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Pagmies - "I, for my part, would rather be made from the dust of an alien world than the ether of anyone's heaven" - Shiu Wei, Amorpha

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Chapter One

Empowered Multiplicity Introduction Multiplicity has many definitions, most of which will be explored further on in this book, but to put it simply, it is the presence of many beings (human, animal or other) that can share or utilise one body on the “Earth World”. There are many different names for this state of being, including MPD, DID, plural, two spirit, bigendered, and countless others, probably as many as there are multiples, honestly. These variations are all slightly different, from the presence of two distinct personalities of opposite genders, to people who believe they were born multiple, to people who believe they contain a gateway to another world, but these are all valid. This book does not aim to divide these, or suggest that one state of being is better than another, when they can all be empowered states.
This rant is written by Azusa, of Amorpha Household, and sums up empowerment to the multiple community.
Lately I've been seeing several pages in the splitting/therapy/MPD model which start out with the same old crap, severe child abuse before the age of five blah blah blah highly creative survival technique blah blah blah please gag me with my fucking keyboard, and then go on to say, "But I am also an empowered multiple, because I don't think of it as a disorder and we aren't going to integrate!" Uh-huh. Now, I have no clue where these folks even heard the term empowered multiplicity, but so far as I can tell, they don't know empowered multiplicity from their rear end. I don't give a rip how functional you are or think you are in comparison to other multiples-- if you call it "MPD" or "DID" and refer to yourself as a disorder, you are not an empowered multiple. You can call yourself whatever the hell you want, but when your page is about nothing but your therapy sessions and how much you hate being multiple and all those icky alters and your newest horrible flashback that made you want to go jump off a cliff, all I can say is that there's nothing new under this sun. And what's more, it pisses me off to see people spewing out the same old gunk appropriating and mis-using the term empowered multiplicity, thus giving off the impression to the rest of society that this is what empowerment means, that this is really the best we can do. Being empowered is about a hell of a lot more than subscribing to a code of beliefs. It's something you live. Just because you don't want to integrate does not mean you are an empowered multiple. Neither does simply believing it's not a disorder, or that people in a system are people and not fragments or pieces. I've seen some of the most god-awfully dysfunctional multiples bellowing about how they're "not a disorder" and are "a very special gift," and that's as may be, but when you're not even TRYING to take one single step outside the door or make any decisions for yourself without your therapist's stamp of approval, you're not doing those of us who DO work very hard to let people know we are functional, normal human beings any favors by screeching from your soapbox. What is empowered multiplicity? It is about having the power to define ourselves and to refuse the labels and boxes with which society tries to control us. It's about listening to YOU and YOUR SYSTEM, not blindly accepting whatever spew your therapist tries to push on you. Is it possible to be an abuse survivor and be an empowered multiple? Of course; plenty of empowered systems have experienced childhood abuse. Is it possible to be in therapy and be an empowered multiple? Definitely, just so long as you're doing it for yourself and your household and not because you think it's required. Is it possible to have unresolved trauma issues and be an empowered multiple? Sure; plenty of singlets have that too. But if you're the kind of multiple who's been in therapy for a decade and are nowhere near feeling any better and are staying around because you blindly accepted the dictate that you "have to get worse before you can get better," and dutifully report every fuzzy mental image to your therapist who interprets it as a new recovered memory, and can't get through the day without wanting to kill or mutilate each other or the body, and your life consists largely of therapy sessions and dubious horrific flashbacks, you are NOT an empowered multiple. If someone told you to drink drain cleaner because it would help you in the long run, even if it tasted horrible and made you feel like shit and ate holes in your internal organs, would you do it? Would you actually believe that you were going to come out completely cured after going through all that? There's a damn good reason drain cleaner tastes horrible, which is because IT IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU. The body knows that what you're doing is bad for it; the pain and the taste are the warning signals, the body's way of letting you know that this is not good for it. So you've been in therapy for six years and you feel like shit and you're nowhere near the level of functionality you were when you started therapy, and you might as well be drinking drain cleaner for all you seem to be improving, and yet you keep doing it because you actually believe it's going to help you and that you have to get worse first. Hello! Doot doot! Anybody home? You're fucking miserable because IT IS NOT HELPING YOU! IT'S MAKING YOU WORSE! The emotional