Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My mother's story

When my mother was just three years old, she was molested for the first time by her father, the man who was supposed to protect her and keep her safe. The abuse continued for fifteen years and only ended when my mother was eighteen and married my father. My mother could not escape the memories of her childhood and when I was seventeen, she was diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder. (Since my mother's diagnosis, the name has been changed to Dissociative Identity Disorder, which is its proper name as it is really not a personality disorder at all, but a dissociation from reality.)

We knew my mother had severe moods before she was diagnosed but we had no idea each mood was a different personality. We learned that she had fourteen different personalities in addition to her own, each with their own unique characteristics. One personality was extremely violent and lashed out at us many times, threatening to kill us.

As practicing Mormons, my mother's behavior was peculiar and caused us to be shunned from some within the community. As many have pointed out to me, however, the fact that we were Mormon really had nothing to do with how we were treated, it is the same in every community. Mental illness is a taboo topic and those who exhibit those behaviors are automatically labeled as "different" and are avoided if at all possible. Because of this, we never told our mother's secret for fear that we would suffer further humiliation.

When my mother died in 2004, I felt that it was important to tell her secrets in order to help others who may be experiencing the same thing. The phrase, "What happens in this house, stays in this house," was my mother's motto long before Las Vegas advertisers popularized it. The difficulty with this motto is that it allows the secrets to remain hidden. My book is an attempt to bring to light those things that most often remain in darkness. Too many families suffer in silence, fearing what might happen if the outside world were to find out their inner secrets. That is the trouble with abuse, in any form; it is not talked about, and remains a hidden epidemic, like a cancer that grows undetected until its effects are irreversible. Those who are abused remain silent out of shame or fear; those who are on the outside looking in on abuse remain silent out of propriety or discretion.

This book is my attempt to liberate those who are held captive by the idea that they suffer alone. It is my attempt to encourage those who are silent to break free and live. And this is my call to those who are on the outside looking in to stop looking and do something. Only then can the wounds be healed. My mother was abused as a child and kept silent. As a result, the cycle of silence continued throughout her life and forced its way into the lives of her children. This cycle can only be broken when the silence is interrupted and understanding begins to heal the scars that come from a lifetime of remaining silent.

I am breaking free from the cycle of silence and telling the world my story. I encourage all to do the same. Only then can we move forward and truly be liberated from our past.

77 comments:

Chuk and JoAnn Fife said...

I had the pleasure of reading the book "Mother Had A Secret" I enjoyed it very much and feel it is a good read for anyone whe enjoyes reading. I just finished Grace and found this book every bit as good. C. Bowring Fife

Roxy said...

A very interesting and eye opening read. The emotion is so open nd touching. I learned a lot from this book. Roxy

Anonymous said...

I want to know if I can read more of your book!! :) I would buy it in a heart beat!

Sharla Fife Woodman said...

I would like to read more of your book, it is interesting to know how families cope with different situations and all the trials they go through. This book would be helpful to others that have the same circumstance in their own families. This information is good for everyone to know, so they can give support and not judge.

gayle said...

Gayle said: I can'twait to read the rest of the book - it takes courage to reveal family or personal secrets but when ones does this it makes it easier for others to do the same and more healing begins. Having years of experience in behavioral modification I know that it is not possible to progress while carrying this type of mental load. I know the author and am surprised that she had this preying on her mind, since she always had an upbeat appearance. I would purchase the book if it were published.

Liz said...

I was lucky enough to be able to read the entire book and I just feel bad for everyone that has to wait until it's published to read past Chapter 2! This book is so beautifully and brilliantly written! It is such a great story about forgiveness, breaking the cycle of abuse, and accepting and reaching out to those who seem different than us.

Karen Clark Phelps said...

Don't tease, where's the rest????? Publish!!!! Publish!!!!!

thanks, karen phelps, burke, va

Anonymous said...

i cant wait to read your book!

