When I think of my years in a Dissociative Fugue, the first word I think of is memory. Then amnesia. For many people, amnesia is the stuff of movie heroines hit in the head, waking to the arms of a heroic partner helping them to remember their name, where they came from.
And I have been hit in the head repeatedly throughout my life. One time, in grade school, a bully knocked all the books out of my arms and shoved my head into the pavement. Jack Kerouac said the self is an illusion. If so, my illusion slipped away that day, for the first time of many times. For me, the self is not illusion, but a very real indicator of who I am, where I'm standing, my place in the world. Add all of that to a growing trend in a post modern interpretation of truth, and exactly who am I? Add severe childhood trauma to that, in which being assaulted on a school playground is just the tip of the iceberg, and I began what is often called a dissociative fugue when I was about 40 years old.
Armed only with fragments of a self I had started to become or wanted to become or felt to be entirely inherent, I became compelled to wander. This began after my second stay in a mental hospital. I was desperately running from something under the guise of a very focused chase on the search for self. I would build it, I thought, from experience. Enough experiences would resemble a self. And so I went. All over the place, sometimes into dangerous encounters. I live with the reality that there are those I do not remember.
When this illness led me into homelessness, it made all the sense in the world to me. A fragmented self without a tether. I did what I always did to avoid looking at all of my pieces: I threw myself into work. I volunteered to the point of exhaustion. Work will not set you free.
Then I stopped. I stopped volunteering in the established homeless services framework and lived out on the street, in the woods. I met people I can only say weren't me. It slowly came that there was a me, however scattered, and other people had a me, too. Most of all, through all of it, I was loved. All the 'me's.' I had friends who cared enough to say, "Earth to Robin!" when I was off in a place very mired in old trauma, like swimming in mud.
Sometimes, it is said, those with a dissociative disorder, 'snap back.' It's true, but it's a slow come back. After the initial glimmerings of a self, of a very true and oriented me, Robin, the arduous process of focus, of putting the puzzle together began.
It began with baseball in 2014, when we received the gift of MLB.tv