Monthly Archives: August 2018

Another 12 Step Program?

IMG_2303OK, at wit’s end again.  How am I supposed to deal with a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder?  And, of course, how am I supposed to deal with an adult child with Reactive Attachment Disorder?  Just as we transition from grade to grade during the school years, we now transition from program to program to help him in the adult years and I’m beginning to believe that we need to transition from therapy model to therapy model to continue.

I knew how to parent…or at least had things to try when he was a child.  There were simply things that a parent could not allow a child to do, but now he is an adult and the line has gotten fuzzy.  Today, I’ve hit a new low and have sought out help from a pamphlet titled, “So You Love An Alcoholic.”  Since nothing else had worked, I thought I’d give this a try.  I ‘ve decided to customize it for Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Again, these ideas are not my own, so credit goes to Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.

Reactive Attachment Disorder is an illness. The first thing for you to acknowledge, believe, accept is that children who have reactive attachment disorder suffer from a real sickness – a sickness which affects all those close to them.  The AMA and many authorities the world over declare the Reactive attachment sufferer has an illness over which he or she has no control. It is not caused by weakness of will, immorality or a desire to hurt others. Once you have accepted the idea that Reactive Attachment Disorder is a sickness form which compulsive children and those who care about them can find release, you will have no reason to be ashamed of it – no reason to fear it.

Learn the Facts. Wipe your mental slate clean of everything you think you know about it. Then apply yourself to a learning program. You can get valuable first-hand knowledge about RAD by attending an open support meeting. Don’t hesitate because you feel you are a stranger; anyone is welcome who is interested in the problem of RAD. Talk to members after the meeting; you can discuss your difficulties with the people you meet there.

Help Yourself Now. Don’t wait to seek help  Anyone whose family has suffered from the effects of RAD knows the constant emotional strains and pressures and needs help in relieving these.  Nothing will give you greater relief than the understanding and warm-hearted help you will find in a Support Group meeting. There you will, as one member put it, “learn to live again.” The members are compassionate, well-informed and have first-hand knowledge of problems just like yours because they have them too! Conversations with people who share your problems will convince you emotionally – as your investigations may have convinced you intellectually – that RAD is a disease, not a sin. Sharing this knowledge can help you begin your own recovery.

Some Important “Don’ts”

Don’t treat the sufferer like a child; you wouldn’t if he or she were suffering from some other disease. Don’t check up on them to see how much they are offending; Don’t search for offenses; Don’t put temptations away, they can always find ways to get more; Don’t nag them about their issues; Don’t preach, reproach, scold or enter into quarrels.

If you can bring yourself to avoid these things, you’ll be well on the way to a more comfortable frame of mind. All these Don’ts have good sound reasons that grew out of many people’s experience. RADs suffer from feelings of guilt beyond anything the non-RAD can imagine. Reminding them of failures, neglect of family and friends and social errors is all wasted effort. It only makes the situation worse.

The “if you loved me” approach is likewise futile. Remember the RAD is compulsive in nature and cannot be controlled by willpower. Equally useless are promises, coaxing, arguments and threats. Sometimes a crisis can convince the RAD of the need for help- the loss of a job, an accident or an arrest.  Steel yourself against coddling and overprotectiveness at such a time. The crisis may be necessary for recovery. Do nothing to prevent such a crisis from happening. The suffering you are trying to ease by such actions may be the very thing needed to bring the RAD to a realization of the seriousness of the situation – literally a blessing in disguise.

Remember, the whole family may have slips and set-backs Don’t take them seriously. Believe that a firm foundation for recovery has been laid. If you feel that either of you has made mistakes, learn from them and forget them. Let go of the disappointments and setbacks and push forward!

The way ahead is not always easy, but it can be full of rich rewards in a satisfying life for you and those you love.

Oh if I could only heed this advice.  Today, it’s a challenge! In a final attempt to find peace in my day, I turned to today’s date in the One Day At A Time In Al-Anon book. “Does the voice of God have a chance to be heard over my angry shouting? What is the purpose of letting myself fly apart in reckless tantrums? To relieve my pent-up feelings? Today’s Reminder: I cannot punish anyone without punishing myself.  The release of my tensions, even if it seems justified, leaves dregs of bitterness behind. Unless I have deliberately decided that my relationship has no further value in my life, I would do well to consider the long-range benefits of quiet acceptance in times of stress.”

