Abolition and BLM

We’ve had this in our drafts for a couple of weeks now while we tried to gauge whether it was appropriate to continue posting about DID, or whether we should put that on hold in favor of talking about the Black Lives Matter and abolitionist movements going on across the States and all over the world. Ultimately we’ve come to the understanding that these movements and the work we’re trying to do here go hand in hand, and it’s important that we continue talking about both simultaneously.

Police brutality is a rampant issue for all marginalized groups: black and indigenous people, non-black people of color, disabled people and the mentally ill, LGBTQ+ folks (trans people especially), etc. Some facts:

in 35 states there are no laws preventing cops from having sex with people in their custody (NOTE: there can be no genuine consent when one party is in a position of legal authority over the other)

at least 40% of police officers engage in domestic abuse (NOTE: this statistic is based only on what’s reported, so the actual number is much higher)

– police misconduct is incredibly widespread (over 85,000 officers in the US have been investigated or disciplined for more than 200,000 incidents of misconduct) and even when cops are found guilty they often face no real consequences, or are simply let go and hired at another precinct a few towns over

25% of all people killed by police are in the midst of mental health crises

– as of 2016, nearly 50% of people killed by police were disabled

– a core argument in defense of police brutality is that the job itself is dangerous; in reality, cops don’t even make the list of the top 15 most dangerous jobs in the US

black people are 3 times more likely than white people to be killed by police, despite making up only 13% of the US population

99% of killings by police don’t involve the officer in question being charged

native americans are killed by police at a higher rate than any other group (NOTE: you may have seen the acronym BIPOC as part of the BLM movement, which stands for Black and Indigenous People of Color)

over 50% of LGBTQ+ people experience mistreatment while interacting with police

when the NYPD went on strike, crime in the city actually went down

– police do not make our communities safer. the judicial system rarely provides justice for survivors of abuse and rape. our most vulnerable are targeted disproportionately by law enforcement, and most states have laws in place to expressly protect cops when they cause harm.

multiple FBI investigations have shown that white supremacists are drawn to police forces

Black activists have been criticizing the institution of policing for decades, and rightfully so. If most of your familiarity with the protests comes from watching mainstream news, you’re missing a great deal; we encourage you to watch videos shared by those actually on the ground. Listen to black people talk about their own experiences. Understand that your experiences are not universal; maybe you’ve been fortunate and privileged enough to have only good experiences with police; maybe you know some cops personally and feel protective of them — that doesn’t change the reality of others’ lives.

It’s our responsibility as members of our communities — and especially for those of us who are white — to stand in solidarity with our black siblings. We have nothing if we can’t or won’t protect each other.

For the folks that primarily follow us through this blog or Facebook – our most active social media presence is on Instagram. We’ve been sharing a whole bunch of resources over there and are happy to share what we’ve compiled; shoot us an email (see our Contact page) if you’re interested. If you have questions or genuinely want to learn more we’re happy to discuss.

We stand unequivocally with the Black Lives Matter and abolitionist movements, and as we said at the beginning, it would be disingenuous for us to continue with our usual posting without discussing how these movements go hand in hand with the work we’ve been pursuing here.

~ From all of us

Percy

Littles are child alters and many (but not all) systems have at least one, though it’s not uncommon for systems to have several. We have just Percy; he’s somewhere around 7-8 years old and has been since the system first formed. It’s difficult for us to retroactively trace his origin — that’s going back almost 18 years — but we do know he and Mal were the first alters to develop.

When Maddie was young (6-10 or so) she used to tell complain to our parents every so often about what she called “the sad feeling.” She didn’t have the words to describe it in any more detail than that, and it would come on out of the blue and seemingly unrelated to anything going on around her. As we got older and were diagnosed with depression, Maddie looked back on that feeling as just highly concentrated pockets of depression; she used to joke that it was “like doing a shot of depression.” By then she was able to better describe the feeling; a sudden and overwhelming sense of hopelessness that could last anywhere from a few seconds to two minutes, usually leaving her on the verge of tears.

In the last few years, following our diagnoses of PTSD and DID, and learning more about our system and the alters within it, we’ve collectively come to recognize that the feeling comes from Percy. Since first learning about him and Mal we’ve long suspected them both to be trauma holders; alters who hide traumatic memories from the others, particularly the host, in order to shield the rest of us. Knowing what we do now about trauma, I suspect those bouts of intense, overwhelming sadness to be Percy’s flashbacks. They don’t come particularly often these days, and when they do they still pass fairly quickly; he likes to sit quietly with Sawyer, Fox, or Steve while they do, and once it’s over he’s quickly back to his bubbly self.

