Category Archives: Trauma-mama

ADHD, PDD-NOS, OCD, RAD, CP, SPD, ODD, ETC

Gorgeous Christmas Card Photos

IMG_2442They arrived yesterday.  The Christmas card photos.  Gorgeous families that I am blessed to call friends.  There were no notes, just photos of smiles and Christmas scenery emitting feelings of joy and peace. I know these families.  Some of these families are indeed celebrating the season with joy and peace.  Their children are young and would make every day special.  The twinkle in their eyes is sincere and they will indeed be awestruck come Christmas morning.  The others, though, are not quite as fortunate.  Some of them have been transparent with me this year and have allowed me to know that behind the superficial smile on their child’s face is a deeply troubled soul who causes havoc in the family. These kids have troubles.  These parents have troubles.  But, for an afternoon, they tried to get all the personalities represented in the photo to cooperate and to smile.  I don’t know how much blood, sweat, and tears went into this photo shoot, but I do know that in the end, it was worth it.

The ones who are not dealing with mental illness will laugh at the antics their kids did while trying to get the perfect picture and the ones who are dealing with mental illness will cling to the photo that represents a tiny bit of normalcy in an otherwise chaotic home. I hope that the struggling parents will feel a sense of accomplishment in actually getting a photo that can be sent out to others and I hope the “typical” parents can treasure and appreciate the gift of happy children.

I thank them all for sending the cards to me.  I will display them all season and I will pray for them.  I will pray that the holidays do bring them joy and peace. I will pray the same for my family….with or without a gorgeous Christmas Card photo shoot.

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Understanding

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I visited a cardiologist this week and was diagnosed with PVCs (Premature ventricular contractions.) The doctor took a lot of time with me and attempted to explain the complicated heart and ventricle electrical system.  Even with his drawings and lengthy description I didn’t understand.  And, I decided that I didn’t need to understand, but he did and I told him so.  I didn’t think there was a chance that I’d understand in a short office visit all the intricate things he learned during medical school.  I was comforted by the amount of information he had and his full understanding of it.

4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

—Proverbs 3:4-6 NIV

In the doctor’s office, I decided to not lean on my understanding and it was a relief. The following day, I had lunch with my friend.  She has spent the last 7 months dealing with breast cancer and surgeries. She is an adoptive mom friend of mine who adopted because she was unable to have biological children of her own due to cancer in her youth. She adopted two children from hard places (aka foster care, trauma, unknown backgrounds) who have serious mental health issues and her life is anything but easy. She shared with me that the doctors said her cancer may return within two years and possibly it will return in her lungs. She said this and then went on to describe the temper tantrum her boys had the day before, the calls from the school and how both kids have been acting up due to the added stress in the family.  Kids from trauma facing potentially more trauma is a bad combination.

On my way home from lunch, I was talking with God and wondering why she had to face so much.  I don’t know anything about living with cancer, but I do know about parenting kids from hard places and I know the struggles she faces daily with that.  Couldn’t God just heal those boys and allow some peace in her home?  I know He could, but why won’t He?  And, why won’t He now so she can focus on her health? I just don’t understand. That’s right.  I don’t understand.  And, guess what else?  I don’t need to.  “Lean not on my own understanding, acknowledge him and he will make my paths straight.” Again, I don’t need to understand, I just have to place my friend into the hands of the one who does.  As much as I trust my cardiologist’s understanding, I trust God more. There is definitely comfort and relief in that!

 

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Psalm 5 – Rad

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I’m sure you’ve heard of many Scripture versions, the KJV (King James Version), the NIV (New Internation Version), etc.  Though no one can say for sure, there are about 900 versions of God’s Word, but I bet you’ve never heard of this one:  The RADmom.  Yes, The Reactive Attachment Disorder mom’s version, but trust me, it is very real.  It is like no other.

This morning started with  my RAD son (I know, politically correct I should say, “My son, who happens to have RAD,” but not today.  No PC in me today.)  Anyhow, the morning started with him waking groggy after about 2 hours of sleep.  I don’t know why he is not sleeping, but it was a struggle for him to stay awake long enough to get dressed for school.  I sent an email to the teachers saying that we have a doctor’s appointment soon to see if there is a med error and he got on the bus.  I was looking forward to a day alone with nothing but my thoughts and hopefully some paper to write them down.  I decided to throw in a load of laundry and that’s when it happened.  That’s when the RAD in our home took over.  Even without him here, he leaves a big wake!