Ouch.  Just Ouch.

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“How shall you punish those whose remorse is already greater than their misdeeds?”

–Kahlil Gibran: The Prophet

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Shaking My Head Again

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Shaking my head again…there are just things that happen that can’t be explained.  The care God and others have over my son is one of them. Yesterday, we were at our river house. The river was high and muddy from some recent rain so my husband and I decided to do some inside maintenance. He assembled bunk beds while I read a good book, but I was only an arm’s length away if he required assistance. (Which he did only once or twice for a couple of minutes.) But anyway, we were inside “working” while Paul was fishing on the dock. That boy loves to fish! He has spent hours this summer with a pole in his hand and a smile on his face.

Right as my husband was assembling Step 7A bolt into step 7A nut as listed on the IKEA instructions, Paul came in and stands at the bedroom door soaking wet.  After my initial, “Move! You’re making a puddle and I’ll slip and fall!” it dawned on me that my kid had been in the swift river.

“What?!”

Paul calmly says, “Let’s start with the good news. I’m safe and I got my chair but the bad news is that I lost my travel mug and ball cap.”

“What?!”

While he was standing on the dock, his chair blew into the water, he jumped in sans life jacket to retrieve it. He was quickly swept away with his chair in his hands (hard to swim when you are grasping your favorite fishing chair.) He realized he wasn’t going to be able to swim back to our dock so he floated downstream and got out at a neighbor’s dock. Aaaaah. Safe. Another disaster thwarted.

“Thank God you are safe. You have angels looking over you all the time buddy, do you realize that?”

“Yeah, but that was my favorite hat. Uncle Gary gave it to me last year from his work and he won’t be able to get another one since the plant closed.”

“Let’s focus on the good stuff. You are safe.”

“And my mug. It’s the only one I’m allowed to use on the bus and I was going to take it to camp this week. Can I borrow yours?”

“Sure.” (I love loaning my stuff to the kid who as you can see takes incredibly good care of all of his belongings. Insert sarcasm here.) Remember, you are very lucky! You are safe!”

“I know, but I think I’ll pout a while about the hat and mug.”

Oh, brother. I return to assisting George when I hear Paul talking to someone in the yard. I go out to see a man handing Paul his missing hat and mug. It seems this man was fishing on his dock about 1/2 mile downstream when the hat and mug floated by. He “wasn’t going to risk his life to go after it, but it went right by his dock” so he grabbed it. Paul’s fishing license was still attached and he said, “Well, I know where this kid lives.” Of course he does! Everyone knows Paul.

Our river house sits on a 1 mile stretch of the river with houses, camps, and campsites 3 deep in some places. We know very few of our neighbors, but the whole stretch knows Paul. Probably from a previous rescue mission.

After the bunk beds were completed, George and I took a bike ride. We left Paul to fish (with a life vest on!) and we took a little ride. On the way back a neighbor about 5 houses away called out to us for a visit. We stopped by and shared our most recent Paul story. John and his wife Chris have many of their own Paul stories. John started sharing some of his experiences with another couple that was there. We laughed. It’s always easy to laugh at these tales after time. (Not so easy to laugh while they are occurring.) John said, “Paul is going to be all right. He’s a survivor.” I commented that he will survive, but will his parents? We shouted out our appreciation to John for friending Paul and that it “takes a village.”

George admitted that a good sense of humor helps. As we were leaving, the new guy said, “I never met him, but I know I’d love him.” Shaking my head and smiling, I was assured of two things. He will get to meet him and he will love him. Everyone does.

As Paul ages, his special needs do too. I think he will always require some aid from others. (Don’t we all?) As he nears 20 years of age, I’ve been struggling with letting go, but meeting the angels who look out for Paul helps. There are so many stories like today’s story. Not just the part of him being kept safe in the water, but the bonus gift of the returned hat.

Paul isn’t’ just surviving as the Maker of Earth watches over him, he is thriving. I think it’s time for this Mom to back up a bit, resign as the Mayor and just become part of the village. I can attest to how God has used the village in the past and I look forward to being a part of it.

This Villager, however, will be enforcing a Life Vest Ordinance more often!

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