Friday, August 31, 2012

The Beginning of Processing.

I have to say that everyone has difficulties in their lives and no one on the outside can truly understand the burden if they haven't lived it. Parenting trauma is not worse than other things, it is just different. Again, I am sharing my experiences and I am not comparing them to the experiences of others.

It all began in December of 2009.  I didn't realize what the next three years would bring.  I didn't realize the pain, fear, and the near complete emotional collapse that was about to happen. 

All I felt was relief.  Complete and utter relief.  Rosie had been struggling since she moved into our home in 2006.  We felt that we were at the end of our rope.  The verbal assaults, the physical abuse and the complete exhaustion had started to catch up to me.  Parenting a child with RAD and PTSD is tough.  We tried hard core tough love, we tried nurturing tender consequences.  NOTHING helped.  She still had meltdowns that included cruel and manipulative words, physical assaults, and behavior that often sent me off of the edge.  I cried often and was reactive to any advice anyone gave me.  I didn't want to hear it.  I didn't want to hear the good about my daughter because I was so emotionally damaged from parenting her illness that I could not see past her illness.  In December 2009 Rosie was admitted to a psychiatric treatment facility.  This was 5 days before Christmas. 

I was gripped by the sadness of not having her there to open presents with us.  I was devastated by sending her away so close to a major holiday.  I wasn't able to realize that it was best for her.  I needed the time to regroup and get a better plan of treatment for her.  Our family was starting to spiral from the effects of RAD and Trauma.  We were parenting two trauma kids and one needed help that we couldn't give her.

I was relieved the moment we left her at her placement.  I felt such a sense of safety and peace.  This probably isn't the "PC" answer for what you feel when your child is placed outside of your home but it is the honest answer.  I could relax.  It was the first night in over two years that I had a full night sleep.  I was able to put my pjs on early in the evening and didn't have to have everything planned out in case she quickly spiraled.  I was always in reaction mode so to be able to relax was heaven.  She called me every night.  I would see the phone number to the place and I immediately stiffened up.  Our conversations were forced and she often spoke to me aggressively about what I had done to cause this.  I would hang up in tears and I was becoming more bitter with every interaction. 

People tried to be empathetic and they tried to support me.  I was so broken and angry that I couldn't allow them to support me the way I needed them to.  I had developed walls of protection.  When you parent children with RAD you have to develop a hard shell, become detached.  I was a quick learner.  My psychiatrist believes I have developed PTSD from parenting trauma.  Children with RAD and trauma have brains that are not wired like ours.  They had to spend their young lives protecting themselves and surviving because the adults in their lives didn't or couldn't take care of them.  They don't easily trust and therefore feel as though they must always be in control.  It is exhausting.  I can't even explain why these kids do the awful, horrible, disgusting, heart breaking things that they do.  All I know is painful to parent and it is even more painful to watch as the child you love battles this.

My family and friends wanted to support me.  They wanted to be there for me.  I am sure they wanted to love on me and show me they had my back.  I couldn't allow that.  I couldn't handle anymore pain and I didn't want them to see what a huge failure I felt that I was.  They didn't know how to support me because what was happening seemed like it was a Lifetime Movie.   I was too hurt, damaged, traumatized, angry, and too proud to show them how to help me.  (Side note: if someone offers to help LET THEM.  Show them what you need and how they can support you.  They want to help they have no idea how to do it.  Teach them.  Let them love you!) 

My sweet Rosie went on to SIX more placements.  She would be gone for 3 weeks and come home for a week.  Then she was gone again.  No one would listen, no one thought it was as bad as it was....I went to endless was difficult to maintain my job during this time, I am blessed that they stuck with me.  We had to get the state back involved to get the necessary placement and services to stabilize her.  During this period of time we met the woman that would change our lives forever.  Elle was a family stabilization therapist that came into our home.  She was introduced to us by another therapist because of her very in depth knowledge of RAD and Trauma treatment.

Elle came in and my burden became lighter.  She saw Rosie the day she came home from her last placement.  She came to our home for therapy as many times as we needed.  I had her cell phone and she was always there to support us as well as Rosie.   She connected with Rosie where she was.  She was warm and nurturing.  She validated my feelings and supported us.  Her ability to connect with Rosie was the turning point.  She was with us in the thick of some tough stuff in our family.  She was there to support us as a family and as we parented Rosie.  I began to see the good again.  I was able to see my daughter as the beautiful, sweet girl that she is.  It hasn't been easy....she still struggles and we still have to deal with trauma stuff.  BUT she hasn't been hospitalized or required Mobile Crisis services since her last placement  discharge in June of 2010.

This post so went on its own journey.  Allow yourself to have whatever feelings that come up.  It is ok to be angry, hurt, sad, scared or unsupported.  They are your feelings and you need to be able to sit with them and own them.  Allow others to help you, support you and love on you.  They want to be there for you, let them in.  Be kind to yourself.  Don't brow beat yourself.  You are an awesome mom and/or dad!  Own that!  Your child's behavior and RAD diagnosis has nothing to do with your parenting ability.  It is their behavior to own and be responsible for.  Allow yourself to be free of the guilt that you carry.  You are worth taking care of.

Be Well!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I wish I had a TARDIS

I lied.  I am like most aging rock stars....I say my goodbyes and then re-emerge.  Yahoo!!! (say it with me)

I have always prided myself on being honest.  I believe that I must own my truth.  The good and the bad.  The pretty flowers in my journey and the rotten planst that I also pass.  I think there is something vulnerable and magnificent about truth.  Truth stands on its own.  It doesn't need me to change it or make it more palatable.  It is imperfectly beautiful on its own.

