Group Integration and Dissociative Identity Disorder

From the start of our healing journey 9 years ago, none of the girls nor I have had much interest in what is regularly pushed as the consummate goal of healing from dissociative identity disorder: integration. If anything, my time with my girls, and on WordPress and interacting on other d.i.d. sites has convinced me that this goal is not only misdirected but also continues the dissociation under a new guise. I talked about our views of integration in the past, but I never had much I could definitively say about what an alternative might look like until recently.

In spite of Jenny’s domination of things on the outside for the last 2 years, I noted in my last post that the other 7 girls have continued to make some progress. I feel one of the clearest areas of progress has been toward our goal of group integration. For us ‘group integration’ means removing the dissociative walls between all the system members so that there can be inherent interaction and collaboration. We feel that ALL the girls are important, and that truth has been born out over the course of this healing journey. Every girl, no matter how small a role she has in the system, has personality traits or abilities that she alone controls. In fact, as a husband and man, I readily admit that some of the very attractive traits I would desire in a woman are controlled by the 4 littles in my wife’s system and not the 4 older girls.

So, one of our goals after the trauma was addressed was to find at least one unique niche for each girl to fill in the group. Now the two most dominant girls, Amy and Karen, control many, many areas in my wife’s personality. KA and Alley control fewer than Amy and Karen. And the 4 littles individually control the least. But we have worked hard to find even the most subordinate girl, Shelly, a place that is hers alone to control. In fact, we gave her a place of great honor in the group: she is the ‘bookworm’, the girl who controls and directs the entire group’s insatiable desire to read murder mysteries.

Our goal for group integration has always been to create a group where all girls are welcome and all give valued input to the group as a whole. But in the last 6 months or so, I’ve noted a shift: Amy and Karen have started to become the group spokespersons. Previously, whoever controlled a trait or area of expertise always came out front to lead the other girls. But lately even Alley and KA have been inclined to let Karen and Amy front while the entire group engages in areas controlled by them or others. And even Karen will defer to Amy unless we are in public because Amy NEEDS to be the one talking. She was the first girl to join Karen and me and she has ALWAYS been the girl who remained dominant at home even when the ‘new’ girls were consuming so much of the outside time to heal and connect with me and the others.

This shift was a little disconcerting to me at first. A few months ago Alley announced her desire for us to get engaged. And so we began to look for engagement jewelry. In the past, Alley would have been in front shopping the entire day with me except when they needed to talk to other people. But repeatedly Alley allowed Karen to be in front with me while we looked for her, Alley’s, engagement jewelry. From time to time I would pull Alley out, just to be sure she felt properly represented by Karen, and she never had any complaints.

Another area in which we have seen group integration take place is in my wife’s wardrobe. KA has taken the lead with this issue. She is the ‘fashionista’ of the group, but she is careful to bring in elements that ALL the girls like. This includes the older girls’ desires to look sexy and hot and the little girls’ desires to look cute and Karen’s near-obsession to be frugal (which means we always shop clearance sales and discount stores!). Somehow KA has woven everyone’s desires, including Jenny’s, so that her real-life friends once quipped, “You can even make jeans and a hoodie look good!” There are rarely fights in this area, and it’s nice to have a wife who can look beautiful, hot or age-appropriately cute depending on the situation.

Another area of group integration has been with the girls’ real-life friends. Other than Jenny, all 7 of the other girls consider their real-life friends their individual friends, even the 3 littles: Sophia, Tina and Shelly. Each week they go out with these real-life friends, and though none of the friends know of my wife’s d.i.d. all my girls feel part of these relationships and look forward to different aspects of their time together. Even Jenny, in spite of her desire to stay home, will give me ‘blow by blow’ accountings of her days with the ‘other girls’ friends.

This new phase in our journey has forced me to have new expectations. In the beginning of our healing journey, I always focused on the individual girls: giving each one whatever attention she wanted and needed to validate her as she healed and matured. But now the girls have connected to the point that they are beginning to act as a group and not always as individuals. Just like everything on this journey, it’s a process and not a destination. But now the 7 and at times even Jenny concurrently will act as one integrated group, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch as my wife is finally beginning to come together as a healthy woman.

