On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


After therapy at the RTC and the long drive (this time in the blinding rain - had to stop 24 miles from home just because my eyes and brain couldn't deal with it anymore) I am tired.

Sissy was prepared with good hygiene and I made a big fuss about how I was disappointed that I brought the toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush and baby wipes for nothing. Sissy thought it was funny. I'm glad. Goal accomplished.

We didn't do talk therapy this time. We did a communication game which was a cool exercise but instead of feeling better about myself as a parent, I felt worse. NOT good. The last thing I need is a kick in the pants. I don't understand this therapist and that's doubly challenging because I've always managed to get along famously with other professionals in that venue. So I'm puzzled about why I feel frustrated and more anxious and angry after therapy instead of better. I think a lot of it has to do with Sissy. She is with the RTC staff 24/7 saying whatever crap that comes into her head and they are taking it all down. They see me for 45 minutes/week and have had their heads filled with all of Sissy's jargon about me so they approach me with a we need to fix the mom attitude. And I get defensive which only makes them all the more certain that it is me with the problem. Seriously, Sissy told the staff that I have a screaming issue and that she wishes I would practice the coping skill they are teaching her. (STAR - stop, think, assess, react). And of course, the therapist allows Sissy the opportunity to tell me that she wishes I wouldn't scream so much and the therapist asks me what I do to manage my anger when I'm frustrated with Sissy. So I looked at Sissy as I answered the therapist and explained the 6 different ways I actively engage in coping with Sissy's rage and screaming behaviors. That's right. Typical RAD, Sissy is projecting her bad behaviors on me and typical non-RAD versed therapist, she's assuming it's my problem. I wanted to stand up and say, "HEY, Numbnuts! Who's locked up in a psychiatric facility for their behavior, me or Sissy?!?!"

yeah. that probably wouldn't go over well.

So I played along like a good Mommy and then did all of the RAD therapy things I planned for Sissy during our free visit time, which included lots of PIZAZZ that Sissy practiced good hygiene like I asked.

On the drive home, I got some trouble-shooting phone calls on the cell phone that took even more of my energy (I need to practice throwing that thing out the window while I'm driving at 70 mph instead of answering it... geez).

So between the lying Sissy was doing about me to her therapist that the therapist was calling me out for, the long drive in the torrential rain and the trouble-shooting phone calls, I was physically and emotionally spent. I spent the remainder of the drive home reminding myself of the following three things:

1. I'm an amazing mom. I need to remind myself often that I'm amazing and I need to surround myself with people that tell me I'm amazing ALL.THE.TIME.

2. I need to learn to advocate for myself. If I'm always considering everyone else's emotional, physical, mental, environmental, spiritual and social needs before mine, I'm going to be all used up. I MUST serve my needs first.

3. other people aren't spending this much time and energy trying to be a good mom or trying to meet other people's needs. Sure, it's noble to be so self-less but in the long run, it's self-deprecating and it will have the opposite affect than what I intend. I will become a disrespected doormat and I will loathe myself for it. I need to stop overthinking things and just float.

So this tired but amazing mom is going to float her fanny to bed. If you don't like it, tough.


Corey said...

Hmm. Sounds like you need to come to Orlando with us. Do you know about the Orlando trip? A bunch of my readers are coming to Orlando in March for 3 days to sit poolside sans children and drink margaritas. Come.


Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Madd.en.ing.! I am gritting my teeth just reading, so I don't scream!
You are obviously an awesome mom!

Diana said...

Oh, this situation sucks. It is so frustrating when the people who are supposed to get it and who are supposed to be helping you are in reality, being sucked right into the game and are totally being controlled by the kid.

So, how do you change the tide? First of all, remember that one of the key hallmarks of RAD is triangulation of adults. It sounds like Sissy is working this one really well right now and she's succeeding very nicely at it. So, the first thing you're going to have to make a deliberate effort to take back the reigns. You're going to have to do some serious RADucation and then prove your point by deliberately setting Sissy up to fail. It sounds horrible, but it may be the only way you can get them to see through what she's dishing out. And, you may well find that you’re going to have to out-crazy her crazy in the process. Such is the life of awesome RADical moms!

