Conversations with potentially problematic headmates

TW: some discussion of self harm and suicide

Welcoming a new headmate is a beautiful and wonderful experience.  We get to meet someone new, someone we will all be able to get to know who will bring new perspectives on our life and can potentially help us navigate our day to day life.  Approaching new headmates like this allows our system to rearrange itself as needed to handle the challenges this world throws at us.  Everyone is welcome with open arms, showered with love and instilled with a sense of autonomy as they get to choose what role they want to play in our system.  Unfortunately, some headmates are in pain and suffering as a result of past traumas and need to be cared for and protected.

In some cases, behaviors which are manifestations of their pain and suffering can put the system as a whole at risk.  Since everyone in the system is responsible for the actions of everyone else, it is important we proactively take steps to ensure nobody harms the system.  For example, a scared child may decide that they need to be in control to feel safe and yell at others around them in an attempt to remain in control.  Worse, a headmate who is suffering could turn to harming the body or try to kill the body as a way to relieve their pain.  To handle these situations, we have created a set of guidelines for everyone in our system to follow and proactively talk to new headmates about these when we sense there is chance, no matter how small, that a new headmate may violate these principles.

We created our system to love, protect, and care for each other.  Following this principle, we do all we can to maximize the happiness of all of us and minimize pain.  One of the strongest rules we have is that we will only harm the body or kill the body with consensus.  To ensure this, we have delegated one of us, Yukari, to be the only person allowed to make the decision to kill the body.  If we suspect any of us has the potential to violate this while in pain, many of us have a conversation with them to ensure this does not happen.

During this conversation, many of our more adult parts come and comfort the one who is hurting.  We let them know that they are loved and will be cared for and protected by others in our system.  They are told they can heal at any rate they choose and if they choose not to pursue healing, that is entirely their choice.  They learn they have the option of vanishing for any amount of time they wish at any time and are assured that if there are any demands placed on them by this world, there will be others around who they can switch to who will fulfill what is required of us.  Most of all, we emphasize they can choose their own path and have a large degree of autonomy.  Through this conversation, we let them know they are not alone and that we will be by their side.  At the end of this, we share our system rules with them and request they not cause our system harm.  If they are ever in pain and feel a desire to cause the system harm, they may ask for help from others and help will be provided.  By handling system safety like this, we have not had any cases of one of us harming the system or refusing to abide by the system rules.

Here are some examples where we have used this method to ensure system safety:

  • When we introjected Melisandre from Game of Thrones, we were concerned she would attempt to grab power in some way.  We talked with her and she agreed not to take any steps towards acquiring power without the consent of the rest of the system.
  • DemonLilith had a history of self harming innerworld (“psychic cutting”).  When we realized that this was problematic and that DemonLilith was the one doing the self harm, we had our first conversation about not harming the system.  She quietly nodded and agreed to allow someone else to take over if she wanted to self harm in the future.
  • Erica holds our body age 16 trauma.  The fact that she is in a lot of pain made us concerned she may become overwhelmed by pain and harm the body.  Emma let her know she is well loved and that Emma could take over if she was ever overwhelmed.
  • Elsa is similar to Erica, but feels darker and in more pain.  When she appeared, we had a similar conversation to Erica and she agreed not to harm the body.
  • Caroline is a teenager and has the strongest desire of all of us to do activism.  We are a low spoons entity so have to be mindful about how many spoons we spend on activism so we can continue to meet the other demands this world places on us.  She understood the concern and agreed to listen to the others in system if they ever believed she was spending more spoons than we could afford on activism.