United Front Blog
July 26, 2014, at 07:07 AM
In my article on home renovations, I started talking about how malleable and plastic our internal landscape is, and how we can mold it to specific purposes.
Internal systems communication has come up many times lately, so I wanted to touch base on the importance of internal landscape with regards to internal communication, and give a few tips on how one can purposefully adjust the internal landscape to foster better internal communication. ... Read More ...
March 26, 2014, at 09:03 AM
This is not about being bold or flashy. It's not about wanting to compete with the indelible icons of Eve or Sybil. We don't want or need anyone's sympathy for whatever we may have gone through, nor people's anxiety or fear for what may or may not be going through our mind on the 8-track player.
February 07, 2014, at 10:02 PM
Like most things in life, there's no "one right way" to be multiple. Most multiples I've met have an internal landscape of some type, although it's certainly not a prerequisite, just a common feature. I consider internal landscapes to be the (subjective, possibly imaginary) environment we picture in our mind's eye when we interact with one another inside our respective heads.
February 04, 2014, at 09:02 AM
You know you're multiple. You're used to having a gaggle of voices in your head at all times, to the sometimes-comforting presences and multitude of opinions on everything from which toothpaste to use today to whether to reach out for a doorknob with the right or left hand. When you've been living with the voices since childhood, it can be nerve-wracking when they disappear suddenly, leaving you uncertain of anything, even who you are.
July 03, 2013, at 07:07 PM
Many years ago, we made our own film of ourselves. We force-switched a few times. Mostly the video was for ourselves, not really for the public.
You can see 4 different people in the videos: Hart, Taelee, Aliessa and Dreal. It starts with Aliessa doing a test take, then goes through footage of others. We sliced out the bits of us meditating (to force-switch) because they could run as much as a couple minutes and were boring to watch.
February 09, 2014, at 12:02 PM
Our society still has a lot of prejudice and fear around mental health issues. While there are laws protecting people with differences from being excluded, harassed or bullied, it still happens. Here's some things to try to help yourself cope with your diagnosis in the short and long term.
Realize you're not alone
As immediate proof, consider that you're reading an article written by a multiple. I'm not a mental health professional who learned about what you're going through in books and articles: I have gone through the process of not knowing what was going on to discovering other people in my head.
It can be tough knowing whether you know anyone with a particular mental health diagnosis. Mental health issues are generally invisible, so no one really knows how many people around them have issues. One person's quirk is a psychologist's playground for tampering and tinkering and cubby-holing. We've all been dealing with people with mental differences all our lives, and we might not know it. DID (once known as multiple personality disorder) is one of those mental differences that could be hidden from plain view, along with obsessive compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder and depression.
DID is considered to be rare, but consider that it is statistically mis-diagnosed for about 8 years when in therapy before someone has the "I have multiple personalities" V-8. This is further complicated by the decision by the psychiatric community to keep people's diagnosis from them -- a hold-over from the days of Freud and worse mental-health stigma than we have now.
Given that, I know about 100 people with DID, most whom I've met through the Internet. I know for a fact that you and I are not alone out there, but you need to meet some people before it will sink in.
There are ways to meet people on the web, on mailing lists, and in-person. Consider your privacy, safety, and reputation before you rush into joining a community; you may want to use an alias. Many multiples use a "system name" so they do not inadvertently out themselves on the Internet. Our "system name" is The Crisses, but we've also decided to come out of the "storage facility," so you can find us mentioning multiple issues as (Rev.) Criss Ittermann, too. People take on a second Facebook profile as their multiple self, and so on. If you choose to do that, look me up and let me know you found me through the Boot Camp. I can introduce you to a few dozen multiples.
As always, be cautious about meeting people in person. I used to hold public events and invite a bunch of friends and online friends to a public place like a restaurant. It didn't matter if some were new acquaintances because there were plenty people around.
Try to stay calm about it
Most people developed DID as a protection against trauma. Those who did are almost always also experiencing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and the very last thing needed is more stress.
Worry, stress and anxiety come from imagining the worst possible scenarios, looking at things in the worst possible light, and generally being afraid of the future. And they're known to increase the dysfunctional symptoms of nearly every known disorder, whether physical or mental. No one has ever needed a mental or physical hospital from the side effects of staying calm and positive. If you can, adopt an attitude of curiosity rather than fear. Wonder. Consider. Ask questions (even here, in the comments below the article). Find ways to look at the positive side of the issues that come up.
- "I wonder why we did that."
- "I wonder why that person in my head acts that way."
- "I wonder how to make the best of this situation."
- "I wonder who else I'll meet."
Wondering has a much better feeling to it than worry, judgement, name-calling, assumptions, etc. It's far more productive than getting anxious.
There are physical things you can do that affect your mental stress levels, too:
- Deep breathing exercises
Studies are showing the benefits of mindfulness practices. For multiples, I recommend mindfulness meditations over meditative trances until you get a better handle on things going on in your system. Mindfulness is the opposite of dissociation. Think of it as building a muscle and practice practice practice. Try any one of these quick easy and portable suggestions:
- Pay close attention to your immediate physical environment with one of your senses.
