Here’s the thing, no one likes negatives. When someone asks the loaded “how are you?” question, they really are hoping you’ll just respond with, “Fine”. It’s not that they don’t care, but more of a “I can’t fix whatever bad you have going on in your life, so how about you just not tell me. Okay?” What most people fail to realize, however, is that when you have something negative happening in your life, you don’t share in the hope someone can fix it. You share in the hope that the verbalization or the writing will help YOU make sense of your situation. You share in the hope that you’ll find your answer amidst your own thoughts.
Sharing the negative is cumbersome.
It’s a delicate walk between your reality and people’s perceptions. Sharing the negative gives hope, though, to all those in similar situations looking for that single new idea to try. For the one sharing, it’s almost cathartic – a way to put it into the world and out of your head.
We’ll start with my head. It needs a purging of immeasurable repetitions, with one particular challenge that has continued to hover at the #1 spot for several weeks. Our RADling.
We knew beginning school would come with obstacles for both her and us.
We knew we’d see the typical RAD behaviors – charming the pants off strangers, telling whopper stories about being a victim, vying for strangers’ attention at every opportunity, desperate attempts to charm “friends”, use lies to manipulate, and pulling away from the family as she tried to attach to anyone else, especially those unfamiliar with her story. We met with the school and prepared them as best we could. We told her the school was on board with helping her to stay mentally healthy. All seemed good……………. and we waited for the fallout.
Just as school was beginning, we implemented a new strategy to help her avoid lying. In one month, we’ve only earned 2 points. For now, this strategy will continue, but we suspect the toxic energy of lying/manipulation is building up, like a bomb, waiting to go off. We know this with certainty. We need only look at our front door for a reminder.
Our RADling tried to put her hand through the glass in response to a friend coming over to tell her she could play after running errands with her parents. There was ZERO comprehension of what she was told. All our RADling heard was rejection. She informed Michael “something was wrong with the front door” and didn’t even notice the glass in her hand when he pointed it out. It was as if she disassociated herself from the broken glass. Michael told her no friends would be coming over and went back to his project. Our RADling, for several reasons that are too lengthy to go into now, took aim at her older sister with results she expected AND wanted.
When I came home, she met me at the door sobbing hysterically.
She weaved a tale of her older sister being mean to her, of her dad saying she couldn’t have a friend over. And, oh, she broke a window on accident. An hour later and several role playing scenarios behind us, I didn’t feel one step closer to resolve than when she began speaking. In fact, I was trying to hide my fear and uncertainty about how to proceed.
Actually, we’re still not sure. We’re taking each daily issue with our RADling as it occurs. We’re using a hard labor discipline strategy with her each morning as a way to hopefully shake out the toxic energy by having her swim laps for 30 minutes before getting ready for school. The first week she was excited. Now, she glares at me as she makes her way through the kitchen each morning. Her grades have drastically dropped since the door incident, but not because she doesn’t understand the material. If you ask her the question, she’s quick to answer correctly. It could be control-related – “I can’t manipulate my teachers, so I’ll refuse to answer correctly and force them to keep me in the classroom during PE and Electives”, it could be attention-related, or it could be reality-related where her reality her world isn’t matching up with the one she’s in right now.
Here’s the scary reality: she’s been with us for EIGHT YEARS. She’s had a consistent family for EIGHT YEARS. She’s had support for EIGHT YEARS. We’ve been trying to attach for EIGHT YEARS. But those first 2 years of her little life, when she was moved 13 times, and those attachment scars? We know now they’ll last FOREVER.
PS. Please don’t have pity for us or our RADling. We’re not looking for someone to turn on the light while we sit in the dark and figure out our next move. We want you to take our story and make a difference in your own lives. Be grateful for your healthy relationships and tell those you love how special they are to you.
Healthy relationships and attachments need to be LIFE-LONG for a LONG LIFE.