Self, Identity, Past, Present

There was a strange thing that happened in my head a bunch over the summer and fall last year, that I have never thought to write about until just now. I think I only mentioned it out loud to one person, even, when it was happening.

My internal monologue kept slipping into the voice of the my younger self.

And while I know that’s a very accurate way of describing the experience, I’m not 100% sure what I mean by it. I may have mentioned before that when I dissociate, my internal monologue turns into a robot. This is like that, but not robotic?

To be honest, these days I don’t know how I relate to my past self, or more realistically, my various past selves. It doesn’t feel at all correct to refer to this person I’ve been… hearing? remembering? experiencing? (or whatever) as Kasey, for instance. I don’t feel like Kasey is a person who has existed my entire life, though once again, I’m not entirely sure what I mean by that. I just know that it is accurate.

Rather, this person definitely owns my birth name, though since I have always been fond of my birth name, and it has always been a significant part of my identity, that’s not terribly surprising, I guess.

I wonder about their gender – I’ve never been particularly attached to the idea that my weird fluid sorta agender-ness is an in-born trait, but at the same time, past me definitely didn’t have a particularly strong gender identity, and to be honest, I do think that my relationship to gender hasn’t really changed that significantly over the course of my life – the only things that have changed are the vocabulary available to me and the extent to which I’ve given it any thought at all.

So yeah, I think this past me was pretty much non-binary, I guess?

The entire experience was weirdly uncomfortable – when I was a kid, I used to super hate the way my voice sounded in recordings (I think I’m over this now, though it’s not as if I hear many recordings of my voice), and I found myself having a similar visceral reaction to this new internal voice (though I think the voice sounds like what my old internal monologue sounded like, not like my child-voice from the outside, so this is definitely an imperfect way of capturing my negative feelings here).

I think to some extent, this is my brain stitching my back together for myself. I need to be re-acquainted with the person I was before… what exactly, I’m not really sure. Before transition, yes. Before changing my name, sure. Before I ever was raped? Before…. well, before I started identifying my father’s abusive behavioural patterns.

Which is to say, not before I experienced those patterns.

I haven’t talked much about my father as an abusive person in the context of my childhood. His behaviour only began to stand out to me in that way after I identified the abusiveness of my rapist ex. To be honest, I still largely consider my childhood to be fairly stable and healthy, though I no longer trust that assessment as fully as I used to.

In fact, I have been questioning this idea more over the past year, poking at strange unanswered questions like: how in the heck did dissociation become such a go-to coping mechanism for me? It’s been with me for as long as I can remember, to the point where it is simply a part of my very basic existence: I am, therefore I dissociate.

I am quite certain that my unstructured attempts to reflect on and better understand this and other aspects of my selfhood are behind the resurgence of this past-self voice in my head, but I’m not sure yet what to make of it.

Other than, I guess, I think I should start writing about these questions and the memories that are kicking up around them. This space has worked wonders for me in terms of working through my memories of my abusive ex, and I suspect it can do the same with these older ones, too.

So yeah, thus begins my new project I guess?


  1. Chills, reading this, at so many familiar-sounding moments. While I do not describe my experiences the same way you do — while I may not actually experience my experiences the same way you do — I will say that for me, the process of reintegrating after rape, after an abusive partner, after a lifetime spent dissociating as easily as breathing, after a basically healthy and stable childhood except for, oh yeah, the terrifying, rage-cycling, narcissist dad…after all that, reintegrating turns out to be this weird rollercoaster of a ride on which I keep meeting (and periodically becoming, until I assimilate them fully back into my sense of self) old fragments and versions of myself.

    So, uh, yeah. All-a that.

    Can I say how fricking HALLELUJAH PRAISE ALL GODS ANCIENT AND NEW glad I am you wrote about this today? Cuz whether we’re going through the same process now or not, there are enough points of connection in what led up to now that I feel decidedly less alone on my path, alll of a sudden. And I am very grateful.

    1. <3 <3 thank you for this! I am sure there are as many differences as there are similarities in our journeys, but it is still always good to know that these things are relatable to others!

  2. Check out Joan Didion’s essay “On Keeping a Notebook.” She is talking about the layeredness of being an aging writer, rather than trauma, but she captures for me the way we are, in the present, all the people we’ve been.

  3. Though I experienced nothing like the trauma you’re talking about, the idea of multiple voices from different points in my life definitely resonates with me, although I’ve never thought of it that way. I suppose it has something to do with why I’m a writer: the playing with multiple voices, multiple aspects of myself. Some of them welcome, some not. Some that feel more like “me,” and some that don’t. For me the voices speak out of experiences of racism, domestic violence in my family of origin, depression, anxiety. I think these voices are trying to talk to me about how I got here, and honestly I’m not sure I want to hear it. But more and more I’m convinced that my writing depends on my finding a way to listen to them, whether I want to or not.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing yourself and your words.

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