Being a Responsible Roommate

July 16, 2011, at 09:07 AM

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Maybe you know you're not one of the people "in charge." You're a Johnny come lately to the system in some way, and there's a lot of people who are part of the "in" crowd. You aren't welcomed, or you aren't treated well, or maybe you're never given any say or invited to participate in making decisions. At worst, there are blatantly problematic things going on and you need to take action to have a better life.

How this program is intended and how it might work out in your body could be two different things. Perhaps this particular group skipped the idea of having a welcoming committee, or isn't holding meetings regularly. In some cases you might feel like you're an outsider -- because you technically are. It's not the way I intend this program to work, but now that I'm putting it out there into the universe piecemeal, it's going to be subject to people's fancy and group politics.

So let's say you find this program attractive, but you're not the person in-charge and things aren't being run in any vaguely democratic fashion.

There's no reason to get angry, and only one way to get even. You can read my post about "What are you letting in?" and examine your own boundaries -- make sure you are as healthy as you personally can be. Because once you are, you're like Gandhi -- untouchable stillness in a sea of turmoil. You can be the example of a well-behaved citizen. You can demonstrate. You can speak out, you can effect change within yourself and set an example of what this program really stands for.

Make sure you're impeccably honest and have the best integrity you can muster. Be transparent. And then act on behalf of the changes you want to see.

You can become the welcoming committee that should have greeted you, and start reaching out to others. Once you have a few other responsible citizens helping you to reach out to those in need, you can hold committee meetings.

I'm not asking you to challenge whatever authority is in power. But if they are acting out of integrity, are dishonest, authoritarian, then acting in a democratic, integral, honest manner is going to make a big change and things will get better.

If there's a faulty democratic structure in place, you might try working with the system. If it's dysfunctional, you might work gently counter to it. I'm definitely not advocating for confrontational behavior, but for doing what is right in spite of whatever else is going on.

Work with what is in place whenever possible, because you never want to have two governing bodies/groups. If your governing body is dysfunctional, then you may be working counter to it and cause a period of chaos when the balance of power between the two subsystems pulls you in two directions. It's definitely NOT what I want for you. If whatever is in place works in even the slightest way, try to work with it to effect change.

Let's say that your system is out of control and those in power are addicted to illegal or prescription drugs. Everything is a total mess. Those in power do not allow any type of democratic resolutions. You are shut out because you are the one who wants to be clean. This would be a perfect situation to try the methods I'm talking about in this post. First you try to work with the system. You know the system isn't functional, and the people with the addiction(s) are running the show. That's when you stand firmly in your own integrity. You fix up your boundaries -- not the system boundaries that may be out of your control, but your own personal boundaries within the system as a whole -- so that they have little to no chance of mentally or emotionally damaging you -- and you make your stand. You might greet some lost children, or find someone who has run away from the out-of-control system and who needs comfort. You'd act as your own one-person-peace-corps, and make friends.

Your little group works on fixing their individual boundaries, protecting one another from those who are out-of-control in the system. You eventually develop your own codes or rules by which to behave, even if you're a subset of the system-at-large. You clean up your own parts of the internal landscape. You make your group approachable, you constantly recruit, and eventually you may start converting some of those with addiction issues. You forgive them when they slip up but you deal out consequences according to your code. But you are always welcoming, always acting on the side of love and integrity. Eventually you will, perhaps after some turf wars and infights, have more power than the hardcore addicts do and you can have a revolution.

I'm not saying at all that this is an easy path to take, but it may be the ONLY path to take to ensure your total shared health. This is something best done with the support of friends, family, therapists, lovers. If people in your support system are part of the problem, it's doubly important to set up a core group of outside people who can support you through this and try to help keep you safe.

Therapists can also offer this as a potential strategy or solution to multiple systems with severe control issues. However, to offer this is to risk the wrath of those who are in power. It's one thing if the person(s) inside figure this out or read this post -- that doesn't wreck your rapport or trust with those in power in the multiple's system. But essentially telling people in the system to start a quiet rebellion may not go over very well.

Another possibility is that the people in charge WANT a change of governance, but to do so they can't be the ones in power anymore. Someone else has to be the head honcho or the catalyst member of the system because the current head honcho has way too much work to do to repair their integrity and their boundary system. It is possible to rebuild the internal governance using this idea, and then the old regime voluntarily steps down and the new one takes over. This is a peaceful and voluntary revolution for the sake of the system.

I hope this helps. Please use this information only for good.

Other Posts in July 2011


Criss, This is outstanding! Being a multiple myself, I have had the job of being the "internal caretaker" and overall peacemaker. I'm learning that when I "come out" more and turn the internal running of things over to someone else, not only am I more on top of life on the outside, there is much more cooperation inside, because I no longer come off as "THE boss" or "Miss Busy Body" to those who'd like a say. Also, though we haven't personally had the blessing of this, I've witnessed that in relationships where partners don't fight over the "head of household" role, they have much more harmony in their relationships. This is definitely what I hope is our overall goal as well. Catherine

Comment by Angela on July 20, 2012, at 02:48 AM

Hi, Catherine,

Thank you for the comment! I really appreciate it. I just re-read it myself, and like many things I write I had forgotten I wrote it -- and forgotten to put it into the list of Boot Camp steps! OOPS! So that's fixed. I also added a link for the cross-reference to the other post.

Anyway, your comment helps me know that what I have said is valuable and will definitely be included in United Front when I write the book in some form or other.

I don't think we've ever had a single person as "head of household" internally. We've had a triumvirate structure -- way back when, when things were very shaky, like a system of checks and balances. We've also had a weighted democracy, where well-established headmates had a more powerful vote than other junior or more dysfunctional participants in our co-op. Perhaps at the very very beginning we had a head honcho. It wasn't long-lived, as other capable and forceful personalities emerged, so it quickly became more and more democratic.

Perhaps the information above can help you out -- and there's plenty of information on ways to move to a more democratic system on this blog. If your presence inside makes such a difference to how the others feel, it's a wake-up call! I hope they appreciate that you recognize it, because really that's more than just half the battle!


Comment by Crisses on July 22, 2012, at 08:23 AM

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