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!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oh the drama!

The stress around here is sooo high!

I wasn't going to tell y'all because I didn't want to hear about what a mean mama I am, but we're not doing Halloween again this year. Two years ago we were attending a private school that didn't allow Halloween and Kitty couldn't handle it anyway so we stayed home. Last year Kitty was only recently out of residential psychiatric hospitalization, and we stayed home, ate pizza and watched movies. This year, I just don't want to do it. The negatives way out weigh the positives I can't think of - and Kitty still can't handle it.

Needless to say I'm not very popular... but I'm used to that.

Bob, who is in mostly Advanced Placement classes is failing two classes. She does nothing but study. All... The... Time... She's talking about going back to regular ed World Geography next semester and I hope she does.

Kitty is also failing a class. It's not one of her core classes, but it's one of her few regular ed classes - Health. That's not at all what I'm worried about for her though. She's struggling with stress right now. I've done everything I can to reduce stress here at home, but she still spends hours outside talking to herself. Of course there's almost nothing I can do about the stress at school - most of which is social.

Kitty is mostly having issues with boys. She doesn't know how to interact with them. She lets them tease and poke her (which scares and upsets her, but she won't admit that). She gets mad crushes and doesn't keep it to herself so everyone teases her.

Now to make things more complicated she has a new boyfriend. This boy is a Senior! *arrgh!* She's 15, but only a freshman. He's almost 18. She doesn't understand why this worries us. I've tried to explain "life experience." We've mentioned "jail bait." Bob has even mentioned the fact that if she gets close to this boy, he's going to be going off to college or the military soon. Kitty says neither of those matter because she's not going to let him that close to her (at least shes' honest!).
Bear as always knows the boys she likes, and has apparently been interfering. He told the last boy Kitty was interested in that Kitty liked him, before Kitty could. He's been teasing Kitty unmercifully. This new boy is in ROTC (which Bear was last year) so Bear knows him too. Friday Kitty came home just furious at Bear because there was a rumor that Bear had threatened to beat up the new boy.
Sunday he came to our church (yes he drives) and went to Sunday school with her. He had to leave fairly early to get to work. I guess it's official. Kitty has a boyfriend.
Yes, she's very aware that she is not allowed to be alone with him. Ever. She seems OK with that.

Monday, October 25, 2010

THANKS! I needed that!

I'm back from the Women of Faith event and it was absolutely, fill you up, amazing!

I went once before (I think about 5 years ago). I was gifted the ticket then too. My amazing neighbor and some of her friends took me. I shared a bed with a nursing mother that I didn't know then, but now consider a good friend (No, not because I shared a bed with her and her infant!). (She was in a car accident this weekend and has a bleeding disorder so although she seems OK, she isn't feeling quite right and that could be seriously scary so prayers for her if you do that!).

This wasn't much like that event. For one thing the first one was in a hotel, and broke down into smaller sessions. Overall, while I'm sure there were thousands of women there, it felt very personal. It was the first time I prayed for salvation.

There were over 9,000 women at this event!!!!!! Did you see that number?!! Almost 10,000 women gathered together under one roof. It was amazing, but a little isolating too. You may not know this about me, but I'm a bit of an extrovert... OK, I'm a major extrovert. I love meeting new people and talking to everyone! I'm sure I was a bit annoying to Annie our group leader, and her friend who are most decidedly NOT extroverts.

During the first break, and at dinner the first night we had a good time and talked, and believe me I am NOT complaining, but during the seminar they spent most of the time on their phones - texting, tweeting, I'm not sure what. Annie's friend has 3 sons in high school so we had some things in common, but she'd never hear of RAD and doesn't blog (not that that makes her a bad person!!). I felt incredibly technologically backward (I don't text or tweet) and totally unloved (their phones were constantly buzzing, but no one called me all weekend - Oh wait! That's a lie! Tell you about that in a sec.).

Almost everyone came in a group, and we had assigned seats for a significant portion of the weekend, so there wasn't a lot of "networking." Before we had assigned seating, I did meet some nice women who worked at Adoption Angels, which is an infant adoption placement agency in San Antonio. They were very nice and we talked during the break. Of course we talked about adoption, and they'd even heard of RAD, but mostly that if a child had it you should run, not walk in the other direction!

I did get two calls during the seminar. One was from Janera over at My Garden Hat. We'd "met" when she found out I was going to WOF and we've been e-mailing since. She called me at the seminar so we could hook up and find each other (could never have done it without cell phones, and even then it was difficult!). She's cute as a button and you should check out her blog (she doesn't post very often, but maybe this would motivate her to write! *grin*). We didn't get to talk much, but I really enjoyed meeting her. I'm looking forward to getting to know her better through her blogs. It's so fun meeting people IRL.

The second person who called me was Laynie at MySweeterChaos. We have met before IRL and she was the person I gave my second ticket to. (I know I've said this before, but THANKS MAMA DRAMA TIMES TWO FOR GIVING ME THESE TICKETS!! YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT A DIFFERENT YOU MADE IN THE LIVES OF TWO WOMEN!! (Well, I'm assuming that this made a difference in Laynie's life. If she got out of it even half what I did).

I loved getting to spend some time with another mom who "gets it." I even got to sleep on Tinkerbell sheets and meet her adorable children again (I met them over a year ago, but they didn't remember me). Of course they were adorable with me (2 of the 3 have RAD), but I know Laynie enjoyed having someone around who understood when she refused to hug her RAD child. It's sooo great to have someone who knows and isn't secretly (or not so secretly) condemning you or judging you for what looks on the surface to be bad parenting.

We talked about our kids, of course, and it was soooo wonderful to have someone who "gets it" saying, "You're doing the right thing." That's what I needed the most from this weekend, so the seminar itself was just icing on the cake (but amazing, wonderful, gorgeous icing!!)

Anyway, I'll tell y'all more about what actually happened in the seminar in another post.

A few extra things they should have told us to bring:

  1. Walking shoes - this was in the Alamodome and I always ended up parking on the other side of the entrance. Since the railroad tracks run between the parking lots and the dome you could only cross over in the front and back and wwwaaaaaalllllkkk (unlike Annieology I'm NOT a runner - I'm a couch potato! In 3 inch heels!)
  2. Kleenex - OK, I cried pretty much the ENTIRE time. The hormones in the room were at an all time high!
  3. CHOCOLATE! Technically we couldn't bring it in because of the food restrictions, but I needed it!
  4. A small light. I did try to take notes a couple of times (last time I went, everyone took notes). I gave up though because it was fairly dark and I knew after awhile that I was going to purchase the DVD of the event. I'm sooo mad at myself though because there was one quote in one of the dramas that I absolutely loved, but didn't bother to write down... and now I know the dramas aren't on the DVD! *sigh* Going to have to keep looking for it. (Edited to add: “Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break.” Shakespeare, Macbeth 4:3 This quote and a journal was given to a women who'd borne a terrible sorrow in secret for years, and truly resonated with me.)
  5. Lots of money! You couldn't bring in outside food or drink and bottled water was $4! (It did recommend bringing an empty bottle to fill up, which I did, but tepid tap water is kind of yuck). There was tons of snack food, coffee and drinks if you had the money though. The boxed lunches were pretty good though. Of course the main reason you needed money was there were books, and CDs, and tote bags, and all sorts of shopping to be done and not much else to do if you weren't in a group. I did buy a DVD of the seminar and I plan to share it with as many people as I can - starting with Laynie because she had to miss quite a few of the sessions (but don't tell Mama Dramax2, because I intend to surprised them and send it there when we're finished as a thank you for the tickets!)

