Plural-Safe Meets & More
What is a Plural-Safe Meet?
A plural-safe meet is where participants are expected to be plural (singlets may come, but the "norm" is plurality) and saying "We" is a-ok, switching is ok, talking about your other headmates/residents/alters is fine, and no one thinks you're weird for being y'all!
Conversations within that framework can range from the mundane to the composition of your system, types of headmates, cross-gender issues or frustrations, etc. but it's not a trauma support group. It's a place to be yourselves and get to experience yourselves in a place where plurality is the norm for a while.
It's best to have a skilled facilitator with some experience running meetings, facilitating support groups, or holding meet-ups run these meetings until you can see how it works -- but if you want to try this on your own, here's some ideas and tips to help you get started.
We can't cover everything that could happen, so try to be open-minded and flexible, and know that you're learning as you go!
Inclusivity: How to not Generalize
The human brain loves its cubby holes. But people are not each other, inside and outside. When someone who wears a label -- say "Mayhag" (totally made up label!!) -- hurts you, you may then think all people who call themselves "Mayhags" will hurt you. Not so! Not all Mayhags are assholes!! Generalization leads to prejudice and -isms and -phobias. So what's a coordinator to do?
Don't sort folks out by labels. Don't exclude people just because they want to wear the Mayhag (or another) label.
But don't all Mayhags believe <this gross/hurtful belief>?
No. There's probably a bunch of Mayhags afraid to speak up in the Mayhag community to question such a questionable belief, or who have left the Mayhag community because of such beliefs and consider themselves independent because they can't believe what their own community is saying.
This happens in all communities. We didn't join the DID community (back when it was the MPD community) because we thought needing trigger warnings and needing to learn all these special topics that couldn't be talked about was a huge burden to communication so we stayed away and spent time with the Otherkin multiples/hosts where we talked about more forward-facing topics even though nearly all of us were traumagenic. How to get along better, how to make decisions, what house rules looked like, dealing with gender and body dysphoria, etc. rather than "look what happened to me in my deep dark past!"
Every group has strengths. We're ready to tackle more of our trauma and hanging with the DID folk to learn more about how to handle trauma. And willing to learn all the rules needed to hang out with people working on trauma. We weren't ready back then.
Different groups within the big umbrella -- and no, they're not all toxic insular hateful communities with odd beliefs about how superior their views of plurality are.
Patience and open-mindedness are good traits for plurals.
What does this look like in the Plural community?
Some people have bumped into labels like "endogenic", "traumagenic", "tulpamancy", "system-hopping" and decided to exclude those labels from their spaces. This exclusivity is antithetical to plurality. The & is inclusiveness. It's AND, not OR, and definitely not "Not".
And. So Plurals are multiples and highly aspected singlets and people-inside and parts-inside and dissociative identity disorder and tulpamancers and natural systems and folks with trauma and folks without trauma and our singlet allies.
We will continue to be all-inclusive of any type of plurality. We'll continue to expand our resources to be inclusive of everyone. And we urge organizers to consider doing the same and here's a big big reason why:
Strength in numbers. Strength in inclusivity.
If an asshole tries to infiltrate a plural meet, and can't pick out who in the circle is a more vulnerable person because the conversation does not center around who has trauma (and thus perhaps also broken boundaries and more susceptible to gaslighting and more vulnerable and more needy) then they might just pick on a stronger system able to suss them out and point out their preying on members. Rely on the strength of diversity, larger numbers of folk looking out for each other, taking each other under wing, teaching each other different "Tricks" they have learned about how to handle plurality, and sharing we-ness and safer spaces to be out of the storage facility to help keep each other safer.
We all have something to learn from each other if we can set aside our preconceived notions about what it means to be plural for each other. Open up, and listen, and learn. One thing we can be absolutely certain of is that not everyone who adopts a certain label is a total jerk. And there's people in your label-cubbies who are definitely total jerks. Don't trust the labels. Get to know the people involved.
Questioning one's own Plurality
Allow respectfully questioning folk to come to your meet, by which we mean questioning their own singularity or plurality. Questioning whether or not you are plural, being uncertain, denial, doubts, depersonalization moments where you think maybe you're singular not plural, etc. are a natural part of being plural in an oppressive singular-normative society, and certainly go hand-in-hand with internalized singular-societal oppression. There's no better time to compare first hand experiences with others than to be in the room with them, and listen, observe, maybe share your own experiences. Sometimes just one headmate has doubts while others know/are certain. Giving a safe plural space for switching and exploring is part of a plural-positive experience and a microcosm of what a world where plurality is normal can look like. It can reduce selves-doubt and selves-hatred to just feel like you're with your own people.
How do you create your own plural meets?
Where & When
- Keep it affordable. Wherever you have it should be fairly accessible by public and other transit, and not require admission fees or purchases. Also make sure there's adequate parking and taxi/Uber service in the area.
- Keep it public. Don't invite strangers to your home or a private/sheltered location. Make it a public space where other people will be coming and going -- it's not as private, but it's a lot safer to meet strangers from the Internet in a local well-lit public location.
#Plural Meet-Up at
Panera Bread near Cleveland OH
14701 Detroit Rd, Lakewood, OH 44107
Organized by the Crisses of Kinhost.org
Look for the --&-- on the table.
#DID #DDNOS #Multiple #PluralPride #PDID #OSDD
Please spread the word.
So the major things to include:
- what it is/who it's for
- place - name & address
- time - time zone if needed!
- how to find you in a crowd
- who you are
- tags & encourage spreading the word
Use whatever symbol you want, tell them what shirt you're going to wear, etc. but note that if you go to the bathroom people won't be able to find you. We used our 10" tall ampersand (we bought a couple types at Michaels, and some arts & crafts time to doll them up) as a table marker so that people didn't have to guess whether they had the right group at the meeting place. I stuck it in a book stand on the table. Done.
