Crisses' Coming Out Tips
Sometimes we want to tell someone (or many someones) about our DID or our headmates.
There are ways to do it that help facilitate a more simple interaction with outsiders. So here are some tips to encourage a smooth encounter:
- Leave out the "disorder" word. It may be easier to say "I have multiple personalities." than try to discuss the change from "multiple personalities" to "dissociative identity" as your first conversation with someone. Use their "frame of reference" and easier terminology so you can skip a lecture on the changes in the DSM.
- Consider leaving all the stigma out of it. For years we didn't know we had a diagnosis or that what we had was "Multiple Personality Disorder" so we said exactly what we told our therapist in 1986: "We have a lot of people in our head" or "I have a lot of people in my head". Use your own words to describe it. No need to use psychology's label if it makes it more stigmatizing. This is a natural go-to for non-traumatized plural systems, for obvious reasons.
- Practice your tone. It's important to make it a statement and not a question. If your tone goes up at the end, so there's an invisible question mark, then you are coming across as uncertain about what you're saying. This leaves room for someone to question whether or not it is really true. If you sound uncertain, then why should they believe you? When I come out, it's a statement and not open to debate.
- Be confident. Insecurity and nervousness put people on edge. When you act in your integrity, and are being honest with people, there's nothing to be ashamed about. Your confidence will reduce the chances of the encounter going wrong. When people get scared, they may get defensive or attack — if you're confident and matter-of-fact about it, they're less likely to take it as something to be frightened of.
- Be especially careful when coming out to caregivers. If you say you have "dissociative identity disorder" or "multiple personality disorder" it automatically implies their incompetence or that they are an abuser. If you say "I was abused as a child" then they feel accused, and denial or defensiveness can get pretty ugly. It's better to use the "trauma" word if you have to talk about it at all, and skip the "abuse" word that sounds more like an accusation. And they don't have to feel like you're accusing them — if they were also traumatized they may have their own self-defense relationship(s) to your abusers and defend them, or be in denial of their own traumatic experiences. So approach caregivers very slowly.
- You can come out in stages. If you are traumagenic, you could start with talking to someone about childhood trauma and see how they react. You can build up to how that trauma affected you, or how early it started, before getting to how your head is arranged because of it. Some people are even in denial that children can be traumatized or abused. Yeah, it happens. Like people who may claim children can't remember things, can't feel pain, etc. There's also a whole group of people who don't believe in repressed memories or memory recovery. That's very shaky ground, and those people may not be good candidates to come out to. You may have a more vehement confrontation.
- For non-traumagenic plurals, you might: bring up a related topic like authors who have characters that "come to life" and talk to them, help them write their novels, or argue with them about what "really" happened, or discuss plot points with them; ask if they ever talk to themself, or "confide" that you do; find a plural comic strip and say hey I just discovered this comic strip, I'd like you to check it out; etc.
- Runs in families. Even if the people you're coming out to are not your caregivers, there can be intergenerational issues, witness trauma with siblings, your siblings or cousins who were potentially traumatized alongside you may have repressed memories or their own DID systems to block and forget your revelations. So when dealing with others who may even have witnessed or gone through similar traumatic experiences, you may get vehement responses, or watch them attempt to sweep the experiences under the rug right before your eyes.
- On the positive flip side of this point, some plurals have "pluraldar" or "DIDar" and are "attracted" to other plurals, whether or not either of them know or suspect that they're plural. So sometimes your best friend, or your romantic entanglement(s), is also plural. One funny story is about coworkers who went to lunch together for years only to find that they both ended up in the same support setting for plurals one day. They had no (conscious) idea the other was plural until then, but obviously were more comfortable with each other than their singular colleagues.
For more info see:
- Coming Out of the Storage Facility in the United Front Boot Camp
- 2019 Coming Out & Being Plural in a Singular World — Panel from the 2019 Plural Positivity World Conference
- Coming Out About Plurality: How to Tell Family, Friends, Acquaintances, and Strangers by Sky Squad (Tiffany and Melody) from the 2020 Plural Positivity World Conference
- 2020 Coming Out & Being Plural in a Singular World — Panel from the 2019 Plural Positivity World Conference