In one of the online forums/support groups I’m a part of, a mom in the trenches asked this question of the group. One of the other BDTD moms wrote a beautiful response that I wanted to share with you. Shared with permission.
- When your child constantly triggers you and shows you how much they dislike the thought of you, how do you find things to like about them to keep you going? I feel like I should be able to find some redeeming qualities about my child, but I just can’t. This leads me to having negative feelings about myself and my abilities as a mom. We are in our RAD water torture phase of healing, so the little lies and control behaviors never let up
I highly recommend the book, When a Stranger Calls You Mom, by Katherine Leslie, which explains, from a child development PhD who is herself a foster adoptive mom to 4 kids from foster care who had varying degrees of RAD. In a nutshell, we are wired for reciprocal relationships, and it is reciprocity that triggers warm, fuzzy feelings. You can coach your kids into some reciprocating behaviors, and she shows you how. Mostly, it is liberating to realize that there is a reason why you don’t feel warm and fuzzy, and it is beyond your control, really. Why don’t you like this child? Because she’s nonreciprocal and draining and if a man treated you this way, you would dump him. But you can’t do that with your kid. So you feel trapped, which is not a great feeling. I also highly recommend reading Stop Walking on Eggshells. That is about borderline personality disorder, which is where many of our unhealed RAD kids are heading. It helped me understand how truly disturbed my kid was, how horrible a burden she is shouldering with this disability, how it truly was NOT personal the way she treat me like shit–that is all she has to offer! Having some distance, understanding she can’t help it, nor can you, is a huge burden laid down, and it is easier to be nice. I still have ZERO warm fuzzies for her. That’s okay. I care what happens about her, I am there for her, I provided her with everything one could possibly ask for in a good childhood. I set good boundaries with her so she cannot abuse me and destroy our relationship, and now we get along better than we ever did when she lived with us. It is super hard when a mentally ill person lives with you. Do not add the burden of asking yourself to be giddy with affection for someone who is, by their nature, abusive and rejecting and depressing. When I understood, at last, that she was not stubbornly withholding a healthier version of herself, that this very sexualized, depressed, ANGRY, raging, dangerous person was who she authentically was and the best she could do, I dropped a lot of expectations that just hurt us both. Here is what I find admirable in her: despite having this illness, and despite having been suicidal, for the most part, she forges on, something I truly don’t know that I’d have the strength to do. I really don’t know how you live without loving anyone or enjoying anything and relying on sex with dangerous men to feel alive. But she does. She could have done much, much worse things than she did. She does, in her limited way, care for her brothers and sisters, and does not want bad things to happen to them. She showed integrity in getting birth control, understanding that she cannot give a child what they need. Those two books help a lot. Also, another book The Gift of Fear, changed my life and saved me from my RADchild-induced PTSD. As for you as a mother, you soldier on WITHOUT REWARD, which is something the parents of the neurotypical THINK they are doing, they THINK they love unconditionally, but most don’t. Love is more than warm and fuzzy. I have warm and fuzzy for my younger two, whom I adore, and whose company I enjoy. But I provided the same childhood and the same opportunities to their sister, who does not and will not love, who squandered every last opportunity she has ever had, who has been hard from day one, and will be hard to the day I die. THAT is hard core love. You are awesome. Just tired. Because this shit is hard.