Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What is suffering with R.A.D. like? (Very long post)

Dear all,

That lost post really seemed to chew at people. It was very, very tough to write. To have to dig through those bloody and terrible days was very difficult. I wrote that post because I layed in my bed all night long listening to those screams. I didn't get a wink of sleep.

Lisa asked me to write a bit about what it was like to have R.A.D. that's a long story, so I will do my best to keep it as short as possible. I wanted to thank Lisa for posting my story on her page.

My life with R.A.D.

Reactive Attachment Disorder for me was the total emotional disconnect from the rest of the world. My life, even as a child was studded with physical, sexual and emotional abuse that lasted through my teens. That damage still exists today in many forms, but for this blogs sake, I will keep it to my early childhood.

I didn't feel connected to the world. I didn't care about the world and I didn't care about anyone else either. The first animal I killed was in response to my adoptive sister (Who left for Greece in college) departure was slamming her cat into a wall, killing it immediately. I would spend hours building lego castles, (Which I loved to do) and then immediately destroy them with a terrible violence. Both of these acts travels to the core of what Reactive Attachment Disorder for ME was. It was the perception of loss. That was the theme of my life and what it meant.

I had no reason to get close to anyone because in the end, they would be taken from me. While other children played outside, I sliced my arms open to make sure I was bleeding red. I felt like the devil. With one animal already killed, a suicide attempt and the constant need to destroy left me feeling like the devil himself, literally. This was around the age of 11.

The therapists told me I would be this way forever and that I would never change. Bear in mind, gentle readers that R.A.D. wasn't even a diagnosis yet.

I felt that the world around me wasn't mine. The family that was "given" to me I had to reason to connect with. I didn't know them, I didn't share their beliefs and I surely didn't understand why they would love the devil. In my mind, they were just as bad as I was. No one wants a devil. I did my best to push them away from me. I killed their animals, I tried to burn their house down twice and I did every in my power to make them hate me. My adoptive mother said (And this will sting, just as it did me) "If we knew how much trouble you were going to be, we wouldn't have adopted you". That's how bad it was. My parents were so afraid of me, they locked their doors at night.

By the time I was 12 I was already in a hospital for severe depression and suicidal ideation. I wanted to die. To live in a world at such a young age not able to connect to anyone was too much. Something, however happened in this hospital in Kentucky. I met other troubled children like myself and I for the first time in my life, these children wanted to know me, including the girls in the unit! Finally, I found other children that accepted my bad behavior as nothing more worse then they had done themselves. I had found a common bond with these people.

After two weeks in the hospital, I was discharged, and once again I lost my friends. Another loss that was an actual one, not a perceived one. I spiraled out of control. The death's continued, and I started experimenting with inhalants and drugs to alleviate my pain.

Being so different from other kids, looking much different then other children (I am bi-racial), not having alot of money I was ruthlessly beaten and spit on many, many times in school. The teachers took sexual advantage of me of me. (The female teachers) and by that time, I was no longer a human being. I was a punching bag and a sexual device for horny older women. My transformation was complete. I no longer lived as sweet Michael with the beautiful smile and full of hugs (Which was one of the pretexts of my adoption) but some "bad kid" with no future whatsoever.

I had learned my worth. I also knew that if I killed an animal, started a fire, lied, cheated, stole or slept with teacher I would get the attention that I needed. I was able to express my unspeakable pain through acts that would get attention, no matter what the attention was.

For many R.A.D. sufferer's it's not that they (myself included) that we particularly enjoy what we do/did. It's our ONLY way to communicate with those around us the pain, the happiness that we feel. I never connected with ANYONE. I had no way to verbalize and vocalize my feelings and even if I did why would anyone care what I had to say? I burned every bridge with my family that I had left (or so I thought).

I was a very, very lonely child. I was so different, many nights I just sat in my room burning something, getting high on paint thinner or crying myself to sleep. I had no way to communicate my sadness and my family was so angry and frustrated with me, they wanted nothing to do with me anymore My sister to this day hates me to this day with a passion that I can only describe as "unfettered". All of this for a 13 year old child was alot. There was no rhyme or reason to the violence, drug abuse, sexual abuse and the killing in my mind at the time.

