What is Sex? Giving the Insiders Time to Heal

Trigger warning if even a general talk of sex is upsetting, please don’t continue.

Because the trauma of a person with DID so often seems to revolve around childhood sexual abuse, my guess is that the spouse of said person often ends up wondering this question. In 22 years I could never say that our sex life was good, happy or exciting. Sometimes it was non-existent. Normally it was strained. I often tried to turn it into lemonade and make the best of it, but then in moments of transparency my past attempts to be positive about it were thrown back into my face with, “you said you were happy with it!” Sigh.

But now that the insiders are finally coming out, there is a chance to truly deal with the root issues of that abuse and hopefully end one of the most painful aspects of our marriage that Karen and I have both had to endure. For me the entrance of the insiders into my life meant the slow exit of sex out of my life during the healing process. But my attitude is that I want to do whatever is necessary for the quickest means of real healing possible. We have both languished 22 years in this dysfunction: I’m going to stop the hurting or die trying!

As the insiders joined my life, I adopted another cardinal rule: no more panic attacks! By that I mean that I never wanted to be the source of a panic attack. Saying that and fulfilling that goal are two different things. But that was my desire. As I became more aware of my girls and attentive to their needs to facilitate healing, I realized that sex with Karen was going to need adjusted.

We went from having (bad) sex 2 or 3 times a week to having sex once a week. But as the healing continued and Alleylieu came out more continuously, we began having “platonic married time.” Karen and I would get naked (or just topless) together and do a little touching, but that was it. Every once in awhile we’d try to go all the way, until the day that we tried and I saw Karen switch on me. And that was the end of sex by my choice.


Karen didn’t even like my rule. Every once in a while, she actually wanted to have sex with me, but because I had voiced this promise to Alleylieu, she, Karen, and all the ladies on her forum felt I really needed to keep my word, not that I was intending to break it.

By doing this I honored and validated Alleylieu and gave her the space and time to heal that she needed. This doesn’t mean Karen and I didn’t keep trying to find ways to satisfy me sometimes. But even that had to end when Alleylieu one day “accidentally” shared that she was clawing herself during these times. Alleylieu knew how important these times were to me and how much I needed them and how much their absence was ripping my heart apart, so she was trying to encourage Karen to have sexual time with me every once in a while. But even though I wasn’t penetrating Karen, it was still too much intimacy for Alleylieu.


Alleylieu went on to explain that even though Karen thought she could have sex with me without switching, she, Alleylieu, was now so close to the surface ALL the time that it would be impossible for her NOT to be part of our sexual times. And as I’ve said previously, I learned during the course of this healing journey, that every bad sexual encounter I had with Karen over the last 22 years was actually endured by Alleylieu. To keep having sex before Alleylieu was healed would mean I was reinforcing all those bad times: continuing the hurting instead of promoting the healing.

So here I am. Valentine’s Day this year was the last time I have had any meaningful sexual contact with Karen. The emotional pain from complete celibacy was at first searing. But as our temporary celibacy continues, the pain has become a constant, dull ache. Some days I feel like banging my head into the wall to drown out the pain. I’ll ask once a week or so if we can do something, and Karen always says she wishes we could but it’s not her choice or she says, “We can just do it regardless,” and I always decline.

This is one need for which I have never found an acceptable alternative. I was a virgin when I married so Karen is my one and only. Pornography seems so shallow and lifeless to me. Looking at it hardly excites me: it always makes me think, “I’d rather have my wife.” And masturbation is the loneliest act in the world when one is married. The SO’s Guide counsels to “do it or lose it,” but it only reinforces the ache in my heart. And as much as I sometimes wish for a real-life substitute during this time, besides questions of morality, there’s disease and emotional entanglement issues and the fact that I really do love my wife!!!


I see little cracks in Alleylieu concerning this issue. As I give her time to heal, she sporadically wants appropriate physical affection from me. A few days ago she asked if I would take her on a date like I do our son. Sometimes she will allow herself to say “I love you.” I see the desire for appropriate physical affection in her eyes sometimes when she doesn’t ask for it, but I never offer unless asked. And she talks regularly with another defender who has worked through the healing process in this area.

So in the end I offer this hope if you take a stand like I did. You’re not alone. To give up sexual intimacy for the moment should be with the goal of real healing in view. Permanent celibacy is NOT acceptable. There’s hope that the “bad sex” that has probably plagued your marriage like it did ours will become a distant memory once the root issues are healed in your spouse. And there’s hope that the hurting will finally stop for both of you. It’s so hard to keep my wife’s sexual pain in sight when this dysfunction of hers has caused me a searing pain for 22 years that is worse than anything else I have ever endured. But she really has been hurting too, and for her it’s been a lot longer than the 22 years we have been married. Some wretch stole her innocence when she was only 2 or 3. Now I get the privilege of helping her restore something that she has always lived without. It hurts like hell, but I hope it is worth the wait. I hope the same for you, too!!!


Sam, I Am


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Mental Disorders 101
  2. matreshka
    Jul 13, 2010 @ 02:53:23

    I admire you so much for doing this!!! At the same time it makes me cringe for you.


  3. matreshka
    Jul 13, 2010 @ 02:57:45

    I also wanted to say that this post made me cry – for you, for your wife, for her protector, and on some level for myself, too….


    • Sam Ruck
      Jul 13, 2010 @ 14:12:40

      Thanks. It hurts, but I really feel like FINALLY we have a chance to heal. After 20 years of frustration on my part and denial on my wife’s (I understand now that it was the DID) there’s a “cure” in view. I know we could go “slower” but I’ve waited 22 years. We’re not getting any younger.


