I am not sure who wrote the following list of “Do’s and Don’ts for Singleton Friends of Multiples”. This list was e-mailed to me years ago by a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder, saying this list was comprised by an anonymous group* of multiples.
I am sure that there could be many other suggestions added to the list, but for today, I will post it in exactly the same format as I received it.
For anyone wanting to offer friendship and support to a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder, a group of multiples have suggested the following helpful guidelines:
Do’s and Don’ts for Singleton Friends of Multiples
(* written by an anonymous group of dissociative trauma survivors)
- Do NOT ever touch us from behind.
- Do NOT ever touch our throat.
- Do NOT ever touch the back of our head.
- DO speak to our inner children like children.
- Do NOT ask “Who’s here now?” If we wanted you to know we would tell you.
- Do NOT tell an alter that you don’t know to “go get” the host…there could be several of the same name…different age groups.
- Do NOT expect consistency of feeling, thought, or action on any subject.
- Do NOT tell anyone to go inside because you do not like their views.
- DO set healthy boundaries.
- If you are uncomfortable with something said or done, say so, and do NOT avoid us in the future without an explanation.
- Be HONEST.
- Be understanding that we have many crisis situations in our lives of healing from our abuse, i.e.: flashbacks, panic attacks, body memories.
- Laugh, make jokes with us, really, it’s OK!
- Do NOT assume anything if you honestly want to know about our “disorder” please ask, we’ll tell you the truth.
- Do NOT treat us like “the freak you happen to know” around your singleton friends.
- Do NOT use our difficulties as a subject of conversation with your singleton friends.
- Sometimes we are paralyzed with depression, and cannot call you, clean our house, or get out of bed. Don’t take it personally.
- We will fight being hospitalized….. even though we actually show that we need it at the time. Hospitals are extremely frightening for us.
- DO be supportive of our healthy behaviors no matter how small the accomplishment may seem to you.
- DO be encouraging.
- When we ask to talk to you, we aren’t asking you to come up with answers to our problems. We don’t expect you to FIX it. Sometimes we just need someone to LISTEN… that is the greatest gift of all!!
- DON’T tell us that the abuse happened a long time ago and for us to “just get over it!” That is a HUGE insult!!
For those of you that are multiple, what other suggestions would you add to this list?
Do you agree or disagree with the suggestions as listed?
What have you needed your husband or wife to do – or not do — specific to your needs as a trauma survivor?
Your thoughts, comments, and suggestions are welcome.
Copyright © 2008-2020 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
Dorothy M Pollak says
I have a dear friend who has DID, and a fair number of her alters/parts have communicated with me. Some of them hate her and want to kill her, and don’t hesitate to tell me she has to die. I’m a trained therapist, but no training in DID. What is the best way for me to respond when these parts are threatening to kill her? They have overdosed her twice and she wound up in the hospital. They all believe they have separate bodies, and will survive if she dies.
I’m not trying to be her therapist, just a friend, so I need to keep that role clean, but I also am concerned about her safety, and she lives 4 hours away from me.
We been a little brave and talking to our sister. The boys be playing a game with her. And also she read a articol we wrote. And we have told her some stuff we have done with our talker lady.
The other day we were all switching so fast that my husband said “y’all need to wear name tags. It would make it easier to keep up with everyone thats talking. “
Years ago with first T, we said we needed to invent an eletronic,, lcd name tag that we could change with just a click of a button, and we could wear it in our chest, and other people could see it
If I struggle with it , I dont expect others to feel like they should ” get it”
We agree with all of what you listed! Just wish that others in the lives we live would actually accept that this does happen to people and that we are not rejects! Only speaking for my system.. Our own expediences! Took most of my life to get the right diagnosis! Still have so much to learn!
I think you will find that this blog will help you . I know it is us
I just want to support what MultipleMe has said here. All of the old messages that our perpetrators tried to make us believe were our truth come bubbling up when we tell our heart stories. We have been forced into silence so much of our lives, it is hard to feel free to speak our truth now. But there are no don’ts about speaking your truth here. I so welcome the honesty, insight, compassion, frustration, confusion, pain, etc. that others speak here. You will never know how many folks your touch and inspire with your heart letters here. And, if I can speak from my experience, it is so liberating to be able to speak about my journey in a place where it will be heard, compassionately understood, respected and believed.
Keep on opening your heart and vulnerable self to your community here MissyMing. We so appreciate you and your friendship and insight here.
Hello Me+We…..thank you for your feedback….I know I do tend to go into “detailed” mode…but when I am in that mode it feels like it is “important” to say….although I don’t know whether it is “important” for ME….or “important” for maybe someone else……I just have to get it out and then see what happens in me or maybe if I hear from someone else…….
But all the while….I fight panic that I did “wrong” by saying stuff – that I wasn’t supposed to have “talked”, that I wasn’t supposed to have “spilled beans” or whatever….panic that I am making everything up and I am wrong about everything I feel……so it ultimately ends up being its own massive Catch 22 for me……the need to say stuff vs not supposed to say stuff……yes – all of it can be “gut-wrenching”………but we just keep plowing forward – even if it is only an inch!
