I learned in a Communications class that self-disclosure is something you tell someone about yourself that they would likely not know or be able to find out about you. Self-disclosure should be reciprocal, meaning listening to the other person and using that to guide us in the amount of information we disclose about ourselves.
In this class I also learned that we do not tell people who we really are because we are afraid that they will not like the real us. Plus we have the need to protect ourselves.
I have realized that I still use these disclosure guidelines because there are people who do not understand. And I still reflect on the times I felt discounted and hurt by disclosure.
Some of the things I learned through trial and error began early on. After stabilizing I returned to work and was put into another job. I felt good about it because I knew that my lead was a very caring woman ~ which leads me into my six guidelines....
Disclosure rule 1: Just because someone is seems caring doesn't mean they will know what you personally need. So watch for things like: do they get overly emotional and invest way too much time in looking out for people with broken wings. It is suffocating when someone asks you how you are every five minutes.
Disclosure rule 2: How does the person feel about people with mental illness? Sometimes clues come out in regular conversations. Sometimes you have to set up a situation about another person or situation where someone is manic depressive or something that is an "acceptable" mental illness. If the person thinks the mentally ill person can control their behaviors with meds or self talk, walk away, they will never understand the complexity of DID.
Disclosure rule 3: Remember that even close family members will probably deny anything happened to you, especially if it occurred within the family. Family members usually have more to protect then we do. We are the ones seeking help--they are not. They don't want to face up to it, so it couldn't have happened. However, if they keep giving you advice on how to take care of different issues with suggestions like "drink gatorade" or "you need to eat better," let a strong alter tell them that you are afraid that these simplistic suggestions do not cure what you are going through. (sorry, that helped me with my sweet, loving mom.)
Disclosure rule 4: Ask yourself if the person is trustworthy. Does the person gossip about other people, especially people that you are both friends or acquaintances with? Watch them, listen to how they discuss another person. Never tell someone who cannot keep their mouth shut. If they talk about their friends, and you are their friend, well.... your disclosure is not private.
Disclosure rule 5: Think about what you want from disclosing. Does the person have an attribute you can tap into--as a two way street. Some of us have disclosed with other multiples in a face-to-face relationship. We do so because we can offer each other something of value, not because we need someone to cry to. Have you all ever thought of that? We talk to learn, not to unload. Funny isn't it. Multiples are usually very sincere and helpful to each other. (of course sometimes we don't feel that way)
Disclosure rule 6: If or when you choose to disclose, do so when you are in your best state of mind. If there is any thought that it won't go well, it probably won't feel right afterward. It might actually turn out just fine, but self doubt can be plaguing. For instance, if you feel like you might be put on the spot, it might happen for that reason alone. Some times I just feed people little bits and pieces, like--boy I hate when I do something out of character. Or if I slip with the word "we" and get called on it, I actually tell them it is "me, myself and I." It gets a few laughs.
Actually, many people know my dx. My mother even tries to help me with it. Several people are men, and even though several women know, only two are allowed to talk about it. I mean, the other women were not worthy of really knowing. One treated me like a baby and the other one used it against me. She forgot to tell me something then claimed she told "someone" else. Wrong, the situation would have never allowed it. For me, men seem more understanding. They see me or us as extremely strong and sort of fascinating. It is weird because if a woman called my complex irrational painful intelligent messed up unhappy frightened sad depressed happy confused giddy exhausted dedicated...... um..... self, fascinating, I would come unglued.
My boss has known about us for about five years and tells me often how much we have grown. He is sincere and I really appreciate someone understanding the depth of it, with out any details.
I guess for me--disclosure is helpful because I would not and could not expose myself, the whole deal, unless I felt safe, trusted the person and believed they were worthy of "knowing" us. I see it as a positive. It might not work for everyone and I don't recommend everyone doing it or thinking they should. I just find that the more people who know that I am who I am and always have been-- AND --I am not certified crazy or dangerous...... well, they are educated.
For the most part I have a very healthy outlook about who I am.
For more, go to this site!