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.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Once again, I apologize for not being around as much, I have been extremely busy and not able to write.
This morning, however, I will write. I am literally crying. It took me over 20 years to learn how to cry again after everything in my body told me it was wrong to cry. The only times that I would cry would be when I was extremely drunk. However, today I cry without that aid. There is a lot of pain and healing that must be achieved. R.A.D. has taught me not to care about anything but today, I am literal bawling.
My dog had a litter of puppies that I had to say goodbye to this morning. for 8 weeks I had to care for these dogs, feed them, play with them (Socialization) and we had good times watching them run around the house and play.
Alas, we don't have the means to take care of them, we have 4 small dogs as it is and it's hard taking care of them, let alone 4 puppies. We live in an apartment and these puppies scream and cry and make far too much noise. I feel selfish because if we keep them we will most assured be evicted. I am trapped. My promise to my higher power to the realities of being evicted with too many things going on. I am just in alot of pain right now, regardless of the situation.
I PROMISED GOD that never again would an animal suffer at my hands, and I feel like I have failed my promise. (I am crying even harder now). I feel beyond low. I PROMISED GOD that no matter what happened, no animal would ever again suffer because of my actions. I feel as though, by selling them to a pet store, I have banished them to a place that they don't know, they will cry at night and they will be scared AND I WON'T BE ABLE TO SAVE THEM FROM IT.
This ties directly in with Adoption. Most R.A.D. Parents understand what I am talking about. All too well. This is a loss that I cannot control. It is a trigger and even in my 30's I have to be very, very, very careful. I failed at yet again another promise. May my higher power help me.
I will not be able to control who takes them or how they will taken care of. I feel sick to my stomach at this very moment.
After the deaths of the animals at my own hands, years later I promised myself and my higher power that no animal would suffer at my hands ever again and I feel like it's happening all over again. I am totally and completely powerless. I hate feeling like this, I hate crying and even worse at my age, I am learning how TO FEEL.
They have bonded with me to an extent and I had to let them go. This ties in with adoption in many RADTastic ways. I just wish that the pain I feel would subside.
I have learned to live life by controlling everything around me. I have learned to live life alone and without feeling and now I know why. So THIS wouldn't happen. So I wouldn't feel any kind of pain and any pain that I did feel would be instantly quashed to a certain extent.
Now, I cannot stop but feeling anger, depression and helplessness. I feel like I am in a cage and I cannot escape.
Such little, beautiful and sacred lives are out of my control and I am not dealing with this very well at all.
It is in my hopes that these beautiful animals are given good homes. What will eat at me at night is knowing that they are somewhere that I cannot protect them.
This is like having my heart torn out of chest and thrown on the floor.
My father said "You are doing the best for them, you cannot take care all of these dogs, don't go south on me". While his attempt at solace didn't hold any water because we are still on different "Planes" I understand the point.
Today is going to be a very, very, very, very hard day. It's only 9am and I am bawling.
Progress at the expense of loss. Call that a R.A.D. catch 22
Friday, July 24, 2009
My dad and I have always had the strained relationship that most families do, except I was the worst of the worst for over 25 years. My father, never gave up on me. The more people I hurt, the more animals I killed and the further I slipped into the abyss,he was there. I cannot say I loved him for a VERY long time. Loving anyone, ever was something that was totally foreign to me.
My father tried his best to raise me to be a good man. His attempts failed. I am sure in some way, he blames himself for some of the mistakes he made but just like the rest of us, he is human. I did awful, terrible things to my entire family. (My sister still hates me to this day) He did the best he could to raise me to be ethical, fair, professional and above all, kind.
That wasn't to be.
While I slid further down the slope of women, drugs, anger, depression and self loathing he was always there with his two dollar wisdom that to me, was totally ridiculous. "Life is like the beach, it's beautiful, but it can flood." What the did I care about beaches,what did I care about life. I wanted him dead, my family dead and I wanted me dead. All of his wisdom didn't take into account the fact that I was a broken person.
Many people in my life ran, but he never did. He learned to cope just like I did in our usual ways that sometimes meant manipulation of each other simply because that's how we chose to survive the events that I myself created. There wasn't a time in my life when I could ever remember us having a "normal" relationship. We were either debating, at each other's throats,totally exhausted with each other and other times, fighting with each other. Either way I look at it, his life and mine were two totally and tragic worlds.
He wanted a son that was a professional, someone who made a difference in the world. That was his tragedy.
My tragedy is that I couldn't live up to those standards.
I sometimes wonder why I had to do the things I did for 25 years suffering with R.A.D. I realize now that it doesn't matter anymore. What's done is done and the damage that I have caused still hold myself accountable for. I have destroyed a lot of lives, including my own.
When I decided to find my birth family, I am sure my adoptive dad had the usual nervousness that accompanies that kind of journey. A father who didn't love his child could, but not my dad. My dad loves me to much. Today, I know that. Something happened that was much more profound than I could have ever imagined.
I realized that every time I sobbed over "I'm a terrible human being" emails that I would write in drunken stupors that I wasn't proving anything to him. All I was doing was wallowing in my own self loathing and I didn't even know it. Until a few months ago.
