Keeping Sight of the Forest

There’s an old adage about losing sight of the forest for all the trees when a person is focusing too much on specific problems and is missing the larger picture. As I’ve helped my wife heal from dissociative identity disorder, more commonly known as multiple personality disorder, one of my key roles in this journey has been to keep sight of the forest for all my girls.

First I try to be an emotional compass for them. As I read other blogs by those with d.i.d., dealing with emotions is an overwhelming task by those who dissociated most feelings away in the face of trauma. As my girls, especially Karen, learned to deal with feelings from the past and even in the present, I had to help them not be overwhelmed. I need to be the calm and cool one, when they feel like everything is falling apart. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever lose it or become discouraged, but it does mean I can’t wallow in it like I used to. Whether or not it’s fair, my wife’s healing progress is directly tied to my emotional stability. When I can be strong for her, it gives all the girls the safety and stability they need to heal from the past and begin to move forward.

Another way that I keep sight of the forest for my wife is by being the one who understands the goal of healing. My wife has no idea what being emotionally healthy means. Karen especially has said this repeatedly: she doesn’t know what healing looks like. From the time of their earliest recollections they were abused and neglected. On top of that a lifetime of dissociation means the various girls in their network have little idea what co-operation truly means. Many times I will watch the various girls do things that are NOT healing. And they don’t even realize the results of their actions are to prolong the dissociation. So when I watch them doing something that detracts from the goal, I try to gently explain why another course of action will not only give them what they desire but also help them learn to work together better. I walk a fine line; trust me. No wife wants her husband to constantly correct her. Sometimes the little girls receive the suggestions better than Karen, and I never demand their obedience. I offer suggestions and then give them the complete freedom to accept or reject my suggestions. I never pout if they don’t listen to a suggestion!

Another way that I keep sight of the forest for my girls is by helping them to remember the progress that has been made. As we travel this healing journey together, I’ve noticed Karen especially has a very difficult time seeing all the progress she and the other girls have made. Many, many days she is discouraged that they aren’t done yet. And on those days, I have to be her cheerleader and remind her how phenomenally far they have all come.

In 4 years we have brought 6 little girls into our lives. Four of them largely are outsiders and are co-conscious/co-fronting with Karen. Sophia is half and half. And Tina we’re still working with to help her join the family. But all the girls have moved from broken little girls into “dancing fairies” as I like to envision them. They rarely act like abuse victims anymore and they are growing and developing intellectually, emotionally and socially, giving me hope that one day they will all become a healthy woman and wife.

But from my perspective, I work 50+ hours a week, still do most of the house work even though my wife stays home and our sex life continues to be more “miss” than “hit.” I’m not saying I never complain. I just mentioned to Karen yesterday how discouraging I find our sex life because of the turmoil Tina has caused while healing. But I can’t let that be my constant focus. I have to have the long-term goal in my mind so that in spite of my needs going unfulfilled so often, I can still be a good cheerleader for my girls. They can’t always hear my frustrations or I WILL slow down their healing progress. Again, it’s not fair, but I have to “suck it up and be a man” so that I can help my girls heal.

I read a number of blogs on wordpress, and the ladies often discuss “the goal” of healing. But sadly they don’t understand how far from normal and healthy their goals often are. They have no baseline for what that means since they never experienced it as a child. This is where a loving and involved spouse or loved one can provide something that the d.i.d. spouse literally can’t. And yet we must do so with absolute gentleness and humility. We can’t ever make the d.i.d. spouse feel belittled, compelled to obey or indebted (because we’re such a wonderful martyr–sarcasm) or we risk being associated with the past abuser. We have to keep sight of the bigger picture for our loved ones as we help them move toward the end goal.


Sam, I Am.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jeffssong
    Sep 20, 2012 @ 17:38:20

    It’s a hard road – walking the forest, seeing the trees – examining even the structure of the leaves – while at the same time keeping the picture of the “whole” in your mind.

    In terms of ‘healing’ – well, I guess that means just to be happy. That thing you talk about: “not knowing what the goal IS” – is what I call “a lack of reference”. Just as a person born blind cannot truly know what it is like to see a certain color, how are ‘we’ to know when we are healed? Or is there even a solution to this thing? And for DID – what IS healed? Is it a co-conscious set of entities living happily within one person – or is it “them” becoming “one”? Can ‘I’?

    Good post, Sam I am. Especially that about ‘healing’. I’ve seen so many people get caught – trapped! – by their therapists and themselves into cycles of rage/shame/blame, whatnot – and then ‘they’ keep them there.

    There is no happiness in pain. Or anger. Or rage. So I assume for ‘us’ happiness is in healing – and healing brings happiness again. Just guessing. (wry smile) since we have no real reference for the thing. (what it ‘feels’ like to be normal).


    • Sam Ruck
      Sep 21, 2012 @ 14:16:02

      Hey Jeff and all,

      thanks for stopping by. How’s it going in your neck of the woods?

      Take care!



      • jeffssong
        Sep 22, 2012 @ 13:02:39

        We’ve been running pretty stable here lately, sort of a good thing and sort of not because that means we are not moving forward – but there again, we are not falling back again, either.

        Life has been sort of interesting, taking up some time. And fall is one of those seasons with an acre of yard, 4 mini-ponds and one big one, plus a creek, a barn, garden & lots of decoratives – takes a bit of time, LOL! Glad I went for “low maintenance” choices. :/ (which reminds me – there’s that rotten plank on the bridge . . . sighing).

        Sounds like you all are making progress in something that is difficult for anyone to handle, and hope things continue to go fairly well. As well as they can, anyway.

        Until later,
        Jeff, et all

    • world0called0erin
      Sep 24, 2012 @ 12:04:34

      I definitely agree with you. We have a hard time explaining what we really want as our end goal because we don’t really know what it’s supposed to look like, nor do we know if that’s what we really want. How are we, who are broken and hurting people, supposed to know what normalcy is going to be for us? How do we know what healing is going to mean for us? We ask that question all the time. You summed it up quite well.

      — Tommi


      • Sam Ruck
        Sep 25, 2012 @ 14:17:13

        Hi Tommi,

        For me on the other side, helping my girls, I have to be careful not to try to “force” them into my vision of healing. I direct them toward it but I have to let them personalize it.


      • world0called0erin
        Sep 27, 2012 @ 17:22:32

        Even those of us who are within have a hard time not “forcing” each other into our idea of healing. Many of us want Harmony not integration… However, several want integration (though I cannot understand why) and we have to be open enough to allow them what kind of healing they want. We also have a hard time not hurrying each other. It’s frustrating. When someone else is dealing with an issue I did not have as many problems with it’s hard not to “help.” We’ve found that our “helping” always ends up badly… Yet we still are tempted to try. So it seems this is not an uncommon thing, resisting the urge to “help” or to “force.”


      • Sam Ruck
        Sep 27, 2012 @ 17:42:57

        Hey Morrigan,

        Yeah, for me, when I “help” the girls I really have to watch my own personal motivations so that my “help” doesn’t become “manipulation” trying to get what I want.

        Take care.


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