Most people who live with dissociative identity disorder (DID) have more than two alternate selves. Alters can range from infancy to older people depending on the memories they harbor from the trauma experienced in the multiple’s past.
What happens when the alters in a DID system have different sexes, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, and other demographic representations? This article will explore these conundrums and some ways to mitigate any negative effects that may come from having them.
Knowing one’s own sexual orientation may seem like a no-brainer to those who are not living with DID. Yes, singletons go through their own identity crisis wondering if they are gay or straight but in a DID system, this can be even more confusing.
Many of my readers understand what I am speaking about, but I’ll go into more detail for the sake of those who do not.
Because the development of a person living with DID was interrupted by the horrific trauma of the past, they never have a chance to truly explore their own sexuality. The result is that they may have alters in their system who are gay and others that are straight. Not only this but there may be some alters who enjoy sex while others are horrified by it.
Reconciling the needs of differing sexual orientations is more than just difficult, sometimes it is seemingly impossible.
Different Gender Roles
In the light of our emerging knowledge and sensitivities in society about gender identification one might get a glimpse of the problems facing a person whose alters are of all different genders.
There are male and female alters in most systems doing different jobs and holding memories differently. Perhaps a traumatic event caused a young female child to become very fearful, they may conjure a male alter believing that the boy would be safer and could handle more. Some people have even harbor transgender and mixed gender alters for obvious reasons.
Working with different sexes in a multiple system can be challenging as the boys may not want to have a girl’s body and vice versa.
Different Relationships and Families
It should be obvious by now that a multiple system can contain different sexes, sexual orientations, and gender roles. While multiples can have stable relationships, often the different combinations of likes and dislikes cause them to have relationships that are unstable.
Imagine a system that contains alters who want a sexual relationship with different sexes than the host. This quandary can leave the multiple’s alters sneaking about having relationships with people that may or may not be safe.
I have known of one person who had two wives and two families. Although his wives and children knew of each other and celebrated birthdays and holidays together, that is not the usual experience. Most of the time the multiple is left with two families that are splintered because of their actions.
Then there are monogamous relationships where some of the alters love their partner and others despise them.
Animal and Mythical Alters
While this phenomenon is not well-known or well-understood, some multiples have alters who are not human but are instead dogs, horses, fairies, or any of a myriad number of other mythical creatures.
Even though animal or mythical creature alters seem odd, they are not as many children form a protector when they feel constantly frightened. It makes total sense that a child would need a dragon to care for them when they are living in the hell of child abuse.
Explaining to a therapist or someone a multiple is having a relationship with that there is a protector animal that can come forward takes some finesse.
Work Together Despite the Differences
While it may seem an impossible task to pull all the different thought processes of alters into a unified self, it is possible with a lot of hard work and some imagination.
First, don’t be afraid. All human beings have different feelings inside themselves like we do. The difference is that they suppress theirs while we do not.
Second, talk among yourselves about your differences as honestly as you possibly can. Listen to what alters of different demographics have to say and do not judge yourself or your alters. Remember, your alters have protected you and helped you to survive they deserve respect, dignity, and love.
Third, accept yourself with all you alters just the way you are. You are not broken because you have different opinions on sexual orientation. Choosing which way you wish to go will be difficult, and under some circumstances you may choose to love the one you are with. Whatever your choice, use your heart to decide and do not regret your decision.
Fourth, be honest with your therapist and your loved one. Explain that there are different demographics living inside you. Perhaps your therapist or partner will help you to understand that you haven’t hidden your differences as well as you believe.
Ending Our Time Together
No matter what the differences in your alters, they are all you and you are them. They are parts of yourself that became stuck in trauma-time and responded in ways that are perhaps predictable.
To be clear, I do not believe that childhood trauma causes someone to become gay. That is as ridiculous as saying that evil did so. No, the truth is that everyone has parts of themselves that are drawn to the same sex. Do not be afraid to explore this part of yourself but be careful not to harm other people.
We multiples are totally and completely normal for where we have been. Remember that.
“If you are always trying to be ‘normal’, you will never know how amazing you can be.” ~ Maya Angelou
“Normal is an ideal. But it’s not reality. Reality is brutal, it’s beautiful, it’s every shade between black and white, and it’s magical. Yes, magical. Because every now and then, it turns nothing into something.” ~ Tara Kelly