Anonymous said...

i want the whole story i can relate to this so well

Anonymous said...

I found this to be a very gripping and compelling read. I would love to read more.

Anonymous said...

I would love to read more of your book. I hope you are able to get published. Good Luck!

StrongerFamilies said...

This is why I do therapy. It's amazing to sit with people as they work their way out of the cycle and into the bright, clear light of day.

I've always known that you're amazing. Now I understand better why.

- Thank you!

Deidra said...

Oh my goodness! I am rivited! I want the rest of the book! Please! So good. Cant wait to read the rest!

whitey said...

tiff you had my interest right from the get go, would love to read the rest of the story.

Anonymous said...

I believe that knowledge is power - and secrets never serve a purpose. I would love to read your book, as I struggle with thoughts that there was some kind of abuse in my childhood that has never been dealt with.

Stephanie said...

Knowing the person that she is now, it is amazing to learn about Tiffany's past. It is inspiring and astounding to learn what she and her family dealt with and how they have overcome the challenges they faced. An excellent book (I, too, was able to read the entire manuscript), wonderfully written, that can teach us many life lessons.

Anonymous said...

Anything Chuck Fife reads, I want to read too.

Daver said...

Okay - this is GOOD stuff!

Where do i get mine? Are you going to blog the next couple chapters????!

The Lara Family said...

I would love to read more. I hope you get it published.

Anonymous said...

when can I buy it!!!
grace

Anonymous said...

Great read! I want to buy it! Please let us know when you will be able to publish so we can all get our own copy and many more to share with friends and family!

Jen Spendlove said...

A much needed book from a fresh perspective.

Shamai said...

As a therapist working with people with dissociative disorders, I KNOW your material will be well received. Where are those publishers out there?? I read your 2 chapters and know your story. You will be a mentor for many. Congratulations on working through so many issues and allowing yourself to heal.
Shamai
www.hourglass.net/tritherapy

Mary said...

Tiffany,
I really enjoyed reading these first 2 chapters and cannot wait until the book is published....I will definetly buy a copy.

Anonymous said...

I was working as a hypnotist about 20 yrs. & had met a woman through a friend of mine, we became good friends for a time, she was smart, funny, playful, and quiet, all seemingly at the right times. One day she was talking about wanting to go back to school, but said that she was having a diificult time getting back into the study habit (She had been pre-med, w/a degree in both psychology & anthropology - all at 26). She asked if I thought I could help her using hypnosis, I answered that I'd had success in that area before.

It was during that session that I met an 'alter'. After the session (I ended it as smoothly as possible) I told her what had happened. Eventually we began to peice together an overview of her many different 'alters' (the origin of which is quite similar to your mother's)& how she had lived over the years as if everyone experienced 'dissociative episodes'. She refused to seek outside help, and I became an accomplice to her secret.... We compiled a large journal of everything we gleaned over the next several years. Then one day she told me that she had burned it, and shortly after that ended our friendship. This secret must seem such a great burden to you, how much more so must it have been to your mother.
Great good luck in your endeavor. I hope to read it one day.

shurwin said...

I would love to read the rest.

Anonymous said...

I've been working for healing 14 years since my diagnosis. My therapist was learning as she helped me. We are NOT finished. My background had ritualistic abuse which had elements of physical, emotional, psychological, sexual and spiritual abuse. (not looking for sympathy)

Because my abusers were in my mothers family, she was also one of my main abusers and I also had a teacher and pastor who were like my family and did things I doubt most would be willing to believe.

All that to say, my mom died at 62 of cancer and never got any help. I've literally been seeking help starting at age 18 when I felt suicidal. It was 22 years after that I was finally diagnosed properly.

Abuse, horrid as it is, will never really stop. So any and all helpful books that shed light into the darkness are a benefit to all willing to read them.

My husband doesn't believe DID exists though we've been married 28years. Both of my daughters do believe and support me when they can.

