Cora walked to the end of the alley, scanning the street for a familiar sign of her location. A wave of relief washed over her as she realized she was only a few blocks from home. “Didn’t take me far this time, did you.”
“It wasn’t necessary,” the voice answered.
Cora sighed. She refused to listen to the voices in her head. She was also relieved she wouldn’t have to depend on some mode of long distance transportation to get back home. She took her time walking home, knowing what would be waiting for her there.
“Where the hell have you been?” Devon’s voice boomed out as Cora walked in the door. She simply rolled her eyes at her current boyfriend. But at least this one stuck around for a few months. The others were always long gone by now.
“Don’t start on me Devon!” Cora walked past him and into the small apartment kitchen. She stood at the sink filling a glass of water. Her unfocused eyes, staring blankly out the window. Devon reached around her and turned off the water. He took the glass from her trembling hand and turned her, pulling her into his chest. “I’m trying to understand all this,” he whispered, “but how am I suppose to keep an eye on you 24/7?”
“It’s not your job to take care of me!” Violently, she shoved him back, knocking him against the edge of the counter. “Keep your hands off me!” Nearing hysterics, she paced the small space of the kitchen. Back and forth....back and forth....pulling at her hair. All she wanted to do was run. Escape.
Devon kept his distance. He knew how to read her moods now. In the few months they’d been together, he’d learned to deal with her ever changing mood swings. Her emotional reactions to him were like a never ending roller coaster ride. The constant ups and downs, and twists and turns had him feeling loopy and off balanced, but he was hanging in there. There was something about Cora. Something he’d never felt before with anyone else and he wasn’t going to walk away, leaving her alone and isolated as all the other people in her life had done. No...he was determined to see this through and prove to Cora he wasn’t going anywhere.
When Cora slid down the counter and landed in a tearful heap on the floor, he knew it was his time to step in. He lifted her off the floor and held her tight, gently rocking her back and forth. “It’s alright baby. I’m here.”
Her sobs were slowing as he entered the bedroom. He laid her gently on the bed and curled in beside her. It was barely six in the morning, but he was exhausted due to the lack of sleep the night before. Cora had run from the apartment sometime after midnight. She was a sneaky one. He never felt her move. But something woke him shortly after one o’clock and once again, he found her missing. The hospitals hadn’t seen her this time, so all he could do was wait. He curled into Cora and tightened his grip on her. She wasn’t getting away this time. Checking to make sure she was asleep, he closed his eyes and attempted to get some rest of his own.
He woke with a start, realizing Cora was gone. His panic was short lived, as he heard the shower running. He laid back on the bed and waited for her. Cora dashed from the bathroom like lightning, immediately searching her closet for something to wear. Devon leaned on one elbow and watched her, trying to judge her mood. He decided to take a chance. “You look rushed,” he all but whispered.
“Hmmmmm?” She was preoccupied with clothes. Deciding on casual pants and a sweater, she turned, bouncing on one leg as she pulled her pants on. “Did you say something?”
He smiled as she pulled the sweater on, shaking her short wet hair back into place. She shot him a cool look and sat on the bed next to him. “I called Mackenzie this morning. She’s giving me an emergency session in half-an-hour. It’s time for her to do her fucking job and help me figure this shit out!”
Forty-five minutes later, Cora was pacing Mackenzie’s office. “What the hell’s wrong with me? I don’t even remember going out last night!”
“What do you remember?” Mackenzie prompted.
“I remember everything until we went to bed. I even remember falling asleep. The next thing I know, I’m waking up in a fucking dark alley!” Cora continued to pace.
Mackenzie waited for more, but Cora offered nothing. She simply paced. Mackenzie stood and walked around to lean on the front corner of her desk. “Would you be open to hypnosis? I can take you back to last night...and all the other times.”
Cora stopped pacing and looked at Mackenzie like she was giving it serious consideration. “Can you truly do that?”
“It’s one of my specialities. I’ve been doing it for many years.”
“Does it work?”
“I’m satisfied with the results it gives, yes. I think you should try it Cora.”
Cora walked to the window and looked out on the crisp fall day. She turned to Mackenzie. “How soon can we start?” “How about today? There’s still enough time. I’ve blocked two hours for you.”
A look of panic swept across Cora’s face. She turned back to the window. “Okay....let’s get started.”
Mackenzie took Cora through a series of relaxation techniques. It took more than usual due to Cora’s agitated state, but eventually, she began to relax. Mackenzie gave her a few moments of deep breathing before she began to take her back.