If someone “gets” what I am saying and it helps them in even a small way – then I can take a breath and a stand against the panic – because I did “good”…….
Sometimes it may be just a way for my own self to process where I am “at” – to “objectively” see what happens to me in situations – I just happen to be doing it outwardly – scary – but still – it MIGHT help someone else…..which is STILL good!
I just had to chime in here and say that you are most definitely helping me by validating how I feel too. It can be so hard for singletons to get it but it’s hard for us too. We do have to get it out sometimes and that’s okay. I too get in trouble for sharing too much, but we’re strong together as one unit and we survive every time. Well, we try to anyway. Sometimes it doesn’t happen but in therapy, we’re working on all of this. We don’t and you don’t have to follow the rules anymore. The rules that you can’t talk or something bad will happen. We are free hopefully now and if we’re not we’re working hard towards it. I wish you the best and thank you for being so brave.
Thank you MultipleMe…I appreciate your validation…..sometimes I wonder if I fit in here….or if I say too much…or say it all wrong…..or maybe I am just overwhelmed from work….I don’t know……just me and my struggles….sorry…..just trying to figure out where I am at……
So great to hear your voice here MissyMing. Your do’s and don’ts are incredible and so born out of a lot of thought and understanding of yourself in your world. And a lot of difficult times too it feels/reads like. I so resonate to them all. Thank you for taking the time and energy to present such detailed descriptions. They really helped me to focus on what I was feeling in many of these same situations. I especially gulped at your statement — ”How are you?” is not a simple question for me” WOW … how gut-wrenchingly true!
Thank you MissyMing and please keep writing. You SO fit here and are SO valued here.
Your thankful friend,
These may have already been said….I didn’t have time to read everyone’s response – so – sorry if I have repeated….These are my ideas from my own angles of being triggered and being co-conscious……I would imagine that being “co-conscious” and being “unaware” would create two different types of situations and needs…….
Do NOT be patronizing…..I can pretty much sense when you are truly interacting with a triggered part and when you are simply “tolerating” the part….being “co-conscious” makes me more aware of being “patronized”……..
Do NOT get angry, shut down, and then walk away from me – I may be entering a panic attack with a trigger and am trying to find out “where I am at”…..if I am “OK”……I have to ask questions to find the answers I need to hopefully avoid the attack….. when you get angry, shut down and walk away you increase my panic, confusion, the sense of abandonment and vulnerability and you leave me feeling very “defective”…….which does NOT help my situation. If you can’t deal with my struggle (no hard feelings) – just CALMLY say, “I will give you some space and will get back with you in a bit”…….It lets me know that what is happening to me is more than you know how to deal with in that moment and that you are not completely abandoning me – because you will be back “in a bit” – and then PLEASE follow through – I am trying to learn to trust……..PLEASE respect where I am at even if you don’t “understand” it….
Do NOT “head-game” me…….do not be angry and shut down on me to my face and then get around others and act like you are “taking care” of me…….double-talk and conflicting information creates massive confusion and panic in me and causes further delay in my ability to get “re-grounded”……
Do NOT be “afraid” of me…..I can sense your fear because I am full of it myself when triggered ….yours adds to my confusion……speak CALMLY, step back and give me space without abandoning me. If you don’t know what to say, simply calmly say, “Breathe, breathe……” When I am “bottoming out”….being abandoned and vulnerable is a horrible feeling…….
When I am more “re-grounded”, you can ask me questions if you want – even if it is “Are you OK now?” …..one of the great cries of the unknown parts of my heart is to be “heard” and when someone is truly wanting to understand – I am usually willing to “explain” at least a bit…….
Do NOT act like “nothing happened” after I get triggered…… it throws me into confusion…I am “aware” that “something” happened – but, when I get triggered I go into a “Twilight Zone” and get caught “between Worlds” and can feel very spacey….if you act like “nothing happened” I can’t tell if I had just “dreamed” or “imagined” the situation I just thought I went through……I need even a little concrete feedback to be able to find out “where I am at” and to validate the sense that “something” DID happen……
This next one is a hard one for “regular” people to know what to do – but it is a battle for me…..If you ask me “How are you?” and you don’t hear an answer right away and you see confusion on my face…please don’t look at me like something is “wrong” with me…..”How are you?” is not a simple question for me….I must process whether you are being serious or rhetorical – which I am sure singletons themselves deal with….but I have an extra measure of struggle……if you are serious, then each part (at least the ones that can present and sometimes others that don’t) have their own answer to the question – but, which answer do I give? If you are simply being rhetorical – then I have to “block off” all the different answers I “hear” and sense on the Inside and then deal with their “staring” at me and wanting to know why I didn’t “answer” like I was supposed to…..Simply answering a rhetorical “How are you?” with a rhetorical answer of “Fine” can often create Inner turmoil and confusion because I didn’t “hear” the parts, I didn’t “acknowledge their existence” – I “blocked” them off…….trying to explain “rhetorical questions” to parts who want to be heard can be a bit of a struggle…….So, PLEASE, give me a few extra moments to “process” so I can go through all the “steps”……if you want to just hear “Fine” – give me a few moments – I will give it to you….I know the Outside World often expects rhetoric….it just takes me a bit to get there……
You may think, “Well, I just won’t ever ask her ‘How are you?'”……Sorry to say, That is NOT a solution either!…..Then it is very obvious and in our face that we are “different” and you don’t want to deal with us……Feel like you are in a Catch-22?……Welcome to our World! We are full of them!!…..We must deal with them on the Outside AND the Inside……! Many parts can have completely conflicting views – no wonder we can feel “worn” out from a single day!
