My cover picture on Facebook has been a fake Real Change cover showing me with those words. It was created in 2014 by Jon Williams, our graphic designer at the time, for the in-office purpose of introducing staff to vendors. There were different fake covers for all the staff members.
We were all asked to pose for Jon to photograph us. I struck a kind of kitschy Soviet realism propaganda-poster pose, with me optimistically gazing up over the horizon.
We were also asked to provide a saying or motto. I picked the cheery saying, “One personality to serve you since 1991.”
The motto has a bizarre factual basis. I did in fact have a dual personality as a young child, from age 2 and a half to about age 7, at which time one of the two personalities became dormant. Then between 1990 and 1991, the alt-me reappeared and integrated with the then-standard me. I blame years of psychotherapy for this late, weird turn of events.
I never really complained about having a dual personality as a young child. For one thing, I didn’t really know what was going on at first. I thought I was generously sharing my body with a younger brother. At the time, it didn’t even occur to me that that was magical thinking and I was nuts. After all, during some of that time period, I also had an imaginary invisible friend who followed me to first grade and hung out in a cabinet during class time. So there was nothing unusual in those days about magic.
Looking back on it, I feel it was a valuable experience, overall, mostly pleasant and entertaining, although I gathered that it freaked other people out. My mother for instance acted like I was periodically turning into a bug. My father said she was nuts and there was no such thing as a dual personality, and if anyone needed their head checked it was my mother. I stayed out of that argument. Both of me wanted nothing to do with it.
At first, we were just sharing a body but after a while we started having conversations. I’ve since learned that it is common for people with dual personalities to develop different styles of relating to one another over time. The conversations were strange because we’d have to take turns controlling our mouth.
Having two people inside you is a way to learn more about psychology than you ever wanted to know. For example, I found out one of us was left handed, and the other was right handed.
When I was 7, my mother made the mistake of forcing me to stop using my left hand, thinking that would kill the “bug” version of me. What she didn’t know was the left-handed me was the me she wanted to keep, what I called the alt-me above. Not being able to use his left hand drove him dormant.
Now, in those days I wrote with my left hand. I drew with my right hand. So what she did inadvertently was put my writer self to sleep.
Hence the real significance of “One personality to serve you since 1991.” That year marked the return of my writing half. I still couldn’t write with a pen in my left hand but I was back to writing. Eventually I got an email account in 1996 and started typing my columns on a keyboard with the index fingers of both hands, so it was almost like I was ambidextrous again. One-fifth ambidextrous at least.
Hey, why don’t we call it ambisinistrous? Such bias in our language.
Anyway, it was all a learning experience for me. I know the skeptics are wrong, my father included. Yes Virginia, dual personalities exist. As much as little children do, and they keep magic alive in their hearts, yada, yada, and as long as there is hope over the horizon. I don’t really know what dual personalities are, but I have an excellent understanding of where they come from. They come from crazy abusive parents. They come from children’s need to cope with the crazy. They come from the limitations of imaginations, which are not always able to stay anchored in reality, so are forced unto unreality. Fortunately, much of the world we live in consists of unreality.
Read more of the Aug. 9-15, 2023 issue.