In reading this piece, certain things should be a given. Various facts that relate to being plural, are just that, facts. We are not here to debate the validity of Multiplicity; We are here to redefine one of the most controversial topics in plurality, Integration.
Integration, on its face value seems fairly self explanatory. As implied in popular culture, as well as within many “safe” spaces, integration implies the elimination, or “integration” of all alter personalities into a single, cohesive persona. This process again has the end goal to make the trauma survivor appear, “normal”. The end goal for most modern medicine is to “cure” us, by making us more like themselves. Nothing is more insulting, than to be told that you are fundamentally flawed, just for surviving in hell. That you are really nonexistent, an imaginary coping skill, dismissed and invalidated at every turn. Even in the professional circles, there is no agreement, or even consensus as to the validity of multiples. We are punished without ever being given a choice.
When we entered therapy, our system resisted this concept. Looking back we understand this completely. I am the body owner. I am attached to the body, at a different level than the other alters in my system. Yes, even though I KNOW, that I am the real Kevin, I have always been a part of my system. I am no better or worse than the other members of our system, and thus I too, am an alter. The fact that I age is the only real difference between us. Integration for us felt like our entire existence, was insignificant. We were in fact less than human, with no real value as individuals. Imagine this yourself? The trauma bombs in our psyche began to fall like spring rain, stnging my sense of self with every crashing droplet.
Larry, a complete opposite to myself. He is outgoing, outrageous, and presents as an arrogant prick to most people. Completely charming and persuasive when he needs something from you, he is by far the most openly calculating an ruthless of us. he is also seventeen. He told Becky, our therapist, that “He didn’t need her, that he wasnt going anywhere, and there wasnt shit she could do about it”. This was one of the most important conversations it would see, that we would ever have in therapy.
About the same time that we were learning to organize and communicate with our system, we began a journey of self love. LOL, no no that one! Silly people….lol. We began really delving into existential philosophy. Most notably, the world fo French Authors Jean Paul-Sartre, and Simone Debeauvois. The idea that we existed, before we came into essence fascinated us as plurals. What could validate Multiplicity more, than this belief that “Existence Precedes Essence”. That WHO we are, comes before we can define WHAT we are . For us, the ability to define who we were is no ta foreign concept. How else can you account for thirteen completely different personalities, ages and even sex, in one vessel. One body, that is merely the bus. YEs, the revelations that came from this principal has lead me to the life we lead today, openly and happily. Living in Existential Authenticity, as we define ourselves.
So how does Authenticity present in a plural environment? How can living freely as an individual, heal a fractured system of broken dreams into something extraordinary? The answer is as simple as it is obsequious; We embrace our Multiplicity, live as authentic individuals in the absurdity of our own existence, and share the lens from which we focus our perspective. We all adjust our actions individually, to achieve the reality we collectively see ourselves as being part of. Even now too many they have no idea of our traumatic history, or subsequent evolution. By all accounts we would be integrated? Maybe? Why not? We appear in most cases as a singlet, even though we live openly as we choose. However we are all acting as Ain independent collective, to achieve something greater than nay of us could as a singlet. We in fact are not Co-Conscious, but evolving into a collective consciousness.
What does Authenticity mean for an Alter? Lets first explore what Authenticity is, to us.
For Sartre, authenticity involves the awareness that, because we are always free to transform our lives through our decisions, if we maintain a particular identity through time, this is because we are choosing that identity at each moment.-Being and Nothingness Defined
If you are a singlet, this passage should be life changing, and empowering at the same time. The ability to have the freedom, to not only define, but transform ourselves through our uninhibited decisions, and having the awareness to accept whatever comes from the choices. Wow. read that again.
For the Multiples of the world, this is far more powerful and again, freeing. Imagine learning that, not only are you exactly perfect, but you can become whatever you can see yourself as being!! This is a fact, not prophecy. What if, instead of integration, we began to see the truth, of Evolution. Instead of referring to ourselves as “fractured, broken, shattered, or disordered”; We should embrace the awesome power that we possess. We have not only proven the theory behind existentialism, we have demonstrated its power. We had to choose to survive, and we became exactly what we had to be, transforming ourselves into what we saw to be, exactly what we needed!!
Ok, let me calm down a bit here….lol.
Ok, so instead of letting singlets, define us, we should be defining ourselves. We have not only the knowledge but the ability. We have a gift, maybe not one any of us would volunteer to take twice; Nonetheless evolution comes from strong outside forces. Carl Sagan stipulates there is no true organic evolution. There is always an outside force stressing the normative existence of the environment. This is what causes the small changes that become an evolutionary path. As multiples, it is proven that the receptors in our chromosomes, that translate stimuli into what we call thoughts and emotions, are forever mutated. We process information differently, and thus our children are likely to see similar responses in their behaviors, even without the traumatic stimuli.
