28 December 2017.
Eight or nine years on, I stand face to face with the perpetrator.
“Do you remember the session we had with Ms Foo, when you told her you woke up outside of IMH and walked in?” I asked.
“What happened after you entered IMH?”
I remember, of course. You claimed to walk along the corridors of the institution, bumped into a psychiatrist who was on his lunch break, who then offered to give you a diagnosis for free. That’s how you knew you had split personality.
A seed was dropped then. A tiny, tiny seed. A little realisation that maybe he’s lying to me.
In the eight or nine years that I’ve replayed this episode in my mind and recounted it to countless people, I’ve wondered how it was possible that the wrist cutting and attempted strangling happened. The answer is quite simple. I allowed it to happen – and I don’t mean this in a victim-blaming way.
To be honest, I don’t see myself as a victim. Not any longer. I was a 15-year-old without a sense of self, let alone the instincts to preserve it. And you, too, said that your best guess of why the episode happened was an identity clash that you experienced.
What is real? What is true?
28 December 2017 was the date I sought closure. I needed to try. And the reason I took so long was because, for these eight or nine years, every time I thought about talking to you, I felt your cold, clammy fingers around my neck, squeezing. I toyed with the idea of you lying to me, of you telling the truth, and of me being unable to discern the two.
I didn’t prepare for the possibility that you could’ve cleanly forgotten who the personalities were and what they were like. You see, because I had risked my life to save what I believed were actual humans stuck in one body, I thought my efforts would at least be worth your recollection. Otherwise, what did I do all of that for?
This is me trying to bring balance to my world, which is still frighteningly small. I haven’t been able to walk away from that 15-year-old self, and I realise it’s because I had so many questions.
I wanted to ask you, why?
Why did you do all those things?
Why did you voluntarily put me in danger; did you not see how much I was crying every day back then?
But who can I ask? Who can I possibly lash out at, when the person, the body bearing all those personalities have long died and disappeared?
28 December 2017. You said that after ‘O’ Levels, you didn’t have that condition any longer.
I was also not prepared for that possibility. You didn’t seek help – you said you overcame it through your own will, with the help of your family.
What is real? What is true?
Why must things always be so goddamn confusing with you?
At least, you apologised. You said that if you really had done those things, you were truly sorry and hoped for my forgiveness.
I’m trying to think of an analogy for this situation, to explain how painful it is. An arsonist sets fire to my home, burning to ashes the things I’ve held dear. Lost, confused, shaken, I stay away for many years, trying to rebuild my home. Eight or nine years later, I realise I cannot rebuild my home unless I understand why the arsonist did it. I retrace my steps, bring myself to his door… only to find that he has, what, vanished? In his place is his distant uncle. “I’m sorry for what my nephew did,” the uncle said. “If he really did what you said he did, I’m truly sorry.”
Rage. Endless, vast rage, as deep as the sea.
You said you hoped I bore no hostility towards you, and that we could still be friends.
If that day ever comes, I’ll know that I have fully recovered, and no longer bear any resentment towards you or the situation.
Because the truth is, I don’t know how to forgive myself for my stupidity. I’m trying to be kind to myself but how? How the hell could I have been so fucking idiotic? Now I have to live with the scar on my left wrist for as long as I live. I remember that after cutting myself then, I said that I hoped it scarred ‘cos I wanted to remember that incident and have it follow me as a reminder of how I gave a bit of myself to save you. I thought it was worth it.
But is it worth it, really? Were you ever in any real danger? Did I just hurt myself for nothing?
So many people were calling me naive and gullible then. I ignored them all because I believed you, and believed in you. Right till the very end. I only stopped when you said I was a “player in the game” and that I was “dealt a hand” to play too, because that was when I realised you thought I was obliged to help you.
I never was obliged. I made those choices of my own accord. Granted, I fed off whatever you told me without doubting you, but that’s only ‘cos I trusted you. Whole-heartedly.
Now I wonder if I will ever trust anyone like that again, or if I want to.
Will I ever love someone like that again?
Deep down inside, I know I want to commit to someone completely. That vulnerability is paradoxically freeing.
But I cannot shake the feeling that people are all self-absorbed, and will keep taking from me as long as I let them.
Is it a complete contradiction to want to have a solid sense of self without being self-absorbed? How can I be self-preserving and still give 100% of myself?
In my most recent break-up, my ex said that it was a beautiful thing to be able to give 100% to someone, and it was only extremely detrimental when things fell apart. Meaning to say, if the split personality guy didn’t have split personality, and I had given him 100%, then my ex believed it would’ve been a strong, healthy relationship.
Unfortunately, I drew away from my ex because I was adamant about him not sacrificing his mental health for me/the relationship, and I didn’t want a repeat of what happened with the split personality guy. My ex saw this as a rejection of him as a person, and things turned sour soon after.
So… I think it’s safe to say I have no fucking idea what a healthy, supportive romantic relationship is supposed to be. I feel myself putting distance between myself and the people I want to be with, simply because I’m playing it safe and do not wish to harm myself, them, or our current friendship.
But if I were to be completely honest, I know that this tiptoeing attitude isn’t what I want to adopt.
How do I love, then? Without self-destructing the way I did, eight or nine years ago?
More importantly, what am I supposed to think and/or feel about that scar on my left wrist? A reminder of my stupidity? A token of survival? Or do I slap on a tattoo and transmutate it into something superficially pretty?
I need to decide where to go from here. The film reel has long ended, and I’m the only one left in the cinema. I’m packing my bag, standing up to leave.
Tomorrow, there’ll be new films to catch. New stories to hear.
I think I’ll figure it out along the way.