Being Composite

Over the last month, I’ve been exploring exactly what being plural means for me. I felt that I wanted a specific way of referring to the unusual arrangement I find myself in, and settled on the word Composite to refer to it. The word was carefully chosen: a composite material is one made up of multiple constituents, and gains new strengths that none of them would have alone. I think that’s a good way of describing what I became post-fusion.

What Composite means

Here’s what that specifically means for me as a person and as a system of sorts. Even if you’ve never experienced it, you’ve probably heard pluralfolk talk about being “blended”. That’s where the clear boundaries between individuals blur and it’s not clear even to them who is thinking what. That’s what I am, all the time. For most systems, this is a distressing experience to be avoided. For me, it’s the comforting normal I seek to return to, and I am entirely used to being all of myselves at once.

Sometimes, one aspect has a stronger influence than all of the others. This is the closest I ever get to someone fronting. It’s a state I can consciously choose to be in, when I need one of me’s particular strengths, but it gets uncomfortable after a while and I naturally tend towards equilibrium.

None of this is actually new, but I’m gaining a greater understanding of it every day.

What’s in a name?

As I mentioned in a previous, unlisted post, the composite me is composed of five aspects. Prior to 2007, these were more separate individuals, but they remain distinct personalities within my shared consciousness. I’ve been getting to know these parts of myself better. I referred to them as Dragon, Fox, Hawk, Synth, and Wolf previously, but after realizing that the placeholder name Synth did not feel comfortable, I wondered if actual names might be appropriate.

Thinking along these lines, I started with Synth, and felt a particular resonance with the name Querral. This is a name I previously used for the space ferrets in the Starship Game, but it’s also come up in other works I’ve used ferret-people in. As soon as I thought about this, it just felt right.

Having settled on a name for Querral, I started thinking about other names I have used for myself over the years, and there were a few that stuck out as ones I’ve used repeatedly. Including Querral, five. That number is becoming very, very significant for me, despite my ongoing affinity for three and nine.

Dragon is and always was Terrana, the name I kept for my whole self in the end. This name was always tied very closely to my identity as a dragon, and while my current arrangement is more balanced, Dragon was definitely the core of my composite being in the beginning.

Hawk, on the other hand, feels more of a resonance with the name Kayama. That’s taken from the Karl Jenkins song of the same name, one that always resonated with me on an emotional level. I have even used that name, in some contexts, to refer to the Big Griffin I have occasionally presented as and which I now recognize as having been a manifestation of Hawk/Kayama.

Wolf latched onto the name Siburiss, which is a pseudonym I’ve used a few times where I needed one in unsafe situations, though I would prefer not to go into specifics in this public post precisely because they were unsafe.

And finally Fox, who I have been increasingly recognizing as the most sociable part of me, has repeatedly used the name Alepoldar when seeking out new communities but not wanting to use the Terrana name.

But what to do about Dragon? It’d be confusing to refer to one of my aspects with the same name as my composite self, and I don’t want to change the latter. That got me thinking, why not just come up with a new name? Dragon is the part of me that most loves symbolism and allegory, so I thought something symbolic of Dragon’s formal role as the centre of my being. After trying a few out that didn’t feel right, last night I settled on Nex: it can be thought of as short for Nexus, the core of a connected group, but also evokes the word Next reflecting its status as a new name. It also has excellent pun potential with the word Necks. A good name.

So: Alepoldar, Kayama, Nex, Querral, and Siburiss, all of whom together make up Terrana. This feels good and right.

Pronouns have always been a problem

If you know me, you know I’ve always struggled with which third-person pronouns I want to use for myself. As I have noted previously, nothing ever felt completely right, and in the last few years I’ve been using they/them simply because it felt least wrong. This is, of course, because each of me have different ideas about what the right pronouns would be, and they/them is an acceptable compromise as it’s the generic pronoun for unknown gender. I do not intend to change this for referring to Terrana.

That said, finding out what each of me was comfortable with was surprisingly easy once I knew to ask the question. Alepoldar isn’t sure what they want, but the other four have clear and unambiguous preferences. Kayama still likes ey/em and wishes Terrana had not switched from that to they/them a few years ago; Nex and Siburiss both prefer she/her; and Querral likes it/its.

That’s third-person pronouns. But first-person pronouns for when I’m talking about myselves have also posed a challenge. I’m still working on this, but you can see some of the ways I’ve been handling it in this post: I, me, some of me, myselves, or just dropping into third person when things get too complex.

Meet the Team

So we come to the summary of who and what I am. I, as a whole, am still Terrana, pronouns they/them, the same white-feathered, three-headed, nine-tailed foxdragon you already knew. It’s a compromise appearance that all of me are comfortable with and, at this point, is unlikely to change significantly.

As Nex (she/her), in many ways, I think of myself as the silver dragon I used to be long ago, before the feathers started feeling right.

As Kayama (ey/em), I now take full ownership of the Big Griffin form, dropping the fox features and seeing myself as a sort of quadrupedal bird.

As Alepoldar (??/??), I similarly take ownership of the corsac fox taur form that has also been a semi-regular part of the Terrana presentation.

As Siburiss (she/her), I’m just a wolf and kind of think the rest of me are overthinking these personal appearances considering all of me are going to appear as the Terrana-dragon most of the time anyway.

And as Querral (it/its), I finally set aside the “formless infomorph” idea that has been associated with me over the last month and fully embrace my affinity for robotic ferrets.

If you already know any of me, you know all of me. You’ve probably seen me wearing one or more of these individual forms on days when one of me is feeling them particularly strongly but not understanding why. A key feature of my unique kind of composite being is that none of me are truly separate, yet each still distinct enough that you can see each of me in things I do if you look for them.

Why I’m writing all this

This is a lot of rather personal stuff I’m putting out here. I won’t deny that it’s a risk. So why am I posting this at all?

Well, a friend of mine has been posting the process of their own self-discovery as a member of a plural system. That’s been very helpful for me, and I know I’m not the only one. It’s my hope that, even though my situation is rather unusual even for a plural system, hearing my thoughts might help someone else discover who they really are too. If this post makes even one person feel like they’re not alone, even if I never know who they are, then it’s worth it.

Tags: introspection, plurality