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My washing machine was full of one pair of pants (who does that? Washes one pair of pants?) about four packs of gum sans the wrappers which were already stuck to the side of the drum, a can of beef jerky & some other indescribable items. I attempted to scrape the gum off the sides with no luck, so I threw my hands up and had a good cry.  Well, a mini cry, I guess. I phoned my husband and started sending texts to his teachers (who have been teaching him to do laundry for a couple of years,) and I took my own advice that I mentioned before in a blog post and I called a friend who would make me laugh.  Well, actually, I texted her and her goofed-up voice texting back while driving made me laugh out loud.  I attempted to regroup and then was faced with another pesky annoyance.  Where would my help come from?! My help comes from the Lord as I am reminded in Psalm 54:4 (Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.)

So I turn on some random instrumental praise music and the first song is Hallelujah.  Not feeling that so I skip ahead to the next random song and a Piano plays a tune titled, “Psalm 5.”  I decided to turn to Psalm 5 in my Bible and I was blessed as I was able to hear from God.  I’ll share from Psalm 5 – RADmom.
5:1-5   Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing . (O Lord, what the heck?!) Listen to my cry for help, (What am I supposed to do? Help me out here!) my King and my God, for to you I pray. (Well, I’m not talking to myself!) In the morning I lay my requests before you (I need to get some laundry done) & wait in expectation. (Do you want me to get laundry done?) You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; (You didn’t want this gum stuck in my dryer) with you the wicked cannot dwell. (So if I want your help I better not start screaming and swearing!) The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; (Wow Lord, I’m humbled, I can’t even do my laundry without crying out to you.) you hate all who do wrong. (Keep me biting my tongue!)
5:7-8 But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; (I will open my Bible and visit you.) in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple. (My shaking head becomes a bowed head.) Lead me, O Lord, (What am I supposed to do next)in your righteousness (What’s the right thing to do?)because of my enemies–(That stinking sticky gum!)--make straight your way before me. (Don’t let me waste the entire day on this mess.)
5:11 But let all who take refuge in you (who sit at the kitchen table with an open Bible and open ears) be glad; let them ever sing for joy. (Lalalalalala) For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; (You will allow me to move on.) you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (You will make sure that someone checks their pockets next time.)

My hope is truly found in the Lord and the Lord alone.  Only he can understand my joys and my sorrows even if today it is only gum stuck in a washing machine. He will make my paths straight and today I think He knew my hope and joy would be found in spending a little more time with Him.  Now, unfortunately, I think he wants me to go back to the basement and try again.

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“Gotcha Day”

confetti-celebration-background-colorful-vector-illustration-43624485In my family, we don’t celebrate what many in the adoption world call “Gotcha Day.”  We celebrate our kids’ birthdays, but we don’t celebrate the actual adoption day because we were a family long before the courts announced that we were.  Many families who adopt out of foster care feel the same way.  The actual adoption day is so full of emotions and not all of them should be celebrated.  So many years, the date and day go unnoticed by me, but today I noticed.  Six years ago today was our final adoption day for K.  She would love to be hosting a party tonight, but instead, it’s business as usual with her at a dance lesson, her dad out hunting, her brother watching TV and the sun rising and setting the same as it always does.  So, though I won’t celebrate, today, since I noticed, I will reflect.  I dug out my journal and thought I’d share:

10-3-11           K’s ADOPTION DAY.  Oh Lord, my house is full. All of my family safe and sound under one roof. What a blessing. What a gift.  Today is Kaylee’s adoption day and I am full of emotions. I’m nervous, excited, scared and still a tad worried.  What a journey this has been.  There have been times when I’ve held a broken K and cried, there have been hugs to reassure her return, there have been days of crying in my closet refusing to eat. So, today we rejoice. Help me Lord to be a witness to you. Help me be grateful in all circumstances. Help me to witness to you. Let your light shine through and let this day be a celebration. Bring JOY to this family and healing to K.            *** Wrote the above and then read the Upper Room.  “In the same way your light must shine before people so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven. — Matt 5:16 TEV Thought for the day: People are watching. What will my example inspire?”

“Your example will inspire others.”

It is my prayer that I’ve set a good example for others and that I have been a good witness in this continuing journey.  Let’s all try to make our examples inspire others!

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Act Your Age

 

050d337f78b2af662959ccccb8086736e1c0ea-wmLast week was a bad week.  After making progress on some plans we were making for my 18-year-old son with RAD, he started to backslide. He stole money and food from us and the neighbors, he lied so many times that even he couldn’t keep them straight and finally he packed a bag and left on foot….barefoot at that.

Once again I had the “What am I supposed to do with this Lord?” conversation with God. “You created him wise enough to scheme and manipulate and simple enough to run away from home in his bare feet?! Is tough love appropriate when we are never sure of his level of understanding?”

Well, he ran to his biological grandmother’s which gave me five days to stew. Five days to be angry at him, angry at God, angry at the world. I wallowed in a vat of, guilt anger and despair. I treated myself to yet another pity party and entertained myself with not cooking meals, not making my bed and sleeping during the day. I even tried cursing a bit to show how angry I was.  Take that!