agony you feel is not "a necessary step to healing," it's your brain's way of letting you know that what you're doing IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU! If your gut instincts say to call it quits and go back to the life you had before, DO IT! THAT, my friends, is an empowered thing to do. To step away from paradigms that are hurting you and define your multiplicity and your selves on your own terms, and if you do need help resolving abuse issues, get them on your terms-- don't blindly accept the therapist's dictates that this is somehow going to make you better. If you keep feeling worse, it's not going to make you better. And neither will drinking drain cleaner. Period. End of story. To be able to stand firm against psychologists, against society, against ingrained attitudes and beliefs, and to say, "No, you are wrong. This is not multiplicity as we live it, and you do not know our truth better than we do"-- and to continue to believe it, in the face of those who try to take our truth and our reality away from us-- that is, to me, the heart and essence of being empowered. To believe that your life and your truth is worth more than what some therapist who's known you for all of five minutes tells you. Because honestly, while it pisses me off to high heaven to see singlet therapists and self-proclaimed experts trying to tell everyone who and what we are-- and that who and what are not our truth-- it also pisses me off just as much to see other multiples stuck in the disordered paradigm carrying on and presuming to speak for us. You do NOT speak for us, any more than Ralph Allison or Colin Ross does. And you do not speak for empowered multiples either, so piss off until you can learn to stop letting your therapist do the thinking for you.
Azusa of Amorpha Household
One common, maybe, and very famous type of multiplicity is that known as MPD or DID (multiple personality disorder or disassociative identity disorder). When people consider multiplicity, this is often what is thought of. These two states (both considered insulting for healthy multiples) are actually different things, the name was changed from MPD to DID, and with that the psychological view of this, butt he two names mean different things. MPD, or multiple personality disorder, is a condition where there are multiple personalities sharing one body. This is slightly more acceptable to healthy multiples, as it acknowledges the reality of the ‘personalities’, but still ignores the fact that a lot of multiples see them as people, not personalities. The other is dissociative identity disorder, which is far more insulting, as it implies the person in question simply dissociates into different parts of their identity. Both of these however are seen as disorders (meaning that they are a negative influence on someone’s life), when multiplicity can in fact be positive. The disorder is seen as being caused by child abuse, occurring before the age of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 9, depending on which specialist is consulted (this discrepancy of information already leading a sceptical view of the diagnosis). To be diagnosed with MPD or DID, you need to have:
“The presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states, each with its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self.
At least two of these identities or personality states recurrently take control of the person's behavior.
Inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness.
The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., blackouts or chaotic behavior during Alcohol Intoxication) or a general medical condition (e.g., complex partial seizures). In children, the symptoms are not attributable to imaginary playmates or other fantasy play. A patient history, x-rays, blood tests, and other procedures can be used to eliminate symptoms being due to traumatic brain injury, medication, sleep deprivation, or intoxicants, all of which can mimic symptoms of DID”
This does cover all forms of multiplicity, but to suggest “personality states” can be seen as offensive to many multiples, who believe they are far more than that. 'Identities’ also suggests that, as does the word ‘alter’, which implies that one of the headmates or collective members, is alternate to another. For this reason, a lot of healthy or otherwise empowered multiples prefer using terms such as “others”, “people”, or “headmates”.
There are various symptoms of DID/MPD, including:
headaches and other body pains
distortion or loss of subjective time
depersonalization
amnesia
depression

Doctors will be inclined to use these when considering if a patient would be diagnosed with DID, but there are many other symptoms that may be present, and some of those may not. It is perfectly, completely and utterly possible to be multiple without having DID, and considering the nature of the DID diagnosis, to have DID without being multiple. This book however is focusing on being multiple, whatever the causes, and with that, on how to establish an operating system and stability. DID and Schizophrenia are often confused, as the word ‘schizophrenia’ means “split personalities”, but in schizophrenia, the voices heard come from outside the head, and it is described more as a fracture of the mind than DID, which is seen as a fracture of the personality. They are often confused however, as drugs used in the treatment of schizophrenia can cause the main fronter (fronting is taking control of the body) to become unable to hear their headmates. This is not however a success, nor is it integration, simply it is locking people away.