You present very true points. For me especially I hate when people pretend like nothing is wrong. It’s like I have to constantly keep that part of my life (which is actually my whole life, but oh well) from them. I have to pretend that it doesn’t even exist and then that causes all sorts of problems, like you mentioned. Yes, I bet you DO feel worn out on a single day. It’s a lot of work but it does sound like you’re able to press through. Although we all have our bad days. Anyway, just wanted to validate you and let you know I hear you and agree with you. Well said, all around.
My Favorite is don’t tell me I like something when I just said I didn’t. Then tell me “yes you do you liked it before.”
my husband tells me that all the time, i have tried to explain but he just doesnt get it.
holy wow my old T needs to read this list. hahaha her fave thing to ask was always “who’s here now? who am i speaking with” and its like stfu. If you bothered to get to know us at all you’d know instantly…
This is a good list. Here’s some more from our experience:
DO NOT tell the host that talking with another alter is like “pulling teeth”
DO NOT push alters past what they’re comfortable doing and then act the victim when their protector comes forward and tells you off.
DO NOT EVER say that “everyone has parts of themselves”. Do some research and stop being so offensive and ignorant.
DO NOT ask us if one of us is going to stab you in your sleep or hurt you. – do you really think we’d actually do that after we’ve been bff’s for 15 years!?
DO NOT treat us any differently than you did before we told you! We’re not going to abuse your child!
DO NOT ask us what our trauma was.
DO treat us as lots of individual PEOPLE sharing a body. We are not “just parts” and its offensive to be invalidated like that!
DO praise us and let us know certain things you like to do with certain people or things you like about them.- Everyone likes to know they’re wanted once in a while.
Do listen without judgement as best you can.
Do repeat yourself and ask if (insert plans) is ok, if you think we’ve switched…or if you think we’ve forgotten something cos we probably have LOL
Do send a random smiley text or heart or something every once in a while to let us know you’re still alive. If you’re our friend there’s going to be someone concerned about you and wanting to know you’re still safe and happy even if we aren’t talking all the time.
DO let us know if you’re shitty at something that is not us you’re shitty at. OR even if it is, let us know too! So we can fix it or change our behaviour.
DO understand that making decisions is hard when you’re co-con with at least 30-100 other people! We need extra time!
DO trust us!!! Do trust us with your baby, your secrets, your friendship! We are the same people you’ve always known! You just didn’t know we had separate names!
Bang on target astrie. Nice to hear your voice!
Hi again ME+WE nice to see you 🙂 Hope you’re all doing well.
This is a really good list. I can tell you really have experienced some challenging situations in dealing with other people. I especially like your statement of “Do trust us!!!”. I totally agree! It’s not like I’m a monster or anything. It would be nice if I could totally trust someone enough to switch and it wouldn’t be a big deal. Someone that pays attention. But it’s okay that there isn’t someone like that. I think people just don’t get that once we tell you, it’s not like anything changes really. There’s nothing to be afraid of, just now you know something about us you didn’t before. People can ask questions, we’ll try and help them understand. Anyway, great list and I’m sorry if you’ve been treated like a monster before. Not fair at all. And so hurtful.
Yeah we’ve had our fair share of shitty very hurtful situations once we’ve told ppl about the DID. But meh, you live and learn lol. We’ve had just as many ok and good reactions and have some really good decent trustworthy friends now too. Switching happens for us regardless if we trust someone so i guess it’s not something i ever really think about but i do hope you do meet someone whom you deeply trust and can all be yourselves around. You deserve that.
I’m with you. People are always afraid and i hate that lol, its like, just ask me what you’re wanting to know and i’ll straight up tell you lol. I’m an open book about most stuff other than trauma. Its not hard…but society has a long way to go i think 🙁
Hope you’re all doing well. have a great day. Nice to meet ya!
Astrie. et al.
Thank you so much. It’s nice to meet you too. I’m a pretty open book to. I find it interesting that no one asks us questions about it. I think singletons just don’t even know where to begin because it’s such a misunderstood thing. But that’s what’s so great about this place. We’re among people who get it and understand where we’re coming from. I have one DID friend I talk to pretty much every day. It’s so nice because we can talk about DID stuff or regular stuff and it’s great to have that support. I hope you have or get someone like that too. We all deserve lots of good support.
I dont understand…… When I post comments on any article, I dont see it & dont get any replies to it. Is there something I need to do different to make sure u get/ see it?
I am seeing this comment so maybe there were just some technical difficulties along the way. Sometimes I forget to click on the “post comment” button below the “comment, name, email, website” test blocks. Maybe that is what happened? Anyway, try again because we would sure like to hear from you! 🙂
Shirley J. Davis says
This is a pretty good list. Here are a few possible additions.
Don’t assume I am helpless, I have survived this long haven’t I?
