Tuesday, December 8, 2009
by: GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Sunday, December 06, 2009
12/6/2009 4:12:15 AM
The scrapbook pages show a smiling 8-year-old boy on his first day of school, opening Christmas gifts and hanging around with new friends.
Melissa Westcott's hand-written messages next to the photos shower affection on her "little man" and "baby."
The pages don't show the turmoil that started brewing months after the adoption of the child from the custody of the state Department of Human Services.
The Tulsa resident and her husband, Tony, love the son they adopted two years ago, but now say he is too much for them to handle.
After the adoption, the boy became violent toward other children and nonresponsive to adults, hurt and killed animals and ran away regularly, requiring law enforcement help, they say.
Within a year, he received diagnoses including reactive detachment disorder, disruptive behavior disorder, major depressive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome. He has frequented in-patient therapeutic facilities.
"We were told he was a normal boy who would have the normal adjustment issues any child in foster care would have," said Melissa Wescott. "We have been his biggest advocates and strongest fighters. But we are scared of him, and that hurts us."
The Wescotts are among a group seeking changes in law to allow adoptive parents to return custody of foster children to the state in specific circumstances.
A legislative Adoption Review Task Force is evaluating issues involving adoptions of children in state custody.
DHS takes the position that adoptive parents are the legal guardians and should be treated as any parent with a biological child.
Some say it is unfair for adoptive parents to be legally punished for not being able to care for a child if severe disabilities not known or disclosed are discovered.
"Do you know how many times we grieved for him? Grieved the loss of him?" said Wescott. "We want the best for him, and that is not in this home."
'Out of options'
The couple understand abused and neglected children will have some emotional issues but requested a child not experiencing severe trauma, said Melissa Wescott.
"We knew what we could handle and what we couldn't," she said. "We had to say no to children who were violent or acting out sexually. We have had experience with children facing physical disabilities and that didn't scare us. But severe mental health, emotional or behavior problems are more crippling for us."
In 2007, the couple found an 8-year-old boy who had been taken from his parents, who had chronic substance abuse problems. By then, he had spent about three years in DHS custody. The World is not disclosing his name to protect his privacy.
DHS disclosure documents call the child "well-behaved" and "polite and well mannered." He is described as "respectful toward authority" and "makes friends easily."
"He has no difficulty with attachments and he knows right from wrong, " the documents state. "He does not demonstrate any significant behavioral problems which would be considered abnormal for a child his age.
"(The child) has not received counseling services and these services have not been indicated as a need for him at this time. (The child) is developmentally appropriate."
While challenges arose the first few months, the couple considered it typical. But problems intensified after signing the DHS disclosure agreement, which states the agency gave all information available to the couple, and final adoption.
It became a daily battle as the child isolated himself and started a pattern of lying, Wescott said.
Several knives and fire-making materials were found under his mattress, and a trash can in his room had been set on fire. He soon was caught killing frogs by throwing them against a barn, and he hurt the family's pet dogs. He attacked a neighbor child with a board, and running away became common, she said.
"No discipline seemed to work," Wescott said. "It's like he had no sympathy or empathy for anything. We tried everything to bond with him, and it's like he's not capable. He has so much rage, anger and hurt."
The foster mother claims she informed DHS of the child's violent behavior, Wescott said. No DHS records reflect any claims made.
DHS officials do not comment on specific cases.
After he ran away in freezing temperatures and three law enforcement agencies were called to search, officers suggested several therapeutic facilities.
"They knew we couldn't do this anymore," she said. "We were out of options. I was scared to death for him and for us."
The Wescotts fear their son's release from in-patient care in mid-January, saying he has made little progress. They would prefer DHS regain custody and place him in a group setting.
The only options are to sue DHS, which they say is too expensive, or risk a felony abandonment charge.
"I believe every child should have a home," Wescott said. "But not every child does well in a mommy-daddy type home. It hurts us to see him like this, but he doesn't want to be with us. We didn't do this to him. This happened before us. We just want him to get the help he needs."
Monday, December 7, 2009
Well finally, the snow has started to fall. I took my dogs out at 6:20 in the morning (All 4 of them) I looked up into the ever brightening sky and I saw snow! The silence of the morning and the flakes of beautiful snow crackling against my winter jacket remdinded me of my first survival trip that began my reawakening.
Anyways, I stared up at the sky and just listen to the silence and the snow falling around me. That scene reaffirmed the fact that while I suffer from RAD and my battles have always been against that nasty demon inside, that horrible, terrible monster, I am still human. Seeing the beauty of nature, of such a simple thing as falling slow allowed me for a moment to be a part of the human community again. I think that, is something that all RAD Kids and RAD Adults need to understand. I say this with some hard learned exeperience.
There are still times even now, sober, getting ready to enter therapy and counseling and I STILL feel like the devil himself. There are still days where it is hard to get out of bed and do anything. As RAD survivors (Or sufferer's) we have to find the things in life that define our humanity. I am not talking about a job, money, a car or a house. I am talking about something infinetly more powerful and defining. I am talking about the things in life that make us feel human and part of the world around us.
For me, that's nature. For those that are still suffering and coming to grips with this disorder it can be anything. It can be a rock, a tree, a fork anything that evokes positive emotion. Perhaps it's model building or music. Something, anything that makes you feel alive.
Sometimes, it can take a VERY long time to find this. It took me 29 years to figure it out. When I am hiking in the snow, or watching the snow fall, the silence, the hardship of the cold and the sheer immensity of the beauty make me part of the human community again because I have something to identify with that others with RAD don't. Sometimes, that's all it takes is realizing that our actions while RAD controlled our lives doesn't define our humanity but tries to wipe it completely from us.
But it can't. And it won't.
I have learned though this battle, that each and every single one of us no matter what our pasts may hide, (Or in some cases reveal) we are still part of nature. The nature of our inner demons and angels will no doubtedly cast a shadow of both doubt and beauty at times. As RAD Survivors, all we need to do is harness both our inner demons and angels and embrace them both as part of our human existence.
Today, it's snowing. I'm beautiful, every RAD survivor or sufferer is beautiful.
The snow is proof of that.
Much love to all,
Friday, November 27, 2009
I never understood it and I was never comforted by them. As a child, I would clam up and become an "Ironing Board". I never understood what hugging another person actually did. As I grew, hugging was a completely mystery to me. As an adult I never really craved any kind of attention or love (past orgasms). So the actual need to hold or be held was something that I didn't need or understand. Human touch of any actually pushed me away and kept me wrapped in my shell. When I saw my friends hugging their parents or their friends I always cocked my head to the side and asked myself "Whats the point?".
The fact that never really needed any kind of human connection I believe is a big part of this puzzle. In retrospect I think that I wanted to be hugged or comforted and even if I didn't I wouldn't know how to recieve it. I never needed that kind of altruistic connection to another human being. Why connect with another human being and how does my connection to that person help them? That was always what my thought was. Why should anyone care about me and what does my physical touch do for them?? My answer always came up as a resounding "nothing".
I know what alot of you might think " He just wasn't hugged as a child ". You would be right, but I think it's more than that. I think those base connections that non RAD adults and children are privelaged to, RAD Adults and children don't. For us, it's about survival against those that might hurt us, or seek to harm us. To hug another person and feel love is so skewed and misunderstood, it becomes a defense mechansim to shy away from that kind of attention.
People in my life try their best to show me affection and I always ask myself "Why does this person need to show their affection towards me?". As a child I was the same way. Hugging and showing affection was a pointless endeavor. How do you comfort someone who cannot be
That to me is the saddest fact of my childhood. I couldn't be comforted then and even sometimes now. When I was hugged or when I am hugged now I feel my entire body just tighten up and go silent. I blankly stare ahead without any particular emotion
To look back on that fact and to realize it now is tragic. To know at that time and even sometimes today I just cannot be comforted is huge for me. To lack affection so much and to the extreme of locking up is a big step in understanding my current battle with RAD. For those that read my blog regularly (I know some of you do!) I am sure that this will come as no surprise. So the question that you may be asking yourselves is:
"How can I comfort my RAD kid or RAD Adult??"
