A New Room for Tina

About 5 ½ years ago my wife told me she might have dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder. I wanted to be a part of the healing journey as I knew it would affect me and our marriage as much as it would affect my wife. Along the way we added 6 other girls to our lives and family, and I gained an intimate knowledge of how this disorder worked in her life.

The first 5 girls were each connected with at least one other girl on the inside. K.A., was Amy’s inside mommy, and Amy considered Sophia “my little girl.” Shelley was Alley’s little sister.

But when I finally was able to connect with Tina and bring her out with the rest of us, she was in a class of her own. She couldn’t speak at all. We overcame that first thru sign language and then by connecting her to Sophia who became her voice.

But that was just the surface. Tina had been completely isolated from all the other girls for the first 45 years of her life. That complete isolation seemed a greater trauma to her than the fact that she also suffered the greatest amount of the direct sexual abuse, verbal threats and mind games of her tormentor.

So for most of the last two years, I have spent a huge amount of my time slowly overcoming Tina’s fears of me, and then satisfying her huge need for physical and emotional affection and comfort after 45 years of solitude. She and I have been connecting. She and Sophia have been connecting as well. But I have hit a brick wall when trying to get her connected to the other 5 girls.

A few weeks ago Tina and I were talking and she told me that unlike the other girls who had pretty inside rooms, she had a dark closet which she hated. She took that as a sign that she was a bad girl and they were good girls. This was the first time I understood part of the reason for Tina’s isolation. As I continued to question her and Sophia for more detail, Sophia added that she could only “hear” Tina inside. She couldn’t “see” Tina like she could see the other 4 inside girls.

As I talked with Tina, I made sure to pass along this new information to Karen and the other older girls. I realized how urgent it was for us to get Tina out of her closet and into a new and beautiful room with the other girls to not only foster the possibility of connecting with the others, but also to remove the stigma Tina associated with her dark closet.

So a few weeks ago the girls went to their counselor armed with the information I had gathered and a request: a new room for Tina. When they came back, I was told their counselor believed Jesus had built new rooms for other insiders whom she’d helped and so they asked Him to do it for Tina as well*.

But Tina was stuck. She didn’t know how to tell Him what she wanted her room to look like. And so the next few days were spent agonizing over her new quandary. I finally stepped in and got a blank piece of paper. I questioned her about what she would want in a new room. Then I made a simple sketch of her new room with her help in the placement of the various things. She wanted a waterfall with a wading pool full of fish and stingrays, a waterslide, a craftroom, a canopy bed with a large screen tv and viewing area large enough for the other girls to join her, a library area, and trees, flowers and bushes so she could have a kitty, bunnies, peacocks, birds and butterflies. Once I helped her with a simple sketch she was able to ask Jesus and, voila, her new room appeared.

But that wasn’t the end. Now that she had a new room, Tina was terrified of her new room. What if it wasn’t safe and she got locked in it like her old closet? She told me she wanted to go back to her closet: at least she knew what to expect there! And so began a week of excruciating headaches, as I helped Tina work thru her various fears about her new room.

Sophia has been part of the solution. She entered Tina’s new room before Tina did and began playing with the things. The other girls also placed “welcome gifts” in Tina’s room with Sophia’s help. I also got Sophia to promise to always leave the windows between the two girls’ rooms open so that Tina could escape thru them if necessary and not be trapped.

Tina finally began to inch her way into her new room with Sophia’s help. First she stuck a toe in. Then she jumped in, and then right back out and ran away. And then she went in with Sophia and a promise from me to call her back out to make sure she wouldn’t get stuck like before.

And that’s where we are today. Tina is still learning to feel safe in her new room. Sophia and Tina can now see and interact with each other. But Tina still refuses to go into her room unless I’m available to call her back out.

Tina went from the worst room in my wife’s network, to the best. I told Karen with satisfaction, “All the lost sheep are finally in the fold.” And then Karen dropped her bombshell: her inside place was just as isolated from the other 6 girls as Tina’s had been except her inside room was a seashore that now felt like a prison to her because even though she can “hear” Sophia, Shelley, Amy, KA and Alley, she can’t “see” any of them. Sigh…

Sometimes this healing process is a little overwhelming. But I guess we’ll take it one step at a time as we continue to tear down the dissociative walls between the 7 girls. Tina is in a new room, but we still have to get her connected so she can hear and see the other 5. And now I need to help Karen get her inside room connected to the others so she can “see” them and no longer be isolated as well.

Blessings,

Sam, I Am

*Note: The role that Jesus played in this process is debatable. Whether or not He actually built the room for Tina or simply enabled her to imagine it for herself is not as important as the fact that her concept of Him allowed the room to be built.

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amanda
    Nov 12, 2013 @ 19:49:29

    Just found your blog today and was so amazed and intrigued I read almost the entire thing (all posts) in one sitting! Your dedication and love for your wife is beyond words. May you continue to find healing in this journey.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 12, 2013 @ 21:47:29

      Hi Amanda,

      thank you very much for visiting this blog. I appreciate you taking the time to not only read but also leave a comment for me. I hope I was able to share something that encouraged you today!

      Sincerely,

      Sam

      Reply

      • manders31
        Nov 14, 2013 @ 11:29:21

        Yes, for sure! I am a medical student and really think patients and families should be asked more often what they can teach us as physicians. Mental health is not covered enough in medical education so I really enjoy finding people so willing to share their experiences.