“I want you to focus on my voice. You are safe and will not harmed in anyway. You will view any memories from a detached perspective. Everything you see, you will view without an emotional attachment. Are you ready?”
Cora lay silent for a few seconds, then quietly replied, “Yes.”
“See yourself walking down a spiral staircase. You know that at the bottom of this staircase is a door that leads to the memory of why you went out last night and why you went to location you did. You will view this memory without emotional reaction. You will let me know when you’ve reached the door and are ready to go through it by raising your right index finger.”
Mackenzie waited for Cora to indicate she was ready. When she did, she continued.
“Open the door and walk through it. Tell me what you see.”
Cora’s body stiffened and her breathing began to quicken. As suddenly as it started, she began to relax again.
“Cora, tell me what you see.”
“Cora is resting... I will take it from here.”
Mackenzie sat forward in her chair. “Who are you?”
“I am The Protector.”
“The Protector of who?”
“The Protector of Cora.”
Mackenzie was no stranger to multiple personality disorder and knew these situations must be handled with great care. “Why does Cora need protecting?” When The Protector didn’t answer, Mackenzie continued. “I’d like to speak with Cora now.”
“I told you she’s resting! I will not allow her to be harmed!”
So much for viewing without emotional reaction, Mackenzie thought.
“I have no intention of harming Cora. You have my word.” Mackenzie paused, “Are you willing to speak to me?”
“I may....I may not.”
Mackenzie decided to push forward. “Why does Cora need protecting?”
“This is not your concern. It is my job.”
“I’m trying to help Cora. Your cooperation would be beneficial for her.” Mackenzie paused again, waiting for The Protector’s response. When she received none, she pushed forward again. “Are you the only one who protects Cora?”
“I am The Protector, but there are others. We all have our own jobs.”
“Who are the others and what are their jobs?”
“I told you this is not your concern! I will not speak to you, it is not my job!”
“Is there another who will speak to me?”
The Protector sighed. Cora’s body stiffened again, then relaxed. She sat up straight in the chair. Her eyes opened and locked onto Mackenzie’s. “I will speak to you.”
“Who are you?” Mackenzie prompted.
“I am the Spokesperson for The Council.”
“Who is The Council?”
“You would not understand The Council.”
Mackenzie leaned forward. “Try me.”
Cora shifted in her seat. “The Council are the watchers of the soul.”
“Does every soul have one of these....Council’s?”
“Of course. Although they are different for each individual.”
“They are whatever the individual thinks them to be. To Cora, they are The Council.”
“Can I speak to The Council?”
Laughter roared out of Cora. “No one speaks directly to The Council. That is my job.”
“Okay. Why does Cora need protecting?”
“So she won’t be abandoned again. The Protector helps her survive.”
“Why doesn’t Cora protect herself?”
“You know nothing of Cora’s inner-world.”
“Can you tell me?”
“It is not time. But you will meet them all. We are counting on you. Cora cannot do this alone. It is time for her to heal.”
“What does Cora’s inner-world consist of?”
“It is more a question of who, not what, and there are many.”
“How many others are there? Can you give me their names?”
“Cora labels them according to their job. There is The Protector, The Lost Child, The Negatives, who consist of sadness, depression and anxiety, and The Fun Lover. And of course, myself and The Council. Each has their own job according to what Cora needs. It is better to think of them as emotions or emotional reactions. You will make better headway with this type of thinking.”
“So you’re saying her alters are simply her own emotional reactions to situations in her life?”
“For Cora, this is true, yes.”
“I’ve never heard of multiple personalities defined as emotional reactions. Can you explain?”
“There are many emotions that live in every individual. When you are sad and then you become happy again, have you not become a different person emotionally? When you are angry, you are not the same person you are, as say, when you are depressed”
“I see. This puts a different spin on it.”
“Maybe it is time for a....different spin as you call it.”
“Can I speak to the other.....emotions?”
“Not today, but you will. It is vital that Cora becomes one with her emotions again. She views them as separate...not a part of herself. This has caused her to become fragmented. Or shattered, if you prefer.”
“How will I know.....”
The Spokesperson cut her off..... “You will know. That is why you were chosen.”
Before Mackenzie could say another word, Cora’s body stiffened, then became relaxed. Mackenzie waited a moment before speaking. “Cora?”
“I’m coming back up the stairs now. I don’t want to be here anymore.”
“Okay. Let me know when you’ve reached the top of the stairs.”
Mackenzie talked Cora through the rest of the waking technique. After, Cora went to stand by the window. “What did you find out?”
“What do you remember?”