This is known as genetic learning, the way that wild animals pass on their survival instincts to their young. Insitincts are not consciously learned or taught. They just are. This traumatic modification accounts for evoltionary and environmental changes that have occurred since the dawn of time. Multiples as it seems, are also on the forefront of change, or is ti we are just some of the most noticeable? You see, we have been labeled as sick, and broken by those who do not understand us. How many multiples do you know that would define themselves in the way modern society does?
Humans, fear what they cannot control or destroy. With multiples Thera always has occurred a time when others used fear to control us and threatened to destroy us. yet we survived. Think of the lengths humans goto to kill and destroy things. And yet we allow them to tell us what we are and who we need to be.
Here we are now, beginning to live in true freedom. But how did we get here? We think that this next topic is one that drives most multiples to a state where they are truly, crazy. How to live amongst the singlets, in relative harmony and success. How can we live free in a world that has been designed for singlets. This was the end result desired, to live free.
Being in a system, is like living in a house with too many guys crashing on the couch, and nobody knows who’s house it is. If you have never been in a place like this, its hard to explain. You know your really there, but not sure what the rules are, who’s responsible, and whats coming next. The really scary part, you cannot seem to escape the moment. You seem endlessly trapped in this time loop, until one moment when your in another one. Yeah, its like having an ADHD hamster with a remote control to your brain; Only you only remember your own channel, mostly.
We struggled with the idea of which one of us was the “host”. We even had this discussion, in Therapy. I actually did not want to be, or did I ever think this was going to be me. I have never really wanted to be in the spotlight, or in control. I am so far from a control freak, more of a hippie. I am INFPT-I, for those of you that keep score on that stuff. No, the struggle was really hard for us all, until one day something happened. Something that changed our outlook for ever.
We have been living as a collective system for about Seven years now, and most successful in the last four years. About three years ago, we were struggling hard with almost every aspect of our lives. This is the par for us, the chaos, insecurities, fear, and self doubting that had plagued our entire existence, was still present. Even with all the time on the couch, we still could not manage, to manage. Even with the realization that I , Kevin am the body owner, the chaos abounded, more than before it seems.
Several years ago, when we were still working, we went to a senior management retreat. This was almost all the senior management team, not including the board. At the time I worked for one of the largest energy service companies in the world. This was no small retreat, and I had found a niche that allowed me to travel a lot, hiding ourselves, and make good money. We really didn’t want to mess this up. the system always has its own idea of how things should go, and at that time, we were all oblivious to one another.
Sitting around a large, hotel built conference table, about 20 of us, surrounded by our support staff, looked at the last year, region by region. We had to explain our shortcomings and bad projections. This was in 2009, and the economy was in the toilet. The regional managers were all pointing fingers at the economy, their staff, or even worse, their field hands. My Bossa t the time, was no different. When he was asked a direct question about performance, regarding some of my shortfalls, he just sat speechless.
I finally couldn’t take the silence anymore. I stood up and told him, We messed up. We made some bad choices, however we had made some changes and that moving forward we should avoid such negative outcomes. The room was quiet for a bit, and finally applause. We couldn’t believe the response. We were the first one to get applauded for highlighting our failures. But this was not what happened. In a room full l of MBAs, they needed leadership. They needed someone who cared enough to stand up and take accountability for the room, their team and their own actions.
As it turns out, this would be a key event in our journey towards living healthy, plural. why is it we all really want in a plural system, quiet, consistency and safety. An end to the chaos, the emotional subdues that we all fall too. The ever present trigger buttons we stumble over, almost always at the wrong time. I do not remember wanting to be without my system, quite the opposite. I do no need to try and remember the chaos that is my brain. My system, my collective insanity was simply responding as any child would, to the world of shit we were presented. How dare we ever try and make kids rationalize like adults or make them accountable for adult emotions.
Just being the host was not enough to get the harmony we desired. We needed a leader, the right leader. We had to be the landlord of our own kingdom. I, needed to stand up and lead, to not just drive the bus, but to be responsible for it. Funny thing about Alters, you cannot bullshit them, they know when your trying. They also know when you stand up for them, protect them, and validate them trough respect and freedom. We do no task our alters to hide, or mask around anyone, at anytime. They are free to move in and out as they need to. This is part of my promise to them, the result is not what you would think.