How to get out of volunteer work (according to Anita Renfroe, Purse-onality):
Simply state, "It's not my gift." Combined with, "Let me pray about that." and you're safe!

Saying "no" is not being negative. Negative is saying "yes" to things that are destroying you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

He really is only 17!

Jeri commented on the fact that Bear didn't look 13/14 in the picture I posted. So I thought I'd show you the pictures I have of my "baby." I only have a few pictures of him when he's young that Biomom gave me. In fact the next youngest picture I have of him he's probably only about age 4/5. He really did hit puberty young. I've heard that's common in kids of trauma.

I found this first picture in Kitty's life book. Bear's life book only had some of his drawings, and I only saw it once. I don't think it made it to Texas. Bear about age 11? Which would make Kitty about age 9 or 10 here. This would probably be after they entered foster care. The little girls are their biosiblings. He was a little chunky then (over 200lbs)! I have another picture of him a little later, but it was so unflattering that I didn't scan it in. His stretch marks are unbelievable.

Bear age 12! This was the first picture I saw of Bear and Kitty (she'd just turned 11). Already shaving and his full height (5'9")

Bear age 13. This was what he looked like the weekend we met him. That's little Ponito in his arms. Hubby behind them, and actually my MIL in the background on the right.

Just turned 14

15th B-day

(the pink wraps are where he had tattoos removed) Don't you love his outfit? The pink Superman cape isn't as noticeable in this picture.

Bear at 16

Bear at 16. The day he was confirmed in the church.

Bear turns 17!
He definitely doesn't look his age, and obviously hasn't in a really long time!
His weight has really fluctuated a lot. His foster father didn't cook so they ate fast food for almost every meal. When we got him, he was well over 200lbs. After 6 months of healthy eating with us, he'd dropped down to 180lbs and looked really healthy (in that respect). He went on Depak*te and gained 5-9lbs a week for the first 4 months or so he was in residential treatment! Since then he's gained and lost kind of depending on what meds he's taking. Ser*quel caused the midnight munchies and he gained quite a bit. A few months ago he was back up to 225lbs, but recently informed me he's down to 210lbs. We have almost no say in what he puts in his mouth, so there's nothing I can do about it.
You're not the only one who can't believe he's only 17 Jeri!

Writing sample

This is a really old writing assignment. I'm not sure how old, but at least a couple of years (so he would have been 14 or 15). Bear HATES writing, and this is probably the longest thing of his I've ever seen written. This was handwritten, not done on the computer. It was really hard to make myself type all the misspellings!!

I got grounded becasue I got lipy and cock a adutud (cocked an attitude) and did'tn stop when you tould me to stop and I also cersd (cursed) over and over agin. I also got grounded for not listening to you and I thretend to run away, and sead I hated gramal (Grandma), Sead I wish I never moved here, Sead I wish I was (forgot the word "dead").

(Not a new paragraph, but obviously written at a different time and otherwise this gets even harder to read- )
I should have sead that I was not having a good day, lestened to you when you sead stop, I also should not have cersd over and over agin, not have got a aditud, also should not sead I wish I was dead, never talked about gramal, I also should not have sead that I (forgot the words "wish I") never moved here but sometimes I can't help my self it's all my falt me and (spelled Kitty's birth name wrong here) don't live with my B.O. Mom. (I have to laugh at this way of spelling biomom!) I geus what Im triing to say is if I would have never got in chruble with the law my sister and I would still live with my but evre time I got in chruble It got wers. When time's come up like this I just don't want to axcept what's going wrong with my life. When I was 7 I thought I was grwon because my never payed atinchon to me I raised all of my sisters and me. My B.O. mom gave birth to me she was on crack I was a crack baby (this isn't actually documented and is actually probably not true according to Biograndma) so was kitty (spelled right this time, but not capitalized). I never lived in a nice home where some one cared about me It's to much to take in at one time. I never had people love me or take care of me the way you gueys take care of me. My Whole life my gole was to get put in prison and Jale, and be a thug It wasent (I wasn't) like the rich kids I didn't want to a good kid or get a job. I never seen my self being welthy. It's just not like me. I geus we cant always get what we want. If I was In the millitary and cocked a adutud with some one I would get dischared (discharged) or have to work exchra.


He really appears to have a lot of insight into his life here, but know that he was so "therapized" that everything he wrote was like this. I'm not sure how much is true insight and how much was just repeating what he'd heard for years. Considering his age I'm assuming it was mostly stuff he'd heard a million times in therapy.

It's really weird hearing therapy stuff coming out of little kids' mouths. Listening to a young Kitty saying, "I need to work on my anger management skills."

Smarter than a 6th Grader?

I wanted to share these two recent writing examples by my boys. I realize that Ponito is a little advanced for his age (maybe a lot), but the difference to me is still incredibly striking. These boys are supposedly both doing on-grade level work. That's 5 grades apart. 6th grade for Ponito and 11th grade for Bear. Maybe my expectations for Bear are just too high because Ponito and Bob are very advanced for their age.

This is a song written for an 11th grade English assignment by Bear. I couldn't give you all the exact really weird spacing. He did this on a computer so all the mispellings are apparently because he ignored the spell check. He didn't make a great grade on it, but that was because he didn't do the assigned cover art and he turned it in several weeks late:

The County (supposed to be Country) Funny Boot Song

These boot are made for walking on this arena ground the’ s boots are made for walking stalking the’ s grounds Talking

My stomping grounds this song is not working so I’m going to walk way talking

My life without boots is making all the clowns frown like I’m sailing a way in a talking

Cloud with a big fat gray frown sing some blues about a man without boots

On my head there is thread that looks like bread that I found in my boots

One day I got a knew pair of boots that look just like the bread

On my big fat red head

I have on my head and it said to the boots on with some dreads

I think I’m going crazy so give me my meds because this is all in my Big fat

head that all I have in big fat head I think I’m dead….

This is an essay written by Ponito. Who is just starting 6th grade. It is a FAIR Club assignment he was given for playing a neighbor child's Playstation games which are rated T for Teen (he's only 11). This is very much against the family rules and he knows it. He was told he couldn't have the PS2 back until he'd written a 500 word essay explaining why I should allow it. This was not the first time he'd been caught sneaking around and doing stuff he knows is against the family rules. He and the neighbor boy weren't allowed to play with each other for a week.

Dear mom,

I have never done an essay before, but here it goes. I am not sure about Bear but I am really sorry about what I did! I know what we did was horrible because I should have known not to play a teen rated video game or a shooting game for that matter and we should not have done it but Star Wars Battlefront Two is just so cool I could not resist. Besides for Christmas you got me that Star Wars movie that you thought was a game but it turned out to be a movie. You said that you were going to go and try to get me a Star Wars video game, but you never did so I asked [Neighbor boy] if he could bring his Star Wars Battlefront Two game because his play station two (P.S.2) does not work. So he brought it over and we played but even though it was not in my head I knew I should have asked you!

And now that I have an Eye Toy from K_________ our cousin for the Play Station Two I really want to try that new game from Christmas really badly! And no the camera does not hook up to the computer (he means the internet). I know that you think that I really do not need the Play Station Two but I only tried to live a life without the PS2 to prove that I do not need the play station two to entertain me. I know that my life is good enough without the Play Station 2. Speaking of the play station 2 can we have it back because when I give this to you I am pretty sure that this essay will have 500 words?