Cora sighed. “I remember going down the stairs and seeing the door. I could hear your voice telling me to open it and go through, but once I was inside, I became scared and wanted to leave. So I turned around and told you I was coming back up the stairs.”
Mackenzie noted the missing time frame. Cora didn’t recall her talking to The Protector or The Spokesperson. “We could try it again during the next session. Each time will become easier.”
Cora continued to stand by the window. “Do I have to go through that door again?”
“No, we can try something different next time.”
Cora nodded. “Okay. I don’t want to go through the door. I didn’t like what I saw.”
During the next session, Cora was agitated and pacing again. She had a large bruise along the right side of her cheek. “I don’t know what happened! I just woke up with it!”
Mackenzie sat in her chair, deciding to wait out Cora’s pacing. She would have to calm her down before any progress could be made. “Cora, will you come and sit. Today, we can simply talk.”
Cora shook her hands, like she was trying to shake some diseased growth from her palms, as she came and sat in the chair. Mackenzie leaned forward, taking her hands.
“I want you to trust me. Can you try and do that?”
Cora simply nodded.
“How about if we just talk today. You don’t have to go through the door. You can just relax and talk about what’s on your mind.”
Cora seemed hesitant, but agreed. “Okay. But no doors! I don’t like surprises!”
Mackenzie released her hands and sat back. “No doors.”
Mackenzie walked her through a relaxation technique and when Cora was ready, she started the conversation. “Cora, do you remember what happened to your cheek?”
Cora’s body stiffened, then relaxed. Her facial expressions hardened. “What happened to her cheek is none of your concern! I am taking care of Cora!”
Mackenzie recognized The Protector immediately and decided to take on a tone of authority. “Why is Cora’s cheek bruised?” She demanded.
“Do not take that tone with me! I do not have to answer to you!”
“But you will. I want answers.”
“I do not have to do what you say!”
“Do we agree that we want what’s best for Cora?”
“Of course. That is my job.”
“Then help me help her. That is my job as well.”
The Protector seemed taken back from this. “You are not Cora’s protector!”
Mackenzie decided to push a little harder. “Did you bruise Cora’s cheek?”
“She would not stop! She kept running. She runs when she’s The Lost Child. So I took over and ran her into the building.”
Mackenzie let out a shocked gasp. “You ran her into a building?”
“It stopped her didn’t it. Knocked her out cold!”
“Do it think it’s in her best interest to be ran into a building and knocked out?”
“You do not understand! She would have kept running. Who knows where she would have ended up. I had to stop her and get her back home.” The Protector slumped back in the chair, exhausted. “The bruise was minor compared to what could have happened. She can be out of control sometimes! It is a full time job protecting her from herself.”
“Why don’t you let Cora protect Cora?”
“Because she does not know how. That is why I was created.”
“Can you talk to Cora....explain to her who you are.”
“She does not listen. She does not understand. I am only to do my job. She see’s me as separate.”
“So you understand you are a part of Cora?”
“Of course....we all do! We are simply fragments of her. When there are situations that she is too afraid to see or deal with, she sends us. She can then separate from the situation and not have to experience it. That makes us separate from her....at least in her mind.”
“How can you get Cora to see you are a part of her and not some separate entity?”
“If we could figure that out, do you not think we have done so by now? She pays no attention to what we do when we are called on. We are to simply do our jobs.”
It took weeks of therapy for Cora to come to terms with her alter personalities, or emotions as they preferred to be called. She simply saw them as outside intruders who took her over and had their way with her. At first, she had no intention of accepting responsibility for the fact that she herself had called upon these alter emotions to deal with situations she wasn’t emotionally strong enough to deal with. Slowly, over time, she began to understand, but there was still healing to be done before she could truly become one with her emotions. Mackenzie knew that the weeks it took to get Cora to this point were worth the effort. Once Cora accepted she had issues that required healing, they could move forward to the next step. This next step required Cora to address these alter personalities and remember her conversations with them. This would take a great amount of courage on Cora’s part, as her first instinct was to run and hide and let her alters deal with the situation. Now, it was time for Cora to remain present and face them head on. Mackenzie explained that over the next few sessions, they would talk to each alter and Cora would face them and work to resolve the issues behind their existence.
“Cora, it’s important for you to understand that emotions can be a healthy release or they can be a toxic one. The choice is always yours. You decide how you will react to each situation you face in life. For some reason, you have choose to escape and hide. Do you know why?”
“No. I just know that is how it is.”
Mackenzie pressed for more. “What are you most afraid of? Your biggest fear?”