Since that time, I have opened up a RAD portal that I have spent hundreds of hours working on,I have self published a book, I run a non profit helping ANYONE with R.A.D. and I have dedicated myself to these programs. I literally go to sleep 1 hour after I finish work, and I wake up ready to sit in front of the computer and do it all over again. That's when I received the email that changed my life.
It was from my adoptive dad. He said, "I respect you and what your doing, I'm very proud of you".
I wanted to cry, but as many of you know I cried all my tears out long ago. Instead, I held my father in a new light. I saw him as my father for the first time in 25 years. I saw that I have become exactly what he wanted me to be.
Everyday is still a struggle overcoming the effects of R.A.D. Everyday, I have to learn how to live life over again. Every day I have think about how many years I spent trying to destroy myself.
Everyday now, I work 14-16 hour days with all three of my little companies. Everyday I want to help another person and promote RADOnline. Everyday I want to write something new. Every day I want to live the life of a free person. R.A.D. Survivors will tell you that R.A.D. is prison, and it is.
My dad See's me, at least in part, out of prison. He is beginning to see (I think) all of those morals, values and philosophical beliefs I thought to be crap coming from me. He is seeing a changed man, and he is changing with me. We are beginning our relationship NOW.
Those 25 years he wasn't my dad he was idiot.
Today, he's my father.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Sorry I haven't been blogging as much or browsing other blogs lately. My community project has eaten up any extra time that I DID have. I thought I would write something inspirational to all those RADtastic parents and sufferer's as opposed to writing about my life with R.A.D.
Hope is more then praying. I had the honor of meeting a 1 and a half year old child today with the sure signs of R.A.D. (However, one cannot be diagnosed with R.A.D. until they are of verbal age, hence, cognitive therapy is very difficult). This child, had a beautiful smile, but at the same time, the eyes and the facial expressions of a very angry child. I will wait to tell her story until the family chooses us to represent them as clients.
Anyways, at the end of this meeting a very thankful RAD mom said to us "You were sent to us by angels". That kind of perked my ears up. I detest organized religion but I don't detest those that practice their religions. To each their own, as long as it makes them happy.
There is more to "hope" then prayer however or the assumption of fulfilled prophecies. Hope is hard work. It's more then praying for change. It's more than wishing things to change for you or those around you. It's sweat, tears and above all, sacrifice. Too many times I have heard the word "Hope" tossed around the proverbial room as if it was a catch phrase for change. Many people HOPE things change. I listen to R.A.D. parents say they "Hope" things will change. Those of you who know better know that "Hope" isn't talking, it's acting.
I have had the pleasure and the honor to speak with many families that call me all kinds of wonderful things. People say I am a R.A.D. warrior. I have been called "Strong". I have had parents thank me for speaking about R.A.D. My point is, I want to inspire hope through hard work, just as many R.A.D. parents are doing right now. They are inspiring hope through their selfless acts of love, courage and fortitude with very difficult children.
Every day, ALL of us have the chance to provide hope for everyone around us by our positive and giving actions. We all have the opportunity to make someone smile, someone laugh or provide our self inflicted wisdom to someone who needs help. Every minute, we have a chance to provide love, affection, a shoulder and an ear. The smallest things we do can impact a life on such a profound scale and we can start providing hope for our community right now. There are no time limits on providing hope to others.
It becomes a question of when we decide to stop having the world revolve around ourselves before we can utter the words "Hope" to another human being. When we decide to extend our hands to whoever needs help and honestly wants that help will hope form. Otherwise, "Hope" is just another word we use to describe a quality we don't know how to give to another human being. It's just a word.
I wonder how many people realize how difficult R.A.D. children are. The parents of these children are the ones I salute today. Today, I can honestly tell each and every one of you that what you are doing is providing TRUE HOPE. If the world had 30 percent more of people like yourselves, our world would be so different.
Whenever someone asks me (And I am getting alot less emails these days, oddly) "how can I help my child?" One thing I say is "Continue providing hope for your children".
Hope saves lives and redeems broken ones. It gives light to the darkest areas of a troubled life. It provides solace in a R.A.D. child's life. Keep doing the good that you are doing, even if you don't think your doing a good job. Most likely, you are and that word "Hope" actually means something.
Yes, today, because of you, Hope is alive and well.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Considering your lengthy post, I thought I would write an entire blog just for you. I could feel the desperation, the anger and the frustration in your voice. I, if no one else understands what trials your child is putting your family through at this very troubling hour. I can totally understand the futile and fruitless "Love him more" speeches that I am sure you receive daily.
Your post touched me because I was the exact same way when I was his age. You mentioned in your post that he wants too "Kill someone" that's his goal. Is it? Does a 12 year old understand the implications of death as you and I do? Probably not. I surely didn't understand or know about the horrible nightmares that I would have for years as I felt the warm blood of an animal running down the sides of my hand after a particularly bad rage. I wonder, Lindy if your son isn't trying to communicate with you the only way that he knows how.
To tell you everything is going to be ok, is of course bull crap. Your son, as destructive as he is and how EVIL he seems is still a very hurt, confused child. The sentence you wrote struck me as odd. "His goal is to kill someone." Did he say this to you? Or is that an educated assumption on your part? We have to nail that down first.
