Sometimes I wonder if I am screwing up my kids or if they are screwing up me. A part of me has always thought that somehow my mother’s issues became my issues, and as hard as I try not to be like my mother…I’ve become my mother. Frankly, I think mothers are the reason therapists have jobs.
So, as I raise my daughters, I worry how much my issues and neuroses have affected them. Am I setting them up for years of therapy?
Therapy around our house is commonplace. For the last six years, one or all of us has seen a therapist on a fairly regular basis. Therapy has helped us diagnosis, understand, and cope with our children’s reactive attachment disorder.
It’s not just RAD that we are treating. RAD comes in many shapes and sizes, with varying degrees of severity. Both my daughters are on the mild end of RAD, but their issues are night and day different from each other. Elle reacts to life with no emotion and Bunny emotionally overreacts to life.
Caught in between these two very different RAD forces, is me. I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma, and many RAD parents suffer from PTSD in one form or another.
Symptoms of PTSD can vary widely, but the symptoms that plague me are hopelessness, difficulty sleeping, irritability, anger, hyper vigilance, exaggerated startle response, fatigue, depression, disconnection to others, and an increase in stress on significant relationships.
My daughters’ RAD isn’t the cause of my PTSD, although it could be. Its roots can be traced back to a diagnosis of breast cancer and the sudden death of my first husband in a plane crash. For the last fifteen years, I have lived life shrouded in PTSD.
When I adopted Elle and feelings of hopelessness and loss of control wouldn’t go away, I thought it was just an adjustment to being a new mother. Then Bunny came and I still didn’t feel happy and motherhood wasn’t turning out to be much fun.
As the years passed, the symptoms worsened, coinciding with the diagnosis of my daughters’ RAD. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Through therapy I’ve learned that I have never processed the grief of my breast cancer, and I’ve never processed the grief of losing my first husband. I am stuck. I’ve glossed over these very traumatic events in my life and slapped on a smile.
In order for my daughters to heal, I must be healed, and that’s OK. I would like to look at life with joy and happiness, taking pride in knowing that I’m not screwing them up…I am making them better.