Cora pressed herself into the chair, pulling her knees up to her chest and starting rocking. “I have to go now. I have to run.”
“No, Cora. You don’t have to run. You are safe here. What is frightening you?”
Cora’s eyes dashed around the room and she sprang from the chair, and cowered in the corner.
Mackenzie walked over and knelt in front of her. “Cora, nothing is going to harm you. Can you come back and sit in the chair?”
In a split second, Cora’s eyes changed and Mackenzie recognized The Protector. “I thought you said she would listen now?” Frustrated, The Protector stood and returned to the chair.
Mackenzie had built quite a relationship with The Protector over the last few weeks and knew it was time for Cora to heal this area. The Protector was ready. All they had to do was convince Cora to come out as well.
“Cora, do you remember The Protector I told you about?”
Relieved to hear Cora’s tone, Mackenzie quickly moved on. “The Protector is here now, so no harm can be done to you. Will you stay and talk....or at least listen?”
“The Protector will stay?”
Over the years, Mackenzie had witnessed many people confronting their own inner selves and it puzzled her why individuals continually sought internal battles. The most difficult part of a case like Cora’s, was getting her to actually hold a conversation with herself. In today’s society, people just don’t have conversations with themselves. So they are forced to keep it all inside until they simply blow in a violent fit of anger or separate into many internal pieces. The latter happened to Cora. Mackenzie knew the only way to get to the core of the issues, was to talk to each individual alter emotion and see why Cora had created them to take over for her. Right now, it was time to heal The Protector.
“Cora, do you recognize The Protector?”
“Yes. She is here with me.”
“The Protector is female?”
Cora laughed. “Of course. Do you think I’d choose a male as my protector? You’ve got to be kidding!”
“Why don’t you want a male as your protector?”
“What good are they? They aren’t there when you need them! They always leave. Always! My protector had to be female. A sign of feminine strength. A way for me to take care of myself.”
“If you could take care of yourself, why did you hide when you brought out The Protector?”
Cora fell silent. Suddenly, she began shaking her head from side to side. “No! That’s not it! That’s not the reason!” Her eyes were filling with tears. “You left me alone!”
Mackenzie recognized the signs of an individual in an internal conversation battle. She had no choice but to let it play itself out.
The Protector spoke. “You chose to be alone. Separate from us. Separate from everyone else. We took the roles you did not want to play. It is time for you to see that. To accept that responsibility.”
Cora all but leaped out of the chair. “But you can’t leave me. I can’t do it alone!”
“I can never leave you. You see, you still view us as separate. Accept that we are one. Accept that you can face what comes your way. No more hiding. Stay present and deal with life.”
Mackenzie waited for a response for Cora, but she remained silent. “Cora?”
“I heard her. I have to think now.”
Mackenzie addressed The Protector. “You were hard on her.”
“It was time. She needed to hear it. She is stronger than she thinks. She does not give herself enough credit. Now that she is aware she is not separate from me, she will be able to begin healing this area of abandonment.”
“Where did the issue of abandonment begin?”
“She will address this with you when she is ready. Let her do some internal work. She will talk when she’s ready.”
“I can help her with this.”
“When she is ready.” With that, The Protector was gone.
Later that night, Cora tried to convince Devon to go home and leave her to her thoughts, but he wasn’t budging and vowed to stay with her. “When are you going to believe that I won’t leave you?”
Cora sighed. “You make it sound so simple. You’d be better off just leaving me to deal with this. You can’t help with it.”
Devon knew that getting angry with her wouldn’t solve anything. It would simply push her farther away and he would alienate himself more. So he struggled to remain calm. “I’m here Cora, and I’m not leaving. Look me in the eye and tell me you want me to go.”
Cora avoided eye contact by walking to the window. Devon followed her, turning her to face him. “Look me in the eye and tell me you want me to go.” He could see the tears just under the surface.
“I don’t want you to go Devon, but I also can’t trust that you’ll stay. I’m sorry, but that’s what’s in my heart right now.”
“Then I guess we’ll have to work on convincing your heart otherwise.” He leaned in and closed his mouth over her’s. For the first time in her life, she didn’t feel the need to escape. She simply gave herself to him. Even as he picked her up and carried her to the bedroom, she knew tonight would be their’s. No running. No hiding. Just them....together. Even if it was just for tonight, she would allow this surrender and deal with tomorrow when new light broke over the dawn.
