Said Alice to the Caterpillar – Criteria 3: Identity Disturbance

Number 3 on the DSM IV spectrum is identity disturbance, but I think this ties in closely with number 9 which is where Severe Dissociation comes into play so I’ll cover these in series. One post after the other.
3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
Identity disturbance. For me this is a shifting depending on my environment, my mood, my company. An ex of mine used to point this out to me. I don’t think I ever fully understood what he meant when he would tell me I was like different people. My personality changing depending on what we were doing. Unstable sense of who I am.
Caterpillar: Who… are… you?
Alice: Why, I hardly know, sir. I’ve changed so much since this morning, you see…
Caterpillar: No, I do not C, explain yourself.
Alice: I’m afraid I can’t explain myself, you see, because I’m not myself, you know.
Caterpillar: I do not know.
Alice: I can’t put it any more clearly, sir, because it isn’t clear to me.
Whether I’m at work, with a group of friends, even in my own head the way I identify, socially/sexually, is transient. I tell myself I’m fluid; that one thing bleeds to another, never solidifying into one stable set of features grouped to form a whole. Travelling from group to group with skill points of Illusion, Subterfuge, and Charisma. Every personality point is part of you, but some scenes don’t utilize all skill sets. So for the Borderline Personality this translates as coming across as very different people depending on the setting.
To me it feels normal to be more outgoing, loud, wilder when I’m out dancing, it’s appropriate there. But what’s more I feel like I’m that kind of person.  It’s not an act, I AM wilder. When I’m hanging out with friends, I’m quieter, my intelligence comes out and I joke, heap on the sarcasm and enjoy people’s company. I’m a nerd girl. When I’m at work I am reserved, aloof, stone cold and efficient; my personality almost completely held back. I’m an efficient machine. When I’m with my family I am open, my walls crumble, I’m more melancholy but loved. I’m small. To me this normal. The variations are not subtle. Not one overarching personality with small variations, appropriate for the environment, it’s a completely different set of traits depending on the location. I’m not sure if this is normal or not, maybe everybody feels like this. To me it seems like certain things are appropriate for certain places, and not for others, so depending on what the circumstances are, will decide which parts of me show. Which me, is the real me?
At work I adopt a more business like persona. Amusingly I make no effort to conceal my piercings or tattoos, things that are glaringly different in my professional setting, I’m waiting for the rejection. Though I do wear clothes that are completely appropriate for the office if not my personal style. My work persona is by far my least stable. By this I mean, I feel like I am the most out of my own skin, trying to fit an image I imagine to be acceptable for a professional setting but which is not me. I don’t maintain this character well. I always feel out of place, if not like an outright fraud, even though I know I am capable of doing my work better than anyone else. I do not have any sense of solidarity with my working environment or the kinds of people in my office. It’s a place to go where I waste 8-10 hours a day and come home with a monetary exchange.
I am anatomically female but I don’t feel like a girl. I’ve never been a boy so I can’t say I feel like a boy, though I do value masculine qualities more than feminine. I have no gender identity. Or if you ask I will tell you I gender ID neutral. In the GLBTT community I would call myself Queer.
I don’t see rigid definitions. I don’t believe in absolutes. With no absolutes comes a certain fluidity that blends from one area to another. Like a chameleon changing colors to fit the foliage as you walk through an unknown social jungle. The leaves and bark may change but the wind still bites without a solid shield from the elements.  
Because the Borderline may not have a full sense of self they may adopt the group culture in a desperate attempt to fit in, not be excluded. This works as long as the group is a stable set of characters. If things begin to vary from the norm, change, people have problems or things become socially tumultuous, this will affect the Borderline’s sense of stability. The group is falling apart, so she/he will feel like she is falling apart as well. If she/he’s based so much of herself on the group dynamic, and the group dynamic fails, it’s as if who she is crumbling down around her and she has nothing to grab onto for stability or control. Changing to fit the group has never been my social experience, personally, though that crumbling stability seems to happen all too often.
For me, in smaller social settings, I don’t blend. I stubbornly stick to who I want to be, think I am. I am me, I’m just not sure what that means most days. Not being able to attain a group identity, to fit in a with a set of people, always makes me feel Other. An outsider, looking in. I laugh with the group but don’t feel included in the joke.

This bleeds into my Dissociation, especially when my body image is a mess…

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2 comments on “Said Alice to the Caterpillar – Criteria 3: Identity Disturbance

  1. Hi thereJust wanted to say that i really like how you write. I'll definately pop in when I can to do more reading here. (other than that, I have nothing else to say at the mo). I want to read your articles when my head feels more focused. Take care:)

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