A Second Chance at a Healthy Childhood

If you or someone you know has dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, you won’t have to read the popular literature long before you realize there’s a debate raging about the legitimacy of this disorder. Go to Wikipedia and you’ll find that it’s currently one of the most hotly debated disorders. Those who support this diagnosis believe that it is trauma based forming in early childhood. Those who do not believe this is a legitimate disorder say it is iatrogenic, or, caused by the influence of the therapists.

But I think (totally my opinion) one of the strongest arguments for it being trauma-based from childhood is the unique opportunity the insiders provide the person as a whole to heal and develop a healthy personality naturally. And here’s why I believe that.

On this blog I have espoused an “insider-oriented” healing methodology. I recently re-read the guidelines for therapy of d.i.d. patients, and somehow I got started wrong, doing what came naturally, and my girls begged me to never change course. Because Karen and I have taken an insider-oriented approach it seems (again just my opinion) I have access to re-hardwire my wife via the little girls as I bypass Karen’s adult defenses and sensibilities. And in the words of Robert Frost the poet: “And that has made all the difference.”

It’s hard to believe, but Karen is her own worst enemy when it comes to her healing. As an adult Karen would NEVER allow me to do the things that I do with the little girls to her (though she approves of what I’m doing with them): things like bathe Sophia and let her soak me with water, or play dolls with Amy, or carry Tina on my hip to soothe her, or the myriad of other things that the little girls have requested me to do with them. The little girls lack the inhibitions that Karen has and so they freely ask and expect me to meet their needs (an expectation that I have diligently fostered!) And yet it is these things, the things the little girls felt were missing in their first childhood, that seem to be re-writing my wife’s emotional hardwiring. Karen would be too embarrassed to ask me to do these things. In fact she often scolds the little girls who I freely give permission to ask whatever they want. But as I have poured into the little girls the love, tenderness and affection that their first childhood was missing and that their traumatized hearts needed to heal, the transformation has been phenomenal.

I’ve watched my wife move from a trauma-victim paradigm to an emotionally-healthy paradigm on so many levels. I’ve repeatedly mentioned that panic attacks are largely a thing of the past. She simply doesn’t need the ubiquitous coping skills taught to all trauma victims. But that’s just one of the “biggies.” For you husbands taking part in the healing process, you probably understand how many “little things” are affected as well.

Via the little girls my wife is learning to enjoy the pleasure of eating. She is learning to spend money for fun on herself instead of always saving it for a rainy day. She is developing a better body image. She is becoming comfortable with her and my nakedness outside of sex. She is learning to take play breaks. She has gone on her first women’s retreat with church friends and will attend another 2 weeks from now. She no longer sees herself as friendless. She is opening herself to mutual intimacy with same-sex friends. She is learning to politely stand up for her rights. She is learning that criticism of herself often reflects more on the critic than on herself. She paints her toenails a color that pleases me and her fingernails colors other than beige and skin tones. She is learning that it can be fun to be “wild and crazy” sometimes. Taking risks and learning new things and trying new foods aren’t so scary anymore. Her wardrobe is becoming more colorful and flirtatious. At this point she honestly handles adverse situations better than I do. She’s not nearly as controlling in our relationship as she used to be. She actually BELIEVES that I love her (at least all 6 little girls do…Karen is getting there)! She believes that she is lovable in general. She politely gave her parents boundaries and now their relationship has improved.

Is everything perfect? No. So I’m hesitant to be too bold in my proclamations here, but I don’t believe we are through the healing process yet. I am still helping Tina break the chains to her old, trauma-bound rules. And there’s still dissociation especially between Tina and the other 6, but also to a much lesser degree among the other 6.

I’ve read repeatedly that the bulk of our personality is formed before we are 6 years old. And that fact is the unexpected treasure for someone with d.i.d. Based on my observations of the little girls, I believe (again completely my opinion here) the insiders were suspended in their development by the trauma. Now that we have broken them from the chains of the trauma and brought them out to join us, the parts of my wife’s personality that they control are free to develop naturally and in the healthy and loving environment that my son and I provide. It’s a second chance to develop a healthy personality the normal way.

So let the scholars and critics debate. To me the fact that I’m accomplishing in my wife things the experts say are impossible as I focus on the little girls is the strongest argument for the reality of the disorder. But more pertinently for us, that truth means my wife has been given a second chance to develop a healthy personality because of the little girls who joined our lives.