It was just something that I did and I didn't understand why. I was angry and I didn't know why. I just wanted it to stop and if it meant my death, that's what it meant. I still remember the nights of looking in the mirror and seeing the devil himself.

That emotional disconnect allowed me (in my mind) to act in ways that most children wouldn't dare. That was the hook. I could kill, get high and destroy because I was already dead. I was put on this earth to destroy and be a sexual device for teachers and I simply accepted that fact. The rest, is of course shattered history.

I hope that this post gives Lisa and all of my readers a bit more insight into a fraction of what I went through as a child. I am sure over the coming days I will talk more about Cathargic Reaction, Suicide Attempts and other issues that deal with R.A.D. but this is enough for now.


I still hear their screams

Dear all,

This is a very graphic post about Reactive Attachment Disorder. Please use discretion while reading. Any negative comments will be removed immediately.

I have coined a phrase. That phrase is: The Sunken Ship Syndrome.

Every once in a great while, memories from my childhood that I have long since forgotten (usually of the violence, sadness or my kidnapping) float to the surface of my thoughts, like decking from a rusting, hulking, broken ship on the bottom of the sea.

Lately, the screams of the animals that I killed as a child still resonate in my head. No matter how hard I try, I still hear the anguish, the pain that I caused and the nights as a 10 year old I spent crying myself to sleep, blood still fresh underneath my fingernails. No matter how many tears I shed or animals I killed, I couldn't abolish the anger that I knew was right under the surface, ready to explode at a moment's notice.

I write this post to help those reading about reactive attachment disorder and understand it's potentially lethal consequences.

Without going into very gory details I can talk about one of my household pets I killed while in a rage that even today shocks me.

I came home and for no apparent reason whatsoever (past the pain of my youth) I decided to beat a cat of mine with the end of a toilet plunger handle. A perfect weapon I thought. Immediately, I totally lost control over myself. I was watching myself mercilessly beat this defenseless animal. I watched myself swing, and swing and swing away and with each agonizing blow, I only became angrier.

I like to refer to this even like watching a movie. I could feel the seething anger, the depression. I could see myself killing this animal, I could hear it scream. I could feel my hands but I totally lost any kind of self control to stop myself. Still fresh in mind with the last blow I took, the cat stretched itself out and then died. (My eyes tear up even today thinking about that stretch)
When I close my eyes at night, I still wonder why that animal had to die and I didn't. I still want to vomit when I think about all that poor animal suffered at my hands, my anger and my disposition. The weight of so many lives I took weighs heavily on me.

To take a life, any life haunts you as it haunts me still. During these anger outbursts, I literally had no control over myself. It was totally unspeakable. I could be described as beyond maniacal.

After I dumped the body into my parents bathroom, I threatened my brother's life. I said " If you get in my way, I will kill you too..." The anger was still there, but slowly beginning to recede. I ran out of the house while my brother ran out saying "Mike don't go I love you". I didn't care. I didn't care about love anymore. I didn't care about who I was hurt and killing. I didn't care about the blood that I spilled over a disorder that didn't in those days even have a name yet. I just wanted to die. I was 14 years old.

I hid in a stream bed at the bottom of my family's home. The oddest thing happened. Above me, very dark, very low and very menacing clouds were flying through the sky at magnificent speed. The leaves on the ground from the new fall season rustled through the grass and passed over my hands and feet. I just layed there, the anger now subsided and I was very, very scared and above all, physically and mentally spent.

Today, 32 years old, I still hear those screams and I remember those clouds. I think about the countless other children and adults that are still suffering my fate as we speak. I pray that they read this post and realize they aren't alone in their sufferings. I understand what they are going though and if I could reach out to them and share their tears, I would in a heartbeat. People that have suffered from Reactive Attachment Disorder share a very special, yet violent and sad bond that only we that are afflicted with it understand. I understand.

I write what I wrote so that I could write what's next.

Last night, I had an opportunity (now I am cying a bit) to hold a brand new, 2 week old puppy who's eye's just opened. Barely able to crawl I saw this beautiful little creature try to crawl her way to me. As I looked both lovingly and awe inspired by the untamed beauty of this creature she finally stumbled over to me, head bobbing. She licked my nose and I saw the beauty of such an innocent and beautiful creature look at me with the fragility of her existence in my life.