The best answer I can give you at this point in time as an adult that has the benefit of hindsight, you probably cannot comfort them the way that you have been. That blank stare that your RAD Kid may show while hugging you, or when he or she tightens up like a board may be a sign that he or she just cannot give to you what you are trying to share with them. The best you can do for them is to listen when they talk about their experiences.
I envy those that are comforted by the touch of another human being. It's both a wish and curse for me at the same time.
I will write again soon!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Liberatation is a good word to describe what I felt. My life, my story, my depression, drug abuse, sex abuse, suicidal thoughts and attempts, everything just started flowing. Of course, there weren't any tears as those dried up years ago but as the clinician asked me more about my life and RAD the more apparently interested she seemed to become.
we talked for over 3 and half hours of my problems in life and that wasn't even the half of it. As the person delved more into my life, she seems awfully suprised that I had accomplished the things I have in my life considering the amount of damage that was done to me as a child and a young adult. She was amazed when I said:
"I would happily give my life to bring back the animals I killed". A RAD Adult that developed a sense of remorse. Almost unheard of. Well, I am living proof that change is possible. If a peice of sh*t like me is capable of feeling something, anything with a battle of RAD, ANYONE can.
We talked alot about the sexual experiences that I had that I could remember which was a babysitter at the age of 9. The therapist believes that much more sexual abuse happened much earlier because I describe in graphic detail what happened with my babysitter.
**Below is extremely graphic, so I recommend that you read with caution or you skip it completely as it is a detailed account of my first known sexual experience with a caregiver.**
I remember the babysitter lying on her side making out with me. Don't ask me how I knew what I was doing, but I definetly did. I groped her breasts and she continued to kiss me. She told my brother to head off to bed and I knew what was going to happen.
We continued to kiss and and one point I had her top off, but she wouldn't let me take her bra off and I wanted to. I wanted to take her jeans off but alas, she wouldn't let me. I don't know why she wouldn't let me do this but that was fine in my book.
I also remember going upstairs with her and continued the makeout session. more groping of course. She never really "touched" me. I seemed to do all the work and ironically it was like I was a robot. I knew exactly what to do, when to do it and how, I just didn't understand the ramifications and the emotional attachments to sex. All I knew was I was enjoying making out with this topless blonde. Even at 9 years old it was a challenge trying to convince her to take her jeans off. I remember putting my hand on the button of her jeans and she pushed my hand away while still kissing me. It made no sense.
Eventually night ended and I headed off to sleep.
I told my readers that story to excercise a point. I was a sexual robot at the age of 9 years old. The issues surrounding that and many other sexual experiences I had as a young child already programmed into my brain told me I was good for one thing and one thing only. THe other experiences I had with female teachers, babysitters and others was a pervasive and very profound experience in my life.
We talked about why I killed my sisters cat and made her life hell for 18 years. It turns out she was my primary care giver when my adoptive parents were at work. When she left for Greece while I was still a child, I saw that as yet another abandonment and I lashed out by killing her cat.
We talked about the animal killing, how my sister detests my existence. We talked about how much horror I put my poor family through and how many people I have hurt in many ways over the years. The therapist could see the true Mike coming out. The Mike that is still a child, that is still living in an existence of suspended animation.
We also talked about the inhalant abuse. The fact that I huffed paint thinner for 6 months of my life and started talking backwards. I had to learn how to speak all over again. We talked about the RTC that said I was magically cured once funding ran out.
We also talked alot about my life as a child and my adoption. Pretty much everything.
We talked alot about suicide attempts, both passive and real. We talked about how I tried to hang myself, but the belt I used broke.
She said a few things to me that I needed to hear. That I should be pround that I have survived. She told me that I have done some amazing things and have accomplished so much. To me, that's moot.
I have to earn my families respect back. I have to earn the communities trust again. I have to accept no matter how much I love my sister she will never love me. I have to learn that my accomplishments, while meager to me may be inspiring change in others. I have to learn while I have done DEPLORABLE things to others, I can still repay them and MYSELF to the best of my abilities. I have to learn how to forgive myself.
The biggest insight that I had from that first meeting however, was the following:
I have worth.
I will write again, very soon.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
My journey with RAD and my life has taken so many horrible turns. Every day is still a struggle to remain afloat with so many challenges that lie ahead in the not so distant future. I have not been successful in life. It's still a challenge to try and relate to others. I have always been a very closed off, very quiet person. Trying to join the "human community" isn't something I have ever really considered.
I know now why I stopped writing my blogs. I remember trying to travel into the woods and do some backpacking one weekend. I sat in the blissful sunlight surrounded by flora, fauna and an endless expanse of dense woods. My home.
Oddly, I had another emotional experience that really challenged my thinking and my demeanour.
I looked out at this beautiful place and realized there was no one to share it with. I was alone in the woods with my music and it didn't make sense. The woods was just a desolate expanse of nothing. My life and memories are those woods. Beautiful, but terribly lonely. I didn't want to be there anymore. The woods represented everything that I have been battling for so long. Terrible loneliness. I sat on a log, thinking about my journey and how hard I have had to fight to get where I am today.
I packed up my gear and decided to hike out. I talked to my father about my new found experience in the woods and he was equally impressed with the conclusion that I had drawn from my experience that day.
When I began my very, very dangerous survival hiking I think it was a way to find my own autonomy, my own voice and to find my place in life. I had to create my own set of rules and standards. I had to begin all over again and experience life for me. I had to have something that was all mine, that NO ONE could take away from me.
It's still hard to look at all my mistakes (And there are alot of them) and I am beginning to learn how to apply them in positive ways as opposed to negative ways. I may be very poor and carless but I have something that I think is intrinsically more valuable:
Today I am writing about starting over. This is to all the RAD Survivors and Sleepers that have woken up along with me to begin rebuilding their lives with newfound hindsight and experience.
What we have been through will always be with us. It shapes us. It changes our lives in profound ways. We see the world through a skewed perspective that many, many, many people don't and will never understand. We have the privilege of understanding the world and ourselves through personal struggle and strife.
For me, life is beginning all over again. I am learning how to wake up every morning, enjoy the sunset, drink some coffee and just experience life. I don't think that my life will ever be "normal" in the traditional sense. Too much has happened and too much time has gone by. I can, however learn to live life anew everyday.
Every RAD survivor can learn to begin to learn how to live life at it's very basic concepts. I think however, RAD simply has to run it's course in earnest and in it's entirety. Once the wreckage has settled, life begins again.
I am fond of saying that " The life that was handed to me wasn't fair, but tomorrow can be. " And RAD survivor will say the same thing once they are ready to live life again.
A friend of mine who lives in Russia talk daily and that's unusual for me. He's a young guy with a very bright future. He is going to become a doctor. I told him that I envy him and that I wished I was as smart as he is. Of course he shrugged this off and told me I was just as smart. He shared some of his own life experiences from his perspective, which was very comforting.
I am beginning life again and I believe that any RAD survivor ready to make the leap back into the human community has to come to grips with the acceptance of their where they are in life. We have to find the simple beauty of living life with the haunting reminders of what got us to this place and helping others find the better angels of their nature. We can do this not by comparing ourselves to others that couldn't possibly understand our experience, but by our own definition of what beauty is.
Just as the sun rises, leaves die, snow falls and life begins anew we can follow that same life pattern. Just as the seasons change, so can we. We can find beauty in our lives, no matter how terrible they may have been. Just as the woods has taught me that life is simply that and we must weather the hard seasons as best we know how.
As I have blogged and been transparent with my life, I have lost what I thought were good friends over stupid religious beliefs, professional contacts over ridiculous arguments and fellow survivors through embattled passions but I still stand stoic to helping anyone I can through my writing. That's all I have left of my life.
And that, it seems for right now, is just fine with me.
