Being plural, FAQ, and FQA

:: personal

By: Holly Tulips

Plurality is the existence of multiple self-aware entities, or streams of consciousness, within a single brain. And it’s something that I’ve been going through lately. Let’s talk about it, and what it’s supposed to mean.

I hope that this post is able to clear up exactly what’s been happening with us lately, and how it impacts the way people around us interact with us.

Furthermore, there are a lot of obvious questions. Some of them you shouldn’t ask, and some of them are okay to ask.

What exactly is plurality?

It’s a state of one or more consciousnesses sharing one body. Together, every consciousness involved is referred to as a system, or collective. (Please don’t call us this explicitly — it’s more of a term we want to use for ourselves, but I personally find it a bit strange.)

There are probably a lot of causes. I have no idea what the cause of mine is. The most “common” form of it is DID (dissociative identity disorder) or OSDD (other specified dissociative disorder — specifically, type 1 is the one that manifests with symptoms of plurality), which is usually caused by severe trauma. (Whether or not this is exactly what I have is an open question. All I know is that the conception of self that is multiple selves works for me, and I have weird memory gaps.)

During dissociative episodes (usually characterized by a sense of unreality or just intense zoning out), switching can occur, which means that one system member is replaced by another one in front, the person currently facing the outside world.

That’s basically the gist of it. There’s more to it, but it’s not particularly important for the person reading this post to try and understand us specifically.

If you want to read more about this, more than one and the Plurality Playbook are pretty good. I’m not going to restate everything there on here, since they generally phrase it better than I could.

Who are you people, if not Hazel?

Update 2022–05–15: See here.

Consequences for people working with us

So the issue is more or less that Hazel doesn’t always front. As it currently stands as of the day of publishing this post (April 19, 2022), we have zero control over who fronts when and we don’t go anywhere when not fronting — we have no internal communication and no headspace.

Establishing these is ultimately the goal of therapy. (We don’t need your help, or your pity. Unsolicited advice is bad, unless you have the same brainworms as us.)

Furthermore, while we don’t have potent gaps in memory, accessing the memories of another member is harder than if it was a genuine memory created by that member. Memories are usually instant-recall, where for us it’s more like looking things up in a filing cabinet. We try and write everything down, but if we’re drawing a blank, it’s possible that someone else was fronting while you said something.

Since we don’t control switches, it’s very often the case that one of us gets stuck in front when we don’t want to be there. Consequently, if we have a scheduled meeting and the one of us you want to talk to (usually Hazel) doesn’t front, there’s an issue. We can get around this by relaying written information, but please keep that in mind.

Consequently, asynchronous communications are usually a lot better than perfectly kept schedules.

FAQ (questions you can ask)

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask over any means of contact you have with me.

  • How should I refer to an individual one of you?
    • I mean, by name. If you’re referring to one of us in relation to the other, “member” or “headmate” is fine. I don’t like the word “alter”. I’m not an alternate version of anyone else, I’m me.
  • Should I treat you all like separate people?
    • Yes. Please. That’s quite literally all we can ask for. I (Holly) don’t feel like Hazel, and vice versa for any one of us. When you refer to Hazel in my context, it quite literally just feels like you’re using me as a message relay. Which is fine if they’re not fronting, but yeah.
  • Who’s fronting right now?
    • If any of the signifiers above aren’t present, we probably don’t know, and will probably be notably distressed about the question. Otherwise, you can ask.
  • What should I call you all, collectively?
    • Tulips, if you must. You usually want Hazel, and just saying Hazel (especially in person) is fine. It’s basically the same level of formality as referring to someone by their last name, and it’s weird if you do it exclusively.
  • Do you know if everyone in the table above is all of you?
    • No.

FQA (frequently questioned answers)

  • Are you violent?
    • Are you?
  • Is anyone other than Hazel actually real?
    • I ask myself this a lot. But also yes.
  • Can you prove that you’re plural?
    • Can you prove that you’re not?
  • Why exactly did this happen to you?
    • Good question. I’d also like an answer.
  • What mental/physical conditions do you have?
    • Are you my doctor?
  • What’s it like?
    • Deeply confusing. Thanks.
  • This is a good post! Here’s 50 dollars.
    • That’s great! Thanks so much. Don’t interrupt me again.