Blessings,

Sam, I Am

Note: This topic is one that hopefully won’t put me into the lunatic category. I realize my experience is limited to ONE person, and the results are still coming in. But based on the trajectory of our experience which I have meticulously catalogued in my personal journal, I feel fairly confident in writing this article. I hope I am not amiss and later have to retract this…

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. djlovedog74
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 22:52:50

    My wife of 14 years was diagnosed with D.I.D. 2 months ago. Your blog has been helpful to me over the last few weeks. I agree with you about the healing that can take place by trying to provide a happy childhood to any “insiders” that want it. At this point, there are only 2-3 of my wife’s alters that will talk to her therapist and they are all adults. I have met about 30 at this point, most of them being children and teenagers. I donmy best to interact with them as if they are simply children in my household. Already I have seen positive changes in my wife (the host) as a direct result of the attention and love that I try to show to her younger selves. I think that you are absolutely correct about providing a happy childhood and the positive results it can have. The way I see it, my wife sees her therapist 1 hour a week. She and I are together several hours a day. If some of those hours are spent providing the safe, nurturing, and loving environment that she never had for the children in her system then its the least i can do. I’m not a mental health professional, but I can say that in my experience so far this has definitely helped.

    Thank you for your posts. I hope someday begin my own blog about our D.I.D. journey because there just is not enough information or support out there for significant others of people diagnosed with this disorder.

    Best Wishes,
    DR

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Oct 13, 2012 @ 00:04:02

      Hi DR,

      welcome to my blog. I’m glad it’s been helpful. I agree that there is so little support for those of us who are helping someone with d.i.d. I wish you the best in starting your own blog. There’s another husband that blogs on wordpress, Ben,. I believe his blog is called Loving Someone with D.I.D. They’ve been struggling in his family, but you may find his blog helpful as well.

      I hope you stop by as often as you want.

      Take care.

      Sam

      Reply

  2. Larry
    Oct 13, 2012 @ 08:45:20

    I finally figured out that my girlfriend who is 48 has DID- I sent her e-mails telling her that I know but have not brought it up to her in person and she has not denied or acknowledged it- I love her and my relationship with her- the only problem is that she rarely wants sex and last time I was with her she said ” Oh my god- what’s wrong with me- I’m coming- at first i thought I heard it wrong but that definitely is what she said. I am not sure how to approach the subject of this in person and I want her to get help for this- she functions very well but has had many problems the last two years during our on and off again relationship but now that i have figured out the problem (by examining e-mails with highly conflicting info) I thought she was a liar but now know she is telling me at that time what she believes to be the truth- I don’t want to upset her by confronting her face to face about this- she is such an amazing person in every way that I want to help her with this though I have a Narcissistic Personality disorder which i had been in therapy for but I decided i like it and it works for me. Any advice on how to bring up the subject diplomatically?

    Reply

  3. undercoverdid
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 02:30:43

    This really hits home for me. I had hip surgery 3 weeks ago and as my husband puts it I’m VERY stubborn. I don’t like to ask for help even though I’m on crutches. If something needs done- I do it anyway. I don’t like being dependent. I wasn’t dependent as a child but it’s also scary. I don’t want to have to depend on someone. I’d rather do it myself than ask for help. And extras? I’d rather do something special for someone else than get something special for myself. It’s an uncomfortable position. I know my insiders are there for a reason and they can accept and do different things- they aren’t as adamantly against help as I am, though some are even more against it than I am! I’m having trouble right now, getting past the “allowing/knowing” others are out and being ok with that. I want to “appear” normal so I try to maintain and when others come out they often try to cover that I’m not there. It would seem after all these years, this would be easier- but it isn’t! Kudos for hanging in there- cause I know it’s a rocky road!

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 15, 2012 @ 23:50:11

      Karen still tries to shield me from the requests of the little girls. It’s frustrating to me because I know that the more I pour into those little girls, the more healthy ALL of them will be one day, including Karen, but she just can’t see that. So I’m constantly reassuring the little girls that I WANT them to ask me for the things they need and reassuring Karen that I’m happy to take care of the little girls.

      Good to see you around again,

      Sam

      Reply

      • undercoverdid
        Nov 16, 2012 @ 02:14:52

        I’m glad you continue to reassure Karen. I understand from her perspective how hard it is. THings are a bit different with my H, he knows some of the teens but sometimes I can’t tell if it really is ok for them to be out, or if I’d be manipulating a situation by allowing them out- i mean certain things can trigger them out or get them to want to come out- but to allow them out – it’s hard to say sometimes if it’s appropriate and responsible.

      • Sam Ruck
        Nov 16, 2012 @ 17:34:41

        To me the great failure of the experts is in NOT actively trying to involve the supporting spouses and family members. My involvement will make or break Karen and the little girls’ healing, but I had to get to that point on my own. I talked about that in my entries on “Why I Stay” and my “Therapeutic Relationship” with my wife.

