Attachment Theory and the Internal Working Model, Part 2: The Roadmap for Healing D.I.D.

About 7 years ago my wife began to deal with the fallout from her childhood abuse and parental neglect. We were fortunate that the lady she was and still is seeing nailed the dissociative identity disorder diagnosis very quickly…of course, Karen’s getting lost on the way to one of her counseling sessions raised a glaring red flag that the counsellor did not miss! Once we had the diagnosis, I began courting the insiders, and a few months later Amy and Sophia joined my life. Then Alex came out to express her hatred and disapproval of everything I was and did; but ‘love conquers all.’ Once I made amends for the past and helped defuse her anger about things in general, Alex became Alleylieu who became Alley my girlfriend. She just bought Disney’s Jack Skellington and Sally hoodie for Christmas this year that says ‘true love never dies’ to celebrate our very improved relationship. Then came Shellie and KA. Lastly Tina joined my life 3 years ago; she’s the little girl who held more trauma than the rest of them combined. Once I had helped Tina overcome her fear of me, she firmly, physically and emotionally, attached herself to me in a way that none of the others have.

I talked about Bowlby’s internal working model a few months ago here  and how it has applied to my wife’s healing. I had hoped we would finish our healing journey this year, but 3 of the girls have shown a lot of fear and resistance toward connecting with the others. So we have spent this year strengthening the existing relationships between the girls and changing their inner working model.

Many of the changes were instigated by the 2 littlest girls, Tina and Sophia. Their relationship is becoming more and more intertwined and as it does, it has strengthened them both and the group as a whole.

Sophia is the littlest girl in the group. When she first joined me, she considered herself 1 year old. She barely had any motor skills and hardly could talk. She would have been considered a nearly useless splinter by many experts. But after 6 years of healing and growth with me she decided to have another birthday this year (after having another previously) and at age 3 she decided she’s growing up and now demands more respect from the others. She is pushing Tina to be her ‘twin,’ (i.e.equal) now that they are the same age.

And for Tina’s part, she revealed this fall that not only had she been sequestered from the other girls for over 4 decades, but unlike them, her only inside clothing was a torn and tattered black dress without shoes and a rat’s nest of hair that she could never fix: a pathetic picture of her abuser’s throw away trash. 😦  That imagery broke my heart. Fortunately at this stage in the journey taking care of that was as easy as a snap and a prayer (and a couple of designer children’s clothing websites to help her choose her new wardrobe). Then she and her sister had beautiful new wardrobes of matching (because they are [almost] twins!) clothing. Now she has beautiful clothing (inside) and her hair is clean and neat. Her internal perception has radically changed: instead of seeing herself as her abuser’s trash, she sees a beautiful, loved and cared for girl. My girl!

The changes above affect my wife’s overall internal working model. As the little girls change their self-perception, they interact with each other differently and also with the other 5 girls. Then those changes affect how they as a group are able to interact with the world outside. My wife, the whole, no longer has a part of her that views herself as an abuser’s trash. Nor does she have any part of her that sees herself as a helpless infant. Inner perceptions affect outer actions of everyone.

But I am also an agent of change to my wife’s internal working model. As I live with and help my girls heal and grow each day, I make suggestions to them to help them connect with each other. They don’t always accept my suggestions, but they recently agreed to one that I hope will spell the final doom of the remaining, major areas of dissociation still present between them.

Currently 5 girls in my wife’s network have access to each other (when they want!). Sophie, Shellie, Amy, KA and Alley can see and hear each other internally. They can be co-conscious and when the desire arises they can be co-present. But 2 girls are still dissociated in fundamental ways. Karen the host can internally hear the other 5 girls but she is geographically separated inside from the rest. And Tina can only be seen and heard by Sophia though she has access to the other 4 girls’ rooms and the common room. She sadly calls herself ‘the invisible girl’. All attempts to connect Tina and Karen with the other 5 girls and each other have been stymied.

Now, I’m always thinking, 24/7, about ways to help my wife heal. I turn their situation over and over and over in my mind, looking for chinks in the dissociative armor, and a couple weeks ago, I suggested, “What if we used a magic mirror to help you girls connect to Tina and Karen?” As I’ve watched my girls, I believe their organic brain at this point is their biggest enemy, and I tell them that. Their brain has kept these 2 dissociated from the others for so long, that it reacts in fear to any suggestion to bring them into proximity with the other 5. So I proposed a magic mirror to overcome their brain’s conditioned fear of them connecting. Along with that I had to educate the girls how magic mirrors work (if you are interested let me know and I will elaborate 🙂 ).

