Ramblings of an Ex-Multiple


I've been through fusion.

It happened by accident.

I used to say I would never try to fuse my system members. Plurality was part of my identity, and it was how I'd always been. The idea of fusing into one person was deeply uncomfortable. I saw fusion like death, and I didn't want it to happen. It felt like I would lose my closest friends and family if they fused.

I was so afraid of fusion that I never considered it as an option. My goal was to live a healthy life as plural. Clearly, that goal changed. I wound up fusing after a series of chance events brought my system together and made me rethink my viewpoint. It was almost an accident, and I'm glad it happened. Fusion turned out to be the right path for me.

Fusion took time.

It began with an identity crisis in 2020. Before the crisis, my system was made of very separate people. At the end of 2020, I asked myself who I would be if there was no one to judge me. I realized that my system had been forcing itself to stay very separate so that other people could understand it more easily. I was afraid of being told I was faking my plurality if people didn't understand it, so I'd forced it to fit a stereotype. That wasn't a healthy way for anyone to live. My system didn't want to force its structure to fit a stereotype anymore. Dissociative barriers started to come down in response, and the system turned into soup.

It didn't last forever, and my system rebuilt itself after a few months. Many parts of it had fused together, and the rest of the system had increased integration. The identity crisis had left its mark. I didn't feel like I fit into the normal idea of plurality. Everyone else looked more separated than my system was. I kept questioning my structure and digging into my mind, trying to figure out where I belonged and what I wanted.

At the same time, my system continued to shift and integrate. First, the social parts of the system merged together into a median group. Then, the child parts merged into their own group. Those parts were similar to each other, so their merging together made sense. They shared a purpose and it pulled them together. It felt natural and almost expected.

Everyone drew closer together from there. It was like people's brain spaces were leaking into each other. Everyone took on each other's traits and emotions, and it became less clear who held which views. Knowing whether you or another headmate liked something became a challenge. Even people that were very different became hard to tell apart.

My system began to realize that some fusion was almost certainly going to happen, and they panicked over it. No one had chosen this. It had happened on its own, something that other systems said was impossible. It was a scary thing to see happening without your consent. My system decided to make their peace with whatever happened as best they could, but no one wanted to pursue it.

Saying who was fronting became harder and harder. After a while, it was easier to say that everyone was fronting. There were still switches, but they were gentler and less noticeable. Instead of swapping places, switches felt like putting a spotlight on people that were already there. It felt right to change to using parts language. My parts didn't feel separate enough to call themselves "people" anymore. It was more accurate to call them parts of the same mind.

Around this time, I came out as plural to a friend who had very different ideas about parts. I wanted to understand their beliefs, so we talked about how we each saw parts and fusion. They led me to think more deeply about my perspective. I realized I was biased against fusion without a good reason for it. I believed that being plural was best for me, but I couldn't find a reason for that belief that wasn't based in fear. I started to think more seriously about fusion and what I wanted.

Individual selves became less important. Everyone shared traits, and there wasn't much to anyone's identities. Names weren't very useful anymore. It made sense to stop using them, and it felt better than expected. When parts chose to let go of their individual identities, it didn't feel like a loss. It felt freeing. They felt able to relax and exist without needing to know every detail of who they were. They had a voice and an opinion that could be heard, and that was all that really mattered.

Even as parts began to let go of their individual identities, everyone was still there. The difference was that all of my parts were accepted and present. No parts were pushed out of front. No parts were rejected for holding a trait. No one went away or died; the opposite happened. All of my parts felt more alive than ever, and every part was welcomed.

At this point, my parts shared a mind, but there was no person they made up. There was no shared identity or larger self to unite them. My parts didn't have identities of their own, either. It felt unstable. Without any sense of self, it was harder to function. I couldn't comfortably live without an identity. A choice had to be made.

The community made it harder.

Integrating to this extent had given me a taste of what fusion could be like, and I wanted more. Despite this, I spent a while struggling with the idea. I was still afraid of fusion. I wanted it, but I was scared that I would lose important parts of me. I worried that I wouldn't know who I was as a singlet. I was afraid of losing friends and support. I wondered how much of my fear of fusion was caused by people-pleasing, then worried that I was shallow for thinking about that.