I wanted to hold her soft body close to mine and renew my vow to love her as much as I could before I have to sell her. This is my penance for the sins that I have committed to so many household animals that died at my hands for me to survive. To see such wonderment in such a small baby puppy renews my hope that the screams I hear every night don't have to repeat themselves again.

I have told many that know me I would gladly give my life to bring back the animals that I took from this world in anger over so many things that happened to me.

Today, however, I wonder if the better choice to reach out to those animals and people that I can that I hold in such wonderment. I ponder if those that died at my hands died so that I can see the true beauty of a puppy crawling to me in the middle of the night. They may have died to show me that at 14 I felt like the devil himself (literally) but I am the exact opposite of the devil.

Yes, their lives were taken in vain but within that vain was the promise of hope their deaths gave me. That promise is the beautiful puppy now asleep who's life will enrich another's life and bring them years of joy and happiness.

I may hear their screams for the rest of my life but the puppy I hold with the gentleness of a champagne glass will never have to scream those screams.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

What consitutes adoption?

Ah, the summer's heat. In Cincinnati, it's already blazing 85 degrees at 10am. Eek! So, I thought I would take the time and write a bit more about adoption this morning and start another discussion about it.

Not too long ago, I had a lengthy exchange with a private poster about adoption itself and what constitutes it. While this conversation I had seemed more like a heated argument, it bothered me and stuck with me. The same question rolled through my head. "What constitutes adoption?".

My own birth mother tossed me aside not because of lack of resources (She was a dancer in a club), not because of lack of family support (my grandmother on my father's side practically raised me until I was two) and not because of some greater good that she was trying to accomplish for my own sake. She in effect gave me up because it was easier to relieve herself from the strain of presence in her life and as punishment to my father's side of the family.

Therefore, the question still lurks right below the surface.

The simple fact of the matter (in my meager opinion, of course) is that we have become an apathetic society. We have learned in our lazy, throw away society that ANYTHING that bothers us can be removed. Any burden that we ourselves have brought upon us can be removed for our sake and our own comfort. Sadly, in many cases this children are put into the foster care system for this reason alone.

I have visited many foster homes and agencies and I listen MANY stories of drug addicted parents that have lost everything dump their children off under the veil " I'm giving him/her a better life", which is of course the point. While heartbreaking to listen to these stories, we must to a point detach that emotion(s) and investigate closely the reasoning for the decisions that birthparents make. A great measuring stick for how truly apathetic our society has become.

Many times in the lectures that I give I always hear the same question posed to me. "Do you advocate adoption?"

My only response is: I advocate responsibility in parenting. I don't advocate or disavow myself from adoption (Except in rare circumstances). Adoption in many cases is an excuse to continue living a lifestyle that is less than favorable. I have seen it with my own eyes too many times. Would I personally put my own child up for adoption? The answer is of course, no.

I have also heard "Only if you were in my shoes" or "You have to be a parent to understand". No I don't, nor does anyone else. Our society is one of the most hypocritical, self righteous, arrogant and judgemental of them all. Those who put their children up for adoption because of a "lack of resources" or some other excuse that doesn't include terminal illness, incest and or rape need to think VERY carefully about themselves, their decision making process and their children. In many cases adoption itself sends a messages to a child (or at least it did for me) which are:

You were too much of burden

The double standard of course adoption itself. We put children into the foster care system and then tell them "You have to grow to be a responsible adult". That's an interesting theory. To a thrown away child, that's an awfully hard burden to fight with. Why be responsible when the very people that gave birth to you didn't hold those same values?

To give the offended reader a taste of what I am talking about, I will yet again share some interesting pieces of knowledge that I learned as I walked 55 miles (Cincinnati to Dayton) for adoption awareness.

When I was a child I only knew three words, all of which were rejection words, they were:

See ya, Goodbye and No.

I couldn't sleep at night in ANY of the foster homes I was in (9 total). I learned that was a coping mechanism that my brain developed from the awful fighting, screaming and yelling that I encountered while in my birthmother's care. I still have to tell myself at night "Your ok, your safe", just to sleep and it's still difficult to sleep.

