How many lives do you lead?

Last night, one of the lives that one of us leads, intruded on our normal functioning.  This made us wonder how many lives we lead and what impact this has.  Everyone talks about having different roles or persona’s they present to the world, e.g. how you act and appear at work is possibly different from how you would act at a dinner party on a Saturday night.  It appears as if this sort of thing is usual for the singleton population.  As someone who experiences dissociation, I’ve often wondered whether my experiences are all that different from this sort of usual occurrence.  That is, until the way the two different parts run their life collide, then it becomes obvious that we may not fit “usual”.

As a singleton with various aspects of one personality, there seems to be some consistency in the way you interact with the world – that is, your ethics, morals and way of viewing the world don’t change significantly.  There might be more slippage in the way some things are viewed, but overall you are consistent.  Whereas I experience what I would consider more of a sliding scale, especially when it comes to morals and our way of viewing the world.  Our ethics seem fairly consistent – a desire not to intentionally harm others is one common denominator; but our morals especially, seem to be more variable.  This seems to contradict some of the research I have read where morals and ethics are consistent across the dissociative system – if one part performs an action then it is something that the rest of the system is capable of.  So, I as CG are capable of my usual shyness as well as Sophie’s outgoing happiness and S’s overt sexuality.  I’m also capable of the actions that occur from the way those parts view the world.  I struggle with this concept greatly…  Sophie’s outgoing happiness and innocence is a direct contrast to S’s overt sexuality; how can these be morally consistent?  Each part has their own group of contacts online and when there is a collision between these groups, the differences become obvious.  The other night, we were chatting online with a friend, during the chat we received a message for S from one of her online contacts.  The confusion and resulting anxiety lead to a dissociative switch with S coming forward to try and get rid of the person we were talking to so she could talk to her contact.

It is rare for all of us to respect or consider anyone a friend, but there are a few that S doesn’t feel the need to control, manipulate or please.  Does this mean that we are morally consistent?  Or, does it mean that S is healing and learning that controlling people isn’t always necessary?  I’m not sure of the answers.  What’s interesting, is that it’s our male friends that she is more likely to have contact with, but yet she doesn’t fall into the old patterns of sexual manipulation.  I’m not really sure if she considers them friends, authority figures or objects to be studied out of curiosity.  But it’s a marked contrast to our female friends, whom she expresses no interest in talking to.  Possibly because in some respects the abuse we were subjected to by women was physical as well as sexual and psychological, so there is a different dynamic going on.

I’ll take this to Liz on Tuesday and see what she thinks…  I’m not sure that I’m fully grasping the difference between a singletons presentation of different persona’s, and someone with DID presenting with different dissociative parts.

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12 thoughts on “How many lives do you lead?

  1. This is very interesting. I don’t know if I live “other” lives, I don’t think so, altho there have been a few times someone has known me and I didn’t know them. About half of those, the person was in a college class and an alter knew him (from class), I knew OF him. Stuff like that, that overlaps, like you described.

    My T has told me he believes my moral center is much the same for all my alters, but it is emotions, choices, likes/dislikes, etc that are different between them and me. It confuses me.

    • Hi Ivory,

      Thank you for your comments, I’m never sure if what I experience is common, usual or different. The moral centre is the one that affects me the most, I’ll ask Liz on Tuesday for her opinion.

      Take care,
      CG

  2. I don’t have DID so I’m really not sure how relevant my thoughts are. I do understand, though, the sense of having different personas – like you describe, the person who fronts work is quite different to the person who catches up with friends on a Saturday.

    The longer I’m in therapy the larger the gap between some of these personas. Sometimes I have a sense that the authentic me is emerging, but I’m never sure. The conflict that arises within because of the gap is very confusing, with different personas wanting different things. I’m not sure if it’s like having DID, but I imagine it’s a very small part of it.

    I have learnt a lot about DID from you and others online. Thank you for sharing and helping me to understand. I hope you’re all ok in there.