  4. bunchofpeople
    May 15, 2011 @ 02:58:08

    (not for littles to read)
    I have often wondered what it’s like for someone without sexual trauma to experience sex. Myself, the host, I have never had positive sexual encounters. It’s frustrating because of course I get urges, I’m only human, but they turn so quickly from healthy human needs into twisted painful memory-triggering personality switches that I shudder to think about it.

    I really do envy others who can see sex as solely a positive, uplifting, loving experience.

    One day I hope to get to that place where I am not triggered by it, and it is safe and loving — but that time is not yet for me.

    Until then, my intimate insider will be the source of sexual intimacy for my partner — for which I am glad (it takes the pressure off me, and gives her what she needs).


    • Sam Ruck
      May 15, 2011 @ 10:18:24

      Karen once lamented that she had no “intimate insider”, but was it this post that I voiced my concern in an intimate insider? I certainly don’t want to make things harder for you and your partner, and both of you would need to weigh all the pros and cons, but if sex is still triggery enough that you switch, it means sex is retraumatizing you. And at least for me I vowed NOT to do that to Karen. Please be aware, everyone is NOT me. It FELT like it was going to nearly kill me last year but I gave Alley 7 months last year to heal without Karen and I being intimate at all. I believe a few times she touched me and I did a lot of masturbating during that time. All the time Alley worked very hard on learning to trust me and deal with her past traumatic experiences with sex.

      When Alley was finally ready, Karen and I began having sex again. And this time it truly was Karen having sex with me. However, I will admit that Karen still doesn’t feel loved from sex, but I do everything I can now to make it safe, gentle and loving. She no longer gets traumatized by sex even if she can’t connect sex with love yet. And Alley is still learning to trust me each time Karen and I have sex together. It’s a little disconcerting to be given “sex tips” from Alley, a little girl, on how to make sex nicer for Karen. And now Alley has been jumping in briefly when we have sex to “make sure I’m looking at Karen lovingly” etc. Nothing like surprise inspections. lol
      I think the end game of this is that one of the little girls actually has “the connection” for sex and love in her personality, and until there is A LOT more healing so that Karen and the other girls become constantly co-conscious, she, Karen, won’t get to enjoy sex like it is intended. That is frustrating to both of us, but I know the goal and I have a “plan” and we’ll get through this….



  5. Abby and The Ents
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 22:26:22

    Thank you Sam for writing this post, I recently saw it on the blog of a mutual friend. I am forwarding it to my husband, it will give him reassurance that other men are sturggling with the sex part of being married to a multiple. I dislike DID other than changing it to meaning I DID surrvive. Dissability is such a cruel thing to say about multiples, it is because we split into many we survive. Mine gave up the masturbation in hopes it would help heal the rift between him and Dolly/MOM for the past 24 years that she was the primary. It didn’t work but he was glad to hear I am a multiple, it means there is hope and healing. Perhaps in the year since you originally posted this your Karen has found ways to shelter those in a safe internal environment inside so those who do enjoy love making with you can do so. It is what we are working on currently. It is slow but hopefully we are making progress.


    • Sam Ruck
      Sep 01, 2011 @ 22:54:33

      Hi Abby,

      Since I wrote that post last summer, Karen and I are no longer celibate. Alley allows us to have sex once a week. I wish it was more, but this time Karen is ALWAYS with me. And my goal is that NOTHING I do will cause any of my girls to dissociate (including Karen). It’s not great exciting or passionate sex, but it is gentle, kind and safe sex for all the girls. Alley now “watches” us (lol) to make sure everything goes well. Plus I’ve “discovered” a technique that actually allows Karen to greatly enjoy the experience even though she still has little “desire” for it: and I can live with that. It’s a start.

      I know we still have a ways to go, but things are definitely moving forward and higher toward healing.

      Thanks for stopping by. I’d love to hear from you or your husband again, but I will be leaving on vacation tomorrow night for 10 days. So if you do stop by, I probably won’t be able to reply for a little while.




  6. Abby and The Ents
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 22:27:18

    Oops forgot to sign up for notifications 🙂


  7. Stephanie
    Jul 31, 2016 @ 16:16:48

    Helo. Here I am again writing. Thank you for your honesty.
    I am heading towards a divorce (no DID issue there) ending a marriage of complete celibacy and non existant, at all, of intimacy for almost 16 year. I got pregnant and that was the end of that….
    So I have turned the page and my life is new and open..
    What happenef next, just a 6 months ago? I met and fell un love. Beautiful it was, only to become weird and unexplainable very quickly.
    Distance, inconsistancies and finally the overwhelming witnessing of the switching.
    I recently figured it out. Like a revalation, an epiphany…. I fell in love with a man who is many… as he early on told me “I am many issues with many possible”.
    He repeatedly is either vague, or blunt and raw in his responses. He knows I have come in close ( too close) and at the moment is very very distant. I let him know, gently, I figured out the truth. Maybe it was a shock, but I wanted to be real with him. I can only now keep gently the door open between us, to allow him to feel safe to come towards me.
    Thanks again for your truth.
    You help many.


    • Sam Ruck
      Aug 01, 2016 @ 08:39:11

      I hope as you enter this new relationship understanding what you are facing, it will help you in a way that I did NOT understand the first 20 years of my marriage. Good luck to you and blessings.


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