Going back to the new game that nobody has ever played in this family, it looks really fun and I now wish that we can play it. Once we get the play station two back that game is the first thing I am going to do!

I also have not played any of the other games in a while like Nascar Thunder 2003 because I mean who does not like racing and flipping cars catching them on fire and I know what you’re thinking why is he saying on how to be destructive but inside me I know not to do this in real life because somebody could get killed if I wreck into them and get into a car crash, Corvette, and Corvette 2 Evolution, Need For Speed 2 because I like to race other people and wreck my car cause it does not make a single dent in the car but in real life if you hit a wall or another civilian’s car it would probably kill you or the other civilian and if not then you or he will get badly injured, ATV 1 and ATV 2 because I like going into the flatland area and flying backwards.

I am promising you that I will never play and/or watch a video game that is rated T for teen or a game that has shooting, cussing, kicking and, or punching or other things that you do not like in video games.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

God's Plan

I do not think that if we don’t have perfect lives then it means God doesn’t love us or care about us. In addition to free will I know that God allowed me and my children to experience a lot of the “tough” stuff so that I would more appreciate the amazing life he’s lead me to. How can you be truly happy if you’ve never been sad?

Plus, for my kids, if I’d had a “perfect” life I would not be a good parent for them. I am a better person and a better parent for what I’ve been through. I just finished the book, “A child called ‘It.’” The boy who survived that horrible abuse has helped and positively influence how many people and children’s lives in his lifetime?

I used to feel very guilty for “subjecting” my biokids to the trauma that is living with my adopted two children. Then I realized that while I must protect them as much as possible from being abused by each other, it is not all bad. My biokids are becoming stronger, better people. I KNOW I’m a stronger, better parent because of this journey. I was not able to stuff my issues in a box any more, and some of the things I thought I had dealt with that color my world I have to drag out into the open and deal with consciously. My adopted children are survivors and I feel blessed to be a step on their journey. They have helped me as much as I have helped them.

I do not think we are puppets of God’s big “plan,” but I do see us as beautiful threads interwoven into the tapestry of life - affecting other threads, changing the world around us, twisted by God and circumstances to be where we are. I don’t think that tapestry is rigid either, my part of the design is definitely colored by my free will. I do think if I listen to God, my life won’t necessarily be less full of strife and trauma, but my part in the tapestry will be beautiful nonetheless. I know he led my children to me, and helped me to be a better parent for them. I hope I get to see some of their design.

Should I feel blackmailed?

Bear has opened up a little but is still insisting on moving out at 18. In therapy we talked about how this is changing his tune yet again.
He is now talking about staying in Texas, but living with a friend and his family! The dad is out of the picture right now as he got fall down drunk at a football game - where he was supposed to be supervising Bear's team - and the mom moved out. Bear thinks it was because he had a fight with his son?!
Bear describes the mom as small and tough. I asked him why if she's so tough he wants to move in with her. He says it's because she'd let him do whatever he wants (run around and party). I told him he knows what he needs to do to have that at home (I didn't say what "that" was because I wanted to see what he thought it was!). He said, "That's never going to happen." ("Why?") "I'm never going to talk to you that much."
At one point he said he might stay... if I let him go anywhere and do anything he wants.
The truth is I'm seeing some improvements in his behavior. He's rarely tardy, not skipping school, I haven't caught him with stolen electronics or illegal substances in quite awhile (haven't really looked either). His attitude is up and down, but he is opening up a little. I'm ready to lighten up some, I just have to figure out where. I know I can't trust him alone with his siblings, but his peers... maybe.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I'm so glad that the only reason Bear is in special ed classes is because I'm mean and made the school put him in. The school says he has no learning disabilities. Kitty does, but everyone keeps saying I should put her in regular ed classes.

The other day I had them put items they wanted on the grocery list.

Kitty tried to write Chap Stick - let's just say she spelled it wrong.

Bear had to ask 11 year old Ponito how to spell "shoe glue." Really.

The good news is that both kids are fine with asking how to spell things. It doesn't seem to embarass them at all.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Women of Faith Conference

I'm soooo excited! I'm going to the Women of Faith Conference in less than 2 weeks! Some beautiful ladies gifted me the tickets. I will be hanging out with a group of adoptive parents lead by Annieology , who I'm excited about meeting! I gave my second ticket to Laynie over at My Sweeter Chaos, and she has graciously allowed me to stay in her home, aaannnddd I get to sleep on a real bed made up with Tinkerbell sheets! (last time I went to this event I shared a hotel room with 3 other women and a nursing infant - actually shared a bed with the baby and his mom, who is now a friend, but I didn't really know her before).

You guys are sooo jealous aren't you?!

When I last attended this event almost 10 years ago with my friend and neighbor, Sharon (not the nursing mom), Hubby says I didn't come down for 3 days afterward! (I think it was longer). There was a ton of information and support and I prayed and gave my heart to Christ. Later it felt like this "didn't take" (because I didn't really feel any different afterward) and I've since tried again and again, but it was still an incredible experience.

If anyone else is going let me know! I would love to meet you there!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Way to go Bear!

Did I mention that Bear finally earned his Zune?

Way back in March after a never ending series of small electronic theft (cell phones, mp3s...) I caught Bear with an expensive 8mb Zune mp3 player and decided I'd had enough. I told him this time his restitution for the theft was earning the cost of the item (just like the expensive liquor, but I didn't double it like we usually do for theft since the player was so expensive - 0ver $100!). But there was a twist. When he was done, he actually got an 8mb Zune.

He decided that rather than do "community service" like he'd done for the liquor (30 hours of free labor for family and friends/ neighbors), he was just going to earn the Zune with his allowance. If he does all of his chores and has a good attitude that would be $8 a week, so 15 weeks - a little over 3 months to earn the $120 (I rounded up for S&H and tax). Of course on a good week he actually only earned about $4. I finally allowed him to do some work at a neighborhood thrift store and he voluntarily gave up some of his birthday money, and after getting sick of his massive debts and minimal progress earning it back, we recently doubled his allowance (and the number of chores he needed to do to earn it)....

So finally, 7 months later he's earned his Zune. I'm so proud of him! Plus, I look back and realize that I can't remember having caught him with any stolen electronic items since this started so maybe he's finally stopped stealing! Well... stealing electronics anyway.

Plus, since it's been 7 months this version of the Zune is considered "ancient" so I was able to get one for $60. So he ended up paying double after all! Perfect.

I ordered it a week ago so Bear is getting impatient waiting for it to arrive.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Daily Check in Sheet

Here's what I came up with for Bear to help him with getting in touch with his feelings and work on communicating with us. I managed to squeeze all the daily check ins on one page so he can just fill in the blanks. It will be near the chore chart although we can put it in a folder if he doesn't want his siblings seeing it. There is now a space on the chore chart for him to check off that he did this daily.

Monday - I was feeling__________________
When? ______________________________
I asked for help with _____________________
from who? ____________________________
What was the outcome? ___________________
This was + or – (circle one)

There is also a feelings word bank on the right side of the page.
Positive feelings
• Happy
• Loved
• Trusting
• Brave
• Proud
• Glad
• Grateful
• Lucky
• Playful
• Calm
• Safe
• Relaxed
• Listened to
• Understood
• Confident
• Engaged
• Silly

Negative Feelings
• Sad
• Annoyed
• Overwhelmed
• Afraid
• Confused
• Grossed Out
• Anxious/ nervous
• Abandoned
• Neglected
• Hurt
• Concerned
• Frustrated
• Surprised
• Shocked
• Offended/ Insulted
• Provoked
• Discouraged
• Abused
• Sorry
• Misunderstood
• Embarrassed
• Stupid
• Tense/Stress
• Bored
• Threatened
• Lonely
• Too much energy
• Tired

Monday, October 11, 2010

Consequences versus Privileges

We had a family meeting about the fact that the kids weren't doing their chores. I was frustrated by the fact that I felt one of the reasons they don't bother with them was because there were few (obvious) consequences to skipped chores. I feel the kids aren't "getting" the fact that there are long-term consequences to their choices, and we needed to make the consequences more immediate and obvious.