Don’t treat me like I am broken, I am very strong.
Don’t confront me about my behavior while I am dissociated, you’ll only be frustrated in the attempt.
Do love me and tell me so. I’ve been feeling unloved all my life.
Do have patience when I act like I don’t believe you when you say you love me. I’ve had so many people who misused the word “love” in my past, it will take me a while to believe you are telling the truth.
dont tell us we are demon posessed! I dont care how religious you think you are. Our five year old is not a demon!
dont expect youung ainsiders to understand adult things.
dont ask for a certain person to come out just because you want to have sex 🙁
Sorry for using this space here for something off topic. But I am trying hard to get in touch with someone who reads here regularly. MAO, if you are reading this, please reply to my emails directly as soon as you are ready. I am waiting. email@example.com
All the Jill People says
Oh my goodness.. what a difference in the time we posted last. Wow. So.. ok. The denial thing is very prevalent in many people with DID. There are some in my system who are still trying to understand there are others. There are some who believe they exist alone.. maybe like a singleton? I guess be prepared for a person in denial of what ever happened or just plain don’t remember or don’t know. Be prepared for denial of the diagnosis.. or even denial of even knowing you. Don’t take offense if we just don’t know who you are. Please.
Also don’t be offended when we struggle with the word friend. Some of us inside people don’t have friends. So if we say we don’t have friends.. don’t take it personally. In fact.. don’t take a lot of what is said personally. It’s very ok to tell us how it made you feel when we said that. Just please keep in mind there might be someone present who doesn’t have a clue who you are or what’s happening.
I guess my insiders don’t mind being asked to be out at a given time. It usually doesn’t happen “on command. But.. when Kathy Broady asked for Frank, he obliged. Maybe the suggestion would be.. give a multiple lots of time to build communication and a relationship with you. We have been hurt a lot and it doesn’t come automatically. It does take time.
Don’t assume anything. Don’t think that just because we wear a hat it means that Frank is out.. or any specific clothing attire for that matter. There is a specific reason for the hat and questions are sometimes vital.
A good rule of thumb is noticing. “I noticed you aren’t wearing a hat. Is there a particular reason you didn’t?”
Of course not all singletons are going to notice every change.. so there’s that.
I have two friends with DID, and this is very useful to me even though i already know some of their boudaries. To ask who’s there, i usually play “knock knock, who’s there”, so it doesn’t sound serious, even though they are okay with asking directly.
I only touch with their authorization, if there’s some kind of touch they don’t allow, I stop immediately. I like to treat them as individuals too, giving presents (i like to bring flowers to each one if it’s little flowers, or everyone if big flowers), drawing them, making up nicknames. Each time I meet one, is a new journey, and it makes me nervous, since it’s meeting a new person no matter how alike they are to the usual front, so i always feel really happy when i manage to have a friendly relationship with another one. It’s important to remember that they are listening when you are not talking to them while they are fronting. sometimes I talk about my impressions, and it really is interesting, this way we can talk about our experiences in a healthy way. Communicating is an amazing thing, and it’s very important to set boundaries and not accidentally scare the other away.
Singletons must be always ready to hear them, study about the subject. A lot of things i studied, later my friends would mention, and sometimes i have already read even about how to help them, based on how other systems deal with the same thing. But no need to mention about what you read if that’s no pertinent to the conversation, obviously. The person with DID is the professional here, more than you are and that I am. And no matter how much you read about it, some things are individual to the alter. I know that because I’m autistic, and we have that last thing happening on our community, of people believing they know more and that we shouldn’t have a voice.
I hope this helps someone? Or give hope, or information. I know reading the comments of this article helped me a lot.
Jill Summerville Sparks says
Odd ball.. Complete odd ball. Sometimes wondering if the whole DID stuff is “real” for me or not. Articles about what a DIDer is or isn’t confuses me. When I “hear” inside voices.. So to speak.. They want to be asked, “who’s here”.
I have worked very hard on bing touched. Hugs are welcome in my world. I am often offended if someone asks me if it is ok to be touched or hugged. Inappropriate touching is a different story all together.
I often don’t “present” the criteria for DID. Psychologists and therapists put the ‘borderline personality disorder’ on me. I hate that.
So.. What does that mean? Does it make me a “fake” when it comes to having DID? Did I make it all up in my head?
If some of these statements are not true in my world… Do I just not belong here?
Maybe I don’t belong anywhere.
Everyone with DiD is different no one will all fit in the same criteria, you belong Jill xxx
Sending Hugs xx
You belong. Yes, you absolutely belong. Sometimes I feel that way, too. None of this is real. I don’t fit in ANYWHERE. Somehow I have to find a way to acknowledge those feelings without really owning or internalizing them…because that can be so destructive.
I don’t know if this helps…but one thing I am starting to do is to name the underlying “thing.” So if I am feeling like I don’t fit in anywhere I might acknowledge it without swallowing it hook line and sinker by saying, “Oh, that is isolation talking.” or “That’s anxiety talking.” or “That’s depression talking.”
Finding balance can be so hard.
You do belong. You get to be here. I’m GLAD you are here!