And so that’s where we are today. We are finally beginning to see the reality of group integration. Unlike what is pushed by so many experts who try to ‘rid’ a person’s system of ‘unwanted’ and ‘unnecessary’ alters or who force ‘fusion’ of ‘lesser’ alters into the dominant ones, we have made a point to find a special place for each and every person in the group no matter how dominant or subordinate her traits and abilities may appear. We never force fusion or anything else. The depth of interaction between the girls is always in flux depending on the moment just like a non-dissociated person can go from ‘autopilot’ mode to ‘fully engaged’ depending on the activity and interest. When the system is under stress like this past weekend when they severely hurt their foot in a fall down the stairs, the littles came out in full force, individually, for me to comfort them. I never reprimand any girl for not acting as a group. We let each girl have her needs satisfied in the way she needs them satisfied at that moment.

Blessings,

Sam

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Learning To Love The Ride
    Apr 21, 2017 @ 13:14:33

    Hi Sam

    Great to see your posts online again. It sounds like it’s been another difficult year for you and your family. It’s been a long time. You’ve worked really hard. What about you, Sam: are you looking after yourself?
    Be gentle on yourself… Brett

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Apr 21, 2017 @ 13:30:10

      Hi Brett! Thanks for stopping by! Is there a reason I never get your blog updates??? I’m pretty sure I’m set to follow you, but I never get any notices and so I kind of forget to check in. Maybe I’ve done something wrong…not sure.

      Anyway it’s been frustrating mostly. Jenny is doing great EXCEPT that she simply seems unable to ‘securely attach’ to me, and that seems to be a necessary step before she connects to the other girls…and so we are all living a ‘divided’ life literally. Tina can’t stand being separated from me so much, but I just don’t know how to get Jenny over the hump…

      But I know your family has had a terribly hard year. I hope the inpatient is helping your partner. I’ll try to stop by and see why I’m not getting notices for your posts!
      Sam

      Reply

      • Learning To Love The Ride
        Apr 22, 2017 @ 10:39:11

        Hi Sam. I think I’ve set all my blog security and visibility settings correctly, but it doesn’t even show in Google if I search the exact term, so I’m definitely doing something wrong. 🙂
        Thanks for stopping by… Take care. Brett

  2. victoriarebel
    Apr 22, 2017 @ 01:28:12

    Hey, Sam!

    Nice to see you writing again and to know that things are progressing in a right direction, even if sometimes things can be exhausting and slow. I am still waiting to hear that you will meet a male insider. 🙂

    Sorry I have not been around in forever. My blog is private now, too much going on. I am finally single, with two kids, but still not completely out of danger. Maybe never truly was. As it happens, I do have no support right now, but kids are first, if they’ll survive All the reason I am not able to put them first.

    I still am glad to see how much care time and energy you put in each individual girl. I can imagine how hard it can be. But as always admire you, and glad you still give updates. Journey of you and Karen’s system inspires me greatly ( and makes me just s tiny big jealous, so if you forgive that Green feeling of mine, I’d appreciate it. )

    Oh, yeah, just like the other commenter asked, I am curious – how YOU holding. Up?

    Hope to read your updates soon
    Victoria

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Apr 23, 2017 @ 06:47:10

      Hi Victoria!

      Glad to see you are still around too. Even though I haven’t posted here for a long time, I watch my blog everyday…not that there is much to see. I hope your situation gets better. I’m sorry you still don’t feel totally safe: I know that’s been a huge issue for you for so long.

      As for me…I don’t know…I just turned 50 and I’m really struggling. I had hoped to have a healthy wife by the time I was 50. I love her, all my girls, but it’s really hard NEVER having had a healthy relationship. And this whole d.i.d. community is hard, too. I’m the oddball husband who blogs helping his wife’s d.i.d. And no one really wants me: I keep getting blacklisted in spite of how well my wife is doing, sigh. I was over on Psychforums for awhile, but a self-appointed ‘queen bee’ over there, got me kicked off because she felt threatened by what I do to help my wife heal since I don’t follow ISSTD’s ‘guidelines.’ That really, really hurt because I invested a lot of time and emotional energy trying to show people there was a better way using attachment theory. And mostly it’s just hard because Jenny is stuck plus her ‘no-touching’ rule is really, really, really hard. So I guess to answer your question…I’m holding up fine under the circumstances but just wishing so much I could help Jenny over the hump and we could ALL begin to move forward again.
      Sam

      Reply

      • victoria rebel
        May 06, 2017 @ 00:51:29

        Sigh… I am so sorry that is happening with internet community. I remember when I first started reading your blog, I came across hurtful comments from those who misunderstood (or maybe were secretly jealous of the way you help your girls) I am sad to see that it continues to happen and that you have to put disclaimers on your blog…. I know you need support too, and sad to see that no other partners are willing to give it a try.