I have always tried to respect the wishes of my daughters.  After all, this is my truth as well as theirs.  They live my experiences with me.  We are a beautiful, messy, hurting, healing, happy, angry, fluid family.  We are good times and bad times.  But most of all, we are a family that is still together.   I stopped writing for all of these months at the request of my oldest daughter, who was struggling.  I have started blogging again at the request of my oldest daughter, who is healing.

I suppose I should get to my post name and stop emoting about....well, what was the point of all of that?

In January, I saw the Sherlock Holmes movie.....I had never read any of the books so I had no idea how delicious he was.  This started me on a journey of fabulous british television.  Resulting most recently with my obsession with Dr. Who.  Not all Dr. Whos but The 11th Doctor specifically.  He is wonderful!  I love everything about this character.  I think I have a fictional character crush even.

In the show he has a TARDIS (time travel machine) and he travels throughout all of time and space.  In the show he tells his companions there are fixed events in time and history that cannot be changed and then there are events that can be changed.  Parts of history that can be changed.

I am part of a support group.  It is a wonderfully beautiful group of people that I have come to value very much.  Our leader/moderator (the actual word escapes me) posed a question.  If we could go back and change anything about our adoption journey what would it be.

So, of course, me having the rich imagination that I have....I think of my beloved 11th Doctor.  If the good Doctor could take me into the TARDIS what fluid part of history would I be taken to so I could alter it.  Then I thought about which parts would be fixed times, things I couldn't change.  This is where I overthink things.  (it is a hazard of anxiety and my tendency toward perseverating) 

I wonder exactly which points in my journey are fixed and which could be altered.  I think about the tough times, the REALLY tough times, the laughter, the tears, the stress on my marriage, the cost of relationships with other people, the great emotional and financial expense and I am surprised that there only a few things I would have changed.

The only BIG thing I would change is the effort my husband and I put into our marriage.  We have a great marriage!  I love him very much but there are still bruises and bumps from this crazy journey.  We should have saved more of ourselves for each other and stepped back during the hard times to cling to each other.  More time for romance and intimacy.  We are best friends.  Have been since the minute we met each other.  We spend much of our free time together.  We know how to make each other smile, we sense when the other is hurting.  We fit together magnificently.  But the stress and hard times sucks the life out of us and romance can go out the window!  We have worked hard to reclaim our intimacy and romance in our marriage.  I just feel as though there were years lost because I didn't find value in these things sooner.  We were together, knew we would be forever, so I took for granted these things.  NOT anymore!

I would have started therapy during the adoption process.  I should have had someone to process things as they happened not in the aftermath of parenting trauma.  I would have asked for help so I didn't become withdrawn and bitter.  Perhaps, I wouldn't have lost as many relationships in my life.  Many people that live outside of parenting trauma, only see the bad stuff as who the child is.  They see the hurt and pain the trauma causes you and they aren't able to separate the child from the trauma.  How can I expect others to do this when I, myself, struggle with this sometimes.  I should have been more patient, accepted the help offered and I shouldn't have tried to control how they helped.  People tried to support us but didn't know how to.  I was so focused on feeling as though I was drowning and suffocating under the pressure that I was angry and bitter.  I didn't have the energy to guide them to help me the way I needed.  I know they would have done it, if they knew how to.  Especially if I had helped them.   I continue to have great hope that I can repair these relationships because I am aware of how wonderful the relationships can still be!

I would have told the me of 9 years ago not to be consumed by the trauma.  YES, I know this is a seemingly impossible thing but it can be done.  The trauma isn't WHO my daughters are and it isn't WHO I am.  I lost myself in helping my daughters.  The appointments, the therapies, the meetings, the collaterals, the ER visits, the energy, the hours of energy, it became all consuming.  I should have joined a support group sooner, I should have gone out to dinner with my sister more, I should have developed friendships that didn't center around trauma, I should have read more, taken more walks, done more things that made me happy.  My daughters are survivors and they would have still been ok.  Actually, they should have seen me take care of myself more often.  You can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself.  I am so much happier and healthier now that I take care of myself.  AND you know what?  My girls see the difference in me taking care of myself.

I would have gotten involved with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) sooner!  They have many great references for those living with mental illness and for the caregivers.  I encourage you to check them out!  They are a wonderful organization and can be a wonderful lifeline.

I am sure you notice what I didn't want to change....I wouldn't change my daughters or our journey together.  They are beautiful young women.  Our life together has been perfect.  This journey has SUUUUUUUUCKED sometimes.  It has been very, very hard.  I have cried many tears, I have lost so much sleep, I have suffered losses myself, I have gone broke to help them and I don't regret any of it.  Man, it was painful and I was very ANGRY for a long time but I am happy we stuck it out.  There will continue to be struggles and pain, what would life be without them?  The hard times have taught me about my own resiliency, my own strength, my voice, my own awesomeness.  I always wanted a purpose, I wanted a way to change the world around me.  Parenting them has given me the voice I needed to change the world around me.  I have also met some of the most amazing people and now call them my friends because of this journey.

The thing is.......we can always change now!  Everyday is a new opportunity for new beginnings.  I don't have to go back to fix things.  I have a new chance to change things every day.  I don't need to change the past because I can change the future. 

Sorry Doctor but I won't be needing the TARDIS after all.

Monday, February 6, 2012


As of today, I am closing this blog....Thank you for those that have read my words...You have helped me more than you will ever know.....

Queen Mommy