May the the changing seasons find you ALL in good health, hope and happiness.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I am sorry for the lack of updates. ALOT has been going on here and lots of it has been really, really tough. I will talk more about RAD, my battle with my recovery, possible lung cancer and more during the next week. I thank all of those who posted, asking where I was. Just alot of personal/mental stuff has been going on and it's been very difficult to cope with.
I leave everyone, right now, however with a quote. It's for all the moms, fathers, children, brothers and sisters that are battling R.A.D. with everything they have:
"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, we must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell and again touched, as surely they will be. By the better angels of our nature...."
Monday, August 31, 2009
When I was younger, my brother and I were both polar opposites. He was placed with our family shortly after I was placed. He was very much an FAS baby and he went through TERRIBLE withdrawal from alcohol. I remember days and nights where he would SCREAM and shriek at the top of his lungs. It was absolutely terrible. We were powerless. We couldn't help him as an infant going through the withdrawl. I cannot even begin to imagine what it was like for him.
My brother and I grew up hating each other. I would beat the ever living crap out of him almost on a daily basis. He was another target of my rage. In fact in one very bloody animal killing, I was ready to run away from home. He stopped me (He was much smaller than me) and said "Where are you going, I love you!??!" My response to him was "If you don't get out of my way, you will die too...". Of course he moved. Who wouldn't. I was known for my violent tempers and he knew how strong I was.
My brother and I enjoyed the relationship that every other brother/brother doesn't. I think in part we secretly cared about each other deep down but we were on our own separate paths of personal destruction. He really heavily got into drugs, I got heavily into booze and pills. He ended up in jail after his drug addiction caught up with him. I ended talking backwards for a year after the paint thinner I was huffing daily caught up with me.
There were times that we did enjoy each other's company but it was a rare occurrence. Both of us were adopted and we just didn't feel that deep connection to each other. We were strangers in our own home, albeit a very broken one. Our relationship mostly revolved around making each other miserable and we did a great job at it. Too many times I stole one of his girlfriends or he would scream, yell and spit at me. Ahh...The memories. :-)
There are very few pictures of us together. In the pictures we do have of each other, we are both frowning, or doing our best to keep each other at bay from one another. In essence, we lived totally separate lives of pain and suffering and we weren't doing each other any favors.
I told myself I hated my brother. I told myself I wanted him dead. I am sure there were plenty of times he said the same things. My brother has always been a very passive person, which I respect. You can't tell him to do anything he doesn't want to do. He has always been a lover, not a fighter of which I was secret ely jealous of. That guy always had a cute girl by his side (Which pissed me off of course, loll) that was always beautiful!
Our relationship didn't sour per se, more kind of faded. Over the years as things got worse for me, he drifted in and out of the family's lives, doing whatever it was he was doing.
Once my recovery began, I tried talking to him, which of course was hard. We all remember those horrible days in living color. It took a good 6 months before he would say more then a word to me, which I totally understand and appreciate. Every time we would talk, it would be one sentence, and then on another call, 2 sentences. Finally, the dam broke when he started reading my RAD (Yes I said it) blog. Once he started reading about the sorrow I felt over everything I had done, he realized that I was reaching out to him through my words as well.
"What your doing takes allot of balls, Mike" he said to me. I was almost giddy. My brother and I were once again talking. This time, however, we were REALLY talking. "Thanks man, I really appreciate that". For the first time in my life in regards to my brother, what he said made a huge difference to me and helped me write even more, regardless of what people had to say about me or the things I wrote. He gave me allot of strength, of which I am still indebted to him for.
Finally, I met his boyfriend and him at his place. My parents showed up, my girlfriend and I were there along with my brother and his boyfriend. I learned something about my brother that I never actually took the time to understand. He is without a doubt an inspiring cook. That guy can cook like I have never seen before. He shocked me with his knowledge. He sliced, he diced, he minced and he baked. It was totally amazing. I saw my brother and his talents for what they were, without motivation and without reflection. My brother, was a cook! (That's not his profession, but it should be). I was PROUD to see him do something that he loved. He was truly in his element and I was honored to see that side of him come out.
My family, my brother, his boyfriend and my girlfriend all sat down, eating, laughing and having some drinks. The tension that usually is in the room as we all sat down wasn't. The years of hatred wasn't there. The air wasn't thick anymore. This is the way it was always supposed to be. It was a great time that I wish didn't have to end.
My girlfriend, my brother, me and his boyfriend all went to a BAR! I usually stay away from bars because every time I would go to one, I would end up in fight. It took allot of coaxing but I finally gave in. I wanted to hang with my brother for the first real time in my life. It was great!! :-)
We had some beers and played some pool, laughing at each other (With the occasional punch in the arm with a hardy FU added in for brotherly love). I cheered him on as he missed an easy corner pocket shot and his boyfriend rolled his eyes at my clean side pocket shot. We laughed together and it was quite the spectacle. We did shuffleboard (Which he kicked my ass at) and laughed at each other.
After the night was over I said to him via text: "I was a really shitty brother and I want to prove to you that I want to make things right. I am going to prove to you that I want you in my life". He didn't respond but that's like my brother. He will get back to me when he's ready and I accept that. I am willing to wait on him.
Finally we are brothers. I am looking forward to learning more about my brother and there are still many things about him I don't know yet. I am willing to learn, however. I am so glad we had the chance for that evening it's one I won't ever forget. I look forward to the rest of our lives as brothers, having put the past where it belongs.
I still say he hit's like a girl! :-) :-) :-)
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
One thing that any R.A.D. Adult or sleeper will tell you, is they have come in close contact with suicide. Whether it be a personal story or someone they knew in an RTC most RAD Adults (Or RADults) have first hand knowledge of suicide. I urge all parents and those that are feeling suicidal to read about one of my many experiences with what suicide is really about and how devastating it truly is. I warn the reader that this is a very graphic post, so please read at your discretion.
With each step closer towards that creepy house, I knew that it was going to be bad. The sun was shining, and cars whizzing past one of Cleveland's busiest streets. Birds chirped innocently as if the scene I was about to enter didn't even exist. I knew otherwise. My girlfriend's brother had been hanging in his attic for over a week in 100 degree heat. These scene was going to be worse than anything I could have imagined and I knew there was no way to prepare for it.
As I opened the front door with my girlfriend in tow, the smell of death was beyond overpowering. It was like walking into a wall. The sweet smell of death was beyond overpowering. Instantly, I wanted to throw up. I knew however if I lost it, my girlfriend would lose it to. I swallowed hard and walked into a living room that was torn apart by the police officers two days before when the body was discovered. My girlfriend, speechless instantly walked into his bedroom which was equally in shambles by police officers looking for a suicide note he might of left behind. They couldn't find one.
I however, stayed in the living room, gazing into the kitchen. There, was one of Ryan's family members SWEEPING piles of flies off the linoleum floor. I didn't have to remind myself not to inhale through my nose, or my lunch would be all over the fly strewn floor. Ryan's parents were sitting at the kitchen table, still crying over the loss of their son. His death was sudden, a shock and a terrible loss to their family. I however, couldn't cry. Not because I didn't know this person, but I had already lost friends to suicides. This wasn't anything particularly new for me. A human life was gone and I was oddly detached from the entire scene. That was until of course, Ryan's mom and dad insisted we visit the scene of his actual death. Upstairs. This nightmare was going to continue.
Each step of the squeaky stairs was another step closer to something that I wasn't expecting. With every step, the smell of death became heavier and heavier. With every breath I took through my mouth I could literally taste the sweet taste of decomposition. The air was THICK with that smell, something you never forget. This was beyond nightmares that most people have. The thing, very confining steps only induced more claustrophobic terror. The entire house was devoid of life, of sound. It was the oddest and scariest thing that I had ever experienced. It was almost as if we were ascending into hell itself.
At the top of the stairs, the crime scene tape had been cut after the police finished their investigation. That tape was on strewn about the floor. I could just imagine some police officer saying "We are done here." and leaving in a hurry to the next call, callous to what must have been a horrific scene. The door to Ryan's room was open. As I walked in, I could feel the dead flies crunching underneath of my feet. Then, I saw it.
