However, I am at a loss of how to articulate an answer to this question:
"What is it like being the mother to a child with RAD?"
I have come to the conclusion that there are no words or logic to answer this question. I cannot describe it to someone that is not the mother to a RAD child because I struggle to wrap my mind around the complexity of the relationship myself.
There are two sides to every story and two hearts involved in each relationship. Perhaps if I try to explain it from a each side it will be easier.
My feelings towards my daughter and how I express them to her and others:
I dread starting everyday with her and am tired of trying within the first 2 hours of the day. I want to pull my hair out when she takes a simple task and turns it into a 3 hour long fight. I resent that she has the power and desire to ruin any family affair that is not about her. I am embarrassed by her behavior when we are in public. I go to bed every night feeling as though I have failed her.
My heart swells when I think about the love I have for my daughter. My eyes fill with tears when I think about why she struggles the way she does. My heart burns with anger when I think about all the adults in her life that failed her and took her down the path that we now walk together.
I advocate for her with a passion that annoys all the professionals that are involved in her care, demanding she get what she deserves. My brain is loaded with knowledge about RAD so I can navigate the best plan for her. I take to time to explain her challenges and differences to others when it will benefit her and I tell people to mind their own business when I feel that is the best response for her.
I quit my full time job in an effort to educate her at home so she could reach her potential. I live paycheck to paycheck every month because the state does not understand the strain that RAD has on a family. I never use the state respite care I am offered because it traumatizes her...and in turn makes my life harder for the following days.
I can be hit, kicked, and bit and still be as in love as before it happened. I can hold a reckless child in a restraining hold while I gently sing a song and scratch her back. I can carry my 10 year old throwing a fit through a store, check out, and load the car as if I was carrying sleeping baby. I can hold her accountable while at the same time think it is so unfair that she is having to deal with the emotion that led to the behavior.
I love her with a love that can't be put into words and makes no sense to somebody that doesn't walk the same road. My love is unconditional and unwavering.
My daughter's feelings towards me and how she expresses them to me and others:
She does not trust me or any other adult to keep her safe. She blames me for the pain that was caused to her early in her life, although I did not even know her then. She feels the need to control every aspect of my life from my schedule to my emotions...or at least attempt to. She fights me on everything, often physically. She screams the most hurtful statements she can think of at me for the sole purpose of hurting me. She lies about me to professionals. She lies to me about trivial subjects.
She will throw a horrible fit so that I have to restrain her, but deep down she wanted affection and a fit was a less scary way to admit it. She screams she hates me, but later denys it because she regrets saying it, but couldn't possibly let me know how she trult felt. She cries about "wanting to love" me when she thinks I can't hear her.
She doesn't want to be close to me, but doesn't want anyone else to either because she is jealous. She needs to brush my hair because she wants a physical contact without it being "affection". She likes to twist my wedding ring because it is almost holding hands, but itsn't.
She tells me everynight "I'll see you in the morning", but she means it more as a question. Too many times nobody was there in the morning and she wants to make sure I will be, but doesn't want me to know she cares. She refuses a hug, but then gets angry if one isn't offered...just to be rejected. She secretly loves it when a hug is snuck in before she has a chance to fight it.
She sets me up to fail because she is sure my love will at some point. She believes that I will walk away like everyone else and so she pushes me away. She cannot understand that she is safe, loved, and wanted.
A RAD mother and child spend all day, every day fighting on opposite sides for the same thing:
I hope I have come close to articulating what it is like to be the mother of a RAD child. It is the hardest job I have, but I woudn't trade her for the world.