If it were me, I’d rest up, regroup, and then go into your next meeting armed and ready for battle. No good soldier goes into battle in jeans and a t-shirt. They go in dressed to withstand the elements they will be facing. You can, too. The war you’re engaged in is to save your daughter – and the current battle is about showing the therapist and the kid who is really in charge and who shouldn’t be messed with. That said, if you have the means to do so, wear a high- powered executive suit to your next meeting. Go for broke here…blouse, jacket, matching skirt or pants, hose, stilettos, the works. Make sure your hair and makeup also match the power image. Who cares if you arrived in a mini-van and changed out of your comfy travel jeans at a gas station restroom right before your therapy appointment? They’ll never know!

At this point, you are the RAD authority. It is their job to listen to you, learn all they can about what they’re really dealing with, and play on the same page with you. It’s also their job to support you as a parent…yet it’s also something they’re not used to doing. Reality is that most kids who are in those facilities are there because their parents really ARE the bad guys and screwed the kids up with their stupid choices. So, if you want them to see you as something different, you’re going to have to shake things up and throw them all off kilter. I’m willing to bet they will listen if you approach it this way. Plus, this approach will also throw Sissy completely off, too…which is all part of the plan. They’ve got to see her true colors if they’re ever going to be able to help her. If you go in looking tired and haggard like we moms all really are, the people in charge won’t see you as any different than any of the other “parents” they deal with. Most likely, Sissy is also used to seeing you as the tired hag, too and she knows very well what buttons to push to keep you there. But if you change things up this drastically, she’s honestly not going to have a clue about what to expect or how to respond to you. Very cool!

...to be continued

Diana said...


Now for the actual meeting…personally, I WOULD tell the therapist exactly what you think. I would also ask the therapist and the therapist's supervisor and anyone else who is working with these people and with your daughter what experience and training they have in dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder. I would also point blank ask them to define it for you, explain to you what causes RAD, and share with you a list of symptoms they think they are supposed to be treating. If they pin it back on you and try to make it your problem I WOULD remind them which one of you is locked up in the psych hospital because of their behaviors and then hand over some information about RAD to them and inform them that THEY need to become versed in it.

But really, seriously – if they’re in jeans and you’re in a power suit, they’re not going to try to pin stuff back on you. They’re going to be shaking in their boots! And then remember that tidbit of psychology they most likely didn’t spend a whole lot of time studying for all your future sessions. You might not have to wear the power suit every time, but always either up-dress them or at the very least match them with a strong business casual appearance if that is what they’re wearing. If they’re like a lot of these places, though, they’re most likely either in scrubs or jeans. If that is the case, it won’t take long for them to start matching your appearance and stepping up to their professional plate.

Anyway, back to the discussions. Once you’ve established that you are the RAD authority here, proceed to have a frank discussion with the therapist about the triangulation of adults and that you feel this is what she's doing…and that they’re playing right into it. Let them know how important it is that you two work together in order to help Sissy heal, or simply put, she won't. You can then move on to another common symptom of RAD, such as refusing to accept responsibility for their own behavior. Then insist they give Sissy an assignment to write (or verbally deliver) an essay about why she's there. You and I both know she can't do it. She'll either play dumb or she'll deflect all responsibility and blame to anyone and everyone else. But she won't be able to say "I'm here to learn how to control my own emotions and how not to hurt my mom and my siblings." Prep the therapist that this is the answer they want to see, vs. what she probably will say (blame game.)

It might take a few sessions to turn the tide of things, but you can do it. And, it will be worth it. In the meantime, take a break, watch a sappy Christmas movie, snuggle under a fuzzy blanket, and drink hot cocoa.

Anonymous said...

#2: put on your own oxegon mask before assisting others with theirs.

also: go to the Orlando weekend.

also: Diana rocks. and yeah, they need to see Sissy misbehave is they are ever going to really help her

ps. you rock

xo, your big sis