You know you are doing a good thing. Don't let the nay-sayers stop you. I wish you great success with your book. I hope I find it when you publish. Thanks again.

Leslie and her Pixies

Jen Reinstadler said...

"As practicing Mormons, my mother's behavior was peculiar and caused us to be shunned from others within the community. Because of this, we never told our mother's secret for fear that we would suffer further humiliation."

I'm not sure your mother's illness would be any less peculiar if you were practicing Catholics or Jews. But I would certainly have felt the same way about shielding my family from members of the Church or community members at large. Some people would definitely treat you judgementally or given your family a wide berth. That's a shame, and reflects ignorance and insecurity on behalf individuals. I have been guilty of that, too. So bravo to you and your courage in coming forth. Nobody has a perfect family life. But if you never hear about other people's challenges and only see the well-groomed Sunday facades, you end up thinking you're the only one.

Anonymous said...

this was so compelling, I can't wait to read the rest-ASAP!

Anonymous said...

I cried just reading the first couple chapters and your mother's story knowing so many people who suffer like this, but are sworn to secrecy or afraid of the repercussions of telling the secret, or even hurting their loved one. I'm not a big reader but the first two chapters just enthralled me and I feel I can't fully heal myself till I finish reading the rest! -H.D.

Anonymous said...

It would be a shame not to publish this book. I'm sure it would touch many lives who themselves have secrets. Wonderful writing

Anonymous said...

Although I don't know the author personally, I felt such compassion for her as I read the chapters. The struggle she and her family and her mother had to deal with touched my heart as I mentally went from wondering to anger to deep sadness to compassion. And in just two chapters. That's good writing.
I wish the author the best of what life has to offer -- she deserves it!

Pam said...

I have read the first two chapters of this book and would love to read the rest. My family has suffered through abuse and mental illness, and I am glad to see the silence broken on both these subjects. I would definitely buy this book when it is published.

KJDyer said...

As a person who suffered in the likes of your mother, for me being my brother who was the abuser, I would purchase your book to continue to read and learn. I would then pass it on to my children to read and to learn. DID or MPD are not the only disorders that come from abuse. I suffer, most of the time in silence and shame, from bi-polar disorder.

Greg and Cathy Housley said...

My wife and I read through the first chapters and found it very interesting. The beginning chapter made us want to read more. The writing style and topic are very intriguing. Thanks for sharing this with us. Hope to see more in the near future.

Anonymous said...

As a person with mental illness, addition, and neurological disorders in her family, I can relate to many of the feelings and emotions the author writes about. I find it interesting to read about others obstacles and struggles and how they cope, overcome and heal. I would buy this book without a doubt!

Melissa said...

Most families are touched by mental illness and/or abuse. Stories like yours can help!

Wonder-Rachel said...

Thank you for telling your story!

x said...

I'd read it. Good luck!

TravelerMichele said...

As a "mentally ill mother" mentioned previously in one of your comments, I can tell you that no matter how mental illness manifests in a family (and I do believe that most, if not all, of us are on both sides of that fence at some time or another), it is such a blessing to bring it out into the light. Otherwise, there never will be any help for it. Only through information, increasing awareness and every individual's effort to understand and support, will mental illness finally be fully addressed and the wounds that it perpetuates finally begin to diminish and heal. This story needs to reach every child of a mother.

Anonymous said...

I really liked the portion I read. I could easily read the entire book. Everyone deserves help and maybe this book will help others talk about their fears and problems. Jeannie

Lawrence said...

I've read a variety of books dealing with/fictionalizing Multiple Personality Disorder (Diary of a Schizophrenic Girl, Sybil, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, The Eden Express, etc). I'm glad to hear another one may be coming out, so I can only lend my general support to this possibility.

Beazer said...

I am glad that you chose to write your story. I hope it gets published so that those who are struggling with similar issues can connect and feel peace and support.

KaLisi Trentadue said...

