On Revealing Multiplicity
One of the hardest things about being a multiple is the lack of understanding by the general public of what it is, what it’s like, and appropriate ways to respond to the knowledge of someone being a multiple. Most – if not all – people with DID experience countless occurrences of rejection, misunderstanding, misinterpretation of their words/actions, and insensitive or inappropriate responses when their mental state of being is revealed…even when the multiple does not necessarily view it as a problem or a “disorder.”
I have not heard from anyone thus far who has been lucky enough to be raised in and continue to live in an environment that was both aware of, and supportive of, their multiplicity from the beginning of their awareness to present-day. Maybe those people are out there; if they are, I haven’t talked to them. I HOPE they are. (If that describes you, would you care to drop me a line?? I’d love to know your story.)
Mostly for these reasons, I personally do not reveal my multiplicity to a group except under very specific conditions. For example, if the group is specifically geared toward the topic of DID, dissociation, or multiplicity, such as an online support group, I would consider it relatively safe. Of course, not all online support groups are created equal, and you still have to use common sense and the regular cautions about online interaction with people you don’t know. But I have had generally positive experiences with online support groups. I even help with some admin duties for The Dissociative Initiative, and have met some amazing people there. (Note: you should know beforehand that if you’re interested in joining that group, it is an OPEN group and everything posted in it is public on the Internet.)
The other circumstance in which I would reveal my multiplicity to a group is if I personally knew everyone in the group, OR someone I know and trust very well knew them and recommended them. This is actually how I met the small group I’m currently with. I did not know them personally, but my T did, and I trust her recommendation. They have been an amazing, life-changing group and I’m grateful for them every day. But I consider this an unusual situation.
I would also tend to be extremely cautious about revealing it in a church setting, because unfortunately a lot of well-intentioned but still misguided Christians tend to associate a lot of dissociative symptoms with demon possession, and that’s how they interpret it. Just about every Christian multiple I know has either experienced an attempted exorcism, or been told they needed one. I have scoured the Internet and cannot find – as of yet – a good resource on the subject of demon possession vs dissociation. If you know of one, PLEASE SEND IT TO ME. I will post and share it. My conclusion is that I’m going to have to write one. I’m not sure when, but it’s on my list.
At any rate, regardless of the nature of the group, unless the group’s focus is dissociation/ multiplicity, there are just too many unknowns involved with revealing this aspect of one’s inner experiences. There’s no way to know how everyone in the group will react, which ups the chances of hurtful experiences. There’s no way to know their background, their knowledge about trauma or emotional wounds, their personality and ways of responding to difficult situations, etc. All of these things increase the likelihood that multiplicity will not be well-received.
Alternatively, my preference (before meeting the group I’m in now) was to make friends one by one. This definitely takes longer, but is more fool-proof and worth it in the end. Finding a single person here or there, and getting to know them slowly, allows me to check them out, see how they respond to life’s ups and downs, investigate what kind of friend and person they are, and slowly discover whether they are safe to reveal to.
Even the sweetest, safest, most loving people are usually uneducated about trauma…unless they have some reason to be. However, if they are truly safe and loving, they will be open-minded and willing to learn about it, rather than harshly judge and reject others with out-of-the-box experiences.
The sad thing is that trauma is not actually as out-of-the-box as the public has been led to believe, but that is another topic for another day.
These are my thoughts about revealing multiplicity, but I’d love to hear from others who have had different experiences. I’m sure there are many people who could share more tips, thoughts, and knowledge about what is helpful and what isn’t, in terms of deciding whether or not to let others know about being a multiple. Talk to me. Cheers. ~J8