Saturday, December 1, 2007

Talking with Multiples

In a recent post More Dialog with an Alter from Another System I was trying to explain to this alter my observations of why commentors on that system's blog seemed to be concerned about one particular alter at the perceived (by the questioning alter) exclusion of others within the system.

I guess without really knowing it, I had opened the door about how singletons address multiples. Kahless was the first in the comments to step up and admit that she wasn't really sure how she should be addressing different alters within the same system.

I know, even as a multiple, I am concerned about how I am perceived by alters within a system. I know all too well what kind of chaos can be triggered by a well meaning but misunderstood gesture. But I also know the price we multiples pay because others don't know what to say, so they say nothing.

Understanding the dilemma, I decided maybe some clarification might make it easier for everyone concerned. I encourage questions because this is going to be complicated. The more clarifications the better prepared we all will be.

First off, in that post I had made reference to the fact that some alters believe that they are truly a separate person from the others and they really want to be treated as such. I see some singletons reply as if this is true. I understand that while this might make that multiple more comfortable, it is also not always a good thing for the system. For there to be healing, each alter must accept that she/he is part of a whole.

That doesn't mean that it is detrimental for others to honor an alter's request to address her/him individually . But there is a fine line between support and enabling. To encourage an alter to be or maintain separateness from a system would not be productive for the alter or the system. But to feel connected to a particular alter who you see as a friend and respond with support out of friendship is needed and shouldn't be withheld in fear of doing the wrong thing.

I don't think any harm can be done by offering a particular alter support. However, I think ending a comment by also including reference to the entire system would be even better.

We, multiples, start off feeling like we are freaks who don't deserve the care and understanding of others. Kind supportive words mean the world to us. I would encourage lurkers on the blogs of multiples (and others for that matter) who are going through tough times, to comment. If all you say is, " I'm thinking of you!" That can go miles in helping someone through a difficult time.

Personally, I try and gauge my responses on the circumstances. Generally, I hear what an alter has to say in terms of how it relates to the system. I try and answer accordingly in a problem solving manner. Sometimes I address the system and sometimes I address the alter. But usually when I address an alter specifically it is because that alter has a particular issue that affects the system.

I will speak directly to the alter and make reference to how and why this affects the system. You can look at this post above and see I am answering that alter's specific questions. In Questions from Jumpinginpuddles I suspected I was addressing two different alters within the same system. My answers all included how those problems affect healing of the system.

Sometimes I don't know what to say. Then I try and say something supportive. It may not be specific because I may not agree. I don't want to enable but still I want them to know that I care.

I think the most important thing I can say about interacting with multiples is don't be afraid. We are really normal people, we're just separated into parts. We have the same wants and needs as everyone else. We need to be accepted and loved.


jumpinginpuddles said...

just wanted to say thanks for helping Amelia she has progressed from the letter to a blog writing on life spacings and shes thinking about taking the letter in on tuesday, it would be awesome if you could continue to encourage her as this is the furtherst we have gotten for ages with her and we are proud of how hard shes trying.
whioch leads to the second thing we agree with all you say but there is an exception to the rule and that is in therpay our T address the alters by their names and individually works through issues with them, like Amelia for example mon will read her letter and talk directly to her. Overall we are seen as the bodys name and to our overseas friends like keeprs as JIP a nickname we are happy with. We have shortened our name and most mates call us that when they talk to us unless its someone they know personally as in a alter and its in private we are seen as all of us whoevers out.
We already feel different enoguh without feelign it any worse, when we need to make a decision we gather together to address it as a system in a our meeting room. If our T needs us to get together she will say she is talking to the whole system.
Some alters are easier to spot than others but overall we are happy just being JIP whoeveer is out and representing, remember we have been a freak most of our life in some way or another let alone once diagnosis is made and people learn.
We sign our name after all blogs becasue they are personal writings and therfor people can address the person as in any introduction but other than that we dont expect it out there in RL.


Kahless said...

Thanks for this post RR. Yes, the key message is dont be afraid and that multiples and singletons are all human beings that have the same need to be loved and accepted.

For me I will take the point on board about also not just addressing an alter but also the whole system in comment.

And JIP, I have read your comment above and just wanted to say that you a NOT a freak and I have never seen you as one.

Cheesemeister said...

I think most people who have suffered abuse don't think they deserve for anyone to like them. I appreciate any positive comments I ever get which isn't too many because I guess I am a pretty difficult person to like at all.

Rising Rainbow said...

jip, I guess what I was trying to say is that there really is no "proper" way. It's just what suits the situation. As long as it's positive and supportive, I think it'll be helpful.

The only "wrong" think I can think of that can be done would be to encourage dissonance between the alters or other negatives.

I believe the alter I was addressing when I started answering her questions that led to the request for information on "talking with multiples" had her feelings hurt because it seemed to her that other alters were more important to blog readers. I don't think that was the case but it doesn't change that her feelings were hurt and she retreated.

I do think it's appopriate to address specific alters if they have identified themselves. But if a specific alter is expressing their need to be a separate person, encouraging that belief would not be productive. Although I'm not sure I would confront it either but I would still try to find something safe and positive to say.

Kahless, you are right. That is exactly the point I was trying to get across.

cheesemiester, you are right that victims don't believe they deserve anyone to like them. I am sorry that you are still struggling with that issue. It is a difficult place to live and undeserved.