Cora arrived at her next appointment with Mackenzie fresh and upbeat. Since the last session, she hadn’t experienced any ‘running’ episodes. Oh, she felt like it at times, but she accepted she was one with The Protector and she was beginning to enjoy her newfound freedom of staying aware of her own emotional protecting abilities. At the end of their last session, Mackenzie told her there were other emotions to work with and she’d yet to get out of her the reasons behind the abandonment issues. She had to trust that, with time, Cora would open up.
Cora all but bounced into the chair facing Mackenzie. “Please tell me today will be easy, because I’m in much too good a mood for you to spoil it.”
Mackenzie laughed. “Well, only you can decide how you’re going to feel by the end of session.” She paused. “Last time we met, we spoke of other alter emotions that still need to be worked out. Have you thought of which one you want to call on or should we let them choose?”
Cora sat, pondering her choices. “I don’t know. I wish I could do them all at once and get it over with.”
“That would be too much for one session.”
“Then I guess we’ll let them choose.”
Mackenzie took Cora through the relaxation technique and asked her what emotion seemed to be closest to the surface.
“There’s a lot of sadness.” Tears began to form in Cora’s eyes. “It’s very heavy.....like a weight I can’t remove.”
“Then let’s talk to this sadness.”
Mackenzie waited while Cora composed herself and was able to speak. “Nothing is right. Everything is turning to shit! I don’t know why I try!”
“Who are you?” Mackenzie asked.
“Cora calls us The Negatives. We are all her heavy emotions. Sadness, depression, anxiety. Emotions of this nature. She has a strong dislike for these, as they make her feel sick.”
“Cora, are you listening?”
“Yes, but I feel terrible. I hate this feeling. I’m going to throw up.” Cora bolted out of the chair and ran to Mackenzie’s private bathroom. When she returned, she was pale and seemed weak and shaky.
“Cora, can you stay present and work through this? Can you hear them out?”
“I’m trying, but I hate this. These are the worst!”
Mackenzie addressed The Negatives. “Can you explain to Cora why you are present?”
“Cora is not being singled out. She views us as a punishment of sorts. That is why she does not stay when we are with her.”
“Cora, do you recall the times when The Negatives are present?”
“Some. I hate the feelings they give me. They enjoy making me feel sick and weak and tired. So I leave them to their own misery.”
“Where do you go?”
“I don’t know....ask The Protector.”
Mackenzie addressed The Negatives again. “Do you enjoy making Cora feel sick?”
“We told you. This is not something only Cora experiences. Everyone has these feelings from time to time. It is how you deal with them that makes the difference. Cora avoids her feelings and what is causing them....where they are coming from. If she would only face them, she would have a better understanding of why they are present and how to deal with them.”
“Cora, do you understand what these emotions are trying to tell you?”
“Why in the hell should I face something that makes me feel so shitty? I’d rather push it aside. Why do something that makes you feel so bad?”
The Negatives grew impatient. “If you would only face the emotions you feel, instead of pushing them aside, you would understand why they are there. Pushing them aside only makes them fester. Denying or burying your feelings will only cause them to manifest in your body as physical symptoms. That is why you feel so terrible when they come up. You extend the discomfort far longer than need be.”
Cora turned her head to the side, as if to remove The Negatives from her line of vision. “I don’t wish to speak to them anymore. Please make them go away.”
Mackenzie asked The Negatives if they would honor Cora’s request. “We can never go away. She needs to understand we do not control when we come out. She does.”
Cora stood and moved toward the door of Mackenzie’s office. “I think this session is over for today....I really don’t feel good right now.” With that, Cora walked out.
Cora spent the rest of the evening experiencing one of the worst anxiety attacks she’d had to date. Devon stayed with her, repeatedly telling her no when she asked him to leave. She was finally able to sleep around three o’clock in the morning and Devon let her sleep until she woke on her own around noon. He’d called his work that morning and told them he was taking the day off. He wasn’t going to leave Cora. Not after the night she had. She was surprised to see him when she came out of the bedroom. “I figured you’d be at work.”
“I took the day off.”
“Why?” She all but growled it, but decided to change her tone. She remembered him staying with her the night before and damn it, she was glad he did. When was this guy going to figure out he just didn’t want to be with her? She decided he was the one who should be in therapy.
Mackenzie felt it was beneficial for Cora if she took a short break from therapy. Her encounter with The Negatives had left her drained and the anxiety attacks were taking a toll on her already overwhelmed nevous system. Three days into her break from therapy, Cora was fighting a restless nights sleep. She was getting used to Devon's constant attention and welcomed his arms as they pulled him close.
"Always," she all but whispered. "The dreams are becoming intense. The little girl....I can't help her. She's afraid and alone, but the glass is in the way. I can see her, but I can't find a way around the glass."
