Defusing the Anger of the Defender

When we first began our healing journey, Karen told me “the defender is the key to healing” over and over. So I was desperate to make contact with my wife’s defender so we “could really start the healing.” But where was she? In the beginning Karen said she heard a voice in her head constantly saying vile and foul things about me. She would never relate those things, and the defender would never come out and say them to my face.

I found out the following year, after I had defused the anger, why the Alleylieu, then Alexis, hated me so desperately. For 20 years Karen the girl I called my wife got to experience the majority of the good times with me. However, Alexis, the defender, only experienced the bad times with me when there were fights and arguments. And then to make matters worse, whenever Karen and I were being physically intimate, if things weren’t perfect, she would go inside, and guess who had to endure sex with me. Yes, it was Alexis. Emotionally Alexis was probably 8-10 when she first started coming out. I felt so badly for her and understood her hatred for me once I put the pieces of this DID puzzle together. (I also felt like an inadvertent pedophile, but we also are working through that.)

Then when one of the first two little girls came out, I ignorantly assumed she was the defender. I even gave her a name based on that assumption. Amy loved the name I gave her and made it her own, even though I told her later that I had given it to her assuming she was someone else.

But I found out that Alexis was testing me by sending out the other girls first. Karen and I both thought this was kind of a crock. Shouldn’t the defender be the first insider out to make sure everything was safe for the other girls? But I guess at least in my wife’s case, that’s not how it worked. So as I interacted with Amy and Sophia, I knew I was being watched. And true to form, each time I screwed up with one of them, the defender would pop out and “yell” at me and put me in my place and then go back inside. But she was also watching closely at how carefully and safely I treated the other girls and Karen the vast majority of the time. I NEVER treated them inappropriately, and I know that made an impression on Alexis.

Now I NEVER defended myself whenever Alexis would come out and reprimand me. I made the assumption that defending myself would only promote a fight and prove that I was unsafe for the insiders. And 20 years into this hurting marriage, the only thing I was interested in now that I understood the problem was HEALING things. So no matter what Alexis said, I would listen. I would apologize. She always made me cry because I was already hurting so deeply from trying so hard while no one was taking care of me. But somehow I would pick myself back off the ground, so to speak, after her reprimands and keep trying.

Karen said when I would apologize, this really confused Alexis. The defender considered me an evil and dangerous man at first, and these apologies were totally out of line with how Alexis viewed me. But I was of the opinion that if Alexis felt I did something wrong, then no matter what extenuating circumstances there might be, if I apologized, I validated her feelings and defused the situation. And eventually it did. Eventually Alexis became less angry and stopped yelling. In fact, I went on the offensive. One time I asked Karen to ask Alexis, “What things have I done wrong that scared you in the past?” She immediately produced five of the worst fights we had dating all the way back to the beginning of our marriage. I asked more about each event to try to understand the full depth of how she viewed these events, and then I proceeded to apologize as fully as I could for each of them. No excuses. No “this is my side of the story.” Just contrition.

Additionally Karen, Amy and Sophia did NOT like Alexis. They called her “the general” because she would yell at everyone, me and all the other girls. But I always defended Alexis to the other girls. I would tell them that the reason she was so angry was because no one had ever loved her or taken care of her or cared about her needs. And this was true. As I got to know Alexis, she saw her entire existence wrapped around one purpose—making sure all the other girls in the network were safe. She never thought about things that she would like or needs she might have. She was single minded and lived by an unspoken code that she considered vital for the safety of the other girls.

So as I apologized for my past offenses, as I spoke well of her to the other girls, as I began to reach out to her with daily emails, and playing webkinz with her during my 5:30 break at work, buying her small gifts and inviting her to be part of our family vacations, the ice began to thaw. Slowly her hardened shell cracked and a beautiful young lady began to blossom where once a young, scared and angry warrior had stood in perpetual solitude guarding the other girls.

Alexis is now “one of my girls.” She also decided to change her name to Alleylieu which held special significance for her. Two years later she told me I’m her favorite person in the world. And even though she told me that she only got to experience the “bad” parts of our marriage for the first 20 years, I told her, “Honey, we’re going to make good memories together from now on.”

Defusing the anger of Alexis was the hardest thing I have had to do in regard to the insiders. But to see her smile and to see how much she has blossomed and to hear her say, “I love you” every once in a while has been worth every tear I shed throughout the process. Now she is finally trying to get healed of the scars from her past and from our marriage difficulties, too. I think we finally hit bottom a couple of months ago and things are slowly, very slowly, starting to look up again.


Sam, I Am.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sam Ruck
    Jun 11, 2012 @ 12:39:53

    I recently came across this quote that I thought was so incredibly appropriate for this entry:

    Apologizing to someone doesn’t mean you are wrong and they are right. It means you value the relationship more than you value your ego.



  2. not ready to disclose
    Jun 26, 2013 @ 00:08:06

    Sam reading your blog feels like you are speaking to me. Thank you for sharing your journey. I feel more hope that I am doing what my husband needs.


  3. Trackback: Who Am I? Deciding My Core Beliefs, Part 1 | Loving My DID Girl(s)

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