The accepted treatment for DID is integration, where all the people are merged into one person, who fronts constantly, but a lot of multiples see this as tantamount to murder, as it is essentially “killing” the others. This may work for some systems, but it is not what this book is about, as this is about becoming empowered whilst remaining multiple, and reasons why it is a good thing, not about how to become “normal”, “well”, or “healthy” by removing your status as a multiple. Another cause for multiplicity is what’s known as “natural multiplicity”, the belief that it is possible to be born multiple, and that it is as normal as being a “singlet” (being one person in a single body). Natural multiplicity blurs into “gateway systems”, but more about those later. The idea that people can be born multiple and it is a good thing is backed up by two primary things. The first is that in a lot of Native American and African tribes, it is seen as a good thing to be many people in one body, and it is seen as a far more powerful state of being than being a singlet. In those communities, people who are multiple are exalted and admired. Due to this response, it appears unlikely that multiplicity was caused there by trauma, because it is seen as such a positive state of being, both by the multiple, and the rest of the community. In this way, Western culture has a lot to learn from these supposed superstitions.
The other fact that backs up the theory of natural multiplicity is the behaviour of very small children, who often believe in and communicate with an imaginary friend, switching between this imaginary friend and themselves. This phenomenon has been observed by a lot of adults who work in childcare, and continues to be so. The question that naturally follows this is “what happens to the others?” or “why do they disappear as the child grows up?” There are two responses to this, the first being that they are voluntarily integrated when the child grows up and learns that it is not acceptable in today’s culture to be multiple, and the second fitting far more with the DID diagnosis, that if trauma happens, they remain as a protective mechanism. It is worth noting at this stage however that a lot remain whether or not trauma has occurred, and this is how natural multiples are created. The Collective writing this believe that we were born multiple, and that we chose not to integrate, and that when the trauma occurred, the multiplicity saved us, yet was not caused by said trauma (e.g. we are multiple for our own reasons and choices, and that the trauma was an unfortunate addition, no more).
It would be interesting to discover how many people are actually multiple, and are unaware, or choose to hide it rather than be open about their state with the world, for fear of responses. Whilst it is seen as a mental illness, it is unlikely that many multiples will be happy to be open about it, but the climate is slowly changing in favour of people who are naturally multiple, aided by the websites of prominent systems such as Amorpha and Astraea, Pavilion (a now almost defunct organisation dedicated to raising awareness of natural multiplicity, the causes of it, and promoting it as a healthy state of being) and of course the Layman’s Guide to Multiplicity, a fabulous website about multiplicity, where a lot of our communal awareness of it came from. It is sad that multiplicity in its natural form is not better recognised as a ‘good thing’ because it is extremely positive. Although a lot of natural multiples do not see multiplicity as the premise of the gifted, the psychic and the next type of humanity, it does allow a larger number of skills to be learnt, as what people see is not the work of one person, but the work of a collective, who, in fully empowered multiplicity, are working together to get the job done as best they can, whilst sharing their skills. The theory that all multiples are psychic or “flying toasters” as it is known in the online multiple community is not one many subscribe to, but it exists nonetheless.
Some of the benefits of multiplicity include:
[*] Availability of a council to make decisions collectively, enabling further ease in analyzing a situation from multiple perspectives.
[*]Someone to teach you what you always wanted to learn
[*] Someone to do homework for you
[*] Someone to talk to always
(This list was collated from information found on a forum we run, and the individuals and systems who contributed have been thanked, and their permission was given)
Skill sharing is not always easy for people, even those in multiple groups, because of the difficulties that can occur in communication of fronting, but it can be done, with effort (as can, with multiples, most things) and once it has been accomplished it is something that remains. There are different methods of doing this, but the main one is simply for people to front when their skills are needed. It becomes easier if, as some systems do, there is an accessible memory bank that everyone can use memories from, because then anyone can front. Some believe that every system has a memory bank, but it is not always accessible by every member, whilst others maintain that for them there is no such thing, and maybe that’s how it works, that for some systems there is a memory bank and not for others.