My parents did the same thing. They locked their doors at night because they thought that based upon my actions I would KILL them. I wouldn't. Even as a child with R.A.D. I knew what the limits were. I knew that while I hated my adopted family (And they hated me at times) their deaths wouldn't fit into my plans of manipulation and shock value tactics. As I read more about your son, my non clinical mind says this is a shock tactic. Even dangerous and physically threatening, it's still a tactic that the R.A.D. child will use.
They want your attention and a RAD Child will get it one way or another. Killing, stealing, abusing, fire starting, lying, cheating. Whatever we find that will scare you and start a pre-emptive confrontation that ultimately, the R.A.D. child will control. In some ways I loved the fact that my family both hated and feared me. I was in control of the situation 100 percent. This allowed me total freedom (Or at least I thought) to continue acting out. And of course, as we know acting out is about emotional expression.
I know that right now, you are afraid, you are pissed and you want to give in. You can't. That child, no matter how damaged he is, he is still a child. He still has a chance at a somewhat normal life. You are the instrument that is keeping him alive and without you, his chances of survival drop tremendously. You are quite literally his savior.
Underneath all of that anger is simply a child that doesn't know how to verbalize and vocalize his experiences in a way that you can understand. What you do understand, however is violence and fear. That's his way of reaching out. (I know, that sounds really messed up). The more that you react to this the more he controls. Considering the frustration non verbally expressed in your post to me, it sounds like he has really worked your family over. I know how hard this is for you and your family. I know.
What I am about to say may make you angry, maybe not. You CANNOT give up. If you give up, or you react negatively to him, he wins. I hear all the time "I would NEVER give up on my child" but I know that we ALL question our dedication to something. Don't give up.
If your child is physically in danger of hurting you, your children, animals you must, of course seek intervention. You must draw the line and injury/death is of course one line he must not be able to cross. Dare I say it, but if the police need to be involved, use them. His life, your life, your children's lives or another's life must be considered first.
My good friend Lisa Amos and I agree that RAD kids are hurt animals. Have you ever tried to approach an angry cat? They may love you but if your in their way they will fight to the death to keep themselves safe. That's a perfect definition of a R.A.D. kid. Your child is hurt, angry, confused and feels alone in a see of people and may be suffering from "Motel Syndrome". Email me about "Motel Syndrome". It's a very interesting concept.
I don't know much about the rest of your story, so really that's all the advice I can give you. Based on your post, I can feel how much you love your son. These trying times are probably the worst you have ever experienced and I also know how angry you are. I always like to say "Stay the course" I know that sometimes you have no clue where that course is headed.
Either way, your child no matter how crazy and maniacal he may act is still a hurt human being that needs you. The choice of adopting him is on your shoulders and I know the weight right now is overpowering. No matter what happens, I PROMISE you, one day he will thank you for being as strong as you are right now.
It may not come for years and during those years he may curse your existence. The day however, he sits down with you, looks into your weathered eyes and says "I was a terrible son, but you saved my life...Thank you" will be worth everything you are going through now.
Remember! Keep yourself, your family and the community around you safe. If you feel that your child is an immediate danger, seek intervention.
Sincerely with love and regards,
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
As you can imagine, getting rad-online.org up and running has been a massive undertaking. However, despite that challenge, I am blogging again targeted at R.A.D. sufferer's young and old today. This is for them and I hope those that don't have the strength to speak up and speak out find solace in this post, as it both heartfelt and genuine.
As I sit hear listening to some of my favorite and very emotional music I wonder how many more like me are out there, listening to their own music. I wonder how many people I can reach before they end up like me, or if they are like me, how can I help them today. I look out the window and I wonder how many people are ready to end their lives or start living them again.
I wonder how many children, teens and adults will cry and wrestle with the feelings of utter contempt over their lives and the life they feel was taken from them. I ask myself, how will the people I hurt during my RAD years go to sleep knowing I have gotten better, while they may still be hurting.
We as RAD survivors fight not only with the demons of our past, but the sins we have committed. It's a constant tug of war battle that seems never ending and insurmountable. I question how many out there afflicted with RAD will kill an animal, hurt themselves or someone else not because they want to but because they have to. It's the only way they know how to communicate their particular emotions. I wonder how many afflicted will assist in the destruction of their families or begin trying to repair the damage they have done.
The cycle it seems, is never ending. More and more afflicted will continue to spring up and stay in the shadows, vowing that their actions good and bad should never be spoken of.
How alone we feel in the world surrounded by others trying to help us is immaterial to us. The damage has been done.
Everyday I ask myself how I can help another family. I cannot repay, repair or release the burden of my actions from those I have hurt or who have hurt me.
The only thing I can say to R.A.D. sufferer's is this:
I understand and you aren't alone. If it means writing to me tonight instead of going out and doing something crazy, young or old, please write. Don't make the mistakes that I made and that I am still 20 years later reeling from. Don't let those raw, bleeding emotions drive you to the horrors that I know you want to surrender to.
