So You Wanna Be an Insider’s Daddy…

(note: I’m not a licensed therapist. The following are my experiences and observations only.)

Nothing I have discussed on this blog has been half as divisive as the fact that I have assumed the role of “Daddy” for three of the little girls in my wife’s network. Every time the subject comes up I inadvertently arouse concern and agitation in some of my readers. I guess I naively assumed that what has been one of the most healing things I have done for my wife would be readily accepted by others with dissociative identity disorder. But it hasn’t been well received for a number of reasons.

In this entry I would like to further address these legitimate concerns that other people have as they watch the healing journey my wife and I are taking together. Additionally I’ll try to give a critical rule, if you and your spouse or partner think this would be beneficial in your journey as well.

1) “It’s a lie!”

This is one of the loudest and most repeated objections I have heard when people find out that I act as Amy, Sophia and Shelly’s daddy. It’s a lie. I dealt with this objection in a previous entry here    in a two-part essay on the subject.

My girls are under no delusion that I am their biological father. He’s still a part of their life though it is minimal because of distance and a lack of interest on my in-laws’ part to help their daughter heal.

What I really believe Amy is looking for when she calls me “Daddy” is that ideal father figure that each one of us has hidden in our hearts. “Father” or “Daddy” is the person who takes care of us, provides for us and protects us from things that go “bump” in the night when we were little.

But that need doesn’t end in childhood. When I was 21 and newly married, Karen and I lived inOhioafter my own parents had moved toFlorida. Even though I had a fairly good relationship with my father my entire childhood, with his geographical absence, I found myself looking for a local father figure. My 20’s were tumultuous: newly married, new father, new home owner, broken vocational dreams. I needed an older man to whom I could turn for advice and encouragement. I needed a local father even though I still had a biological one inFlorida. I was scared and on my own as a young adult. I needed the comfort and strength of having an older man in my corner.

It’s a universal need, and that’s what the girls are expressing when they want me to be their daddy. They want someone to whom they can turn for comfort and help. We’re not talking biology here.

2) “My real dad is my abuser.”

This is a real conundrum for many DID sufferers. I read a lot of blogs by ladies with DID, and many were abused by their fathers. And yet, I personally know ladies in this same situation who allow their husband or partner to be their insiders’ parent figure. Why? Because even though one’s actual father may have been an abusive monster, like I said above, that fact doesn’t take away the need each of us has for a father figure to be in our life. In fact, I would argue, it increases the need.

Amy’s real daddy was aloof and self-absorbed during her childhood and somewhat during our marriage too. The only good memories she has of him are when she was repeatedly hospitalized, on vacation or at their yearly, summer camping spot onLake Erie. The rest of the time he was involved in long hours at work and then nightly committee meetings at church (every night of the week!). He was a stranger in his own house even though he didn’t and still doesn’t know it.

So did this kind of father decrease or increase the need she felt for her to have a father figure in her life? Do I need to answer? She asked me to be her daddy within weeks of her joining my family. Of all the girls she has been the one to most strongly place me in a role she needed fulfilled. Sophia and Shelly both think of me as father, but the role isn’t central to their interactions with me. But for Amy it’s the summation of everything that takes place between us.

And so even if your father was your abuser, I have to wonder if there isn’t at least one little girl inside who still is desperately searching for the daddy she never knew. The daddy who would have protected her from her monster daddy.

Little Sophia was the original abuse victim in my wife’s network. And even though her first daddy blew his responsibilities to protect her, she recently told me over and over: “You make me safe.” I can’t change the past, but this little girl has finally found the daddy guardian she always needed.

3) “It’ll cause confusion.”

This objection has been repeatedly voiced to me. And since I don’t know how it feels from my wife’s side of the equation, I can only offer you my perspective. IT DOES NOT CONFUSE ME, NOR DO MY GIRLS ACT CONFUSED (can’t see inside their head though, lol).

