Saturday, August 15, 2009

Multiple Personalities

Multiple Personalities

Have all the good parts died? As a parent are we doomed to being boring?

I’ve had a few random conversations lately about “voice dialogue coaching”. I’m a layperson here, so apologies to any experts if I mess this up, but my understanding is it’s a form of therapy which engages with each of the various parts of your personality – but as distinct voices or people. So - we all have these different parts inside us (the serious achiever, the rebel, the party animal, whatever) and they all kind of co-exist – they talk to each other, just like the little devil and angels on your shoulder in the cartoon. For some, it doesn’t work so well. The definition of “associative personality disorder” (or multiple personalities — like the show starring Toni Collette at the moment) is where different parts or voices don’t know about the others. They all think they’re the only voice.

But for most of us – we know they’re there. And they don’t all agree. The mother might want to stay home. The career person might want to work harder. The rebel might want to lie on the beach and hope the rest of the world goes away. And at different times, different voices get more of the say.
Makes sense… I’ve always felt for a long time like I had loads of different sides to me.

As a teenager, I think I thought that made me a bit special… I used to ponder why it was – and reflect that no-one new the true me, because they’d just see a sliver of me (ahhh the insular universe of a teenager). I wondered if it was because I’d moved around so much. Was is the 14 schools, the loads of part-time jobs? Apparently we develop new personalities or voices as a survival trait. Again, makes sense. A new school, or job can easily require a new set of features required to succeed (being loud, quiet, shy, whatever).

As I got older I saw the power of bringing all these parts together – so it was a huge revelation when I relaxed at work. My professional corporate side was much more effective when I brought a bit more of my silly side, and a bit more of my warmth.
Indeed until recently, I was starting to see that as life’s journey, like you finally create the one person, bring it all together and that’s success.

But this idea – about the many voices, got me thinking, which voices of mine have gone quiet? Plenty. And I don't think I'm alone in that. Becoming a parent changes everything.

As the mother — not only do you have to change what you eat, drink and do (I basically didn’t have a drink in over four years – between pregnancy and breastfeeding), but you have this whole massive mind shift. Will anyone think I’m sexy again? Can I be fun and responsible? How can you have a social life when you're up at 6am every day? Do I have the right to expect to have a little (non-lego or craft-based) fun along the way?

And I at least, haven’t been able to make it all work – so the party animal, the entertainer, the athlete (alright, more like the 'moderately fit person'), God – even the good friend, these all seem to have taken a major backseat. In fact I’d say they are at death’s door. In their stead – there’s the professional, the mother, the daughter and granddaughter, and very little else.

And you know, at times that’s okay – it’s relevant and valuable.
But crap it can be boring!

Is it legitimate to want those voices to have some air-time? What would that look like? Would a night out be enough? Does that mean in 15 years time I’ll be one of those embarrassing L.Lo-type mothers with a skirt that’s too short trying to compete with her daughter?

And how to get the timing right… my party animal friends who were bitching about me being so boring while I was waddling around hormonal and huge, are now all pregnant themselves, just now when I feel like a bit of escape.

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