George and I attended a therapy session for ourselves. (Imagine that. Years and years of therapy with a RAD kid and now we need to attend without him.) The therapist agreed that I was the angriest she’s ever seen me and that as I suggested, I was a victim of chronic abuse and PTSD. It was pretty obvious.  However, the session ended with my making the statement, “When this is all over and we come back and everything is fine, I’ll share…”

BrrrrZzzzLeeeap. (Make that sound of a needle on a record player sliding across the record to get to the beginning again.)  Did you hear that? “When everything is fine.” I knew it would be fine again, I just didn’t know when.

The following day, I had my nails done (since I had chewed them off the day before in therapy!) and though my appointment was at 10:00 no one saw me until 10:20, the color the manicurist picked was not flattering and the chatter of other clients about drove me through the roof.  My husband picked me up and asked how I made out.  I burst into tears. Not yet.  It wasn’t fine yet.

My faith was so challenged. Why wasn’t God fixing this? It’s been a chronic problem for 17 years and there’s no resolution. So painful. Wait. Maybe God was saying “no.” We Christians know God says, “Yes, No and In my own time” but have you heard anyone talk about a “no” they got prior to death? Nope. Because that is where hope comes in. We keep hoping, our hope is in the Lord who is able to do more than we can imagine…so why isn’t He doing it? I recognized that maybe I was getting a “no.” Should I learn to accept that? I became like a child whose parent had said, “No.” I read my Bible because I didn’t want to be disobedient but I wasn’t happy about it. I threw the party I mentioned earlier and I went to bed saying to God, “You can hold me if you want, but I’m not speaking to you.”

Well, as they always do, things have returned to our “normal,” kid has returned home and we are “fine” as predicted.

Today I read Phil 3:13-16

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

All of us who are mature? OUCH! Only let us live up to what we have already attained? OOOOOH! So my kid spent a week not doing all the things he’s been taught. He spent days not recalling all the lessons he should’ve learned years ago. I did the same. Looks like we both need to grow up, mature and act our age and live up to what we’ve already attained.

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Dear Friend,

IMG_0585I’ve been writing and re-writing this Thank You note in my mind for days and the truth is, I can’t quite figure out how to write it yet. You see, there is no way I can explain what your kind deeds have meant to me without first telling you all the negative things that have been going on in my life and I think you know me well enough to know that I’m not a negative person. So, in the interest of trying to explain and in the hopes of being vague enough to not cause more grief, I thought I’d let you know how important your kind acts have been!
This spring there has been a war raging in our home. Nothing big enough to make the papers, but it has been a constant deluge of bad situations. Every day, I was confronted with something, figured out a way to handle it, and the next day it was a new surprising event. God is good and continued to show me grace and favor in the midst of the chaos. (Note: I said “in the midst” He did not shield me from the chaos but was beside me!) My son had some major trauma that was not in his control. No one should have to deal with what that boy had to deal with and all of it during his senior year. You know, that year that is supposed to be full of rainbows and dreams? His was full of doubt, trauma and an ugliness that I can’t even begin to imagine. Not knowing how to cope, he acted out with bad behaviors of his own which caused him even more pain. And, as his pain increased, his parents’ pain increased. And though his trauma took center stage there was a lot of other things going on in our lives too that we had to contend with.
That’s where you come in. You will never know what your kind words meant to me. The note, the card, the meal, the call, the hug, the plant, the text, the shoulder to cry on, the idea,  and the desire to lessen our pain in any way did not go unnoticed. Now, if you friend, were unaware of the struggles we were facing, you helped simply by being you. You made me smile, you encouraged me by assuming that everything was “normal.” You went for a walk with me, sewed a costume, mentioned mimosas, rolled your eyes, gave me a pedicure, shared an empathetic nod, and changed back into clothes to go out with me after you had already put on your PJ’s. You showed up for no reason and just were there for me. You asked me to do something and thought I was capable when I didn’t feel like I was capable of anything. If I eluded to some struggles you lifted me up in prayer. (I know you did, because I could feel it!)
I desperately want to share more with you. I want you to know how bad the details are so that I can then tell you how good my God is, but I don’t think that would serve Him well. I want to tell my side of the story to counter what may be being shared around town, but I won’t. I’ll simply thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my lifeline and helping me celebrate spring and all of it’s successes. I refer to this time as the season of Blessings and Burdens and I’ve had my share of both! You have been a blessing.  Thanks again!

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Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.      

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.                                                                         –1 Kings 19:3-7

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I Think the Emotion is: Hurt

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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.disegno-floreale-con-bordi-arricciati_318-45888“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

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