I’ve been doing some introspection over the last week and it’s taken a while for me to work out how to put all this down, but here we finally are.
It’s no secret that I used to be part of a plural system. My former headmate Korran is long gone; I still miss her a lot.
Looking back on that time with what I know now from having spoken to numerous other plural systems and having learned a fair bit of terminology puts some things in a context I was lacking at the time.
While at the time, both of us would have said there were two of us in here, Korran and Terrana, I now think it might have been fairer to say that was Korran and the Terrana sub-system, the latter consisting of five members sharing memories (which Korran and I did not) and /trying/ to share a name and identity. This arrangement resulted in a lot of confusion, discomfort, and general unhappiness all around. Anyone who knew me back then could tell you that I changed things /a lot/, often without warning or explanation. Sounds a lot like switching who’s fronting, doesn’t it?
What I suspect happened in the end was a process that I’ve seen others refer to as fusion: the combination of previously separate members into a reasonably stable composite being. It’s an arrangement that has and continues to work for me quite well, so I wouldn’t want to try changing it at this point. Why fix what isn’t broken, after all? They’re all balanced, and the level of influence each aspect has on me varies day to day to accommodate that.
Because there was only ever one name, I’ve been referring, in my own thoughts, to the five parts that make me up by the species identity they brought to the Terrana name when fronting: Dragon, Fox, Hawk, Wolf, and Synth.
Dragon was the carer of the group, the most inclined to introspection, and possibly the most spiritual. Dragon formed the core of the composite being that would become me, and most days is the strongest influence on me.
Fox was, even within the subsystem, a creature of duality. Had to know everything about everything and extremely anxious about all of it. Delighted in adding double meanings to everything, something that I still enjoy doing. After Dragon, Fox almost certainly has the strongest influence on me today.
Hawk had very definite tastes. They liked fire and being big - if you know me today, you’ve almost certainly seen me on days when I’m in a Mood for such things. Hawk’s influence tends to be very noticeable on me, because those are the days when the house-sized griffin form comes out.
Synth didn’t like being pinned down to a single shape. Very much the neophile, delighting in change for its own sake, yet always having Very Specific Terminology for each part of it, hence the name suggesting synthesis. I don’t feel Synth’s influence very often, but it’s quite strong when it does surface.
Wolf was an oddity. Protective, aggressive, often physical. Quick to jump to conclusions and slow to change such judgements once made. Wolf’s the one bringing the bitter sarcasm and entertainingly vivid suggestions for where unpleasant people can stick themselves. Pre-fusion, Wolf may have been the system protector, which is a role I have heard is quite common.
In knowing me, you’ve met all of these. This arrangement has existed (mostly) stably since 2007, through the best and worst parts of my life. I was a little scared of poking at things too hard in case it all came unraveled, but looking back on it, I don’t think I ever had anything to worry about on that front. The equilibrium is self-correcting and self-adjusting, and I’m pretty happy with who that makes me.
An interesting effect of having realized that I may be a fused system is that I can examine a thought or preference and feel which aspects had a hand in them. It doesn’t even take particular effort, just… apparently knowing to look for it is enough.
I am also beginning to think that this whole ex-plural thing is why pronouns don’t work for me very well. I’ve got the collective preferences of five people rattling around in here. Literally the only one they all agree on is “not he/him”. I felt like I used to have an actual preference, but it kept changing. I’d variously prefer she/her, sie/hir, or ey/em depending on what I thought at the time was mood and who I was talking to. And that stopped when everything else stopped changing all the time back in 2007. Since then, I’ve drifted from one set to another with none ever feeling right.
After all this, I’m seriously going to have to rethink my philosophy of identity. I’ve put a lot of thought into the idea of identity-as-combination-of-aspects but it turns out that may just be me.