When you scream " You don't understand", I do understand. When you cry, thinking the thoughts of rage I understand those thoughts and you aren't alone in that struggle. We as a RAD Community are labeled as damaged beyond repair at times, but we aren't. No matter what has happened to you, or what you have done, you are not damaged beyond repair. You are beautiful and your voice has meaning. Trust me from experience. You are worth more than you think.
It's too easy to surrender and almost impossible to fight sometimes. That, I know. I know how hard it is to lay awake at night, staring at the ceiling and wishing a plane would crash into your roof. I know about the nightmares, the hate, and the need to destroy the word and watch it burn. I understand and know the struggle and strife that has riddled your life with tears and holes.
That's all I can do for you from here. I can listen. I can write back. If simple words to another human being is what it takes to support you, I am here and willing to listen, even if you think no one else is.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Thank you, "Thatwouldbeme" for your very kind comments. Whenever someone writes to me, I try to write back as quickly as I can. The way I see it, you have taken time out of your day to write to silly little me, so I should take the time to write back to you!
The turning point? Honestly, I cannot honestly cannot say there was one contributing factor that was a turning point in my war against R.A.D. It was a multitude of different things. Any adult or child that is suffering from Reactive Attachment Disorder has a very hard battle to fight. The very connections that we want and that we need in our lives are our very downfall.
When I was younger, my shock tactics, my abuses, drug addiction, stealing, lying and fire starting literally pushed everyone away. Who would want to love a child with blood on his hands? While I craved attention, affection and companionship I also detested it's very concept. So it was a double sided blade.
If you remember from previous posts, I sank so low as a child, I literally thought I was the devil himself. I could get away with anything (in my young mind) because not only was I already dead, everything I did was anti-social in nature. It was easy to get slammed on huffing paint thinner, killing animals or hurting others. It was scarily too easy.
As I grew older, all of those vices and behaviors carried over in my adulthood. I was a 12 year old kid in a 27 year old's body. Relationships with women were completely sexual in nature only. Any woman that tried to get close to me I would turn away for one reason or another. In many cases stemming from my own sexual abuse issues themselves, I loved sex with women and I hated it. Another double sided blade.
Of course drinking and drug use in my life was overpoweringly prevalent. When I wasn't drunk or high trying my best to erase the devilish part of me, I was lying in a complete state of depression and self loathing. I never left my house, my shades were drawn and I tried suicide one too many times. I wasn't a person anymore, just a blob doing nothing with my life. The worst part of that? I didn't care and it bothered me that I didn't care. "Why couldn't I be like everyone else?" I would ask myself as I drew a knife across my arm.
I used everyone I could for anything I could. Whether it was paying for rent, food, booze you name it, I would. I was a master at lying and manipulating. I worked odd jobs here and there but found no solace in working for other people (In fact, to this day I have vowed NEVER to work for someone else again) and each job I had I would either quit or sabotage.
My adoptive parents supported me through this whole time but even their patience for there mentally screwed up adoptive son was beginning to wane.
I wrote all of that in response to you to set the scene up below.
It took me meeting my birth parents and completing my family research to finally ground myself in some kind of connection to the world. I had to feel connected to the world in one way or another. Now that I had a connection to my families history, I felt that I now belonged on the planet earth.
Another turning point was my "Walk For Adoption" that was a 3 day event. I literally WALKED from Cincinnati to Dayton, Ohio to raise awareness for R.A.D. and adoption. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I felt that because I was adopted in Dayton which started the train wreck of my entire life, I had to walk "home" and close that part of my life. I trained for six months of my life every day in prep for the walk. When I started the walk, my brain told me "Your going to quit, you cannot make it'. That voice stayed with me for about 15 miles, but I shut it out.
I believe to this day, that walk provided me with the necessary self confidence of doing something that alot of people couldn't or wouldn't do.
Another turning point (And probably the biggest one) is that I simply had to accept my life for what it was. It was no one's fault that I turned out to be the piece of shit I was. I was a bad person not because of my actions but because I was not contributing to society at all. I was simply here. I had to accept and swallow the fact that I was really messed up. Instead of trying to mourn over my ENTIRE LIFE, I realized I had gone through what I did for one reason:
To help others.
Now, I have dedicated my life to sharing event the most vulgar, pathetic, scary, violent and saddest of times with the world through my advocacy program, my blog and my newly created online community (http://www.rad-online.com) I know, shameless plug, sorry!
If there is anything that I have learned from struggling with RAD for 25 years is that mourning my past and acting out because of it isn't helping anyone, myself included.
My struggles, I conclude are best utilized with the education of others, sharing other people's trials, and being a shoulder to listen to those trials. If I never make another penny in my life, that's fine. Knowing however that I may potentially educate and alleviate another adult, child or family from the perils of R.A.D. I have paid back the community I did my best to destroy.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
This post is one without horror, bloodshed or sexual abuse. This post isn't about speaking to others. This post is about one thing:
It's time to stand up and stand together in our united cause. This cause, has taken many generations of destroyed lives riddled with terrible stories to come to fruition. Today, however, our voices can be united and celebrated with not only the hope of brighter futures for EVERYONE afflicted with RAD but for those yet to speak. Today as a community that has suffered, endured, cried and agonized it's our turn. It's our turn to share our stories with those who still quietly live in anguish and shame. Today it's our turn to hold our heads high and claim what is rightfully ours.
