This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Matrix

We have a staff person who is very interested in helping Bear and who often gives us advice (he always asks if it is OK first). This person grew up in the ghettos of Houston so while he was not a foster kid with RAD, C-PTSD, bipolar disorder, a ton of other stuff, and most importantly he didn't have to deal with being adopted as a teen... he still has a lot of insight. He also was a Marine injured in Iraq and worked for many years as a police officer in Houston.

Most of his advice is spend time with Bear and make written contracts that hold Bear accountable for his actions. This is actually good advice, but we are too stressed out and burned out - plus Bear is of course fighting us every step of the way. Truthfully it's Hubby that Bear would enjoy spending time with the most and would probably get the most emotional benefit from (I am ranked pretty low because I'm a woman, and worse - a mom).

The fact that the advice is fairly accurate, just adds to the guilt. We spend so much time policing Bear and dealing with his issues that there is very little energy, and truthfully motivation, left to try to force Bear to interact with us. And it would be forcing. The staff guy (who I think looks a little like Morpheus in the movie) recently gave me an analogy that helped me put this into perspective a little. If you haven't seen the movie The Matrix then this probably won't make much sense to you, sorry. Plus there are some major spoilers to follow so if you want to see it, you might want to stop reading now.

The premise of the movie is that most human beings don't operate in the "Real World" they operate in a virtual world, and the majority of them don't even know the real world exists. The real world is a dangerous place, with bad food, no creature comforts, and few others to interact with. To be there you have to give up everything and everyone you know.

Those in the real world act like a family, protecting each other and trying to help the people in the virtual world, but they have to work hard and nothing is given to them.

I think Kitty and Bear perceive the "real world" family as trying to force them to deal with harsh reality, instead of letting them stay in their fantasy virtual world (their world is even more fantasy than the virtual reality world of the movie). Why would they want that?

In the movie, one of the real world people decides to betray the other real world people. He contacts the aliens who are trying to stop the real worlders (because if they succeed the aliens lose their fuel supply - humans) - in exchange for betraying his people, the man will be put back in the virtual world where he will become a billionaire with the finest of everything, including steak instead of nutritional paste. None of it's "real," but it will feel real in every way. This man of course is villified in the movie, but if you were a RAD kid who didn't care about anybody - why would you not do what he did?

To stay in our "Real World" Bear has to not only give up all of his survival skills and defense mechanisms, he has to do things that are most likely the opposite of these. He has to open himself up to hurt. He has to open all the boxes and scary things in his past, process and deal with them, and he has to do all this while operating in a new world with new rules. To him it feels like we are asking him to do all of this, to leave his world that mostly works and keeps him safe for... well... no reason that he really understand.

My friend Lisa's daughter wants to be a "normal" girl, but Bear and Kitty think they already are. They think we're asking them to be "perfect" and are setting them up to fail. They know they are horrible people and we're going to find out and leave them. Why set yourself up for that?

I've heard that alcoholics have to hit bottom before they can commit to making the choice to quit drinking. My kids hit bottom a long time ago. They've redefined normal. They see no reason to change.

I guess I'll just have to keep trying to convince my children that the real world isn't so bad, and there are people hre who really love them.

No comments: