Of the 997,000 issues that have come out of this here "adoption journey", a big one has been the pathetic lack of helpful information. With Genea's history, the diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder was tossed on the pile early. But what to do about it? (I eventually wrote my own book *shameless plug* Parenting Pandora ).
Books, research, multiple doctors, therapists, etc helped, but didn't actually make a difference with the day to day. So many vague concepts, my head popped off more than once. Build a relationship! Develop trust! Be loving! Okay, maaaaaaaaybe I could figure out what to do with that advice had my newly adopted daughter come equipped with mental stability, but she did not. How do you do any of those things when the tiny little slip of a girl rips the book away from you and knocks you over the head with it, instead of having a loving moment reading. When everything you suggest, say for example a million dollars with a scoop of ice cream, is met with NO! and leads to a shrieking meltdown. When you hug her she recoils. Kiss her cheek, she wipes it off. Pat her gently on the back and it's like you set her on fire. Um, ?
And so I was reactive. Ahem. That's my code word for flipping my own shit, screaming back, yelling, freaking out and so forth. Stay calm? Is that supposed to be a joke? Did Chris Rock say it? I felt like she needed to know what result her actions had, that everyone has a limit and you cannot keep dragging them there. She wasn't getting it, I had to try harder. Her "theory of mind" was non existent and she had to learn nobody is going to put up with this shit!
I misunderstood, that it was not about her testing limits and boundaries. It was about her testing my trustworthiness and I did not pass. There are tons of groups on facebook for RAD parents or people with RAD. It was on one of them that I read from a young woman who said that her constant pushing was to try to make her parents blow up. Her perspective was that if she could make you angry, then she was actually the person with control in the family. Since the parent was unable to maintain control, they could not be trusted and she had to stay in charge.
I'd known this, but for some reason the lightbulb exploded over my head and I really understood it. If the adults cannot be trusted to control their own selves, SHE was sure not going to trust them. No adult could help her who could not stay in charge through her tests. In my case, the tests were relentless. I could hold it together through 3 or 4 episodes, but by number five (usually an hour after waking up, seriously) I'd blow from the cumulation and together, Genea and I became an avalanche.
Okay then, that covers what not to do, still leaving my persistent question- "what TO do?". These days, I try to mix it up I guess. Tell a joke, change the subject, move away, send her on a task, get her doing something with me. None of that is really teaching her how to manage, but defuses the situation and it helps. If she will not be distracted, I send her to blow off her steam in another room (incidentally, a reason for never putting away laundry, we use the laundry room here and there as a 'calm down place' and the piles of clothes make for a great acoustic shield! I know, lots of people don't approve of the separation, but I cannot let the tantrums of one person hold the rest of the family hostage. Cue end to the longest parenthetical ever).
Let there be no mistake- I have no pedestal to lug around with me. I am a yeller who comes from a long line of yellers. It's in my epigenetics. Many times (a day *ahem*) I have to almost cauterize my vocal cords to keep from yelling and I OFTEN fail. But I'm trying. Yelling doesn't help and usually makes the situation worse. This information about trusting only the person who can remain in control gives me a little more ammunition to try harder.