Today we can bring our message of healing to those that don't believe it's possible. Today we can be united in our common goals. We have the honor, privilege and the opportunity to be united as opposed to living quietly, vowing that the shame of our stories never be told in fear of common mockery. As a community is it not our job to lift ourselves and those that suffer with the strength of our stories and our struggles? As we have seen time and again a single story may be powerful, but a collective story changes lives. Today is the day to rally together and bring about change in our communities.
I challenge everyone that has an RAD story to join me and form an alliance that will be heard throughout the entire world. I invite you on a journey that may change not only your life, but those who are touched by yours. Our stories will support those who are afraid to share theirs.
Our common bond is the very bond we need to survive the perils of R.A.D. together as a community.
We no longer have to remain quiet in our homes hoping to one day be rid of this cursed disorder. Gone are the days of the frustration of isolation and desperation. Today we bring our stories to RAD parents, RAD sufferers, Doctors, Police Officers, School Officials, social workers and adoptive agencies. Our stories will be the definitive story of RAD and the hope that lies ahead for all, given to us by right of our lives.
RADOnline: The Online Consortium will be the adventure of a lifetime for all involved.As a community we will not only provide hope to those afflicted but educate ALL who yearn to understand R.A.D. through our collective voice of hope and sacrifice. Our experiences as well as our sacrifices will stand testament to the futures we can change today. All of us can speak. All of us can be heard.
Our unity will be our very paramount message to the community we seek to support and educate. Your RAD story, no matter what it entails will give depth and resonance that is so desperately needed in the RAD community. Some may be frightened or ashamed share their story with us. Don't be, we have been where you are and we want you to join us. We understand in the ways that only RAD parents, children and adults can possibly understand. You are NOT alone and you never were.
Our journey will be a difficult task for all involved. Every day will present new challenges that will and must be overcome. The road ahead will take many winding turns, much like the RAD story you are prepared to add to our voice. We will forge ahead into a new healing chapter of not only our lives, but the medical community as well. We invite everyone from all medical fields to join us in our never ending quest to educate and provide the necessary platform for hope and change.
Will you stand with us?
**For those interested in this opportunity to be of service to others, be part of an online RAD community and interested in sharing your RAD story please contact me for more information or see
http://rad-online.org (Website still under heavy construction)
Friday, July 10, 2009
within the next 24 hours, I have a HUGE surprise and an adventure that ALL of us can
I promise you all, it will be worth the effort.
Keep your eyes peeled!!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
No, your not the "meanest mom" ever.
“So my question is, am I the meanest mom ever? Would it have been helpful to you as a teen to have your media "censored?" I realize this doesn't change their past at all, and they ARE dealing with the issues media could be bringing up both in therapy and really all the time, but I don't think they need the exposure to upsetting media all the time.”
Dear Mary The Mom,
Ironically, for not being a professional therapist, I get the same “am I the meanest mom ever???” question almost daily now. My resounding answer most assuredly is NO. I am of the belief that while being a mom or a dad is a great thing, there is a limit to the amount of “coolness” or leeway that you can provide. If you feel that they don’t need the added pressure and exposure to certain media, be firm and be confident in the fact your making the best call that you can. You’re the mom and that’s the way it goes.
I find it refreshing that you want to be able to filter what your kids see. I think that in today’s society it’s easier to toss a child a T.V. while parent’s pursue other interests. It speaks volumes to me that you want to have such limits in the interests of your children’s safety in your household. It’s a very inspiring value.
“The meanest mom ever” comment of course is not accurate and remember with R.A.D. kids, no how matter much they push your buttons and give you trouble, don’t take it personally. Their outbursts aren’t about YOU it’s about THEM. I remember holding a knife to father’s throat, not wanting to kill him of course, but to assert authority. It wasn’t about him, it was about MY anger.
Sounds to me like your making the call for your family that you have to make, in a society that tells you to do otherwise. Your sticking to your guns and your values. I think your kids will not only say “Thank you” one day for your sense of values you have impressed upon them, but the “Greatest mom ever” mug you eventually receive from appreciative young adults will prove me correct.
Sincerely with regards and the warmest of wishes,
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I have always been a movie fan. I love all kinds of movies, love, drama, action, you name it. As a child, I learned that movies made better friends then the people that spit on me at school. I especially loved excessively violent movies and ones that would depress me.
I would go out of my way to watch particular scenes over and over and over again. Over time, each time I would watch, another tear would drop, I would load another round (Bullet) into a rifle I owned and I would just bawl. I will write about one particular movie that still resonates with me today.
When I was roughly 22-23 years old, I had a particularly hard time watching a crash scene from the movie "Armageddon". Let's set the scene up.
Harry Stamper and his team are on two shuttles that are trying to land on an earth crushing meteor hurtling towards earth at gawd awful speeds. The ejected rocks from the meteor present a HUGE problem for the both the landing craft.
"Were gonna hit!!!" The pilot of the shuttle "Independence" screams. The next scene flashes to rocks cracking and splitting the windscreen of the shuttle. One giant, final rock smashes the entire windscreen in and the shuttle goes wildly out of control.
