Insider Rules

Wikipedia defines a code of conduct as “a set of rules outlining the responsibilities of or proper practices for an individual, party or organization.” And I don’t know about your experience with multiple personality disorder or as it is now called, dissociative identity disorder, but who da thunk that my wife’s insiders came complete with a code of conduct?

Now that’s not to make light of the rules or my girls. In fact when the girls first started coming outside, “the rules” were extremely important to them. Some of the girls would refer to “the rules,” but if I asked more about them, I was told, “We can’t talk about them.” One particular girl, however, would break the rules, like a precocious child, if they stood in her way of getting what she wanted. She was the brave one, and even the defender had difficulty controlling her. But Alley, the defender, also spent a long time analyzing the rules in light of the new “environment” outside, i.e. me and my son’s involvement in the girls’ lives. She was analyzing things the best she could to see if the rules should be changed.

Speaking from my experience alone, it would seem these rules were developed by the girls in an effort to control their environment. From what I’ve read of trauma victims, control is a HUGE issue. Unfortunately when little children make rules to control their environment in a desperate attempt to try to minimize the frequency and effect of the abuse and trauma, those rules often have a very negative impact on the girls themselves.

If a child is threatened by her abuser not to tell anyone what is happening lest she or her family be hurt, then she learns a code of silence. If she cries out for help and no one responds, then she learns a code of self-reliance. If she seeks to be comforted but is ignored, then she learns a code of self-nurturing, etc.

If the insiders in your life begin talking about rules or codes or the like, the best thing I can suggest to you is patience. If they are willing or allowed to talk about them, then by all means do talk. But don’t push them to break the rules or talk about them if it scares them to do so. I’ve found that talk is cheap. In the end, the self-defeating rules my girls lived by for so many years were changed with more healthy rules as my son and I interacted with them and showed them that the old rules weren’t necessary or wanted. When they saw the rules kept them from the happy things they wanted with me and my son, they happily gave up the rules. It was safe to cry. It was safe to ask for one’s needs to be fulfilled. It was safe to express one’s emotions. It was safe to have fun! They really were part of a family now that loved them and wanted them to be happy.

This little essay was instigated by an unhappy but healing episode last night in which KA broke one of her self-inflicted rules. We had spent the day in Amish country as a family. This was the first time she actually joined us on the outside for most of the trip (it’s a regular destination that the whole family enjoys including the other girls) and it was kind of magical for her. And I think KA is starting to feel like a normal, real little girl (a key goal of mine in this healing process). So later that night, she was so happy, she forgot her code of conduct and asked if she could have some more chicken enchiladas that my son had bought for himself and all the girls the previous night. This is the rule she broke: “You are not allowed to ask for anything.” She’s the inside mother, and her role is to give comfort, NOT to be comforted or have needs. As soon as she realized she had broken her rule, for the next 2 hours she cried (wailed!) and felt the “shame” of breaking her rule.

It’s time for such a terrible rule to be broken. My son was home alone with her and tried to comfort her. When I got home, I comforted her and reassured her that she is allowed to ask for things in this family. She is part of a family now, and her needs are important to us. We didn’t belittle the rule: it’s the best a little child could devise under the pall of a traumatic childhood without any adult intervention. We just reassured her that now things were different, and we were happy that she felt the freedom to ask for something she wanted. The other girls were embarrassed by the scene she made, but I told them, “We just need to give KA lots of love right now. This is part of her becoming a real little girl.”

Lots of tears. Lots of upheaval. But I think some more healing was received in that little girl’s heart yesterday. It was a good but hard ending to a magical day.


Sam, I Am.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bunchofpeople
    Aug 07, 2011 @ 17:08:10

    oh that sounds like the beginning of some really healing work. <3. i hope KA can begin to grow and join the outside world more. 🙂


    • Sam Ruck
      Aug 07, 2011 @ 20:34:57

      Thanks. We’re working on it, but until the other girls who still stay inside want to come out also, she still feels like she is responsible to take care of them. So she splits her time.



  2. jeffssong
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 16:40:56

    🙂 We love this little essay, Sam. “We” have rules of conduct – not only for the outside world, but concerning ‘ourselves’ – between ourselves, and with ourselves. It certainly has made life simpler and better – especially when the rules are fairly simple (“love one another and ‘conduct business’ between one another (eg. making rules and sharing time with one another) – with respect. And love. And then some more love on top of that one.” 🙂 It’s easier when the ‘insiders’ all get along – and easier still with someone on the outside (or several someones, such as you and your son are) – helping with love, understanding, and compassion.

    Congratulations, Sam. You ALL (and this includes the Karen and “The Team”) – have done well.

    Jeff & his “crew” of friends


  3. jules
    Aug 27, 2011 @ 10:43:50

    Reading this gives me such hope. We have a little one who has the ‘no talking’ rule and another little one told t the other week that she was being told not to talk by the one with the rule. I have tried reading about this stuff but you explain it in a way that’s understandable and gently and i will certainly take on board what you have said, basically time and patience.
    What a big milestone for KA to deal with and i hope she is soon able to find more freedom 🙂


    • Sam Ruck
      Aug 27, 2011 @ 11:53:20

      In the beginning I heard about “the rules” lots and lots. At this point I rarely hear about them. In fact, KA’s outburst was the first time in months anyone has mentioned the rules, and that’s a good sign that the girls are moving past them into healthier and more mature ways of living.



  4. Trackback: Lying and Dissociative Identity Disorder | Loving My DID Girl(s)

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