Devon pushed up to lean on his elbow. "Maybe you're not suppose to go around it."
Cora shot him a confused look. "What other way is there?"
"Through it, Cora. Go through the glass."
"That means I'll have to break it. You know what kind of damage broken glass can do?"
Devon ran a finger down her cheek. "Shards of glass can be removed and the wounds will heal."
"Yeah," Cora closed her eyes, "but it's going to hurt like hell."
Mackenzie watched as Cora paced her office. She decided to wait her out. She knew she'd come and sit when she was ready. After a few minutes, Cora dropped into the chair, obviously exhausted.
"I have to break the glass."
Mackenzie drew her brows together. "Break what glass?"
"The glass keeping me from the little girl. I couldn't see her before, but now I do. She's waiting for me to save her. I have to break the glass to get to her."
Mackenzie sat back and folded her hands together in her lap. "Are you ready to break the glass, Cora?"
"Yes.....no...." Cora shook her head. "I don't know." She rose from the chair and walked to the window. "She's The Lost Child you spoke of isn't she?" She turned to face Mackenzie, waiting for a response.
"I assume she is and she's ready to be healed or she wouldn't be coming to you. You're ready to heal this part of yourself or you wouldn't be consciously letting her through."
Cora turned back toward the window. "I'm ready to try."
After preparing Cora for her encounter with The Lost Child, Mackenzie gave her a few additional minutes of deep breathing.
"Are you ready, Cora?" Cora responded by lifting her right index finger. "I want you to go to the place where the little girl is trapped behind the glass. You know where it is. Let me know when you get there." Mackenzie waited for a signal from Cora. After receiving it, she continued.
"What do you see, Cora?"
"She's there, sitting in the corner behind the glass. It's her favorite place to hide."
"Can she hear you if you speak to her?"
Cora paused as if attempting to speak to The Lost Child. "She looked up at me, but didn't speak. "Wait! She's getting up!" Cora paused again, her breathing became rapid.
Mackenzie leaned forward. "Cora, what do you see?"
Cora pressed herself into the back of the chair. "She's right in front of me. Pressing her hands against the glass. Her eyes....looking right at me....she has my eyes! The Lost Child is me!" Cora became frantic. "I have to get her out!"
Mackenzie watched Cora stretch her arms out, palms flat, like she was pressing against the glass.
Cora started to panic. "It won't move and the glass is so cold. Ice is forming on the other side....she's backing away...hugging herself....she's freezing." Cora paused. "I can't see through the glass anymore. It's covered with ice! I can't see her anymore!"
Mackenzie tried to reassure her. "She's still there, Cora, waiting for you." She decided to press forward. "Break the glass, Cora. It's the only way."
"I'm afraid! It's going to hurt and it's so cold! I don't like the cold!"
Mackenzie took an authorizative tone. "Cora! Break the glass!"
"I don't have anything to break it with!"
Mackenzie pushed her forward. "Look around, Cora. Find what you need."
Cora fell silent while she mentally found what she needed. "I found an ice pick. It's all that's here!"
Mackenzie went with it. "Use it now, Cora!"
Cora made swinging motions with her arms, mentally destroying the wall of icy glass. "It's working! It's starting to crack!"
"Keep going, Cora! Bring the wall down!"
Cora continued swinging, screaming as the icy shards assaulted her face and body. Icy air blew through the hole as she continued to hack at the wall. Throwing the ice pick aside, she grabbed the edges of the hole with both hands and started ripping at the wall. Her hands were cut up and bleeding by the time the hole was big enough for her to squeeze through, but she knew it wasn't enough. The wall had to be completely destroyed. Picking up the ice pick, she started hammering away at the remainder of the wall. With one final screaming effort, she cast the final blow, shattering the wall to pieces. She stood, chest heaving, watching the shards as they melted away on the floor at her feet. She looked up and saw the little girl standing in the middle of the room that had once been her prison. They raced toward each other and Cora embraced the girl, swinging her in circles.
The young girl looked at Cora, tears streaming down her little cheeks. "Why did you leave me alone for so long?" I couldn't find you!"
Cora rubbed the little girl's arms, trying to warm her and felt a mixture of emotion. Happiness, relief, sadness and fear blended together, as she held the younger version of herself.
"I was afraid....afraid to be you, but it's not your fault and I'll never leave you alone again."
The little girl stared with wide eyes. "I can stay with you now?"
Cora pulled her tight against her. "I'm so sorry! You'll be with me always now. I'll keep you safe."
