Letting My Girls Define the Relationship

As I said previously DID is a disorder where I believe the path to healing can be somewhat patient directed. The three core needs that were unmet in my girls because of their childhood traumas are safety, a sense of belonging and love. Each girl was traumatized uniquely, and so each girl has needs based upon her own trauma that she needed satisfied before healing could begin. As the girls came out and we got acquainted, I let each one define the relationship between me and her in the way that she needed.

The littlest girl, Sophia, had received most of the sexual abuse. Her obsession was to get “clean.” What she wanted was to be bathed nightly for the first few months (now I bathe her weekly). Then she required me to lotion her with baby lotion (had to be baby lotion!) so that she would smell clean. And she always catalogued all her “ouchies” each time she comes out. Those were her core requirements.

But I was not satisfied just to meet Sophia’s basic needs. As we related with each other, I discovered she loved Christmas lights. So until 2 weeks ago we kept a 3 ½ foot Christmas tree with lights in our bedroom for her to gaze at delightedly. I also tried to turn her bath times into fun times. That included buying her bath toys which she loved, allowing her to “swim” in the tub which terrified me as she sloshed water everywhere, and finally, her current delight is to use a little squirting dolphin and get me as wet as I will allow (yes, I’m pretty tolerant).

As I met Sophia’s needs and more, she turned from a sad, broken, and “soiled” little girl into one who began to smile and laugh and play with me: a typical, well-adjusted two-year old. Recently she has begun having me read her bedtime stories as she snuggles into me. And Sophia has a mischievous streak that is pretty endearing, too.

Amy, the other girl who came out at the beginning, was traumatized most deeply by the emotional neglect of her parents. Within a month of her joining my family, she asked if I would be her daddy. Without hesitation I said, “yes.” Karen thought it was a little weird, but from that day on I tried to be the best daddy that Amy could have. Whatever she needed in a daddy, I made it my mission in life to fulfill.

I can’t even begin to relate all that Amy and I have done together. She was like a person coming out of the desert thirsting for water. She could not get enough of my presence, affection and love. Karen and I thought the quickest way to healing was to meet the needs of the insiders, and Amy was voracious. By the end of the first year with these girls, my time while at home was probably consumed 90% in interacting with these little girls. Only when we were out in public, did I see Karen at length. This was meeting the needs of Amy who had been neglected by her broken parents.

The last girl out was Alleylieu, the defender. She began to come out more concretely about 7 months after the other two girls. She was the most difficult to forge a relationship with because she had never allowed herself to have any other desires than to keep everyone safe. So for my son and I this meant we had to go on the offensive and literally keep trying to present her with activities, gifts, toys, and more as we tried to find things she would like. Moreover, Alleylieu would NEVER address me by name or anything else. I found out later that was because she didn’t know what kind of a relationship she wanted to have with me. With a lot of work on the part of my son and me, we pulled Alleylieu out of warrior mode. Slowly she allowed herself to develop into a normal girl with likes and dislikes (still in process!).

The other girl I needed to care for was Karen, my wife. Because we focused so intensively on bringing the Amy, Alleylieu and Sophia outside to heal and meet their needs for love, safety and acceptance, Karen often told me that she felt like she was no longer a person with needs. I was feeling overwhelmed trying to care for my new girls. So it was frustrating to me that Karen couldn’t internalize my love for the other girls as love for her, but that is the nature of DID (keeping each personality separate until healing begins to take place). So since I had no desire to newly traumatize my wife while I tried to heal the insiders, I redoubled my efforts and tried to do things just for her to remind her that I did indeed love her, too.

With Karen I struggled the most to meet her needs during this healing process. Once Amy and Alleylieu came out, they never wanted to go back in. They thought Karen had had plenty of time out here, so “now it was their turn.” But as we’ve begun to turn the corner, and the girls are beginning to work together and do a few things co-consciously with Karen, I think her needs are slowly starting to be met again.

In the end I allow the Bible to remind me that no matter what these girls needed from me, it was not beneath my dignity to do. Whether painting my toenails, getting drenched by a squirting dolphin, playing dolls, or creating a craftroom for my girls while I worked 70 hours a week this past spring, Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). I let my girls define what they need from me to heal, and they have made rapid progress as a result.


Sam, I Am.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jeffssong
    Apr 15, 2011 @ 20:13:33

    Very interesting Sam I am. We are examining Alleylieu, the defender most carefully (no offense intended; analytical side speaking). We have been having … well, we should not say ‘problems’ with Matthew, which through YOUR blog we’ve identified as “defender”. We have several, unfortunately, each with their own personality – Sarge (Marine), Matthew, and M3 – but M3, while a ‘strong’ controller (you’ve met him) – isn’t a ‘defender’ – more a ‘rationalist’ and able to compromise (the adult thing to do); handles criticism well, etc. However, Matthew (the previous ‘controller’) – well, imagine sullen, angry, bitter, hard, snide, sniping, survivalist teen, and you’ll be close. Sound familiar? Let us know: we need data for research; you got the email addy. For us this is (delicate to put) – an interesting process; been watching for years. Yeah, we’re kinda like the ‘data mine’. (nod to Controller). Your work we feel with Mz. Alleylieu is commendable. We have been trying to work with Matthew; but see above about teen characteristics. Highly resistive to tampering; we are working on his sources of anger (inability to protect appears to be a key).
    Thank you very much for your time, sir, and we’ll be moving out the building on to the next post. 🙂


    • Sam Ruck
      Apr 15, 2011 @ 22:07:13


      I know you read my entry about defusing the anger of the defender. I was the focal point of Alleylieu’s anger at that time because I didn’t even know she was there and thought I was interacting with an adult not a wounded child. Once I understood her anger it was “simple” but not “easy” for me to defuse that anger as I began to apologize without qualification and change my ways. For Matthew you’ve got to figure out where his anger is directed before you can begin to defuse it. If you want to talk more about it shoot me an email or we can keep talking here or over on the “defusing the anger of the defender” entry.



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