Now we have just begun implementing the magic mirrors. Tina wanted to go first. It’s a slow and painful process. Even though she desperately wants to be connected with the other 5 girls, her brain is flooding her (and the other 6) with all kinds of fear that comes from 45 years of conditioning. So we are taking it slowly, a little each day. She is getting acclimated to the mirror’s presence inside while I am doing lots and lots and lots of holding her and reassuring her and while here sister, Sophia, helps her on the inside, too. I hope in a few weeks to have her able to communicate with Shellie and Amy if all goes as planned.

I had wanted to wait until I could report a success story with our magic mirrors, but I was informed today how long it’s been since I’ve updated this blog on our progress. So I hope I am not jumping the gun and will not have to print a retraction in the future. I think the magic mirrors are the mental tools my wife (the whole) needs to connect the last 2 girls to the other 5 so that we can finally raze the major dissociative walls within which still remain. Yes, there will be years ahead of them learning to strengthen the connections between the 7 of them and learning what kind of a woman they will be internally and present to the world externally. But until they have access to all 7 girls, that work can never really begin.

So that’s where we are at the moment. I am sorry this year has been so quiet for this blog. I had hoped to celebrate our arrival at the end of the journey this year, but instead we have spent it strengthening the existing relationships between all 7 girls, developing the internal working model of Tina and Sophia especially, oh, and my 2 girlfriends are finally showing a little interest in a more mature relationship with me.

I trust all is well with each of you. And I wish you all a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday or just a simple blessing to each day. May you find strength for the healing journey you, too, are on and companionship as you travel it.

Blessings,

Sam, I Am

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17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Twerner
    Dec 05, 2014 @ 02:15:06

    Thank you for sharing this, Sam. We have so many connections that need to be made, it seems overwhelming. This was encouraging. It is good to hear of hope and success, no matter how small or how big. You give strength for journey!
    -Camille

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Dec 05, 2014 @ 16:37:13

      Hi Camille,

      thanks for stopping by. For my girls the connections got made a little by little. I’m afraid our age (mid 40’s) made the process slower as the dissociation had been ‘hardening’ for over 4 decades, but each day we moved forward, gave the little girls maximum outside time and encouraged activities that interested the most girls possible, and yet still made time for those girls who had unique interests.

      It’s kept us busy these last 7ish years, but we are finally seeing a lot of things pay off.

      Take care,

      Sam

      Reply

  2. sarahkreece
    Dec 05, 2014 @ 08:45:27

    It’s good to hear from you again 🙂 I hope the new approach works! Please don’t be worried about talking about it if it doesn’t, the trial and error approach are not always successes and people are often encouraged that even for those of us with more experience, not everything we do works, but we don’t give up! 🙂

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Dec 05, 2014 @ 16:39:23

      Hi Sarah,

      thanks for stopping by. And thanks for the encouragement! It’s been a hard year for all of us and I hope these mirrors will work!

      Sam

      Reply

  3. talktoj8
    Dec 05, 2014 @ 09:51:27

    I would love to know how this magic mirror works. 😉

    Also…this is just my opinion so throw it out if it doesn’t work for your purposes. Whenever my insiders have fear about something, we don’t resist it, but we explore it. Can you ask the girls what would be bad about being connected to the others? Oftentimes there is misinformation embedded in those fears, possibly even put there by abusers, that can be a powerful deterrent from moving forward if they are not addressed. Such as: “if I connect to the others, I will die,” or “if anyone else inside knows what I’ve been through, they/we will go crazy.” It sounds like you’re good at coming up with creative work-arounds for those kinds of issues…but what if you could just find out what the un-truth is and help them understand the reality of it? Then no work-around would be necessary, and they wouldn’t have to endure so much fear. The fear would be gone once they knew the truth.

    Just a thought… 🙂

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Dec 05, 2014 @ 19:57:48

      Hi J8,

      about the fears…I do ask them. In the beginning they often didn’t tell me because they were afraid of retribution from their abuser (although they haven’t seen him in over 47 years), but at this point when I talk to Tina and Karen, they just seem to be afraid of ‘the fear of change.’ The body is going to be 49 in a couple of weeks, and so we are fighting nearly 45 years of habituated dissociation. Most of the trauma, I really think is healed. The brain simply can’t imagine them being with the others even though they hate being separated. Tina especially DEARLY wants to be with the others. Karen sadly seems more ambivalent, I think, because she still misses being the ONLY one before the others joined us. But I’m hoping once we get Tina connected, the urge will be overwhelming for Karen to join the others.

