Tuesday, January 22, 2013


     It's challenging, isn't it?  For everyone, I imagine.  And yet communication is one of the most fascinating aspects of life; interaction, observing expression, a light in the eyes, a pull of the mouth, body language, words- how we string them together and let them spill out of our mouths.

   Expression is a wonderful new freedom for me, one that I am gradually growing into.  I always knew how to explain and articulate well, but never to express from the heart.  To say what is REALLY going on.  One aspect in some individuals with DID who have been severely abused or programmed is what is called "cement mouth".  An occasional physical inability to speak.  One of my alters is mute, but silence on certain subjects has been the rule for all.  For some, the rule "don't speak" is very literal, and so writing or drawing is an acceptable way to get around it.  Because of this in our house we have created a 'safe zone' of messaging via computer, so that we can still discuss things that are problematic or stressful.  It is a designated area where anyone in the house can feel free to bring up any problem without fear of retaliation or judgment, where everyone will listen and think before writing a reply, and everyone will work towards a solution benefiting everybody.

     With all communication I have used a 'cheat sheet' I found on a DID support site.  Even the most basic steps like "listen," "pay attention to your feelings," "be honest," "be respectful," are new steps to me.  As basic as they are they don't seem to be commonly used.  Communication is vital to a multiple system, but invaluable outside of it also.  The biggest block I have seen to effective communication inside and outside of a multiple system is fear.  In fact working with my multiple system has provided a good model for insight into the rest of the world: 

     No one feels free to speak freely if they do not feel safe.  One does not feel safe sometimes from misconceptions, but more commonly from an unconscious awareness of danger or limitations one is living under.  Effective communication must always go hand in hand with an awareness of self and the environment, the responsibility (ability to react) to create and maintain boundaries, and the safety that comes as a result from having them.

     Effective communication is always based on equality.  No one in a power based relationship can communicate openly because the power balance is lopsided, and therefore one holds fear over the other.  To attempt to communicate openly in this situation would challenge the power balance and either push it to become equal or break apart.  Power relationships always require silence to last, and the one with the lesser power to choose between denial or misery.
     Communication in relationships of equality needs to be constant.  Unlike power relationships with established rules, relationships with equal members takes effort from all members.  Without continual communication, equal relationships will either fall apart or slide into a power based one.

     Since this is Martin Luther King day here in the U.S., this post is sort of my shout out to free speech, liberty, social justice, etc.  Communication is huge part of that, both changing power based relationships into equal ones, from a personal and national level, to allowing full expression and fulfillment inside them.  And sort of like the saying "Freedom is not free," good communication takes WORK, and guts.  It can give you freedoms, but it requires you to step up.