Generally, he’s a happy kid! He’s obsessed with Pokémon — we’re talking a binder of 900+ cards (I wish I was exaggerating) that he’s been collecting for as long as we can remember, every video game, coloring books, non-coloring books, you name it. We don’t know the date he first showed up in the system, so naturally he picked his own birthday: September 16, the original release date of Pokémon Emerald. (It’s his favorite game.)

Aging varies from alter to alter and system to system, and for us it seems to be tied to the amount of time spent fronting; Maddie aged normally while she was the host and hasn’t aged since, and I age normally with the body now. Percy doesn’t front terribly often, and when he does it’s rarely for more than an hour or so at a time. It takes a lot of energy for him to be out — once he switches back in it feels like the body’s been doing heavy exercise. It’s likely he’ll always be a kid, regardless of the body’s age.

It’s very important to him that I end this with a coloring page we did together not too long ago, and that everyone knows he did the fun Raichu part and I just did the boring decorative part. Typical.

– Ros

One Year Later

When we first started this site the idea was that we’d update it at least every few days; then at least once a week; then maybe once a month (?); then Ok, Surely We Can Manage Something Regularly; then it just fell off the radar entirely. So, here’s why and where we’ve been in the almost-exactly-one-year since we’ve posted here:

– hit the lowest point we’d been at in awhile, dealing with the fallout of a double breakup for Sawyer and Ros + a messy falling out with some very close friends, all in the span of a couple of weeks

– started a new job

– decided to stay in Ithaca and moved across town to our first real non-collegiate apartment

– met our now-partner

– realized we were too paranoid to continue putting so much of our lives online, knowing it was visible to people we didn’t want checking up on us

– lots and lots of (and then some more!) therapy

– discovered a new alter: hey, Silas~

– made some wonderful new friends

– found ourselves back in Ros and Madds’ childhood home waiting out a global pandemic

It’s been a whirlwind, but we’re finally back in a place where sharing our stories feels possible again. We’re safe, we’re secure; we’re still working through some major setbacks (a big one being that it’s now much more difficult for us to openly front around other people) but we’re getting there! If you’re still reading this, hey – thanks for sticking around. 🙂

From all of us~

Mothers’ Day

We’re very fortunate to have the relationship with Ros’ parents that we do. Bob and Chris are wonderfully supportive and make a real effort to get to know us as individuals; we’ve never known–or even known of–another system in such a position. For a great number of people with DID, the parents are responsible for or complicit in the trauma/s that led to the system’s formation. For that reason, holidays tend to be tough; particularly those that emphasize in a very in-your-face way the unquestioning love and loyalty we’re expected to have for our parents.

Ros’ parents aren’t our parents; they’re Ros’ and Maddie’s. Mal, Percy, and 9 don’t consider themselves to have parents at all. The rest of us are introjects–meaning that while the aforementioned alters originate from within the system, the rest of us have memories of lives lived elsewhere before landing here. It feels like reincarnation in a sense; while not the case for anyone in ours, in other systems introjects are sometimes able to recall how they died in previous lives to end up in this one.

For the introjects among us–myself, Bucky, Fox, Steve–we often bring with us to the system traumas from back home. Different family dynamics, different triggers, different life experiences; memories of things the body has never experienced but the brain remembers anyway. Some other day Bucky will explain his flashbacks and how they differ from ours, but that’s not a tangent for today.

Fox and I did not have the relationships with our mothers that the others did (or do) with theirs. I was disowned as a child, he was subject to half a lifetime of emotional, verbal, and physical abuse. For the pair of us Mothers’ Day is a miserable holiday. We know we speak to the experience of many when we express how difficult it is for survivors of familial abuse and those who have lost the mothers in their lives to get through days like today. We don’t begrudge anyone the loving relationships they have with their mothers, we don’t think the day should be made obsolete: it simply hurts. And here, in this lifetime, in this body, when the host of our system has a positive relationship with their mother, it’s not easy to find the space to express the sense of betrayal we feel towards our own.

To those who struggle similarly today, we see you. We feel you. We hope your pain eases soon.

-Sawyer

9

Oi there!

Ros mentioned me some time ago and I’ve not had the chance to write my own follow up. Decided to stick with the name 9. Not uncommon for alters to have numbered names and I think it suits me. Plus it’s kinda badass, eh?