Natural multiplicity is not without its drawbacks, and these include the difficulty in ever coming out to those you love, because of the stigma that being multiple carries, a stigma that we are trying to break down by writing about multiplicity in a healthy non-threatening way. Other drawbacks include having to share your life, or what feels like that, with other people, not all of whom you necessarily wish to share it with, and means that you cannot do as you wish, when you wish, but at least for us, the drawbacks are far outweighed by the numerous benefits that we all enjoy.
Multiplicity, especially natural multiplicity is not about suicidal teenagers and mad axe murderers; instead it’s about a group of dedicated people working to get a job done to the best of their (collective) ability.
There are some systems that believe their system is a “gateway” to another world, and these are known as gateway systems. What they believe is simply that their body is inhabited by more than one spirit, and that these spirits can travel between worlds. (Note, this is not the same as a multiple system having an ‘Inner World’, it is the belief that they can actually travel between worlds). There is no way of knowing whether this reality is true, so the best thing to do is accept that it is, and work from there. A gateway system may have millions, if not infinite members, because those members come from other worlds, and in some cases other universes. In these situations it is common for there to be a small group of frontrunners, and a lot of people who choose never to take the front (control the body) and instead live their lives on their home worlds without ever experiencing this one. These people are not any the less real for the reality in which they live and there are obvious benefits to being part of another world so diverse and different from the outside world.
There are other considerations to this however. If you are a vampire, or a dragon, or an animal or anything in your world, good for you, that’s really cool, and hope you get a lot from it, but when you inhabit this world you are human. This does not stand for all gateway systems, most of whom are totally aware of it, but some believe that they are different. There is nothing hugely different about being an animal in another world, when you are interacting with people in this world as a human. Nor is it excessively different or special, there are many people (or non-people) like you.
There is a tendency in multiple communities, and especially those dominated by gateway systems, for one thing to travel, and a system that has always been mundane, when it meets with other systems with mythical creatures, develop those as well, or similar with psychic abilities. Sometimes these will be true discoveries, of course, but most of the time it is put on. And that is fine as well. In a community such as the multiple one, where so much is taken on faith, that can be as well, but remember that there is nothing special about being a gateway system, or being otherkin – what is special is being able to accept your lot and make the best of it, whether you are painfully normal or not. Let us clarify. This is not a rant about otherkin or gateway systems, we have friends in both those communities we greatly admire, it is more than that, it is a reminder to all multiples about how simple fads are.
There are a lot of benefits to being in a gateway system, including the multitude of available fronters, the fact that there are far more people to learn skills, and the opportunity to lead two emotionally fulfilling lives at once, one in each world. There are however also a lot of drawbacks, including people in the multiple community who deny the idea of gateway systems and those who say that they are giving multiplicity a bad name. In the multiple community, everyone is giving everyone a bad name – the natural multiples deride the trauma-multiples for increasing the stereotype that all multiples are crazy, and deride the gateway systems who believe they are psychic for increasing the other stereotype – that all multiplies are super-people. The trauma multiples deride both groups at once for minimizing their suffering, and the gateway groups deride natural multiples for disbelieving them, and trauma multiples for perpetuating the stereotype. In short, the multiple community is divided greatly. This book aims to rebuild it as a community, under the banner “Empowered Multiples”. This is for everyone, whatever their origins, who wishes to live as a functional multiple, and that includes our system, more about us later in this book, when we will add in a short autobiographical piece to show people what our reality is.
Members of gateway systems are sometimes seen as walk-ins, but these people are also different, not just the same. In a gateway system, everyone who inhabits the body belongs to another world, and they can move between them at will. A walk-in however is one person who comes from another world to move into the multiple system and stay there. Walk-ins and soulbonds are also similar, a soulbond being someone from a videogame or book who comes into the system and exists there. These things are outside the comprehension of a lot of singlets, and indeed a lot of multiples, but are also closely experienced by a lot of multiple groups. Blends of these can exist co-currently. There could be a system that was born plural, it believes, then was abused and either also split, or remained multiple, or there could be a natural multiple system who has walk-ins, or a trauma system with otherkin. We know all of these, the people in all of these we can consider friends. In the end, the origins matter little, as long as the system is prepared to work and become empowered. In some systems, births and deaths can take place, leading one to ask what type they are, but in one way all this excessive classifying into types is unhelpful for the system and those around them, because to be a type, and wear that label is to accept the beliefs of that group, at least implicitly. It is time for the multiple community to move past boxes and labels defining itself, and move into being more accepting of anyone, multiple or singlet, whatever their experience, in order to move on as a system We are empowered. Our beliefs are our own, as is our life. This book is for those who will walk this road with us, for those who wish to share our experience of building a working system. For those who wish to be empowered.
