Colorado Life Coach: Suffering in Silence
Since I started blogging and podcasting, I’ve heard from lots of people.
Some are currently struggling with their own adopted, fostered, or even birth children, who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Others knew us when we were in the thick of parenting our own RAD son, but didn’t have any idea the extent of our circumstances.
I’ve noticed a trend:
The ones who are struggling with their own RAD kids seem to go one of two ways:
1. They reach out to me in secret. They call from their bedroom closets (women), or their garage (men), because it’s the only place they know they can talk without being overheard. They suffer in silence. They feel so alone and misunderstood. You see, their children present a different side of themselves to the outside world. No one truly understands what their home life is like.
When they try to tell people, no one believes them, not even the professionals. The parents are blamed. I remember this feeling well. It saddens me to think of all the times I reached out hoping for help, only to feel shamed.
2. They don’t want anything to do with me. I relate to this as well. I remember the first time I heard a family was going to place their adopted child with another family. I couldn’t believe it.
You don’t do that!
It scared me, way down deep. I didn’t want to even consider that as a possibility. Yet, something inside me wished I had the option to even think about this choice. Exhausted beyond what I thought humanly possible, I knew I couldn’t keep going, but the option of someone else raising my child seemed barbaric.
I’m also hearing from people who knew us back then. They all seem to respond similarly:
“We didn’t know how bad it was. We just thought you gave up, and gave your child away.”
I understand this response as well. We suffered in silence. I talked about it frequently in the beginning, but as the years dragged on along with the therapy, special education, prayers, surgeries, and daily trauma, I could sense how hard it was for others to continue to deal with us. We pulled back. It wasn’t that we didn’t NEED the help, we were just too worn out to ask anymore.
We retreated. We isolated ourselves. We just didn’t have the strength to try to explain.
When everything looked so nice and tidy from the outside, it took a great deal of energy-energy that we didn’t have, to try to get people to understand. “No, what you see from the outside is not an accurate picture.” “Yes, I know everyone at school loves him, and you can’t imagine what I’m telling you is actually true.”
I still suffer some days. It’s very difficult to place your child with another family. I still grieve, but not silently anymore. I’ve built my strength back up. I’ve healed a great deal. I have energy now.
I’m fighting for all of you who suffer silently! You are not alone! I get it! I understand what your daily lives are like! I get how a small child can manipulate your family until you think you’re crazy! I get how you and your spouse don’t see anything eye to eye anymore. I understand how you try to explain this to your family and friends, but they truly don’t get it.
I get it.
I will continue to share my story, because it’s also YOUR story. I will continue to interview people who get it, and have hope for you! In fact, tomorrow, I’m filming a podcast with Forrest Lien from the Institute For Attachment in Littleton, Colorado. We’ll broadcast it in a few weeks. If you need help before then, click here to contact Forrest. He has the hope and help I needed, but couldn’t find several years ago.
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Don’t suffer in silence anymore, because you are not alone.
This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.