The pilot yells to entire team "The ship is out of control and we are going down". The entire ship breaks up as it spins out of control. People in the other shuttle can see destruction and chaos. A body from the doomed ship actually hits the other ships before the "Independence" crashes into the main body of the meteor.
Inside the doomed ship, people are killed instantly, destruction and chaos rain. Pipes, flames and bodies are thrown everywhere. The chaos inside the ship is extremely violent in nature.
Of course, being a media love, the music is very, very powerful and deep. (I am a HUGE music fan).
Why is all of this important to me? (And maybe another suffering from R.A.D.) Why did it send me into depression that was so terrible I felt like ending my own life? It took me 10 years to figure it out. In the end, it's very, very simple. So simple, it's scary.
It took me realizing that my brain was associating what I was seeing with my own actions and life through the scene I was watching. I quite literally was "The Independence". I was spinning out of control, taking other's down with me and headed for total destruction. Others were watching me fall apart (Family and people that knew me) and there was nothing they could do. (Hence, the other ship watching the "Independence" crashing.
My previous animal killing, drug usage, destructive past and personal destruction was simply being reflected by what I saw and I never associated the crashing ship to my own life.
I remember the woman I was seeing at the time was one the phone with me, while I sobbed and I asked her "What's wrong with me?" as I was watching this scene. "I don't know, Mike". I hung up the phone of course and just watched this scene over and over and over until I either drank myself to sleep, attempted suicide or just lied in bed for a few days, doing nothing and just let myself slip further out of control.
It literally took the intervention of a hospital to stop the depression from getting any worse. I couldn't watch Armageddon ever again until today to blog about this with RAD parents and RAD sufferer's.
Media is a VERY POWERFUL tool. However, in the hands of someone with R.A.D. that is unconsciously associating what they are seeing and becoming "Cathartic" is EXTREMELY dangerous.
I write this today so that RAD parents and RAD sufferer's understand that media while intended to please can cause terrible pain and suffering if it's not used correctly and understood by the viewer.
For those that of you that would like to view the scene in it's entirety, here you go:
Monday, July 6, 2009
A door slams shut. A crying child listens to the terrifying screaming between two adults high on meth. Dirty plates crash around the room and glass shatters on a messy floor. This child closes his eyes, screaming holding his hands to his ears, hoping to drown out the sound of hell around him. A scream from his mother opens his eyes and the door to his room is kicked open by his birthfather.
This child knows what's coming. The last time dad came into his room, the child lost 2 teeth. "What are you gonna do about it, boy?" the father screams. His sullen, drunken voice bounces off the dirty walls like the proverbial gunshot. The father pics up his son the scruff of his neck and throws him into an adjoining corner of the room. Blood runs down his now torn open chin. The father kicks him in ribs and a shot of pain leads the child to yelp the helpless cry of a boy in hell itself. The injured child curls up next to a boxed up Christmas tree that was never opened.
His mother comes bursting through the door with a gun, blood running from both of her swollen eyes. " If I cannot have him, you can't either" she musters from her bleeding, mashed mouth. The father turns around leaving his beaten son crumpled on the floor. His father turns around, and stumbles towards his wife of equal inebriation ready to end her life. Before the little boy loses consciousness, he here's a single gunshot and his father's body hitting the floor.
Your son is stomping his feet after he has just urinated all over your brand new carpet. This of course, two weeks after he tried to burn down the Christmas tree in the basement. 1 week ago, he beat up his sister and lied to his teachers about fighting with another child in school.
In your frustration, you want to yell, you want to scream. You WANT to punish. The anger in your adopted child's eyes is almost scary. You sit him down and you TELL him to talk about what is making him angry, and rightfully so. You want answers. You deserve them. You rescued this child from God knows what in his former life. For the life of you, you just cannot wrench a word from him as he continues his ranting and raving. Frustrated with your adopted child's actions, you want to cry, but the tears just seem fruitless and futile. What's the point. Your child is an enigma.
I receive alot of emails from parents shaken up, fed up, looking for help. Not even help, just a sounding board. Something to lessen the frustration from what their children are doing. Some emails I receive talk more about what their child is thinking. After a few minutes (or hours depending on the offenses) I tell the parents one thing:
Understanding isn't important as listening is.
This is something that I always preach. Think about the story that you just read about the reality of too many adopted children. How could you POSSIBLY understand or related to that kind of experience? Even if you could, what would it lead to? For closed adoptions, you may never even know what happened to your adopted child, at the very least, understanding it.
What would have my adoptive parents understood about a topless babysitter I was feeling up in my bedroom for no apparent reason when I was 6 years old? I was too young to have understood what I was doing, how would they understand it?
In my meager opinion, sometimes, it's better just to listen. I know what your going to say, "My kid doesn't talk about his/her experiences". That's fine, we can address that.
When your child is acting out in any way (Self mutilation, sexual acting out, killing, fire starting) instead of yelling, screaming or playing into the R.A.D. itself, try something different. As long as you, your family and your child are safe this procedure may work.
