I don’t lose time in the usual sense, or, if I do, I am not aware of it. I imagine it would be like going under anesthesia — the moment before going under, the moment after coming to, and absolutely nothing in between. Scary!
Instead, time — or memory? — fades away gradually, like an aging Polaroid picture. Some things fade rapidly, others take months or years. It’s not as spectacular as losing whole chunks of time, but it is inconvenient, annoying, and embarrassing.
I often am not sure if I did something or just thought about doing it. Did I pay the bills? Mail the envelopes? Turn off the stove? Who knows! It’s easy enough to check the stove and look for checks written in my checkbook, but it’s difficult to figure out if I have mailed something or not. The envelope could be anywhere in the apartment or in the car. I suppose I could wait a few days and phone to see if it had arrived, but that would be really embarrassing.
Then there are the things that softly fade away. I may know I had a doctor’s appointment, but not be sure if it was last month, the month before, or the month before that. Soon it will merge with all the other doctor’s appointments I’ve had in my life and of course I can’t tell one from the other and have no idea when any of them occurred.
If somebody asks me when one of my children graduated from high school, I have to count on my fingers. And if they ask how long I have lived in San Francisco, they get a blank stare. I know that events happened, but they rattle around in time and have no fixed home.
In the past, I would smoothly change the subject or talk around the question. It was so second nature that I must have learned how to do this as a child. Now I have developed more functional ways of dealing with the problem of shifting time.
In the short run, I keep a detailed “to do” list and when I have checked something off, I add the next step. “Paid bills: check — mail mail.” I also write down where things are: “the envelopes are in my purse.” This is really helpful. One I checked off “unpack” and then didn’t note where the suitcase was. Gone. My favorite suitcase, totally gone. I am not kidding you.
For events further in the past, I designed a time-line. I listed regular holidays, satanic holidays, and family birthdays for each year. At the beginning of the year I wrote down my age and my children’s ages. Then I added anything I remembered, or believe I remembered. If anything popped up in my mind later I added it.
In a more systematic way, I transfer information from medical records, old cancelled checks, old date books, dates on the backs of photos, etc. onto the time-line. Often it will jog my memory and I can fill in more information. Some years are nicely filled in, while others are completely empty.
I imagine that both of these techniques would be useful for multiples. They could be jazzed up a little, too. The “to do” list can be expanded by inviting all alters to use a notebook. Explain that it is for everyday things. Write down something that needs doing and ask the person who actually did it to write about their experience. If there are any problems, ask if people have ideas how it could go more smoothly in the future. You could engage the littles by having them write marketing lists and tell them that each time you go shopping you will buy something on the list, taking turns so that each person will get what they want sooner or later.
Time-lines, too, could be expanded. Each alter could have their own time-line if they wished and eventually they could be merged into one “system” time-line. Or you could note when you first met an alter and what they shared with you.
For people who are worried that they may be losing time, you can set a timer for short intervals, say twenty minutes, and when the timer goes off write down where you are and what you are doing. A long gap with no notations suggests you might have lost time.
A lot of people have resistance to doing this; they are frightened that they might discover that they really are losing time. Remember that losing time doesn’t necessarily mean anything terrible happened. It simply means another alter was out and the two of you aren’t co-conscious. In any event, it’s better to know than not know.
Do any of you do any of these things? If you have other ways of keeping yourself anchored in time, can you please share them in the comments section? Many heads are better than one! Thanks in advance.