My Internal Battle with Disappointment and Bitterness

Now while I was externally doing everything I could to help Karen and her little insider girls heal that first year of our journey, internally there was a battle raging. As the spouse of a woman with DID, my fight with disappointments and bitterness has been one of the toughest things I’ve had to deal with. When I married my wife 22 years ago, I was a virgin. I had saved myself for a wonderful, fairy tale marriage with the woman of my dreams. That dream quickly faded. And our culture that flaunts sex in our faces doesn’t help. Also when Karen married me my only desire was to be in the ministry. Moreover, I was in the top 1% of the country academically so I could have easily been anything I wanted to be.

I love Karen deeply. But when I began to see signs of distress in her, I realized that my dream of being in the ministry was slowly evaporating. How could I enter the ministry with a woman who told me she was unwilling to do the things typically expected of a pastor’s wife? And I also was unwilling to enter such a place where so many men have had affairs with other women because I knew our own marital problems would make me much more vulnerable to such. In retrospect her DID was surfacing but in such a way that neither of us recognized it for 20 years. Financial safety became her only obsession, caring nothing of my vocational dreams, so I took a factory job, and 15 years later I’m still there: a square peg in a round hole.

So for 22 years I really have had to battle the disappointment and bitterness of my broken hopes and dreams. Here are some of the ways I have learned to beat back the disappointment and bitterness that could easily rot my soul.

1) Making lemonade out of lemons. I understand now why Karen never seemed to care about my needs, desires or dreams. Knowledge of her DID helps, but for the first 20 years, I had a choice to make without that knowledge. I could either live my own life and let her live hers like I see so many marriages doing in which the spouses slowly drift apart, OR since my wife showed no interest in the things that interested me, I could learn to enjoy the things she enjoyed. I chose the latter, and as a result we stayed fairly close emotionally in spite of her indifference to my needs. I learned to take pleasure in the things that interested her, and so I was able to find joy in life. No, I never got to pursue what was deeply rooted in my soul, but divorce wasn’t an option, so I wanted the best that I could make of our distressed marriage.

2) Forgiveness. As a Christian, simple forgiveness is the only option I have. Some things have been easy to forgive. Some times things were tense for months. But I always came back to the fact that the Bible is clear that if I don’t forgive others no matter what they do to me, I cannot expect to be forgiven for my own failings.

In The Shack the author describes forgiveness as taking your hands off the other person’s throat and allowing God to take care of the situation. The story’s protagonist confesses he has no idea how to forgive his daughter’s murderer. God tells him, “you may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely” (p227). I like that picture.

3) Hope. Actually having hope that things will change for the better is a double-edged sword. I used think that “if I only do this…or that…for Karen” and make her dreams come true, then she would naturally reciprocate and try to make my dreams come true, too. Everything I ever read told me that women naturally respond and reciprocate when a husband does loving deeds and actions. Now I understand why a DID woman does NOT naturally respond. That’s because ever wonderful thing I did was experienced by the girl I called Karen, my wife. While every time I screwed up Alleylieu, the defender, experienced it and chalked it up as one more thing in her long list of grievances against me. So I was dealing with multiple girls and Alleylieu never let Karen respond.

So “hope” did help me get through many years because I was always working toward my next grand plan to win my wife’s heart. But with each failure to win Karen’s heart, hope would stab me in the back. I began to call it “false hope.” I still tried to win her heart. It gave me a goal to work toward and feel that someday things would change, but now I was prepared for the eventual treachery of the hope.

4) Giving up Hope. This is where I currently am. I no longer hope for good things to happen in my life and marriage. But in a bizarre way this has helped me to become more peaceful. Now I can love my girls, and I no longer expect anything from them. Giving up hope frees me from the tyranny of hoping for Karen to reciprocate when I meet her needs and desires. And by holding “hope” lightly, it no longer can stab me as painfully when I inevitably am disappointed

5) Journaling. My journal about my interactions with Karen and her insiders is 864 pages long as of today after only 2 years. Besides recording the healing progress of each of the girls, and all the delightful memories we have made together on this journey, it really has helped me work through a lot of hurts and emotions. Sometimes when I start writing I feel suicidal or raging and by the time that day’s entry is done, it’s like the emotions left through my fingers and stayed in the journal. I try to keep the ugliest and blackest things out of the journal. It won’t help me to dwell on them or have something deeply hurtful written that someone else could stumble upon in the future. But I do “work through” my struggles and battles, and journaling really seems to help.

6) Love. 1 Corinthians 13 says, “Love conquers all.” I don’t understand it, but I do love all my girls in spite of all the hard things we have had to go through and in spite of all my personal disappointments. And my love for my girls helps me conquer the pain of the disappointment and bitterness. So I try to focus on that love.

7) Pragmatism. The last way I battle disappointment and bitterness is with a heavy dose of pragmatism. A) I love my girls. B) I’m not very open to divorce. Suicide maybe, but not divorce (smile). So C) if I’m going to stick with my girls, I am NOT going to let disappointment and bitterness twist my soul no matter how much I have been hurt by them. I am NOT going to help my girls get healed and then need years more of therapy myself. I refuse to be broken by this. Trust me. This has been an epic battle. I have gone back and forth with mild highs and deep, deep lows. There were times when I was filled with rage and hatred and the desire to hurt Karen back for how I have been treated. But pragmatically speaking, if I’m going to stay in this marriage, I will only hurt myself to get my girls healed and then not be in a place emotionally to get to enjoy them after all these years of waiting. The past is past. I hope we can redeem it somehow. And some day if my girls truly get healed, I want to be able to enjoy whatever years and health there may be left for us.


Sam, I Am.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vague
    Jul 02, 2010 @ 20:17:15

    it sounds like you have a pretty damn powerful ministry, dude. you diminish the value of what you are doing by figuring this ain’t ministry. few people in the world are doin’ what you are doing. you said to God you wanted to be in the ministry? well, you’re doin it. dont miss that. ~G


  2. not ready to disclose
    Jun 25, 2013 @ 23:45:29

    Oh Sam, You said exactly my thoughts. I have known something was not ok for so long, but I always knew if I could figure it out, it would be worth the wait.


  3. Glenn
    May 21, 2014 @ 14:10:04

    I think that God is involved intimately with those that try to heal others. If we were not here fulfilling God’s will to heal our wives, where would they be now?


  4. Trackback: How I Stay | Loving My DID Girl(s)

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