Cora left Mackenzie's office bubbly and vibrant. She never felt so alive. It was like she was seeing everything for the first time. Colors were brighter. The air sucked easily into her lungs and the flowers seemed to sing her name. And the sun....the sun appeared to shine only for her. She bounced into her apartment and swung herself into Devon's arms, showering his face with kisses.
"Wow! Look at you!" Devon smiled and pulled her close. "I take it today was a success?"
"You have no idea!" She released herself from his arms and twirled around the living room, dancing to music that only she could hear. "We should get away. You know what I want to do?"
Devon smiled, enjoying her childlike sense of freedom. "What do you want to do?"
"It's Friday. Let's spend the weekend at the beach. I feel like making a sand castle."
Cora's life became an adventure. She was experiencing life through the eyes of a child and Devon remained a permanent fixture in her life. They'd made plans for her to move into his house the following weekend. Everyday he seemed to fall in love with her all over again. He knew the next step he wanted to take, but he also didn't want to push Cora back into her former shell. He would wait for more time to pass. Time he knew would convince Cora he was everything she needed and had been searching for.
At her next session, Cora informed Mackenzie that this would be her last appointment. Mackenzie knew patients came and went and instead of taking it as a personal insult, she'd learned to view it as a success for herself and the patient. It felt good to know she'd helped people to the point of them no longer needing her services. She was happy for Cora, but sad to see her go. She leaned forward and took Cora's hand.
"Well, for your last session, let's simply allow your subconscious to deal with any residual issues that still require healing."
Cora's smiled brightened the room. "Let's do it."
Mackenzie took her through the relaxation technique and gave her a few moments to settle into her subconscious mind. After getting the signal from Cora, Mackenzie proceded.
"There is only one emotion you've yet to bring out and that is The Fun Lover. Would you like to address this emotion now?"
Cora laughed at her request. "The Fun Lover has always been there. I know this now, but I kept her locked away. She was far to adventurous. When I found The Lost Child, The Fun Lover pretty much came along for the ride. It's like The Lost Child and The Fun Lover are one and the same...or at least they seem to enjoy the same things."
"So The Fun Lover is really a child?"
Cora shifted in the chair. "No. Not a child. More of a childlike quality. One that allows you to have fun, but keeps your "grown up" head on straight. Know what I mean?"
Mackenzie laughed. "I think so. The Fun Lover allows you to enjoy life, but remain responsible at the same time."
"Exactly! Everyone has one and if The Fun Lover is healthy, you can enjoy life at a healthy level. Does that make sense?"
"Perfect sense, Cora."
"Thank you for helping me understand."
"You did the work, Cora. You allowed yourself to understand and view all the different parts of yourself....your personality. Even the areas that are difficult. It's painful to look into the mirrored reflection of your own self. Especially the unattractive parts."
"It goes deeper than unattractive." Cora shifted again. "Sometimes there are things you just don't want to deal with. Somehow, your mind takes over and deals with it for you. It's a survival thing."
Mackenzie leaned forward, elbows on her knees. "I've learned a few things from you, Cora. Thank you for that."
Cora's body stiffened. As it relaxed, Mackenzie could see the change and recognized The Spokesperson. "Welcome back," she said.
"I never went away. The Council wanted to thank you. Cora is well on her way to being whole again."
"It was my pleasure. She's taught me a lot about this type of disorder."
The Spokesperson smiled. "Why do doctors label everything as a disorder?"
"Isn't that what it is?"
"It depends how you choose to look at it. Many individuals suffer more than they should."
"And that is the doctor's fault? The additional suffering?"
"I doubt they will ever truly understand the human mind and what it is capable of."
"How do they prolong suffering?"
"Over medicating for one. It's becoming dangerously high in your society."
"But medication usually eases the symptoms."
The Spokesperson raised a brow. "It masks the symptoms, but true healing never takes place. The mind has to be clear for healing. Medication controls the mind. Basically, tells it what to think."
"In cases like Cora's, is that a bad thing?"
"Removing someone's free will is always a "bad" thing, doctor. Alters are reflections of repressed emotions. Emotions that need to be healed. Acceptance of those emotions is needed for healing. Medication, over a long period of time, suppresses that emotion even more and keeps the voice locked away." There was a short pause. "What do you think happens to a voice that is never heard or has never had the ability to express itself?"
"I guess it would go away."
"Where would it go? Do you think it simply disappears because no one will listen?"
Mackenzie sat back, pondering the question. "I never thought about it that way."
"Maybe it's time you do. Many individuals suffer needlessly simply because people do not know how to listen and even when they appear to be listening, they do not know how to hear."