Whilst it would have been negligent to even attempt to write about multiplicity without at least considering the evidence for and against its existence, it would also be negligent of us to try and write from the perspective of medical professionals when we are not, and never will be. This disclaimer is to state that our writing is based on our experiences alone, and that we have researched the evidence, but that it was not our research that gave the evidence. What we write here is to be taken dubiously, taken with care.
When we write this, it is neither to prove nor disprove multiplicity. This book is primarily for people who are multiple, and hence it would be odd for us to try and show or deny its existence. The people who are reading this probably already believe in it, as an essential part of their reality, and if they do not, well then they do not, and our words can do nothing to change this. A lot of people in the psychiatric profession believe that it is impossible for multiple personalities or people to exist in one body, and believe instead that cases of multiplicity are in fact one person deluding themselves into believing they are many people to escape trauma, and that the delusion causes them to act differently depending which of the people they consider themselves to be. Because of this, a lot of the information available on multiplicity, empowered or not, is presented with the opinion that everyone who is multiple is actually only one person. There have not been many studies done; although there has been one that is of interest, where brainwaves were measured during switches between different people within the system. These measurements showed clear differences in brainwave pattern. This however is inconclusive, as brainwaves can change dramatically for various reasons. However, when this research is combined with the experiences of various multiples whose temperature and blood pressure change depending on who is fronting, it becomes of far higher importance.
One theory on multiplicity is that everybody is born multiple to a certain degree. In the right environment, it is typical that these natural systems will integrate within a short period of time, but this is not always the case, and sometimes the systems will instead remain functional, whereby a community is made up of healthy, functional, natural multiples. In other cases however, if trauma occurs, this can prevent the headmates from integrating, causing what appears to professionals to be trauma-based multiplicity, now known as DID. This theory is interesting because although it has no empirical evidence to back it up, it has quite a large amount of circumstantial evidence. This is often observed in nurseries, where a child will persist first in saying they are themselves, and consulting their “imaginary friend” but then persist in saying that they are in fact said “imaginary friend”. This phenomenon does suggest the existence of natural multiplicity amongst small children, but to the extent of our knowledge has never been fully researched. A research project on such a case would be fraught with ethical issues, and as such might be very hard to complete satisfactorily. Despite this, it is clear that more research needs to be done if ever the multiple community is to be understood or treated with the respect and comprehension it deserves.
It is clear that so called “singlets” do not understand what it is to be multiple, but is it also clear that in a lot of cases, multiples find it hard to comprehend what it would be to be a singlet. We like our reality, it is not an illness, and it is not incomprehensible.
It is hard to collate evidence for and against our own existence, and as such this section is poor. Our existence just *is*, and putting this evidence together is tearing at our sense of selves, and making us feel like we are back to being less-than-normal. This is why it’s a bad idea to trawl the sceptical websites, particularly when you are newly aware of multiplicity, and building an operating group – it is very easy to quickly feel invalidated by yourself and what you are reading.
One of the biggest groups of sceptics, is, sadly, the psychiatric profession. Over time, their understanding of multiplicity has changed, and with that, their behaviour towards multiples. This is partly due to books and films about multiples that have had two effects. The first is to paint all multiples as insane mad axe-murderers, and the second is to push countless people into being sceptical about other forms of multiplicity, for if you are NOT a mad axe-murderer, then you can’t be multiple, you’re just deluding yourself, which is what DID is. The accepted belief is that you must have been through horrific abuse to be multiple, but that doesn’t have to be the case, and there are multiple systems that see themselves as primarily trauma-based who are now perfectly healthy and functional groups, and there are those that see themselves as naturally multiple, that are very very unwell, just as there are singlets that have been abused that now present as well and sane, and those that haven’t who present as unwell. Being multiple is just that, it is not a euphemism for being crazy as well!