The cord was still hanging from rafter, attached and tied to a pillar outside of the attic where Ryan hung himself. It was almost if this cord was lifeless itself. It was eerily still. Below the cord was a huge stain. This, we came to find out was blood and the fluids that flowed from Ryan's body as he decayed for over a week. This was suicide in all it's gory horror invading everyone's senses. I felt forced by the family to witness this. This is what finally got to me. The only thing left of Ryan was a rope and a stain on the floor. I imagined the scene, in fact, my girlfriends sister found the body. When she opened the door after hearing the millions of flies buzzing, his body was hanging right in front of her. She said his eyes were completely out of his head and his entire face was black (Which in a hanging suicide, is normal). I cannot even imagine seeing a body in this condition.
I couldn't stand it anymore. I was going to throw up. I instantly walked to downstairs and out of that house trying to step on dead flies. I didn't throw up. I let the cool breeze blow the stench of death from my nostrils. It took me a good 5 minutes before I started breathing through my nose. "We need help cleaning the house, Michael" Ryan's father said red eyes still welling tears for his son. "Ok, I will help you." What was I going to say, no?
1 day later, I was back in the home, cleaning these silly little spots off the walls with water and a sponge. "What the hell are these things, these damned dots?!" I kept asking myself. With each sweep of the sponge in the water, the water would get darker. This was the dirtiest house I had ever scene or it was something else. "If I were you, I would be using gloves" a voice boomed. I turned around startled. "That's blood." a police officer said. "Are you fucking serious?!?!" I asked. The officer nodded, smiling at me curtly as if I should have known what it was. "The stuff we spray to kill the flies, they expel their stomach contents, which is what kills them." I instantly dropped the sponge on the floor. I was cleaning my girlfriend's brother's blood off the walls with my bare hands.
That was all that was left of Ryan, and now, literally his blood was on my hands as well.
For those of you who are thinking about suicide, if your a R.A.D. Survivor thinking that suicide is the answer I promise you, it's not. Suicide isn't grandiose, it's not brave and it's probably the most selfish act imagineable. I know, however how hard it is sometimes to not think about suicide. We as R.A.D. Survivors have to deal with allot of memories that are buried deep within. I know how horrible the depression can get. I learned however that through Ryan's suicide, I don't know that I could ever let my friends or my family have to clean my own blood off the walls.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Ok. I try my best to be as open minded as possible. I have to tell you. I have seen more and more ANTI-R.A.D. websites popping up on the web with this simple message:
RAD isn't real and R.A.D. is a diagnosis to further the career of attachement therpaists and doctors.
I was shocked beyond words. A listed, documented disorder that has been defined by the medical community is now "junk science?" to line the pockets of doctors and RTC's?
So, in effect, R.A.D. isn't real anymore. It's a spin off of PTSD or some other disorder at least in the minds of some. These groups insist that the suffering of thousands of children and adults is null and void because R.A.D. is a money making scheme?
Ironically, every SINGLE one of the disorder's listed traits I exhibited in spades. The parents that read my blog don't have children with R.A.D., they have PTSD, Depresion and other afflictions.
I can't say I am angry but I wonder how many of these ANTI-RAD groups really understand what real R.A.D. is? Or how destructive it can be. Over diganosed by
doctors with their own interests. I can buy that. To suggest however that R.A.D.
isn't real is something that just nibbles at me.
I have looked into these online groups for their statistical and empirical data and of course, they don't have any data supporting their claims. I say this to those that don't believe R.A.D. is real:
Write to the APA, present your empirical data in a clear way and inspire change to the diagnosis. Until that day happens your not justifying your claims.
That's called junk science.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Sorry I have been so quiet the last few days, as alot has been going on with RADOnline.
I have been ORDERED to go to the woods for some me time. So, like any good survivalist, I am headed into the woods for a day of relaxation, campfires and trail coffee. Apparently, I need the time off.
I shall return with pictures!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I recieved an email today with some words of encouragement from a fellow blogger. This person thanked me for my writeup about R.A.D and religion and urged me to continue to write. Yes, it's dangerous. Yes, to tell a R.A.D. child they are going to hell for something they may have already done is terribly dangerous.
This blogger sent me a video link of something I thought I would share with my fellow readers. This my friends is simply shocking. I don't know what to say. To subject ANY child to this..let alone a R.A.D. child is simply unbelievable. I don't know what to say.
Thank you for sending this to me (You know who you are). I will let the video speak for itself. Thank you for encouraging me to continue writing even though I have gotten alot of hate mail these days.! LOL
One word: Wow
Monday, August 17, 2009
For those of you who are still following my blog, my mom (Bless her heart) kept and digitized a picture of me when I was 2 years old. My first home visit, the first time my family decided they wanted to adopt.
Apparently, from what my adoptive mom says I gave both of them a "Big Hug" and I was very clingly. Apparently, I was a very loving child. This picture is still very hard too look at, but as I promised to share my entire life story, I want to share it with the community.
What does this picture tell me? It tells me a couple of things:
- The horrors I am sure I saw are masked with smiles.
- I am a time bomb waiting to go off.
- My parents don't know what's about to happen to me.
- I want to mourn for this picture and warn this child about what is coming.
- I wonder, what horrible things I had to suffer as a child because of my birthparent's mistakes and screwups.
- I wish I could hold this child....
- I shed a tear for this picture. It's the only picture I have that isn't masked with some horrible, ugly, terrible memory. It's the only one of it's kind.
Welll, that's all for tonight. I have a long night of work ahead of me.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Well here we go. From RAD-Online.org to some more R.A.D. stuff. This is the first time I have ever told this story. It has taken me almost 17 years to come to some kind of grip with it. **Update** I write this after I buried this story 17 years ago to bring this story to light, in effect to empower other RAD/Abuse Survivors, through my experiences. I urge other R.A.D. survivors to come forward and speak out with their emotions and stories. I warn everyone that is about to read this, it is explicit and graphic. Read at your discretion***
I remember after I left the RTC that I was placed in, a staff worker's friend took a particular interest in me. He always seemed to be interested in me and how I was doing. Seemed like a cool guy. Some of his proclivities always had my guard up. (I made the assumption he was gay based on some of his outward suggestions).
One day out of the blue, right after my 17th birthday, he called me up. "Hey man! I am headed to Florida, check out some chicks! Wanna go!?!?" What horny, 17 year old suffering from R.A.D. say???? No? Of course not! Some fun, some sun and some women! (If I was lucky, perhaps a few beers). I told my parents about the trip, and my parents spoke to my friend and even they thought he was ok.
The trap had been set.
Next day, I took a bus up to Cleveland, Ohio where I met my old friend from RTC and stayed at his place. The next day "Max" (Edited for privacy) picked me up. We talked about all kinds of different things, how much fun we were going to have, the women we were gonna meet. I was so excited to be hangin' out with an older guy (A brother like figure to me) talking about real guy stuff. I was so excited!!
We got to his house and immediately trouble began. Max's house was really nice. He led me to my guest room (Which was nothing more than a mattress on the floor, TV a few windows and a T.V. He closed the door after I got comfortable, hanging out, watching T.V. A few minutes later he knocks on the door. Before I could get up and open the door, he was already inside. He immediately started wrestling with me, which I took as just guy play.
This person was extremely strong, almost animal like strong. While I was held down, he grabbed the remote next to me and starting playing some gay porn. I was instantly terrified. What do I do? Reader's must remember I was a TINY kid. This person easily weighed 270 pounds. He said:
"Doesn't that look like fun??!?!". No, it doesn't actually look like fun at all, I retorted. I was frozen, I was terrified. Was I going to be raped? Was I going to be killed? I just didn't' know.
He looked right at me as if to say "Your not going anywhere". Instead of raping me, however, he simply got up and left the room. Still kind of shocked over this whole event, I looked for a phone.
