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Ice cream is NOT a right; it's a privilege

June 15, 2011

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Let's talk about some internal politics by way of the long route....the internal politics of youngsters, and internal "bad guys" and mirror images of our perpetrators. Please just stick with me here.

Content advisory: our story includes food restrictions and mentioning eating along with dissociation. If this is particularly bothersome, please skip to below the horizontal line — there are less mentions after that point. This is our story and regarding our own body, our relationship with sugar sensitivity, agreements we have within our system, and knowing our genetics and needs. The larger point has nothing to do with food but with internal relationships, boundaries, and why forgiveness is important.

Sometimes we joke: "We're watching our sugar intake; we're watching it go right into our mouth."

We finished a pint of ice cream, just had cereal for dinner, and as I'm writing this I keep glancing over at a vanishing tray of Newman-O's cookies.

I remember my first bonafide girlfriend with DID and how excited they would get at the mention of ice cream. Her known little would come out even in public. I'm sure working in an ice cream shop must be the most interesting place in the universe.

I have a really hard time because my youngers know my debit card pin numbers just like everyone else in here does. Nearly all impulse buys come straight from the tiny fingers of our cherished system kids we would love to get away with indulging with gifts and treats. Sometimes it doesn't matter so much what we're buying, just that we're spending our hard earned money on anything other than bills. Not. Good.

So we leave the house with shopping lists and let the youngers do the shopping under the condition that they stick to the list. That helps. It doesn't matter if it's toilet paper, vegetables, or cat food -- they love spending money. They love calling the biggers out on any impulse buys, they get a good laugh out of that. [There goes the last Newman-O! — passive influence is real.]

We're working on this agreement, as unpopular as it is for our system: "Ice cream is not a right; it's a privilege."

We don't normally even put sugary snacks into the house. When they're available, we eat them.

Thankfully for our body's sake days of ice cream and Newman-O's are the exception, not the rule.

When it comes to challenges enforcing internal agreements, we're not alone. Why is it so hard to say no to the young ones?

It's possible to allow our inner kids to run or ruin our life, when what they need is love, acceptance, boundaries, nurturing and often a good bit of "childproofing."

Like when we have the youngsters go shopping with a list and make sure they stick to it -- that's setting a boundary and a rule, and making sure they follow it. Any potential purchases that come up but are not on the list need to be checked with the olders in charge of the shopping trip. This provides a chance to be front with supervision in an environment where "acting little" is inappropriate. This is a great opportunity to create a desire to "grow up" too. We also have delegated a few household chores to our youngers — especially since Lissie became co-conscious; she loves "playing house" and enjoys the opportunity to help out.

Just like body-children, youngers need opportunities to "act big" and show responsibility. They love earning respect, kudos and trust with their olders. When we shower them with toys, gifts, goodies, and do not also give them rules and boundaries they lose a sense of what their limits are. It's too much, too overwhelming for them, and they can act out -- the stereotypical "spoiled brat". Believe it or not a body-child who is throwing a fit to get something they want really needs to be given gentle firm boundaries. Give in once, and this fit can become a major tactic for getting what they want. They flounder in insecurity, seeking objects or treats in the place of love and nurturing, and lose their sense of self in their seeming "selfishness". They don't know where the boundaries are, so they're boundary testing to find out where the limits are. The boundaries help them know right from wrong, and in some ways help them seek out their own identity and security within those boundaries. Without them they don't know what's safe and they don't know who they are.

Sometimes youngers are the strongest of those in our head. As Hart of Crisses likes to say: "I may be four, but I've been four for a VERY long time." They're deeply entrenched in the system, really good at what they do, and sometimes can take on many roles within the system as protectors, veils (hiding sub-systems), guardians, antagonists, and more. It is a good idea to show them as much respect as anyone, don't underestimate them due to their age. A common theme seems to be a little who has donned the costume that resembles in some way someone who has wronged you in the past. This works by the "As outside, so inside (and vice versa)" rule. This little has seen the face of power, and as a protective mechanism it has attempted to camouflage as something similar. This works by an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality. (See also Panic Reactions New.) They may do this and age up, an internal mirror of someone external who was not-so-nice.

