Most moments on my journey with RAD have been pretty crappy. Success has been rare and even then it is often overshadowed with the gut reaction of ‘well, this is only going well because of x, y, or z”. I am always looking for the other shoe to drop.
Our oldest son was gone for six months this year. He was in a place that contained him and was safe. He wanted to be there, he didn’t want to be home. This happened back in January. Behaviors had gotten severely unsafe in our house. When he was admitted to the inpatient unit I was so overwhelmed at the complexity of the issue that I didn’t know what to do if he wasn’t accepted.
The six months flew by. We did our family therapy each week. We did visits at parks and visits at Starbucks and visits with Grandparents. We let him come back in our home for the night. We awkwardly maneuvered this incredibly unnatural situation. We cried.
Our family has been back together for 4 weeks now.
Nothing has changed.
Wounded hearts didn’t heal, old behaviors are back. It is so sad to know change isn’t coming any time soon.
Therapy is stopped for the time being, the effort and energy and resources to show up each week isn’t worth the cost.
I am sharing this to say, really- things don’t always get better with time.
Yes, we can learn to better handle situations, to more quickly put out fires, to avoid confrontation or conversations- but that isn’t really making things better, it ins’t allowing that elusive healing to take place.
It is merely learning to cope with the situation in a less volatile way.
I have spent 3 1/2 years desperately clinging to the hope that things will get better. I haven’t spent much time thinking about the reality of what I am faced with now- that maybe they won’t.
Maybe the ‘better’ isn’t something I am going to see in the next five years that I am responsible for the care of my child.
The letting go and dying of dreams can be hard. You know the dreams that your child will go to an Ivy League school or your child is going to play in the NFL. I am talking about something more primal here though.
I am talking about the fact that maybe my child will always see me as the enemy.
And that reality is hard to swallow. That was not my dream.
And realizing no amount of tough love, boundaries, ‘time in’ or bonding is going to help.
I spoke with a really amazing therapist this week and he told me two pieces of information that I want to tattoo on my hand or my forehead or at least bind on the tablet of my heart:
“You can’t work harder then he is.”
“If he wants to be miserable that is his choice.”
I know it is possible, but in practice it is so hard to watch someone you care about, someone you have moved mountains for- purposefully choose everyday to be miserable.
To hear them say, ‘I do not care. I will not work at this.”
To hear that and respond with, ‘Okay, that is your choice. It is not mine. I am going to bake oatmeal cookies now.” Or watch back to back episodes of the Millionaire Matchmaker or text my husband and figure out when in the next 4-6 hours I can get the heck out of my house and breathe.
To not dig deeper with him, to try and help him care, to challenge him to value people and experiences. To walk away.
And know that may very well be what my relationship with him will always be like.