Do realize that anything you do or say, or dont do or say, gets multiplied and multiplied depending on how many insiders there are. You dont just leave one person. You leave 25 or 10 or 100. You dont just hurt one persons feelings. Its dozens. Words you say can hit like a punch in the the stomach. Everything you do affects way more than one person.
People without DID will never, ever get it. So dont ever assume you get it. Dont presume you understand. Because you dont.
Make sure you know how old the person you are talking to is before you start joking around with them or teasing them about adult things. Because youre going to freak out a bunch of littles if youre not careful.
Do try to get to know everybody. Insiders who you dont talk to can get hurt and feel inferior if they feel like theyre ignored. But respect their space if they really do just want to be left alone.
Another one for the list:
If the person with DID is crying, especially in church or at random times throughout the day for weeks on end, pretend they are like everyone else and ask them what is wrong and actually listen to them. Instad of ignoring them/ blowing it off as yet another tiring DID thing
I wish my husband would read this list, but he wouldnt care anyway.
Can relate to this .. my hubby walks past the crying ..
I so want to say — stick your foot out and trip him!
But I understand how impossible it is to make someone truly listen. As wonderfully supportive as my husband is, my stuff is often just too much for him to hear. I can’t fault him on that – it is often too much for me to see let alone speak with words, tears or whatever body and vocal expressions bubble up.
I have found that it is important to find friends strong enough to hold space for me. That is a pretty formidable task sometimes. That is why I value this space so very much. This is a place of compassionate hearing and understanding. Your tears are welcome here!
I like this list. I think some of the items apply to anyone with mental illness. You know incourage healthy behaviors even if they’re small, sometimes we’re not consistent due to symptoms, be understanding ETC. Can’t think of them all but it caught my attention that a lot of them could apply to those without DID. As a singleton I have many online friends with DID and can say that each system has their own needs and boundaries and ways they are comfortable relating to people without DID. So I guess a rule is to expect that each system you meet will be different and to just go with the flow. I think treating alters as individual people and giving each caring listening ETC is also important.
Rocio Caro (@Rocio_9_Caro) says
We personally do not mind if people ask us who is fronting… but we don’t always know, because certain headmates have grouped together to act together, while others have yet to be identified or don’t have names of their own. On the other hand, certain headmates get upset when they are not called by their own, true names.
We think it is more important to ask each individual (more complicated than it looks with multiples, eh?) their personal preference about whether they wish to be asked who they are. But… do be prepared to get no answer or a “We’re not entirely certain” as a response.
As for being told that the abuse happened a long time ago… that does help us to get grounded if we are having a flashback. But don’t ever tell us to “get over it”. You have no idea what we have been through that did this kind of damage to us.
Do not call certain alters out. This is not only disrespectful, but it hurts us to have to switch unexpectedly or by force.
We could have written this comment ourselves, we agree 100% with this. We’d rather be asked than have it be assumed it’s the main person they know or are used to interacting with. There are quite a few of us who mimic the fronter for self-preservation reasons. We’ve had a couple people ask us to bring another person out and it basically ruined friendships. They seem to think we’re here for entertainment and we’re definitely not. Thanks for writing this!
This is our first time commenting on an article and for this, we felt we needed to.
Well, bang on target comment Rocio Caro. I so very much agree with your additions to this post fallenangels. Most of my alters have always fronted as ME the host. It was safer that way … is now too. Now that I am aware of them all, some of them are starting to come out with a few “very safe” people aside from my T. But, we are still all cautious of this and would NEVER tolerate being called out for a freak show for someone’s entertainment.
Say … on another topic … great to hear your voice here fallenangels. I do hope that you feel motivated to jump in to other discussions along the way. You sound like you have some great insights to share with us all. And, of course, we are always “here to hear”.
That’s so kind of you, ME+WE. thank you! I/we will certainly jump in from now on. I’ve been reading articles here for months now. It took a while to ‘break the ice’, so to speak, and now that we have, it might be easier to start posting our thoughts here. I appreciate the encouragement. 🙂
So Helpful! Why can’t people/therapist get this stuff! Referring them to this sight has been helpful in my relationships. Thx Kathy
ask us what we hear inside and outside
ask us what the body is feeling, because it can tell things we don’t/might not have language for
don’t engage in arguments with angry, lewd, abusive insiders; try to just listen
remind us there is hope
remind us there is hope
remind us there is hope
when we feel no hope tell us you’ll hold some for us
just see me who is there, just see me.
seeing as I simply don’t tell anyone in my life anything beyond “I am ill” because otherwise I start getting looks of disbelief (sometimes I’d like to be a lot less “high-functioning”) so I guess for me, as well as all of the above, I’d have to say – accept my reality as it is and don’t try to make it into something more “acceptable”. There is some overlap there with the list above, but hopefully you get my meaning.
First thing I would change is “host” (#6), but that’s just my thing. We tend to use ‘front’ or ‘first front,’ because ‘host’ is too much like a SiFi movie about Aliens. We’re not body snatchers and our first front isn’t the human we took over.
***Do ask what our name is, if we’ve agreed on a universal ‘nickname’ use it, many times the body names comes with triggers.
Our partner gives our system kids space to be/do thing by themselves since they get scared of adults in general.