For my part it’s not a big deal for me to switch seamlessly from one role to the next to the next as I interact with the various girls in my wife’s network. Come on people, we all do it in real life. It’s just typically the other people also have different bodies. At work, home or church, I play a different role with every single person in my life based upon our positions in life, society and our interpersonal history. When my girls play “round robin” with me and a different girl comes outside to talk with me every couple of sentences, I change roles instantaneously without thinking. It’s not that big of a deal. Our minds are awesome. I doubt I’m the only spouse or partner in the world doing this.

But from my girls’ perspective, I can only share how I perceive them. And again, I never see any confusion in them as they interact with me. We laugh when one girl calls me the wrong thing because someone else inside is “steering the boat” even if she “isn’t the mouth.” But no one gets bent out of shape over it.

Moreover, as I wrote in a response last night, I am NOT any girl’s daddy AND love interest. That would be gross, wrong and ick, gag, yuck, etc.  I am daddy, boyfriend, friend and husband individually to the various girls in my wife’s network. And though the girls’ are growing and maturing I would never allow any girl to hold mutually contradictory views of me like daddy and lover. But eventually the goal in healing is for all the girls to see me as lover, husband and friend as they grow, heal and mature. And so I give them a safe environment in which they can experiment and grow in those roles with me even if the experimenting seems atypical of how a healthy singleton would develop. I allow them to push their own boundaries as they grow, but I never violate their boundaries. I always have to be the safe one.

Hopefully, I’ve answered the 3 most common objections I’ve heard about this subject, but there are some other issues I’d like to consider.

First, the husband being a “daddy figure” isn’t totally without precedence if we understand “daddy” as one who protects and provides. Though western culture is throwing off its Christian heritage, there are still some things we can learn from our past. What is one of the first acts that takes place in every traditional Christian wedding? The father “gives away” the bride. Imbedded in the ceremonial act is the idea that the man responsible for nurturing, protecting and providing for his little girl is now passing that responsibility on to her new husband. So in a symbolic sense the husband IS the wife’s new daddy, the one who protects and provides. In a narrowly defined way, I am my wife’s new daddy. That’s not the summation of our marriage, but it is one aspect of it.

Second I’d like to offer a crucial guideline to any spouse or partner who might be in the position to fulfill a daddy or mommy role for your loved one’s insiders: don’t be the one to initiate the role. I have never forced any of the girls into ANY role with me. Each girl has exhibited various needs, and my overarching concern has always been to meet their felt needs. As I said previously Amy NEEDS a daddy, but for the other two girls who want me to be their daddy, it’s only a peripheral issue. They had other more important needs that I could meet, and being daddy was more an after thought. I never pushed to be their daddy.

Similarly I didn’t push to be Alley’s boyfriend. That came nearly two years into our relationship together. Again, it was at her request not mine. The only thing I ever questioned Alley about is “Why don’t you ever call me anything?” (Sam, daddy, friend, anything) Her reply was, “I don’t know what I want you to be,” and so I didn’t let it bother me. We had a very real relationship though it was totally undefined for two years. No big deal.

I’m sure this little essay doesn’t answer all the questions about this subject, but I hope it helps. Because my being daddy for my girls worked so naturally, I never paused to consider the duress this might cause other people who had abusive fathers or manipulating husbands. I truly apologize if my ignorance caused you additional suffering. I would happily welcome any comments or further concerns. I’m still learning and refining every day what I do to help my girls heal.


Sam, I Am.


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ann 'Failmezger' Hatch
    Aug 05, 2011 @ 02:04:31

    Thank-you I hope someday to find a man like you. You are a great example of a husband to men everywhere.


  2. bunchofpeople
    Aug 05, 2011 @ 03:13:21

    dude ur always having to explain urself to people, it must be tiring! its good u do it, tho, cuz i bet it really does worry some people and i know that some of the peeps in our system were concerned about ur situation. first of all i don’t think it’s anyone elses business! lol. but i mean if it was my people then i would worry because thats my job is to worry and take care of all the people inside who need me to be like the older brother or whatever to keep them safe.
    i think the best argument is actually the fact that ur wife’s protector insiders dont hate u! if it was me, and i am the protector, i would be able to tell if something was wrong and i would be really mean until i got us safe and away from that person. but i think ur wife’s little girl insider who was the protector is all love and cuddles with u now, lol, so that tells me that ur not a bad dude. if u were, then the protector would know it!
    just speaking from my own expertise, lol, that the system knows when someone is bad for them and if u are friends with the one who takes care of everyone then u are good for them. 🙂
    no one ever asks the protector these questions! seems the logical answer to me, lol.