1) Diffuse the situation as best you can. Use a soothing voice, remain calm.
2) Remember the action is based on shock tactics and or the perception of loss
3) Ask the child to remain as calm as possible.
4) Get your child to a quiet, safe place that has been established as his/her "safe place"
A) Ask your child why he/she did what she did (Honey, why did you start the fire?)
B) Answer: "I wanted the Christmas tree dead"
C) Question: "Well honey, why did you want the Christmas tree dead"
D) Question: "Did the tree do something to you that you want to talk about?"
E) Answer: "No, the tree didn't do anything"
F) Question: "Were you angry at the tree honey?"
G) Answer: "No I wasn't angry at the tree, I am angry at my dad"
H) Question: "Your dad now, or the dad you had along time ago"
I) Answer: "Dad along time ago, he threw me into a Christmas tree"
J) Question: "Oh, honey I am so sorry. I can't even begin to understand
what that what that was like." "Would you like to talk about it
K) Answer: "It just really hurt alot and I was scared"
L) Statement "I will ALWAYS be here to listen to you honey, even if I don't understand
what has happened. You are safe here"
In essence, you have opened Pandora's box. Instead of trying to force your child, you are simply letting the child vocalize through their own shocking acts. R.A.D. is meant of course to push away and shock. If you don't react to your child's actions with shock the act itself has lost alot of "steam". Reacting shocked is the point, the child wants your attention and then he/she wants you to throw them away.
Sometimes, it's better to let the child initiate communication when they are ready. They are ready when they start acting out. Of course, if the action is life threatening intervention, (Police, therapists, rtc, etc.) must be utilized. If the event itself isn't life threatening and is run of the mill acting out, this passive communication just might work.
When I set fires and killed animals I was relating my anger. The problem was my parents were playing into my hands by acting the way they did and calling me the HORRIBLE things they did. They simply played the part that I assigned them. If I acted out, they became the aggressors and I could act accordingly. Without the hysterics, name calling and physical abuse, I would have been immediately disarmed.
Remember he story above R.A.D. parents. How could you understand that kind of hell? Most likely, you can't understand it because it's beyond rational action and thought. It however, was the life of a child for years.
Listen even when you think you can't. It will pay off.
*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, these are just my personal opinions based on my life struggling with R.A.D. Use these procedures of course with therapy and if you have questions about the above techniques, please speak with your therapist BEFORE attempting it.
Friday, July 3, 2009
I always knew there was something different about me. I always knew that I didn't belong where I was. I didn't feel ANY kind of connection with my adoption family whatsoever. I knew that I didn't belong in the rich town I was in. I felt, deep within myself that all of this was a sham, something that was foreign to me. Even at the age of 13 years old I knew something was wrong.
I couldn't have been more right. My adoptive father, bless his soul always had the greatest hope of me being a successful C.E.O of some giant company, a nice car, a house and a family. I was groomed to be another aristocratic, Catholic and above all upstanding citizen. Somehow, no matter how hard he tried to mold me into something much like himself, it failed. Every attempt to teach me, every attempt to steer towards a path of financial security and success failed with utter misery, which I am sure he took not only personally, but emotionally as well. I was very out of my element, little did I know, this entire manufactured existence would eventually crumble and the truth of my existence would reveal itself whether I liked it or not.
In school, I was quite literally tortured. Because my Reactive Attachment was so rampant at an early age my peers saw me as a defect. I was beaten, spit on and ridiculed day and night for years. I knew all of these spoiled rotten rich children weren't of my sort either. I was totally alone in a sea of people. It got to the point where I no longer cared about school, waking up, bathing or anything else that would require me to be seen in public. My own self loathing and the reinforcement of that image through my peers simply held me down tighter as I reached out to understand something, anything.
I did, however excel in writing and reading. I was alone so often as a child the only thing I did was play with computers and read books about WWII fighters (Which I still do to this day). While other's played and went out on dates I stayed in my dark room, reading or playing a computer game. Those were my two outlets when I wasn't getting drunk, starting fires, killing animals, stealing, huffing paint thinner or sleeping with a teacher. My adoptive parents teachings failed me almost completely and I now know why.
My roots are the complete OPPOSITE of the ones planted for me by the foster care and adoption system. When I learned that my entire family came from the hills of Tennessee and bondage in Georgia the light finally came on. The anger ceased. The need to see the world burn stopped. The want to hurt and kill other's stopped. Everything stopped. All that was left was a huge hole of ashes that was my former life. I quite literally had nothing left, no where to go and no idea what to do. I was a tired, drunken worn out person that lived 28 years in the dark.
What I have come to learn is that I understand now why I love the outdoors. I realize now why I like target shooting and hiking. I realize now why I enjoy so much being in the mountains. When I am in nature I feel as though this is MY place. I realize that the sufferings of my birthfamily cannot be broken by a manufactured existence. I now realize now why money means absolutely NOTHING to me. My entire family has lived their entire lives without it.