No phone in this room. I literally was scared to the point where I couldn't move. I just sat there.
Pretty soon, it was time to leave for Cleveland. This person already shown that he had strength over me and could control me if he really wanted to, and had declared what he wanted to do with me.
We got into his car (I should have run, or bit him or something) and we drove and drove and drove. All he did was talk about giving me a blowjob, me giving him a blowjob and how fun it could be to have sex with him. It was kind of odd, he was almost begging him to giving a handjob on this ride. We literally didn't stop until we were somewhere in Georgia. This later, I conclude was to keep me from phoning anyone and I can't run in a car going 70 miles an hour.
That night was pretty scary. There was only one bed in this hotel room and considering this person in my mind was still a friend (Can we say RAD) and considering his strength and demeanour I dared not move. He demanded that I sleep in the bed with him.
My thinking was this. If I didn't he might really hurt me or leave me stranded with no money in the middle of no where. This is where the friend part kind of faded fast. The entire night he kept grabbing my crotch, silently. Any every time, I had to take his hand off of me and put it somewhere else. Relentlessly he kept grabbing me. This happened for roughly 4 hours. It was pure hell.
Before long, it was morning, and I wasn't raped and it was time to move out. No time for anything. Breakfast was on the road. We ended up in Florida a few hours later. Finally, I could get onto the beach flag someone down, something.
That wasn't to be.
We arrived in Florida in the middle of the night. Instead of hanging out as this person promised, we went right to his room (Which of course, was yet again a one bedroom suite). This time, there was no denying what he wanted. He said "Come to bed with me". This time I was ready to fight to the death. "No, I won't". He went from friend to really pissed off person. He told me to sleep on the couch. I was fine with that. In the morning, I would make my escape.
The morning soon rose. "Let's hit the beach" he said. "Good, I thought, surely there would be a cop there." Of course, however he followed me. Once again, I had to be on good behavior. I didn't know what this person was capable of.
We were on the beach for 15 minutes before he said "We have to go...". Remember readers, i was confused, terrified, let down. I had no money and I felt stranded and alone. I had no choice. We went straight from the Florida coastline to the steamy inland of Ocala, Florida. Finally, he let me call my dad. There was one stipulation. He was to be right there when I made the call.
"I'm ok dad, thanks", was pretty much the entire conversation (if I remember correctly) so my parents thought I was with a legitimate friend. We stayed in Ocala for one day.
We finally ended up in S.C. where "Max"continued his sexual banter almost 24 hours a day. We stayed with his cousin and his girlfriend "Red". The first thing that happened when I walked in and sat down, "Red" put her arms around me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "What the hell is going on here?!?! I thought. She was a beautiful woman yes, but what was going on here?" I kept asking myself.
The next day "Max" said, "Red wants to fuck you, and you can have her if you give me a blowjob". I wanted to puke right there, but there was this odd disconnect that I felt. Now "Max was playing into my disturbed side. There was no way that was going to happen. I said "Oh come on now man, she's with your cousin, no way she would do it with me!!" I said, smiling. This little ruse seemed to knock some of the steam out of the argument.
The next day was the final straw. I write this to educate those around to me as to the reality of the situation. I haven't SPOKEN of this to ANYONE. I haven't been able to repeat these words in over 16 years. I choose to do it now in hopes to let go of the event and to help another that has gone through the same thing. You arent' alone in your struggles, I have been there.
He walked into the living room and said "Wouldn't it be cool if I gave you blowjob?!?" "Not really, no" I said, not looking at him, totally disgusted. **This is where it get's graphic, you have been warned. This is so hard for me to repeat..I haven't repeated in 16 years.
He said "I really want to taste your cum, tell you what...Why don't you jerk off on a pillow and I can taste it that way." I literally wanted to puke. What was I into?? How did I get here..what was going on. He of course offered this with the promise of some money to buy something I really wanted.
That was the breaking point. That night, I called my dad this was the conversation (bear in mind, as usual "Max" was right by the phone:
Me: Hey dad, whats going on??
Dad: You ok son?
Me: Mom is sick, really?
Dad: Mike is something wrong?? If there is keep talking about mom
Me: Mom is sick? Whats wrong with her, do I need to get home??
Dad: Mike, are you still in SC?
Me: Is mom going to be ok, I need to come home don't I?
Dad: Keep talking to me, whats your address????
Dad: Tell "Max" to get on the phone.
After this, "Max" was very physically distressed. His game was up, he was caught and he knew it. He told my dad that he would bring me home asap.
After he put the phone down, he said to me "You know, sometimes, sons and dad's have a secret message that something wasn't right." "Is that what is going on?.
I was a dead kid. He was going to kill me right then and there. He got really antsy, and he got really agitated. "Your out of your fucking mind man, why would I do that, your cool" I said. I am a VERY good actor and he bought it. (Can we say R.A.D. again?)
I was finally reunited with my adoptive parents. I was so physically ill, I had to say something. I told my parents what happened. Sort of. I didn't go into alot of detail. They took me a counselor and I was so sick and exhausted (And horrified as to what happened) I really couldn't say much. What was I gonna say, some guy wanted to lick my semen off of a pillow? He grabbed me in the middle of the night for weeks on end?
The police said they couldn't press any charges because serious laws hadn't been broken and finding this person would be very hard considering how much this person moved around. Nothing.
WOW! What can I say! Two of RADOnline's staff DROVE over 1600 miles in three days. We got back and we were exhausted. 8 hours each way, and then another 6 hours in Ohio on Saturday. To say we are sick of cars, roads, traffic and heat is an understatement!! However, it was in the name of good so it was well worth the trip.
It's still hard to believe. 1600 miles in 3 days. ACK! So here I sit getting ready to do 10 miles on the treadmill. ACK!
To everyone that read's my blog, everyone knows I am very, very pro awareness. Some think that I preach awareness to the point of being offensive and that's OK. As long a dialogue about everything R.A.D. it's good.
I spoke with an RTC CEO the other day and we agree that our community has to put it's differences and pride aside and begin to unite. The problem is pride. There are so many great forums and groups that have so many awesome ideas out there, it's truly amazing. Imagine for a moment if we could all come together and share our own ideas and stories to facilitate understanding and change without the fear of someone else's pride injected into the conversations.
I have spoken with ALOT of very educated, very successful people (Including PH.D's) over the last few weeks. Every single one of them are really amazing people. My conversations with them always end up with the same message:
We can change, but getting past pride and personal opinion is "an uphill battle" or "almost impossible". Really? Does it have to be that hard? I don't think so.
While I agree it's a tough fight, imagine the good we could do, imagine how many people we could inform if we all chose to say "Our opinion's are ours, but our message is paramount.". Imagine for a moment what we could say to the community and the WORLD if we could put aside our differences for a few weeks and simply talk as professionals, survivors, RAD Parents, RAD Kids and non profits.
We would prove to the world that our message is change, not personal gain or acknowledgement. We would show everyone around us our very message isn't muddled with the politics and religious beliefs that has kept our community in the dark (to an extent).
I will be the first to admit, that I have "ruffled some feather's" in the community, which of course was not exactly what I was intending to do but was done regardless. It is my true belief that dialogue begins with placing pride aside and acknowledging the fact that I am willing to listen to varying opinions. I would like to think that the people I have spoken with are open minded and willing to listen to other's points of view.
Our community, while fractured into smaller groups with their own ethos, their own core structure and their own personal views are wonderful groups. Each person, owner and blogger I have spoken with are GREAT people with wonderful messages. Imagine if we could all sit in a room and exchange ideas that are facilitating change and hope!!! Our community would be a much different place.
People that know me know that I am a very opinionated person and my own beliefs about RAD Awareness is my only goal right now. It's what I do, it's what I am. I believe that no one child or adult should have to suffer in this day and age with the resources that are available today. While some organizations don't necessarily agree with my point of view, that doesn't mean a healthy exchange of ideas isn't possible.
I want that exchange to happen, regardless of our differentiating points of view.
