Gal Pals and Networks vs. Cogs in a System

Ever since Karen and I began this healing journey through DID, I operated under the assumption that all the insiders were real girls. As I got to know each girl, I treated her as I would any other little outside girl of the appropriate age. Plus I “saw” each girl uniquely. If Karen was out, I saw my wife. If my insider daughter was out, I saw Amy. If the defender was out, I saw Alleylieu. And when the littlest one, Sophia, was out, that’s whom I saw.

Even the other girls whom I saw infrequently I treated like normal girls. The first thing I always did when I met a new insider would be to introduce myself and then ask her what her name was. Sophia told us her real name. The other two main insiders refused to give me a name, so I gave them a name. I always call them by name. The three “lesser” insiders with whom I infrequently interact have also given me their real names or I was told their names by the other girls. (I feel uncomfortable in all these essays when I don’t use their real names, but to protect their current need for privacy I am obligated to withhold them.)

Now when I gave Amy and at that time Alexis a name, I didn’t do it flippantly or unilaterally. I took my time, and got their feedback as we decided what I would call them. Of the two insiders that I named, Amy loved the name I gave her so much that she shed the name that she used to call herself inside. Alexis eventually decided she liked Alleylieu better which is now what we all call her. But whether the insiders keep the name or eventually change it, names are a basic validation of others. Think about how you feel when someone says, “Hey, you” versus when a friend calls you by name. Names are important. (Note: other DID ladies have told me that some of their insiders demand (!) to remain nameless. In another blog entry, I talk about allowing each insider to define your relationship with her/him. Go slow, and get feedback if you give an insider a name!)

Now because I have the mindset that ALL the insiders are REAL girls, it enables me to treat them just like I would any normal, outside girl. And my girls LOVE that!!! In fact, they have begged me not to do a lot of reading of the professional literature available because they feel I treat them in such a uniquely special way, and they don’t want anything to change how I interact with them.

But as I’ve been on wordpress I can’t but help pick up some of the common DID lingo. And it’s NOT that I think everyone else is wrong, but when I hear everyone referring to her “system” something inside me cringes. I don’t want my girls to just be a cog in an impersonal, mental, defense system. So I began talking with my girls. “How do you girls want me to refer to all of you?” I suggested I call them a “team.” But they said, “We don’t like that. Teams are for boys.” So eventually they said, “Maybe we could be gal pals.” And that appellation kind of stuck. When I think of my girls, I think of them as a network of gal pals. Yes, sometimes the gal pals don’t act very chummy. They are still in the process of learning to work together. But whenever I refer to them, I want to use terms that affirm their inherent humanity.

(Case in point, I literally was talking to Karen  yesterday and she referred to the other girls as her “system,” and I told her “no we need to refer to everyone as the ‘girls in the network’” and Amy  jumped out and said, “yes, Daddy, that’s what we like to be called.”)

I have also read about ladies referring to insiders with impersonal names or simple emotional labels often with negative connotations. Again, if that works for you, I’m not here to belittle that. But there are 7 girls in my wife’s network (including my wife, Karen), and I believe there is healing power when I treat each of them as though they are a special gift from heaven. I believe there is healing power in a name that reaffirms how special she is to me. Anything other than a normal girl’s name just wouldn’t cut it for me or them.

Amy has told me over and over, “Daddy, I’m a real girl!” That is a desperate plea of hers. It is a core need of hers. She wants to be recognized for her humanity. She’s not just part of a defense system. She wanted to know, “Daddy, will I get to go to heaven, too?” And she wanted to make sure that I meant her individually apart from the other girls when I said, “yes.” Amy is a living, breathing, feeling girl who has dreams, and hopes and needs of her own. And as I treat her as such, Amy has been given the freedom to heal and grow together with the other girls when she is ready.

If you watched Cameron’s movie Avatar you may remember the phrase, “I see you.” It means to see someone more than just physically. It means seeing into a person’s core being for who they are. I often tell Alleylieu “I see you” and she responded one time, “I think I’m glad you do.” She’s always amazed that I can tell if she’s come out just by her eyes or other facial expressions without her uttering a word.

Each of the four main girls (including Karen) is unique to me. I treat them as individual girls. I see each of them for who she is. And they each currently have unique needs and desires (though they are beginning to merge). So I encourage you to see your wife and the insiders simply as girls in a network. Treating them as individuals will NOT make them grow apart. It actually gives them the freedom and safety to have their needs met, allowing healing to take place. Then as they are able, they will begin to work together more closely with the other girls like true gal pals in a network.


Sam, I Am.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. onesurvivor
    Jul 04, 2010 @ 19:11:32

    I see you’re blogging again! I will try to follow along as I can. I am super swamped right now in addition to having flashbacks. I downloaded your study and will check it out. 🙂


  2. jeffssong
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 17:54:42

    LOL, about a year behind here, re-reading, ‘filing’ you might say (means our old Professor has more work, he’s gettin’ old, LOL!) But … hmm, scanning, reading closer, you know?
    That ‘system’ thing caught my eye. I call them “My Crowd” or “The Group”; Jeffery refers to us in posts as “& Friends” which is true. But our analytical side looks at things – well, like a mechanic, so ‘system’ goes, too. But yeah – I can feel the boys cringe a bit; Matthew hates it. I’ll have to run some ‘system’ tests, so to speak (okay, I’m laffin’, we’re cool). But I do know for the shrinky-doo crowd: ‘system’ is a word they understand and use – which is where us survivors picked it up – cuz’ it’s a ‘system for survival’.
    Good deal, thank Sam I am – we’re always lookin’ for ways to make our selves & souls a tad bit more comfy in this limited size head, LOL!
    Will be back – some good stuff here, dude.


    • Sam Ruck
      Apr 15, 2011 @ 22:12:04

      Since the time when I wrote this entry we moved away from “galpals.” It never really caught on. Right now the girls are trying out “friends” but I’m hoping to nudge them into “sisters” (can’t get rid of family members for better or worse–unless they are truly abusive) I’ve heard lots of other names for everyone in the network, but I still stand firmly against “system.” It might work for “scientific-minded” research therapists, but it should NEVER be used when dealing with insiders. I’ve yet to talk to an insider who thought of him/herself in such inhuman terms, and when outsiders use those terms I normally see a lot of angst on the part of the insiders who want to be treated as real and fully human.



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