Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Putting trauma on hold

I want to start with the good. I forget to focus on the steps we HAVE made in our home. If you don't do that, you just get really discouraged. There has been good. There has been AMAZING, as well.

Nine months ago my two kids from trauma fought constantly.

When I say constantly, it's not like when moms smart off about their kids bickering a lot. I mean CONSTANTLY. They could not be in the same room together - literally - could not without fighting. We had rules on how close they could be at the table with my husband and I right there. Even then, they could not say one word to one another. Couldn't look at each other without it starting. It was gasoline on fire.

Again, I'm not exaggerating in the way that we do about our emotionally healthy kids. It was completely unreal, and most days the only way to control it was through complete separation. To give them some space to create a new normal.

Today the two of them sat with their brother and played a game of Star Wars Monopoly. No one yelled. There was frustration. There was whining. There were a few moments of "Wait a minute! You can't do that?!" Yet, neither of my healing kids completely lost it with one another. There are still so many little constant things, but on days like today, I have to look that one square in the face. I have to remember how our boundaries have changed because they can handle each other much more now than ever in their lives.

The older brother will deny it to the grave, but By-George, they LIKE each other!

As you already know, one of my attaching kids had a rough time the other day, which culminated in some really great openness and progress. The stress level of our home (obviously) was high as that all played out. Combine that with the fact that tomorrow is a sibling's birthday, and well, my OTHER healing/attaching kid did NOT want to be left out of the drama.

It was a long day. It ended in a very long sit down with Mom and Dad. So many things were said. So many attacks were made. So many attempts to hurt me were catapulted my way. Late this evening, as things were winding down, we talked about the birthday tomorrow, and the stress of last week. I looked at my child with loving eyes and a soft smile as I said, "I'm not going anywhere. I will do whatever I need to do as a mom so that it is easier for you to get better."

Hint of defiance returned. "I think I'd rather just get better when I'm older."

Translation: this is too hard. I'll just serve my time with you guys, and stop all this controlling stuff once I'm out of the house.

I picture this child in an office one day, "Mary, could you clear my schedule for Wednesday and make an appointment with an Trauma Therapist? I've decided to heal now."

It was a weird feeling I had. I was sad to know that it is so scary and so painful for my kid to even imagine loving me and being loved by me. I felt deprived. I felt rejected. I wondered if my kid would always feel this way, or if they would ever choose to bond with me. Yet, then I was overwhelmed with sympathy.

"Honey, the best and most productive way to get better, and to heal when you have attachment issues, is to attach to your parents."

My kid looked up at my husband with an expression that said, "OMG, is she serious???" Husband was giving a very loving and sympathetic smile and nodding. This child looked back at me, mouth hanging open. They were mortified. MORTIFIED! They thought they had found the loophole. Just wait it out. Do it later when it wouldn't involve this person that is such a threat - this relationship that is so terrifying.

I gently talked about the possible scenarios if we don't keep moving forward with healing. I also gave the reminder that if they woke up one day when they are 35 and decided it was time to attach and bond, that I'd be right there waiting.

I said, "I bet I can read your mind right now."

Huff. Puff. Rolling of eyes. "What?"

"You're thinking, 'Man, this SUCKS!'"

And we ended with laughter and smiles and my child grinning when they agreed with me.

Tomorrow my healing kids will not be allowed to ruin or dominate their sister's birthday. Yet, they will probably try. They will probably have a gazillion do-overs. They will probably spend some time in their rooms.

Ah well. It will give them some extra time to think, "Man, this sucks!" I'll just say again what I said tonight: "It could be worse. You could have a really gross and smelly mom!"

(photo by Doru Lupeanu)


Ericka said...

I'm SO glad I'm not the only one who has this scenario. Truly, I thought I did.
My two sons literally can not be in the same room most days.
It is beyond frustrating and confusing for me. (they are bio if that makes any difference).
I don't get it.
Really. I don't.
It drives me....crazy.....
I"m so glad some progress was made....there is some light at the end of the tunnel.....
Happy Birtday dear Rad-ish :)

Brenda said...

Are you talking about your life or mine? We just made it through 2 birthdays. Exhausting. It is sad to say its a relief when the birthdays are past. BUT as you said, on a positive note, Taz handled his own birthday pretty well which is unusual.

Lisa said...

You are such a great mom!!!!!

Christine said...


I have one RADish that enjoys their own birthday and wigs out on everyone else's. The other does fine on everyone else's and explodes before, on and after their own.

And in the spirit of RAD, I'm sure that will change over the years - to keep us guessing. :)

Brenda said...

Well, Bear apparently punched Taz in the mouth on the way to school this morning so it is not over yet.

Shan said...

I know that you have to be so much stronger when they are old enough to say things that hurt your feelings. If only there were an insult proof suit you could wear when you know there will be bad days.

My boy being a very immature six, can't stay at school when there is a party. The principal actually asks me to come and get him every time he's been so out of control. The last two weeks before Christmas he was like their very own T-Rex mascot wreaking havoc on the place. I had plans to take him out and discontinue all therapies after the break but he returned to school and acting more adjusted than ever and everyone looking at the data realized he HAD been improving- we had just all been clouded by the Christmas crazies.
On his birthday in Nov. he was totally naughty and even tried to lay on his cake and squish it flat before the party started. At the party he couldn't have been more charming. So strange!!!

