February 07, 2014
Like most things in life, there's no "one right way" to be multiple. Most multiples I've met have an internal landscape of some type, although it's certainly not a prerequisite, just a common feature. I consider internal landscapes to be the (subjective, metaphor) environment we picture in our mind's eye when we interact with one another inside our respective heads.
The first feature in our internal landscape was a file cabinet, when we were around age 8 or 9. We thought we were just joking around when we'd imagine rifling through it and pull out little paper scraps of information (aka memories). About 8 years later, in my early days of being aware of my multiplicity, I could close my eyes and I would clearly be in the Front Room, able to see and interact with my headmates. I even drew a primitive version -- my first "headmap" -- there was just a bench, and a pile of pillows, the Front Room, and the mysterious Back Room behind a door. At the time, our headcount peaked for a bit at just 8 people -- the furnishings were sufficient for us to hold meetings and have one-on-one conversations and get to know each other. And there was the door we kept shut separating off the Back Room. We knew what was behind the door: a massive number of other people, and we weren't ready to deal with them yet... Since then, we've added rooms and furnishings, items of spiritual significance, and much more. Some of these things we've added consciously, others just "showed up" when the need was there. Eventually we used 3D software to render "maps" of the inside of my head in full-color (one is pictured). The file cabinet is still in the far back of our landscape, still there and still functioning about 35 years later.
One day I had the mind-blowing realization that every significant item in my landscape is at least a single-purpose consciousness fragment. Even the door, the walls, are fragments or constructs with the purpose of separating or cordoning off certain people from the conscious portions of our consciousness. This realization for me was very significant. It changed how we treated items and constructs in our internal landscape for the better. Whether it's our Logbook, Language Filter (affectionately nicknamed "Garbage In, Garbage Out"), or Aliessa's Tree, it's a part of US, and should be treated that way.
It was the dawn of a discovery that there's another way to look at internal landscapes: a full-sensory interpretation of our system entities and their relationships to each other, their purpose, and the skills they offer the system as a whole. In other words, the internal landscape in its entirety is our multiple system. It's a living breathing metaphor of everything going on in our considerably complicated minds -- and it can be very similar to the the "house" I've been using as a United Front metaphor if you counted all the residents, goings on, and the environment in and around the house.
"As inside, so outside -- & vice versa." - The Crisses' Law of the Internal Landscape
If we consider for a moment how powerful our minds are: whether one believes that we have multiple people using the same brain power, or that we have split a single personality into alters and fragments, there is a lot going on inside of each of us. It's all thanks to the power of our mind.
So how do we tap into that power? I have found that visualization and exploration are cornerstones of my self-help care. We have subconsciously facilitated our own self-help by making subtle changes to our internal landscape. What started with just a simple file cabinet became a living room with furnishings, walls, a door.
Starting out with a comfortable and welcoming internal space was very conducive to being friendly towards one another from the start. In retrospect, it may have made all the difference in how we've developed as a multiple. Hopefully you have a similar experience, even though some might find it predictable or boring. Consider some other multis we know with more interesting internal landscapes: an entire planet, a medieval fortification, or the Tardis from Dr. Who (a time-traveling machine bigger on the inside than the outside that looks like an oldschool red British phone booth). While more intriguing, these don't foster the same intimacy and trust as our living room model. Our head is our home, and how we developed it reflects a desire to be family from the get-go. [Ed — funnily we changed it over to a more Star Trek themed spaceship around 2018, for many reasons. Amongst other things it allowed us to become more adventurous, but it also gave more structure as our population outstripped even a living room with annex rooms as our metaphor.]
With the idea of facilitating communication by performing some internal landscaping, perhaps you see some ways that you might improve your own internal landscape. I have some suggestions for you.
- I have a theory that you can't really "tamper" with the internal landscape because you created it in the first place. There's no reason NOT to try to tweak or alter it. This is all part of the same thumb, even if the thumbprints are different. When you change the holodeck or the internal landscape, it changes for everyone.
- You are part of your system, so you're part of your internal landscape. Your fellow residents are too.
- You may or may not have a visual representation of your system inside your head, but it's a good idea to document where you're at before you go making changes. It makes things interesting to pull out old maps and see where you've been. Just keep in mind, these maps have a tendency to be obsoleted the moment they've been drawn up.
- Mind the internal landscape paradigms. You can shift them, but try not to create tremendous cognitive dissonance. Any time you can work new features into the current paradigm, the less resistance you may get. Your internal landscape may actually be some of your residents' only reality and you can try to reach them through environmental changes without disturbing them greatly. Any time you can work new features into the current paradigm, the less resistance you'll get.
- Consider whether or not the landscape you've been using is still working for you. Is there a way to re-construct? The more changes you're going to make to the internal landscape, the longer it may take to complete them. Remember, every item may represent fragments, and you're asking them to change their perception of themselves, or the perceptions others have of them. Extensive changes to the internal landscape are ill-advised. While you have complete control over your personal holodeck, it's better to get a candy bar from the vending machine in the corner than materialize it from thin air, for one example.
- Make your paradigm extensible. When there were few of us, we met in our "front room" and held our meetings there. Eventually the meetings got very crowded, so we built an extension to the side as a dedicated meeting room. We added a big "round table" and made it much larger (on the inside than the outside, like the Tardis) to accommodate future needs just in case. This was a conscious and unanimous decision between our co-conscious consortium to alter our internal landscape.
Let me know your thoughts about your internal landscape and whether your experience matches my own. Thank you!