So we sat with the kids and started brainstorming what consequences there should be. Here's what they came up with:

  • 4 Foot Rule - this one surprised me. Basically they felt if someone wasn't doing his or her chores then they need to stay near a parent. They also said the person shouldn't be able to hang out/ isolate in their room.
  • Homework (a frequent excuse for not having time to do chores) can't be done in bedroom, must be done in a common area with supervision.
  • Soup Kitchen - this one is very effective with Kitty. Maybe too effective because it's mere mention triggers her somewhat.
  • Eating at the Table - in our house we rarely eat at the dining room table. (Yes, we are horrible parents who allow our children to eat in front of the TV, but at least we all eat at the same time so we're still together.) Those eating at the table are not able to watch TV and would be eating with a parent.
  • No Electronics - no TV, computer, Play Station...
  • Extra chores
  • 750 word essay on why it's important to do chores
  • Saturday Do All Undone Chores
  • No friends over or going to friend's houses.
  • 2 Days Conseuqences - Whatever the consequences chosen will last the equivalent of "2 days." That means if they skip a late evening chore and of course dinner is already over then the following two days they'll have to eat their soup at the dining room table. If it's a morning chore then they might be done with their consequence after the following day.
  • Mom gets to choose what the consequence will be.

We talked about some changes to the chore chart - for example on Wednesdays we all do volunteer work in the eveningso I changed it from bathrooms to bedrooms (which can be done in the mornings or throughout the week and they're the only one that would mess up their own room).

After our family meeting I had dropped off the littles and was driving to meet Hubby and Bear at Bear's therapy, when all of the sudden I suddenly realized the focus shouldn't be on punishments and consequences, but on earning privileges.

Eating in the family room in front of TV is a privilege. Electronics are a privilege. The rule is already that you can't turn on the electronics until your chores are done, but we tend to let it slide after the majority of the kids' have their chores done. Kitty (one of the worst offenders when it comes to not doing chores) tends to head straight out to the backyard to destress when she gets home, by the time she comes back in the other kids are done and the next thing I know she's watching TV.

Bear is my second worst offender, but most of his chores are late evening chores or not always totally noticeable if he pretends he did it (he's not a clutter bug like Kitty and he's been known to hide things from the room he's cleaning in someone else's space). He also doesn't care much about TV or being isolated. For him having to do the writing assignment would be huge, but of course that's a punishment not a privilege. Hmmmm....

So I think I need to be focused on enforcing our family rules with an emphasis on earning privileges.

Beyond Belief

In therapy this weekend we talked to Bear about why he feels he has to leave at 18.

Belief: Bear said it was because when he was in foster care he was told he would be kicked out/ leaving as soon as he came of age (in Nebraska that's when he turns 19, but here in Texas it's when he turns 18). Because he had this "belief" he made many "assumptions" which he'd never questioned. These assumptions fuel his distancing behavior with us.

Of course we told him we love him, and we want him to stay. There is no reason to leave.

Belief: Bear was also told by many people that he wouldn't make it when he was on his own. So he feels he has to prove everyone wrong, and he has to do it all by himself. He of course assumed we felt the same way, and he gave something Hubby has said to him a few times over the years as an example. Apparently Hubby has brought up the fact that Bear's biodad has been in jail as an example of what could happen to Bear. I know Hubby was trying to point out to Bear that stealing, doing drugs and skipping school are not the best way to stay out of jail, but of course to Bear it was reinforcing Bear's belief that everyone thought he couldn't live on his own. Added to the fact that he "knew" he had to leave and this was a threat.

Of course we told him that he probably could survive on his own, but there was no need to. We told him that we wanted to give him the opportunity to thrive. We reminded him that even though we are adults, we still come to our parents for advice and support. He is not alone, and we're going to be there for him. We want to be there for him, and not because we don't think he can do it, but because we love him and want the best for him.


No idea what this means for Bear's future with us.

He got to go to the football game with Hubby on Friday. He went scuba diving and finally finished his certification. He spent most of the day outside doing what he wanted to do. He's had a pretty good weekend. Will be interesting to see what happens next time he doesn't get what he wants.


Do want to mention one thing we've decided to start with Bear. A new way for him to "check in."

I like what Lisa's daughter J is doing which is a form of journaling that she's put on her blog Journey to Being a Normal Little Kid. It seemed to help her connect to her emotions and herself.

I felt mad when
I felt sad when (J apparently writes these each time, so she often writes now, "I didn't feel ________ today.")
I felt scared when
I feel glad that

The things I like about myself are:

I am grateful for:

I couldn't remember the exact wording when I told the therapist about this. Bear of course is adamantly against anything to do with writing. We talked about letting Bear do this verbally, but my issue with that was timing. Bear tends to only approach me when I'm in the middle of dealing with other things (and then using that as an excuse to never approach me). I'd rather this be something he does that we can pick and choose when to discuss it with him. If we see something upsetting or interesting then we could seek him out, otherwise we might only talk about it 2-3 times a week.

Here's the therapist's suggested wording:

I was feeling ____________ when? _________________________.
I asked for help when ____________________________ from who? _______________
What was the outcome? ________________________________ This was + or -.

I want him to start accessing and being aware of his emotions. We're talking about having a feeling word bank for the fill in the blank area:
Happy, sad, annoyed, afraid, proud, confused, grossed out, anxious/ nervous, glad, grateful, abandoned, neglected...

got any more feelings I could list? Or wording suggestions?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Movie Review - Chestnut

We saw a cute movie this weekend called Chestnut. It came out in 2004, but we just saw it at Redb*x. The movie is rated G and it never even occurred to me to preview it. *sigh*

The plot is simple, two sisters living in an orphanage rescue a puppy (who turns out to be a Great Dane). A few days later they are adopted by a couple who live in a no-pets apartment in New York, and to make things more complicated the dad is allergic to animals. You've seen this movie before (a combo of Beethoven, Air Bud, a little Annie with Warbucks...).

Watching it from the point of view of adoption though, I started cringing. The kids live with this couple for a year in an (admittedly large) apartment, and the parents have NO CLUE that they have a dog the size of a horse. There is almost no emotional connections made between the parents and the little girls until the very end of the movie.

In the end the dog is of course discovered and the oldest girl runs away with the dog to keep him from being taken away (leaving behind her little sister). Kitty began both laughing and crying almost hysterically at this point. Then the dog was left behind in the park when the girl was found. Kitty cried even more. The dog comes home and is seriously injured by bad guys. By this point we were asking Kitty if she needed to leave the room and we gave her her evening meds early. She did make it through the movie although we could barely hear for the noise.

So thumbs up for a cute movie. Thumbs down for it's portrayal of adoption although it wasn't the worst I've ever seen - it just happened to hit all of Kitty's hot spots (animals, adoption, abandonment).