Another interesting thing of note. I was the only child given up for adoption. My birthmother has had 3 other children that she all kept in her care. Seems rather odd to me. Why not give all of them up? Why just me?

With all things being equal, anyone that tells me I SHOULD have been put up for adoption I say this:

I would have known my family, I would have known my mother, father and extended family. I would have known my roots instead of wondering around for 28 years wondering who I was, where I came from and why I am the way I am. I might have ended up in jail, or maybe not. Regardless I would feel connected to the world. I wouldn't have been told a LIE, a fairy tale and been given a life that wasn't mine.

The ensuing R.A.D from the neglect, abuse and multiple foster care placements left me in a very odd spot. Before I was old enough to understand sex (around 7) I was already having it. Teachers, babysitters took advantage of me in many sexual situations that in retrospect showed me what I was worth. The anger, the firestarting, the drug abuse, the animal killing, EVERYTHING just got worse.

All of this, for someone else's comfort and lifestyle.

That is the inherit tragedy of my adoption and many like mine.


PS: Before I get publicly roasted, there are only a few reasons (once again) in my opinion for an adoption to take place. Incest, Rape,Terminal Illness, serious neglect or child abuse.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My is story for your viewing, not your inferrment

Dear all,

It's great to be blogging again! Someone posted an anon. posting on my blog and I thought I would write about that person's thoughts. (Which are appreciated) This blog is about inspiring thought and provoking commentary amongst the adopted community and those old and young that suffer from R.A.D.

This person "Could be silent no longer" which seems rather odd, but regardless, let us beging a discussion in length about this post.

My story (in my last posting) I spoke of my journey to TN to learn more of my family and it's history. I choose to make my life story public knowledge because it's a story that I have hidden my entire life, and no one really knows anything about me.

This "private" poster thinks that because I talk about my personal experience with R.A.D. that a would be adoptive parent would be frightened into thinking their child may possess R.A.D. or scared away from adoption itself.

I write my blogs and talk about R.A.D. and vocalize my experiences so that other's understand how R.A.D. can totally destroy and rip apart a family and a life. No matter how ugly the story gets, it's a real story and there are many like mine. EVERY adoptive parent should read about R.A.D., it's syptomology and it's effects. Every adoptive parent should question the circumstances behind their adoptive child's experiences with birthparents. If my blog inspires that thought or action then I have accomplished my mission.

If a would be adoptive parent reads one blog about MY experiences with R.A.D. and becomes frightened that choice is upon them to act as they may. I will not whitewash my story for anyone's comfort because I have had to live it. How an adoptive parent or would be adoptive parent interprets my blog isn't my responsibility, it's theirs.

Also, this "private" poster also stated that I "imply" that because I write about my story and expose R.A.D. on a blog that a birthmother would abort their child is rediculous. The "private" poster also suggested that I "imply" that adoption is a hastily made decision. To address this with just a few words I will:

In some cases, it is. Mine being one of them. I am living proof of many hastily made decisions.

This "private" poster also said he/she was also adopted and suffered no mental illness and has had nothing but joy come of their adoption.

That is wonderful!!! You are one of the lucky ones and should be proud of that fact. It's a wonderful thing to hear that other's have made it through the process without any trouble. That of course is not the fact for many, many, many other children that suffer the rest of their lives (or a good portion of it) trying to close the wounds of their pasts.

The "private" poster also suggested "sure they have wondered where they are from" which once again is a personal issue.

I HAD to know more about my family because I felt like mine was taken before I had a chance to make that desicion on my own. I never had a say in what happened to me and for years after that fact I felt torn, stolen and dumped off. This was a recurring feeling throughout my life that constantly haunted me.

"Who was your family, what were they like and how did they come to be" just played over and over and over in my head many nights. This insatiable need to know my family manifested itself in many destructive ways throughout my life. The more I learn, the more I want to know. That's just the nature of the beast. I have always been vigorously curious.

I truly appreciate the "private" poster's opinions and while I wish this poster the best of luck their future efforts, I urge him or her to realize his or her adoption story of fufillment won't overshadow what so many other stories of tragedy still have yet to be told.