Shire's Guidelines for Others
Or is that a Wish List
This is a personal list, ideas we had about
interactions with people outside of the Shire. It is not a
definitive list, and there will probably be things on it other multiples
will disagree with. Regardless, these are our collective thoughts
on the subject.
Don't be afraid to ask questions:
So many times we hear people saying, "I didn't want to be rude and intrusive".
And I do understand and respect those feelings, however for us the lack
of questions shows us a lack of interest. For many of us the risk
we took to tell someone, came from the hope that we would be able to be
real and share our lives with someone we care about. Therefore questions
show and interest and acceptance, they give us an opportunity to truly
share our lives with another person. Remember though, there is a difference
between asking questions and demanding answers. By asking in a polite,
courteous manner it allows the person to give out the information they
wish to be known and therefore the intrusion won't be an issue.
Get to know us as people:
So you see the body sitting down watching Buffy on television (ewww...sshh)
First scenario, you sit down and say, "oh you like Buffy, I have never
watched that, any good?" You are likely to get a response, the starting
point of a conversation, and like all conversations it is likely to move
into different areas, creating an atmosphere of friendship where two people
can get to know each other. Second scenario. "oh you like Buffy,
what other programmes do you like? What is your name? What
do you look like? What is your role? What things do you like
doing?" Get the picture? The bombardment of questions, will
with most of us anyway, get you the answers, but will that give you any
idea of who the person is, or will you just have a list of facts.
By talking to us as people you will liking get to know us in more detail,
and maybe develop strong, individual friendships.
Have Fun: When you thought
we were singular it is likely that we had fun, that we laughed and joked,
that we had serious conversations, that we shared interests, went out for
coffee, bitched about the world, our partners, our lives. Now you
know we are multiple this doesn't have to change. We haven't changed.
You may now notice differences, you may even be allowed to see the not
so fun stuff. However, we are still the same person you knew before
even if we are more than just one person. When we first came out
to two of our friends, one started making jokes about our multiplicity,
she knew us as someone that did that, together all three of us had always
done that, our jokes, sometimes dry and dark, would fly about our relationships,
about our families, school, whatever. Her jokes showed her acceptance,
and fun with it, it was just another area of life, no different that any
other. But the other friend thought this was bad, thought we needed
to be treated as if we were fragile. The reality is we hadn't changed,
for us joking about stuff was normal, was a sign of friendship and acceptance,
that hadn't changed because we told of our multiplicity.
Don't play favourites
So suddenly you are faced with the reality that your friend is actually
a whole bunch of people. You may have the idea that there is one
person, the real person that is your friend and all the rest are just invaders.
But the reality is if you have known us for a while, that many, not one,
have been your friend. If you find yourself faced with someone you
don't like, with a person you don't know, or don't know how to relate to,
then don't ask for them to leave, or for the "real" person, your friend
to come back. This will only create hostility, towards you and probably
towards the person you have decided in your friend. If you don't
like the person take some time out for yourself, if you don't know how
to handle them, try talking about that. You will probably be surprised
if you actually spend time with people how easy it will become to get to
know them. On the opposite side of this is also the fact that you
might miss some of the people you have begun to think of as friends.
There is a large number of us, and the Earthen Dwellers, (those that participate
in the world) can change. So if you are missing someone, we see no
problem with asking to see them, we understand that it isn't like you can
pick up the phone and call, saying hey haven't seen you in ages.
It is not saying, "Make so and so come out" but rather more along the lines
of "I miss so and so, if you see her tell her I am thinking of her".
The latter would not offend anyone, and is likely to get results.
Try to put aside your preconceived ideas, and listen: Until recently when you go looking for ideas and information about multiplicity you would of found nothing but information that points to multiplicity as a disorder, as little more than a coping mechanism of an abused child. Most talk about it in terms of struggle and pain, and paint a pretty dark picture of what you are faced with. There are now a few sites that talk about it in less dire ways, and from the prospective of the people involved, rather than that of the so called professionals. But they are still in the minority, (Howling Thunder is one I would recommend.) You will probably read theories stated as facts, pictures of people broken and fragile, a future of pain and suffering. My advice, ignore all that, put it aside somewhere and spend some time with us, learn who we are, learn about how it works for us, and what it all means. Accept what we say as our reality, it may be completely different from what you have read, but multiplicity and how it develops is a completely individual thing. I personally have never met two multiples that are exactly alike, there are similarities, but there are also differences. Remember you aren't an expert, and those professionals claiming to be specialists and experts aren't either. The only expert on multiplicity is the multiple themselves, and even they are only an expert on their own community.
Don't become enmeshed: It seems very common for people to get enmeshed in the multiple's life. They feel the need to fix their multiple friend, to rescue them, to take on board the struggles and difficulties and make them their own, to feel responsible for the well being of their friend. This is understandable in a way, no one likes to see someone they care for in pain or struggling and the normal response is to make everything better. But this isn't your responsibility, you can not save another person, you can not fight their battles for them. There may be times when we look fragile, when it seems we aren't coping, but remember we have been living as a multiple, and dealing with our issues for the majority, if not all, of our lives. Don't fall into the trap of seeing us as weak victims just because you now know of our multiplicity and have been allowed to see our struggles. You may discover things about the running of our community that you may not like, that you don't agree with, but don't think of yourself as a god, as someone that has the right to change the way we operate. Do not feel you have the right to alter the way we exist to suit your ideals and morals, however, do know that we welcome your support, your opinions, thoughts and emotions. Do not feel afraid to voice these things, but accept that how we operate is our responsibility and not yours. If you insist on meddling in our operations, you are likely to either damage us, or lose us forever. However if you walk beside us, being real, but supporting us in our journey, we are likely to see you as a close and dear friend, and who knows we might even listen to your ideas.
Be honest: I can't say this enough, be honest, be honest with us, be honest with yourself. If you can't deal with something say so, if you don't want to know something say so. We will pick up on it, and it will effect our ablity to share and trust you. And if you aren't true to yourself, it is likely that you will in time come to resent us, our multiplicity and the relationship. You are our friend, our lover, our partner, which ever fits, but you are not our therapist, or our parent. You don't have to deal with all our shit, you have choices, and we will respect you more for making them. We won't feel abandoned if you tell us you need a break, or that you can't deal with it, in fact we will admire your honesty and feel more trusting of you when you can deal with something.
It ISN'T all doom and gloom: Left this one for last, because it is the most important. There are times when it will feel too complicated, confusing, depressing or simply sad. But there is also a lot of joy and fun to be found. Children to play with, a lot of new friends with varying interests, and aside from that, the person you developed the friendship with in the first place is still there, you just now know that instead of that being one person, it is a lot of people. This can be a fulfilling enjoyable relationship, even if it is a rather unusual one. We told you of our multiplicity because we care for you, and like you, we wanted to be able to share our mulitude of lives with you, see that as a gift of friendship, a wonderful thing, and enjoy it with us.