(short for Samantha)
Kathy Broady says
You know … in my experience, the “host” or main “front” is not actually the “birth person” anyway, so… the whole body snatcher theory really doesn’t apply for that reason either. So yeah, I hear you. Who wants to be known as a body snatcher anyway??!!!
I really like the idea of using nicknames — I do that myself, a LOT. When I want to know someone’s “name”, it is more so that I can have a way of reaching them. I have absolutely no objection to using nicknames, and for many inside people, that feels much safer. And it can be kept fun, and light-hearted, and it gives a person a sense of power and control to pick what name / nickname they like. So yes, I’m all for that!
As long as the inside parts and I both know the preferred nickname for them, then it doesn’t matter to me what the name is. It’s more important that the inside one is comfortable with their “name” than what the actual word is.
Thanks for the post, Sam. It’s good to hear from you.
Kathy, can you say more about this part? “You know … in my experience, the “host” or main “front” is not actually the “birth person” anyway,”
Oh, I feel like my heart is breaking….
Kathy Broady MSW says
Hi Wren —
Sorry to hear this is hurts. I suppose it might feel a shock to you to think you might possibly be one of the ones who separated out away from the original. I don’t know that that’s how it is for you, but to be fair, it’s probably something you should or could consider at some point in time.
And of course, please remember I can’t speak for everyone, because everyone splits their system in the way that works best for them, or in the way they needed to split in order to manage what was happening.
But yes… lots of times, the “original birth self” gets tucked away long, long ago, in a way to protect that part from all the physical and emotional pain.
OR… the self becomes so split and shattered that it’s very hard to know who is “the original” birth person.
OR… the birth person tends to stay very dissociated away, even hidden away, often not wanting to see or know or experience any of the trauma, or the memories about the trauma.
This might be an important question to explore in your therapy. It might be helpful to understand more about the beginnings of where / how / who the splitting began with, at the same time, it might have been so early, that it might be hard to ever really know. So… you might not get the exact answers you’re looking for. It would still be good to look though.
The host also often needs to be separated from a lot of the internal hard stuff and lot of the system dynamics in order manage all the outside world tasks and responsibilities. Because they are the ones out front a lot, and dealing with the outside world, it’s often assumed they are “the birth person”, but that may or may not be the case.
But EVERYONE in your system is important…. and the main thing is finding a way that works to function together.
Thank you, Kathy.
I feel like I am running around in a maze of caves and secret places wondering “where is my little one? where is she? Is she safe?”
I will for sure talk to my T about this.
I am so very appreciative for this place, for you and for Laura and for all the people who post and for the ones who don’t but they are here reading and wondering. This place gives me so much hope. I didn’t know that was one of the things I could have. But there it is. Hope.
Perhaps adding Hope to Compassion in my basket of safety nets would be a good thing. Thank you.
Thank you for this insight as well Kathy. I have wondered down this road of questing as well so I was curious to read your answer here. And again, you have been a beacon of knowledge and understanding Kathy. My sincere gratitude
And Wren, it sure does seem like a crazy maze of discoveries, dead ends, new pathways and treasures to be found. You are so very right Wren – there is hope here — such precious hope. We do not have to wander aimlessly in the land of confusion and despair any more. We have the firm grounding of hope, compassion, knowledge and humanity here. How lucky we have been to stumble into this place and to have someone as caring as Kathy to have created this world for us.
Now, as for your question to Kathy, I have pondered on this issue as well Wren. My assumption was that ME, as the host now, is the original. But, I have come to believe that it is actually one of my little ones, one of the WEs. When I think about it, it makes all kinds of sense. As I have said before, my insiders have “come out” to me over a four-year period. You are just beginning to get to know who your insiders are Wren so it may be that you have not met the “original” one yet or you have met her but you just do not have this piece of information about her yet.
I am also still sorting out who was born (my word for when my insiders first appeared on the scene) when. Some of my insiders were born at one age but grew up to another age. Some insiders are stuck at the age when they were born. I am also sorting out who was dominant when. For example, I have only recently come to understand that it was one of my boy insiders who went to public school (grades 1 to 6). So, who was fronting the most and when can also change over time. Hum … I hope that that does not add more confusion here.
Anyway, as I get to know my insiders better, I have come to believe that my one little ones was my “original”. She speaks to me about the attachment issues with the mother and father. She was there for the hospital traumas but it was others who lived the pain of the experiences. She was there and observed the physical/sexual abuse but she was not herself abused. She is very clear with me about this. When my little ones who hold the traumas come out in therapy, this little one will inevitably pop out when things get tough and she will take over to lighten things up and smooth things over. And, she is the one who talks to me all of the time and, I feel, is with me most of the time (i.e., walking side-by-side with me). She certainly is the dominant one of my insiders. And, trusting my gut sense, I think that she is the “original”.
As you come to know the members of your tribe better Wren, you will probably begin to get the sense of who might be the “original”. You are building a relationship right now. That means developing the mutual trust, respect and compassion that is needed for your insiders to reveal themselves to you, tell you their stories, explain their roles in your system, etc. Hum … just a whole lot of time, patience and hard work. But, you are so well on your way Wren!
