I am so struggling.
My oldest daughter is 5 months away from graduating and leaving home. There is a dynamic in the house that is significant because she is here. The combination of us both has created a further pattern.
My daughter had been severely abused as a young girl so she has a disorder called “Reactive Attachment Disorder” (RAD) . I got her when she was 7….and I was unfamiliar with such a disorder..it took me a couple years to figure out her extensive damage and then by the time all that came out, hearings, ect and all of that I took her to several therapists to work on her behavior issues. As a mom I knew there was something amiss…but I didn’t know. We finally got her to a specialist after God brought me to people who had adopted children with these same issues…and shared the name “RAD” with me. There are a few key items…( at least with mine…)
1. I got her diagnosis at age 13. They told us once they reach age 13 it’s pretty set and we can’t change it. I know my God is greater than that….but I realize there was really nothing I could do. This is something she will have to recognize as an adult and correct her patterns of behavior herself.
2. She can’t accept love ( well limited amounts). Children learn ( well all people actually) through one of three ways Love , information and pain. my daughter learns absolutely everything through pain…and she can’t just learn it the hard way once .She seems to have to experience the pain several times and then she will get it. She will use the love we give her to manipulate us and try to gain things she wants…which never fill her void. Children with attachment issues can’t attach properly to anyone…this is so difficult for people to understand who are not around this ALL the time. This is exactly why we need to love our babies and protect them. It creates a lifetime battle for everyone involved if this doesn’t happen early. So people outside of the home see her as very sweet, kind and charming. They don’t know the pain she has underneath….and that she will manipulate them with those very things.
3. She is untrustworthy because she lies and manipulates. The first rule in counseling with a RAD kid is don’t let them stay with any doctor alone…because they will lie and manipulate. Pulling the records of all her previous therapists..was pretty eye opening…yes indeed she lied about several things. She lies to all of our family, friends and teachers. So many people think we are the worst parents…so we have had to hold our heads high and ask God to protect us because there is no way we can go and un-do everything she says about us….it would be a full-time job.
4. She is a forever victim. She wont let her self survive or thrive. She likes the victim role.
So those are the key struggles we have had to face while raising her.
Now the pattern that has been created because of my issues. As much as she wants to control her situation and control and manipulate everyone around her..she has the QUEEN BEE of a MOM …who has her own issues of control. I grew up in a completely chaotic environment. I grew up with crazy parents and an unstable mother. My number one priority has always been to be a good mom. I LOVE my children so much and I have this need to protect them. In fact I protect them so much I have been a helicopter parent ( you know the one who comes to the rescue) and I have not let them experience so much outside of our watch because I have an unhealthy fear of what may happen to them. Once I reason that they will be OK…I have the oldest child that is not safe from herself. I am just sure I could let all of my 5 younger children out of my site and they will mostly make good choices. Anytime we have let my oldest out and tried to let her expand her wings…she does something very detrimental to herself..or others. Then she acts like she has no idea why we are upset. Even though we have talked to her several times and we lay out the ground rules ahead of time. After years of therapy our therapist basically said we just have to get her through high school, into college and let go..and then let God. We weren’t going to be able to train her…or change her patterns at this time. She will have to start to recognize them and take initiative to do it herself..and frankly her brain is not developed enough. She misses milestones and what not. So now we are approaching this stage of transition.
I keep associating transition with the word labor.
When you are pregnant and you go through Lamaze classes you learn that transition is the worst part of labor pain…but shortly after transition you will have the best gift…your child. This wonderful moment that will have made transition so worth the pain.
In this case……it’s not the same. My heart is so broken. I have to send my troubled child into a harsh world. I have to send this child who I have loved and tried to help & protect. I have to send this child with a piece of my heart into a dark place. Where is the gift after this transition? Where are the smiles? Somehow is doesn’t seem worth all the blood, sweat and tears. I just see constant pain because I will no longer be able to protect her…I will no longer be able to save her. There will be a different pain because to sit and watch your child suffer and not be able to do anything is so difficult. I refuse to enable her….or handicap her. So I have to let her free will be the cause of her growth. We all stumble and falter…..but she is going to have a much more difficult time. I know there are several parents out there that have had to deal with much worse than I….and there will be many of you who identify with me.
At the same time I see how she will bring other people into her life and hurt them. That is also difficult to watch…but also not really my responsibility to get in the way. So again….just sit idly by watching the carpet roll out.
Then there is the part of me that is relieved. I feel guilty about this in some ways. Relieved that she will be out of our home. It won’t be in our face everyday haunting us…waiting for the other shoe to drop because we can just never be two steps ahead of her. But this is my normal…and to think that my normal will change at her great consequence…doesn’t seem to be just at all. I have this engrained thing within me ( as most moms do) to sacrifice myself to make it better for my children. But I know I can’t do that forever…or I wouldn’t be a good mom. If anything in my life gives me the greatest joy it is to be a good mom. Not perfect mom..not the best mom….just a good mom. My heart just aches. I feel the loss coming. The loss of our life as we know it ( good or bad) and the loss of my daughters innocence ( in several ways) and the loss of control. I never really had the control to begin with…..so it shouldn’t be something that I grieve…but somehow I am.
I know I will have transition 5 more times as each child leaves our home ( I am not saying that will be the only transitions). I know none of them will be easy for me. Just due to the nature of the transition…and how much we are involved with our family. But I think this is going to hit me harder than all of them ( except maybe Clarissa because she is the last one). It’s going to hit me harder because she is so special, and wounded…she is the oldest and this is uncharted territory.
I find myself riddled in fear and trying to hang on. It makes me CRAZY. I need to let go. What is the key? I trust God. I know he loves her more than me. Why do I keep dropping this at the foot of the cross and snatching it back? Why can’t I just let go? I know there will be a great lesson when I do. In the deepest part of my mind I dream of a miracle that she will not have the same struggles…that she will have her moment of clarity and she will go on her intended mission. I cry just thinking about how GREAT our God is and that he can do that for her…if she lets him. If she lets him.
So I know several parents have been through this…whether you have a special needs child or not. In 6 months my life will be completely different and this post will seem like it was a million miles before…..but it is good to be able to get it out…to later reflect and then use this growth pain/lesson for good.
I think this verse is a good one for me:
Philippians 4: 6-7
”Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I am so thankful that God brought her to me. I got to be her mom for this short time. When she decides to love herself…I know God will do good things with her and bless her. He didn’t want her to struggle or be so wounded. She is beautiful. Her heart is beautiful underneath the pain. She has the ability to spread love and light if she wants to. I can see her potential….I have many dreams for her as all moms have for their children. God brought her to me …because he knew I could/would love and protect her. He knew I would work for her and sacrifice for her. He has blessed me abundantly in the process. He has answered so many of my prayers. Now I have to trust him to do the same. I want the peace that transcends all understanding. I need to let him do his glorious works….in all of us involved.
Thank you for listening. Thanks for letting me sort it all out once again.