Most of all, I worried about not being understood. Like a lot of people, I want to belong somewhere and be accepted by others. It's lonely to never see other people that share your experiences. It was hard enough to relate to others as a more integrated system; I'd never met a fused system. It felt like fusing would leave me without an understanding community. After all, I wouldn't be plural, nor would my history be that of a typical singlet. I thought there wouldn't be a group that could fully understand me if I fused.

It took a lot of talking about integration for my parts to see that fusion's potential benefits greatly outweighed their fears. Integrating had allowed for huge improvements in cooperation, communication, and care. For the first time, there was the sense of being there for each other. Everyone could reach skills, memories, and emotions instead of being blocked off from them. Parts who couldn't stand up for themselves before could tap into the anger of other parts and speak up. They were already a team working as one to handle external life, and everyone craved becoming even closer. Fusion felt like the logical next step.

I realized that I needed to put my own wants and needs first. Avoiding change to stay in a community was like pushing away a winning lottery ticket just so I could keep eating a slice of cake. That slice of cake is nice, but there are a lot of other cakes in the world. One slice isn't worth letting go of a million dollars. I didn't want to hold myself back for the sake of others, and I decided to actively work to fuse.

Unfortunately, most of the plural community didn't want to respect my decision. When I tried to put my whole self first, others only saw my parts. My goals and experiences were ignored so that others could treat me as multiple. I was even told that merging together was healthy multiplicity, not fusion. It made it harder to explore myself, and I felt like I wasn't welcome in the community anymore. It didn't help that many spaces had rules against talking about fusion. There was almost nowhere I could talk about what was happening, and there was only one place where I was given clear support⁠— thank you, Dreamwidth friends, for letting me know I would always be welcome. Almost everyone else wanted me to be plural more than they wanted to respect my experiences.

I've noticed I'm not the only one bothered by this. The inclusive plural community tends to push plurality on everyone, even when it's not the best explanation. It's as though people hope singlets are the minority instead of plurals. I've even seen people invent numbers: one system said that 40% of people are plural without any evidence to back that up. With that sort of push to be plural surrounding me, I knew I wasn't going to get any help from the community. I had to carve my own path.

The last step was up to me.

I figured that the best way to pursue fusion would be to create a unified identity. I chose to view my parts as making up one person: me. Instead of being parts of one mind, they became parts of me. I made myself the center of my mind. Everything in my mind belonged to me. I happened to have parts, but they were all mine. I started to refer to them as voices instead of parts to reinforce this. They were different voices of me.

This gradually shifted how I saw myself. I could still notice my parts, but they weren't the most important thing anymore. My whole self always came first. This was very different from how I'd seen myself before, and I think I wouldn't have fused if I hadn't taken this step. I went from a part-based framework to a whole-based framework.

I turned out to be a blend of all my parts. Everything they held was still there inside me. My parts were still inside me. I hadn't expected that. I could still notice their influence if I wanted to, and they talked just as much as before. What had changed was that all of my voices were mine. It felt more like Internal Family System's approach to parts.

Over two more months, even this sense of having parts disappeared. Periods where I noticed my parts' voices and influence became less common until I stopped noticing them at all. Their voices merged together until the only voice I heard was my own. The traits they'd held felt like they completely belonged to me. Even if I tried to figure out which part a thought came from, I couldn't.

I'd expected it to be uncomfortable, but it felt right. I felt more whole than I could ever remember feeling before. I had full access to all of my mind, and it all felt like mine. Even memories that used to belong to specific parts felt like they happened to me directly.

My perspective changed.

Looking back, I saw my parts differently than I had before. I'd thought that staying plural was making my life easier by letting me share the load. What I'd actually done was break up my coping skills. Different parts of me had different skills, and I couldn't be all of them at once. This meant that I couldn't fully use all of my resources to help myself. My child parts couldn't stand up for themselves, for example. They could hide, but they couldn't get angry enough to protest. It wasn't in their emotional range or skillset. Adult parts had this problem too. One part could only react to situations with anger. Other emotions were entirely blocked off from them.