Do hang in there and know that we all think you are just doing fabulously!!! You are so strong for getting so few breaks from all of that action!! It seems like it HAS to be God giving you this ability and that is also inspiring. And yes, celebrate that b-day girl whether you have to keep the RAD's otherwise occupied or not! :D xo

Simply Moms said...

Yeah...ditto again.

Have you ever tried giving time-outs/ins in the same room? A chair in the corner or just the plain corner.....where they can see all the action of the family around them. We've tried it....mostly because we realized that what Girlie wants most of the times is to be isolated....stewing about what a horrible family she has. Her isolation jsut reitorates that she's different/picked on/unloved. This is easier accomplished if she's off by herself in her room...where the stories are exaggerated in her favor in her head/heart. But when she is around us...in the same room....we hope she notices that we are actually a fun loving bunch....enjoying one another etc. Eating, laughing, watching films, playing games, getting homework help etc.

Yeah, and sometimes for the sake of everyone else....we just do the "go to your room" thing.
:) Dawn

Christine said...


Alone time is never the norm for my RADishes (please don't think I make a habit of isolating my kids with AD - quite the contrary).

For the sake of my kids' privacy ... well, yes, being sent alone to a room is for um .... er ... the benefit of others. Can't really go into more details.

Nuff said? ;)

Christine said...

Out of curiosity--- since you tell them that they have attachment disorder do you call them your little radish too?

Diana said...

My 2 RADical children can't be left alone with each other either. They either fight to the point of hurting each other as soon as I turn my back or they get so hyper and obnoxious that they can't settle down...which still results in nothing positive and them getting in trouble.

Hmmm...I can't say as I've ever been quite so forthright with my kids about them having an actual attachment disorder. To some extent, yes, but not nearly to the extent that you describe here. I'll be interested to know how all the fall-out goes with that one. I think my kids would end up in an out-of-this-world blatent rage if I told them what you told yours!

Christine said...

Christine - ha! No, I don't refer to them as RADishes, because that's blog vernacular. I don't call them by their blog nicknames at home. Their nicknames keep their real names private. "RADish" or the like helps my readers to know to whom I'm referring. I call my gal with Tourettes my Twitchy Gal, etc. Call my five-year-old the Thorn in My Side (HA! I'm so kidding ... sort of). I also bust my butt to never identify the gender of the RADish I'm referring to, because my kids ask me not to. They don't mind me sharing things, but they don't want them to be TOTALLY identified by our friends that read my blog. That way, they can always say I'm talking about the other! ha! Clever kids.

Diana, you certainly couldn't have this kind of conversation with, say, a five year old. Yet, my kids are 12 and 9. Both my RADishes are also on different levels of attachment. I have been their main caregiver and teacher for nine months (and four days!!). We have covered a LOT of ground. You have to know your kids ... know what they can handle and WHEN they can handle it (the end of our conversation last night could not have happened until that moment in time - had to tune in to my child's breathing, eyes, facial countenance, etc.).

It never looks like the situation above with my other RADish. Like ... never! Not even close.

Sounds like you know that neither of your kids could handle that level of discussion. One day, but certainly not yet. :)

Wes and Jessica said...

Hi Christine! I just found your page while looking for some changes to make to my homemade dishwasher detergent, and I am fortunate to have happened across so much more. I love your blog, and I will visit frequently. Your faith in God and heart for children is so evident. I don't know much about RAD, but I am certainly interested in learning more. Thank you for making your life and experiences public...so we can all learn.


familygregg said...

I'm so tempted to do the "go to your room" thing 100 million times a day. In fact...she's in her room right now....isolated and alone and pouting about how much she was right about us. I don't care much at all right this very moment. Not one little bit. I do not want her in the same room as me. Not one little bit.

And please don't take my comment as a suggestion w/any judgement attached. Time ins....time outs...isolation...inclusion... we have tried everything we can possibly think of and have zero answers for anyone. Only suggestions that may or may not work for a while. The truth is....we might possibly make her stay in the same room w/us while we are having fun just to add a little torture to her day??????? Is is horrible to admit that?

This is why I need a Savior.

Christine said...

Oh, Dawn.

I soooooooooo get you!!!!

Sometimes the only way to NOT let your RADish know that their behavior is getting to you is to make them go away. Like the lesser of two evils. Last night, one of our kids went to their bed at 7 pm. Bedtime is at 9 pm. The direct defiance could have sent my husband and I through the roof. He was wonderful, "I love you. I am very upset with your decision. We love you very much. We need you to get ready for bed and stay in your bed for the rest of the evening. Again, we love you."

I could not say a word. Just stood there with my eye twitching and blood boiling.

I constantly change consequences. The bad choices that RECEIVE consequences never change, but the result of those consequences are constantly rotated - based on "keeping them guessing," keeping me from completely losing my mind, keeping them from becoming immune to a consequence, keeping me from completely losing my mind, making the consequence more appropriate to the offense, and - of course - keeping me from completely losing my mind.

That's one of those things that is so backward when it comes to parenting RAD. The average parent just doesn't get it or understand it.

Well, that and the whole starting back on birth control pills has put "keeping me from losing my mind" back at the top of the list. :)

Troy & Tara Livesay said...

God's grace must be enough... amazing. This stuff is so hard and sad. I love you!

I am tired now, I need a nap.

Sara said...

Oh Christine! That must have been one tough conversation!!!! I'm glad he/she was ready for it. Laying the ground work man...that's one big brick in his/her healing road!!

truevyne said...

I feel like you pulled a page out of the book of my life...