      • Sam Ruck
        Nov 14, 2013 @ 16:12:34

        I realize you are going into medical/physical health, but if there is one thing I could tell you from my perspective, is to keep the family involved. All these privacy guidelines are having the unintended effect of cutting off support from the person who needs it the most. Obviously there was abuse and unwarranted intrusion by some families, hence the new privacy laws, but there are a lot of families like ours where healing occurs best in a loving and supportive environment.

        Thanks again for stopping by and good luck on your pursuits,

        Sam

  2. manders31
    Nov 14, 2013 @ 11:30:26

    By the way, still Amanda here, used my user name for some reason.

    Reply

  3. survivingstill
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 13:34:41

    That’s awesome about the new room. I really wish you all the best with the healing journey.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 18, 2013 @ 14:34:52

      Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the well wishes.It already seems like this new room is helping Tina to calm down and feel more safe in general.

      Sam

      Reply

      • survivingstill
        Nov 18, 2013 @ 14:44:17

        That’s great! I’m sure it would be really scary and isolating living in a closet and it’s so wonderful that now she can be more connected to the other girls. I think it’s awesome all the work you do to help your girls heal.

  4. nique and gang
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 10:23:40

    Hi. It’s Kimmie. If you don’t remember, I am one of the little girls here. Chrystal is with me so we are both going to write here because we understand Tina real good we think. See, I spent all my time in a dark closet too. I never came out and would only listen to things. I took about half of the bad stuff that happened to us by our biggest tormentor, shared with Amanda.

    Chrystal was hiding deep in the woods for all those years I was in the closet. She didn’t see or hear anyone so she was really alone. See, she was pulled from hiding under the bed when our biggest abuser pulled her out she bit him so hard and started the end of our abuse by him. She is our hero but she didn’t know it. But she was so scared she went into deep hiding. So we both know about being alone in a dark place and scared and feeling bad.

    A long time ago soon after I met our husband, he said he could give us inside presents if we would let him. He would have us close our eyes and tell us exactly what he was giving us with real good describing so we could see it. After a while he asked me what I would like my closet to look like if I could make it just perfect. Then he gave us all the tools like paint and stuff to make my closet real nice instead of dark. But the problem with the closet was that I didn’t want anyone in there with me because it was my place to hide in.

    After that our husband helped us change the bedroom that the closet is in. That way it was not so scary and then others could come in and I would play there. Learning to change our inside world made it real easy to feel better.

    One big thing happened after that. We all got scared of something (we had a mean girl inside) and our husband told us that we should all move into the big living room with a big bed to cuddle on and all be together. He said that if we were all together we could work to protect each other. That way we had bunches of eyes to watch out. We had quick escape to hiding if we needed it. That is when a lot of things changed for us. We stopped being so separate from each other and we learned to trust each other a little more. I think that maybe our husband allowed and even made a little scared feeling get bigger so this would happen. I don’t know. I just know that lots of things changed for us after that but it wouldn’t have happened if I never had my closet fixed and then the room to share. Chrystal had little steps too. We all did.

    Chrystal says that Tina should tell you what she needs in her room to feel safe or a place to go to in the room that makes her feel safe when she gets scared. She said that it needs to be big enough for one more girl to be with her if she gets scared and that other girl got to promise to always be there if she needs her even if the other girl isn’t scared. She said that you should ask her who she trust most to be a good hider. Then maybe give Tina a special whistle or something that she can use to call that other girl in emergency.

    We all know that it is important that no one of us ever feels alone. One of our jobs is to never let someone who is upset or scared be alone. Chrystal doesn’t like people by her when she is scared so I learned that I just got to be close so she can see me and be real quiet so she can know I there but not bothering her until she is ready for me to talk to her.

    You are real smart to think about Tina having her own room. I know that we gone through lots of steps that helped us get to next step. I think this is a real good step for Tina.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 25, 2013 @ 20:12:52

      Hi Kimmie and Chrystal,

      thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad you can understand Tina’s. And thank you for visiting again! I wish I could get everyone together into one room, too, but the girls resist that, so the next step, I hope is for them to be willing to “keep the doors open” between the rooms. Alley, Shelley and KA are very close with each other and Tina and Sophia are very close. So if I could get those two groups to leave “their doors open” all the time, then I only have to worry about Amy and Karen being on their own..kinda.

      Anyway, I’ve very glad your husband was able to help you, too and I appreciate your willingness to share.

      Sam

      Reply

  5. nique and gang
    Nov 24, 2013 @ 10:41:38

    A note to Tina…

    This is Nique. I don’t know if it is okay for Tina to be given a note from outsiders or not. This is for her if it is okay.

    Tina, congratulations on your new room. You are a hero and you deserve it. Did you know you were a hero? If not, let me explain. You were the one that was strong enough to take most of the bad things that happened when your body was a little girl. You were the one who kept those bad things from happening to the other girls. You might not have known you were saving the other girls from bad things but you did and that makes you one of the greatest of heroes.

    I have a two heroes who took all the bad things that happened when I was a little girl and kept me from having to go through them. They are extra special to me and I am so thankful for them. I bet that all the girls and Sam are very thankful to you too.

    Nique

    Reply

  6. jld
    Dec 02, 2013 @ 16:39:16

    You are a saint, Sam. I am so glad you are committed to your wife, and that you have taken an attachment parenting approach to the little girls. I wish more husbands could reach out in love the way you have.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Your compassion has touched me.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Dec 02, 2013 @ 18:24:24

      Hi JLD,

      Thank you for visiting my blog. If I’m a saint, I still have feet of clay. I struggle every day with the fallout from my wife’s d.i.d., but I love all my girls and so we are trying to do this together. Thanks for the kind words and I hope our experience helps you somehow.

      Sam

      Reply

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