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Making of a "Plan"

Thursday night when Hubby got home I hid. I knew I'd done nothing but sit on my booty all day. I didn't go to work, I didn't clean, I didn't declutter/organize, I didn't sew on a project I promised a friend of mine months ago (sorry STS!), I didn't study, I didn't clean out my inbox, I didn't even do something for myself to make myself feel better. I just vegged in front of reruns of America's Next T*p M*del, and played Spider S*litaire.

Bear was outside mowing the lawn (instead of doing his chores) so I didn't need to be downstairs running interference, so I went upstairs to "nap." Didn't work. So I got up and did some laundry and that's what I was doing when Hubby got home (so he assumed I'd been productive all day - neat trick huh?!). "The game" was on so I tried to sneak around the edges of things, but Hubby noticed I was having trouble, and finally caught up with me in the garage pretending trying to "declutter" the mess that we call a garage.

He asked me if I was OK, and I told him no, but to go back and watch the game. He wouldn't leave (stubborn man!) and when he hugged me I burst into tears. We talked for a minute, and I finally convinced him to go back to the game and that I would be fine until we had a chance to "make a plan" for what to do with Bear after the kids went to bed.

Maybe it is time to go back on anti-depressants.

The Making of a Plan

Define the problem:

  • • Bear is mildly verbally abusive.
    • He is non-compliant with his chores and therapy homework - in a mostly passive aggressive way.
    • He appears to emotionally need the support and structure we give him so when we "lighten up" he acts out so that we are forced to clamp down again.
    • "Lightening up" not only puts Bear at risk, but the whole family. Currently I run interference between him and the children, but that would be even more difficult if he is escalating.
    • Currently he triggers me in a way that makes me shut down emotionally which renders me useless for handling and supporting the family.
    • He is planning on leaving home when he turns 18 in July, but will still have one year of high school left, no job skills, no driving skills, no ability to fill out applications for services/jobs, and will most likely be going off his meds (voluntarily or because he has no means to get more) and therefore will be psychotic.
    • Bear wants to go live with biograndfather in another state. It is so rural there is almost no way he'd be able to access meds and services - assuming he can be convinced he needs them.
    • The pdoc thinks we should let him crash and burn because there is not enough evidence that he cannot fundamentally take care of himself.
    • I feel a moral obligation to avoid Bear ending up in the "real world" with no supports.
    Identify Barriers:
    • Pdoc, school and Bear's MHMR support staff think we should give Bear more freedoms and less structure, and are not supportive. For almost all alternatives we will be proceeding without professional support.
    • Hubby and I do not believe that it is possible to completely "cure" Bear's attachment issues - particularly in the time remaining.
    • There are no "tried and true" methods or even precedents to refer to on how to deal with this situation.
    • Without Bear "buying in" we have little hope of success. There is little motivation on Bear's part to do so. If we choose to manipulate him to gain compliance with whatever path we choose, then we risk alienating him further.
Brainstorm Alternatives:

1. Status Quo - continue to keep Bear and the family safe by continuing the current structure and support.


  • • I can't keep this up,
    • disapproval and/or lack of support from professionals,
    • is not preparing him for "real life" by teaching him skills he'll need on his own,
    • is not giving him a chance to succeed or fail in "real life" skills to "prove" before he turns 18 what he is capable of (or not capable of),
    • Bear continues to resent us (this is a no win situation - I feel we're damned if we do and damned if we don't)
    • Most Important: is controlling the symptoms but not treating the underlying issues so we will be right were we started when he turns 18.
    • Gives Bear more time to mature without having to deal with triggers and overwhelming situations,
    • Bear feels supported and like he can trust us to be there for him and keep him "safe,"
    • Keeps Bear and the family safe.

2. "Lighten Up" - treating Bear like a "normal teen." Start teaching him life skills whether he's ready or not.


  • • Not safe for the family (realistically I would still feel compelled to supervise him when he's at home to protect the family - so this wouldn't really change).
    • Not safe for the world (puts peers and others at risk especially if we allow him to drive and choose what and when to take his medications)
    • We've tried this before and it always results in Bear blowing up/acting out - so that he ends up back in structured setting
    • Siblings witnessing him getting privileges he did not earn, behaving in unacceptable ways with no/few consequences, and choosing to mimic his behaviors/attitude or complaining.
    • More work for me: helping him get a job, drivers' ed, taking him places.
    • Bear feels unsafe, abandoned and neglected
    • Bear feels he "wins" and has manipulated the "stupid" adults
    • Most Important: Bear has no motivation to make any fundamental changes regarding his core issues


  • • Bear has the opportunity to show the professionals that he can/ cannot be successful in certain "real world" activities while still living at home
    • Bear feels that he is able to "earn" privileges

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and
expecting different results." ~ Einstein

3. Change It Up: Go back to the drawing board and find another way to approach Bear's issues. Find professionals who will really assess Bear's abilities and work proactively to make changes. Possibly pursue legal guardianship or bribe or threaten him into staying longer to give us more time.

Alternatives/ Concerns:

  • Not sure what to try next. There don't seem to be any standard treatment methods for emotionally disturbed teenage boys with RAD - do some more research into alternative treatments (for personality disorders?), try seeing a different therapist or add another therapist.
  • If we change professionals we have to leave MHMR entirely. Not sure that we've explored all the options with them yet, and don't have a better alternative.
  • We're running out of time!
  • If we pursue legal guardianship and get it: then we have custody of an angry kid, and so far we don't have a plan on how to make progress on treating his issues instead of just his symptoms. Plus it will cost between $2000.00 and $5000.00.
  • Hubby doesn't think Bear qualifies for legal guardianship.
  • We could try letting Bear know we're pursuing legal guardianship (whether we really are or not) to stop his "sour grapes," "rejecting us before we can reject him" philosophy (he thinks he has to leave, but at the same time acts as though we're kicking him out). So he can maybe relax and trust us. May not work, but he was actually attaching for a little while when he was 15 and then suddenly thought he "had to" leave at 17 and regressed/ pulled away. By the time we got that cleared up he was already thinking he "had to" leave at 18.
  • We could try bribing him (help getting his driver's license, a car?) to stay at least through high school for the same reason (to relax and trust us, to give him a little more time to mature and to learn some of the skills he hasn't mastered yet).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Drained Dry

Not only am I being told I'm wrong, more importantly no one is telling me I'm right. Much as I want to, I can't move everyone who is working against me out of my "circle of concern." I'd run out of people. At this point I'm so drained that the relatively mild comments on here feel like personal attacks.

RADMomInOhio suggested I sound like I need/want a plan. She's right. I need a plan. I've always needed at least an outline of a plan. I'm totally OK with my outline changing as we go along, but I need at least a direction to move. I can't defend myself against people saying I'm wrong, or ask anyone to trust me to know what I'm doing, because I no longer know what that is. I've been told I'm wrong so many times I feel like I'm out of options.

Over the years I've gotten better about protecting my emotional energy from others. I was a rescuer for a long time - to the point that I would completely drain my reserves. I finally got to the point where I still help others, but not to the point that I was hurting myself... except for my own children. They needed me. They deserved all I could give. I felt I couldn't/ shouldn't put up boundaries for taking care of them, and most of the people around me were telling me the same thing (not Hubby, Grandma or most of my family, but everyone else). Case managers, social workers, the schools, therapists, pdocs, all the books I was reading about RAD... everyone else.

Then I hit the wall. Bear and Kitty drained me so fast I just couldn't give any more. I went on anti-anxiety meds, went back to therapy, anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, read more books, searched out support groups and sites, quit my high-stress job... and kept finding and draining reserves.