        I had someone attempt to be a full time support person, before my ex-husband and all that happened with him ( actually that support person basically handed me to my ex, wedding and everything, because it was too much for her). But in the beginning, when she started, she tried to transition into it from a therapist role, and had some of ‘prejudices’ of what she learned in college and general therapeutic environment. And we were quick to pick up on her weak points and exploit them by verbally attacking her for them, because that’s what we learned growing up. That in addition to having no true safety from abusers, and their threat to those close to us, made most of healing fairly impossible….

        after that, with our ex-husband using our dissociation to his advantage to help him achieve his sexual needs ( well, there was a lot more to it with him, plus abusers).

        Sometimes (or all the time these days), I feel no safety will ever be possible, no healing will ever happen. It feels like as long as I live, I will suffer.

        I intend on keeping my promise to myself that I won’t allow anyone to be close to me. It’s just not fair to them to go through disappointment and pain of being with someone like me. I know I will be hurting til I day I die, for too many reasons to list, but one of them is simply because I will never know the safety of being with another person, safety of a hug without expectation or being able to cry and know that sex won’t follow my tears because ” sex can fix everything”. But I will look for that simple safe connection with another person, I won’t ever acknowledge it, but instead push people away. As some therapists who treat people like us say “nobody can give it to you now. You have to give it to yourself” . But if I never received it from someone else, how do I know what exactly to give myself
        (maybe I shouldn’t have wrote this part here, on your blog….. Sorry)

        Anyway, when I read your updates, at least it reminds me that there may still be good people out there, and some folks with similar issues to mine are lucky enough to meet people like you. I realize you probably don’t speak even here of most difficult moments between you and your girls. Even though, I feel the pain behind your words because Jenny’s needs and wants are completely met right now, but her needs are so opposite of yours, and unfortunately you are going through this for the 8th or 9th time in a row. But I am still glad that right now SHE can live her childhood over again in a new way with a safe person next to her.

        I don’t know if it helps, and I don’t know if it makes sense at all (I feel like I am not making any sense writing any of this), and it maybe be way off base here, if it’s a case, I am sorry and just disregard it. But maybe your wife’s system as a whole trusts you now, possibly her system as a whole started trusting you when you first begun helping her heal this way, when you acknowledged and accepted her as DID, when Amy acknowledged herself to you. Maybe that’s why they allow you to be with just one of them at the time, without chaos of constant switching and several new girls appearing at once. Until that girl heals and joins in the strength of cooperation and coawareness-even integration- with others. They trust you to do that. Otherwise, there could have been chaos of them all coming out at once and pushing you away, fighting you off. Imagine Alley and Sophia coming out at once when Alley was angry and hurt (and probably scared because anger covers up fear). Alley would be angry one minute, Sophia would want to cuddle with you the next. But if you snuggle with Sophia, Alley would be out immediately and accuse you of doing something she did not allow. That’s how it usually happens in DID System. Well, add a few more insiders in the mix. Terrified 2 year old who thinks you are there to hurt her, defiant (and terrified) teenager who is bent on making you mad and hurting her as a punishment, and compliant preschool girl who knows how to please you in a sexual way because that’s all she knows. I am sure you get the point. And I am sorry again, if it’s off base.

        I do hope that the day comes soon when your needs and wants will be acknowledged by them and they will give you everything you desire. You deserve it and that day will be sweet.

        Meanwhile, I hope that you will continue to write here. I don’t know if it helps anyone else, but it does help us, even if only for a little while.

        Victoria

      • Sam Ruck
        May 06, 2017 @ 06:10:25

        Hi Victoria,

        thank you for your long and thoughtful reply. Don’t ever be afraid to do so on this blog!

        I truly am sorry for all the painful experiences in your past. I hope you are wrong, and someday you will find a safe person, too. My girls certainly put me to the test at times, too. In the beginning, I knew Alley, the defender, was literally testing me, and it was a painful process until I gained her trust. Most people don’t last because their own needs trump the tests and also trump the needs of the other person. I don’t think I’m better than others who gave up: I’m just kind of the bulldog who won’t give up no matter how much pain I’m in personally because I’m hoping for a win/win solution for the only woman I have ever loved and been with.

        I hope you are correct, and some day my wife will be in a place to acknowledge my needs and wants. I’ve waited 29 years, but I try to remember that she has been in this a lifetime.

        I really do appreciate your comments, Victoria, and I wish you the best and hope some day you are surprised to find a safe and kind person in your life.
        Sam

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