(This is the non-magic-heavy version of this.)
I struggle a little with coming up with a term for this topic I want to write about today, but perhaps that’s a good enough approximation (“shallow co-fronting”). I should preface this with a larger than normal “this is just how it works for us, hope it helps”!
What do I mean by shallow co-fronting? Well, let me back up for a moment.
What do I mean by co-fronting? (Or “normal” co-fronting.) In general, co-fronting is when two or more people are very close to front (see fronting). This is like when you are viewing a YouTube cat video, and several people are standing to the side or behind you, looking over your shoulder. They may be commenting to you or to each other, laughing at what you are laughing at (or sometimes things you aren’t laughing at, and vice-versa). In the case of co-fronting, the people near you are your systemmates. Say you’re web browsing, sometimes you might type a comment for them (or they for you), choose a different thing to look at based on their interests, and so on. Just like many people sitting around a computer.
For some, I think co-fronting is the only term here, and it means what I’m about to talk about. For us, there is a distinction, though, which I’ll explain below.
For us, when switching, we start out in that place. When we actually want to switch, it moves to something that’s a lot like co-fronting, but even closer. In that situation, we are occupying the same “physical” space. Each of us feels as though it’s our body, but only one of us is actually controlling it. I call this shallow co-fronting, because of how close everyone is to the surface of this world, in front.
There will be a lot of analogies following 🙂 because I hope everyone can find something that resonates with them.
An important property of shallow co-fronting is that, with a little practice, all of the people who are candidates for switching to front may hold themselves there. A little like switching, interrupted.
If you’ve ever had a still basin of water or something similar, and just touched your hand to the very surface of it (but not pushed through), then you have a notion of what this can feel like. If you haven’t done that, I recommend it. It is a unique feeling to touch the surface of the water, literally the barrier between the air and water itself, and it may help with understanding.
Other analogies that may resonate with some people better, like toeing a line, or the sun just almost ready to peek over the horizon. Or, to go with my computer analogy above, everyone sitting around a swivelable keyboard and mouse.
For the person in front, going with my water analogy, they probably have a hand plunged into the water. What they will do is the equivalent of backing their hand out of the water until just a few fingertips are pushed through. Anyone else who wants to participate will metaphorically put their hands just hovering over the surface like I described above. If there are several of you along a line, perhaps you will step back to where you have only one foot over the line, and everyone else is toeing it. Perhaps there will be just one person with their hands near the keyboard and mouse.
Once you’re there, you and at least one systemmate hanging out in the same space, everyone but you just hanging on the very edge, the fun can begin! This is like “normal” co-fronting, where you can type something for them, but instead of just doing something for them, let them reach forward and do it. Typing is a good exercise for this. It’s not you typing, it’s them typing. Then they can draw back again. Different fingertips in the water, the keyboard and mouse moving around to different people. Except it’s their presence in this world.
For us, this is a unique sensation, not really the same as “normal” fronting. No one moves out of front, but rather, we are all here. We all feel present in this world. Because everyone is here, actual switching becomes very easy and fast. We could have a conversation with us and others all interacting at once. This is a pretty fabulous thing if you all want to participate in a conversation or activity happening out here.
What does it feel like? Besides my analogies above, it can be an interesting sensation like this body’s sense of self melting between several identifications of feeling and appearance. I see myself with darker hair, and Dove sees herself with white hair, and switching between us, there was an almost palpable inner-eye feeling of hair colour melting down from top to bottom, as well as personal energy.
(I should also impart a warning here: This sort of thing has been known to cause headaches until you are used to it. And it’s hard to tell whether it’s an “ache so good” kind of issue. Please be careful and proceed with caution and sound judgement.)
I hope this helps, and I’d love to hear about other perspectives of how it works/feels!