Tiffany,
The first 2 chapters were very captivating... very articulate... and I am anxious to hear the rest of the story. I feel so bad about what you had to go through! And to think that we lived together for months and I had no idea... I bet it's healing to speak out! thanks for sharing your life with everyone.
~KaLisi Trentadue

Lorna said...

Wow! This is so good. Where can I get the rest?

Anonymous said...

As a person who has lived for five years in secret with DID, reading the chapters you wrote gives me hope that one day I can live my life in the open and not fear being told I am making it up or be called "crazy" by those who don't understand.
I really hope your book gets published. As a mother to three young daughters, I would like to read the rest of your book to see your perspective of how you experienced life with your mom. My children don't know about my diagnosis, but I hope that one day I can share it with them.

Anonymous said...

i read the two chapters and it strikes home for me as we had sexual abuse in my father involving my father. It is not something I would wish on any family. Sally B

Anonymous said...

what a silly thing to do to prove your book is worthy to be published for heaven's sake. It's obviously good or people wouldn't be coming here and leaving comments. Publish this book for crying out loud.

Anonymous said...

I admire your willingness to get the secret out and hope that writing the book provided you some therapeutic benefits. I would not read the book as it is written, it seems amatuerish and too "Mormon." Your story is valuable and could help others who deal with family secrets. Maybe using a ghost writer would improve the readability.

Robyn said...

I was impressed with the sample chapters of this book. I think that the story is important to be shared and published.

wilson4 said...

I definitely want to read more of your book. What a great writer you are. I applaud you for your courage to write this and share so much of yourself.

khendrix said...

So, seeing the publishers aren't wanting to play, here are some other options you might consider:

Print on Demand (POD) services are available, so that you could get the book out there, and then let your blog and other efforts be toward getting the word out on where to get the book. One resource you could look at to weigh your options on self publication was produced by The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Realizing your book is not in this category, the information is very complete, and seems quite applicable. That link is http://www.sfwa.org/BEWARE/printondemand.html
Don't let the "BEWARE" scare you. It's just a great resource on POD stuff, and who benefits from those types of services.

Piers Anthony also maintains an internet publishing resources page that is available here:http://www.hipiers.com/publishing.html#publicize

Good luck in your efforts to tell this story.

o said...

How unfortunant that we need to prove value in a soul. Experience is what creates Knowledge in return creates healing. I know many deserved to be healed and It is sad to see knowledge being withheld because we need to prove our worthiness to society. Keep sharing this I get this world deserves a shift in the worth of a soul. Way to show up & share that others might follow your lead to create safety in their relationships with all mankind that as we are open to one anothers lifes experiencs we learn & grow and create a safer place for every family touched by the effects of abuse however it shows it ugly face. Knowledge is power! The healing begins now... or as soon as we get to read the rest of the story. Thanks for your life struggle of abuse & what we can gleen from your experiences To begin a life of healing by creating awearness for support to all those who choose a new way of being.

Suzie Soda said...

The writing is very good. I hope it works out for you to go forward. I think it will help alot of people.IT IS SO SAD FOR YOU MOM AND YOU GRANDFATHER. Maybe he was abused too.

jeneflower said...

Thanks for sharing your story. It needs to be told.

Anonymous said...

I believe that this book would be a "good read" especially for adolescents who either can relate to the story or would be interested in reading about another adolescent's life. I work with troubled adolescents and they are always interested in stories like this.

Chachi said...

Mental illness is such a difficult thing to understand, especially when it goes on for years undiagnosed. I understand the conflicting feelings being the caretaker of someone with mental illness. I do hope this book is published. People who are going through similar experiences need to know that they are not alone.

Anonymous said...

This excerpt was very interesting. I would really like to read the rest of it.

Dirk 'n Juli said...

Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to hear more!

Alison said...

These 2 chapaters left me wanting to read more. I would love to read the rest of the book.

nmcfarland said...

