Involving Your Children in the Healing Process

When the insider girls first began coming outside, our son was a 17-year old senior. As he began to observe changes in his mother, he made a comment to her that he hoped she would be through “this whatever” at least by the time he was getting married. As the girls came out more concretely over the next few months, this statement of his scared them, mother and insiders, and kept them from revealing themselves to him.

But my son is no fool. We live in a little house. And for about 5 months, we all lived this double-life-kind-of lie. Amy and Sophia were becoming more and more a part of my life while they tried to keep their existence hidden from our son. But he saw the signs. He heard the voice changes. Half the time Karen and Amy would switch and then Amy would talk directly to him, and yet somehow she thought he didn’t know it was no longer his mother. He also saw his mother begin to get out dolls and make clothing for them and set them around the bedroom. On our big vacation out West that year, Velvet the doll from the 70’s made the trip with us often in a spot of honor in our packed CRV.

I tried to play ambassador. I talked with Karen and Amy and begged them to give our son a chance. But they were scared to do so because of his one comment. So I began to talk to my son privately. In vague and general terms I tried to tell him that nothing scary was happening at first. But as he became more fully aware of what was happening, I began to coach him to do exactly what I did in the beginning: reach out to Amy. I told him not to try to address her directly but just do things that a little girl would enjoy. And so he began to woo her too, playing little kid games with her, and checking out children’s movies to watch with her and making special meals for them at night.

Finally during our family vacation to Gatlinburg that December, Amy couldn’t contain herself and without the permission of the others in the network she introduced herself to him. From that moment on my son began to add a dimension to his mother’s healing that no adult could match.

He is “Big Brother” to Amy and somewhat to Alleylieu as well. And he plays the part. Not only does he care for them, spoil them, take them out on dates and do special things with them, he also teases them good naturedly which is actually an important part of growing up. Because the insiders are children, they identify with him in a way that they never will with me. And “family time” when all 3 (or 5 when we count Amy and Alleylieu) of us are together and doing something is an inviolable time for the girls. They will literally give up anything if my son will make time to do something with the family.

This past year as my son began going to community college and working two jobs, the girls desperately missed him. He has been busy, and they have respected his need to study and work. But anytime he has been able to do something with them or with the entire family has been seen by the girls as a special treat.

Karen grew up in a dysfunctional family. Both her parents were deeply wounded as children. Her father was an absentee parent pursuing glory in his various careers and by being hyper-involved in church. And her mother was broken by her own abuse, the loss of several children and her inattentive husband. So when my son makes time for Amy and Alleylieu, they are getting to experience the loving, happy family that they so desperately dreamed of having during their first childhood.

Now, I have taken flak from one therapist that my son was so involved in the healing process with his mother’s insiders. She was aghast that he was reading his “little sister” bedtime stories. But my response to such silliness is, “What is family about?” When someone is hurt, a properly functioning family will gather around and do whatever it takes to help the broken one heal. Modern America has a twisted view that children should have no responsibilities in life; they should be free to be kids only. Even if this were a perfect world, I would not subscribe to such thinking. That kind of thinking is why we have so many immature adults: they never grow up thinking about anyone but themselves.

So I challenge you to consider what place your children can have in the healing process of your spouse. There are issues to be considered if the children do not know how to be discreet or if they are exceptionally young. And there may be legal considerations (I don’t know) that I didn’t have to take into account because of my son’s age that you may want to investigate if the children are exceptionally young. But if a parent were physically incapacitated, we would not doubt for a moment that even the smallest of children could be helpful to run errands “for Mommy” around the house. So why do we presume to hide children from the joy of helping a parent heal from emotional incapacitation? Teaching children to gently love and care for others, especially family, no matter how young they are is exactly what this nation needs more of.

Blessings.

Sam, I Am.

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeanette Bartha
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 23:41:14

    Sam, I cannot agree with this family scenario. If there were a physically needy parent, yes, the children would help. In that family, the child would remain the child and the adult would continue to be the parent.

