Jane Out Loud: Episode 1 — Becoming Jane

Before becoming Jane — mentally and emotionally and, hopefully within the year, legally — I lived my life in pieces, varying parts of me serving different purposes. It was my coping mechanism. I was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID) in 2013, after sharing that I’d had out-of-body experiences and that there was someone else inside me: a self associated with this body rather than with this mind.

Black-and-white selfie in glasses and oversized top

I don’t remember ever not being in a battle with myself.

I feel as though there is a me “before” — before I changed, suddenly. It was an epiphany I had; I “awoke”. I am this current self, and I just want people to get it. I want them to stop being so finicky and bitchy about how they get it — i.e. they, for some reason, “need” to “hear” me explain everything and can’t just read something I type, because apparently I’m this completely different person offline? (Um, no.) Even though, anytime I do speak, they patronize me and speak over me because that’s all they do—they hear me, they just choose not to listen.

At the same time, I empathize with the desire to understand something you know nothing about. Mental health is so stigmatized, with movies wrongly portraying dissociative identity disorder as “split personality”, as if the difference between varying alters is so easily identifiable to people witnessing changes (“shifts”). There are times when I have to ask myself, Wait, am I Jane right now or am I Effy? Am I a myself or am I Levi? So the ideology Hollywood has drafted up for society is quite opposite of the actual experience.

Close-up selfie of my face

The me “after” is Jane, a gift in the darkness. There I sat, on my bed one night on the farm, laptop in my lap; “Jane” rolled off my tongue like velvet. I was trying to figure out why I was having such a hard time writing a character named Jane, having these things happen to her, until I realized it was because I identified not with her, but as her — I can’t write characters eerily close to my own life. So I said it aloud, thinking nothing of it, my old self none the wiser — then, my “after” self awoke, as if saying her name was the key to unlocking her.

Thereafter, life was hazy. Everything began to unwind. In hindsight, I realize that I was her all along, but the “before” self was still in control. We were of the same body, yet completely separate, and I hadn’t the words to properly articulate the experience other than it being as if I was backed into the corner — a witness to the crime at hand. My body was acting on its own, and I wasn’t in control of it.

Maybe I became Jane that day on my bed, when I summoned her by saying her name aloud. Right now, I feel as though becoming her is a process, and probably always will be. People don’t remain stagnant their whole lives; they change, even if only in age. My family mayn’t respect that I, too, have changed—that I’ve become someone else entirely, light years away from the ideal they romanticized — but all I can do is work to progress myself. I can’t change other people. From a Christian perspective, I think they should understand my experience as a shedding of my old skin and becoming a “new” version of myself, but it seems selection is in order: only accept from the Gospel what is convenient and socially acceptable.

Shortly after reconnecting with an aunt, I lost her again — not particularly for name change’s sake, but it later became evident that she did not respect my name change regardless of my reason and said that I would “never” be Jane.

I feel like I died. My former self is dead, yet my current self has to continue living life surrounded by people who expect my old self — only to be disappointed she’s nowhere to be found. I feel like a mere shell of the person they once knew, whom they loved despite how much of a pushover and people-pleaser she was. Depression dragged me through the mud, PTSD forced me to work through the past, and DID unwound my entire life — all within a decade. My old self died, though she’s always inside me — it’s just that now, I’m this new self. I’m Jane. I’ve become Jane — and I quite like her.

Jane Out Loud is an exploration into the journey of becoming Jane, as well as living a life full of several moving parts. Inside Out told by an adult, per se. Depending on your preferences, it probably won’t have enough God or will have too much; it’ll be too queer or not queer enough; it’ll be too surreal or not as glamorous as Hollywood’s take on dissociative identity disorder. Whatever the case, there’s probably something for everyone.

New episodes will post on the 26th of every month. This series was written in advance, then saved for a time when I was stable and it was considered safer to share it.

Jane Out Loud is a 12-part limited monthly series about my life, past and present, to becoming Jane and living as Jane not only on the inside. It’s about learning to value myself and the experiences which make me unique, for better or for worse, regardless of controversy. Read all the posts in the series, in order.

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