A friend of mine recently admitted she felt like a failure because her little RADish didn’t seem to be making much progress and it was having an effect on her family, her marriage, and herself. She was struggling to remain loving and supportive because her RADish was taking everything she had to give.
Being the mother of a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder is beyond exhausting. I would say being a parent in itself is a tiring job, but when the complexities of an emotionally damaged child is added in, exhaustion doesn’t go far enough to describe how you feel at the end of the day.
Nancy Thomas wrote a book about RAD called When Love is Not Enough. This was the first book I had ever read about RAD and immediately, the title resonated with me. For years I had given and given and given to my daughter, but I never seemed to get anything back. The love I had for my daughter was not being reciprocated.
Although I understand my daughter is incapable of loving me like I love her, the knowledge doesn’t lessen the hurt, anger and resentment I feel for her unrequited love. I feel like a failure because the one job I have as a parent, to love my child unconditionally, isn’t enough.
Besides feeling like a failure, I struggle with what to do. What is wrong? How can I help? Is my love enough? With these feelings of parental inadequacies, I feel guilty for not being able to help my daughter, not liking her, and sometimes not even loving her.
I also resent her. She wasn’t the child I thought she was going to be. She wasn’t the daughter I had dreamed about. My beautiful little Russian doll was broken, but not on the outside. By the time she was diagnosed with RAD, she had drained away so much of me, I wasn’t sure I had anything else to give her.
Her disorder has stressed my family, my marriage, and myself to the breaking point. One more push and I feel my life will crumble around my feet. Her disorder controls our household. Every waking moment is spent analyzing her behaviors, going to therapy, keeping a close eye on her, and wondering when she will decide to make a bad decision. As she has gotten older, her bad decisions threaten to have a longer lasting effect, not only on her, but also on us as a family.
But, I have to live every day with faith. Faith that I am doing the right thing to help her, faith that she will get better, and faith that one day she will become the daughter I always dreamed about.
Until the day when love is enough, faith will have to help me put one foot in front of the other.
Because I do believe she can be healed.