- Pay very close attention to the words that someone is saying to you, without thinking about how to interpret what they're saying or what you're going to say next.
- Stay grounded by feeling your feet on the ground or your butt in a chair. Wiggle, move, anything so that there's a sensation to pay attention to.
- Staying in-the-now, stay in your body.
It may not be easy at first. But look at the amount of your success in a positive light. Thi s is probably something you've never done before, and it takes a lifetime to perfect. If you can only be in your skin for 5 seconds, then that is a whole 5 seconds that you stayed present. Again, adopt an air of wonder and curiosity: "I wonder if I can do it for 7 seconds next time!" Mindfulness is not easy, that's why it's called a "practice". One doesn't master it: one practices it. But the benefits of mindfulness are massive, so I can't recommend it strongly enough.
There are different types of help you can get for the difficulties that can arise from the situation. I have the United Front Boot Camp in case you can't seek out a professional for some reason. Some people can't deal with therapists, in which case I'm available as a life coach and offer support and a very different approach to what multiplicity is and the options and outcomes. I might be able to help you get to a point where you can seek therapy, or I might be all the help you need. Whether you use my publicly available resources (this blog and http://kinhost.org, Facebook, my books, etc.), or you want to actually talk on the phone or in-person, or you want to seek out help from someone else or other resources on the web, please do seek out something. My goal is to help you become more functional (able to hold down a job, relax, enjoy life, take care of your responsibilities, get your bills paid, etc. by whatever legal and ethical means).
Help yourself: Check out the Boot Camp
I have written out steps to getting along better in your head, and you can see some of the topics covered in the Cloud Index on the right of this page. You can read the entire introduction and tackle the steps in the suggested order, or you can skip around to the topics that are relevant to you right now. Regardless, I think it's important that you mix getting help with helping yourself. Whether you choose to follow the Boot Camp or not, it might give you ideas, hope, strategies to consider, and examples of how someone else worked through the realization that they weren't alone in their head.
I'm not trying to promote the United Front Boot Camp as much as I'm trying to help you. Seriously. I want feedback to improve it so it can help others, and I want you to have the resources you need to help you out. Some multis work with a therapist: I had one on a regular basis for about 5 years. Unfortunately he was totally over his head with my disorder, and didn't do much that I could tell to educate himself about it. You can use the Boot Camp to educate a therapist on possible strategies to help you. You can use it while seeing a therapist. You can use it with a coach (I don't know how many other life coaches out there would work with a multiple, but I will!), or you can use it on your own.
I really hope this is helpful. If you have more ideas on how to cope with being diagnosed with DID, please let us know below:
June 29, 2013, at 07:06 AM
Reparenting some of our youngers has been very important towards our recovery. A few are beyond reach, not co-aware enough and in states of mind too damaged and wrapped up in their own cocoon to do much of anything with, but the ones who are co-aware enough to interact in our internal landscape or to front are the ones we're able to work with.
It's much like play therapy, in some cases. We've even given the cocooned littles time to front in a safe space, with plenty of crayons and paper to express themselves and internal supervision. For some multiples, this may not be possible -- but if you've worked on internal collaboration for some time you may have healed your awareness and internal trust enough that you may be able to allow folk to front in low-stress situations without losing time or awareness.
It's good to pick a safe "mothering" or "fathering" figure or even a group of internal mothers or fathers to care for the children. In the case of having 70+ residents, we choose to have a group of safe people with whom our children interact inside. We take on different roles -- comforter, healer, guardian, playmate -- and share responsibilities for keeping tabs on them.
A few of our youngers have had co-awareness for a very long time, and are full participants in our meetings and house rule processes, so while they present themselves as young they're afforded privileges as if they are adults. Hart is one example, she has a saying "I may be 4 but I've been 4 for a very very long time." She is not really 4 in experience, skills, or self-control, but she feels safe at 4 and can stay there as long as she'd like. She can take advantage of our internal parenting at any time, if she chooses to. Frankly, anyone inside can take advantage of being comforted, healed, guarded or having fun with others inside -- it's not a privilege we only extend to the young.
Reparenting is sometimes necessary. We have done rehabilitation of our residents by way of being a better parent to them than the parents we were born to. We started spontaneously when we were very young.
Reparenting is like that. You give what is needed -- positive discipline or rules, hugs and kisses for boo boo knees, chase away the nightmares with love and nurturing kisses, provide the foundation on which your littles can grow. And littles can grow. Hart's twin brother Hed grew up from 4 years old to 15 and changed his name to Rane. We reparented him, even though he's a little rebel spitfire. His role was always to protect Hart and the others from emotional and psychic abuse from our father. His voice would always surface in our mind, talking back in our head, getting angry in the face of our father's anger. He's like a filter -- having caught all the anger so that it didn't filter deeper into our system, so he's full of that anger. When we first consciously met him he was young and not co-aware, and now he's a teen rebel and co-aware. A little more constructive with his actions and anger, but still very much himself. He's not done with his own internal journey, but we've helped bring him farther than he went on his own.