These groups, doctors, bloggers and clinicians are the glue that holds the RAD community together. All of us have a role to play. All of our messages are the same. Hope and healing. Everything else is pride and opinion. I wish all of us could remove that for a week and begin a massive dialogue. It would be truly awesome.
This entire post is of course an opinion! Wouldn't it be neat if someone emailed me and said "I DON'T agree with your position and this is WHY." At least it's constructive dialogue that begins a relationship that can eventually lead to effectual change.
Until our pride is off the table we are treading water in our own pools in our own backyards. We are only letting people in that we like, know and subscribe to our belief system.
Let's all meet at the YCMA and do some laps together, as a community.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I am practicing firelighting techniques. This video will be
used in my upcoming survival lecture at Bass Pro!
It was about 90 degrees out that day and the humidity
was horrible! Notice the houses? The neighbors were
lookin at me kinda oddly! "Why doesn't he just use
a lighter" I am sure was whispered more than
I know I haven't been posting as much but as you can imagine, I have a ton of stuff going on. A book just published, OFAAT to run (To mention, we may have snagged a new client) and of course, rad online.
I am writing today because I received a very disturbing email. Not from an angry ex girlfriend, not from a family member, but a professional contact that I hold in high regard. The contents of this email were at best not complimentary and it's really screwed my entire night/morning/work day up badly.
It really has me bugged. Then I realized why. This email wasn't about professionalism or working together for change, it's about a stupid, petty grudge. This email screamed "I am really mad at you for something" and wasn't a constructive look at anything.
That really has me bothered. I was taught in the professional working world, when the message of healing and hope are paramount that's all that matters and unity is more important. Professionalism trumps emotion every time and it seems like lately, some people I work closely with choose emotion.
I also realized just this morning a few things that have me both overjoyed and darn near exhausted at the same time.
Since RADOnline opened I have:
- Made great new professional contacts
- I have lost people who I thought were my friends
- I have been ORDERED to remove public content from rad online
- I have been told RAD Online is a "disappointment"
- I have spent hundreds of hours campaigning and networking
- I have lost contact (for whatever reason) with alot of people that used write to me on this blog all the time (Still stumped on that one)
- I am literally working all most 24 hours a day every day to stay on top of things
- I am heading out of town of which I am very excited, tomorrow.
I will probably change this blog over to RADOnline when I figure out how to do that, simply because this blog pertains more to RADOnline than OFAAT which is a totally separate bear.
A lot of negative things have happened since RADOnline has opened but a lot of positive things have happened as well. I am quickly learning that to bring a message of hope and galvanizing a community that is generally pretty quiet is a tough, tough thing.
I have not however given up, and I WON'T GIVE UP. RADOnline and it's volunteers have called news stations, forged alliances with really great RTC's, Non Profits and Blogs. We have also made INTERNATIONAL contacts as well!! RADOnline is getting ready to be covered on a LOCAL news station as well!!! We have contacted social agencies, foster care systems and the biggest one of them all:
The White House! (That's right! We mailed a R.A.D. Online informational packet directly to Obama!! Hand built, hand laminated, hand mailed!)
I will however not give up there. This is just the beginning. I guess from a "personal" perspective my message of positive change has to come at a cost. I have to be willing to lose friends I thought I had and I have to expect a certain amount of discord from those that don't see change and community as paramount.
Without sounding like I am rambling, I guess I am just feeling the effects of trying something that is massive in scale with many different views that will of course clash from time to time because R.A.D. is such a personal issue for so many families, I feel beaten up and bloody, but still hanging on. I feel as though I have been put through the proverbial ringer.
Well, that's all for now! I will have a ton of pictures of our trip to the RTC that RADonline is touring!
Hoping this blog finds you and finds you well.
Monday, August 10, 2009
We are a band of brothers and sisters who have struggled against our own minds in a battle that has raged for years. We are a group of survivors that have given our tears, our blood and years of our lives to defeat an invisible enemy. We are the ones that professionals said "You will always be this way". We have survived. We have flourished. We have overcome the odds. We have not given up hope. We are stronger then we think and we have a powerful voice for all those willing to listen. Many want to listen.It's our turn now.
It's our turn to claim our lives. It's our turn to tell our stories. Today, we can rise as a group that have suffered and caused suffering. Our stories we can share with the hopes that another may not travel the paths that have caused so much suffering. Today we have the opportunity to talk about the shadows and the cold nights. Today, we quite literally may hold another's lives in our hands by the bravery to come forward and let the world know of our muddled, but powerful existence. Today, we can begin to repair the damage we have done through a collective voice of hope and healing. It's our turn to give back to so many people that dedicated their lives to our very survival.
We have suffered quietly and alone but no longer. We have a common bond of dried tears on our worn faces each with it's own tale of both happiness and tremendous sadness. The very destruction of our lives will be the rebirth of other's. We no longer have to live in shame. Today, we can stand together and save a life that's worth saving. Today, we can begin to repair the damage of our pasts with the cleansing acts of kindness towards another that is still quietly hiding in the dark.
No longer must another human being huddle in the corner of a dark room quietly suffering from the invisible enemy we all have come to know so well. Our trials, our tribulations, our tears have a meaning:To educate others.
Our sufferings have happened so that another may listen and learn from our stories. The insanity of our lives can bring calm to the storm in the mind of another that hasn't had the chance to realize their own potential voice. The cycle of silence must be broken and today, we can end that cycle with peace and understanding. The shame of our actions doesn't outweigh the possibility of a life we may save tomorrow. As we quietly sit in our homes, leaving our stories dormant collecting the proverbial dust, another is suffering our same fates. It doesn't have to be this way.
What I am asking takes bravery, it takes courage and it requires fortitude. We as R.A.D. survivors posses those qualities simply in the fact that we have survived everything we have. We ARE brave. We ARE courageous. We must overcome the fear of exposing our deepest fears of judgment and realize our most endearing quality: Strength.
We have survived and today we flourish. Let us help another flourish and live in the peace that we as human beings are given by our right to live. Let our voices serve as the testament to the human spirit that someone else believes they lack.
It's time to stand together as brothers, sisters and a family born through tragedy and strife. We are a family of survivors.
We must expose that tragedy and strife and lend our hands and our lives to those that need those qualities.
Otherwise, our sufferings are truly in vain.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
**This post is not meant to offend ANYONE. These are simply my thoughts. Religion is special for each person that it touches. While I don't hold a particular religious belief, It's not my intention to offend anyone of any particular religious interest! I respect everyone's religious background!**
Many of the forums that I have spoken with are "Faith based" forums and I have to tell you R.A.D. and religion don't mix well. I am not a particularly religious person (in fact organized religion in my mind is ridiculous to the point of absurdity).
I remember in a previous post at the age of 12 I thought I was the devil himself. Today, I realize why I believed this. I was TAUGHT that I was the devil. Every Sunday I listened to how I can't have sex before marriage, masturbation was a sin. In fact, almost everything was a sin in my mind.
The precedent had been set.
Many, many R.A.D kids and R.A.D. adults have been cast into a world of both abuse and horror that many people will never completely grasp. We have been the abusers, we have been abused, and for many of us, those horrible memories linger in the back of our minds, ready to strike when the time is right. Religion is a major player in the R.A.D. puzzle in my mind (I'm not a professional, just a R.A.D. survivor).
My parents took me to church because I guess they thought raising me in a Catholic home was a good thing. I can't blame them as they are very religious people. What they and I failed to realize was that everything those pious priests spoke against, I was already knee deep in. As a child, the message I took from religion was that sleeping with a school teacher meant instant hell for me. For a confused, angry child, religion can be an incendiary combination. No, I wasn't the devil, but the "devil" was in my life because of the acts that I engaged in before I understood the context of them. That only scared me.
