Confusion. Frustration. Pain. Anger. All emotions I feel way too often regarding my RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) kid. Today I feel hurt…utter hurt.
Last evening, he rushed into the room and asked if he could go for ice cream with a friend of his. He seemed surprised when my answer was “yes” and he rushed out the door full of excitement. We had just spent a couple of hours having dinner and meeting with someone from his Independent Living group discussing how he could earn the right to move from his upstairs bedroom to our basement apartment. All natural steps for this season of transition.
He returned from his trip to the ice cream shop, tossed his empty milkshake cup into the garbage can and gave me a good night hug. He said, “Can you feel me shaking?” and I answered, “Probably too much ice cream.” As he left the room he quoted what he quotes every night as he heads up the stairs:
“Good Night. Sleep Tight. Wake up bright in the morning light to do what’s right with all your might. Good Night. Don’t let the Bedbugs bite.”
I stopped him and told him that he had to mean what he says more often. “Make good choices; do what’s right.” He went up the stairs and got a bath. An hour passed and I realized his phone wasn’t in the charging station like it should be. He is not permitted to have his phone in the bathroom as he has had more than one phone “fall” in the tub(maybe 8?). (Only RAD parents/therapists would understand this phenomenon of intentionally ruining possessions because you feel you are unworthy of actually owning them.) Anyhow, his phone was missing. When I asked him about it, he assured me it was in his pants pocket. It wasn’t. Must be on the dresser. No. Maybe downstairs? No. Lies, lies, lies. I calmly suggested that he had it in the tub with him and he said, “I had to call a couple of people because I was in a car accident.”
Yep. He was in a car accident and he returned home and didn’t mention it. Why? Only God knows for sure, but we can speculate. His mental illness makes him want to handle things all by himself. His neglect until the age of 22 months makes him think that his parents won’t respond appropriately to his needs. His needs weren’t met when he was a baby, so they probably won’t be met at the age of 18. He doesn’t want parents and he will spend a lifetime proving that to himself and others.
That hurts! Soon we will be attending his graduation ceremony and baccalaureate and we will be sitting next to parents who have tears in their eyes as they think about separating from their children in this phase of life. We, too, will have tears in our eyes as we doubt that there ever was any connection to separate from. We have spent 16 years trying to create a bond and though we’ve had glimpses of hope that it could happen, we’ve seen evidence of the fact that it hasn’t. We’ve certainly tried. And, we need to accept that the separation we will be mourning at graduation will be the separation of our dreams from our reality. Even with our best efforts, we have been unable to get our son to trust us. We have been unable to repair the damage created by his first set of parents. We have never been the one he’s called out to in a time of need….and we probably never will.
It hurts. It hurts to realize that I am not alone. There are many hurting parents raising hurting children. Children who may never accept a parent’s love. It hurts. Yet, to those of you who my son has called instead of me when he needed a parent, I thank you. I pray you haven’t judged me or thought that I didn’t want to be the recipient of the call and I continue to pray that you will give him good advice. Thank you for being someone he can trust.“Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” — 2 Corinthians 1:3-4