    In your message, you seem unable to see that your son has lost his mother. She may be a parent sometimes, but for a young man to assume the role of “big brother” to his little-girl mother & to play dolls with her, isn’t an adult to adult relationship.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Dec 17, 2010 @ 14:24:45

      Jeanette,

      If my wife were in a wheel chair she would be physcially a child and yet mentally an adult. With DID it’s kind of the opposite: when the girls are out my wife is mentally a child but physically an adult. One way or the other my son doesn’t get a “full” healthy parent.

      And yes I understand my son has “lost” his mother when the other girls are out. However, the girls will let Karen out to be with him more than they let Karen out to be with me because that is a choice that Karen and I have made for ourselves, not for our son.

      To put it in crude vernacular terms, shit happens. It happened to all the girls by no choice of their own at a time when they were most vulnerable. But the way of love is for me to willingly sacrifice my needs and give them the time and support they need to REALLY heal.

      Sam

      Reply

  2. Jeanette Bartha
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 10:36:18

    Just a thought, Sam. How long do you think this healing process will take? And I also wondering why Karen can’t relate to your son unless she is another personality?Or maybe some of the time she do it as his mother?
    Regards.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Dec 22, 2010 @ 14:24:37

      Jeanette,

      How long? Only God knows. At the current rate of progress that I observe in my girls, I would say we should be through the majority of this in under 5 years, barring some kind of major setback or something unforeseen happening. But this is my only experience with DID, so I am a novice at this.

      I’m not sure I understand your second statement about Karen relating to my son unless she is a different personality. When Amy and Alleylieu are out they treat my son like a big brother, mostly. When Karen is out she relates to him as his mother. As the healing continues, eventually that should morph until all the girls relate to him as his mother. I don’t feel like I’m answering your question well, but I’m not totally clear what you are driving at.

      Reply

  3. jeffssong
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 20:01:42

    From the DID perspective, I understand what you are saying here; something I mentioned about the ‘littles’ growing (and they should grow quickly barring setbacks). As they grow they will see your son as less ‘brother’ and more ‘son’ – yup, gotta agree; I can see it in my ‘defender’, Matthew (me, M3, is already grown, LOL – old!). And you son, while having a tough row to hoe, responded remarkably well, IMO. Kudo’s for you (Karen and yourself) – it took a nice, good, loving environment to bring up a son so caring! (gee, makes me wistful). We see ourselves as a ‘crystal’ that got shattered by the hammers of abuse – and as we ‘integrate’ – the crystal becomes ‘whole’ (but never perfectly; parts, scars, pieces … not missing, but something) – however, like any crystal glued back together, there will always be ‘lines’ and potential for fracture again – not a bad thing in some ways. (We’ve ‘seen’ ourselves like this for a long, long time – I’m a very visual kinda guy; art I suppose; creative is what real folks say.)

    Glad to see the ‘glue’ holding, getting better – and give your son a ‘well done’ – I think he responded in the best way possible, and I think your guidence was well done – after all, he was 17 – old enough to be ‘real’ and handle this sort of thing once it was explained to him. We often don’t give our teens credit – they aren’t ‘kids’ anymore, they are emerging adults.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Apr 15, 2011 @ 22:15:10

      the girls defer to my son more than to me, meaning they will allow him to be with Karen (who he sees as his mother) more than they allow me to be with Karen because they feel she already got me for the first 20 years exclusively! But he still spends a lot of time with the little girls which they absolutely LOVE.

      Sam

      Reply

  4. jeffssong
    Apr 16, 2011 @ 10:58:30

    I think like any children, they are age-responsive. I know mine are. And maybe they instinctively know this time is short: your son is only going to be a a teenager for a very, very short time in the span of their lives (and yours). This period is going to be special, and your son’s love, understanding, and acceptance speaks volumes for how well he’s been raised, IOO*. I think he will enter life with a unique set of perspectives – and all of them the right ones regarding social stigma issues and compassion for the ‘broken ones’. Well done, Sam I Am and Karen, too – AND … (grinning cuz’ if they read this I know they are watching) – the littles and their trusty defender, Alleylieu. (Ya, we know, smiling, don’t cha’ kids – little ‘tweaks’ here and there while Karen wasn’t looking or paying attention, LOL! Clever kids ya are.)