If one part wasn't around when something stressful happened, then their skills were inaccessible to the others. Even if they were accessible, parts struggled to use skills that weren't theirs. They had no practice with it. It felt like trying to play an instument they didn't own. They could have learned those skills for themselves, but doing so would have taken a lot of time and effort for every single part. This meant that my system had to switch to handle stressful situations well. Switching all the time made staying grounded impossible for me, and it wasn't very reliable. After fusing, that became a non-issue. I could easily use all of my coping skills without having to switch. This made it a lot easier to handle life. Stressors were less overwhelming because I knew I could handle them. I had access to every skill I might need.

I'd been dealing with challenges that I hadn't even known were challenges because they were so routine. I'd had to spend enormous energy resolving disagreements, handling switches, and doing internal work. Trying to understand my mind was exhausting. As hard as I tried, I could never predict who I would be the next day or what I would want. My interests, preferences, and behavior changed often, making it hard to plan ahead. It also made it hard to be authentic with others. I hid large parts of myself from family and friends for fear of being inconsistent. That left me with a sense of being incomplete or empty. It felt like there was a hole in my soul. I could never work on all of myself at once, which made resolving deep issues much harder. Fusing gave me stability and let me accept all of myself, contradictions and all. I didn't feel the need to hide anything.

After fusing, I started to understand why psychology sees systems as "one person, but dissociated". That's how my old system looked to me. It looked like I'd spent years boxing up and avoiding parts of my whole self instead of accepting them. This was in contrast to how my system had seen themselves. When I was plural, there was no sense of being a broken-up whole self. Every part stood on their own and didn't feel like they were part of a larger person. It was interesting to notice that shift in perspective.

Fusion had major benefits for me.

I feel more capable and rounded than before. Instead of needing a protector part to stand up for me, I can stand up for myself. I can feel playful without having to switch to a child part. My ability to cope with stress doesn't rely on switching anymore, and I can feel a full range of emotions without hitting a mental wall. I feel more stable because I know I can handle life on my own, and I've made progress that I couldn't have dreamed of before.

I've learned that I don't need to rely on dissociation and avoidance to cope. I can confront my problems as they happen. This has had a significant effect on my anxiety levels. Anxiety is fueled by avoidance. Avoiding something you're afraid of justifies your fear, which leads you to feel even more afraid next time. The only way to overcome that fear is to confront it. When I was plural, I could never bring all of myself into that confrontation. I had to take it a few parts at a time. This made facing my fears into a very slow process.

Fusion has let me bring all of myself into that process at the same time. I'm able to more easily turn towards my deeper fears without overwhelming myself, and I can use all of my coping skills to accept and overcome those fears. This has let me make a lot of progress recovering from an anxiety disorder. It's also made it much easier to deal with conflict as it happens. I can comfort myself and continue instead of being flooded by dissociated parts.

I feel a lot more present in my own life. Relying on dissociation to cope meant that I was always at least a little bit detached. Even if the parts in control were grounded, other parts of me would be stuck watching from the back. Part of me was always dissociated, and stepping out of front was always an option. It made it very hard to avoid dissociative coping. Fusion has allowed all of me to be present at once. It's made it easier to stay grounded as a result, and I've been able to focus on moving beyond dissociation. I feel like I'm able to be fully present in my life for the first time. It's like becoming the captain of a ship that I used to swab the decks of.

My parts used to joke that they would make a tulpa if they fused. I will not be making a tulpa. I don't want to separate my parts again either. I don't feel the need to. I am not alone; I complete myself, and I feel like fusion has been a net gain for me. I feel stronger, more capable, and able to tackle whatever life throws at me. I think it's a shame how the plural community treats fusion like a taboo.

Fusion is not murder.

Community stigma

The mental health system has a long history of forcing systems to fuse, so it's not surprising that fusion is a scary topic for the plural community. Almost no one talks about what it's like, which may be because most spaces require trigger warnings for fusion talk. There's also a lot of misinformation about it. A large number of systems compare fusion to murder and believe it's unethical. Others think it means their system members would go away forever. Most treat it like a death sentence and swear that they will never fuse. There's nothing wrong with wanting to stay plural, but making fusion a taboo is not helpful. Spreading misinformation doesn't help either.

