No, She Can’t Help It

Before I began the journey with my girls through dissociative identity disorder, more commonly known as multiple personality disorder, I was a confirmed religious and political conservative. To me one of the pillars of those positions is total personal responsibility. We are all responsible for our actions and inactions. Period. Plain and simple. Right?

However, as I have been deeply involved in the healing journey with my girls, I was confronted with the fallacy of this a priori assumption. I had never even questioned that someone might literally be unable to control every decision and action that proceeds from their being.

Humans are incredibly complex creatures, and I don’t want to launch into a complex philosophical evaluationof every factor that influences human free will. Philosophy’s not my forte. But in the beginning of our journey especially, as I watched my girls suffer from panic attacks and get triggered from “insignificant” events, I came to realize that they literally were NOT responsible for their every action and inaction. And that realization was a window into my own soul as well.

Dissociative identity disorder is just a disorder on a larger spectrum of human functioning. The more emotionally healthy a person is, the more, I believe, he/she has the ability to exercise freedom of choice in everything. But when a child is exposed to a traumatic childhood, that ability to act in healthy ways is significantly impaired. And that realization helped me take a large step toward proper compassion for my wife.

Pity says, “That’s too bad” but doesn’t help. Disdain says, “You deserve what you’ve got because we all have the same opportunities.” But I see compassion as simply saying, “How can I help?” It’s the story of The Good Samaritan. If you understand the story in the Bible (Luke 10:25-37), there were lots of reasons that the others didn’t help the man who had been beaten and robbed. But the Samaritan ignored the excuses, and at great personal loss, he just did what was needed to help his unknown neighbor.

I still struggle with my upbringing that says we are all personally responsible for our every action and inaction. I’m not saying I’m a radical liberal now who thinks no one is responsible for anything. I still don’t think there is a gene out there for every disorder known to man so that lifestyle choices and other factors are irrelevant. But if we want to help our loved ones heal, we need to get past our desire to blame them for all of their actions. Some actions they are responsible. Some they literally won’t be. But in the end if we want to help them heal, it’s not nearly so important where we assign the blame for various actions as it is that we simply be willing to help wherever and however they need us to help.

They need us to have compassion. They need us to give them grace. They need us to be understanding. Don’t blow things out of proportion. Don’t worry about assigning blame. Don’t force them to accept your help even if it takes them longer because of that decision. Protect their dignity, and walk gently with them through the healing journey.


Sam, I Am (former conservative)


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Abby & Ents
    Sep 27, 2011 @ 17:38:41

    It is frustrating for those of us who are multiples when someone asks about something we did or a past event and we weren’t there. That is often the most difficult thing to get across or for a singleton to understand. Now myHubby has learned to just laugh and move on with bringing me or whoever is out up to speed. Thanks for the post.


    • Sam Ruck
      Sep 27, 2011 @ 19:40:38

      Hey Abby,

      In the process of helping my girls heal I have had to learn to see outside of my own opinions and perspectives. And it definitely helps to develop a sense of humor and be a lot more laid back so that I don’t stress over every little thing.



  2. Sandy Heppel
    Sep 28, 2011 @ 16:09:32

    It is very embarassing to not know things that you should know because your body is physically present. My husband usually can laugh it off. I try to as well, but sometimes (especially in front of our children) I feel foolish. Most people don’t understand, thank goodness for the ones who do 🙂 And thanks for standing by your wife. Not everyone is so lucky 🙂


    • Sam Ruck
      Sep 28, 2011 @ 17:50:27


      I’m sorry that you EVER feel embarassed. The girls and I have been thru many, many things together. I find NONE of them embarassing even though different girls find different things embarassing. I hope your husband is that way too so that you all will have the safety and freedom to do whatever it takes to get healed. I’ve painted my toes at a “girl’s party” and done facials, given one little girl nightly and then weekly baths for 3 years (maybe just gradutated from that last week), skipped hand in hand with Amy in public places (though not in my home town–lol), carried Amy on my shoulders when we used to take walks, sleep every night with 4 stuffed animals that the other girls think are important (while they don’t sleep with any! lol!!!), play webkinz with them multiple times a day, etc, etc…

      It’s all good. And that kind of validation is what each girl has needed to release the pain from her heart. When my wife feels lost, I tell her I’ll be her anchor. I hope the same for you and your husband!

      Thanks for stopping by!



  3. heavenlyplaces
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 13:39:39

    That is a beautiful post Sam. I saw your comments on Blooming Lotus and decided to stop by. I am so thankful I did. I feel blessed!


  4. Leslie
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 18:16:47

    Sam, I just have to say, I LOVE this post. Thank you so much for saying this. I couldn’t agree more. I hope many people read this and understand what you are saying.


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