    But I also know (being an old man, I’m allowed to ‘know’ this sort of thing and ramble on, mumbling in my beard, so to speak) – the time will come when your son will move out on into adulthood; you will see less and less of him.

    I’m thinking the ‘system’ instinctively knows this, too, perhaps; senses the future looming ahead perhaps – and is making hay while the grass grows green on the other side (meaning YOU, Sam I Am). Your time will come. You lay in the future ahead – a lot of long years – and I think you’ll get what you want and have been planning for (working for, sacrificing for – you give your all, dude, solemn pat on the back.) Karen and ‘her family’ will turn to you for your love. Whether they are ‘together’ (integrated – I doubt it) – or as a group – doesn’t matter. One souls; many souls – all loving you – that’s kewl, dude. And when the ‘system’ is running smoothly; all ‘on’, cooperating with love and understanding for each other – sharing time with the body; meeting everyone’s needs; no resentments between each other –

    Man, you’ve got yourself something beautiful. Trust me on that one. Been there and stepped back, knowing now I can step forward again.
    But that kind of beauty, dude – when and if (and I hope she already has) seen it – jeez. No words for it.

    Dancing souls. Kinda like the idea. 8^D

    Reply

  5. Sandra (@SandraHeretic)
    May 25, 2013 @ 21:22:06

    l think the idea of expecting a child to interact with whatever person is “out” as that person (not expecting whoever is “out” to always be Mom) is a reasonable and healthy thing. Difficult? Undoubtedly. Creating bumps in the road for the kid? Almost certainly. But no one promised children perfect childhoods; every childhood has enormous bumps in the road. At least this way, there is authenticity, honesty, and a space for compassion to go both ways.

    Thinking about how I’ve interacted with my daughters (now aged 14 and 16) over the years, I realize that they have had to deal with people who were not-the-mom all along. And that they have sometimes handled that with grace and sometimes with a lot of drama. Sometimes they have been able to mother Me, something many of us in Me have desperately needed, sometimes we have been able to be giggly teenaged girls together. All without any of us realizing what was going on. And sometimes it has been the script for some of our hugest screaming fights because none of us realized we weren’t Mom and daughter but jealous siblings or betrayed girlfriends.

    I think having all that out in the open, everyone knowing why “mom” is sometimes different than other times, and hopefully everyone being able to be aware in the moment would be enormously empowering for kids as well as all the people of Me.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      May 25, 2013 @ 22:55:05

      Sandra,

      I’m so glad this resonates with you. So many people want to keep the children shielded from this. The ISSTD guidelines I gave you a link to specifically say that. But I think they are WRONG!!! I think it is so good to get it out in the open for so many reasons. I’m glad you can see some of them. I was thinking about coming back and updating this entry or writing a new one since it was one of my first. My son is now 22 and getting ready to go to grad school in a couple months and the little girls are going to miss their “Brother”. He has been a wonderful help and a great asset in their healing. but the best part was simply bringing things out in the open. “Sh!t happens” and when we hide that from our children it does them a disservice in life and I think it weakens them when they have to deal with it in their own life, whatever form it may take….

      Sam

      Reply

  6. not ready to disclose
    Jun 26, 2013 @ 01:00:28

    Sam, I so agree with your approach. I like how you brought your son in the mix. This is his mom, he has questions.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Jun 26, 2013 @ 01:06:04

      Yeah,

      it’s not like he hadn’t figure it out. The little girls thought he was clueless. He wasn’t. Once Amy introduced herself to him, it really served to keep our family together rather than tear it apart.

      Reply

  7. Trackback: Involving Your Children in the Healing Process, Part 2 | Loving My DID Girl(s)

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