You Will Never Be Normal by Catherine Klatzker takes the reader on a journey of discovery with her as she learns that she has dissociative identity disorder and Parts inside of her have been holding trauma she hadn’t even been aware that she had experienced.
The book opens in 2009 as she’s having a talk with her Parts during the drive to work as a pediatric ICU nurse. It then jumps back in time to 2002, when a distressing experience while meditating prompted her to seek therapy to try to figure out what had brought on such a dramatic response.
The author takes the reader through her growing awareness of the Parts inside of her. She noticed what seemed like other people’s writing in her journal. When her therapist encouraged her to connect with her inner child, the idea of Parts became clearer, although she recognized that what her therapist talking about and what she was referring to were different things.
As therapy work progressed, she became aware that her Parts had protected her from memories of childhood sexual abuse. Rather than regaining knowledge, memories came through feelings in the body as if the past was happening in the present. Meditation played an important role as “my training ground for allowing body memory.”
I thought Catherine did an excellent job of expressing how difficult it was to have this knowledge while the abuser was still alive. Different Parts had very different feelings towards the abuser, and silencing was the norm in her family.
It was fascinating to see the process by which Catherine gradually came to know her Parts, communicate with them, and identify each individual part. She described the different physical sensations she experienced when other Parts were coming out. I always find it very cool when people with DID share the architecture of their inner world. Catherine described a house on the inside where the Parts would stay in the playroom for the day while she was at work.
It was also really interesting to see the relationship with her therapist grow. It took years of therapy before she was actually able to connect with her parents, and it really underscores the need for slow trust-building in the therapeutic relationship when there’s been complex trauma. She had the same therapist throughout the book, and she describes how he spoke directly to her Parts and validated them during sessions. Besides her husband, the book is dedicated to “my extraordinary therapist for midwifing courage, and hope, and wholeness with unfailing kindness.”
Eventually, she and her therapist began working on integration. I found that quite interesting, as it’s not something I’ve read about before; I know a number of bloggers with dissociative identity disorder (DID) or other dissociative disorders, but integration hasn’t been the focus of their therapeutic work while I’ve known them.
This book does an excellent job of cutting through stereotypes around DID. It normalizes it as a response to complex trauma, and emphasizes the role that each Part played in keeping Catherine safe. I think that approach is likely to make it understandable and accessible for readers who may have no point of reference to understand dissociation.
At about 350 pages, this book is longer than what I typically read, but it held my interest and attention throughout. The scenes during therapy sessions in particular stood out for me.
This is an excellent book that makes a valuable contribution to furthering awareness and understanding of DID.
You Will Never Be Normal is available on Amazon (affiliate link).
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.