Saturday, November 12, 2011

How to Believe a Multiple

I'm running into this in my personal life and thought it might be helpful or relevant for others- how to believe someone with multiple personalities, with contradictory stories being told with the same mouth.  I wrote this out as a sort of guide for interacting with alters.

With many alters, my story will change, or be told from different points of view. They may be panicked or not know the exact cause, because they frequently have different information blocked from them at different times, I can never see the overall picture at once. It is a system designed to keep alters unaware of the others, unable to share information, even if or especially if something is wrong. It is a system not designed for our safety so much as our silence, especially when there is a problem.

I can understand how frustrating it would be to be running after each alter's story. I prefer and recommend that you step back and view situations for yourself. However please understand that when anyone says something is wrong, something IS wrong. Even when they are panicked, it is never just 'in their head' or a bid for attention. Because of their nature of secrecy, I don't think any of us would ask you for help unless we desperately needed it and had no choice. Asking for outside help is always a last resort. They may be telling you everything they know, which is only one piece of the whole story. It is truth, but it may not be all of it.
You do not need to take orders from them, but you do need to take them seriously.

The most important thing for any of them to ever know is that they can trust you. They will need to be reassured of this repeatedly, but don't say it unless you know you mean it. Don't ever go along with something just to placate or humor them, be honest about what you think. Try using open sentences for this. If what they are saying seems suspicious or incomplete, tell them you'd like to get more information before deciding anything. Or "I'd like to take a break, but I'm not shutting you down. Can we come back to this later?" should be fine. The best thing is to show that the subject is still open and you are still believing and supporting them regardless of what is going on.

Closed sentences like "No", "I don't believe you" "Stop" are very frightening. It is difficult to ask for help or admit there is a problem, and they are usually very desperate when they do. It is generally safe to assume that if they are asking for help, it is a big problem. They rarely ever ask help for little things that they could find a solution for themselves. Hearing closed sentences feels like a rebuttal for asking for help, and makes it sound like they should just forget about asking for help no matter how desperately they may need it. It also sends the message that you do not support them, even if that was not your intention.

One thing to do to get the whole picture might be to write down the different stories you hear, then we can sit down and look at the whole thing. I am often surprised or alters in my head are surprised to hear you quote me on something I don't remember saying or thinking or knowing.

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