Bear went to residential treatment and I got caught up again, but I was no longer "happy." I don't sing any more (nothing professional - just around the house). I don't decorate (I used to be addicted to interior design). I don't sew (I used to be a professional seamstress). I don't make costumes or throw theme parties...

Some things are better. I'm calmer when it comes to dealing with discipline (good timing since Bob was totally able to push all my buttons when she hit her terrible twos - age 17 mos to 4 1/2 years and now of course she's in her teen years). Kitty is attached. I have a job that can take care of itself most of the time. The kids are old enough to help around the house so we're not living like total pigs. I have this blog as a creative outlet and for support. I have a (usually) supportive therapist. If I thought they would make a difference I could start back on the mood stabilizer/anti-depressant meds.

I'm just tired, and drained. Tonight I had a small breakdown. Hubby feels sorry for me.

We're going to try to make a plan tonight. Wish us luck.

Now What?

I stopped by the MHMR (place where the kids get psychiatric services) to pay a bill and pick up a prescription for Kitty. While talking to the financial services lady it suddenly occured to me that she works with Medicaid all the time so she might know how you're supposed to get psych evals (which Medicaid won't pay for) to qualify for services (which Medicaid does pay for). Her answer was that unlike our private pay psychiatrist, theirs does his own psych evals.

We started chatting about why I wanted Bear to be diagnosed with a personality disorder, and I all of the sudden I had no idea. Since I tend to talk through things I kept talking anyway. Here's what I told her:

  • Bear is diagnosed with RAD which is a childhood disease. In less than a year he won't have that diagnosis anymore. Obviously he won't be miraculously cured so we need to know what he does have so we can continue treatment.

  • No one knows what RAD is, and those that do do not know how to treat it in older teens (does anyone?) so if we have a different diagnosis maybe we can get more help from the school and others.

  • Bear wants to leave our home and move in with his biograndfather in rural Oklahoma the minute he turns 18. I need him to have all of his "ducks in a row" so he can access the services he needs rather than scrambling to get new psych evals and diagnoses.

  • I want Bear's biograndfather to know what he's getting in to, and he won't have heard of or understand RAD.

The psychiatrist's office was right next door to the financial lady's office and he apparantly heard his name so he stopped by to see if I had a question for him (cool!). I was totally surprised by his appearance and couldn't think of any of the real questions I had for him (not cool!). So I basically just repeated my question about personality disorders.

The pdoc said he "doesn't mess with" personality disorders. There are no medications for treatment and it basically doesn't change anything regarding therapy either (and Bear qualifies for services through his bipolar disorder) so he didn't see a need for adding this to Bear's diagnoses. Plus, he didn't really think Bear had any of them. The pdoc then said, "see you tomorrow" and disappeared.

I mentioned to the financial lady that we don't have an appointment for 2 more weeks because we'd gotten bumped (not our fault) from his last appointment at the beginning of September which was supposed to be 4 weeks so we were going on 8 weeks now and had not heard a peep from the standby list. The next morning I got a call saying they had an opening for that afternoon!!


Now I'd had a bit more of a chance to think of all the things I should have asked the pdoc about!

I played hooky from work and got together with a good friend who has severely emotionally disturbed teens/young adults (hers are biokids so they don't have the exact same issues, but they also have bipolar and her youngest attends the Special School that Bear attends (in fact she's the friend who "spilled the beans" about the program's existance, because her oldest son used it). She has legal guardianship of her 21 year old son and is in the process of getting it for her younger daughter.

She answered a LOT of my questions about legal guardianship, including the fact that the person doesn't have to be completely incapacitated. There are areas in which her son is able to handle his life (he can hold a job and mostly handle money, but he can't handle his medications or fill out forms or applications).

We talked about legal liability (what would happen if Bear stole a car and totaled it - would it be our financial responsibility? - No, it would be his. If he refused his meds, became psychotic and beat someone up? - We could have him involuntarily committed). She wasn't as able to answer these questions because her son does not have a criminal bent or issues with drugs (although she was able to talk a little about alcohol issues).

She knows my kids very well (was even our "nanny" for a brief period of time), and joy of joys, she backed me up on a lot of the things I've been anguishing about lately - not letting my teen daughters hang out at the mall, not letting Bear go to the football games unsupervised, not letting the girls and their male and female friends wander the neighborhood on Halloween unsupervised... she did say I'm a little over-protective, but that was understandable. I couldn't believe how much I've been craving hearing just one person say I'm doing a good job. My love tank is way too empty!


So I went to the pdoc appointment ready to talk. I made a mistake though. I didn't say at the very beginning that I wanted to have a quick chat at the end so we wasted part of the time talking about coaching four year olds playing soccer and other non-related stuff while the pdoc tried to load the med changes in his computer and get Bear to talk.

The pdoc assumed that we had gone ahead with the plan to take Bear off all his meds. I quickly reassured him we had followed his advice.

Of course all Bear would say was everything was "fine." He was doing "fine" in school (I clarified that he was doing well when he wanted to, and failing the rest of the time. His sleeping is "normal for me." So I interpreted that as well - he is still getting 5 or fewer hours of sleep at night and last night had gone to bed at midnight then woken up at 4am and couldn't go back to sleep. The pdoc didn't ask about his level of irritability or anything. We mostly focused on Bear's sleep issues. The pdoc said a lot of people only need a small amount of sleep, but I reminded him of the sleep study saying Bear isn't getting enough REM sleep.

So the pdoc prescribed yet another sleep med - Remer*n. Bear tried it last night and claims it kept him from sleeping. I don't know whether to believe him or not since he doesn't want to take any more meds. Last night at 10:30pm (an hour and a half after room time and an hour and a half after entering the bathroom), I knocked on the bathroom door and told him to wake up since I assumed he'd fallen asleep in the bath again. He's not supposed to take baths at night since he takes hot water heater draining ones every morning, but he does it anyway. This morning I asked him how he slept and was told it kept him awake. I mentioned the sleeping in the tub (I could hear the water splashing after I knocked so I know he was in there) and he denied being asleep. It was morning and Bear thinks no one should be allowed to ask him questions in the morning (really any time!) so that gives him the right to be rude. So he was, and I dropped it. Then in the next breath he had the nerve to ask me to make him cookies?!

The pdoc then said if that didn't work we could try a med designed to keep him awake (which is a big issue for Bear at school). Pr*vigil. Ummm we already tried that. The residential treatment center had given it to us for ADD (since Bear couldn't tolerate any other meds we'd tried). Over a year later we finally determined it had no effect on his attention/focus so we dropped it. The pdoc asked the dose (which I didn't remember) and then said it wasn't working because the dosage wasn't high enough. Don't know how he knew that since we didn't know what the dosage was, but whatever.

Then he asked why Bear was taking Ser*quel during the day if Bear was having trouble with sleepiness? Ummm because you switched it to day and said it wouldn't make him sleepy? *sigh*


So I told the pdoc I wanted to talk and he said we were out of time, but since I looked pretty insistant, he said OK as long as it was a short question. In my mind this was a yes or no question so we sent Bear out of the room and I told him we were considering legal guardianship and wanted to know if he would sign the papers.

Long story short, he said, "No." He thinks we should just let Bear try it and if/when he falls on his face, we pick up the pieces and then we can approach legal guardianship. He didn't see an issue with the fact that Bear is planning on leaving the state and being out of reach of our support. He thinks Bear will be compliant with meds because he is now when so many of the teens he treats are not.