Basically, the polars of the true Earnest Stringfield (My real name) and the manufactured Michael clashed. Most of my family has battled addiction and mental illness, all of which carried over to me. My love of solitude, the sound of a running creek make much more sense to me. No matter how hard it was beaten into me to be a big shot running a company or "making something of myself" it always clashed with the true Earnest Stringfield. I always enjoyed being a bit ornery and foul mouthed. I loved working on cars, getting dirty building things and being outdoors, all of those things were considered poor man's job's in the eyes of my family.
This is how PROFOUND my story is to me. Everything I was taught wasn't the REAL me. Everything that was taught to me was material and of little consequence to me. This is no fault of my adoptive parents, they did the best they could for me. I turned out a terrible person and a train wreck of an adult at my own hands and devices. They had NO idea what they were in in for. I feel for them seeing the son they really wanted and the one I actually turned out to be. I still see the hurt in my adoptive parents eyes. My transformation from manufactured Michael into true Michael is still extremely scary and confusing for my adoptive parents. "Why exactly would you want to associate yourself with people like that" they ask. They are MY people.
The real Mike likes to vagabond and explore. The real Mike enjoys everything my adoptive family doesn't. For my birth mother being a drunken, angry, spite filled and sullen person I felt more comfortable when I met her than I did for 28 years talking with my own family. For my birth father who is a father to at least 13 other children and dared calling me "son" when I met him for the first time, I felt more comfortable with him in that same capacity. (However, I maintain almost no contact with either of them) To be honest, I detest the fact that somehow, I have to take responsibility for my own actions that in part they created in the first place with their drunken sexual act in a motel room described to me in gory detail by my birth father. They however escape that responsibility almost completely.
`` I write all of this to address two important adoption players: For R.A.D. parents if you have the opportunity, get as much background information about your RAD child's roots as you can. Absorb yourself into the back story of your child's family as you can. If my parents knew the things that I know about my family and my history, they may have been able to tailor their efforts towards the things that were inherently buried deep within my Psyche. Instead of fighting my nature, they may have been able to nurture it. If they also knew I was bi-racial, ALOT of things would have been different.
for R.A.D. sufferer's young and old. No matter how painful your past may be, you MUST research it. If your anything like me (eternally curious to the point of insanity) you can understand how important it is to learn. Find your roots, find your family and it's story. Close those wounds of the past and you may be surprised what you find. You may find closure, you will definitely find pain but in the end, your life will be yours again. The NEED to destroy yourself and everyone around you may cease because the life you were given in adoption will have been given a new perspective. That light of your true existence will emerge in your pasts darkest corners with the hope of a future that you deserve.
To everyone, I thank you so much for reading!!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Not long ago, my blog has become very active, thanks to some R.A.D. parents that decided to read my meager thoughts. Those thoughts, no matter how shocking, tragic, touching or tear inducing have brought many to comment and say thank you to me.
I need not nor deserve your thanks. My deepest and most profound hope is to continually thank all of YOU for your very generous, thoughtful words of kindness and respect. I have lived a life that is far below honorable and I have engaged myself in acts that would repulse even the lowest of life forms with my struggle with R.A.D. I deserve no thanks, and I have not earned in my mind my restitution for those I hurt, those I killed (animals) and those that I took such advantage of during those horrible years.
My blog is to serve as the beginning of that restitution in hopes that my meager thoughts may serve testament, witness and usefulness to R.A.D. parents, R.A.D. sufferer's both young and old that have so selfishly given their LIVES to help children that their own families tossed aside like garbage. I feel it incumbent upon me to live up to YOUR standards and convictions, as my own have proven truly weak and fruitless upon deeper consideration.
You are the light of your R.A.D. children's lives. I know that the choices you made to adopt, foster or care of a R.A.D child is beautiful, testing, frustrating and sometimes almost hopeless. For those of you that I have spoken with personally, I know that you will not give up on these children. The road you and your child or children has been studded with rocks,
cliffs, beautiful trees, thunderstorms and different paths.
I cannot promise an easy road ahead. This, however, I can promise you. If you see your children to the end (And I know you will) your sufferings and your tears haven't fallen in vain.One day, many years from now, your child will look into your weary eyes and say "Thank you".That may be the ONLY gift they can give back to you for the years they tested both your sanity and your conviction to care to them.
That "Thank you" however, will be the sweetest gift that you have ever received. It will be the gift that your child can't burn, kill, destroy. The nights of confusion, anger, tears and anguish you feel now is something that I truly wish I could share with you. I more than anyone else know's how hard this struggle is.
Just remember this: When your child has their R.A.D. fits, it's not your child you struggling with.It's a disorder. When they act out, they are communicating years of pain and strife they only way that they know how. They truly are talking to you. They are sharing their pain the only way they can verbalize their emotions. To highlight my point: When your child is smiling, laughing with you, wrestling with you or reading with you, THAT is your child.
The pain, the struggling, the yelling doesn't enter your mind. No anger is present and you are enjoying the fruits of your very hard struggle as it was intended. Keep that in mind when things go wrong and the end of the yelling, stomping, acting out. While your children are communicating in ways that you detest, they are still communicating. Remember the times above when you feel like your hanging onto a worn out rope on it's last thread hanging over a large precipice.
Keep the faith R.A.D. parents. This post is for you and you alone. I understand and thank you for your service to so many children that need you, regardless of what they SAY.