Anchoring Insiders to the Outside in Dissociative Identity Disorder

My wife and I have been on a healing journey together from her dissociative identity disorder. When I look back over the last 7 years we’ve been walking this road, I know she is not the only one who has radically changed. I have had to change to become the kind of man who was safe for everyone in the network. And I had to deal with my own issues and demons to do that. I couldn’t view this as her problem: it was and is our problem, our journey.

And so there’s been a lot of self-discovery that I’ve made during this journey. One thing I learned about myself is the term ‘singleton’ as it is commonly used in d.i.d. circles isn’t accurate when it comes to non-dissociated people. I’ve mentioned it in the past, but if you watch the things you read, you’ll see ‘multiple language’ used concerning non-dissociated people. We talk about ‘part of me’, ‘not being fully engaged’, ‘being divided’ on an issue, being ‘double minded’ and a host of other terms that describe the multi-faceted nature of everyone’s personality.

Then earlier this year someone made a comment on this blog about her inability to ‘switch at will’ like 7 of the 8 girls in my wife’s network can (and I am working on it with Jenny). Her comment has had me thinking about that ever since. I suggested that my wife collectively can switch ‘at will’ with 7 of the girls in the network because I’ve trained her brain. But I struggle with explaining what I’ve done to make that transformation. Or to put it another way: I think I changed my wife’s subconscious experience of d.i.d. and made it something that she (collectively) consciously controls now. And that conscious ability to switch among various parts of her personality is simply what non-dissociated people do all the time; I think.

In the ISSTD guidelines they state only 6% of people have ‘florid’ or ostentatious showings of d.i.d. which I take to mean switching with the others in the network:

Most clinicians have been taught (or assume) that DID is a rare disorder with a florid, dramatic presentation. Although DID is a relatively common disorder, R. P. Kluft (2009) observed that “only 6% make their DID obvious on an ongoing basis” (p. 600). R. P. Kluft (1991) has referred to these moments of visibility as “windows of diagnosability” (also discussed by Loewenstein, 1991a). Instead of showing visibly distinct alternate identities, the typical DID patient presents a polysymptomatic mixture of dissociative and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms that are embedded in a matrix of ostensibly nontrauma-related symptoms (e.g., depression, panic attacks, substance abuse, somatoform symptoms, eating-disordered symptoms). (isst-d dot org)

But it is the ability to switch ‘at will’ and instantly access the abilities of each member in the group personality that truly separates a dissociated multiple from a non-dissociated multiple (singleton). Sadly most of the dissociated multiples that I follow on wordpress fight against switching instead of realizing that learning to switch ‘at will’ with everyone in the group is the path toward full healing. But I do understand their fears if they don’t have someone alongside to help limit the scary aspects of letting go (switching) during the connecting process.

With Jenny’s entrance into our lives, I have the opportunity to train another part(girl) of my wife’s mind to come under her (collective) conscious control using the various means I have detailed in past entries. I call the process ‘anchoring’ the insiders to the outside world.

Buying them their own things is one way I do that. As I’ve bought Jenny a new tablet, weekly little gifts and rewards, re-did our upstairs hallway to honor her, bought her 2 new pairs of shoes, replaced their worn out laptop and told Jenny the new one is hers so she has a contribution to the girls’ various crafting endeavors, and other various things, she has repeatedly asked me “These are mine?” These gifts not only attach her to the outside world, but they validate her worth as a person to me and the network as I ‘put my money where my mouth is.’

Another thing I do is to personally engage her and attach her to myself. I asked Jenny a week ago if she wanted to get to know the other girls. She told me, no, but she said she wants to know me. Last week she bought the other 7 girls a bribe to help them be happy about the fact that she wants to be on the outside with me ALL THE TIME now (which means they are locked up on this inside!). She and I constantly affirm to each other that we are friends. We sit and watch tv together. I send her daily emails (like I do to each of the other girls), and I tell her how happy I am that she is a part of my life. We now sit on the couch with our arms resting on the cushions as they almost touch each other. Little by little her fears of me are being overcome as I gently draw her into a relationship with me. Once she is fully attached to me, then it will be easier for her to begin connecting to the others. Plus I’ve told her, “Honey, as much as I love you and would love to always be with you, the ONLY way that can happen is once you and the other girls can learn to be together because I love them, too, and they are my girls, too.”

Another way that I anchor the insiders to the outside is by helping them experience happy things on the outside. Jenny and Tina made that hard because they were/are afraid of crowds. But I took them to outdoor activities where the crowds are smaller like area nature preserves, Amish country, Lake Erie and such. Plus vacations are a huge and magical way that has often seen huge advances forward with each of the girls. Alley chose to be my girlfriend on one vacation: the culmination from being the defender who used to hate me with a passion. Tina chose to become ‘my girl’: the final step away from all the programming her abuser had done when he told her she was ‘his girl’ and ‘no one will ever want you or love you.”

