I found myself in the idle corner of the cafeteria, hearing the commotion of the crowd while staring blankly at my mushy mac and cheese. I’ve been used to this scenario ever since I can remember, always being the new kid in school. Everyone appears to know everyone except for me and whenever they tried to approach me, I seem to repel them sooner or later. But that changed when Karen, a year level ahead of me, talked to me one day after class.
“I’ve never seen you around before. Are you new here?”
I hesitantly answered “Y-Yes.”
“I’m Karen. And you are?” she said.
“Joanne,” I replied tersely.
The people around threw confused glances, and I guess it was because someone finally talked to the new weird girl.
Karen was the only person who seemed to acknowledge my existence in a bunch of students. She continued to make small talk though my answers were usually comprised of only one word. We were complete opposites.
She was tall, I’m a bit short. She has long wavy hair while mine’s straight at a minimal length. She was outgoing while I like to distance myself from people. But soon enough, something just clicked between us and I just knew that we had a connection. We were together most of the time, during breaks and before and after classes. People often stare when we’re together but that doesn’t seem to bother her, so I pushed my anxiety in the back of my mind and tried to not mind everyone as well. We called each other names; I called her “The Socializer” while she called me “The Muted.” The name didn’t bother me because I know it fits me well. I may be the muted in a crowd, but when I’m with Karen, I’m fluent.
Suddenly, the bell rang. Lunch break’s over and Karen did not come. The voices around tuned down, but someone was shouting a name.
“Will!” It resonated within the enclosed area. “Will? Will!”
Later on, I realized that the person being called was me.
“Will! Will, tell me what you see. What do you see inside the door?”
I’m not in school, but in my psychologist’s clinic. I’m not having lunch at the cafeteria, but having a hypnosis session with Dr. Stefano in order to face my multiple personalities. I’m not really a student, but a 32-year old man, traumatized by all the ill-treatment that I have received from the people around me, especially my father, ever since they have discovered that I enjoy hanging out with girls not because I fantasize about them, but because I want to put make-up on and dress like them.
I remember that I have been very open about my sexuality from the time that I knew who and what I really want. But I guess not everyone has the ability to just accept people for who they are. As time passed by, the pride that I have for myself was slowly overshadowed by the dark and painful abuses that I have received. I have learned the hard way that sometimes, words can kill more than my father’s blows on my frail body.
I was wounded. I was stunted. The voice of the real me was muffled. And now, I’m Joanne, Karen, and Will all at the same time. The Socializer and The Muted are fragments of the dissociated identities that I have created, merely waiting to be healed and become one with me again.