One of the most fascinating aspects of DID, to me, is the inner world. The inner world is where alters go when they’re not fronting, generally speaking. No two systems are going to have the exact same inner world. Some inner worlds are single rooms, while others consist of multiple planets. Not every system has an inner world, which is totally fine. There is nothing wrong with your system if you don’t have an inner world. Some therapists might work with systems to build an inner world as part of the healing process.
Some systems are perfectly comfortable with sharing what their inner world looks like. They will map out their world for you and explain each part. Others are very secretive about their inner world. This is their sanctuary, and no one is welcome to impede on it. Some may consider it not safe to share their inner world. For us, we’re pretty comfortable talking about it. We also don’t have a history of hypnosis or mind-control that other systems might have experienced. I think this makes us feel more secure about our innermost reality.
Our inner world has changed several times. At one point when I was younger, my inner world was inside the walls of my house. As long as I was inside the walls, no one could hurt me. Once I entered the walls the space would magically expand to contain whatever rooms were needed at the time. Eventually my inner world became an academy for kids with unusual gifts. I could travel to different worlds, or planes of existence, to find and talk to other “characters”. At the time I didn’t know I had DID. I didn’t know I was part of a system. I thought everyone in my inner world was imaginary. I figured I just had a really vivid imagination for a teenager. I didn’t tell anyone about it, because I knew I was too old to have imaginary friends. When I was in my inner world, I could do so much more than I could in real life. I went on adventures with my friends. I was powerful, and strong, and sure of myself. Everything I wasn’t in real life. This experience is what would eventually lead me to believe I had Maladaptive Daydreaming Disorder. I still think there was an aspect of that going on.
As I got older my inner world shrank. It mostly consisted of myself (Shell), Cameron, and Megumi sharing a house. Others would come and visit, but I didn’t really go anywhere outside of our shared house.
When I learned about the system, I lost access to the inner world. At first I could access the front room, and I could get a sort of aerial view of what the inner world looked like. But other than that I’d have to rely on the things the others have written or told me about the inner world. During this phase there was a main house, where Mary, Cameron, Megumi, and Ricki lived with our littles. The main house also held the basement, where none of us were allowed to go. The main house is where the front room was–or the room you would enter to be in the front or the headspace.
As I learned about other alters I became aware of more of the inner world. There was a forest that I knew nothing about. There was also an apartment building where other headmates lived. The hallway of the building would get hazy past the known apartments, and we couldn’t pass a certain point. This is where some of the hidden alters were.
Eventually, we came to a point where the way our inner world was structured wasn’t working for our system anymore. We started working together more comfortably, so having two different structures was becoming somewhat annoying. There was also this unspoken hieracrchy where some alters felt like those that lived in the house were more important than those that lived in the apartment building. This, of course, was never the case. No alter is more important than another. Every alter exists for a reason. And we needed an inner world that reflects that.
Enter Amy. I don’t think anyone besides our gatekeepers knew about Amy (except maybe Mary, with all her secrets). Amy, unknown to me, was an internal caretaker. She oversaw specific areas of the inner world. As everyone started agreeing with restructuring our inner world, Amy was given a new role: architect. As the architect it became her job to recreate the inner world. Our brain is a funny place. We don’t really know how the inner world works, but we do know that sometimes the brain just doesn’t accept adjustments we make to the inner world. Amy was able to work around this (for the most part) and rebuilt our inner world.
Now everyone lives in a manor. We all have rooms, and there are additional gathering places. We even have a tangible structure for communicating with Ariana’s side system. We have yet to be able to communicate with them, but when we do, we’ll already have a tool in place.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is that I still cannot access the inner world. I can see what the manor looks like, but it feels like I’m watching it on a TV. I’m not actually immersed in it. According to the video she made, Amy thinks that my continued denial is what is blocking me. It is something I am actively working on. I’ve accepted my diagnosis, although I still have moments where I’m like, “there’s no way this is real”. I’m still trying to accept some of the memories I’ve been “gifted” with. Other than that, all I can think to do is to keep trying.
Your inner world may not always remain the same. And it is ok if it changes. To us, it makes sense that the inner world would shift as the system goes through changes. And it’s also ok if your inner world doesn’t change. No matter what your inner world looks like, you are valid.