"So alters are created so the voice can be heard?"
"They are created because the original personality can not handle a situation or situations they find themselves in. So in a way, yes, but not always. Sometimes it is simply necessary for survival. An alter will always have a specific job and their personality will reflect the job they need to do. Alters are created from emotional responses."
Mackenzie sighed. When she couldn't think of anything to say, The Spokesperson continued.
"The past is the key for these individuals. In their eyes, it is also their present and future. They see no difference. Since alters are created under extreme circumstance and have a specific job based on that circumstance, their sight is limited. In order to heal, the original personality has to accept the past."
"So it all lies within the original personality?"
The Spokesperson nodded. "100%. Do not forget, the past is their present and future. It's where the focus lies. Heal that and you will heal all."
"So the alters heal when the original personality heals?"
"The alters are not separate, even though they are viewed as such. Many are a fragment that is simply stuck and that creates programming."
"Stuck in the past?"
"Correct....and with a job to do."
"So healing the past will heal the alters automatically."
"Healing the past, heals the original personality. Once that has taken place, the alters are no longer necessary. The original personality can now function as a whole, dealing with all their emotions on a healthy level. They no longer have to take a backseat to their emotional reactions."
"It sounds complicated."
"As I said, the human mind is not easily understood and you have yet to figure out how truly powerful it is. A reality only in one's mind is still a reality to that individual."
"Fantasy isn't always a bad thing."
"There is healthy and unhealthy fantasy. Do not confuse the two."
Mackenzie nodded. "Will you remain with Cora?"
"Of course. We shall remain the voices in her head."
"And what becomes of the other alters?"
"They are here as well. They always have been. The difference is they can function as a healthy part of Cora's personality. All emotional expression is a form of communication and necessary for the evolution of your society."
Mackenzie fell silent, contemplating The Spokesperson's words. When she couldn't think of a response, she simply thanked The Spokesperson for talking to her.
"You are most welcome. We felt it necessary since you refuse to listen to your own voices. Use you new knowledge in this area with individuals in the future."
It had been six months since Cora's last session and her and Mackenzie had remained close friends. Casual dinners, shopping trips and afternoon girl talk took the place of official appointments and Mackenzie had gained more insight into Cora's past during this time then she ever did during therapy sessions. She learned of the abandonment, abuse and neglect that filled Cora's early impressionable years. The sessions were a way for Cora to pull her emotions into a healthy place internally. No longer did they exist on their own. Cora was now happy and healthy. Living a life she never, in a million years, thought she could have.
Mackenzie smiled as she watched Cora walk down the aisle. She was honored to be one who was standing by her side as witness to her special day with Devon. She watched, teary eyed, as Devon and Cora made personal promises of a life to come. A life they would share together, like the child that was growing inside Cora. A love, one that Cora had dreamed of all her life, was now her's and with Devon had created another life from that love.
After the ceremony, Cora walked with Mackenzie along a wooded path.
Cora wiped at tears that were running down her cheeks. "I can't thank you enough for being my friend."
"The feeling is mutual, Cora. My life wouldn't be the same without you in it"
"I had a dream about the baby last night."
They came upon a wooden bench and sat down.
"Tell me about it."
"At first there were many babies. Five or six in all. They were swimming in some kind of pool. Then they started merging with each other, becoming four, then three, then two and finally....one. One, Mackenzie. A girl. Healthy and ready to take on the world."
Mackenzie nodded, understanding what Cora was trying to say.
Cora continued. "I guess it's my job to make sure she stays that way. You know.....whole."
"She'll have ups and downs, Cora. We all do. But if you and Devon are there for her, unconditionally, she will be fine. You'll know what to do."
Cora wiped away more tears, then laid her hands over her growing belly. "She will never feel lost or alone. I'll make sure of that."
"I hope I'm not intruding," Devon stood at the bend in the path. "You have guests who want to see you."
Mackenzie stood, helping Cora to her feet. " Sorry, I didn't mean to keep her."
With a quick hug, she told Cora she'd be there shortly. She watched as Devon and Cora walked back to their reception. She returned to the bench and lost herself in a daydream. A daydream of hope and renewal for all who need it. She knew what to do now and she was becoming well known for her abilities. Her ringing cell phone pulled her back.
"This is Mackenzie."
"Hi....I was told you may be able to help me, but I'm not exactly sure where to start....."
"Tell me the first thing that comes to your mind right now."
"Well, I have these voices....you're not going to think I'm crazy are you?"
Mackenzie smiled, finished the conversation and scheduled the appointment. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.