by Reverend Susan Eby
Far too many children grow up under unthinkable circumstances. I am one of them.
I first ran away from home when I was five; I first tried to commit suicide when I was twelve. I tried everything I could think of, attempting to end the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain foisted upon me.
I had been beaten with fists, belts, and unbelievable emotional attacks. When I ran away I was at the mercy of strangers who starved me, raped me, beat me, and even tried to murder me in one situation.
How did I survive all these horrific situations?
I learned how to put “pieces” of me away, inside my mind and heart, keeping them safe, while other “pieces” of me were given “shelter” in a basement I had built in my mind, when they were not needed. I developed thirteen personalities in order to survive, and I was completely unaware of them.
I would lose time and memories and forget people’s names. It was scary, but other “pieces/selves” came forward to tell the time, and remind me not to go in certain neighborhoods after dark, and to recall people’s names.
I am grateful to all of my “pieces,” all of my selves, who brought me to where I am today: A whole person, with mind, body, and spirit intact.
With the help of many psychiatrists and psychologists, it took years to uncover the different “pieces/selves,” sets of circumstances, and the unique ability I possessed to forget… but other parts of me remembered.
They would come forward, in their time, to tell their stories: Beth, the appeaser; Sara, the child and young woman who took the beatings; Francis, who was mute and had developed her own sign language to communicate with others, or to just stay quiet (and hopefully safe); deadly personalities that tried to destroy me or others: P. H-P. and H. (my only male personality).
Then, there was Ariel, my ISH (Inner Self Helper). She floated over the group, encouraging their efforts, keeping them safe… loving them. She was my connection to God that, at the time, I didn’t understand. (Ariel means “Lion of God.” Interesting choice.)
While I was still struggling, I discovered Unity. They talked about God in a way I didn’t understand. God hadn’t caused me all this suffering? Then who did?
Even though I didn’t find an answer right away to that question, I was intrigued with Unity and their ideas on prayer and meditation. I decided I would give it a try.
For many days I practiced meditation and affirmative prayer. I would become very relaxed, very ‘in the moment’ and allow myself to let all fear go. I did this for four months, getting more and more proficient while praying fervently for the integration of my selves.
Then, one morning during my meditation, I felt myself going limp. I became fearful until I heard a clear, beautiful voice that told me, “Do not be afraid”… and suddenly, I wasn’t.
I found myself at a door that was familiar to me. As the door swung open, I saw all of my personalities in a line. As each crossed the threshold, they painlessly entered into my body with a small popping sound. I had integrated.
Turning to go, I saw Jesus standing next to the door. “Are you Jesus?” I exclaimed. He smiled and nodded his head. I put my hand on his heart and his on mine. “Is this real? Can I trust this?” I asked. “Yes” came the answer. I was beyond thrilled.
“What do I do now?” I asked. He turned and indicated a huge ball of translucent golden light. I smiled at him and walked toward the light. I entered the brilliantly shining globe. I felt myself floating in it. I don’t remember anything then until I found myself back in my body.
I opened my eyes, crying and laughing at the same time. It was a miracle! I had been healed! I felt so unusual, both physically and emotionally, and I knew my life was going to be very different from that point on.
As I continued to study Unity’s teachings, I realized my selves had been a gift. All these little girls, grown women, and one man, saved me. I realized God never punished me — He had given me the gift of survival, the gift of perseverance, and the gift of Love. Always Love.
Between Unity’s teachings, and my relationship with an always loving, infinite Source of Being, I began to see how my separate personalities not only saved me, but brought me to quickly develop my spiritual understanding.
I learned forgiveness. I learned patience. I learned trust. I learned joy. I learned Love. All of my selves had saved these qualities for me over the years so I would have them when I healed and pursued the rest of my life.
I became an Interfaith Minister and now practice at Unity of Medford in Oregon. I feel Spirit with me, in me, around me, whenever I take just a moment to listen.
What I once only dreamed of had happened… I was free!
I had learned many things by having DID (disassociative identity disorder), but I think one of the most important lessons I learned was this: Pain is pain. It doesn’t matter anymore what I have gone through; forgiveness, healing, and love have healed my pain.
It doesn’t matter the particulars of my life; what matters is I can easily relate to the pain in others. They’ve had pain, too. Whether it was a one-time slap across the face from a beloved parent; a betrayal by a friend; grief over the passing of a beloved pet; physical harm from a boyfriend or husband; homelessness; hunger; fear, worry or doubt.
I have learned empathy. Pain is pain… it hurts. Mine is no greater than yours… it is the same as yours.
Empathy is a wonderful and powerful gift. A gift I learned through my many experiences. Empathy heals me and you, and helps us understand one another, as Source relates to as His/Her children, filled and surrounded by peace. Peace is a lovely feeling.
This is what my personalities taught me. This is what God taught me. This is what I learned from Jesus and other great teachers.
Peace is who I am now, and that’s all that matters.
Peace to you, my friend.
–Rev. Susan Eby is the current spiritual leader of Unity of Medford, Oregon, having graduated from Emerson Theological Institute. She and her husband have five adult children. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org