Christine Ducommun was a happily married wife and mother of two when, after returning to live in the house of her childhood, she began to experience panic attacks and night terrors. Says the author, "I sought therapy, and there I discovered, to my shock and horror, that I had been sexually abused at the hands of my father at a very early age. I surely didn't want to believe it. But as my mind began to release bizarre flashbacks, my alters began to show themselves. Suddenly I lived a life even I couldn't understand: I was a devoted mother, wife, and church leader but also a convicted thief, a promiscuous alcoholic, and a prescription drug addict. Things got much worse before they got better."
Christin was eventually diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID), and her story details an extraordinary 12-year ordeal of coming to grips with the reemergence of competing personalities her mind had created to help her endure her early years. Therapy helps to reveal the personalities, but Christine has much work to do to grasp their individual strengths and weaknesses and understand how each helped her cope and survive her childhood as well as the latent influences they've had in her adult life. Fully reawakened and present, the personalities struggle for control of Christine's mind, and her life tailspins into unimaginable chaos, leaving her to believe she may very well be losing the battle for her sanity. Christine's only hope to regain her stability is to integrate each one's emotional maturity while jettisoning the rest, until at last their chatter in her head could cease. This task, taken on by her gutsy therapist, proves to be the major struggle of her adult life. It takes her on a journey that few with her disorder have the courage or fortitude to travel. A candid look at the effects of sexual abuse, this elegant book shines a bright light on the fragility of the mind and the durability of the spirit. A story of courage, healing, identity, and hope.
©2013 Christine Ducommun (P)2016 Bettie Youngs / Bettie Youngs Book Publishers
This is the story of Christine Ducommun's abuse as a child, descent into mental illness, and partial recovery. The story is fascinating, if only by the sense of darkness and suffering it conveys. The writing, while not artistic, is coherent and orderly. The performance is much the same.
If you are looking for the inside view of living with mental illness, of its complicated and broken relationships, and the fallout of childhood sexual abuse, this book delivers. One could read it as a case for compassion for the mentally ill. It might have been the foundation of a substantive feminist critique of the culture of Christine's childhood. Indeed, as a portrayal of the suffocating misery of women who are trapped in unfulfilling and unfaithful marriages, the book could have been both powerful and poignant.
And yet, it is the "could of been" that I sensed most strongly when I reached the end. I wanted more. I wanted more for Christine, because the book never tells of a return to employment. There's no restoration for her family, or even the establishment of a new and healthy romance. And in the end, I wanted more of the wisdom that can develop in a life of suffering well.
Christine was shunned by a religious community. She mentions the deep issues of faith it raised, but it seems only in passing. The book never addresses them. A life in the grip of mental illness typically spirals out of control, and Christine's was no exception. But where is the insight into what her family, social agencies, or her church might have done?
It seems that the book opts out when it comes to leaping from Christine's story to the bigger story of what it takes to support each other in family, community, and faith. Ultimately, I sensed that the book fell short because Christine's own story did. To quote her psychologist, "Christine, you are the victim." So very true! But it is in rising above victimization that our individual stories lend meaning to The Story we all write together. It is in this failure to rise above, that the book came up short for me.
I wanted so much more for Christine, and so much more from her story.
I am an avid reader, and love to share my opinion on what I read... be prepared for an honest review, though.
Yes, I would recommend this book to a friend; in fact, I already have. Dealing with a mental illness such as D.I.D./M.P.D. usually stems from trauma, if I'm not mistaken. This was definitely the case for Christine, the author of the book.
It took years for Christine to get diagnosed with the D.I.D, and then be able to start dealing with that and what triggered the disorder: sexual abuse at the hands of her father. It's never easy having to deal with sexual abuse, but chronic sexual abuse -in my opinion- is much, much worse.
To that end, you can add the ritual abuse and other forms of abuse... it's actually surprising that more people are not diagnosed with the D.I.D. However, I'm not entirely surprised that there are still some out there that don't believe in the diagnoses.
Sometimes I wonder... who would want to believe that D.I.D. is actually real? We all have different aspects of ourselves that show up at different times in our lives... some more than others. And sometimes those 'aspects' of our lives are what helps us cope with trauma, even extreme trauma.
But, I happen to agree that D.I.D. is a real diagnosis, a disorder. Christine's case is a prime example of someone struggling with the D.I.D. and everything that surrounds it -like the aftereffects of the abuse, the flashbacks, and the like. It's no easy feat to deal with these issues head on.
This book, and several others written about D.I.D., is a perfect way to share a person's journey through life with D.I.D., the abuse, the flashbacks, and everything else. If just one person reads this book, then maybe that one person can and would be helped; knowing you are not alone in your struggles does help, even if it doesn't seem like it at the time.
So yes, I would recommend this book to readers, and I do recommend it to my friends.
Christine, the main character. She's my favorite character because she has true courage of what it takes to deal with her abuse, and everything else that goes along with it.
I don't think that I have a favorite scene. I mostly admire the fact that Christine was more than willing to face her issues on a minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year case.
Would you be willing to do the same thing, no matter how difficult it would be to do so?
Reading the book made me sad; it's hard to believe that a child would have to suffer such things as abuse by someone they know, or by a stranger. Abuse happens every day. I'm quite familiar with the aftermath of abuse, as I know a fair few people who've had to deal with abuse. It really is a sad thing to have to face. And reading how Christine's abuse ... that's just something else.
It's the way she handles it that amazes me. She had the courage to start facing her issues -the flashbacks, the memory gaps, etc-, not just for herself, but for her family.
Thank you, Christine, for sharing your story.
No, I think that I've said it all already.
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