I see bloggers that are DEEPLY religious going so far as quoting bible passages and I wonder what are their R.A.D. kids taking away from those messages? "Because I had sex when I was 9, I am going to hell?". As a R.A.D. survivor, I can tell you first hand I thought I was the devil because of the basic teachings trying to "save" me from a lifestyle that I had engaged in both freely and against my will. I can understand now why that association formed. Hell and brimstone.
Many R.A.D. kids have already had sex. Many R.A.D. kids and adults have killed. Many R.A.D. Kids and R.A.D. adults have abused. How children process something they don't understand by listening to terrifying stories of hell, the devil and damnation could very well only be making the child feel even worse and setting a precedence:
If I am already going to hell, why stop now? For years, I didn't stop, I only got worse. I was already dead and hell was the only place I was going. Why improve my life?
That's how, 27 years later I came to understand why I felt like the devil. when I was a child, night after night I would slice open an arm to see if I was bleeding, or if I was devoid of human blood and spirit. We have religion and it's absurdity partially to blame for that precedence. The messages that R.A.D kids take away from organized religion can be the exact opposite of what you want them to take away from it.
I say this to all highly religious parents and bloggers out there.
Be VERY careful with what your R.A.D. child takes away from religion and it's teachings. If not, they may very well be taking away a message that they are already doomed.
Friday, August 7, 2009
MMMMM LUNCH AND DINNER! MRE's!!
A primitive survival shelter.
It was 20 degrees that day, Ohio River!!
10 degrees outside. Ohio River banks. Note the primitive Shelter! I was cooking food on fire heated rocks!!
A beautiful sunset picture on the ohio river bank. What you don't see is the 10 degree wind.
4am, building a firecone in 5 degree air.
My "walk for adoption" It was a 55 mile trek from Cincy to Dayton. Took 3 days. Not one news carrier covered the walk. Of course.
Me in my vagabonding outfitting. Notice the military trowel.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
This post is probably going to get me into some trouble, but unpopular speech every once in a while must be embraced even with the limpest of arms. So, any mean, nasty or inflammatory posts will be automatically deleted.
It is our faults you know. Everyone knows what cancer is. Everyone knows what AIDS is. Everyone knows what bi-polar is. Almost no one knows what R.A.D. is. And it's us that we have to blame. We live in a world were information is transferred at light speed. We are more connected to one another than any other time in human history, and yet Reactive Attachment Disorder always receives the same response:
"What the hell is that".
Since my community portal has opened, I have been on the phone with reporters, doctors and social workers and the answer is always the same. "What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?" While blogging is a great way to expose the myth's of the disorder, more can be done. We can get out, we can speak, we can become united as a community and bring this terrible disorder to the table and begin a dialogue.
One of the problems (And this is just my opinion) that while blogging, forum browsing is a great way to get the message out online, it's not the kind of fundamental action that will FORCE school officials, lawmakers and members of our communities to listen to us. Each of our stories is an important puzzle of R.A.D. and each story is special.
I have heard the argument lately "Too many parents are scared of legal repercussions" by telling their stories. They are afraid they or their children will get into trouble. While I understand that fear, we have to consider as a community what good this is doing. Sure, we may be hiding behind the cloak of "Safety" but we aren't changing the minds and the perceptions of those around us. We are huddling together in our little online forums and blogs discussing issues that we already know about. We are a cliche and that's even worse then saying nothing.
As long as we as a R.A.D. community hide in the shadows afraid of the big bad bear another family may very well be trying to recover a picture out of a burned down home. This happened, recently in Ogden, Utah. Our inability to move past the realm of the online world is WHY no one knows what Reactive Attachment Disorder is. We need to do more and we can do more.
Every blogger out there has the strength, the courage and the fortitude that many other's in the world don't have. We should capitalize on that bravery and galvanize our group. We as an RAD community must come together and begin grassroots programs that don't depend on the online presence. Not everyone has a connection to the net, and not everyone can afford it. Some families have children right now clutching a kitchen knife threatening to kill someone. Are they somehow to magically find our blogs in hopes of some solace and understanding?
Once again, I am not saying the bloggers and forums aren't a great tool, they are. I salute everyone with the bravery to come forward. We must transcend this online world and step into the real one with our messages. They are all powerful messages. Your words could and may very well save a life, TODAY.
We can no longer hope that a family in trouble will find us. We need to find them. Our unified message of hope and healing should no longer remain in the shadows of a blog or a forum.
It's our fault the world doesn't know what R.A.D. is.
Tomorrow, however, is a different story.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
One issue that I never really tackled with R.A.D. is happiness. Those that suffer (or at least) never understood the basic idea of happiness. While I knew the definition of happiness, it was for me, just another word. I was more content hurting someone or something as opposed to being "happy". Sure, I had poignant moments, but the base emotion was totally devoid in my life.
I never understood why people hugged each other and I never really understood why families got together and did things together. I never really completely understood the concept of closeness and unity within a family unit. Joy for me wasn't in the context of healthy, natural things. It was of wanton destruction and depression.
My parents when I was younger talked about how I felt like a "Board" when I was younger. There was simply no connection to anything. I didn't understand why people laughed and had friends. It just made no sense to me.
Even today, it's still very hard to maintain friendships. I still question why ANYONE would want to befriend me, lest love me. It's an emotional disconnection that started 32 years ago. To live in a world without the need to connect was paramount for me.
It's extremely hard to describe. Marythemom asked me what it was like. I told her, it's not like I missed it, because I never understood the need to connect to anyone or anything. In this sense, the motel syndrome took over. (Once again email me about this) I was able to operate as a robot. Alone is what I understood and ironically I was as happy as one with R.A.D. could be.
To accent this point here is an example:
When I was younger I was buy some smokes and a group of guys asked me to come over and hang out. We sat around and talked for a while. It was kind of cool. We talked of course about women, beer and more women. You know, guy stuff. After about 25 minutes of talking, I ended up at home. However, for the next few hours I was bawling. Why? My case manager asked me why I cried about the event? I said "Because I have never really had someone just come up and talk to me like a regular person." This was partly my design.
Even to this day, I have a hard time connecting with other people simply because they don't share the same experiences that I have had. How could they? We meet others and have friendships based on common experiences. For me it is still very odd and uncomfortable to hug other people or have friendships. I don't have that switch in my body that says "Hey! This person is a friend, they aren't going to hurt you.". I have of course learned how not to self sabotage but I still maintain a big distance from other people.
For a R.A.D. person, (Instead of using the ubiquitous RAD CHILD), they live in a sea of people, totally alone, floating along waiting for rescue ship to come by that never does. It's living in a world on your own, even though those around you try to understand your situation but can't. It's a terrible place to be in.
There are still days where I have to remind myself I am trying to do good. I am trying to improve. And then there are days like today where nothing really matters and the depression takes over, full tide. These are days where I and every other R.A.D. survivor has to remind themselves they are beautiful people no matter what they have done or had done to them. It's day's today that RAD sufferer's have to reach out and begin to talk, even though it's the hardest thing for me/them to do.
Reaching out isn't another word in our vocabulary.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
People have told me the people I hurt, the animals I killed and the general rampant destruction was a choice. I can tell you right now, from a R.A.D. perspective, there is no choosing involved. When a rage begins, the loss of control is a complex and the victim of a rage collapses into a darkness that I can only describe as one thing.
The abandonment of self.
The total lack of physical and mental control. It's a dark corner of your mind and your body that you literally have no control over. The only thing that you feel in a rage is a searing, white hot anger that has come from no where but you know it's been there the entire time, ready to bubble up again.
The only thing you want to do in an R.A.D. rage is kill and destroy. There is no choice, and nothing else matters. It's a deep and very profound experience that grips your mind and your body and that very lack of control makes it almost impossible to understand to the laymen or a parent who's house has just been burned down by an angry child.
The rages continued for me until something was dead, something was burned down or I was emotionally and or physically exhausted. There was no stopping me and anyone that did try to stop me would end up dead or in the hospital at the very least.
Rages differ from anger fits in that you can control and regulate your responses to outside or internal stimuli. With rages you cannot regulate that, and there is no magical switch. At least there wasn't one for me.
