I wrote this small essay over the weekend. If there are any crucial points I've missed out or could elaborate more on somehow, don't be afraid to point them out! I did beta-read it, but it always helps if I get someone else's insight. This is mainly based on what we've experienced and picked up along the way on our research and journeying. It also talks about functional multiplicity more than it does on disordered multiplicity, because that and the integration-debate/'is multiplicity real' debate would take a whole other essay. Which I may end up writing.
Happy reading, folks!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Ups and Downs of living in a Multiple System
I decided to write this essay - with some of our personal experience described - hoping it would be of some use to others. I know that when I was reading accounts of other systems during our 'awakening' of sorts, it certainly helped me. I hope you, the reader (or readers) gain some benefit from this article.
Now, as this essay will contain personal experience, I believe one should know the basics of us and a little intro first, I think.
We are 'Momo' around the otherkin forums; however, our system name is 'Polyrhythm Complex' (or 'Polyrhythms'). What's a system, I hear one of you out there say? A system is a term for a group of head-mates within one body. In my case, we are three people – Lishie, Blake and Rizumu – living in one female human body.
Now, how did we come to be? Good question. We know that head-mates 'Lishie' and 'Blake' originated as a single person - Blake split from Lishie, and developed on his own. I think of it this way - if you have a spider-plant, and split its rosette, when you plant half in a separate pot it will develop on its own happily enough while the other half will also be healthy. However, it takes something - like a slice or a blow - to split it. Although we cannot be 100% sure (although I’d say we’re 95% positive) we believe Blake and Lishie split due to a form of trauma. 'Rizumu' - our youngest member that we affectionately refer to as our 'inner child' - we believe she was a 'sleeping head-mate', meaning she was born with the body, but laid dormant for a number of years.
None of us identify as otherkin, but we have met many systems throughout our activity on the otherkin community. And those systems have come across the same questions and issues as we have.
Our experience started on rocky terrain. If you are a recently 'awakened' multiple, you may feel confused. I know that when I'd first found Blake, I was thinking "Wait so ... who actually am I? Am I not an I, but a we?"
Indeed, a downside of being a multiple can be all the confusion a system can experience. Like me, you may have issues with your identity when first getting used to things. The key thing one has to remember is - you are still you. You might have people sharing your head-space now, but you are still your own person and nobody can change that.
At first, I was frightened to tell anyone. As always, issues of mental health can get controversial and regarding multiples, the statement I'd heard the most is that multiples are disordered people in need of professional help. This however, is not always the case – I've got to know many systems who are perfectly functional, sane individuals during my time in the ‘kin forums and the plural communities - I have learnt that being multiple is simply part of who you are, not necessarily a disorder.
However, as I pointed out earlier, many out there have the immediate assumption that multiplicity is a disorder in 100% of cases (or the other way around, that it isn’t even real) and that anyone saying that they are healthy multiples are either delusional or 'posers'. It is like how otherkin can be held with a lot of skepticism, and labelled such adjectives as 'crazy'. Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of this - both offline and online. It is because of this assumption that a lot of healthy systems are afraid to come out (and indeed, on non-kin related forums we often post as one collective person). You might be labelled ‘crazy’, or on the other hand you might be told ‘Oh, don’t be silly, come off it!’ and yes, it does hurt a little to see or hear that attitude. Like the otherkin community, no doubt the plural community has seen its fair share of posers too (although I must admit I haven’t seen many at all). To those of you who have friends and family who are multiple-systems, although it would take getting used to, your relative or friend is still who they are. I keep repeating that, but it’s still an important point. You may have gotten to know several of the system members, or maybe just one – but regardless, it’s still a personal secret of theirs that makes up part of who they are, and I feel that should be respected, even if it's just learning to accept it.
When I’ve come out in the past, I’ve made sure to emphasise that I don't have Dissociative Identity Disorder - that would imply we have a problem, something that needs fixing, which we don't. Being multiple is just part of who we are and a part we personally can’t change, like our height and sexualities (technically, we could integrate, but we do not feel that is mentally healthy for us.) It’s not a case of ‘Internet-Poser Disorder’ either - we have a life outside of the internet, we go to sixth-form college in the UK, we have family and friends (both those who are aware and those who are not aware yet). Heck, we even do our own laundry and cooking which is more than most teenagers our age (well, Blake and I deal with the latter chore more often, but Rizumu has no qualms with sorting out the dirty socks).
Also, at the very beginning when everyone’s a bit shaken as to what’s going on – the thoughts of integration (merging every head-mate into ‘one person’) or ‘telling the walk-ins to leave’ may cross one’s mind, and again that’s another controversial topic that makes our collective noggin spin when we think about it. It can be a confusing subject to talk about, and I imagine it must be even more confusing to go through. At the end of the day, nobody can tell you what to do on this one - it is entirely up to you and your system what you decide to do. One system may want to inform medical professionals so they know what’s going on, another may want to seek professional help to integrate, or someone else may want to keep it to themselves. And again, there are many views on mental health issues and multiplicity – and some may be scared of seeing their doctors for fear of what they will say or decide. All I can say on that issue is – you know what is best and what action you must take for you and your system. You could work at your relationships and find you could be perfectly functional as a multiple, or it may not work out between you. Every system is an individual system.
I do believe I opened another can of worms there, so I’ll get back on topic. I may write another article dealing with the controversies of multiplicity later on in the New Year.
Let’s go onto something positive: a plus side of being functionally-multiple is that if you’re in need of help or advice and you get along with your head-buddies, they may be able to give you a new point of view (or a whole bunch of mental-hugs). If you need a second opinion on a situation presented in front of you, your head-mate can tell you their thoughts and whether you should go for this one or that one. Heck, they can even help you decide what to eat for dinner, although if everyone has specific food preferences you could end up back to square one.
Also, if your head-mates can speak to whomever’s in front, it’s someone to converse with during coach or bus journeys (just make sure you use your ‘headspace’ or ‘inner’ voice too. Using your vocal chords might get you a few odd looks.)
Another nice point we’ve found is that it’s actually improved our skills in teamwork. We were always the ‘lone wolf’ in a team beforehand, but at least now we’re used to communicating with others in a group and doing what’s best in that situation. We still prefer to work alone with maybe a bit of input from a conscious head-mate if needed, but at least now we can work a little better in groups because we all learned to function as one.
And I’ll end this on a nice note: there are support and discussion forums out there for multiplicity, not only in the otherkin forums but there are communities and sites out there for plural systems. Astraea’s Web (http://www.astraeasweb.net/plural/
) is a great site with diagrams and an FAQ for those of you curious about the different terms, here at Otherkin Phenomena we have a sub-forum for multiples and walk-ins, and for those of you who haunt LJ there is the community “multiplicity” (http://multiplicity.livejournal.com/
) that are always happy to offer their insights to your queries. For those of you who are otherkin as well as plural, try PluralKin at LiveJournal (http://pluralkin.livejournal.com/
Are there any questions? Opinions you’d like us to hear? Fire away, me lovelies.