    • Sam Ruck
      Aug 05, 2011 @ 10:57:32

      Hey J$,

      thanks for the comments. Yes, Alley, my wife’s protector, went from hating my guts before I started caring for the little girls like this to having a big time crush on me. Maybe your comments will help other people’s protector figure out that I’m not a totally terrible guy. lol




  3. jeffssong
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 16:55:46

    🙂 Our little ones don’t get confused either, Sam. They know “momma” is in reality our wife – BUT . . . on the other hand, little Michael definitely feels our daughter is his ‘little sister’ AND ‘big sister’ . . . while intellectually (knowing in the background, or picking the knowledge out of our collective ‘heads’ in here) – she cannot be. However, him never having a little sister to ‘tend to’ (which our daughter WAS when she was a baby – ‘I’ can still ‘feel’ his astonishment when she ‘came out of there!’ (meaning when she was born, LOL’ing myself) – but now she’s all “grown up and things” (meaning adult events have happened to her, meaning … well you know. Boyfriends and whatnot.) So in a sense she’s his ‘big sister’ as well.

    Have really enjoyed reading and following “ya’lls” progress. We know it’s been hard – lots of sacrifice – but appreciate what you’ve been doing. ALL of you, Karen and her insiders included (and don’t forget your son, BTW! Kudos to him – from us! We’re glad to see him being so brave.)


  4. jules
    Aug 27, 2011 @ 10:57:22

    It is clear you love them all dearly and to me that would be the main thing. Having a safe person in life is something that to me seems quite rare and while i can understand people having concerns, the love, support and understanding you show each individual is amazing and i think you should be praised for all the hard work you do, not knocked for it!


    • Sam Ruck
      Aug 27, 2011 @ 11:57:59

      Thank you. Unfortunately, your opinion is in the minority. Even though I have been repeatedly told that my girls are doing better than almost anyone they know who has DID, even those supposedly “healed”, I continue to be blacklisted by groups claiming to promote the healing of DID.



  5. jules
    Aug 27, 2011 @ 14:50:31

    The most important thing is to trust yourself, there will always be someone who disagrees with what you have to say, unfortunately and i wish it wasn’t so, that’s how it is. I joined did groups a while back but left because there were so many different view points that it lead to total and complete confusion and even more fear than there already was. I guess it just goes to show how individual did’ers are and what works for one doesn’t work for another.
    Progress is being made so you are definately doing something right 🙂


  6. Jason's girls
    Dec 20, 2016 @ 13:19:32

    I can’t remember how long ago I stumbled across your blog but I do remember crying and crying and feeling so envious. There is a very deep unmet need within me from at least a few of my girls for a Daddy (and I’m in my 40s).

    Before I had the awareness I do now, I was subconsciously putting the men in my life in that role which didn’t go so well.

    Anyway, what I really want to say is that the things you write about resonate throughout me. It doesn’t seem weird, gross, concerning or unethical at all to me. The important thing is that it seems to be working for your girls. If they are stable, happy, healing, and making progress then that’s proof enough.


    • Sam Ruck
      Dec 20, 2016 @ 13:45:44

      Hi thanks for coming back and taking the time to comment. This post was from over 5 years ago, and maybe at the time it was contentious, but 5 years later, I still think it was the correct decision, and 2 of the 5 littles really see me thru the lens of ‘daddy’ but the other 3 only kind of do. It just seems to depend on what felt needs each girl has and whether they want a ‘daddy’ ‘friend’ or ‘boyfriend.’ I always take the approach that if I can meet the ‘felt needs’ of each girl, then it frees them from the grip those needs have on them so that they can begin to move forward in their healing and their new life with me.

      I hope things are going better for you now, since you allude to a newer awareness of your situation. Good luck to you on your journey!


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