Whilst there are a lot of sceptics out there, and we are the first to admit that, there are also a lot of people who believe totally in multiplicity, and who are not in the slightest sceptical, even in the psychiatric profession. We are lucky enough to have a college counsellor who is totally comfortable with us being multiple, and who interacts with and treats us as individuals, right up to offering each of us confidentiality. This is a counsellor, yet she understands. So just as you, a multiple, hate being tarred with the same brush as Sybil, remember that the psychiatric profession need not all be tarred with the sceptic brush also. We have spent a long time discussing what empowerment isn’t, illustrated by the essay by AMORPHA???, but we have not really considered what empowerment is, when the whole topic of this book is on becoming empowered. If you look at a singlet, how do you judge whether or not, in your eyes, they count as empowered? We have our own series of checks and balances that show whether or not, in our eyes, empowerment is present. “Surely empowerment is just getting on with your life?” We’ve been asked, but to us, it is more than that.
In Essence (more on it later) states “[I/We] agree that the group is expected to have the necessary checks and balances to maintain a level of functionality and well-being” and to us that is important. These checks and balances sum up empowerment. To those ends, we have a list that we use to judge whether empowerment is present or not. For us to be empowered at any given time, we have to be able to affirm that every statement on the list is true. Due to that, empowerment is not a static state, but ever-changing and fluid. It is not that you have a series of realizations, and after that are empowered, or that it is a “lightbulb” moment, following which you judge yourself empowered, but it is a constant ongoing task to remain above the levels that are set. To those ends, here are the levels we have set ourselves.
[*] To attend all functions or events we have planned, and without the multiplicity preventing us for participating fully
[*] To take care of our body, including hygiene and eating above and beyond the normal expected levels
[*] To be consistent and honest in our interactions with others
[*] To be consistent and honest in our interactions with each other
[*] To maintain a state of functionality in the system whereby all hostility is contained
[*] To disallow system events from affecting our real-life events
[*] To have the ability to pass as a singlet
These checks and balances we have set ourselves may seem inappropriate or odd, but they are the metre-stick with which we measure our progress, and whether or not we are, at any given time, empowered. Despite this simplistic list, empowerment is also a mindset. To us, this mindset is that we are not weak, not ill, and that we have choices and control. We are never under the total control of anyone else, and we are never without options. We can choose to make the unhealthy choice, but again, that is not empowerment. Empowerment is being able to take control of our own life.
We wish in future that the empowerment to us might also be the ability to tell people we are plural, and ask for acceptance with that, but at the moment that is not the case, and we have to stick with what we can have instead.
When we call ourselves empowered multiples, we are not denying trauma from our past. That happened, and it still shapes parts of our lives today. Nor are we denying anything else, this is who we are. What we are doing is saying that it will stop here, working towards preventing the trauma having an ongoing affect, working to reclaim our lives. We are not saying “these flashbacks do not exist” but more that they do not control us. Empowerment is not refusing help or therapy for fear that it might make you look weak, it is accepting the help you need, and using it in ways that will aid you, not digging up memories and making yourselves worse. We see a counsellor, and are not ashamed of it. She is a massive support to us, she helps us, and she can look at a situation form yet more perspectives than us. However, we have control of what we talk about, not her. We also all go, whether or not we see ourselves as being people who need help, because only if she knows us all can she really work with us to any great level. We like and trust her, but our lives are not focussed around her. She is not the only person that matters to us, but simply one of a group.
Empowerment is, in some ways, the opposite of dependency. When dependency is relying on one person, or a few people above and beyond anyone else, empowerment is having that self-reliance. Friends are good, counsellors can be good, support is good, but it has to come from within. That is where multiplicity comes in. Being multiple has the benefit that you are not ever alone, and that you can always have that support from others. It is not any better to rely fully on somebody within the system than relying on somebody outside it, but it still is sometimes needed. When you rely on somebody within your collective, they are more likely to be present, and they know you better. Some collectives, like ours, have such support networks set up already. We divide into crisis groups with a leader, and it is your group or leader, from that that you can talk to. We also divide into three larger groups, and you have a leader there also that you can speak to. The idea is for nobody to be alone, and everybody to be able to reach out. This is not denying empowerment, to reach out, but aiding it, because everybody needs help sometimes.
