United Front: Building Trust Course
Building Trust Background: Why this course exists
For background on this website & project as a whole, please see: https://pluralityresource.org/2021/01/22/why-create-a-plural-course-website/ (optional)
What is Trust?
Trust is an intersection of many specific principles, so it may be easier to convey this complex topic in a short video (captions are corrected).
What is trust? (required, 6:02, captions corrected)
Trust allows individuals to have confidence in sharing information with others — which is important to gain co-consciousness in a plural system. It also allows a plural system, which is inherently a potential group entity, to be assured that system (team) members will follow through on their commitments and the tasks needed for group survival, comfort, and getting important needs met in life.
Why build trust?
Whether it’s disagreements, being in denial of or struggling to accept being plural or having DID, having a hard time communicating, a lot of passive influence (emotional flashbacks, insomnia, racing thoughts, headaches from switching, etc. there’s so many related symptoms that come from internal conflicts, inappropriate internal boundaries, and challenges with finding compassion for each other in our system. We call these “System Trust Issues” and this course tackles a wide range of issues in plural systems head-on by looking at trust, autonomy, interdependence, compassion, and reality testing specifically with a goal of transforming internal relationships and making it not only tolerable to be in a system together, but workable.
Even when a system has a goal of unification or fusion, it’s absolutely necessary to have discussions and agreements, and to live together along the pathway towards your goals until you get there. As that could easily be 10 or more years, ask yourselves would you rather spend that time fighting or getting along? What if it would be 20 years if you struggle with your system, but 10 years if you get along? We don’t know exactly what influences how long it takes to work towards your recovery goals, but we can assure you that it will be a much more pleasant time working on it together rather than handling all the additional symptoms that would come from fighting and arguing, triggering each other, and handling the external world blow-ups that would come from internal rebels acting out externally. Instead of spending therapy sessions trying to figure out how to deescalate fights internally or cope with external problems your inner folk create, spend a little extra time up-front working on trust and head all that trouble off at the pass.
What is Recovery?
We consider recovery by the definition of the mental health activist movement, aka the Consumer/Survivor/Ex-patient (C/S/X) movement and SAMHSA: “A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”1 We only ever consider recovery to be self-defined (or potentially for plurals an additional level of system-defined, so there’s both individual system member and system-wide recovery for plurals). No one else gets to define your/your& recovery for you.
The plural community, the DID community, and the psychology community all have their ideas of what “recovery” can look like for plurals. In some cases they overlap, in others they diverge. But not as much as one might think.
There are many general goals across the community when it comes to what recovery might look like, how to build skills or follow sections of the overall pathway to healing. Not everyone goes through the paths in the same order, not everyone needs to traverse every pathway to achieve their system or individual recovery goals. And some folk want to trailblaze and not take the beaten path; that’s ok too. But it’s good to check other maps and figure out where y’all might shortcut them, or find your own pathway.
Along these pathways there are general milestones that that you pass through in order to move away from more troubled and more dysfunctional living, towards being more empowered, and more in control of your& life. Usually these include becoming co-conscious, creating internal community, taking better care of each other, taking better care of your body, developing and pursuing goals and dreams, looking forward to living life together. We call a life with less symptoms being “adventures” — basically you get to the point where it’s like, “Hey, you know, we’re an adventuring team, and we’re going to tackle something together.”
There are some common methods to get through these paths. One major milestone is creating an internal community and it’s hard to have an internal community when there are holdouts, or as we call them rebels — the people who are butting heads with the other group (the “goody two-shoes” as Buck calls them), whether it’s it’s just disagreements or it’s all out war — and we’ve seen the whole spectrum. Some systems so entrenched in their differences with each other, that they’ve actually created completely different factions and are constantly at war (for whatever reason, and over whatever). It can be war over who controls the life or the rebels may not be interested in taking over the life, maybe they’re butting heads all the time. These systems self-describe it as war, so we say okay, it’s a war.
Pretty sure that most of us would not say that an internal war is part of our recovery agenda. Most of us would cite such a thing as the biggest obstacle to our recovery, as a matter of fact.
We don’t think that most singular therapists are well-equipped for handling these situations. We don’t think they’re taught how to handle it. They pick away at it a little at a time, but they don’t actually challenge the concepts that are holding everybody back from each other, not the way that plurals can when we acknowledge an inner world, when we treat everybody as a person, or at least person-like, and having righs to their own feelings, beliefs, opinions and so on. Therapists are like “oh you’re just having an internal conflict” meanwhile folks inside may be digging for plutonium.
You can have both Disagreement & Collaboration
Everybody inside has their own point of view and sees everything from their first person perspective. In the course we’ll also discuss the Recruits, Rebels and Adventures presentation Buck of Crisses did at the Plural Positivity World Conference. Buck addressed rebels about their perspective, and how to potentially change around to helping the fronting group or the “goody two-shoes” to run the life better and ask how can we put our talents to good use while still being ourselves.