        If the teens need out, they need out. And to the point you feel you have to hide them is a point at which you won’t feel safe to heal, imo. To me it’s always appropriate and responsible. All the girls are part of my collective wife and I want to help them all. I know your husband has his own issues, but I wish counselors would help those of us who could help the most get to that place: it’s in the husband’s best interest to help his wife heal!

        Anyway, take care,

        Sam

      • undercoverdid
        Nov 16, 2012 @ 21:41:13

        I think you come from a very unique perspective. In a world (and country) where the focus is on “I” – I think that is why your techniques/relationship are so unusual and esp in the world of DID where those of us with DID essentially had “I” removed…if that makes sense? I love having your point of view out here 🙂

      • Sam Ruck
        Nov 16, 2012 @ 22:05:19

        My personal journal just hit 3200 pages today. That’s where I’ve hashed out my perspectives and principles for this journey with my girls based upon the Bible study I did (at the top of this blog) that gave me the foundation I would need for when the little girls entered our lives.

        Thanks for the vote of confidence!

        Sam

      • undercoverdid
        Nov 16, 2012 @ 22:38:09

        Woohoo! Congrats on 3200 pages- that’s a LOT of insight and study!

  4. Keith
    Nov 21, 2012 @ 21:15:02

    Another brilliant article Sam!

    “let her soak me with water” – struck a chord with me! You are not the only one, and to be honest I hated it.

    In my situation when I upset a little (insider), the Lord Jesus told me what I could do to help. In the early days we had triggering situations tens of times per day, it was an extremely challenging time.

    I would have to try something fun, or different to help snap them out of it. He had me singing and dancing, pulling faces, dressing up, waving flags, and the worst of them all, the super-soaker!

    To understand this all you have to do is see things from the perspective of a child. My secret weapon is “pick and mix sweets”, in which there is something for everyone.

    One thing I found amazing was the littles ability to engage with play-acting and make-believe. When I upset her, she may not talk to me at all, but she would talk to and receive healing prayer ministry from a hand puppet. If she locked me out of her house, I could dress up as a maintenance man and would be allowed in.

    The best example of this was the day I thought of having a “brain transplant”. The logic was that if I had a new brain this would “fix me”, in her eyes! So I found an old sponge football and made myself a new brain with it! We enacted my brain transplant and afterwards all was good. A miracle of role-play!

    I have since used this “advanced technique” with other people I know who have DID. I was in a public video conference with a friend who was upset with me (I am gifted like that). To sort this out I introduced, “Reddy Teddy” a small red teddy bear, and he suggested to my “three” year old friend that I have a brain transplant. Reddy Teddy performed the operation live on air, after which the relationship was restored. So Sam, now who is a lunatic!

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 26, 2012 @ 20:09:01

      Thanks for the suggestions. Yes, it’s a never ending job to find creative ways that meet the littles on their level and keep them moving forward in the healing process. Sometimes it’s tiring, but I never get tired of seeing them grow and get healed. Just today Tina broke another lifetime rule and that made me so excited for her. The cracks are finally showing in all the defenses Tina had erected to support the lies she believed. I hope very soon things take a turn permanently for the better!

      Sam

      Reply

      • Ben
        Nov 26, 2012 @ 21:53:45

        Hi Sam, This is Ben again. I’ve been curious, as your approach has worked well for you, but it seems the main personalities you deal with are essentially age gaps of maturity. While Tracy and I are dealing with some of those as well, we have two personalities that are decidedly dangerous not just for her but our kids as well. Have you come across anyone else that has had experiences in dealing with a ‘darker’ presence in their loved one? For the time being, all of Tracy’s other sides are in agreement that ‘Winnie’ needs to be kept at bay, and I am inclined to agree with them for now. Thoughts?

      • Sam Ruck
        Nov 26, 2012 @ 22:22:38

        Hey Ben,

        When Alley first came out, she was full of venom and hatred for me, but I never really felt endangered. I put the link below for the entry when I wrote about it. It didn’t take me long (about 6 months) to defuse her anger though, and that was after 20 years of misunderstandings in our marriage. So I can’t speak for you and Winnie, but maybe that article will say something that will help you.

        The second link I included because I think a lot of the self-injury stuff occurs because people don’t understand what’s acutally happening during a panic attack (including the experts!) and for whatever reason, self-injury is the way that insiders seem to express the complete anguish they feel from the trauma. Again we didn’t have a lot of s-i going on, but I think that’s because of the way I handled it.

        If neither of these help, please write me back again with more specifics and I’ll try to help any way I can!!! Oh, Our son was 17 when the insiders first joined us and so I never was concerned about his safety, but I definitely was proactive in my attempts to defuse Alley’s anger.

        Sam

        https://samruck2.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/defusing-the-anger-of-the-defender/
        https://samruck2.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/helping-during-a-panic-attack/

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