    • Hi Kerro,

      We don’t consider ourselves a good example of what it is like to live with DID – but then, I don’t think it is possible to get someone who is stereotypically DID.

      I get what you mean about the gap between the personas changing over time. I think this is part of the healing process, as we become more aware of what we are doing and our motivations for doing so. It’s also about us healing and realising that we don’t have to meet others expectations – we don’t have to be perfect at work, we don’t have to say we want to go out when we don’t want to etc. So our personas shift over time as we heal and grow.

      Take care,
      CG

  3. CG, Thanks for bringing this up. I think about this a lot and this is what drives the “I’m a liar” stuff. I seem to sometimes think that what I experience is really what everyone else experiences just that I make a big deal about it.

    I understand what you say about two worlds colliding. And I know I contradicted that on my blog a bit. I think that most of the time, at least for some of us with DID, we stick to the script and try not to let the two different parts collide. And even when we think we are doing a lot of healing work, we may be doing it on some level, but seem to always let the really difficult parts not be part of that healing.

    Stay safe.

    • I can identify with what you are saying about our experiences being similar to everyone else, but we make a big deal out of it. I constantly struggle with this as there’s no indication other than our own reporting as to what we experience is anything other than what the majority of the population also experience.

      We have an incentive not to let the worlds collide – it’s scary, confusing and sometimes leads to negative behaviours. But I can also appreciate that we need to let the two at least meet. It’s easier to say “I’m healing” and not have to consider the really hurt and angry ones when we make those statements… I know that whenever they’ve come close I’ve actively pushed them away and said that I’m not ready for them. It seems safer to heal within the worlds I’m comfortable with… I know that isn’t sustainable, but it feels safer.

      Take care,
      CG

      • The reality is that it is not similar to what everyone else experiences. That’s why I have to reality check when I think that way. And thinking that way and going into denial ALWAYS gets me in trouble. Major trouble.

        At least you know that your current way of dealing with all of this is not sustainable. I hope that the safety you feel from maintaining this distance will lead to another completely different level of safety when you actually find a way to work with these parts. It’s inevitable that you will.

        Take care to you too,

        Paul

        • I get the feeling they’ll get very sick of waiting for me to be ready and force the issue if I’m not careful. I need to work closer with the hurt ones – part of which is respecting their view that they aren’t hurt.

          Take care,
          CG

  4. Hi CG —

    I think the simplest way to differentiate between the singleton’s facets of personality and the DIDer’s alters is that the singleton identifies the facets as different parts of the self, and we identify them as different people whom we do not necessarily recognize to be ourselves. Additionally, unlike a singleton, we do not necessarily have reliable access to the other parts. A singleton who goes to work and has a work persona can rely on that work persona being reliably available. Someone with DID does not necessarily have that reliability of presentation — or we may not be able to switch back out of that state into a different state with any degree of fluidity, whereas a singleton can usually go from work to a party and know that their “party” self will be accessible.

    So — yes, singletons have personas. However, they identify them as parts of themselves, rather than as discrete entities; and there is far more ease of transition.

    • For me, the “reliably available” aspect of the persona is what I lack (or value) the most. I would like to know that when I go to a meeting that I’m going to be able to sustain a working persona during the entire meeting. At the moment, I fear every meeting or event as I know from past experience that a minor trigger, or being tired, can cause me to switch to a very different state of being.

      Thank you for your explanation David…
      Take care,
      CG

      • “Reliably available” parts was one of the advantages of the old way of coping. I know it’s hard to keep in mind that when we heal we lose this reliability, but we gain something far greater… just don’t ask me now what that is! But I know I have had glimpses of it… the sense of wholeness, the sense of peace, the sense of self-love and self-comfort… all of it.

        • I liked how I used to be able to cope and be “reliably available”, but I know it wasn’t sustainable. I see my long term goal as reaching a point where we can work together so that there is less unreliability (so to speak). I avoid situations at the moment because I know the risk is too high.

          I can understand what you are talking about regarding the sense of wholeness and peace, it just feels very out of reach right now.

          Take care,
          CG

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