Frankly, we believe that systems need members who occasionally butt heads. We can’t tell you how many times that extra reality check saved us grief or retraumatization. There’s value in somebody who has a different perspective than you. There’s value in somebody who goes against the grain, who doesn’t just say yes to everything, who questions problems, who’s willing to stick up for you when somebody else isn’t, and so on. Not to mention that every system member is valid even when their value isn’t immediately apparent. In other words, headmates in themselves are not commodities. But their contributions are still valuable — and sometimes that contribution is an argument or debate.
So how do you shift from turning those talents against your other headmates to making it an asset for everybody in your system? How do you take those talents and apply them to external situations or external people in order to protect your system?
About The Main Course Author: Buck of Crisses
Buck specifically started out as Hed. Hed was a three or four year old kid when he first showed up visually in our system around 2001. He was the protector of his twin sister Hart. He’d either get in front of her to take the brunt of damage or they’d split our body down the midline and Hart would cry out of one eye while Hed brooded on the other side of our body. He was the constant voice in our head we remember noticing when we were about 10 years old — always twisting our ideas and looking for the most negative spin on everything we were thinking, constantly criticizing what we were thinking or what we were doing. It was always hypercritical.
When we were younger, and enduring lectures from our parents. he’d front and just stand there while they would pour out whatever garbage from their mouth, he would take it as it was coming into our brain and twist it. He would be exposing the lies, debunking this stream of crap. He just like on the fly this amazing ability to reword everything as it came into our system and nullify the crud that was coming at us. And it is amazing ability. But once those lectures stopped, he had nowhere else to turn it and he was stuck in his own PTSD world and turning it against us. Without the lectures, he focused on our thoughts. He became an internal persecutor — telling us we weren’t good enough, or doubting everything we thought or did, poking at us constantly with his twisted ideas and always looking under the mental rocks for problems, or sending us feels of being out of our integrity.
So once he, you know was was first found in 2001, he still was stuck. So even though we fully knew who he was, and we could talk to him some and he had some awareness of the Here & Now he was still stuck, broody and angry. He aged up to 14, still an angry, rebellious, 14 year old and he changed his name to Rane. So he spent about 10 years being 14 doing the same kind of things he used to do — a little more aware of the here and now, still twisting things and turning things against us and constant running commentary in our head about what we were doing wrong and so on.
And then he aged up again. In 2018, somebody in our car was singing some song and it was like the deepest voice we had ever had. “Who’s that?” And we were trying to figure it out. And we started doing a head count, you know, it’s like, okay, let’s, you know, poke it all the guys in our head, like, Who is that guy? And we ran out of men, and we’re like “Rane?”, and it was like, “Oh, where’s Rane?”
“This is Buck.” Okay. Hi, Buck.
We do a lot of that. We have to figure out who’s fronting a lot, being a covert system that also struggles with depersonalization quite a bit. “Oh, crud, you used to be Rane, right?”
So he shows up as a 24 year old this time, jumped up another 10 years and now he’s fully co-conscious and no longer stuck in the there and then, and no longer turning our internal conversations against us, and no longer nitpicking over everything we do. He’s still the first one to call us a hypocrite if we are. But that’s good. We don’t mind having our feet held to the fire or eating our own dogfood, etc.
Then he started turning those talents towards being an activist. He’s all against the APA, the American Psychiatric Association — he’s nitpicking about the DSM — he’s all up the butt of the ISSTD (he’s the person that wrote them a letter and called on the phone and was like these guidelines have to be changed. He tried to get together a plural task force to pick apart the ISSTD adult treatment guidelines and try and get them to change them.). He actually succeeded, which of course, we probably don’t want his head any bigger than it is; they’re in the middle of a task force rewriting the ISSTD treatment guidelines (due 2023). He did several sessions at the Plural Positivity World Conference and so on.
We’re proud of our son, if you will, for getting this far and finding something that really lights his fire. He’s very passionate about plural & DID activism. We don’t want to be so confrontational, but he loves it. He’s also not the best person always on social media. Sometimes we have to take away his Twitter card because he can get into fights with people. But you know, that’s who he is. And we’re okay with him being who he is. We try to help him redirect his energy to better pursuits than yelling at trolls or whatever. He’s all about human rights like every human right is his his right to champion. Trans rights, plural rights, other human rights, Black Lives Matter, he’s there ready to put on marching boots and go out, hold up signs, write letters, and demand justice.
He’s also re-writing one of the books in the United Front series from his perspective. It’s gonna be much more helpful for system rebels to hear from a rebel than to hear from the goody two shoes. So he’s rewriting all of that stuff.
And that brings us pretty much full circle to this course, it’s based mostly around the System Trust Issues 6-episode podcast series, which Buck kicked off, and Buck’s Recruits Rebels & Adventurers conference presentation. He’s our primary case study of how this stuff works.