What to do now? The pdoc has seen Bear 3-4 times now for med management. I was hoping based on a couple of statements he'd made in the past that he "gets" Bear, or had read Bear's files, but he obviously hasn't (he asked for the discharge info from the residential treatment center which is already in Bear's paper file). Basically anything that's not in his computer (which as far as I can tell only contains recent info) doesn't exist.

So we're back where we started.

I feel a moral/ethical obligation to try to give Bear what he needs to at least have a headstart on being successful, but I don't really know what that looks like. It feels like everyone around me just wants to leave things at status quo.

I am filled with dread at the idea of the next 10 months of "status quo." This is not what I want for Bear. This is not what I want for me, because when I am around Bear I can no longer be a warm, nurturing parent. This is not what I want for the other kids, because they deserve/need a warm, nurturing parent - not one who is triggered and emotionally shut down. This is not what I want for my marriage either.

I'm stuck. I don't know where to go from here. I don't feel safe loosening the reins, nor do I think Bear really wants me to. I can't handle the pressure anymore from everyone saying I'm doing things wrong. I'm running on empty and I'm breaking down.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Slightly Broken, Definitely Bruised Heart

I found this on a Support for Special forum. It reflects so well how I'm feeling right now I had to share it.


New teacher, or therapist, or doctor? Is that you?

Oh hello…

I just wanted to chat with you a second. To caution you. Or warn you.

Please, tread carefully.

You see, what you might not realize as you look at me, talk to me, tell me your opinions, our options, our lack of options, and your predictions of our outcomes is that; well… you see that heart?

The slightly broken, definitely bruised one?

Yeah, that’s my heart.

My slightly-broken, definitely-bruised heart.

Now, I realize that as you look at me you might see…a confident parent… or an angry parent…or a happy-go-lucky parent…

You might think that I understand everything… or nothing…… or that I have all the experience in the world because I have done this before… or that I know the rules… or that I don’t know the rules and that is for the best….

You might believe… that I am high maintenance… or overreacting… or maybe neurotic… or disengaged and uninterested… or that I don’t really care… or maybe I care too much…

But regardless of what you see, what you think, or what you believe, this is what you should know:

I am broken-hearted. And it doesn’t matter if it is the first day or a century later. It doesn’t matter where in the “grief cycle” I might be. It doesn’t matter if the wounds are healed, or healing, or fresh and new. This heart is bruised. Slightly broken. Different than it once was and will ever be again. And when you speak, or don’t speak, in judgment or not, my heart is out there.

Some of “us” parents… the ‘special’ ones… can be a pain in the ass. I know that. WE know that. But we are fighting a fight we never planned to fight, and it doesn’t end. We don’t get to clock out at the end of the day. We don’t get a vacation from it. We live it, everyday. We are fighting without knowing how to fight it, and we depend so much on you to help us. We have been disappointed, by you or others like you. And we are disappointed in ourselves. We are your harshest critics. We are our own harshest critics too. We are genuinely fearful, and driven, and absolutely devoted. And we also know, we need you. So please, be careful with us. Because as hard and tough as we may look outwardly, our hearts are fragile things.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Helicopters, Drill Sargeants and Consultants, Oh My!

I went to Hubby for reassurance, but didn't get it. Hubby is sooo tired lately I feel guilty even talking to him, much less asking him to try to speak my love language, but maybe he didn't say it because he believes I am too.

So in this negative mood, I read Helicopters, Drill Sargeants and Consultants: Parenting Styles and the Messages They Send by Jim Fay (one of the authors of the Love and Logic series).

Helicopter Parenting Style - Rescuers who give the message to their children that the parent should take care of everything. The parents who bring lunches and forgotten homework to school and protect them from the cruel world. When Kitty and Bear first got here, this was definitely my parenting style. They "needed" and "deserved" it. Finally I realized I was draining myself and not doing them any good.

I read a lot of Love and Logic books and other parenting techniques, what worked for others and finally developed the FAIR Club, thus switching to a more "Consultant" style, focusing on natural consequences and holding the kids accountable for their actions. This felt right and I was a better, calmer parent. I think I did fairly well but over the years I've found myself becoming more and more of a Drill Sergeant with Kitty and Bear.

Immediately after reading this short little book (H, DS and C), I felt like pond scum. It was Sunday morning, the kids were at Grandma's, Hubby had just left for the lake, I was hormonal, and I curled up in bed and wanted to cry. It was only 8am so I went to sleep instead. 1/2 hour later I work up a little refreshed, and with a new perspective. I finally realized why I wasn't a Consultant parent with Kitty and Bear.

I'd loved the Love and Logic book for kids. It helped me remain calm and stop rescuing and controlling my kids. When I heard there was a Love and Logic book for parents with teens I was sooo excited. When I read it, I discovered why a total Love and Logic approach won't work for my kids.

One, it requires Love and Empathy - kids have to feel guilt and want to please thier parents and do what's right. Duh, this does not describe Bear, and it only recently and still incompletely describes Kitty.

Two, it requires Logic. Kitty and Bear do not have discipline problems, they have behavior problems. In other words they're not misbehaving because they want to, but because they can't control themselves. Most of the time their behavior is irrational.

Something that Bear said in therapy yesterday came to mind. We were talking about his birth parents and he described his bio father as abandoning and his biomom as neglectful (not his exact words of course). The therapist drew a parallel to how he's treating us (Hubby and I). No one really went there, but I suddenly understand why he might need all this structure... without it he feels abandoned. He needs our constant reassurance that we care enough to be right there.

A reader (and still good friend) commented:

What does Bear have to live for? What joy does he have in his life? You've told
him he won't be allowed to.... limited... restricted... grounded... taken it away from him at the last minute. If I were him, I wouldn't get out of bed in the morning. I would resent the hell out of you and make your life an emotional hell.
I totally agree Denise. He does resent the hell out of us and makes our lives an emotional hell.

The thing is, in the beginning when we (and others before us) gave him total nurturing, blank slates, didn't give him any limitations, restrictions, or boundaries... then we/they were "neglectful and abandoning" and he resented us and made our lives a living hell.

When he showed us he was getting more mature and responsible, we lightened up on his limits, restrictions and boundaries... and we were "neglectful and abandoning" and he resented us and made our lives a living hell.

Due to his perception issues, Bear does not allow anything less than total structure. Even the slightest lightening in structure he seems to take as a crack in our defenses and it terrifies him to the point that he loses it and almost seems to force us to tighten up again. Maybe I'm off, but that's how it feels.

Of course this is just a feeling. I can't prove it. So I'll keep going on. Knowing in my head that I'm doing what I think is right, and still continually kicking myself because it just doesn't feel right to treat my child like this. It feels even more wrong because I can't stop myself from resenting him for the control he has over my life. I hate that he has the ability to make me feel like a vengeful, vindictive witch.


This week I mentioned to Bear's therapist that I think maybe he needs a new psych eval. In less than 10 months he will be "cured" from his RAD (which is a "childhood" disease). When we left our last therapist, he suggested several personality disorders for Bear (borderline, antisocial and narcassistic). We'd talked about these suggestions with Bear's new therapist early on in his treatment.

I asked Bear's current therapist what he thought now.

Antisocial Personality Disorder - He still doesn't think Antisocial Personality Disorder fits Bear. I look at the list and see that at one time or another Bear's had all the characteristics, but he doesn't have them all now. Still some of them, but not all.