The Ampersand "&" is gaining more recognition as a symbol of plurality, it's available in various shapes & sizes, can be drawn and colored on paper, printed from a printer very easily, and is all-around a very accessible and cheap design to replicate -- almost every font on your computer has one!
Examples (not affiliate links):
These are just suggestions and by no means exhaustive!!
- Safety first. If you aren't comfortable running an event -- don't! Not everyone has the same level of out-ness or personal safety in their area.
- Have a way out. Know how you're leaving and what transit you're talking, the schedule for public transit or where you parked your car. You might switch several times during the event and if that will confuse you it may be important to have Waze mark where you parked, or know that you already scheduled for someone to pick you up after the event.
- Bring a companion. You're the organizer and if the only other person to show up is a jerk, you would be facing the jerk alone. Buddy up even with a friend who can support you if you have to change locations or contact management at the meeting place. They can also hold your table if you run to the rest room, or order food or get you something to drink, and keep you company if no one else shows up!
Running the Meeting
- Keep it lightweight. You might want to just remind the participants that this is not a support group, so please keep the conversation lightweight. Help it be a safe and enjoyable experience for all. The main point is meeting and being able to say "we" and switch without worrying about people thinking you're nuts -- i.e. a "plural-safe space" -- not having a trauma support group.
- Don't hog up the talking time. Let everyone share, and be mindful if anyone's being too quiet or being left out. Ask if they're Ok, quietly. Maybe they prefer to listen, but maybe they just don't know how to cut in. Folk can get so excited to be able to talk to plurals they forget they learned turn-taking in kindergarten.
- Figure out how to stay in touch afterwards if necessary. If these are people you aren't sure how they heard about the meet-up, then maybe you're not in the same online spaces or social media. So let them know where you hang out, what usernames/handles/accounts you can be found under, etc. so they can get future meet-up announcements.
- If you're the organizer and there's more than 10+ bodies in the space you may need to resort to turn-taking unless the group breaks into smaller conversations on its own. If many people want to talk at the same time, you can facilitate turn-taking by giving folk a "number" for the order in which they'll be up next. Try to be fair to everyone and make sure that the same people don't monopolize the group's time.
- Everyone should be responsible for their own system, but things can happen. If anyone becomes overwhelmed, see if they can be pulled aside for a while until they are less overstimulated.
You can call it a plural meet but if it's not inclusive -- you're lying.
Consider implementing the somewhat hypocritical rule:
Only police your own system. If you feel a need to police anyone else, you'll be asked to leave.
By which we mean no saying that something is or not real plurality, that someone is faking, that only certain types of plural systems or experiences or selves-expression are allowed, etc. then the organizers or any other member should be allowed to call them on it, and if need be ask them to leave the group immediately for everyone's safety and freedom of selves-expression.
It's ok to discuss differences of expression, experiences, system dynamics, etc. but it's not ok to judge people or exclude people from the group, or determine whether they are or are not valid, based on them.
By extension this means that there's no policing whether people have a diagnosis, whether they have spiritual origins or experiences, whether they do or do not remember trauma or have trauma experiences, what types of headmates they have, etc. -- by the organizers or by any of the other group members.
You can police whether or not singular allies can come to your group with or without a plural "beard" or escort. In other words, you might require that singular folk only come if they are spoken for by a plural directly i.e. a spouse, personal care assistant, friend, etc. We do not recommend allowing lone singular folk to attend smaller meets, firstly they're in the oppressor group (so may cause group dynamics to falter), and secondly they may be predators. However, allowing plurals to attend with (for example) a friend, spouse/partner, trusted family member, or their aide allows accessibility.
When your group is larger and stronger, and the culture is resilient, you could ask the group about allowing other singular allies who are unescorted and have no one to vouch for them to attend -- like a local therapist or potential group financial sponsor. This would entirely be up to the organizers.
Anything else and it's not a plural meet-up.
Attending Plural Meets Safely
If you don't know the plurals who are organizing a meet near you, please make sure you are going to be safe. Some of the info above can as easily be applied to those attending meets for the first time as those organizing them.
Yes we're paranoid. That's kept us alive this long. We can't be held responsible for your safety. Listen to your own inner wisdom.
Here's some of the guidelines we have used over the years when meeting people from online groups.
- Consider whether we know the people organizing the meet ahead of time in person or online. Check them out. Ask around, or look through their history on social media. Never meet someone with a new profile.
- Only go to a meet run in a public space unless we're sure it's safe/established/well attended enough that we will be ok.
- Never go to a meet alone if it's in someone's house or in a remote location.
- Someday there may be meets that become too large to be in a public space anymore. That's good, then. Safety in numbers. But be careful it really is a large private meet, and we won't show up as the only guest "by accident."
- Be prepared to leave if we are uncomfortable -- always trust our instincts. This may mean arranging a ride quickly, knowing public transit time tables and locations, having enough cash or credit to afford a quick escape, or so on.
- Bring one or more buddies.
- Bring and/or purchase our own beverages or snacks, and make sure we don't let anyone we don't trust with our life handle them.
- If we are weirded out by content, conformity, weird pressure, woo stuff (we're very spiritual but we're a lone practitioner for many reasons), or everyone fawning over the organizer, flee like heck.
- Don't say anything we'll regret if it's repeated.
- Don't give away personally identifying info, where we live, or where we work.
We'll add more tips to this page as we think of them.
- Safer Support Groups: Facilitation for belonging, inclusion & empowerment by The Crisses - Video mostly for screened support groups, but some tips are appropriate for meet-ups
- The Importance of Belonging: Community vs. Support & How to Make it Happen by The Crisses - Video on the importance of being shame-aware in our communities, and building inclusive spaces