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What's Your Role


I can't remember how many times I have been asked, "what's your role?"  My role in life is to live.   Like most people, I am here to live my life, not to be pigeonholed into one role.  And to me, roles like protector, limit me, limit my potential, and my being.  They make me one dimensional, unable to be, think or feel anything contradictory to that role.  I believe that this idea of roles, comes from the belief that the people within each multiple community come into being as split off parts of the whole, here to perform certain tasks, or handle specific emotions.  Therefore this belief promotes the idea of people within the multiple community only being fragments of some original.  There is a long list of roles that are placed on the members of a multiple community, all with clear cut descriptions.  These roles and descriptions do not allow much room for exceptions and no room for movement outside that definitions.  The protector must always protect, the carefree child can never feel sad.  Thus these roles do nothing but limit one's potential.

So where does the idea of role come from?  It is my belief that is imposed on a multiple community by psychiatrists and other professional people as a way to understand the "split".  Therapist and lay people alike seem to want the people in the multiple community to solely be aspects of the one person.  Therefore Melanie is only a protector aspect of the original, Mouse the innocent untouched child.  It removes the humanity from them, making them parts instead of people.  This may simply be someone trying to understand the experience in a fashion they can comprehend and therefore bringing it down to simplistic, and in my opinion, erroneous terms.  Therefore making each person an aspect, or there to perform a certain role, enables them to more easily accept the possibility of more than one inside a body.  To them these people aren't really people rather roles given form, and thus when the "real" person accepts these parts of herself, learns to perform these roles, they will no longer be needed.  And for many multiples, caught in the paradigm of one person split apart, they see the others as the roles they perform, and identify each person with a role.  The role becomes all that person is, and each person is locked into that role, unwilling or unable to move from it, to grow and develop.  Old habits remain forever in place, old ways of dealing with the world.  The person is unable to choose their course in life because it might effect their image as the role they have been given.

But I wonder what is so hard about accepting that people can be people, that they can have many aspects in their lives, that they can have a variety of roles, ideas and attitudes.  People that live in the Earthen World in a singular manner do not have to deal with people wanting them to be just one thing, to hold just one attitude.  It seems inconceivable to many to be pigeonholed solely as angry or sexual.  But yet if that person is part of a multiple community then no one seems concerned with this, sees the disrespect in treating people this way.  Even other multiples will limit each others potential in this way and see nothing wrong with it.  Some may appear stuck in one frame of behaving, but does that make them one dimensional.  Or is it solely that people refuse to see them in any other way, do not notice the variety as it may ruin their notion of roles.  For instance, many refused to believe that it was still Melanie when she showed love and concern for a child.  They had their image of Melanie as the angry protector, unable to feel love and be caring.  If she refused to say within the role someone had set for her, then they refused to acknowledge her.

People aren't limited to roles, and people within the multiple community shouldn't be either.  People are multilayered, they have many aspects to their personality.  People within a multiple community are no different.  It is my opinion that the belief that each person holds a certain role within the multiple should be placed with the notion of multiplicity being one person split into fragments.  It is outdated, and to my experience has little to do with the reality faced by most multiples.  As long as we hold onto the belief that each person is a role to be performed then we will forever remain in the eyes of others, and probably in our own eyes as fragments of some real person.  Instead of concentrating on the role, on focusing solely on that aspect, I think it is time that we learn to see ourselves, and others as the people we are.  Roles might apply, but they can't be all the person is.