Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dissociative Episode

If you need immediate assistance, dial 911. 
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Born to unusual, but nice, parents, Michelle/Shelby grew up rather uneventfully, living mainly in the deep south (Alabama). Later she would learn that it was her parents' love for her that not only brought them together, but had kept them together. And so life was ideal in many respects and distressing in others. Eventually though the family did scatter like leaves on an autumn morning. Fortunately she was able to extract a sincere appreciation for love, beauty, and an abiding respect for those who at least try.

The single greatest influence in her life was the remarkable time spent with her paternal grandmother;  it was under this influence that she thrived. Her grandmother introduced her to not only fine Literature, but also the Arts and the Opera. And it was beloved grandmother who told her that if she wanted to be a great writer she must first learn to be an avid reader.

Early adult life would be peppered with indecision, failings, and the haunting of things not learned in childhood. But as is the case with most sincere artist, out of the angst of life came a great capacity for creativity.

Shelby considers her writing a gift...a joy, a tremendous responsibility, and something that helps to define her life.
Ms. Anderson is a graduate of Oregon State University; and is also currently working on a master's degree.

She lives in very picturesque Central Oregon with her two children. 

Online at Barbara's Bookstore!!!

(Also being marketed in Internationally in Japan, Sweden, Finland, Germany...!!!)

A portion of the proceeds from novel help support local women's shelters

Anyone reading the novel "The House that Silence Bought", that actually knows me, will wonder which parts are based on the true story and which parts are fiction. I am fairly sure I never shared about the "3 gun summer" with you. I am not sure if you have ever seen the movie "Nurse Betty"; but the parallels between the trauma in that movie and the traumas of the season of 1993/1994 are very similar. If you haven't seen that particular movie, hopefully I can share it with enough detail that you understand it anyway. What happens to Nurse Betty in the movie falls under the psychological grouping of a dissociative disorder. Of course dissociative disorders can range from mild to profound. The one depicted in Nurse Betty was actually a bit profound; and used for dramatic affect. When it happens in real life it can be very unsettling; and sometimes may not resolve itself as completely as in the movie. 

I had not readily been aware of this disorder until I had taken half a dozen or so psychology classes for my bachelor's degree. I do know that when I saw the movie Nurse Betty I got physically ill by the depiction. It was only later in counseling sessions that it would be pointed out that I may have had a similar episode back in 1993/1994. 

What I am sharing is stuff that I attempted to share with both my dad and stepmother but of course hit their infamous denial cloak. Because my stepmother and Richard had been friends for so long that there was no way they were going to tolerate hearing anything negative about him. 

When I moved back to Mobile in1993 I was emotionally spent. I had just ended a marriage to a very nice man, named Rick that I cared for very much. However his daughter was severely disturbed . She took to hitting, slugging and slapping me on a regular basis. She had been raped and brutalized all before the age of 12. Both Rick and I tried to help her but even a year's worth of therapy was not in time. The last I had heard on update on her she had become a prostitute in downtown Portland. Oregon; which is tragic because she was a sweet and very bright child. After a while of trying to get her help it became clear she needed more intensive help that 2 times a week psychotherapy. Eventually I left. I told Rick that if she hit me one more time I was leaving. She did. And so I left. 

The trip down back to Alabama was scary and overwhelming. I had a flat, twice. And I lost a muffler somewhere in the middle of 2 in the morning. Which was compounded by the fact that sparks were going everywhere and I wasn't sure why. 

Eventually I go back down to Dad's house. In short order I needed to find a place to rent, because everything stressed my stepmother out. One day I met Richard. Apparently he had a crush on me for years, even though I had just met him. He had dated my step-sister for about 6 months; but by that time they were just getting together for sex ever so often. Of course I didn't even know the half of their sordid little tale. My step-sister got the wise idea to ask Richard to let me rent a room. Thinking he was enough of a family friend, that if my family trusted that I could, I eventually relented. I was in Richard's house less than 12 hours when he made a pass at me. While my hurt emotions were flattered, and I liked the idea that my dad and step mother liked him, I was in no state to consider anything; after all I wasn't even divorced from Rick. 

Within a month or so of moving in to Richard's spare bedroom it became clear he was not going to let the idea of him and I go. I found another place to live for 3 months. All the while Richard was doing a full court press. And what was icky about it was that it seemed like my parents were pushing me toward Richard. In fact I was pulled aside and asked not to hurt Richard (instead of the other way around). It was a confusing, very stressful time. I hadn't even gotten over Rick. A short time later I found someone considered dating, who wasn't Richard; it was a guy named Stuart. This seemed to piss everyone off. And I remember thinking "exactly who is family here, and who is not?" 

Long story short Richard was relentless in pursuing me. He was hell bent into thinking that he had fallen in love with because of a picture on dad's wall that he had stared at even as far back as when he and step-sister were originally dating year before. I felt suffocated by Richard. But what was even more hurtful was the attitude displayed by family that insisted that I needed to settle down with Richard. In fact, I over heard one conversation in which is was suggested that there was something wrong with me if I didn't want someone as great as Richard supposedly was. Nice thing for family to say behind my back. Almost as nice as them saying through the years that I was crazy just like my mom. Lovely people. Nothing like a loving family to rally around a person. 

But other things were going on too...and in the span of a few weeks I was in a bank robbery, held up at gun point and robbed...ex boyfriend, Stuart had taken pills and said he was committing suicide over losing me...and had Richard pull a gun out in front of me too...and somewhere in the midst of Richard handing me a loaded gun...and asking me me to kill him...something snapped...obviously it was traumatic...but I would have no idea just how much until about 3 months after we were married. 

I had gone over to his house to try and tell him once and for all that I didn't want to be with him. He had fixed dinner...and was being very romantic. I could probably do a play by play if pressed...but it boiled down to me telling Richard I didn't want to date him...and him pulling out a gun...when he first pulled it out I didn't know if it was loaded. I didn't know if he intended to shoot me or him or both. I just froze. The bank robbery flashed through my mind. The hold up outside of a party near Stuart's house flashed through my mind. I was nauseated, had cold chills and was petrified. In the end Richard handed me the gun and said if I wasn't going to date and marry him that he wanted me to kill him. I was holding the gun. I laid the gun down. I was terrified that he would pick it back up and hurt one of us. 

I cannot remember when something snapped internally. I remember trying to make the gun go away. Within a week we were dating. Withing 3 months were were married. Only Mom and Mam knew that something was horribly amiss. Mam decided to come back for the wedding because she didn't understand why I would marry someone like Richard. 

Three months after the wedding I was standing in a line at the Winn Dixie. And I was filling a check. And all of sudden I was crying. I could not remember my name. I didn't know where I was. I had no memory of dating or agreeing to marry Richard. It was like I just shut down after he pulled the gun. The night he pulled the gun raced through my head. People in the store were starting to worry about me. I looked at the name on the checks and finish filling out the check and left.

Let me know if you can identify. 
Let know in what way I can be there for you. 


Michelle aka  Shelby Anderson


  1. It is amazing that you snapped out of it. Some people do not. Some people are just written off as crazy and do not find a way to rally.

  2. That is true. There is a lot of stigma involved with mental illness and mental disorders; or disabilities of any sort. And even when people just have an episode, something completely natural/normal for the situation there can be a lot of of trauma involved.

  3. Wow Michelle ! What a sad and scarey story. Gives me chills ! We all walk through each day as if life is good, when really we all have such heartaches.