When you find these internal perpetrators or persecutors, be sure to exercise forgiveness. Actually, it does you a great deal of good to even forgive your external perpetrators if you can safely do so. This is not an attempt at reconciliation, nor encouragement to put yourself in harm's way by trying to see them face-to-face or contact them in any way. This is an attempt to express whatever grain of forgiveness you can for those who have wronged you, because in doing so you free yourself and your system from the need to mirror judgement and punishment inside.

If you cannot forgive those who have done you wrong outside the system, how can you forgive those who may also have done wrong inside it? Especially true of these mirrors who may be convinced on some level that they've done some really undesirable things (and maybe they have).

It doesn't have to happen overnight, and it doesn't even need to be 100% forgiveness. Knowing that you're trying may be enough to encourage better interactions with your youngsters and inner mirrors of not-so-great-people of all shapes and ages.

So yeah, we somehow got here from ice cream, but I think it was an important journey. When my youngsters are doing their chores, fulfilling their responsibilities, taking care of us, sticking with our system agreements, we occasionally hook them up with a pint of ice cream (or some Newman-O's).

--Post tweaked 2021-09-27.

Other Posts in June 2011

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This info about parenting young parts is overall really valuable, but could you maybe use a different and less triggering metaphor other than sugary food? Many systems (including my wife's, who is going to be reading this) have eating disorders, many are fat and have been fat shamed or food shamed their entire lives, and the whole concept of "healthy" or "unhealthy" foods is medically false and comes from capitalist and ableist diet-culture whose only job is to make us spend more money on their products.

Of course you have the right to eat or not eat whatever you want, and this guide uses examples from your life and so it's relevant to that...but your post talks about food as if its assumed we all agree that some foods are healthy or unhealthy for all of us, that keeping sugary snacks out of the house is a healthy thing to do, etc. and the "consequences" of not doing so are implied.

Like, if you a stranger saw my fat ass eating gummy bears by the handful you'd probably assumed they were unhealthy for me, but if you actually knew me you'd know that when I do that it's because I have dangerously low blood sugar from being on insulin, and it's keeping me from passing out and dying. So they actually are health-giving for me to eat when I need them.

That's what I mean when I say food is value neutral and individual. Also mental health is a form of health, and sometimes pleasure and preference are good enough reasons to eat something. Esp if one of your primary trauma's involved others controlling what and when you ate.

So at the very least maybe you could add a disclaimer in the text that mentions these issues, and specifies this is just what's right for *your* body and no one else's, that food is value-neutral and bodies are individuals, etc?

I realize this guide isn't designed to avoid all triggers, of course, but I just think this isn't a necessary one. Thanks for listening.

Comment by Lauren on September 27, 2021


Thank you so much for the critique. We made some revisions, more clearly gave content warnings and the option to read below the line on the page where it skips the preamble story and hopefully is less triggering on these issues from there.

Please let us know if you see anything else that might need fixing. We have nudged some of the boot camp articles that were "too dated" -- there is a complete rewrite of this blog plus more content in the United Front books — still in progress.

Anyway, happy to hear that this is helpful content, and to help make it less troublesome. Please take good care of yourself & your wife : )

Comment by Crisses on September 27, 2021

okay so I don't actually have any comment on the really good and valuable points you're making, but--just saying, ice cream definitely IS a right by my system's standards, lmao.("go have some ice cream" is literally the first step in our crisis plan, in fact!) (this isn't a complaint, I just had to remark on it because I think it's funny)

Comment by vae on September 21, 2023

hah : ) Well, YMMV, as with everything else in plurality. We weren't intending to mean ice cream per se, but to point out a metaphor/parallel for the concept. It's not the best metaphor hence the update/sidebar on the article.

Thank you!

Comment by XES on October 19, 2023

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