Characteristics of people with antisocial personality disorder may include:

  • Persistent lying or stealing (he seems to be doing better on this lately)

  • Apparent lack of remorse or empathy for others

  • Cruelty to animals (he has no empathy for them, but I've not seen him hurt one more than pushing a cat away roughly)

  • Poor behavioral controls — expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper

  • A history of childhood conduct disorder (this improved though when he was properly diagnosed and medicated for bipolar)

  • Recurring difficulties with the law (again, not since he left residential treatment)

  • Promiscuity

  • Tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others

  • Aggressive, often violent behavior; prone to getting involved in fights (again, not so much now that he's left residential treatment - depending on your definition of aggressive)

  • Inability to tolerate boredom

  • Disregard for right and wrong

  • Poor or abusive relationships

  • Irresponsible work behavior

  • Disregard for safety (heat exhaustion! I had to force him to stop working when he was starting to show signs of problems)

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is the disorder that the therapist said, "If I have to pick one it would probably be that one."

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements) -

  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

  • Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).

  • Rarely acknowledges mistakes and/or imperfections

  • Requires excessive admiration (Bear demands it from girlfriends, wants it from everyone, but family refuse to give it to him - which may be part of why he resents us)

  • Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations (he expects everyone to shut up and stop "being annoying" - especially to stop having fun)

  • Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends - most definitely!!!!

  • Lacks empathy: is unwilling or unable to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her (I'm not sure on this one since he keeps this kind of thing to himself)

  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitude. (definitely - and only HE is allowed to have an attitude).

Borderline Personality Disorder - this is the one that Biomom has. We were at the end of our time, so the therapist didn't really comment on this one.

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects, as well as marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
1.Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
2.A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
3.Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. (This one it depends. He changes personalities like a chameleon - his current cowboy kick is pretty strong, and we haven't heard much about the underwater welding lately... I think it depends on what he gets feedback from. He used to flip around a lot more before the military and pro football options were removed).
4.Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5 (again, this one has been worse in the past, and his lack of impulse control is definitely an issue for him, but maybe not so much self-damaging).
5.Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself. (not seeing so much now. Has not cut since before residential treatment).
6.Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
7.Chronic feelings of emptiness (I believe this is true, but he doesn't talk about feelings ever so it's hard to say)
8.Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights). (haven't seen much in the way of physical fights since residential)
9.Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms

Am I a Vindictive Witch?

aka How did I get to this point?

Lately I've been feeling really down on myself and my parenting skills. I've been feeling uber controlling and like the Wicked "Witch" of the West. I know Bear needs lots of structure, but I don't like the person I've become in order to provide that. So when people doubt his need or my methods then I angst over whether or not I'm making the right choices.

My love language is Words of Affirmation and I know that makes me super sensitive to criticism. Plus, I'm not getting people saying I'm doing the right thing to balance out the people who say I'm doing the wrong thing, so I start to believe I'm doing the wrong thing.

"The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?"

Friday I was talking to my therapist about Bear's latest attempt to get to do an extracurricular activity - his school's mascot is the horse and there is a group of "horseman" that push a huge fiberglass horse around the field every time the team makes a touchdown. Without permission, Bear signed up to be on this team, but hasn't been able to get to a game because of our restrictions). Bear finally admitted a several weeks ago that he was on the team and demanded we let him go to the game. I believe I said no at that time, because, "For one thing you're failing 3 classes and not doing your chores." (There were many other reasons, but with Bear and Kitty you have to be concrete because they don't understand the abstract, and you have to keep it simple or you overwhelm them.)

The following week he did all of his chores and turned in all the assignments he had not bothered to turn in - bringing grades in the 20s and 40s to As and Bs! (Don't get me started on what he's learning about life being able to turn in stuff late and still getting full credit). Of course his attitude still stunk and he made absolutely no progress or efforts to earn our trust so nothing really changed about getting out of the "inner circle." ("Inner Circle" - basically Bear's current level of trust - he must be supervised at all times by those in the inner circle - caregivers who know him and supervise him thoroughly - me, Hubby, Grandma and Poppy). Hubby had said he'd take Bear to the game since he wasn't working, but I went to the RAD mom group so Hubby was "single parenting" and couldn't take Bear after all. This caused Bear to have a meltdown toward me.

This week Bear was down for the count for the first 3 days recovering from his heat exhaustion, and was a total bear (he even acknowledged in therapy that he was treating the whole family badly). Then on Thursday he did all his chores, and Friday he was ready to go to the football game. Hubby was teaching a tough scuba class this week and didn't know until the last minute if he was going to have to work Friday night (football game night). Normally on Friday, I go to therapy while Grandma watches the kids and then we all meet at a restaurant for a family dinner. Usually my sister and her family come too, so this is a family tradition. When Hubby teaches scuba he gets home after all the kids are in bed, most of the time he gets off Friday evening so this is the first time the kids would see him all week. Saturday and Sunday he leaves the house at 7am and doesn't get back until after lunch so we miss him a lot.

Thursday night after getting home from teaching, Hubby told me he wasn't working Friday, but didn't want to take Bear to the game. I was totally fine with that, but didn't want to be the one to tell Bear (after his meltdown last week). So Friday morning when Bear asked me if Hubby was working, I told Bear I wasn't sure. Hubby and I realized that Bear had never asked anyone if he could join the team or if we were willing to commit to taking him. I asked Bear when he'd asked Dad if he could go, to point out that he hadn't actually done so. Totally went over Bear's head. He did tell me that he'd signed up for the team last year (you know, when he was failing all his classes and skipping school almost daily).

Realizing Hubby might be working, Bear tried to arrange to get to go to the game with a family friend. Last weekend in therapy we'd talked about Bear being in the "inner circle" and if he wanted to go places with people in the "first ring" then he was going to have to do his chores, be attending and passing at school, be RRHAFTBALL, and most importantly start relationship building with Hubby and I. His homework assignment was to talk about his feelings with Hubby and I. He did this during this week. Once. I explained that this does not make him automatically eligible to move to first ring. Let's just say this did not make me popular with him.

He tried to call Hubby to see if Hubby would take him, but I wouldn't let him since his bus was already waiting in front of the house. I spoke to the family friend and she did say she was willing to take Bear to the football game. Once. None of her children go to his high school so she and her husband would be spending their date night (and paying $8/each) to watch Bear (and a friend of her family was on the football team).

One of my concerns was that if we let Bear be on the team then we were committing to getting him there for every game (I'm a firm believer in not letting down your team). Hubby works a lot right now and the family friend is only willing to do this once. Another concern is that Hubby is completely exhausted and didn't want to take Bear. So I feel I'm protecting him. Later in the day I found out Bear is failing a class.

So anyway, I was discussing some of this in therapy when Hubby called to say he was taking Bear to the game after all. This didn't thrill me and I expressed that in therapy. I realized if you didn't know the whole story it could look like I was being pretty vindictive toward Bear. I said as much to my therapist and she started laughing and said I do act vindictive and petty when it comes to Bear (maybe not her exact words). This hurt a lot. Especially after listening to Kitty say in therapy what a horrible person I am.

Do I? I admit I don't like Bear very much. It's hard to hold him in positive regard or even like him when he shows so much animosity toward me. He even admits in therapy now that he treats me badly. He triggers my PTSD just by talking to me because I know what he is capable of. He sucks the joy out of the room (literally - if anyone is laughing or being silly or having fun he fusses at them to stop because they are being "annoying."). How do I balance this? All of a sudden I feel like I sound like Kitty - vindictive and vengeful.