In the end, I am rather thankful that my “original” little one has let me front for the system all of these years. Otherwise, my freezer would have nothing but ice cream in it, my office would be full of stuffed animals, I would be overrun with kittens and I would just colour all day long. Well, I guess that that would not be so bad! 😉
Oh, and I am certainly going to add “hope” to the “compassion” in my basket of safety nets too!
Our belief follows the idea that individual identity is not formed at birth, but is continually developed through early childhood, perhaps until the age of reason. Hence the notion that multiplicity is caused by severe trauma during this period.
We believe that we were first traumatized in utero. The explanation is too involved for this post. But suffice it to say that for this reason, we never had an “original”. We were born a “we.”
We also use “fronter” rather than “host.” We tell people, “This isn’t a Tupperware party.” And we use “system member” or “insider” rather than “alter.” None of us is an “alternate.” We’re all equally valid.
Oh my gosh, your system name is brilliant! Put a big smile on my face.
I had never considered trauma in utero. I have certainly been learning a lot about genetic memory, epigenetics and birthing trauma but in utero – never explored that avenue of understanding. It makes such sense. Not that I think that I experienced such trauma although I am very suspicious of my preverbal trauma. But certainly gives pause for thought, maybe not in terms of being born multiple (in my case), but setting the groundwork for later trauma to lead to multiplicity. Interesting to speculate on the building blocks to DID.
The idea of being born “we” puts a whole new spin on thinking about what is “original” as well as thoughts to does such a concept even exist?
Thank you for this insight and thoughts to ponder MakersDozn.
BTW – I use “insider” as well to describe the various hues of WE but now think that I will adopt your “fronter” designation for ME. It feels so much more on target and comfortable to wear.
Carrie Fleharty says
I am a DID person who at age 56 just figured out that I have inside people who have protected me. I am just learning about my people. I think that my first split is my birth person, but I am not sure yet.
I’m still working with my people and who they are, and how they protected me. I am interested in finding out how my people work. I am not sure who the host is, and who I am. I’ve disassociated all my life until I was at the end of my rope, and made myself get back into therapy. I’m so glad I did. My partner says I go into a bubble, and she can’t find me. Anyway, I am glad I found this website, and you are helping me to understnd my own people.
I was telling a very good friend of mine who is also a DID person the saying “All for One,” and “One for All” takes on a new meaning. We are all for one, and one for all. 🙂 I’m still sorting through my 7 distinct people. I don’t know who the host is, but we’ll get there.
Carrie and Clan
Lori or am I really says
Kathy what’s this mean? It is Stressing me out. I am Remembering sometime ago, Questioning myself, whether I was or wasn’t the main part the birth part, Now that I’m reflecting back on it. reminding me that Belinda my therapist never really give me satisfying answer. So I just let it go. Oh dear is this why I am questioning again “who am I” where do I fit in. Please bLog more about your Thoughts on this subject.
I do not think there really is an answer to this question re: “the main part the birth part” for us or singletons. We are born with a brain but knowledge of who we are and where we fit in the world comes over time – in the first five years of life primarily. At that point we have established ourselves as a unique and separate human being. Think about all of the changes and learning that a child goes through in that first five years including integrating different views of themselves in a tactile, cerebral, spiritual, emotional, verbal, and sexual way (probably missed some dimensions here). Now, if that coming to wholeness is interrupted in some way, a child does not get a clear sense of self and place in the world. If it really gets shattered, then you get us – a collection of disjointed selves separated by dissociative walls.
What I am trying to say here Loris is that there was not a whole person who popped out at birth to become the ground zero of your existence. This had to develop over time as it does for everyone. Your development got sent on a detour. It is not about going back to some core person long lost. It is about taking all of the elements of self that have been dissociated and integrating them into your whole personality. Now, I am not talking about integration here as in insiders being gone but integration in terms of taking all of these parts of yourself (all of your insiders and you Lori) and working together in co-consciousness, cooperation and shared experience/history.
I hope that this makes some sense. Just my take on it all.
Anonymous For a Reason says
I agree with Kathy, I REALLY like the idea of using nicknames as it seems to resolve the catch-22 above of not wanting to be asked for a name of who is out but also wanting to be given credit for actions taken while out. I also hadn’t even considered how the “front” name might be triggering. Perhaps I will talk to my husband about this and see if maybe a nickname would be at all comforting to him.
I don’t know what I could add to the list at the moment. It might take a day or two to figure it out. What I tell my spouse and therapist is already there. I tell them both not to ask who is out. If we want you to know who is out then we’ll tell you.
I guess that leads me to add a “rule.” I know it leaves others in a Catch-22 when we don’t tell them who is out and they can’t ask, but I hate it when my therapist assumes who is out. When someone other than the host is out and we don’t get “credit” for it, I get pissed off.
So I guess that could be added to the list: don’t assume whose talking. Make a broad generalization that you aren’t sure who is speaking, so forth and so on.
Missing In Sight
Kathy Broady says
Hi Missing In Sight,
Thanks for your comment. Yes, it puts external people in a bit of a catch-22 — “don’t ask who’s out, but give me credit for being here even if you don’t know it’s me” — but you know, lots of DID’ers have that same opinion. A lot of times I will say something non-committal to a name, but still something identifying to that unknown someone… ie: the one that was here when such’n such happened…. or, the one that does “this”… etc. That way, we can be agreeing about the “who” without having to worry about a name.
