The Need to Go “Above and Beyond”

Helping my wife heal through dissociative identity disorder, a.k.a. multiple personality disorder, has been a fulltime job for the last four years. I’ve had to reprioritize my life, and everything except the essentials has largely been ignored. Moreover, the safety needs of the little girls have been paramount with me. At times I have been criticized for doing too much, but sometimes that’s exactly what the little girls need to heal and grow . Here’s an example.

Recently the girls went on their first-ever women’s scrapbooking retreat over the weekend. The little girls were excited at first. Then they started feeling nervous about being away from me for so long. So here are the things we did to help calm their fears.

We only have one car, and they insisted on driving it so that they could come home if they got too scared even though that would strand me at home. But then I arranged to have my uncle’s car available in case they needed a visit from me for “moral support.” We also got skype updated on our laptops and made sure we both knew how to use it before they left. And I promised to text and call them “lots and lots.” I was also prepared to email each of them daily. Essentially I was creating a “safety net” of sorts for them in their mind so that they would have the freedom to spread their wings and fly without fear of falling. I wanted to continuously be in contact with them so they wouldn’t feel the fear of our separation.

Since my wife was a trauma victim, I have discovered how important it is for the little girls to never feel “trapped” like they were when the abuse was occurring. So now when they are doing something new, I always help them map out multiple “escape routes” and also multiple support devices for them. This creates a “safety net” in their mind and allows them to focus on enjoying something that they would be otherwise afraid to try.

Now, my parents NEVER gave me that kind of support when I was growing up. They would NEVER have dreamed of driving to summer camp just to visit me for a little while if I got home sick. They wouldn’t have sent me multiple letters each day to let me know they loved me. But then, I didn’t need it. I felt safe in the knowledge of their love. I didn’t even question it most of the time.

But that’s not how a trauma victim is wired. She will grow up without that inherent sense of safety. And she will have an inherent fear of new situations and adventure because those are uncontrollable; and “uncontrollable” is an intolerable situation because she couldn’t control the abuse in the past. So now she’ll try to control everything and everyone in her life today.

So if you are going to help your spouse and her insiders heal, be prepared to give her support “above and beyond” anything that you ever had as a child. Don’t judge her present by your past. Listen to her fears and accept them as legitimate no matter what you may think. Help her plan an “excessive” amount of options and alternatives and emotional supports. All these will help her be able to focus on enjoying herself rather than obsessing about safety and control.

And what was the outcome of my girls’ scrapbooking weekend? It was a phenomenal success! After the first couple of hours there, I got glowing reports of all the fun things the girls were doing, the great food they were eating, and the friends they were making. They stayed up late at nights scrapping and stayed later on the last day than their roommate who left early for home because she wasn’t feeling well. In fact, I stopped sending constant text messages because they were too busy to read them. I had given them a safety net “over and above” anything I ever got which made them like the daring young man on the flying trapeze: free to fly through the air with the greatest of ease.


Sam, I Am


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jeffssong
    Mar 25, 2012 @ 18:09:34

    🙂 You are a wise man, Sam, and doing some good. You took a logical sensible approach to a situation – making the undoable done. Congratulations on a job well done; I hope the girls have something good for you – some nice little scrapbook surprise 🙂 they’ve done 🙂


    • Sam Ruck
      Mar 25, 2012 @ 19:27:42

      The payment for me was to see how much self confidence the little girls gained over the weekend. It was incredibly therapeutic for them.



  2. the secret keeper
    May 10, 2012 @ 03:58:24

    that was a great post sam. i was thinking about you & your “girls” yesterday. i was worried that i had lost contact. it has been awhile since i wrote a blog post until i started up again rather prolifically toward the end of april. i forgot how to locate who we all were following and who was following us but just a few moments ago i was checking my stats page and there you were. your name. i clicked on it & found your page and the wonderful post you wrote about protecting the girls when they went out. it is good that you give so much support. it does make a difference for someone who has been traumatized when they were young. i don’t like going out at all but i do 2 times a week to the doctors and to see my therapist. i noticed you last post was in march. is everything okay. at my end i am dealing with a new added on diagnosis of bipolar that actually ha alwas been there but no on ever told me about it. i still have all te other diagnoses. the DID is very confusing for me right now. i think one of my alters is taking over my life. it’s okay cause she is pretty cool & i anyone i in control she is the one who deserves it. she was quiet for so many years & hid away & was catatonic. she has com out of her shell & is beginning to shine. kind of makes us feel like more than one person sometimes. we don’t like the name of the one the parents named & slowly we are making her disappear. we still have to use her name legally. but as i said one of us is moving into place. no one seemsto mine it. not even our therapist. i don’t think she understands it any more than we do. i’ve got to get up at 11am & it is 4am now so i better go. please drop by my blog sometime. i would love to har how things are going…~jennifer~


    • Sam Ruck
      May 10, 2012 @ 23:15:01

      Hi Jennifer,

      thank you for stopping by. It’s been a very hard 4 months as I’ve been helping bring Tina, girl #7, into our family. She has been by far the most deeply hidden/dissociated girl. In the beginning she caused a couple of weeks of debilitating headaches, then her emotions nearly overwhelmed the other girls, so it kept me very busy keeping the other girls grounded. But once we got thru that, Tina has been spending up to 70% of the days outside “learning things” to catch up with the other girls and also becoming friends with me. This is made more difficult by the fact that she doesn’t talk…but she knows sign language for the alphabet so that is how we hold conversations. But though the other 6 girls are highly co-conscious, Tina is NOT with them. If she’s out, they are “locked up” inside which is very upsetting to them. But lately she and Sophia (the littlest) have started communicating with each other. Yeah! Nook puzzles seem to be the bridge between them, so this week we have begun encouraging them to do as many puzzles together as they want in hopes of strengthening their connection and in time ending the dissociation between her and the others.

      Anyway, it’s been a VERY draining time for me as I have had to provide the support and emotional stability for my girls at a time when they have felt very insecure. I think we’re finally seeing the end of the tunnel, but I just haven’t felt up to writing more blog entries in the midst of this…but your comment was a very welcome sight.

      I’m sorry I have not kept up with other people’s blogs lately, but I will try to stop over at yours.




  3. Tommi of Erin
    May 15, 2012 @ 00:51:02

    First of all, I can only dream of having someone to support us within Erin in our healing in a similar nature that your Girls have. The parents do support Erin as much as they can, but I know they have a difficult time seeing the evidence that their “little girl” has been very hurt in the past. Despite their difficulties, they help as much as they can and they have been immensely helpful to our healing process.

    The outside family recently took a very long road-trip which required us to sleep in unfamiliar hotel rooms. For us older ones, it’s not a big deal. For one of our younger alters (6 years old) this was a bit of a problem. To alleviate her fears of nightmares and strange places, we took her blanket and her small rabbit doll, which are both items that “chase away bad things,” according to her. It effectively gave her the safety net she needed to feel comfortable. I had never thought of it in those terms before, but, having given it thought, we have been doing these things for the past year or more just to make life a little easier.

    Your posts always give me something to think about and they encourage me every time I read them. When you share things that have worked for you and the Girls and I realize I do similar things, it bolsters my confidence that I’m doing a good job, which is something I worry about almost constantly. Thank you.

    — Tommi


    • Sam Ruck
      May 15, 2012 @ 10:37:13

      I think a supportive family can be such a huge help in the healing process; would they be willing to talk to a therapist to help them? If not, at least they are willing to some. My in-laws refuse to even talk about the past abuse (they don’t know about the d.i.d.).

      I’m glad my blog has been an encouragement.



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