In the last year of not posting here, some of our identities have changed considerably. What used to be distinct identities have integrated in such a way that we no longer have the experience of separateness between these identities to the same degree. This involves, we believe, three of our adult identities: two body aged (Ellie and Brook), and one slightly younger (Nate). Though this is something that is often worked towards in therapy, it is not something we did intentionally. Rather, I believe, it was the situations we found ourselves in over the last year that encouraged and slowly developed this integration. While subjectively feeling like “one person”, we can still recognize the distinct parts within us that formed that person. We experience a sort of identity fluidity that might be similar to the fluidity and switching that singlets (non-plural) individuals experience in different contexts. For example, how work may bring out very different traits than our friends, or our partner. The switching happens in a fluid and seamless way, without most or any of the DID switching symptoms that can be disorienting so say the least. There do remain some differences between our experience and what we imagine singlets experience. For one thing, the fused identities have different experiences of gender (one male-masculine, one male-agender/feminine, and one female). As we slide between parts of our current fused identity, how we experience our gender also changes. This includes our physical self-image (how we imagine we look and how we look inside our head) as well as our voice. As a singlet entity, we would be considered genderfluid as different identities can combine in different degrees to create different experiences of gender.

Another aspect that remains more plural is our inner-world self-image. As we have done visualizations inner-world to explore and manipulate our fused identity core (as we call it), we have a strong sense that the core is made up of three identities (though close together and connected in a circle). Along the same lines, third-person memory remains an indicator of different parts of our identity core fronting at different times. In our memory we will see ourselves in the third person, with the self-image of the individual identity most involved at the time. Finally, we are still able to separate out parts of our core identity and re-fuse them back into the core. When an identity is separated out, the two resulting pieces do not have access to each other’s traits.

We believe that our system evolved in this way to deal with some difficult circumstances (too personal to get into) and that it has increased our functioning overall. The fluid, seamless, and unintentional way in which our identity shifts between us, with each of us involved to different degrees as the situation warrants, has allowed us to better respond to the changing contexts in which we live our adult life. (Work, partner, friends, and so on.)

While we have experienced an increase in functioning due to this fusion or integration, we do not believe integration in this way is always the best goal for a system at a given time. I would be concerned that weaker identities fused with stronger identities may lose some of their desirable traits or be less able to deal with their individual trauma. (On the flip side, they can draw strength from others in the fusion.) Some identities may want to continue existing alone, and I believe that desire should be respected. Furthermore, two identities with strongly conflicting traits may create a single fused identity that experiences irreconcilable internal conflict.

We believe it is most helpful to conceptualize our identity core as remaining plural due to our past separateness and awareness of how the identities combined, the recognizable nature of these separate identities blending to different degrees at different times, and our ability to separate and recombine (which will be discussed in a near-future post). Our entire system remains plural due to our remaining distinct identities and smaller fragments which still take over, each with their own traits, self-images and concepts, and associated memories. We believe the direction of our system will be to combine/fuse smaller fragments into the core or other identities where that appears feasible and beneficial, continued strengthening of individual identities (such as Micah) that desire their own individual existences, and perhaps the (continued) repressing of identities that do not wish to exist at all, as long as we are comfortable with the loss of traits and memories that would result. There is still a lot of work ahead of us.