As we began to take an interest in the system direction, and overall goals, we began to settle down. Larry, Brian and Pat became are silly and relaxed. They have begun to age, or really more its maturity. they have begun to make the journey through time, as I have take responsibility fo the day to day, taken into account all of our needs, and hav ether courage to make the choices to further our goals.
Now, since we have a direction, and a plan, we are more relaxed. We are able to focus more on each others strengths and weaknesses. We do not want to change anyone, we all need each other. However we try and focus on the strengths in each member, so then others in the system can protect each other from triggers and other perceived weaknesses. Even AJ, has come to some sense of peace, in a world where all he has even experienced is anger. You see, this is peace for us. System wide validation and freedom to explore. Leadership, was what we needed.
Developing existentially as a singlet, is really quite difficult. the older you are. Authenticity demands selfishness; Something we have been taught is wrong in our societies eyes. So teaching someone self love, in a culture where the mere use of the world is sometimes a punishment, is challenging at best. However we must submit to true selfishness as an individual. in order to be truly generous.
For myself, selfishness was always used as a weapon against us. We are the most unselfish person we know, realistically. However there re those in the system which are not of the same inclination. Inf fact, some would day that Larry, is the most selfish person of all, period. His purpose in our system is to insure the basics: Food, shelter, and money. Something he excels at. Larry can make the choices about life situations that I had never been able to do. When the choice required selfishness, I could never take that action. Always hiding behind a genius teenager with an axe to grind with the entire world. Little did I know then, there was actually two in my system, one more devious than Larry…
We struggled for so long with trying to grow as individuals. Mostly we sat around just bitching at each other, none fo us realizing why we were still having some of the same struggles we had for so long, decades. We had all this knowledge about authenticity and freedom, but we had failed to see the true lesson of it all. For this we refer to Thoreau, a great thinker of modern times.
“As I see myself I am”
Lets examine this first as a singlet, although again I think this applies more to multiplicity than the mundane normality of singletons. If Existence Presceeds Essence, then who we are ALWAYS comes before WHAT we are. We as human beings are in possession of free will. We do not realize, see or comprehend any sort of implied or umimplied boundaries to our existence. We in fact have the ability to define our essence. To define “What we are”. However, we must first know WHO, we are. So many times as multiples the definition of who we are, is the sum of our trauma. This is because so much of our life stops developing the moment we are traumatized, and again when we become aware. We are taught that we are broken, and therefore less than one. You can say anything you want, everyone different, knows the feeling of being “different”
Imagine now, that unbeknownst to yourself, you were leapfrogging through time, as many different individuals, all believing they are the same person. How could you ever come to live with the labels, bullying and consequential labeling by the education, mental health, criminal justice and family systems. You are brought into a world of pain, only to be subjected to a life of shame and finally guilt. The same behaviors used by almost all facilitators of abuse, of any kind to control their victims. As it seems the survivors hell does not end when the abuse does. Only the abuser can take a rest from the horrors they’ve inflicted, robbing the child of any hope for peace of mind, body and soul.
The child, the survivor who has emerged from the hell, id now alone and far from helpless. We have a system to protect us Our system that was a transformation of what we were, into what we had to become. An evolution of consciousness, pushed through the abyss appearing to be alone, always feeling less than one. As you can imagine the crisis of identity is compounded, thirteen fold. An exponential, Existential Crisis, until now.
Learning that we are not only capable, but proficient in what most singlets struggle with and aspire to, transformation, we then could learn to harness our power for our own benefit. We began using the ability to become, whatever we had to be, with purpose. We took our perspective of self, and focused it into one clear image in our minds. Not the image of a dingle person, but the conglomeration of centuries of evolution. We are becoming more, because we are more. Wear re not limited to being a “part”, or “less than a whole”. Consciousness is neither defined in a physical state or under any governing lawny of physics. Consciousness remains, the great mystery, and we have learned how to manipulate it.
taking accountability for our system, realizing that we are reu;ly more than one, unconstrained by the limitations of mere singlet minds, is wonderful. Empowering ourselves to explore true authenticity, is simply orgasmic. Living in complete freedom, each of us and all of us. Is this integration? NO! Have we surpassed the forced idea of integration, and come into something more appropriate for beings such as ourselves? We think so. For all appearances we are a little eccentric and successful. If they knew the network of interconnection that existed underneath, most would be fascinated and also in awe.
We possess the power inside usual to be whatever we choose to be, if we have the strength to follow our choices and see them out. The heroes of the Alamo aren’t heroes for wining, their heroes for leading by example. Proof again that not only individuals can transform, but a collective living authentically, can be powerful enough even in death to inspire an entire people to transform themselves from Mexicans, into Texans.