Forcing fusion on systems is bad. There's no question about that; it takes away their right to control their own brain. Saying that fusion is always wrong or bad is a problem for similar reasons. For some systems, it is the right choice. If these systems believe that fusion is always bad, they are much less likely to see it as an option. They may avoid a path that could help them. It's just as much a problem as saying that healthy multiplicity is a bad option. Both paths need to be supported.

Systems who choose to fuse still need support. It can be a hard process sometimes, and having community support can make it easier. Respecting and including systems that are fusing is just as important as supporting those that want to stay plural, but systems that want to fuse aren't treated with as much respect. I've seen systems happily announce that they plan to fuse, only to receive hate, harrassment, and concern. If they had announced they wanted to stay plural, they would have received love and support instead. The plural community doesn't tend to question systems that want healthy multiplicity. Systems that plan to fuse are questioned more often than not. Their decision is often seen as a betrayal or threat to the community. Even if the system planning to fuse is celebrating it, people publicly grieve over their fused members and treat it like a tragedy. It's clear that healthy multiplicity and fusion are not seen as equal options.

No place that's home

When everyone around you assumes you want to be very separate, it's scary and hard to go against that. Fusing is harder when there's no support for less separate systems. There are no resources to help people through the process, and there is almost no one to cheer you on. There are very few peer mentors for systems that want to fuse. If you decide to fuse, you're probably on your own. This makes it harder to succeed. It also makes the process scarier than it has to be. The unknown is scary for many people, and the lack of information about fusion means that it is an unknown for many. Without information or support, it's no wonder that fusion is seen as bad.

There are very few resources for systems that are fusing. The plural community is focused on systems that are completely separated, and there is very little written for anyone else. It's rare to see people talking about systems that are less separate. Talking about fusion is even rarer. Some spaces ban talking about fusion altogether. It seems the only avenue for support is the mental healthcare system, and that has failed many people.

There is also no place for ex-systems and fused systems. This group needs support more than ever, but they're left figuring it out on their own. They don't have a space to be heard. People seem to agree that the plural community is for plurals, which means that fusing could cast people out of the same community they relied on before. If they do not have another community to turn to, they might be left without support. This can be a serious problem when you're trying to relearn yourself.

More than chosen fusion

Even systems that don't want to fuse are hurt by this. Not all systems are made of separate people. I've met systems that had shared identities, hiveminds, duplicate selves, and more. Every experience is different. I've even met a few systems that didn't see themselves as separate people at all. They were still plural, but not in the ways the plural community talks about. These systems often feel like they don't belong in the plural community. There's nowhere else for them to go, though. Some force themselves to be more separate to fit in. Others stay on the outside of the community and don't talk much. The inclusive plural community prides itself on welcoming everyone, but its focus on separation pushes some systems away.

Worse, fusion does happen without choosing it. That's what happened to me. I didn't sit down and decide to fuse until the process was almost done. I am not alone in this. Other systems have fused without meaning to. The stigma around fusion can be very harmful to these systems. The plural community teaches people to be afraid of fusing, and there is so much misinformation that most people do not understand what fusion is. If you start fusing without meaning to and have only seen fusion as bad, it's not going to be an easy process. At best, you'll have to learn that fusion is not bad. At worst, you might suffer through a process that should feel comfortable. My own path would have been much easier if I hadn't been taught that fusion was murder. My parts thought they were going to die. In reality, they became more present than ever.

Rethinking the stigma

The plural community needs to rethink how it sees fusion. Yes, fight against forced fusion. Psychology needs to learn that it's possible to live a happy, healthy life as plural. Fighting against forced fusion doesn't need to cast fusion itself in a bad light. For some systems, fusion is the right choice. These systems are hurt when fusion is stigmatized. There needs to be a place for systems in the process of fusing. If the plural community wants to be inclusive and accepting, these people need to be welcomed just as much as healthy multiples. Free choice should be what matters, not the path chosen.

Originally written ; rewritten ; revised ; added to on .

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