I think that really knowing the person as a whole means knowing the insiders too. When your therapist or your spouse can recognize who they are talking to by simple gestures, or a brief word or two, there is something kinda cool and definitely connected and comforting about that. But the typically DIDer has to feel really safe with those outsiders for that to happen. It’s a nice goal to have….
Thanks for posting –
We would rather be asked. The worst that could happen is that our answer is “I don’t know,” or “I’d rather not say.” More often than not, we do want to be known, because it validates our existence.
BRENDA LANDIS says
I have a question as a singleton and I’m just trying to understand to support my family member with DID. When speaking with someone in general it is common courtesy to address them by name. Furthermore when I meet someone either in person or by phone, the first thing a person does is identify themself, so why is it different with a person that has DID?
Hi Brenda Landis
Let me ask you this if your best friend look at you and say; whom am I talking to or who are you? Now imagine this is your Spouse say it to you even when you been married for 31 years. (But)
It’s a touchy situation. The body went through great lengths to keep our Identities hidden. My primary part can all pretend that they’re me. With people that we are Comfortable with they’re Able to see and hear who is who. My best friend Joyce can tell even when the Conversation is done with texting. Occasionally she will say “I’m sorry I’m not sure if you are. That it is hard sometimes to tell the difference.”
I’m not exactly sure I understand your question, but I think you are wondering why multiples don’t introduce themselves every time they come out? Well, I think, from my understanding, that it’s because being anonymous is kind of what keeps us safe. We may switch and different parts come out, but you may not notice, and that’s what some of us like. It may just seem like mood swings or something but basically we play it safe.
Also, some parts might come out front out of necessity, but may not totally trust you yet. Sharing a name or that you’ve switched is kind of scary, and to trust someone enough to do that takes a lot. And I wonder if it’s just out of practicality too. Could you imagine introducing yourself to your friends or family members every time you see them? That would get burdensome.
If you’re wanting to meet a person’s part-selves, you have to talk with the host or whomever is out and discuss it with them. That is something that is totally up to them, and they might feel weird about it. If a part agrees to come out, you may think that the host can do it on command, which isn’t the way it works. Not sure if this makes sense, but this is one of the reasons why I don’t share who’s who with people. It’s all about trust and taking the time to talk with the host about how you want to support them and asking if you can speak to the parts with the host present, etc.
Sorry for the long response. I think it’s really cool that you came here though and spoke out wanting to get clarity.
Have a lovely day,
First of all, thank you for asking this question. It is obvious that you care about your DID family member so much that you want to understand more about DID and how you can best help them by reading here on the DD website. AWESOME! This is a DID community but I am sure that folks here are happy to help our singleton supporters out in any way that we can. ☺
Now, as you probably have already surmised here on the DD website, there are a lot of different opinions on the topics presented here. We are as diverse and unique a group of individuals as we are similar. So, we do not all have the same list of “dos” and “don’ts.” Here is my take on this question.
In general, most people in my life do not know that I have DID and that is the way that I like it. While I am not trying to be deliberately secretive about my DID diagnosis, I just do not think that I need to broadcast it either. The few folks that I have told have offered varying responses from not ever wanting to hear about it again to being actively supportive of my process. So, I am very cautious about who I tell and how much they see and interact with my insiders.
I switch out all of the time but in most of these cases, my insiders mask themselves as ME the host. What I mean by that is, they present themselves as ME (the host) but say and do things the way that they (the insider) wants. In those cases, identity with a specific insider (i.e., by name) is probably not welcomed. They are masking themselves as ME for a reason and do not want to be outed.
There are very few people that my insiders present to explicitly (i.e., they will talk as themselves). In these cases, it can be quite obvious who is talking (i.e., they have very distinct mannerisms, ways of speaking, physical presentation, etc.). In these cases, it is easy to use their name instantly.
Sometimes, however, the insider is new (and their mannerisms are not clear yet) or the switch is subtle so there may be some confusion as to who is speaking or present. My therapist (and husband) and I have worked out that she will ask me who is present if she cannot figure it out from my manner of presentation. Personally, I am fine with this as are my insiders (so on this point, I differ from some of my DID friends here). My insiders like to be acknowledged by name and are happy that she (my therapist) has noted the switch and wants to know who she is talking to. In that regard the question “who am I talking with” or “is this ….” are welcomed questions.
Okay, so how can this all be turned into some practical advise for you. It is obvious that you care and want to do what is best for your DID family member. And, your question suggests that your family member is open about their DID with you and that they explicitly switch in your presence. The question is – do they or don’t they want to be acknowledged by name. Well, the best thing to do is ask them. Now, if the question is that you would be more comfortable knowing which of the alters you are talking to, explain this to your DID family member and ask them what they feel about you knowing who you are talking with and how you both might be able to facilitate this.
Bottom line, ask your DID family member what their take is on this issue. In the end, what matters is what makes them most comfortable and what is most helpful for them.
Best of luck!