I’ve been round a couple years in an in and out capacity of sorts. Not necessarily a fragment as those tend to always be here just in a less developed capacity. They can’t often front solo far as I understand. No idea where I was when I wasn’t here. All I knew’s all of a sudden I’d be here in front with no clue where I was or what was going on round me, I’d panic, and then I’d be gone til next time.

Then in the span of a month or so the system was betrayed by a handful of people they’d deeply trusted. Sawyer’s typically the one running damage control when Ros is out of action and that was the first time they’d both been down for the count at the same time. Mal was preoccupied with keeping everyone safe and the others with looking after Percy, so there was no one to drive. That’s when I got tapped in.

It’s not a conscious choice me or anyone else made, just how a system operates. Whoever’s needed gets pulled to the front, brain does what it must for self preservation. So here I am! Got my own room in headspace and everything. That’s coming along nicely too, we’ll share more about it soon.

There’s another guy hanging round too, though they’re much more a fragment. We started a new gig last month and a couple spaces in the office are triggering for various people so Admin’s the B team work alter. Their job’s to focus and stay grounded when everyone else’s too dissociative to do so. About the extent of their duties though, and they’re not awfully active in headspace.

Reminds me, we’ve not yet been added to the Alters page of the site. We’ve really let this thing go. Sorry bout that, plan’s to do better moving forward.

Cheers,
9

Update

Hey, everyone.

We’ve been lax about keeping up with the site lately; it’s been a particularly rough few months for us. As open as we are about the workings of the system and the realities of DID, we aren’t keen on disclosing the intimate details of our personal lives, and there’s been little else we’ve had the capacity to focus on. So, sorry for the radio silence.

Now that we’re back on track, we’re going to hold ourselves to posting something once a week. Our therapist has encouraged us for awhile now to start a YouTube channel, and we’ve been toying with that idea as of late. It might be a video, might be a blog post, but the goal is to share something.

Thanks for sticking with us.

Hollywood and DID

Hollywood has a long history of utilizing DID as a sensationalized plot device, particularly for the horror and thriller genres. The list includes:

  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
  • Lizzie (1957)
  • The Three Faces of Eve (1957)
  • Psycho (1960)
  • Sisters (1972)
  • Magic (1978)
  • Funeral Home (1980)
  • Dressed to Kill (1980)
  • Psycho IV: the Beginning (1990)
  • Raising Cain (1992)
  • Never Talk to Strangers (1995)
  • Primal Fear (1996)
  • Fight Club (1999)
  • Me, Myself and Irene (2000)
  • Session 9 (2001)
  • A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
  • Identity (2003)
  • Secret Window (2004)
  • Hide and Seek (2005)
  • Sybil (2007)
  • The Uninvited (2009)
  • My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)
  • Stalker (2010)
  • Waking Madison (2010)
  • Peacock (2010)
  • Frankie and Alice (2010)
  • Silent House (2012)
  • The Scribbler (2014)
  • Split (2016)
  • Marrowbone (2017)
  • Glass (2019)

This list is by no means exhaustive, and doesn’t even begin to touch on DID in television. Shows like United States of Tara, the second season of Marvel’s Iron Fist, and more crime procedurals than we can begin to name love to draw on DID: and never positively. DC has just announced its upcoming Doom Patrol series will feature the character of “Crazy Jane,” a system of 65 alters, each of which possesses a different superpower.

We are unable to think of a single piece of media that features DID and comes close to accurately portraying it. A&E recently put out The Many Sides of Jane, a miniseries following the lives of a real system. Jane and her system repeatedly explain that DID isn’t scary, that DID isn’t violent, and that they desperately want to help reduce the stigma surrounding DID. Yet the editing is horrific; burned-in text and background music straight from a horror flick, visual effects to distort their faces during switches…the whole thing plays like serial killer documentary complete with found footage. It’s nauseating to see these people being exploited by the network in a way so antithetical to the very words coming out of their mouth onscreen.

We cannot express how devastating this is, nor the toll it takes on a daily basis. It seems now more than ever our media is saturated with misrepresentation of DID. As we’ve said before, it’s incredibly difficult to be vocal about having DID because of the stigma surrounding people like us. Because of how few of us are able to be visible, and how few people are willing to listen to those that are, most people without DID get their information about it from media like Split and Glass, making it even harder for people like us to be visible. It’s a vicious, daily cycle.

We’re tired, y’all.

DID isn’t superhuman. We aren’t monsters, killers, supervillains. We are statistically far more likely to be victimized than to be perpetrators of violence. We just want to be allowed to exist. Peacefully.