I suppose reparenting from inside is simply providing what children need and sometimes what they want without spoiling them. Children need safety, structure, nurturing, play, tools, fun, creativity, learning, etc. We may not have had those, or had them consistently enough, to allow our inner children to flourish and grow -- so through a process of reparenting we can give them what they need in order to flourish and "age" inside if they so choose to.
July 19, 2011, at 09:07 PM
When people hurt you over and over in the same way, you build up some automatic programs against that type of hurt.
These automatic programs are like those old 8-tracks -- a continuous-loop that can play over and over. You just choose which track to play and it starts wherever the tape's at, and it plays over and over until you switch tracks.
I have a real problem with the idea of conditional friendship -- and conditional love by extension. Those people who would place conditions on whether they could like me, or love me, from parents who told me what I had to do to earn their love to friends who were only my friends when no one else was around.
July 17, 2011, at 09:07 PM
One potential hot topic that many multiples will find helpful to put on their agenda for one or more meetings is the topic of gender identity and sexual orientation -- especially if you have residents who are a different gender than your body. I call these residents "cross-gendered residents" for lack of a better term for them. Their gender is different than your body. These residents may have sexual desires and attractions that pose a problem on one level or another for your system or for your social environment.
July 16, 2011, at 09:07 AM
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.
July 15, 2011, at 08:07 AM
I've had this happen to me, where I've gotten so reactive towards other people that I can't let anything good in. The irony is that I was so damaged and broken, I would also allow all the bad things in. My partners would complain about walking on eggshells. I would doubt their every good intention, their every act of love, and treat it like it was a problem somehow. I reframed their interactions -- changed what I thought was going on -- so that they seemed to be lying or coddling or they were humoring me, or somehow being dishonest when they reached out to help me.
I would transform every positive interaction into an attempt to manipulate me, use me, coerce me, convince me. I would push my partner away then blame them for being distant. I would hold grudges for weeks on things that I imagined they did wrong.
July 14, 2011, at 11:07 PM
Disagreements can challenge us to remain respectful of one another. It's very important to maintain your own dignity and your sense of respect for your fellow residents when you have a difference of opinion.
Don't wait for differences to occur, have a plan in place for how to handle them from the start. Perhaps a group of mediators who can intervene, or a cool-down period (like a time-out) if things get heated, anything to help you regain your composure and think about what's really going on.
July 13, 2011, at 04:07 PM
Just as we play roles on the inside of the system, we also play roles outside the system.
All singletons play a variety of roles in the world, and itís no different for multiples. We can be parents, teachers, students, role-models, employees, volunteers, children (of our parents), friends, siblings, etc. When we find ourselves in different roles we show different aspects of our personality. In this way, everyone is a little multi, and if they donít keep to their roles, theyíre socially dysfunctional.
July 12, 2011, at 11:07 AM
We all have different roles we play outside our body, and we also have different roles we play on the inside too. So that we spread out the work, we tweak our roles inside as needed. For example, we have folk who are guardians from outside influences, people who are enforcers of our house rules, those who play mommy/daddy to our littles, those who make sure we keep appointments or go to work, and others who make sure our household chores are completed, etc. Most of our internal roles involve some type of monitoring, and a method for mobilizing a response to events, or executing routines.
July 11, 2011, at 02:07 PM
I have my moments, just like you might. Slip up, say things I shouldn't. Maybe offend someone. Nothing terribly unusual. But when we cross the line and disrespect another resident's friends, we might damage their relationships irrevocably.
July 10, 2011, at 08:07 AM
I have some real problems with birthdays and other such points of passage. It stems from childhood traumas around holidays and birthdays and also I would guess it comes from the inconguity of being both a child and an adult, or a teen and a pre-menopausal woman.
Another point of passage occurred every time one or both of my children (by birth) passed a milestone that I associated with traumatic points of my life. Most especially my daughter.
July 09, 2011, at 08:07 AM
For a while I actually used external metaphor to help with internal processes. This is one place where "As outside, so inside (and vice versa)" can come in quite handy. I used 500 or 1000-piece puzzles as a means of deliberate meditation and metaphor for what was going on in my head. It was very relaxing, very zen, putting together the puzzle on the outside while my internal friends were tidying up things on the inside.
July 08, 2011, at 10:07 PM
One nice thing about being multiple and having a high level of internal communication is that we always have someone to talk to. However, talking is not usually enough. Human creatures are designed to play and we learn best while playing. Playing is also a peacetime activity, it brings people together into a community, relaxes them, makes them do some of the best activities for bonding: smiling and laughing.
July 07, 2011, at 11:07 PM
While I don't have much problem with my parents anymore, it doesn't really make me terribly comfortable to be around them. We have to employ some pretty creative means of keeping our internal peace to be around them. We deliberately choose who will be fronting, certain residents are asked pretty much to stay in their rooms, and we get by.
July 06, 2011, at 10:07 PM
I have suggestions for ways to remove foreign energies from your system and body [links to Kinhost.org] that I ask that you consider. This is the mental, emotional and spiritual equivalent of de-cluttering your home of the things that make you feel bad.
I can't really stress how important it is to do this, especially if you've been abused. There are many little nagging problems multiples can have that a little housekeeping and a lot of decluttering will take care of.