And so as I interact with each girl, provide her with things to call her own, and show her that the outside world can be far better than her inside one, little by little I anchor her to me and this outside world. And thus, I turn each insider into an outsider. And as I do that, I enable my wife’s brain to consciously connect with that part that used to be separated by dissociation and over which she previously had no control or access. And as I help them redraw their inner working model, then each girl that once had only part of the abilities of the whole now can work with the others and function more completely and healthily as each girl finds her special place in the whole of my wife’s network.

Blessings,

Sam, I Am

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. luverley
    Jul 03, 2015 @ 17:14:04

    I think what you’ve done is created the barriers and guards to come down between the dissociated states meaning they can share at will. Where as someone new in the process such as myself still has Amnesia and dissociate a lot. Sounds like you have got a co concious system now. Heading more towards DIDNOS which is the goal because of the Amnesia not being wanted really.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Jul 04, 2015 @ 00:23:27

      Hi Luverley,

      thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it. This is one part of the process, and we are still in the process, even with the 7 girls who ‘can’ be co-conscious and even co-fronting or more ‘when’ they want. It takes a lot of work to undo 45 years of dissociation, so I no longer expect it to be over quickly. Maybe if my wife was in her 20’s and her brain hadn’t spent so long traumatized and dissociated. But she will hit 50 this year, and understandably it’s just going to take them longer to undo things.

      take care,
      Sam

      Reply

  2. luverley
    Jul 03, 2015 @ 17:14:47

    Also the difference between a dissociated and non dissociated person is just that the dissociation and the fact we split because of trauma.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Jul 04, 2015 @ 00:27:27

      I hope I didn’t trivialize the differences. The dissociation and trauma are HUGE differences. I guess what I hoped to convey though is d.i.d. really isn’t some freak show like so many people act. If those of us who aren’t dissociated can understand our brains and personalities better, maybe it would give us more empathy for those with d.i.d and ability to help them.

      Reply

  3. mrmarshall03
    Jul 06, 2015 @ 15:14:02

    Hi Sam,
    Glad to always read your blog. My situation is similar in some ways to yours. So I like to see another perspective.
    My problem is what you were referring to not letting the switch happen. If it is during sleep then it happens without a problem. When my wife is awake she fights the switch so much because of the negative impulses that her other parts have had at times. During waking hours the divisions are so strict and concrete. The problem with the night switching is that means I get no sleep. It does not seem to be an issue with my wife she doesn’t seem to notice the lack of sleep.
    Once I can break through the barriers during waking hours I think the progress will move more quickly

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Jul 06, 2015 @ 17:55:51

      Hi Mr. Marshall,

      Is your wife afraid of switching? It’s very scary in the beginning, letting go of control. For a host of a d.i.d. system that fear of letting go and losing time seems especially scary until she can begin connecting to the others. That’s where we as husbands can try to help. I limit the time anyone can dominate the outside, so that everyone gets to be outside (or co-conscious with others who are outside) for at least part of the day. I also am happy to repeat activities if someone feels cheated because they were ‘locked up inside’ at the time. And I’m willing to recap what happened to anyone who asks.

      In the beginning switching was VERY scary and upsetting to my wife (the host) when she lost time or felt her place as my wife was in danger. But after 7 years of this, they take it in stride more. The 7 HATE being locked up when Jenny is out, but it doesn’t frighten them and I try to mediate things so that Jenny doesn’t control all the outside time. There is no perfect solution until all of them can be together, but I emphasize how much I long for the day when I can be with ALL of them ALL the time, and we just do the best we can until that day.

      Sam

      Reply

      • mrmarshall03
        Jul 07, 2015 @ 11:38:36

        It is somewhat more complex. Fear of not being in control and from recovered memories fear of what the others will do IF they have more freedom, does drive resistance to switching.
        There are blocks installed from programming that make the connections between parts not direct. I can see the influence from the night switching during the day as to what other parts want to do and get accomplished. It is indirect though and that allows my wife to not admit the source for these out of character ideas.
        Some days I feel crazy myself for accepting all of this and not just ignoring it. Though as you know that really is not a choice.

      • Sam Ruck
        Jul 07, 2015 @ 22:57:43

        Yes, I’m sure it is more complex, and I hope my posts don’t minimize that aspect of it. I still want to call it quits a lot of days because it’s so hard and frustrating, and so many times I feel like the girls are fighting against the very things that would help them heal.

  4. Trackback: The Struggles of Dissociative Identity Disorder | Katrina Wisniewski

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