      That’s why I suggested in this entry that their brain was the problem at this point. From what I read about the brain, how we all create neural pathways from use, how those can atrophy without use (e.g. dissociation), how we develop reflexive reactions, etc., I really think at this point, they say, ‘We want to be with the others’ and their brain reflexively responds (from 45 years of dissociation) “hell, no! The world will end if you all get together.”

      So that is where the magic mirrors come in. Now we just saw the magic mirror used in a recent Sleepy Hollow episode, but I’m sure you can think of lots of examples of them. Really I started out suggesting this to them based on ‘scrying’. The point is, the girls are currently in a different ‘dimension’ from each other inside (inside rooms that aren’t connected). That’s how their brain wants to keep them (because bad things will happen if they get together!) But if we use a magic mirror it will allow them to “stay in their own rooms” (dimensions) as required by their brain, but allow them to safely see and hear each other. So their brain doesn’t shut them down because they are ‘still in their own separated room” for Karen and still “invisible” (without the mirror) for Tina, but they can start talking and communicating to the others via the magic mirror. Once that communication is established eventually their brain will say “I guess this is ok. The apocalypse didn’t occur because Tina and Karen are with the others.” At that point we’ll do away with the mirrors and they’ll be together.

      That at least is how I imagine the mirrors working. They will satisfy their brain that is NOT obeying the girls’ desires because of 45 years of dissociation.

      Hope that makes sense, and I really hope in a few months I can report back and say it worked!

      Sam

      Reply

  4. ccchanel41
    Dec 05, 2014 @ 14:15:55

    I agree with j8…I believe that it is definitely a fear of the things she mentioned that is deeply embedded, possibly put there by abusers or not…it will be very scary. Very good comment.
    I stand amazed at the progress you have been able to make Sam, together with your wife and your girls..as you say. The power of love to overcome and understanding and I also love “creative work-arounds”..it just continues to amaze me. I learn to much by reading from other’s perspectives, blogs, and comments.
    That was mine. Sorry I have nothing really amazing to add only that Alex laughed at your description of your own Alex…haha…ok then..love to you and yours..
    CC

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Dec 05, 2014 @ 20:01:06

      Hi CC,

      thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad Alex enjoyed (edit) the similarities of how she and how my Alex used to be.

      And I hope whatever the source of the fear of connecting we can finally break its hold on them.

      Take care,

      Sam

      Reply

      • ccchanel41
        Dec 05, 2014 @ 23:04:06

        Sam,
        In this time of complete chaos in our country, and my interactions with hostility with so many people, I am not sure if I misunderstood your comment or not. If you misunderstood mine, it was not meant to be the way you took it as you replied.
        Alex did not enjoy the way you explained her to be..she laughed because that is how she used to be…and they happened to share the same name. Just wanted to clear that up if that was a misunderstanding.
        I am sure at some point things will work out for your wife…and for you.
        CC

      • Sam Ruck
        Dec 05, 2014 @ 23:15:42

        CC,

        no worries… 🙂 I kind of figured that’s what Alex meant based on who she is and the way she posts on your blog…I can see how my response was confusing (so I went back and tried to fix it)

        Thanks,

        Sam

      • ccchanel41
        Dec 06, 2014 @ 00:01:09

        LOL..you don’t have to fix it..I just didn’t want you to think that is what I meant…she found it funny ..same name.. glad you did not think that 🙂

  5. flowerofthewoods
    Dec 06, 2014 @ 17:05:08

    It sounds like you’ve had some big successes! *nudge* *wink*

    As a matter of curiosity, (no implications intended, I promise!) how did you come to the goal of having your girls healed by this year?

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Dec 08, 2014 @ 17:03:48

      Hi Flower,

      I guess I thought once most of the trauma was healed in the girls the dissociative walls would crash under their own weight. I did not reckon with the power of 47 years of neural pathways. We all create them and so at this point, even though there’s no need for the dissociation because the trauma is not only long in the past, but largely healed, my wife’s brain simply is wired dissociatively. Yes, the 7 are MUCH MUCH closer. Sophia makes it so that Tina and Amy can finish each others sentences and they can ALL work in their craftroom simultaneously, but they still see themselves internally as separated and so it still fundamentally affects how they interact internally and externally with the world (and me).

      At this point I just have to find ways to teach my wife’s brain that it’s ok for all of them to be together. It’s just taking longer that I expected it to, but I really think/hope the magic mirrors will give their brain permission to stop overriding their desire to be together.

      Sam

      Reply

  6. 5kidswdisabilities
    Dec 26, 2014 @ 15:07:49

    Your wife and her girls are lucky to have such a caring husband.

    Reply

  7. Trackback: I Didn’t See that Coming… | Loving My DID Girl(s)

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