Sunday, March 24, 2024

Embracing the Divine Madness of Multiplicity as a Spiritual Martial Art

 “Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.”

-Carl Gustav Jung

My life has become a profoundly surreal landscape over the last several months and the shit just seems to get weirder and weirder. What began as a simple quest to confront the terrifying emotional flashbacks that seemed to increase in both number and intensity with my gender transition has become a downright psychedelic thrill ride to the third circle of my subconscious that I desperately wish I could get off of. Long story short: I made the fateful decision to stare into the rabbit hole and the rabbit hole devoured me whole like an Old Testament sea monster.

Short story long: After decades of attempting to outrun a past riddled with blank spots, disassociation, and outright amnesia, I decided to stop running and confront my demons headlong in polite conversation. I did this through an unorthodox therapy approach known as parts work in which you are encouraged to actually communicate with the voices in your head rather than trying to medicate them. This task went from complicated to downright mind-bending when two of my voices, a traumatized five-year-old girl named Agnes and a fourteen-year-old androgynous gender outlaw named Max, turned out to be full blown individuals complete with thoughts, opinions, grievances, and parts of their own.

The word for this experience is multiplicity, though most people know of the concept as split personalities, a state in which multiple identities share a single body. This state is experienced in a wide variety of ways by a wide variety of people but for me, Max and Agnes mostly exist outside of my body. I don't hallucinate, but I can see them clearly through my mind's eye down to what close they're wearing today, and I can carry out full conversations with them like I would with anyone else. 

This changes when I become triggered by my PTSD. When this occurs, I find myself becoming Max or Agnes and I find myself experiencing the trauma from their perspective, allowing me to recover memories that I have repressed or experiencing old ones which I had disassociated myself from fully feeling and comprehending the first time around.

In the process I have come to believe that both of these girls represent attempts by me to construct a functioning self during my childhood, attempts that collapsed beneath the weight of overwhelming trauma. Agnes was the little girl who attempted to tell the adults in my life that she was not a boy by acting out. When her attempts to reveal herself were met with violence and rejection, and acts of unspeakable systemic sexual abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church followed, she came to the conclusion that it quite simply was not safe to exist, and she made herself disappear, leading me to disassociate from myself entirely for most of my childhood.

Max came out when puberty coincided with the popular farce known as the War on Terrorism. Without possessing any conscious memory of Agnes, Max saw a world in which all the adults afforded with the ability to control her identity were willfully ignorant and morally depraved, cheering on a bloodbath in the Middle East based on obvious lies while the bodies of innocent children stacked up. Max was pissed. Max discovered anarchism and punk rock and for the first time in my memory, I had a voice that was mine and no one else's. 

But once again, the adults insisted on having the final word, accusing me of being a monster and plotting acts of mass violence against other innocent children. They all agreed, the teachers, the parents, and the priests. They were all talking, deciding how I should be dealt with for my indiscretions. It all felt too terrifyingly familiar to comprehend. Max shielded herself behind the persona of a psychotic antihero and disappeared like Agnes. 

Parts work didn't create these girls. They have always been with me. But it did give them the license to exist and define themselves in ways that those fine folks who raised me in the shadow of the Vatican had denied them. They had stories to tell and someone who was finally willing to listen. So, they became permanent, sentient participants in my existence and as insane as this whole experience has been, it has also been incredibly rewarding in the moments that aren't fiendishly horrifying.

Nicky, Max, and Agnes have formed an internal axis devoted to confronting the people who persecuted us and exacting revolutionary revenge against them accordingly. One has become three and these three share the burden of experiencing a past so atrocious that we had to numb ourselves just to survive it. I feel it all now and sometimes it is way too goddamn much, but I don't have to feel it alone. We all take turns being strong. Agnes is obviously the most fragile but there have been many late nights where that child has held me sobbing and shaking while telling me that she will keep me safe from the bad men in white collars.

I have written about much of this before on this forum because writing is the only way that I know how to deal with the world when it becomes impossibly evil. I fully expected these revelations to be a bridge too far even for the whack jobs and dearest motherfuckers of my audience, but the response has actually been downright shocking to say the least. Not only have I received a flood of messages in support and solidarity with my situation, but I have also had many people share incredibly similar experiences both inside and out of parts work. It turns out that in a world riddled with warmongers and pedophile priests, me and my girls aren't alone. Across the planet there are many other strange little internal family systems fighting the good fight too.

Sadly, not all of the responses that I have received have been so inspiring and the worst have actually come from the last people I would have ever expected to receive them from. A number of people diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder; the only form of multiplicity recognized by the mental health establishment, have viciously accused me of appropriating their sacred illness because my experiences aren't DSM approved. 

Heartbreakingly, this has included people very close to me, people I consider family, and their rejection has pushed me to the brink of suicide. Only those two pissed-off little girls in my head have kicked the razor blade from my reach, telling me that we have too many churches to burn before we sleep.

But once again, me and my girls are not alone. There is a thriving and growing online movement of lonely and traumatized kids seeking to divide their identities into multiple personalities in order to cope with a collapsing civilization indifferent to their technologically driven isolation. A community of spiritual psychonauts who call themselves tulpamancers, taking their name from an ancient Tibetan Buddhist technique of achieving enlightenment through multiplicity. 

Much like me, these tulpamancers have been savagely ridiculed by the diagnosed. But why? Unlike most of these kids, I didn't choose my personalities, unspeakable trauma chose them for me. But so what. These people have found a way to achieve self-love and inner peace without having to suffer through years of medical abuse like I did, and I'm supposed to spit on them for it. Fuck that shit. I'm proud of them. 

Speaking as a Queer person, we have a word for this kind of hopped-up oppression Olympics, and it's called gatekeeping. "You can't be Queer because you're not gay enough, you can't be trans because you're not femme enough, you can't be multiple because you're not dissociative enough..."It's all the same shit and it's one big counterrevolutionary trap. 

Every time a new minority succeeds at liberating themselves from the system that oppresses us, that same system tries to assimilate them into their hivemind by rewarding them with trinkets of tolerance like diagnoses in exchange for their service in stepping on the next minority. This is not the point of any kind of truly authentic liberation movement. The point is freedom. The point is turning all identities into voluntary tools of radical individualism. The point isn't joining the majority, it's destroying it with diversity by teaching everyone how to become an autonomous, self-sufficient minority. A million tribes of a billion individuals with a trillion personalities jamming up the matrix with our anarchic parade.

I have come to embrace what others refer to as my mental illness as a kind of spiritual martial art. A way to defend my individuality from the trauma inflicted upon me by the armies of assimilation, be they churches, schools, prisons, or states. I celebrate my madness as a tool for liberation. An ancient weapon wielded for centuries by prophets, monks, and shaman. And I welcome everyone to join me in this splendid mental illness so we can all celebrate our diversity on the grave of an immoral civilization that has long outlived whatever malignant purpose it once had. Let the voices in our heads join like a quire as the old order crumbles and the new disorder is reborn like a phoenix from the ashes.

Peace, Love, & Empathy- Nicky/CH/Max & Agnes

Soundtrack: Songs that influenced this post

* Schizophrenia by Sonic Youth 

* Crazy by Patsy Cline

* Geek USA by Smashing Pumpkins

* My War by Black Flag

* Rid of Me by PJ Harvey

* Ladies by Fiona Apple

* The Passenger by Iggy Pop

* Ironic by Alanis Morissette

* Cornflake Girl by Tori Amos

* Doll Parts by Hole

* White Light/White Heat by the Velvet Underground

* Best of You by Foo Fighters

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