss it with SC, she’d been horrified. She thought that SC’s reaction would’ve been negative. Miki didn’t want to disappoint Simona.
“Yes, I told her one session when I was present,” The Dragon, replied.
“What was SC’s response?” I was interested to see if Simona’s response to The Dragon matched Miki’s expectations.
“She gave me a big, broad smile.”
“SC smiled at you when you told her,” I enquired, surprised?
“Yes.” The Dragon replied. “I asked her what she was smiling about, what was so amusing? SC told me she wasn’t laughing at me, she was happy for me. I’d experienced love. As an Alter, I’d only know hate and fear. SC had been thrilled to hear that I’d experienced love.”
I thought about that for a minute. I was quite surprised but that’s what I like about SC and YvdH: their perspective. SC gives Miki and her Alters practical advice for dealing with her memories, emotions, behaviors and the events that unfold around her. YvdH on the other hand doesn’t provide me with any practical advice for dealing with my life. I often ask him: any advice? He always replies that he would never presume that he either had the knowledge or the insight into our lives to give me any direct instructions with regards specific events. But what he does provide is perspective: a different perspective to mine, and oftentimes several different perspectives. He continually re-frames my questions and my interpretations of my experiences with Miki. This re-framing of the issue is critical in assisting me with resolving the issue for myself.
That’s precisely what SC had done with The Dragon when she’d told her that she’d been happy that The Dragon had experienced love. Miki thought SC would be disappointed in her if she knew that The Dragon was involved in another relationship. But what was most important to SC was The Dragon’s experience of love. In a world filled with pain, fear and hate, love is deeply healing and SC had highlighted this to The Dragon through her positive response, her smile. Through her different perspective, her re-framing of the situation she had – in one smile – made the situation a positive one, a healing one. I liked that.
“So, “I continued, “Miki still likes Taya as a friend, I don’t have a problem with you and Taya, and SC thinks it’s very positive; so why are you two not back together; why are you so stubborn, refusing to take her calls or answer her text messages? Miki responds to her. You clearly miss her.”
“She told me she’d kissed someone else after I broke up with her.” The Dragon whispered angrily. “She betrayed me.”
“But you’d broken up with her already, right?” I asked, trying to get some clarity. “If you’d broken up with her already, how can you punish her for that? You didn’t have any claim on her.” It reminded me of one of the central jokes running through the TV series: Friends: Rachel and Ross, two characters in the series were seeing each other. They hadn’t been getting on and they’d both agreed to a break in their relationship. Ross had had a quick, rebound fling, which Rachel had found out about and she wouldn’t forgive him for that. Ross desperately wanted to reunite with Rachel, but she always refused, citing his infidelity. He couldn’t see it as infidelity and couldn’t understand why she kept refusing to have him back. Their conversations on the matter always ended with him saying: “But, we were on a break.” The joke ran through several seasons and I stopped watching before I found out if they ever did compromise and reunite.
I understood what The Dragon was feeling but couldn’t articulate. “If Taya had been serious about you, she wouldn’t have run off to someone else the moment you broke up with her, right?”
The Dragon nodded her head thoughtfully. “She betrayed me.”
“I understand completely, and you have every reason to feel that way. If you were so important to her, why didn’t she wait for you to come back?” I carried on. “But, there’s one thing you’re forgetting: Taya has BPD. At the first sign of your rejection, she was compelled to find attention elsewhere. It’s a fundamental aspect of her condition. And you know she and her family aren’t treating her condition with any real effort.”
I waited for her to agree or disagree with what I’d said, but she just remained silent. “You remember what it feels like to be rejected, and the lengths you’d go to, to feel included again?” I tried to remind her of how she’d felt without bringing up the past directly – something she hated. I wanted to see if she could empathize with Taya.
She finally nodded her head. “Still, she shouldn’t have done that.” Her voice was firm. Everything was either black or white for The Dragon.