One particular incident that stands out with me, when I heard the neck snap of an animal that I threw against a wall, the anger only got worse. Not because I just killed again, but because I couldn't control what was happening. I couldn't stop my own hands from destroying whatever I saw.
In a rage, I could feel, I could understand and I could see what I was doing, but there was no way to regulate my actions. The anger came over me like a tidal wave and I was drowning in anger. When I would have rages I would stop thinking, my survival mechanics stopped.
The entire world stood still. It was only me and the anger, with no where to go. I was trapped in a hellish room and there was no door. I simply had to ride through the anger.
For those that don't understand, let's put a perspective to the actual event.
We all watch movies. We go to the theatre. We see a scary movie. We can see whats happening, we can hear and emotionalize, but we are out of control. We are along for the ride. That's exactly what a rage is like.
What is important (And I am not a professional) is finding the triggers that cause those rages. When I was a child, any time I perceived a loss the rages would instantly begin. When my sister left for Greece, I killed her cat. When I lost a girlfriend (Huge issue) I literally ripped my parents house apart from the ceilings to the carpet. Literally. Everything in the house was destroyed. Glasses broken, shelves tipped over, animals dead something burning.
Once the anger passed, I was usually clutching a dead animal or watching something burn. As soon as the rage passed, just like a tornado was in shock as I witnessed the destruction that I myself caused. This of course, only made it worse. I remember being 12 years old and crying myself to sleep, shocked that another animal was dead. I knew in my rages that animal was going to do but I didn't want to kill it. I wanted to die and I couldn't. I was in hell.
As much as i LOVED the violence, I detested it. I clung to it as a way to expression my emotion. Those of us that understand the expression of violence and why it plays such a huge role in a rage. We are fascinated with gore, with death and blood. It is no wonder that this fascination floods over when we rage. It's our best mechanic. It's a love/hate relationship. I can promise all R.A.D. parents these rages aren't ABOUT YOU. It's simply survival mechanic that unfortunately results in terrible loss of life, property and the abandonment of self.
I write this not to shock, and not to offend but educate. I am sharing this part of my life with the R.A.D. community so they may have a better look inside a rage and how they came to be with me. Perhaps, if we look deeper into the triggers of rage and the perceived/actualized loss model there will be less lives ruined by a R.A.D. rage.
Friday, July 31, 2009
I am doing my best to keep up with all the blogs I read, trying to get my book sold, I am gearing up for a survival lecture in August, headed out of state to check out a RAD RTC, I am also spearheading radonline, I am hip deep in a mailing campaign for that project and on top of all of that, I am trying to run a survival school at Eastfork State Park. If I don't reply on all the blogs that I read, it's not you..I am just bunched up for time!
**update: I will be having minor surgery as well...OY!**
I found my my voice on the river.
(This is the FIRST time I have told this story, it's a very sacred story to me)
I decided last night, as I was leaving the emergency room that I would talk about something very special that happened to me a few years ago that I believe was the actual start of my recovery. I thought it would be best to talk about how I found my own voice after my life was completely destroyed and riddled with horrible memories.
I knew that deep down I had to make a fundamental change in my life. I didn't know how to do this. My survival mechanics were lying, stealing, drinking and manipulating. I didn't have a conscience. I had nothing to cling to. I had no friends, no job, no future. I both came to rely upon the very survival instincts that were killing me. In many respects, R.A.D. is a catch 22 in that the survival mechanics that R.A.D. sufferers will utilize are the very same mechanics that will eventually tear them apart.
My world was coming to an end very fast. It was either change or die.
That change came with a river.
While I was living with my parents (At the tender age of 30) I saw a movie called "Into The Wild". I saw the story of someone alot like myself. The story talks about how a young man had to shed his belief system in order to "Find himself". I won't spoil the story for those that haven't seen the movie. He travels across the country, seeing awe inspiring sights and learning to live with nothing. He was very much a vagabond and he was also trying to find that self realization and actualization.
This was the answer I was looking for. I knew what I had to do. I had to PROVE to MYSELF that I could, in effect, survive on my own. I had to prove to myself that I had self worth no matter how meager to others. It was paramount to my survival that I found that edge that I could straddle between life and death. I had to push the limits of myself in order to find my own values and core beliefs. It was time.
So, I started traveling into the woods. Deep into the back country. I would trek out without really telling anyone where I was going. It just so happened that the Ohio River was the spot where I found my own rebirth. This is great stuff, the stuff of legend that alot of people talk about but very few have the opportunity as adults to experience.
It was 22 degrees outside when I loaded up my military hiking pack with nothing but food, 1 set of clothes, a digital camera and nothing else. I was so fed up with my own life, I made the decision that I was going to measure myself against the elements. I was either going to freeze to death or I was going to walk out of the woods a different person. This, believed was the last chance I had to prove to myself that I could survive on my own, without hurting someone else in the process. If I froze to death, it would have been a noble undertaking in my opinion at the time. Change or die.
I set out on my journey along the Ohio Riverbanks, through thickets, hills, crevasses and I did have to ford the river in one place. I finally made it to the spot where I wanted set up camp. Oddly, I was proud of the fact I was able to make it so far. I could see a storm coming in. Considering the fact that I had no shelter, 1 set of clothes and I was already soaked, there was a serious danger of hypothermia.
I found some huge dead tree limbs. The garbage bag I brought with me was the only object that I had that could provide some shelter. I immediately started a fire and began building a survival shelter. It was hard work, and as the clouds loomed overhead, I had to shed clothes.
Before I knew it, I had found my value.
With my shelter complete, a warming fire started and munching down on an MRE the most beautiful thing in my life happened. It began to snow.
The riverbanks and the surrounding area were devoid of any sound, except the running river and the snow hitting my shelter. The pattering of the snow against my shelter reminded me without this object that I built with my own hands, on my own saved my life. Not only was I alive, I was with nature and I was seeing the most beautiful landscape that I have ever seen. The silence left me with nothing but own shadows to look upon.
I was so ecstatic that I had saved my own life and created something that was mine and mine alone I had to call a friend. I was almost shouting/crying about how beautiful and how proud I was of the accomplishment that I had made. I learned to survive without the constraints of the society I had come to hate with such passion. I was far away from all the people I had hurt and hurt me in return. I was in a place that was my own, that no one will ever be able to take away from me.
The snow, the smell of the fire, the running water and the fact that while I was shivering, I was alive was one of the purest expressions of happiness that I have ever experienced before. I was truly ALIVE.
What I did was extremely dangerous, but it was necessary. I had to challenge myself and face my own mortality. I had to learn how to live all over again.
My family of course was extremely confused. I was shedding the belief system that never fit me in adoption and building my OWN core belief system. I always knew my adoption felt more like a pre-fabricated life that didn't belong to me. All of the things that were taught to me weren't mine. They were someone else's. The more times that I walked into the woods alone, the more lessons I learned about my values and life.
My family didn't understand how a computer tech savvy person could transform into a bearded hiker that took too many dangerous chances in the woods. I am sure it was scary for my family and a few times, I came close to dying in the woods (but that's another story). Everything my adoptive family believed in and taught me never fit me. This was the real me. I was learning that the woods was my home. I was learning that that all the glamour and glitz and shiny gold plated dreams weren't for me.
The simplicity of learning to live my life on my own terms took over. The connections had I believe were finally reset. I had to learned to live with nothing and survive on my own.
Those days on the river are long gone and this is the first time I am talking about this experience with the community. For a long time, I only shared it with two other people on this planet. It's an important story and a story that I think is time to share.
There are still days where I long to be on the river. I long to feel the sting of freezing snow along a white landscape. There are still days I yearn to smell that fire all over again and listen to the pattering of snow hitting my shelter. I still long to hear the sound of silence. I still yearn to feel the biting half frozen water as I ford a river with a 50 pound pack.
I still hike and I still camp out but it's nothing like that winter years ago.
Perhaps, it's best to leave those waters behind and look towards new ones.