I would love to finish reading this story. I enjoy the story in and of itself, but you also tell it so well. You've drawn me in like a moth to a flame and I won't be satisified till I've hit that light bulb!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed what I read & would love to continue!!
Jaime

Susan said...

Wow!!!! I can't wait to read your book. I'm VERY interested in mental health issues and real life stories and experiences. I married into a family with I fear an undocumented history of mental health and I agree, even today, it's not really understood and definitely not talked about. I would love for more light to be shed on this sensitive subject. I'm so sorry for all your family's trials and I am anxious to hear how it "ends." Publish the book!!!

Anonymous said...

I am very interested in reading the rest. I think most people can relate to some kind of mental illness in thier family. And Its truly amazing that someone could share thier story ..good and the bad. Cant wait for this to be published

Randie said...

It is so true that this world consists of so many interesting people, we should not limit the telling of stories to the celebrities, normal people are brilliant too. I loved the first two chapters and cannot wait for ignorance to realize the book needs published!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for what you wrote. I have D.I.D. and have two grown daughters and a son. I have often wondered what life was like for them dealing with me and all the others inside. I hope that we can very soon read your book!!!!

Anonymous said...

You understand the concept "we are only as ill as our secrets". Keep up the good work!!!

Anonymous said...

I enoyed reading the first two chapters of your book and will definitely buy it when it is published. I can relate to the situation and feel for your pain. Good luck on your efforts to help people understand the devastating effects of mental illness.

Anonymous said...

I am also a victim of abuse and kept it a secret...I would love for you to get your book published and I definitely plan of reading it when you do.

Anonymous said...

As a member of the Mormon church who has suffered from abuse I have thought of writing a book myself. We are always told how great everyone's family is and so it's very encouraging to see that you had the courage to speak up. I would totally read your book. I love to hear about others stories. Thanks for your openness and courage. What a great example, keep up the good work!

Wendy said...

I can hardly wait for this book to be published. It is beautifully written. In only two chapters, I have already started to gain some understanding on what it must have been like for the family but I've also gained compassion for those suffering from this disorder. It is a subject that is completely foreign to me but I am anxious to learn more. I am definitely going to recommend this book to everyone.
Thank you so much for sharing.

Just_Jennie said...

Thank you! I would really be interested in buying your book when it is published. My friend, is your friend (Melissa P.) and she sent me to your FB page, which linked me to your blog on your book. I am glad I read this, it has a lot of emotion and is very touching. I look forward to reading the rest!

Jennifer said...

I would love to read the whole book, the two chapters I read were so real and well written, iwant to continue reading.

hansen blog said...

Great book. Very well written and thought out. I love the way it flows and have a much deeper sympathy for people who struggle with mental health problems and their loved ones. Thank You!!!
C. Hansen

Anonymous said...

beautifully written. . I could not stop reading. . one because you write well. . two because I too grea up with a mom with DID. . .

Anonymous said...

Beautiful and very close to home. My father had a mother & siblings with mental illness & I too have been diagnosed with add & bi polar. I look at my kids and see add in them and only think how I can help better their lives vs denying the ready known because it's frowned upon. Thanks for a great read;). God bless

Leeanne Dunn said...

I am so glad I saw about you on facebook and your book. I was diagnosed with Bipolar in 93 and with DID like your Mother) in 2011. One day I was in the shower and my husband said all of a sudden he heard stomping and laughing and he came in and pulled back curtain and asked if I was ok and my alter said Hi I'm Annie...which is my 3 yr old alter. I too was abused by my step grandfather for several years plus abuse from other family members. I am so happy to know that you wanted to tell your story about you and your Mom because stigma re: mental Illness needs to stop and the more people know the more they begene to understand. I used to work as a mental health advocate for Tennessee Mental Health Consumers Association but even though I am not with them I still advocate when I get chances to! I hope to get your book and read it soon!!!!