This isn’t the way Darrell’s story was supposed to unfold. But you could say that just about anybody’s life.
At its core, this is the chronicle of the life of James Darrell Williams. This is how he has grown up with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a disorder being by definition “An ailment that affects the function of mind or body.” More importantly, this story is of how and why he developed what neither of us particularly considers an “ailment” and how he came to become the man he is today. Initially, Darrell and I were attempting to explain Darrell to himself. We needed to explore how Darrell came to have these multiple personalities, these people inside him that exist and live along with him.
Along the way, the story became something quite different and not at all what we expected. The “why” of it all tended to be buried in layers of psychology, sociology, history, geography and family secrets that no one wanted to tell. Explaining what happened became much more complicated.
History is told by its survivors: Roald Amundsen’s South Pole expedition, the Donner Party, Billy Milligan. They leave historians with nothing more than scribbled notes, selective memory and inadvertent admissions. To recreate what really happened requires deductive reasoning, a fair number of educated guesses and the ability to listen between the lines. History is something people only half remember.
We always knew telling Darrell’s story was going to be somewhat difficult. To live, survive and ultimately thrive with DID is to live life out of time. Each day is a movie constructed from previews and outtakes with reels all out of order. We wanted to splice the pieces together, fill in the gaps and make sense of it all.
That was my job. Trained as a journalist, I was privy to contacts and resources that Darrell had never heard of. I wanted to tell how his experience was effected by his particular geography, sociology and setting. Darrell and the “kids” – his term for the people who live inside him -- just wanted their story told – and told right. There are big kids and little kids, all of them shadows behind Darrell’s hazel eyes. We want to make sure this book allows them to feel safe, understood and accepted.