Empowerment means very different things to different people, and to that end we have asked for definitions from other groups and collectives on what it means to them. What we have said there is what it is to us, what we say here is what it is to them. The first of these responses comes, ironically, from a member of our collective – Quinn:
I am me, I am normal. I am nothing more or less that any other person. I exist, and have rights, and responsibilities, and I love, and I hate, and I am me. I do not have a disorder, and I am not psychic. I don't want to integrate, and I do want to be more functional. I am not the most functional person. I am a depressed, eating disordered self-harmer. But I am trying to get better, and more than that I take responsibility for being these things. To me, that responsibility is empowerment. Things aren't resolved, but I am using therapy to get through that. I am me. I love for me, and I hate for me, and I think for me. --Quinn This was used with permission
Something else that this book is going to focus on is how to become empowered. It is all well and good to describe empowerment as what you want, or as a goal, but if you do not find a way of reaching that then it has not meant anything more to you than empty words. For that reason, if no other, it is important to look at how to become empowered.
One of the things that can help is lists, interestingly. Make table, with three columns, the first saying “What I like about my life”, the second “What I dislike about my life” and the third “What I can change about my life”.
Look at and answer these totally honestly, don’t faff around, or say you cannot make changes where you can. A lot of the time, these changes might not be pleasant or easy, and they might feel pretty traumatic at times, and indeed you don’t have to even make the changes, but a big part of empowerment is realizing that there are in fact options, always have been, and always will be. The realization that you are never without choices is an important one.
Another thing you can do is develop your own checklist for empowerment, ours was shown a few pages ago. The checklist can be something to be referred to when you feel like you’re losing track, and can remind you how to get back on track. Something else is the famed “In Essence” contract, explained later on.
If you are in a relationship or family situation that is abusive or otherwise preventing you from being empowered, then change it, it is not something you need to stick with, you an tell somebody, or move out. This is difficult, we do not deny that, but difficult and impossible are very different things.
If you can, get a sheet of paper, and make yourself a timetable, and learn to stick to it. If you need to be in work, go to work. This avoids people being able to use the excuse “I didn’t know” and forces them instead to look, and work it out, so that they DO know. This timetable can also be useful for the disorganised. If you can, get a full sized whiteboard, and mark permanent engagements on in permanent marker, and temporary ones in rub-off pen. Make a goal chart while you’re there, for the younger ones, to help them, it’ll really make a difference!
For us, a big part of empowerment was also getting to know each other. Once we had achieved that, it felt like half the battle was won, we could build friendships, relationships and alliances. If you expect others to know you or even just to want to know you, first you have to know yourself and each other. Knowing yourself is equally important for singlets and multiples. If you do not know yourself, then how can you get to know others. It was also about accepting the views and prejudices of other people. If they refuse to interact with you using your individual names, then try and persuade them to use a collective name. If they refuse to know you as individuals, then let them know just one person. A lot of people see multiplicity as far beyond their comprehension, but if you make it simple enough, they will understand, and that is the first step.
Despite that, becoming empowered is not about having the understanding of others, but having the understanding of yourselves. It is knowing that whatever others say, do, or believe about you will not change who you are. In some ways this is the hardest part, to look a sceptic in the eye and say “I don’t care what you think, it doesn’t change me”. Harder yet, if this sceptic is a friend, someone whose opinion you really value, possibly even more than you value your own. This comes back to the independent part of empowerment, the fact that to be empowered you simply CANNOT depend on anyone else for everything, because nobody can give you that.
Remember please, when you are becoming angry and frustrated with yourself, when you don’t know what to say or do that’s right, and when you feel like the harder you try, the less empowered you are, empowerment is ongoing. You don’t get there once, and think you’re there, you simply have to keep trying until it is second nature to you. If you are not succeeding, it is not a failure, nor should it reflect badly on you, because you are not at fault. It is difficult, and it never stops being work. As we sit here and write, we know we have not passed our own checks today, but we are talking inside about how we can rectify that as soon as possible, because we want to rectify it, we want to make empowerment come naturally to us, and be a part of who we are. Maybe in future, we will be able to be “out” as multiple, and that be fine, but on the other hand, maybe not. It shouldn’t matter to us too much, as long as we remain out to ourselves, and open-minded.
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