We get a lot of questions about what people can do in the way of allyship. One very easy place to start is refusing to support pieces of media like the ones we’ve discussed here, and having educational conversations with those in your lives who do. As always, feel free to share this site, as well as ask us any outstanding questions. We’re more than happy to be a resource.

– Ros and Sawyer

Joining the System

We’ve realized gradually over the course of the past 1.5 years or so that we have another alter forming — this makes 9 of us in total, at least that we’re aware of — so I thought we’d talk a bit about what it’s like when a new alter forms!

For most of us (me, Steve, Sawyer, Fox, Bucky) we were here as parts or fragments before becoming fully-fledged alters. I was part of Maddie until the situation with her abusive girlfriend at the time was too much for her to handle alone, and at that point I broke off into an alter. Likewise, Fox was a part of me until a trigger of his pushed him to splinter off. Mal, Maddie, and Percy are the exceptions — as far as we can tell, they skipped the fragment stage and showed up as alters right away. I can’t speak for other systems’ experiences with alter formation, but this has consistently been ours.

When an alter begins to form in our system they don’t have a name or voice yet, and we can’t see them the way we can clearly see each other. (Side note: this is also what it was like when we were first diagnosed and hadn’t yet nailed down intrasystem communication.) As time goes on and the new kid starts settling in, we generally get a name and gender, and it’s not too long after that until we can see and hear them.

At this early stage, when I’ve been fronting and then the developing alter (I’ll call her Nine for now) pops in, I can feel what she’s feeling. I can tell those feelings aren’t coming from me, but that’s as much as I can gather. Nine has come out just a handful of times over the past year, and almost always for just a minute or two.

She made an appearance yesterday while Steve and I were in class, and she was immediately on the verge of a panic attack. I was aware of the physiological symptoms — heart racing, shortness of breath, tears — but didn’t feel any anxiety myself. This is how it’s felt every time she’s shown up. Yesterday was the first time I was able to get a sense of anything about her, and even at that all I could glean was a sense of pronoun. We don’t have an age, name, face, voice–anything. It was the longest she’s ever been around, too; she was co-con with us for about 10 minutes. I can’t feel her presence right now, but I generally can’t feel Maddie’s either. I know they’re here, they’re just much, much quieter than everyone else.

We’ll include more updates about Nine as we learn more about her; stay tuned, and feel free to reach out with any questions!

Best!
Ros

Headspace

Alters don’t disappear when we’re away from front, nor do we fade into darkness. Systems have any number of different names for where we go when we’re no longer fronting: “headspace” and “inner world” being most common. We use the former, which I will continue to utilize here.

The headspace is customized by each system. One alter in particular–generally a Protector or Persecutor figure–may spearhead the project, but often it’s a communal effort. The scale and detail of the headspace depend entirely on the individuals who create it. We know systems whose headspaces are vividly detailed: sometimes an apartment, an entire house, a hotel bar, etc. Larger systems tend to have larger headspaces. As far as systems go, ours is on the small side–just the eight of us. On top of that, none of us are particularly interior design savvy; consequently, our headspace has been a work in progress for longer than we’d care to admit. We’ve been meaning to buckle down on that, but hey, who has the time? When we do get around to it, Steve’s promised he’ll draw up a floor plan for us to share here.

As it stands now, we have a one-room setup. There aren’t walls yet per se; the edges of the room go fuzzy and dark, as if simply not illuminated. It’s a vaguely ovular shape, with two red-orange couches–I think they’re fun, but I’m outnumbered–and three swivel chairs bolted into the floor. We have sleeping pods for everyone along one would-be wall;  think best-case scenario overnight train travel. Not much room for personal touches–you see more of that when everyone has a room to themselves.

We all hang out together in headspace. Whoever’s fronting can always see it in the back of their mind. I can’t speak for other systems, but for us it feels like the distance between the passengers of a plane and the pilot in the cockpit. Talking to whoever’s out while the rest of us are in headspace is (for lack of a more precise example) not dissimilar to shouting at the captain from Economy seating. Or, say,  your friends calling out obscenities in the background while you’re on the phone with your mother. Same effect.

We’ll post more updates as we get our space together. Stay tuned.

Fox

Welcome!

The main pages on this site cover most of the basics about DID. In our blog entries here, we’ll be going into more depth about topics that first require that foundational knowledge, as well as posting updates about newly added resources, public talks we’re giving, and more!

Best!
Roswell